Category: DIY

ups and downs…

Remember me talking about the house in Australia that we own? The one we bought, moved into, gutted and renovated and then left – never to return – all in a matter of 6 months? We sold it. Last month. I’m a bit sad to say goodbye. But I’m more sad that we never got to finish the renovations. That little house had a soul of its own, and I felt I owed it the decency of being completely restored. I guess it was just not meant to be. Such is life, hey?

So this post is a tribute to the house that was to be my first real estate purchase, my first home as a married woman, and where I had hoped to raise my children. It may have been the first, but it won’t be the last.

Looking down the hallway into the house from the front door. Lovely paint job, and what we later discovered was 3 layers of linoleum flooring…with newspapers dating back to the 50’s underneath.

Looking down the hallway in the opposite direction, facing the front door. A complete transformation, no? We completely gutted the place, so all plasterwork, architectural trimmings were replaced…the leadlight above the front door is however, original.

The front room of the house which, originally as a Victorian would have been a sitting room of some sort, was our master bedroom.

The original skirtings and doors had been taken out, so we replaced them with with more historically correct features, and replaced the ceiling rose. We also replaced the front window – which was rotting – with a historically correct replica, although one that was higher allowing more natural light into the front of the house.

The second front room…which we had planned to use as a nursery eventually….

also had a new window frame and ended up as someone else’s sitting room.

The original fireplace had been taken out by the previous owners, as well as all of the original mouldings and architectural features…

so these were also replaced. This room became one of my favorites – during the one and only time I saw it!

These pics were taken by our Real Estate Agent for the sale of the property, so while I can claim credit for the design of the renovations, I cannot however claim any of the decoration inside. All of the furniture belonged to our tennant.

Thanks for letting me give you a tour. I hope it won’t be too long until I’ll get to give you another…

Our new apartment – after shots

Finally, I can share the after photos! Let me just preface this post with a disclaimer. I am in no way declaring that this space is a) finished, b) fabulous, or c) furnished! Of course it’s going to look bigger with no furniture in it, but I am not quite ready to share those photos with you… So, in the meantime, at least take a look at the multitude of sins that a few tins of paint have managed to (mostly) cover up…..

Living Room – again looking from the front door. Yes, it still looks like a bowling alley, but I think the space looks more open and consistent. As you can clearly see, I opted for a light colour, rather than chocolate brown – which I had also considered. I didn’t go the dark colour road because, while I think this space is a great candidate for a rich dark colour, we would’ve had to repaint the place once we were done and ready to leave. And while I had no idea just what a task was at hand when I was chosing the colours, I’m glad I took this path because believe me, I am not painting anything again in a long time!

The second major change is the sisal carpet we had laid wall to wall in the entire space. Mostly to cover up the ghastly tiles in the kitchen/dining, but mostly because as the spaces are joined I wanted them to feel more like one large (and long) space, rather than two smaller connected spaces.

It may be hard to see in these photos, but there were cupboards along one wall which we’ve converted to bookshelves (as seen on the left side of the below photo) – the doors came off easily and a few coats of paint have allowed us to open up the room ever so slightly, and to display the books my husband and I have amassed between the two of us.

This view (above) is looking back at the entrance from the living room. Those beyond ugly light fittings are still with us, temporarily, until I find a suitable replacement.

From the dining room looking back into the living room. Kitchen is to the left, but as a rental we weren’t able to change that or the bathroom, so we have to live with those as they are. Barely visible are the wires for the surround sound system (the black speakers were expelled) that will be installed at some stage (with small white speakers!).

This photo to me shows the greatest amount of change. The front bedroom before was so terribly ugly, and now its actually one of the nicest brightest rooms in the apartment. This photo doesn’t show much, but to me its what is not there that makes it so nice (the old bed and built-ins the landlord removed for us).

