With time and budget constraints and also thinking about waste, we decided to work with what we had in the kitchen, rather than start again.  The reason for this was the solid marble countertop which, although I wasn’t wild about the colour (I would have preferred white), I considered it be too wasteful to throw it out.  Although kitchens and bathrooms are considered to be the places of value there is also a point where common sense should prevail. We decided to keep the entire kitchen as it was, got rid of the dated arch, and simply replaced the doors and splash back. This saved us a lot of time and money and I believe the result speak for itself.



COST (excluding new floor) – $6500.

Amazing work done by Pete


When I walk into a house I don’t see what is in front of me, but rather what I imagine it to be. I look at the bones, the raw material, the location and most importantly how it feels.  

If it doesn’t feel right, then good bones are not going to save it.  In this case even though the bones of the house were average and the house downright ugly, the location was good and the feels were there.


The house had fallen into neglect and each successive owner had tried to patch up that neglect as cheaply as possible and add their own personal touches.  The result was a minestrone of styles and materials with little regard for practicality or harmonious flow.

A prime example of lack of vision was a newly installed, very expensive glass pool fence that meandered around the 80’s bean shaped pool and juxtaposed a patio where the floor was at different levels; a mix of bare concrete and terracotta tiling which was not fl use with the lip of the house.  There was also a large, ugly air conditioning unit which added to the general lack of flow and clutter. (If you look at the before photographs notice how the old pergola shuts out light and closes in the space.)

We didn’t want to remove the expensive fence but at the same time if we wanted a deck and consistent flooring we would have to and then at a later stage, bite the bullet and pay to put it back.  The existing pergola sagged at the roof line and shut out light. We decided, even though it wasn’t in the immediate budget, to pull it down, remove the glass pool fence and start again.  This proved to be the most expensive part of the renovation.  It was the first job to be done and it was well worth it.

We also moved the air conditioning to the other side of the house.  An expensive, short term solution until we could install ducted aircon.  The bottom line was one of us to go.  It was either going to be the air conditioner or me.

The patio wasn’t the only space where the home handy man loomed large but that’s another story.

back deck

Patio with pergola removed

Patio 2


House in Carrara

When we bought the house in Carrara, Remy, my partner, turned grey. It was a rainy night and we had come for our second viewing.  The first one had been in the rain too and a little niggle at the back my mind worried me.  Was the rain a warning of things to come?  When it comes to houses I definitely believe in signs.

We had missed out on a house we both really wanted and the agent had pushed us to see the house down the street. It was going on the market and the owners were desperate to sell.  Believe me when I tell you this, when I walked into the house in Carrara there was n.o.t.h.i.n.g we liked about it.  We stuck around only long enough not to appear rude and left depressed.

The agent persisted.  Would we like another look? We were emphatic.  Absolutely not.  The house did not speak to us at all.  It’s was a horrible, 1980’s Australian brown brick job that had not been looked after.  Add to that a house over crammed with furniture and toys, dim lighting, low ceilings and the smell of a cheap candle so as to make the house appear homely.

NO. NO. NO.  We did not want to see it again.

A few days later my mortgage broker phoned to say that if we didn’t buy something soon we may be re-assessed for finance. As we were both self-employed we knew that would be a risky business.  The agent co-incidentally called to push us on another viewing of the house.  Under pressure to buy, we agreed to see the house one more time. Propitiously it rained.

The house was as pokey and horrible as we remembered. The market was rising alarmingly and we only had three weeks to put in a contract.  The agent sat  us down at the table and we had a long discussion.  She told us that if it went to home open it would sell and I didn’t doubt it.  At 900sqm it was a big block.  While we were sitting there a strange thing happened.  The house spoke to me.

I’ve always bought and sold houses on gut feel.  While Remy was turning grey at the prospect of a mortgage on a house he loathed, I received a good feeling. I took him aside and said “you know, there is nothing I like about this shitty little house but I have the strangest good feeling.  I think we should put in an offer.”  In hushed tones we agree on a price well below asking and stuck to it.  The agent tried to talk us up as they usually do but we didn’t budge.  I still believe we offered too much and I was not prepared to offer one more cent.

Two hours later our offer was accepted and the type of house I would never have considered buying became ours. The question now became, how were we going to transform it?  I had done a few renovations on character homes but this squat little 1980s job was well outside my comfort zone.