Kitchen renovation and Mary Anne Schaffers list

 

Hi All,

I decided that I would like to share a post with you on how we renovated our “kitchens” in our house in town. In the process I will explain why we had 2 kitchens! Not a normal thing, but this is Tasmania and “normal” tends to be in the minority when you are dealing with houses and house building. When we moved from Western Australia to Tasmania it was with the promise of not having to pay rent and being able to study. We didn’t have any idea what the house that we were moving to looked like. When we arrived, we walked through the house in a state of mild shock and bewilderment. Our rented house in Albany W.A. was old, had seen better days but was also enormous. We had huge rooms and plenty of space for all 5 of us (my son Stewart was living with us and we left him renting the house when we left). The house that we were walking around was infinitesimally smaller and we looked at each other and all of us said at once “how are we going to fit all of us AND our stuff in here?” That is saying something because we had left most of our “stuff” behind in Albany including most of our furniture. The house was/is tiny. There is a good sized 1 bedroom unit out the back, but the house itself is very small. The house had also very recently been vacated by its past tenants and like most of my dad’s ex tenants; they didn’t see why they should have to clean up before they left. One look in the tiny split level electric stove/oven revealed a thick layer of white chop fat that coated everything and that needed to be removed before we could use the stove. The one thing that stopped me sinking into a pit of despair was the kitchen. It was light, airy, bright and wasn’t all that bad. It did have linoleum tiles on the floor but we could fix that at a later date. It had been built in the 60’s and owned by a little old lady with 2 eccentric sons, one of whom kept snakes in the shed… We had a lot of work to do! We slowly amassed what we needed to convert the house. We started off with a colour scheme of a soft butter yellow lounge room and kitchen and the rest of the house was painted white (Bethany’s room) and green “Madeline’s room as well as the bathroom (same green). That was to allow us to think that it was “our place” until we could get stuck in in earnest. We soon ripped up the lino tiles and laid some ceramic floor tiles in the kitchen. We ripped up the carpet and polished the wooden floors. We redecorated the bathroom… twice! We also worked out that our 2 kitchens needed to be given identities. The small kitchen near the back door was simply a receptacle for the stove. It had a few small cupboards and not much else. The main kitchen area had no stove, a sink, some cupboards and an interesting metal set of cupboards and bread box sunk into the wall between the 2 kitchens. A most interesting setup and one that we decided to work with…

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We tried to add as much of what we actually wanted in a kitchen along with our ability (well…Steve’s…) to do all of the work ourselves (apart from plumbing in the gas stove). We were able to customise everything because we did it all ourselves resulting in us being able to work with our space and also work vertically so that we could make the best use of the very small amount of area available. We love being inventive with space and with what we use to make cupboards etc. We ended up making our bench tops in the main kitchen area out of very thick pine. We loved what we did and it really suited our needs.

We set about giving each room identity. The room with the stove got a nice big gas stove purchased by my father from a local auction house (after I headed in and picked it out). I don’t know if any of you realise how difficult it is these days to get an “all gas” stove with a gas oven as well but it was a sheer stroke of amazing good fortune that someone wanted to sell their all gas 6 burner stove when we wanted to buy one second hand. This stove is amazing and we decided to do away with using large gas bottles and set up a system of the smaller 9kg gas bottles for the stove after we had a chat to a chef who does the same at his place. No more gas bottle rental for us! We then set about making it a good space for the stove and added our washing machine and a wall bracket for the dryer. For such a small space we sure packed a lot in! We then worked with the main kitchen and set about removing a dated island and after tiling we set about repainting and redecorating this area. We then added shelves in the windows so that the neighbours couldn’t see in easily. Here are some photos to show you what we did. The first photo that we had of the little kitchen was actually after we had done some redecorating so you can’t see what greeted us when we first got there. We didn’t have a camera at that stage and so you are just going to have to imagine the grease covered, smoke covered surfaces and the grime that covered everything. We had a little bit of savings that we had brought over with us from W.A. but apart from that, we had to save up and do things as we had the money. I think that it makes you feel prouder of your efforts and you appreciate what you have done more when you have to save up to get it and you have to find ways to get what you want cheaper. I think that the process of arriving at your destination is always where you get the most satisfaction. The end result is all well and good but remembering how you tipped that tin of paint off the deck…how you painted over every single vent in the house…how the dog ate your sponge…how you had to live in a caravan outside in the sub zero temperatures with a most exuberant young dog who insisted on shoving you out of your tiny single bed give your “project” it’s meat. We have always had to use our lateral thinking abilities and natural inventive minds to counteract our low fund issues. We are also somewhat eccentric about what we do and don’t like. Some of the things that we have done to the house in town are not to everyone’s taste but we don’t care, because

  1. We are penniless hippy student hermits who could care less about what “normal” people think
  2. We have more time and energy than we do money so we have to be inventive and sometimes “inventive” ends up slightly different to what money can buy
  3. We love what we did
  4. We enjoyed being able to do whatever we wanted to the house as it was actually ours!
  5. Did I mention that we are hermit eccentric bohemians who could care less what other people think?