There is still a bit of work left to do, and lots of cleaning. I’m still finding areas to touch up with paint, and paint spots that need removing. But we’re getting there. Next on the to-do list is to get a few pieces recovered so I can perhaps share some real after shots, fully furnished…

Our new apartment – before shots

I can’t believe I’m actually posting these photos on the internet. I must be crazy…and if not, at the very least, you’ll think I am! Our new apartment is bigger and cheaper than our previous apartment (a pretty mean feat in the current HK property market), which is why I agreed to move into this cesspool of grossness. The reasons for this downgrade will later be revealed….in the meantime, I will share with you the DIY project I’ve been whining about for the last month or so, and reveal what kind of evil nastiness a few coats of paint can cover up!

These two view is from the entrance, looking through the living room into the dining/kitchen. As you can see its a very long rectangular living space, not as open as I would prefer. It has no real redeeming features architecturally speaking, and the ceilings are too low for my liking. The vinyl wallpaper is (or was) incredibly ugly, along with the light fittings which are beyond ugly, and the massive black speakers which draw your eye upwards to them… and its full of very very ugly furniture which I assure you is not mine.

The Living room, looking back towards the front door and the second bedroom. The apartment is actually in a mezzanine above an old shop, hence the step up to the front bedroom (and the low ceilings).

Opposite end of the living space, in the dining room, from our bedroom doorway looking back into the living room. Don’t you just love that penguin shaped plastic bin? When we asked them to take all the furniture out they kindly left that for us (they were originally hoping to lease it fully furnished, but I said they’d have to pay me to live in it in that condition…)

Dining/Kitchen (kitchen part of which is a bit old and too small, but will have to do) looking back towards the bedroom and bathroom. Note the lovely grey tiles. And more ugly wallpaper….bleurghh…

This is the front bedroom…full of someone else’s crap. Nothing nice about this at all!

The more I look at these ‘before’ photos the more I wonder why I decided to live here at all…but stay tuned til later today for the ‘after’ shots (that is, if you ever choose the read the blog of a crazy woman again) after which I will hear your audible “WOW’s”all the way over here in Hong Kong 😉

*UPDATE* The pics will be up next week once I’ve moved and found my camera’s USB cord. So please, hang in there. I know it’s ugly, but trust me, the after shots are better. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves…

I need to rant…

…so please indulge me for a moment, and then we’ll be back to normal programming folks.

Firstly – I love DIY. I have fantasised about doing up and renovating a place of my own for as long as I care to remember. I got to partially live out that fantasty when we partly renovated our house in Melbourne. I was here in Hong Kong for most of it though, so I missed out on most of the fun stuff – painting etc. So, I was hoping that painting our new flat would make up for what I missed out on when doing our place. We got the keys last weekend and spent 2 days tearing down wallpaper. This weekend we are cleaning up and preparing the walls so we can paint next weekend. Tonight after work we went out to B&Q (the first and only store in HK devoted to DIY) to get stuff. There are times I wish I lived in a country where I was communicating with people who speak the same language – and tonight was one of those times. I am not the most patient person at the best of times, but seriously, I knew more about paint than the guy working there. Not only that, but we were dealing with people called “Geronimo”, and another called “Wonka”. I am not kidding. (I have no idea why Chinese people choose stupid, and ridiculous English words as names – but that is a seperate rant alltogether). Going to a store like this is supposed to be fun. In Australia, going to the local Bunnings (I guess the US equivalent is Home Depot) is a Sunday afternoon ritual. Going to a DIY store where there is no sausage sizzle out front, and a tradesman inside to ask ” you ‘right luv?” is lacking in the experience department.

Secondly – why is it that people in Hong Kong think that painting is so difficult? I came across so many real estate agents when we were apartment hunting that would say that we could paint the place ourselves, but the landlord wasn’t prepared to do it – their reasoning? It was either a) too expensive, b) would take too long, or c) they didn’t know how to do it. I’m talking about apartments that with a simple coat of paint and a few small DIY jobs, could command an extra US$1000 a month (that’s how crazy the rental market is here). But they seem to think that painting is for experts. One agent said to me “Europeans, they know how to paint”. Lucky for me, I married an Italian.

OK. I’m taking deep breaths. I think I’m done now.

Have a great weekend everyone. I will be washing down our walls with warm water, and whatever cleaning liquid I can find, because HK’s great and wondorous DIY store doesn’t carry sugarsoap.