The story of buying our first house together is best shared as a tale of “she said, he said”. Because to say we had a difference in experiences and expectations - would be an understatement. We didn’t begin our property story as a united force, though there was a lot of forceful emotions involved! So as unconventional as our story about Caleb buying a first house is, the way we started ours “together” may be just as surprising...
Its not everyday a 16 year old boy buys a house, but this is where our property journey started back in 2003. Still in school and with no facial hair (not much has changed there) I purchased my first property. So what can a schoolboy afford to buy in 2003? I purchased a 3 bedroom fibre cement home in the kiwifruit capital of NZ - Te Puke. Purchased for $96,000 with a 10% deposit with a rental of $180 per week. The property itself wasn’t anything special, neither was it a great bargain at the time - rather just a traditional cash-flow investment property
Caleb and I have always had a different story to most when it comes to owning a family home. The concept of buying a house that caters for all our needs in an area to settle down is a normal aspiration for most house hunters but not yet been a priority for us. While most have a personalised and detailed wish list of what they are looking for in a house, our focus is on just one - a good buy. I had no idea 6 years ago when picking a colour scheme for the first time that we were on a journey to become seasoned renovators and neither was it our intention. However 6 projects later, we have learnt, grown and gained in our renovation and project experience, our property portfolio and our passion for doing this.
Our fireplace originally stood out for all the wrong reasons, but to replace or remove a perfectly functioning fire place just for looks was not an option for us. So we started our DIY investigation - researching, exploring new ideas and finding products we haven’t used before. The result - our fireplace transformation cost approximately $400 and took us a week to complete by outworking 3 simple projects.
Recently I heard someone making banter about lounge spaces – claiming they had no idea why it was called a ‘living room’. Sure if you have a formal lounge, a family lounge, a kids playroom and entertainment room – the options for living are vast but if you live in our home (or most older homes in NZ) you have one option – the lounge. Our lounge truly is the living room in our house - it caters for our children’s play, our family dance parties, quality TV viewing, hang out with friends and wrestle time with Dad (I’m referring to playtime with Alek in case there is any confusion). For our lounge I focused less on creating a magazine cover look that everyone would be wowed by, rather keeping it simple and flexible, functional for our needs and keeping unity in style with the rest of our open plan dining and kitchen.
It seems to be the way – it’s just starting to get cold and we have completed our outdoors projects! Putting aside our disregard for seasons – we love it and what a vast improvement and transformation from when we purchased our home. After a year in the house, we had a pretty clear idea of what didn’t work with the outdoor layout and what was a priority for us - this formed a clear plan for our renovation. The hero of our outdoor design is the stunning deck which became the feature and centre for our outdoor design and landscaping. From there we looked at ways to finish the rest of the project with minimal cost, which included getting creative with exterior painting, using recycled elements and getting hands on ourselves.
As we were planning our outdoor paving area around our deck, Alice had grand plans but we didn't have a grand budget. When Alice considers “the look”, Caleb considers "the cost" of a project. It causes that balance of what do we want and what do we need, where do we spend money and where do we intentionally save money. We had concrete pavers from our old courtyard and it seemed like a waste to buy new ones. But then again - old tired pavers beside our brand new deck and freshly painted fences was not going to be a good enough look for Alice. Our solution – PAINT THE PAVERS. This transformation is straight forward and total cost is under $300.00.
What is the No. 1 mistake people make when setting up their outdoor space? What should everyone get to transform their outdoor space? What are your top three tips for people setting up their outdoor space? How do I make my outdoor space an extension of my home?We recently answered some questions about renovating and updating exterior areas. Here are some general tips and tricks for making the most of your outdoor space.
Painting is a cost-effective way to achieve transformation in an outdoor space and there are so many surfaces you can paint to add colour and freshness – timber, concrete, tiles, metals. I have a list of areas I want to paint in our outdoor renovation – the house, the roof and trims, the base boards, the fence, the paving edging, outdoor furniture, the pavers – oh and stain the deck! As labour intensive as my list is, the more challenging part is deciding what colours I should use on all of these elements
What makes a great outdoor space? Designing and renovating our exterior has made us think long and hard about this. Is it indoor-outdoor flow? Is it privacy so you can sit around a brazier at night, or a big deck that you can impress your friends with and have those summer parties on. The more I think about this the less I believe that there is a single right answer. Rather it depends on how you want to use it, what you place a priority on, how it works in relation to your house and property and what you see value in.
Ever since our time on the Block we have grown a passion for landscaping and working outdoors. It was on that project we got to design, plan and deliver an outdoor space for the first time – and learnt how well planned outdoor spaces can complete a home. Having a clear brief before you start your design and construction will make sure that you get the most from your outdoor space. With our brief and wish list being a year in the making - we have been able to work out exactly what we want to get out of our outdoor project and creating the best outcome for our family
Style isn’t something some people have and others do not, the reality is while you flick through a home magazine or walk through an open home, you will either like the room or don’t – that originates from your style preference. When some people claim they have no style – their problem lies in the vast space from I know what I like to I can create that in my own home. To style well, every piece of furniture and décor needs to work together to create one complete look – this is where a lot of people getting frustrated, waste money or give up before they even give it a go. There is an art form to interior design and styling. It is creative and driven by emotion but at the same time there is structure and calculated decision making.
At the beginning of this year I had the honour of working with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust through the Kāinga Tuatahi project, a 30-house village located on ancestral land at Bastion Point. The project has a strong emphasis on providing affordable housing for their tribe, while achieving stunning contemporary design and community. My role was to stage their first completed whare for their own portfolio.
To be honest, when I found out we were having a girl the reality was overwhelming! Though it was a dream come true, I had gotten pretty comfortable with my little man style and the frills and sparkles all seemed a bit too much. With a girl, it felt like there were so many options, I didn't know where to start. Then I fell in love with the one piece of furniture I didn't need...
Pushing our design and colour scheme ideas is an exciting way to renovate, we had to chose different elements for the bathroom without visually seeing it all together till the end result. At times it feels like guess work, making decisions from lying out one tile sample, looking at colour swatches and viewing products in a showroom. To see it all come together well - you have to do your best to imagine the end result, considering how each product will work in the space and finally, just back yourself and go with your gut.
When your builder calls you to let you know he has 1.5 days free next week (when he is fully booked for months), and you are due to have your second child in a few weeks, there is only one answer to give – (or at least that was Alice’s thought) – let’s renovate the bathroom.
Putting together a child’s room brings out your inner child – though for Caleb and I we have never struggled with that! We love playing with our soon to be 2 year old and designing him a new room gave us an opportunity to get creative and create him (and us) a fun environment.
There was no doubt that when it came to this property, the old kitchen needed to go, there was wasted space, cabinetry that was near death and a hot water cylinder taking up storage space. Though budget and time was incredibly tight (the two things you traditionally need in order to design a great kitchen) we were realistic, we knew that we needed to keep costs to a minimum and be decisive in what we wanted to design.
A common question I have been asked lately is Should I use a Paint Sprayer for my project? After using it on our latest project - with great success - our predilection has definitely swung in favour of using an Airless Spray Gun. But before you throw your rollers away and rush out and make the investment, here's a summary of the basics and a few key details to help you decide if it will be right for your project.
Our recent renovation project where we set the goal of a 3-week renovation within a 30K budget during one of the busiest times of year, November / December, was no small endeavour. But come December, the moving truck was booked and we moved into a newly and quickly renovated house. When our electrician and his team came around to do the final fix they were completely taken aback by the extent of the progress we had made in such a small time, having seen the house after the first weekend of demolition - “You guys have done in 3 weeks, what takes most people at least 3 months”.