Thursday, 21 July 2016

It's worth the wait

When we bought this property in 2004, it was in need of lots of work. The house had been empty for two years, so you can imagine what a sad state it was in.
We didn't even own a camera and the few photos taken by friends are buried in a cupboard somewhere, so I can't show you any before pictures.
In fact, it didn't come onto the market, instead we approached the owners, and they were pretty amazed that we weren't daunted by the task ahead of us as they showed us through the house.
After selling our homes, Brian's and mine, we needed a small mortgage to fill the gap and we wanted to become mortgage free as soon as possible. That was important to both of us so we knew we were in for some hard work in front of us to get this old home livable and the property running productively.
You might think that the house was the priority, but making the land productive was first on our minds. We needed to be producing food as soon as possible because this was what was going to save us lots of money.
Trees were planted, a vegetable garden was established, fences were built and shelter sheds were erected to house the stock that we needed to bring in.
In our spare time we worked on renovating the house, room by room. At first we lived in three rooms, the others were unlivable.
We had no bathroom for one entire winter as we renovated and were forced to bucket wash in the outside laundry that had only two walls. I still appreciate our bathroom every single day.

To save money, we did most of the renovating ourselves. Brian became a master builder, plasterer, carpenter and Jack of all trades.
I became very fit shimmying up and down the high ladder to paint our 14ft ceilings. I learned to be the queen of "cutting in" on the paint work, polishing floors and Jill of all trades.
We employed electricians to do the electrical work, a stone mason to re build parts of the house that had collapsed, and a kitchen company to fit part of the kitchen.
Brian made the bench tops out of some discarded timber that we found,  and I lime-washed the cupboards, to save money.

I had plans of more built ins for the kitchen and living room, but we "made do" by using these lovely (in my eyes) old bits of collected furniture for the next eleven years.

This year, instead of going on a long holiday, we had the same kitchen company build some more cupboards. I let them do the entire job, but I lime washed them to match the other part of the kitchen.
More storage space, and there seems to be more space in the overall kitchen.  Through the hole in the wall you can see the living room built-ins that were fitted on the same day and waiting to be lime washed.

We recently acquired a new flat screen TV from friends who had no use for it. They wanted no payment and were happy with some honey and preserves from the cellar.
Previously our TV was a really old square box thing that I was able to camouflage by sitting a plank of wood on the top to extend beyond the TV on both sides. Onto this I placed books and a lamp to detract from the TV taking over the room.
The new TV, as you can see, was impossible to camouflage, so my long time dream of built in shelves and cupboards came to fruition.

 I waited twelve years for these shelves, so my appreciation of them is immeasurable.
I know I'm going to sound really old now, but I'm gobsmacked at the size of the mortgages that people take on these days.
I wonder if it is really necessary to have everything all at once. I wonder what happened to the anticipation aspect of planning and saving to buy and then that enormous sense of achievement and appreciation of the item that we waited to have.
There will always be different priorities among us, but I guess I'm one who enjoys the anticipation almost as much as the ownership.


  1. Mmmm, it is not just the big mortgages but the lack of real growth in wages that has a big effect on people wanting to get into the market. Nevertheless it can be done and people can save money if they put their mind to it. It does take self-sacrifice though. You have so much work space in your kitchen Sally, and I really like the lime wash on your cupboards. Don and I are always forgetting to take before pictures too!

    1. We were so poor back then, we didn't own a camera between us Sherri. :) Well, officially I do have plenty of work space, but it's cluttered in a way that everything is ready for me to grab. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and usually have two or three things on the go at once, so I'm generally flying around grabbing things. Brian often thinks I must be having a tantrum, but no, that's just the way I have to work sometimes. ;)

  2. I love your kitchen! I want to do something similar with ours. I am going to sound old too and agree with you! We are working on our house as we have time and money, we have a small mortgage that will be paid when we sell our other house as long as we don't go overboard on the renovations. I think we will appreciated it even more as we've had to wait and work hard to get the house finished. If you have instant gratification you're always looking for the next thing to amuse you and that just gets expensive. So many people we know can't wait to get the big house, big car, big boat and big mortgage to go with it. I don't want to be stuck working for ever to pay for all of that.

    1. Thanks Liz, and our kitchen is no showpiece, but it needs to be practical. I also wanted something that I liked, wasn't necessarily the latest trend, because this has to last us until the end of our days in this house. Trends come and go, and force people to spend more money to keep up to date. I know of so few younger people who have your wisdom. You and they will have the last laugh when you can start to enjoy a more balanced and relaxed (about money)life much sooner. And the instant gratification has become a disease that is making lots of folks unhappy and sick. :)

  3. Yes you are right. Generation X want it all, and want it now! Can't wait. And if they come into money, or a pay rise, they go out and add to the debt, instead of paying off what they already have (or the bank). I'm glad I come from the old school.

    1. Robyne I too am so grateful that I learned about financial management from my parents as I was growing up, in a way that I didn't even realize they were teaching me. ;) They were wily and simple folk, but we never seemed to go without anything (except I was mighty cranky at Dad when he refused to give me money to buy a second pair of fancy enjoyed early retirement and the freedom it brought. By osmosis we are now seeing one of my step sons at 21 years old entering the property market, in an old fixer upper that others might have deemed unlivable, but he remembers what we started with here and now nothing can daunt him. He takes his lunch to work, and stopped buying coffees. Small things.

  4. You've done a great job then Sally. Well done! That must be so satisfying and rewarding.

  5. That must of been a chilling winter! The built in cupboards and shelving have given you so much more organisational space. So worth the wait. I love bric a brac furniture too but who doesn't love built-ins. We are still renting and I learned no money management skills coming from a poor immigrant family who didn't "make it" financially here. I do get waiting for things though having to always rent run down places and never being able to have the kitchen and my dream mud room!

