Sunday, 18 September 2016

House Update

25 September marks one year since we moved into our new house. To say it's been a challenging year would be an understatement. I have spent most of the past year loathing it and waiting for someone to invent a time machine so I could go back in time.

While we were overseas, Paul and I promised each other that we would make a decision whether to stay or sell when we got back. We decided to stay. This is not because we suddenly love the house. We don't. But, with the cut-throat nature of the Auckland house market, we just can't face doing it again. And what would we find?

The house has great bones but the renovation is tasteless and uneven. We are going to invest some money into improving its looks but also to make it more functional. Some of the fittings like door handles and kitchen cupboards are already ageing and falling to bits. So we would have had to replace them anyway. Some of the fixtures aren't quite right, such as our kitchen tap which is set about 2 inches too far back and you can't wash pots in the sink. And speaking of the kitchen sink, it takes up about half of the kitchen island (including the massive draining board)! It's also white plastic. So it stains easily and you can't put a hot pot in there! Ridiculous.

Having come from an architect-designed home with high-quality fixtures, you can imagine how we feel. So, we are planning some projects...

Kitchen Cabinetry and Kitchen Island
Currently a solid mass of pale green glass with no handles. Resembles a medical centre. Doors are starting to fall off their hinges (they're too heavy). Ugly and impractical. Dean from DL Cabinetmaking is replacing all of the cupboard and drawer facades with traditional Shaker-style cabinetry, removing three cupboards (there are way too many!) and putting in some shelves so we can have things on display. He is also building us a set of bookshelves which will be built into the back of the kitchen island (in the cavity) and replacing the benchtops with black granite. The sinks (currently white plastic and way too small) will be replaced with one larger sink and a plain gooseneck tap. Do not ever fit a cheap white sink unless you want to avoid eating curry, beetroot, tumeric, boysenberries etc. for the rest of your life.

We have a high ceiling stud (12ft). The wardrobes in the master bedroom have nasty heavy sliding doors that are about 2.8m tall. Paul gets a workout every time he opens and closes them. Chris from Luxury Living Builders is removing one of them so we'll gain back about 1m of floor space. Cabinetmaker Dean is creating normal double doors for the remaining wardrobe (the height will be broken up with a smaller set of cupboards above) in a more traditional style with Shaker-style inset panels in keeping with the era of the house. The built-in modern wardrobe rods and shelves will be replaced with a simple pole, a single shelf and a set of cubby-hole shelves down one side like we had in our previous house. All other bedroom wardrobes will be fitted out the same way inside.

Currently a mix of horrid (new) brown/grey carpet and strange oak veneer in an impossible-to-work-with yellowy blond colour. And the boards run the width of the house, not the length! Looking to get it all replaced with very dark compressed bamboo.

Door Hardware
Believe it or not, our shiny gold faux antique door handles aren't sticking around. We've decided to go for what we had in our previous home: beautiful Halliday Baillie knobs (for wardrobes) and levers (for doors) in an elegant brushed stainless steel finish.

Old Sofas
We love them and they're so comfy, but they look a little fusty and old-fashioned now. So we're getting them re-covered in a linen fabric and hopefully made to look more modern (i.e. cover the feet with a valance of fabric at the base and square out the arms).

Our house is white inside and out. Rather than getting the whole house painted ($17k!) we'll spend $800 and get the front door painted a deep glossy black, the front porch a charcoal grey and the garage door painted to match the porch.

New Furniture and Art
You could run a herd of cows down our hallway it's so large and empty. We plan to purchase a new hallway console and hang some pictures. Creating a gallery wall in the hallway appeals, and shortly we'll be going through all of our photos from our overseas trip and picking potential candidates to crop and frame. Or just dedicate a wall to photos of me. We plan to buy a low bench or console for our open-plan living area too.

We have a lot of big empty walls. Mapiful really appeals (we'd get Auckland, Melbourne and Copenhagen) and we love Mini Grandi Artist (we have two of her works). I favour a mix of thin black, white and pale wood frames.

These are seriously tacky but minor adjustments will see them right. Replacing vanities, fixtures and a bit of re-tiling but thankfully no change to layout or re-plumbing required.

Tweaking will include:

  • Accent cushions for our new sofas. Currently blacks and greys which I love. Thinking of adding this into the mix!
  • Working with the lovely Sarah, owner of Bold Lampshades in the Hawke's Bay to create a big drum lampshade to hang from the ceiling in our huge open-plan living space.
  • Brasso-polishing and dipping of our original front-door knob, deadlock and escutcheon so they pop against the black door.
  • More houseplants! Who'd have thought I had such a green thumb? They love me and I love them. Check out Sill Life for both humour and fantastic plants!
  • More shelves fixed to walls.
  • Rugs!
  • Replacing the evil sensor lights on the exterior with elegant cylinder lights. Happening this week!
My go-to stores for decor:

And lots of online inspiration via some excellent blogs:

Landscaping (Front and Sides)
Small grey river stones and dark grey pavers are being laid down the side of the house (happening next week!) and we'll re-render and paint the concrete garden borders at the front of the house black (as they are now) to match the front door. The back of our concrete fence will be given a new lick of grey paint, to match the porch and garage door. The driveway is getting waterblasted and we'll topiary the driveway hedge about 2ft up from the ground. We'll pop some wood along the border of the hedge and driveway (painting the border black) and place black mulch. The rear of the property can wait until next year...

I plan to show before and after photos over the coming months so watch this space!


  1. I will fall over dead of surprise if you get a chartreuse cushion. It is pretty perfect though. Can't wait to see the house take shape.