We love the bright colours and the very next year “burnt orange” and “cerulean blue” were the IN colours for accent walls. Admittedly we did paint our entire kitchen and lounge room burnt orange with contrasting green cupboards, our hallway area was the brightest Mediterranean blue that you have ever seen (and still is because our daughters are too busy with other things to repaint) and the bathroom is pillar box red with black and white accents. It certainly takes your mind off how small the house is! The tiny kitchen/stove area is a nice dark sage green colour and is probably the most understated room in the house. When you work with what you have available it limits your choices sometimes but Steve and I are always on the lookout for something that is functional as well as aesthetically pleasing, and if it does a few more things at the same time (like going vertical rather than horizontal and saving us space or being colourful and useful) so much more the better.

The brand spanking new copy of the book that Earl ate has arrived. I can’t praise this online book store enough! 1 week to get here from the U.K. and less than half the price the library wanted to charge me for the very same book. I will be using this book shop repeatedly from now on. They have amazingly good prices and free postage to Australia and now, with only 1 week waiting time, they are my new favourite book store. No more browsing shelves of the local shops, I will be hunting down reviews online and will be purchasing my books from The Book Depository. I can’t see how real time book stores are able to have the bollocks to charge what they charge for these books. I know that they have physical costs like wages and lighting etc. but all I can think is that they want to buy themselves a new Mercedes with the massive profits that they are charging. Bollocks to them. This is one instance where the book shop (wanky, overpriced and full of pretentious Pratt’s and snooty staff) can go broke as far as I am concerned. I am heartily sick of people ripping other people off and making “book reading” (something that should be fostered, nurtured and actively promoted for everyone) only for the rich. They have done it with anything cultural. Art, books, music and now food. Don’t forget the humble pushbike that was once the mode of transport for artistic Frenchies, school kids and people who lost their license, now it is seen as being something to aspire to (and to haul your ancient flabby bodies into lycra to make some sort of status statement about your sad old carcass…). Wine is to be sniffed and swirled around your mouth before you spit it out and beer is no longer the premise of the “common man” but is boutique and scented with blackberries and chocolate undertones. There is something to be said for “ambiance” in cafes and book stores, but if you want to spend a small fortune on a book to elevate yourself above the rest of society and make yourself feel better get a life! Give us back our books. Thank goodness for whoever thought of making books available free to the masses in the form of libraries. I owe them my sanity and several certificates and a Diploma to boot. I love the Book Depository. I don’t care if some sweaty strange person with hairy palms runs the website from their basement dungeon where they are confined by their ankle bracelet to make sure that they don’t emerge in daylight hours to shuffle about dealing nefariously with the general public. To me they are someone wonderful and to be championed. Now I can take the book to the library, I can collect my mangled copy and I can take out 2 of the books on Mary Anne Schaffer’s list of “best ever books”. I am going to spend the rest of the afternoon with one of these most precious tombs and a nice cup of earl grey tea. I will most probably make the shortcrust pastry for Steve’s pie that he wants to experiment with later on now so that nothing will interrupt me and my pleasure. See you all tomorrow :o)

Just a very quick addition to this post…the first Mary Anne Schaffer book that I picked up to read “Time and Again” by Nora Roberts is apparently a bestseller on the New York Times list. I started reading it with great interest and it took me all of 3 pages to work out that it was a bodice ripper. Oh well…I don’t read romance novels. I don’t have time to sigh about unrequited love and, in this case, the need for some future Romeo to get back to his time while he falls in love with a 20th century babe. Not a good start Mary Anne! I hope that this was a mere aberration in your list and that it doesn’t start out as it means to finish up or I might be severely let down. I am not going to finish the book. I read 100 pages of it and apart from on again, off again tension between the principal characters, this book did nothing for me. If you like a good romance novel perhaps you will enjoy it… I am on to the next book by Sebastien Japrisot “A Very Long Engagement” that promises to be somewhat meatier than the last choice. I am also going to request the next 2 books on Mary Anne’s list. I will let you know how Monsignor Sebastien Japrisot’s novel is going in the near future. See you tomorrow :o)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Roz Takes
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 10:44:43

    I thoroughly agree with you about books Fran. I don’t get as much time these days for reading as I used too. Have you read any of Colleen McCullough’s “Caesar” series. She spent 5 years researching before writing so all are semi-biographical. Could not put them down after starting. She has a knack of making you feel you are there. Strange but I could not get into her other books and still have not finished “Angel Puss” which was recommended. If you have time, start with “The First Man in Rome”and follow on from there. As a matter of fact I think I might read that one again.

    Reply

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