RENOVATION DIARY - Part 2 - The Dining Room
Finally. An actual blog post about the renovation! I've been sharing bits and pieces on Instagram for 552 days now. I know. The project that I anticipated would take 120 days max. Haha!! I've been reluctant to blog about the full process until now, because I've been waiting for it to be all completed and sold - so that in a sense I can feel like I'd actually accomplished it, and that I was not just leading you all on. I'm very happy, elated in fact, to say that the job is complete, the house is sold and settled, and I'm closing this rather large chapter of my life with a series of renovation process and reveal blogs. To be honest I would have loved to have this photographed for a home and garden magazine, but the time contraints and all the crazy meant that I just had to take a few quick photos with my good camera before I dashed out the door again (normally to drive 2.5 hours back to Hawkes Bay to pick up my kids from school!!). Yes, eight months into the project we MOVED. Now, if you've read my first blog post about how this all began, you'll know that we weren't actually living in this house. My Dad and I purchased this as a "do up and sell on". My husband ended up getting a new job in Hawkes Bay, so we had to move from Feilding....and I had to commute back and forth, juggling kids and ladders and power tools. Believe me when I say I am SO. RELIEVED. that this is done and dusted. Our budget didn't allow for too many contractors, so a lot of this was pure DIY. It was back breaking at times. By the end of it, when I was simply installing an eco panel heater in one of the bedrooms at 11pm I screamed "I'm so over this!!! I can't do it!!!!!". Damn eco panel finally got hung, and my body was so weary it felt hung over. So anyway, into the renovation itself - the kind of exciting part! I say exciting because some parts actually were. Some parts were DREEEEADFUL. But here I go, I'm starting off with the dining room - probably the second most difficult room of the house.
Remembering, this is a 1905 villa, with layers....and layers....and layers....of history. And sometime back in the fifties someone did some really awful things to the house (which we uncovered), but we managed to rescue and restore and revive. Here's the story:
The house had been a rental for some time. This first picture was taken when we went and had a look at the house before we bought it. I saw that hardboard panelling, probably installed in the fifties, and had an inkling there might be original tongue and groove match lining underneath. The thought of that excited me. Dad wanted to do a "quick makeover" - just a paint job and a new (tiny) kitchen. See that little closet looking thing on the right? That was the kitchen. On the left was the bathroom. I convinced him that we could do so much more, without getting into financial dire straits. I was convinced that there was some magic underneath these horrid wooden panels, and so we opted for Plan B - full renovation.
I pulled up the carpet. There was more carpet underneath. Here began the saga of layer upon layer of all sorts of crazy. Oh and see that little room, below right? That was the old laundry. I'll come back to that later.
Pulling up things like tacks and smooth edge was purely a pain in the butt. Such a tedious task. But that was nothing compared to what was waiting....
THIS SUCKED. As I mentioned in my first blog post, the foam backed carpet was GLUED TO THE FLOOR. Glued. As in, glued. I almost broke my back pulling this layer of carpet up, since the carpet was GLUED to the floor. Did I mention it was glued to the floor? I have words in my head that I don't want to taint my blog with. This was hideous.
Scraping took on a new meaning. Hours and hours of shovelling. We all had turns. It was horrible.
Hey but what I was REALLY hanging out to do was to find out what was beneath that hard board wall panelling. And I gave a little preview of this in my first blog, and yes I was so right!!!! And I was so stoked!! Rip, rip, pull, smash, yank, rip, whack - I got all that panelling off, and it was amazing (in my eyes that is). Match lining! Tongue and groove! Original!!! Oh and granny green mmmm...my fave.
But it's still not as simple as grabbing your crow bar, hammer and nail puller. The thing I discovered was that EVERYTHING, and I mean everything, is connected. It reminded me of that song "Dem Bones" we used to sing back in school..."Thigh bone connected to the hip bone. Hip bone connected to the back bone. Back bone connected to the shoulder bone. Lalalala"....You get my drift. Here's the thing. One little piece of quarter round scotia couldn't come off, because it had another piece going over the end of it from the adjoining wall....and that piece had something over it, and that other thing, and that other thing...And these pieces were native timber so they were hard as anything - you couldn't just smash it up like pine or mdf. Anyway, so it continued throughout the whole house. I feel like I'm moaning quite a bit. There was actually awesome stuff, like finishing the little jobs and being VERY satisfied with my efforts. Rewarded by that match lining discovery I tell you.
I must say, as I stood in this dark green and brown space I felt a little freaked out. I felt like I'd just stepped back in time, or like I was in one of those turn of the century cottages like at MOTAT. Kind of eerie and nostalgic, half expecting to turn around and there be some scary wax statues hovering over a coal range. It was weird. I imagined who used to live here when the space was originally like this, and what conversations were had, how many children sat around the table. What was life like in this house back in 1905? I was actually a bit freaked out, and I wouldn't come into the house after (or near) dark at this stage.
As much as I do love vintage green, it had to go. Mainly because of the possibility of lead paint, and because of this reason I couldn't prep the surface too much in case of loose dust particles getting to my lungs. So all kitted out in safety gear I did just a wee bit of scraping where there were big blobs of stuff, no sanding whatsoever as per advice, and I started filling holes, and then painting with this amazing primer - Zinsser BIN (or Zinsser Cover Stain - both magic). This stuff covers EVERYTHING. I've used it on formica benchtops, laminate shelves, concrete, steel...it covers everything, and makes a good base for paint. I realised afterwards that I should've done it the other way around though, and there's a reason why.
