COLUMN Carly Flynn

At the time of my last column, we hadn’t yet moved into our new home, and I had on my perfectly framed rose-tinted glasses of exactly how this new house was going to change our lives.

But bear with my obvious joy and back-slapping in an overheated, difficult-to-survive property market for just a moment, as I tell you just how and why this place has changed our lives in the space of two short months.

For example:

  • The children’s bedrooms are tucked away all the way down the hallway so I don’t pass them every minute of the day, which means I don’t obsess over their very public mess.
  • It’s single-storeyed, and as much as I love a good upstairs, downstairs home, I don’t miss having to deliver the endless amounts of washing and toys a young family accumulates to each and every room.
  • The kids can ride their bikes out the front gate, to a nearby park. It’s something I’ve always wanted for my own kids. Soon we’ll be walking the 500 metres or so to the local school! Walking!
  • I can walk to a café – (Pardon the pseudo-Aucklander-here), but I simply love this. Complete lifestyle changer. We spend whole weekends fully caffeined up without getting in the car – once!
  • It’s super-duper quiet. We’re tucked away from main roads and motorways, and are more likely to be woken up by the sound of a tui than a truck. The kids are sleeping past 7am. Hoorah!

See! Life changing. Or more accurately, life “style” changing.

One thing I did underestimate though was my pre-move obsession with everything I was going to change the very moment we moved in.

You know how you go to an open home and think goodness, why did they paint the deck? We’ll be changing that right away. Or, that bathroom has just GOT to go – I can’t live with THAT!

When actually, you move in there - and after all the legal, moving, increased mortgage, and insurance costs kick in - you realize all those things are quite irrelevant and you CAN and will, live with almost anything. Which has made me look for inspiration for more quick (read “cheap” and “DIY”) fixes. And, to look for the good, in amongst the not so good.

A modern bathroom with freestanding bathtub

Read full case study: Townhouse transformation in St. Heliers

The aforementioned family bathroom, with its 1980s pink tiles, had me originally thinking it needed to be bulldozed and completely rebuilt. But now I see it for its fabulous long, deep, black claw bath, and gorgeous polished floors.

A quick lick of black tile paint one Saturday afternoon has transformed it, and a $25 Trade Me mirror purchase has us feeling like we’ve improved it enough to feature in the pages of a renovation magazine. Ta da! An instant, cheap lift! And it’ll probably stay like this for another few decades! But there are some home essentials that unfortunately don’t come (as) cheap.

Heating for one. And this place has none of it. Nothing.

For the first six spring-like weeks we lived here, we thought we’d be mad to make any big heating decisions without having ever lived in the place for a full winter.

I could hear that unspoken advice ringing in my head from my Dad 350 kilometres away in crisp Taupo (‘Cold – Auckland doesn’t get cold!”) Besides, only an idiot would buy a heating system at the peak of the season, right?

Nope, we’d see it out, and if it proved unbearable for another winter, we’d be wise and wait for the summer heating sales.

But by the seventh week, and after the first frost of the season, the whole family was glumly piled under a heap of duvets and blankets on the couch one particularly miserable Saturday afternoon.

We made the call first thing Monday morning, told the company we’d had a change of heart, and booked in the maximum heating package available. Do it once, and do it right I say.

Thankfully the bank agreed and lent us the cash to commit to a “warmer, drier, healthier home.”

The irony of this is our tardy decision meant we would now have to wait eight cold weeks for installation.

At that rate, it’ll probably be installed by spring. But at least we’ll be prepared for next winter!

And so it begins. More renovation. More planning. More dreams. More cost-saving exercises, and more tradies. But most of all, more fodder for this column, and more renovation fun!

You might be interested in reading: Top 5 tips for renovation projects.

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This column by Carly Flynn featured on page 024 in Issue 016 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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