Monday, August 5, 2013

Renovating with children, and other lessons in insanity

We went up to see Betsy this morning and the kids were in heaven. The building debris that has been littering the yard for most of the reno has been tidied and there is a full skip out the front. Their old swings have been tied up for months and finally today it was safe enough to unravel them and have a good old big swing. They have been missing our old house and are getting excited now that we are on the home stretch to going home.

 I wonder what they will remember of this whole process when they are a few years older. I wonder if they will remember how the house was before, when they were able to climb up on the low deck roof, when we had a slide off the deck because the balustrade fell off, when they could zoom their ride-ons around inside the house because the floors were terrible and when you could stand on the granny flat railing in order to launch the swing from a substantial height.

Me, I will look back here at all the before shots with a great sense of relief that it is behind us, that we got through it intact. And reminisce that I will never  have to witness my four year old climbing out of a freezer drawer in a posh appliances store, ever again. As much as choosing fixtures and fittings for a renovation can be enjoyable, adding small children with short attention spans slightly takes the shine off it all. Amongst all the chaos, there have however been a few shining lights that were quite child compatible.

Take choosing our marble slab. Whilst incredibly thrilling for Legoman and I, we weren't sure how the moment would be appreciated by the kids. Luckily SNB Stone warehouse, although somewhat dangerous and requiring of intense supervision, was also a tactile experience with a remote control crane.

That is our kitchen slab. For once in my life I had not chosen the most expensive option and was relieved to hear that the grey toned Carrara marble  that I wanted was about half the price of the white toned marble that everyone else was putting in their kitchen. Nothing better than that. We are getting a honed finish (not shiny) and it feels and looks amazing. At SNB you can flip through all the slabs (care of the crane) and choose the exact one that you like. There is a big variation in veins and patterning, some have very thick dark veins, some have barely visible lines. This one was just right and there were two adjacent slabs which should do the whole kitchen and, fingers crossed, enough left for the laundry as well.

Now, for every ghastly experience like this one in a high end tile shop where Liongirl belted out her favourite Justine Clarke number into that (probably horrendously) expensive extendable tap positioned exactly at preschool microphone height,

there was an equally splendid experience at this wonderful place. Can I be so bold as to say that if you are renovating and you have small children, and if you have not yet taken them to Ikea or a theme park they will think that is where they have just been. And it is free. And open on Sundays.

Nope, you will not get any raised eyebrows whatsoever when all the toilets are sat on and pretend flushed. (This is our toilet of choice and recieved the pink four year old tick of approval). Or when all the taps are swivelled and turned on and off.

No one looks aghast when your children discover the delights of conjoined spiral staircases.

There were almost tears when the fully operational clear glass tester lift was out of order though.

All redeemed by the selection of remote control insect screens that allowed one to trap little sisters outside in the virtual rainforest while you sit inside wielding the remote (no pics unfortunately as I was trying to prevent crushing by remote control screens).We were there for a few hours and the kids really had no idea we were doing serious renovation research.

 Overall, doing a renovation with small children definitely has challenges and we feel the best decision we have made by far was to move out of the house and live somewhere close enough to check in most days. I hope the kids have positive memories of this time, and not just fond memories of all the extra screen time they had at site meetings! Right now I'm just doing the countdown to the arrival of the kitchen I have been planning for years, sometime early next week.


  1. Mel - that marble is devine! I am just as excited as seeing your kitchen reveal as I am my own (which is still a long way down the track.) And if you think shopping with two kids is hard, chuck four in the mix - hence why I have hired a babysitter to take over for the times I need to check out products and attend fortnightly site meetings that commence at 7am! xx

    1. Cannot imagine taking four of the little darlings for any house related shopping, two is two too many! We just used the ipad for site meetings which ended up being about three times a week most weeks mel x

  2. Wooah, can't believe how far ahead you're getting. I'm sure it doesn't always feel like that you you. Probably like the end of a pregnancy when you just want the baby out of you and have your body back for you again. Really enjoying following it all and seeing your lovely home take shape.
    Our girls loved Ikea too when they were younger as they played in all the room sets, they even asked to go back to the yellow and blue place again and again.
    Thanks for your lovely words about my colour choices too, most kind.


  3. I'm sure they will remember it, my daughter tells everyone that "daddy built our house" even though he has only done minor things :)
    All of the vista to our local Reece store during bathroom Reno, were assisted by the same wonderful woman, biscuit barrel in hand, feeding my little one. Saviour!
    Food luck with the upcoming kitchen!

    1. And good luck as well as food luck haha poignant autocorrect!

  4. Oh I love Ikea...we went one rainy day and Toddler C hopped from bed to in fully under the covers of each made one batted an eye!
    Top the trip off with some meatballs and a brownie and I am one happy customer! Even if I haven't actually bought anything!

    And I can't wait to see your kitchen!

  5. Ohhh Marble!! YUMMY. How far off is a kitchen reveal? Looking forward to seeing it.
    Your daughter with the tap is so precious! I love that photo. Can't wait for my daughter to act up like that. Die of cuteness overload.

  6. The marble is stunning. lucky you. your little stories about your kiddos always make me smile Mel.

  7. I love your marble, and I love the kids "helping" pick out things. My grandsons still ask me where Man is, which is what they called my contractor. He became like one of the family. haha!

  8. Fun and games. You've captured what renovating is like perfectly.
    I'm sure your two will look back on it and remember all the fun. x

  9. Love love love the marble - we were at the same place last week! Can I ask - have you hired a stone mason direct or is this part of the kitchen scope? I am after a stone mason...

  10. Love the photo of Liongirl belting out a tune, the marble is pretty nice too.

  11. Love the marble and so nice that the kids got involved in the process too. Good luck with the new kitchen! I'm sure it'll look awesome.

    PS: New La Mav skincare pack giveaway on the blog, hope you enter:

  12. Ha ha! I missed this post. Oh I so relate to this. Son number 3 was just 11 months old when we moved here and had just started walking. I caught him on the top rung of a ladder when the tradies were doing the kitchen. He was quick! And the traipsing to the shops was a nightmare. Nightmare. I pretty much did everything on line...I couldn't face it.

    The marble is beautiful. I so wish we had chosen marble instead of the granite (although I still like it very much). It is such a a beautiful, beautiful thing. xx

  13. That marble is beautiful. I am so jealous of your kitchen already and it isn't even built yet! x

  14. Were the tears Legoman's? Love the marble, very swish. Quit that complaining you only have TWO kids to renovate with, ha!