We’ve made it to Boxing Day, 2017 and my head is now recollecting the past 3 months so this is an update about Spring and the intensive lead up to summer and today.
Time has moved very fast since August. I received a letter from a Spanish relative today and realised: we haven’t spoken in 4 months but it felt like only 4 minutes had passed…so that was my jolt into reality. In all the time we’ve spent working on the house, I’ve never felt time just get sucked away like that because there’s usually more of an ebb and flow which involves stops and starts that are necessary for us to juggle life, work and money! So, it was quite a nice realisation to think: “wow, we’ve done a lot” !
From August to December we packed a lot of continuous activity to make the new kitchen and living space habitable: painting walls, installing new floors, organising lighting, booking the garage doors, and building the entire kitchen ourselves. Quite nuts. All this happened in between ferrying two kids around, paying school fees and running a business has been fairly stressful for us both. Throw a new job in for 2018 and I’m in a sort of belated wonderment on the effects of our enormous human effort.
Gladly, we’re now able to relax… a bit. There are always details to attend to such as skirting boards which are to be ordered (the list in my head continues!), but for the first time in nearly two years we’re now using some of the new spaces. Hooray!
Before: Living and just about everything else
We’d always liked this room, and it sold us the house. However, as any family of 4 would attest, squeezing one’s entire living, dining, television, gaming and entry requirements into 1 room of the house gets really challenging. So, separating a few of these activities out of the space by adding the extension has allowed us to have more entry and sitting space, and a a lot less clutter.
After: Entry, Living/Reception
Before: New extension prior to kitchen install
Before deciding to relocate the kitchen, this room was intended as the living or family area. Once we decided to go up, it made more sense to us to make the upstairs our family area where television, books and games could be enjoyed away from the more active spaces downstairs (deck, pool). And therefore, placing the kitchen opening to the rear was the next logical conclusion.
We took time to design the kitchen, roughly 15 versions were done first. You’ll never appreciate the number of hinges and bits and pieces needed! But all in all, the online kitchen planner is extremely comprehensive and allowed us to get some 300 pieces delivered based on the plan once we’d locked it in. Our key advice for this process is to consult your architect if you’re in the midst of renovations like we were, and get them to design it in detail, especially if you’re not confident about doing it yourself. The critical factor for us was thinking carefully about:
- How we used our current space, and what we liked and didn’t like
- How can you best integrate or hide the fridge (they’re always a let down in most kitchen layouts because they are often much deeper than the cabinetry – we purchased a new fridge/freezer pair to address our lack of freezer space for a family and because we wanted them to be only as deep as the cabinets (standard is 60cm). Although we looked at integrated fridges, we felt they were overpriced for their size.
- Hide the dishwasher if you can’t hide the fridge.
- Patience and following instructions is essential.
- Buy the best you can afford as this is a high-use area which will take a beating over the years.
Before: During the assembly. We put the base cabinets together first to enable the stone to be installed. After that, it was the 2 of us for 2 weeks solid plus our awesome electricians and plumbers to hook everything up.
After: The new kitchen
Apart from a few adjustments, trims and lighting to our cabinets, this is now mostly done.
It was absolutely wonderful to share Christmas lunch with my family on the deck and with the kitchen now done. For us that’s what it’s always been about.