    1. I didn't live in my own home until I was in my late 40's Zena. There was so much moving about in my previous lives, but all of the rented places I lived in were made homely and comfy with a few of my things around. I think that if we can "bloom where we grow" we can find contentment. The first home I bought for just ME, after a divorce, was a tiny semi-detached. Oh yes, I dream of a butlers pantry, a mud room, a sun room..... but I accept that's never going to happen. ;)

  6. It looks lovely Sally, a really homely and productive kitchen but now smart and practical too. I bet your much loved 'old bits' of furniture are working for their living somewhere else in your home too. The living room shelves also look really smart now, it's somehow relaxing on the eyes to have built in furniture isn't it, as well as giving you more space.

    It makes me laugh when people come to our place and say how 'lucky' we are to have such a lovely well planned out home, they don't seem to take into consideration that the whole 12 years we've been together we have been planning this 'lucky' place and working hard to save for it to be done.

    So many of today's young homemakers see a 'finished' place either in person or in a magazine and go out to the shops to replicate it in one fell swoop and then wonder why their credit cards and bank accounts are maxed out. There is a much greater sense of appreciation in a home put together like a loving jigsaw over the years in my opinion.

  7. What a wonderful post Sally. So interesting reading how your home has been renovated so very nicely. You and Brian should be justly proud.
    Sally you are right the mind boggles at the size of home mortgages now. Although I reckon the Lending Institutions must make a 'killing' when the loan is default. Sad for the family though. My 1st huz and I started small and owned our own home by the time I was 40 but that was with both of us working. Sadly things did not work out and we divorced. I met Bob 10 years ago and we had our 8th Anniversary recently.
    Bob owned his own home in Strath and I had my proceeds from the divorce so due to physical disabilities of mine Bob and I decided to have a disability friendly home built which was self funded. I never knew what a rigmarole it is to tell a Builder you will self fund a new house. Anyway none of this would have been possible if either of us had aimed too high and wanted too much when we were first starting out all those years ago. Occasionally I look at median house prices in our area and I am gob-smacked. I never would have thought house prices in and around Adelaide would reach such astronomical proportions.

  8. Love your kitchen cupboards Sally. I am trying to find some ideas for when we renovate our kitchen.
    My husband and I became mortgage free when we purchased our little cottage on 5 acres last year at the ages of 38! We worked really hard at saving and paying off our old house and are now slowly renovating our cottage. We still have heaps of things to do which will take years. Maybe the leaking, moldy bathroom may get done next year? The place was a dump when we bought it last year but we could see potential. The cottage is quite small which suits us perfectly. We never wanted a huge house. Just more rooms to fill with furniture and clean!
    As we continue to save we put all our money into the house renovating and the garden. I have planted a huge veggie garden and have ordered lots of fruit trees which should arrive next week, so that will keep me busy.
    I do find that some people think all younger people want instant gratification and the big house with the cars etc but maybe we are the odd ones? Then again I guess we aren't really that young anymore??? But we have always been like this ever since we were married. My husband is the only one who works so we don't have lots of money. I homeschool our daughter as well as run the budget, household and garden.
    The best thing is we don't owe anyone a cent which at the end of the day feels wonderful!
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend and enjoy your beautiful kitchen. I will get mine done one day:)

  9. Gorgeous, but I was disappointed when I came to the end of this blog. I wanted to see the bedrooms, hallway and your beautiful bathroom etc. The stunning stone walls of your house. You have such a beautiful way of displaying all your gorgeous things. Hopefully you will come up with some before pics. tucked away somewhere that you have forgotten about, then you can put them up when you show us the rest of your house On the subject of saving money, I know lots of people paying a mortgage who spend $10 at least per day on bought coffee, and then there is the take away lunch. What ever happened to the thermos and lunch box? Then of course there is the take away dinner 2 or 3 nights a week! Then there is the bottled water. If you don't like the taste of your tap water, buy a filter or dare I say, boil it, or would that be too much trouble? I remember working two jobs and then on my free day, cooking up a storm to last the week. It wasn't that hard. I think that being money poor when you are younger helps to build a better way of looking at things. Children are maturing earlier from all the awful hormone loaded food that they're eating. Keeping up with Joneses is very prevalent these days. The huge t.v. the most up to date phone etc You know what, I think that it all comes down to laziness!!! Yes we are "lucky" that we own everything we have. Lucky to have the brains to have had the plans & dedication to see those plans come to fruition. The brains to not have the biggest t.v., the most up-to-date phones, change our furniture every two minutes. The brains to make do and be grateful for what we have, and look after those things to make them last. I am sick to death listening to people complaining about lack of money, when I know how much they waste. There is another thing that rubs me up the wrong way. WASTE All the beautiful food that people throw away (make a curry with all those left overs Darling), and does anyone wear out their clothes until they are threadbare? (Then you are sad to use it as a rag, as it was your favourite shirt) Reading back on this, I sound like such an old grump, and I am inclined not to post, but I will. I feel better now Sally. Thanks for bringing up this subject so that I could have a rant. You have the ability at your end to delete :)

    1. Lots of really relevant points there that I too see when I step out into the real world. Thanks for your wonderful comment. I think we unleashed something in you. lol

  10. Love your kitchen! It always amuses me when people
    who are a little impressed by the new and shiny tell
    me it's time to update our kitchen because it's
    out of fashion. When we bought our house 26 years ago
    the kitchen was barely useable but we put up with
    it until we could afford to get exactly what we wanted.
    My husband I both love to cook so it's been well worth
    the money!

    By the way, have you sold the caravan? It's not on
    Gumtree any more.


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