Our First Reno

Just over two years ago we bought our first home, something we thought would just require a lick of paint, something we thought would just take a few months to spruce up and something we thought oozed potential… despite no one else seeing it. Little did we know how much blood, sweat and tears (literally) were about to come… Anywho, two and a bit years later we are so bloody proud of what we have achieved all by ourselves.

Over the last couple of years we have learnt so much about ourselves, each other and what it takes to tackle DIY head-on, despite having absolutely no DIY in our DNA. Turns out Luke & I make a bloody great team even though we infuriate each other like you wouldn’t believe (you probably would believe if you know how annoying I am). Anyway, it truly is amazing what you can achieve when you put your heart and soul into something.

We’ve put together our BEFORE and AFTER’s of each room reno for us to look back on and have a LOL at how far we’ve come and also to show you if two highly strung non-DIY muppets like ourselves can do it, you can too! So grab a cuppa, enjoy and happy renovating!

Bedroom One
Nothing structural done to this bedroom. We removed what was left of the wallpaper and did a skim plaster of all walls and ceiling (as walls were in terrible condition). A fresh paint job and new curtains (op shop bargain) definitely made a big difference. All skirting, window sills, and door frames were re-conditioned and new carpet installed (second-hand bargain).


Bedroom Two
Again, nothing structural done to this bedroom either.  We removed what was also left of this wallpaper (including on the ceiling) and skim plastered of all walls and ceiling (as walls were again in terrible condition).  A fresh paint job and new curtains (second-hand bargain) also made a world of difference to this room too.  Skirting, window sills and door frames were re-conditioned like the first room and the same second-hand carpet laid (we decided to lay this carpet ourselves which literally took over 7 days and almost a divorce). FYI – we got the other rooms done by a pro. Phew!


Bedroom Three
This room has been a mission.  Right from the very start, this room has been the room that we just closed the door on, hoping it will fix itself.  It was once the garage which was converted (badly) into a bedroom.  Because we had no money left, we just kept it simple and non-structural so removed what was left of the wallpaper and skim plastered of all walls (as walls were again in terrible condition). Fresh coat of paint, some new white curtains and a fresh paint job on skirting, window sills and door frames made a big difference. Also, new second-hand carpet laid like the other rooms as we’re always down for a bargain.


Living Room/Lounge
I remember sitting in this living room the night we bought the house, proud as absolute punch… little did we know what was to come and what would be involved in turning this around. Having liked the idea of a separate living we again did nothing structurally so just removed wallpaper, yes again on the ceiling and skim plastered of all walls and ceiling.  A fresh paint job on walls, ceiling, bricks and fireplace gave it a cleaner more modern look yet not out of place for the era of the house.  New second-hand curtains and carpet (courtesy of our beautiful family friends) and a freshen up of the skirting, window sills, and door frames gave the living room a much more fresh look that we were once again proud of, just in a different way this time.


This was the biggest, most challenging and expensive reno of the house but easily the most rewarding as we are absolutely in love with the final look and finish of this space.  As much as we loved the pink walls and baby blue benchtop that I could fit half a chopping board on it was time to go however renovating a kitchen in the middle of winter while planning and saving for a wedding was not the best decision. Having set up a satellite kitchen in one of the bedrooms it was rather stressful as was living on casserole for three months with only a microwave and a crockpot… (not exactly great dieting food when you have countless wedding dress fittings in the pipeline).

We completely gutted the whole space and changed quite a lot structurally in this space as it’s one of those spaces that if you’re doing it once, you do it properly.  We changed the door position and knocked a wall out however kept plumbing in the same place (which saved $$).  We went with Elite Kitchens here in Taranaki who were absolutely fabulous, we couldn’t recommend them enough from start to finish, they were 12/10.  We obviously got a builder to help with the re-lining and structural element of the reno, a sparky, and a plumber to help with that side of things however doing the insulating, painting and flooring ourselves is where we saved a bit of money.  We kept it super simple, fresh and classic as we wanted to make sure it still fitted with the era of the house, however, we absolutely love the space and we are so proud of the transformation. Three months of crockpot casserole was so worth it.


Dining Room
The dining room was part of the kitchen reno as we opened it up to make it an open plan situation.  After re-lining the walls, a fresh coat of paint and some new second-hand curtains it was now a lovely bright, light and sunny dining room.


