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Lessons from our First Year as Home Owners

It’s been a little over a year since we bought our first home. As is always the case, in some ways it seems like we’ve been here forever and in other ways it feels like we’ve only just moved in. We had grand plans for this sad old house when we first moved in and, though we’ve made some progress, there is still so much to do.

Hall Before

Our hall in January 2013.


Our hall now!

Living Room Before

The fluoro lights in our lounge room in January 2013.

Living Room Lights

The lights in our lounge room now.

Oven Before

Our old, dead oven.


Our new oven (and the hole we had to bang in the wall to squeeze it in!)

Bedroom Before

Our bedroom in January 2013.

Bedroom After

Our bedroom now.

Though we haven’t achieved as much as we’d have liked, we have learnt many, many lessons in our first year of home ownership. If we could go back in time and give Katie and Reuben a year ago some advice, we would tell ourselves…

There is so much more to do than you ever imagined.

Even when you DIY, doing any kind of work on a house costs money. More money than you think.

Similarly, everything will take much longer to do than you thought it would. Sometimes twice as long. Sometimes five times as long!

Scraping the paint off skirting boards, windows and doorframes, and stripping floors is not fun. Not even a tiny bit fun.

There is no smell in the world more horrible than you will experience if you rip up 50 year old carpets that have been soaked in cat’s pee.

Sometimes you will wish you could just call a real estate agent or landlord and let them take care of things.

Houses seem a lot bigger when you are painting them than they do when you are living in them.

Old things in old houses (like ovens, gas heaters, hot water systems and air conditioners) need replacing. This is very expensive.

There will be times when you look around you and feel utterly overwhelmed. You will wonder why you ever thought buying such a mess of a house was a good idea and you will fantasise about giving in and running away to a nice, comfortable rental…

But! Despite all the difficulties, every single day you will be grateful for your home.

You will feel so glad that you are building your own future, rather than paying off a landlord’s mortgage.

You will be so happy to have the freedom to do whatever you like to your space.

You will feel so much pride and ownership over every little task completed and every small renovating victory.

And though you’ll probably never really “finish” working on your house and at times it will drive you crazy, you will love it more than any place you could ever rent.

Because it is yours.

Katie and Reuben x

PS Sorry for the lack of post last week! We were having internet connection issues.

Comments { 28 }

A Little Painting Progress

When we decided to buy our old house and renovate we really had no idea what we were in for. In the months since settlement we have come to realise this project is so much bigger than we ever imagined. Every day we discover new things that need doing, and every task we undertake takes longer than we anticipate. That said, it does feel wonderful to be (very) slowly breathing life back into this old house…

Reubs took last week off work to work on the house and we naively believed that with a solid nine days behind us, we’d be able to strip and paint two of our three bedrooms, as well our living room. Of course we were way off! We spent four days just stripping, sanding and prepping one bedroom!! We did however manage to get the two bedrooms very almost finished, so I thought today I’d share some pictures of our progress so far.

When we moved in the main bedroom looked like this:

Main Bedroom Before

Last week it looked like this:

Main Bedroom During

And now, it looks like this:

Main Bedroom After

As you an see the skirting boards and windows (and door frame) have only been undercoated and still need a couple of coats of paint, but we are almost finished! You might remember that when we started stripping paint we found the wood underneath had previously been varnished and we decided to keep the wood exposed? Yes well, as you can see we changed our minds. We discovered the hard way that stripping the paint off completely in order to varnish is virtually impossible and the wood underneath was in worse condition than we had realised. Plus, it just looked really dark and yucky. So sadly, the wood had to go.

Here’s the smallest bedroom (soon to be craft room!) when we moved in:

Studio Before

And here it is now:

Studio After

We still need to paint all the trim in there too.

Both rooms feel so much bigger and fresher now! We’ve used Taubmans Ocean Pearl on the walls which is a creamy, ever so slightly lemony, off white. We’ll be finishing the doors, windows and skirting boards with straight white. You can’t really see in these pictures but the ceilings were a creamy colour and they are now crisp white too, which has made such a difference to the spaces, and made both rooms feel brighter and more airy. We’re so pleased with how these rooms are looking so far and the fresh paint really brings the floors we slaved on to life! We can’t wait until the rest of the house is looking so good.

Only one bedroom, the living room, hall, entryway, kitchen, bathroom and laundry to go…

Katie x

Comments { 27 }

This Week Looks Like This…


Don’t worry, we have the very best help on hand:

Daisy in Renovating Mess

Poppy Painting

Hopefully we’ll be back soon, with some kind of progress to show for a week’s worth of paint stripping, sanding and painting.

In the meantime, we hope things are peachy with you!