1.If I'd painted the primer first, all the small nail holes would have shown up more easily, and the primer would have filled the smallest holes anyway. 2. The gap filler would have had a better surface to adhere to.
So I did it the other way round throughout the rest of the house.
The opposite wall was a bit of a mystery. With that ugly looking fireplace there I didn't have a clue what might be behind the wall lining. I also decided that I wanted to get rid of that window and open it up to the outside. Dad did everything required to remove the window, and then I helped him to lift it out....that must be the heaviest thing I've ever lifted.
Just quickly - there were big wood boxes built into the outside porch on the other side of the window...and look at what the wood box was made of. That's the construction sign that is now hanging on the new dining room wall! There was no way that was going to the tip, glad I saved it. Also!!! I found these rimu french doors on Trade Me, just over in Palmerston North. They were the perfect size, and only cost $50!! Gosh having those doors in there, even at this early stage, made such a difference.
I pulled off wall linings on that wall and was met with a mish mash of all sorts. This HAD to be gibbed over. I spent hours trying to remove these bricks from the front of the fire place, and to no avail. Then I called on hubby's help (muscles) and he managed to whack it out in twenty minutes. Phew.
Strapping, gib and wallpaper were in order for that wall. For some reason, at some stage, the owners had added on an extra half a metre to the dining room. Hence the different floor boards to the right, and the very weird wall lining situation. Just cover that right up please. I hung my favourite wallpaper up beside the door (Resene anaglypta, Turner Tile), and went yep, that's the one.
Now looking back to that old laundry. It was a monster of a room for a laundry, and had the toilet room adjoining. I decided to make that the new bathroom. Which meant that we could get rid of the old bathroom and kitchen, and open that whole room up completely. But that's another story. Anyway, it meant having to sort out that laundry wall, so I decided to get rid of the existing doorway (on the right) and put the door at the left. This would create a little entrance/lobby to the separate toilet and bathroom.
Window had to come out, framing built, and walls gibbed. THEN, I found this big native timber door on Trade Me as well. It had come out of an old state house in Savage Crescent in Palmerston North. I had visions for this, and using a sliding door runner from the bedroom I got my builder to install it as a sliding door. Yes, at this stage I started to employ a builder on his weekends to do these things for me. I had seen an image of a barn type sliding door (in coral pink, one of my favourite colours!) and had visions for this door.
Here's part of the old laundry/washhouse after I'd stripped yet more wall lining off it. Check out the wallpaper! I actually saved a whole lot of it for future creative projects....and somewhere along the line it got thrown away...probably in the four skip bins we had to hire over the year and a half. But take more notice of the door. I pulled the hardboard lining off of this as well, and there was an original villa door underneath. Winning!!
I took the door off the laundry (since we didn't need it there anymore), and hung it in the dining room. And I painted it in my favourite shade of aqua - Resene Riptide. Knowing that this house was to sell, and not for me to enjoy and live in, it was a bold move - it certainly wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. But I did it. I wanted to and I did. And it looked fab. Also, check out the white walls! They scrubbed up so well after layers of white paint! Dulux Haunui half was used throughout, including ceilings. A very white white, with a hint of pink - not that you could really tell.
Sanding the floors - it was like magic. Did it all myself with the sander hired from the hire centre. I've done it in a few houses now, but never on gluey floor boards. But it worked! I did go through a LOT of sandpaper rolls though. And it did take a VERY long time. The hardest part is doing all the edges with the hand held belt sander. Kind of back breaking actually.
Tada! Check out my door. I didn't go for coral pink, since house for sale and all. But granny green in keeping with the history of the house was the call. I felt it was a nice way to bring the old back into the new. Nostalgic almost. So I prepped, filled and sanded, and painted it the loveliest shade of Dulux Geraldine. Note: not to be confused with Resene Geraldine! Which just so happens to be my favourite shade of coral pink! And check out the construction sign. It totally rocks. And I felt so good about that - rescuing that from the demolition and giving it pride of place in the house.
My lighting. I'd had these vintage industrial light shades for a few years, that I picked up from the op shop. #notahoarder I promise. I gave them a coat of good old Zinsser (told you it was magic) and spray painted them black. The other light fittings I got from Mitre 10, and the wooden ones were to go in the kitchen, and the antique brass looking ones in the bedrooms. I got my electrician to wire up the dining lights and....
Yussssssss. They were just as I had imagined. No. Better! Eeeeeeek! Paired with some vintage style light bulbs and boom, they rocked.
After a very long and tiresome process, the dining room had come together. Look, it's so not like on the home reno shows, not at all. When you're doing a whole house you can't just do one room at a time. You end up doing bits of the whole house at a time. You need the sparky to wire up stuff - so you wait until you can get the whole house done - not just one room. You can't sand the floors until everything else is done! And it's pointless just doing one room at a time, with all the set up. Although, I did do it in stages. One thing can't be done, until another thing has been done. Anyway. It is done, and it looks fab. And here are the final photos of the dining room, taken by moi, before a mad dash out the door.