After discovering the beautiful wooden tawa floorboards, we knew we needed to utilise these in the hallway plus it was going to be cheaper if we polished up the floor ourselves than if we got it re-carpeted.  So, she was an easy decision.  Hallways are actually a lot bigger than you think… after tearing down the old wallpaper (yes, including the ceiling AGAIN) we realised that like all the other rooms there was chipped paint under the wallpaper on the ceiling.  Before we could get it skimmed we had to scrape it off with a 10cm blade.  To put into perspective how mentally and physically draining this was it took about 2 hours for 1 square metre… I remember dreading coming home from work as I knew we would have to do another few hours scraping.  Once this was removed we got the walls and ceiling skim plastered and painted it.   We freshened up the skirtings and door frames with a coat of paint and polished up the beautiful floorboards (which probably took a good 60 hours, bust saved thousands as we did it ourselves).


Bathroom & toilet
This was the second space we tackled and for a while there was the warmest room in the house being the only insulated room. Being a rental we decided to keep the toilet and bathroom separate however demolished and gutted both rooms back to their bones so we had a blank canvas to work with.  We kept the shower and toilet plumbing in the same place however decided to change the position of the vanity to a more open space that we knew would be far more beneficial for short and long term prospects.  We purchased all items (shower, vanity, toilet, towel rail, and mirror) through Placemakers instead of going through the builder as avoiding the middleman this saved us money. We re-lined all walls and ceiling, gave it a little pop of colour with a bit of sage green but kept everything else super simple and classic.  Again, we polished up the floorboards ourselves which took us ten times as long to do but saved us ten times as much.  Gotta do what ya gotta do and we learnt a lot along the way!


The laundry was also part of the kitchen reno as we changed the door positioning into the kitchen.  After re-lining the walls, a fresh coat of paint and some new cabinetry and storage it was now a lovely bright, light and functional laundry room.  Although, the old school ironing board from the cupboard did have to go, what a bloody epic feature!


The street appeal for the house, we think has significantly improved however it’s all still a work in progress.  We got rid of the spindly looking trees out the front and built a fence. Turns out, we should have got rid of the concrete fence as it was not straight and proved very difficult to build on top of.  Anywhoo, we think it looks bloody great and it’s definitely given the place less of a fishbowl effect which is nice as you can now sit in the dining room having dinner and not be watched by every man and their dog walking past. About 6 months prior to doing the fence we sprayed it with wet & forget hoping to remove the lichen on the concrete fence so we could paint it.  We scrubbed it down, scrapped it with a wire brush and 30 hours later she was ready to paint…  This whole prepping and painting the concrete fence was a prime example of something you think will just take a couple of hours, and it ends up taking literally 2 weeks.  Next, we painted the bottom of the house, created a patio area and tackled a bit of planting.   We think it’s looking bloody fresh and a heck of a lot better than 2 years ago but still a bit of work to do.

House - QV image




So there you have it, our two years of blood, sweat, and tears all rolled into one.  As we mentioned it hasn’t been easy but mannnn it’s been rewarding and we are so proud of what we have achieved.  It’s fair to say everything takes twice as long as you think, costs twice as much as you think and be prepared to have to do everything twice as the first time is always a disaster.  Our next reno will hopefully be where we have some extra support from family and a spare bedroom to save the whole casserole experience again… Lukey, we make a bloody good team and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have wanted to do this with anyone else so thanks for putting up with my shit and you’re welcome for putting up with yours.

So, we’ve rented our place out fully furnished to a lovely family and we are living in a little one-bedroom unit in the country #ruralliving. It was actually quite bitter-sweet leaving our place as despite trying to stay un-emotionally attached, we kinda got sucked in. But in saying that, our new place is peaceful, tranquil and so super relaxing. We are loving waking up to the sound of birds, cows and sheep and have no idea what to do with all our spare time, it’s quite weird having weekends again.  It’s also enabling us to save some money so we can plan something exciting.  So, stay tuned and if you’ve made it this far thanks for reading.

Happy DIY-ing, good luck and enjoy the ride.

Don’t holla if you need any tips, cause we will probably be useless LOL

Ciao for now.

L & A

I’ll leave you with this last photo to remind us how poor we were, we even made our own curtains. I can assure you, Luke had this well under control…




2 thoughts on “Our First Reno

  1. Sure has been a massive challenge and achievement, especially for a a couple of young and keen non experienced DIY’ers with a super determined “can do” attitude – jumping a lot of hurdles along the way. BUT WHAT A RESULT !!!

    Liked by 1 person

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