Katie and Reuben x

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Finished Floors!

Finally, our floors are done! And I have to say, if I ever strip and seal another floor again, it will be too soon. Though I don’t regret taking on this task, I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments when Reuben and I seriousy questioned our decision. Me especially…

Second Bedroom 1

As Reubs has been at work since the initial drum sanding, most of the detail sanding and all of the sealing was up to me. (Oh my!) I have zero renovating experience and really had no idea what I was doing so, unsurprisingly, was very worried about ruining our floors. But somehow (thankfully!) I managed it. I’m actually quite pleased with how the floors came up!

There are two different kinds of wood in our floors – lovely Tasmanian Oak in the living room and entryway, and pine in the bedrooms and hallway. We realised we’d never be able to make the different woods look the same, but we hoped to make them a similar colour and tone so that the change in flooring where our two hallways meet wouldn’t be so jarring. To seal the floors I used Feast Watson Floorseal Oil, which I tinted with “Oak” coloured stain. I added 5% tint and did three coats of this, gradually building the depth of colour with each application. Then I did a final coat without tint. The great thing about using oil is that when our floors start to look a bit tired, we can refresh them by adding a fresh coat, without having to sand them back.

So, here’s our living room, before and after:

Living Room 1


Living Room 1


And here’s the main bedroom:

Second Bedroom Stage 1


Second Bedroom 2


I won’t bombard you with pictures of the other two bedrooms just now because they look much the same, and I’m sure you get the idea.

The floors are not perfect. At all. So if you are a perfectionist type who needs things to be just so, I wouldn’t recommend stripping and sealing your own floors. If however, you’re not too worried about perfection (like us), with time and patience it is a do-able job. Not fun, but do-able. And much cheaper than hiring someone else to do it. We’re just calling the lumps and bumps “rustic”.

I think rustic is much cozier than perfect anyway!

Katie x

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That Time we Stripped our own Floors


We have spent the last week working on our floors! We knew from the moment we first saw our house that if we bought it, we’d rip out all the old carpet and strip the floor back to the wood underneath. We also knew we wouldn’t have the thousands of dollars needed to pay someone else to do it, so it would be up to us. Though plenty of people warned us doing our own floors would be difficult, exhausting and generally awful, we were determined! So last weekend we hired a drum sander and got to work.

Carpet Before

Here’s a glimpse of some of the carpets that were in the house before we started. This picture was taken in the hall, at the corner of the two end bedrooms. Every room had different carpet. It was all very old and very, very stained and smelly.

Second Bedroom Stage 1

Our first task was to rip up the old carpet. It hadn’t been laid very well so was quite easy to pull up, but was rather disgusting. The carpet was filthy and in one bedroom reeked of cat pee!

Second Bedroom Stage 2

The floorboards under the carpet were stained and random sections of the floor had been varnished but, luckily, the boards themselves were all in reasonably good condition. After we had pulled up the carpet we had to remove all the staples and nails that had been holding it down, then use a nail punch on all the nails in the floorboards, before we could sand. Yes, you did read that right. Every. Single. Nail.

Once all the staples and nails had been sorted, we began the epic task of sanding the floorboards with the drum sander. We stripped the floors in the three bedrooms, two hallways and living room, and the drum sanding portion of the job took about two days. We went over the floor in each room around three times with 40 grit sandpaper, then twice with 100 grit. We were terrified of damaging and gouging the floors but we took our time and were very careful, and thankfully, we didn’t have any major mishaps. Once we had the knack of things, the task was really more monotonous than anything.

Second Bedroom Stage 3

This picture was taken after the floor was sanded back with the drum sander. As you an see, the drum sander couldn’t reach the outer edge of the room and some of the less even patches on the floor.

Second Bedroom Stage 4

The edges and small bits that the drum sander couldn’t reach have to be sanded by hand, so we have used a belt sander and a detail sander for this. This shot was taken after hand sanding (that dark line you can see is just the bottom of the wood skirting board that was revealed when we ripped up the carpet, not varnish on the floor boards). We’re still in the process of hand sanding the hallways and living room at the moment (and that has been the most time consuming and tedious part of the whole process so far) but all going well we should be done sanding by early next week! Then we’re going to use tinted tung oil to finish the floors.

Though this hasn’t been a fun job, it has been really rewarding. Reubs and I certainly wouldn’t rush into stripping our own floors again, but I think we’re both glad we did it this time. It’s been a huge learning experience and we are going to be extremely proud of ourselves when those floorboards are done!

Hopefully we’ll be back to share pictures of our gorgeous finished floors very soon. Think happy renovating thoughts for us!

Katie x

Comments { 40 }