Welcome to Kenmore

In late 2017, my wife and I purchased our second property after selling our apartment earlier in the year. The house, a charming fixer-upper, is located in the leafy western suburb of Kenmore and is scheduled to be my weekend project for what I suspect will be many (many!) years ahead. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my renovation process.

Seeing the Potential!

The house was built and decorated in the early 1970s and is pretty typical of the Brisbane area and era. It’s an elevated weatherboard clad 3-bed, one-bath house that sits over an enclosed 2-car garage; just under 200m2.

There were many features that appealed to us when purchasing this house. The size was perfect; large enough to accommodate us (plus the addition of little Cooper!) but not so overwhelming that it would become a maintenance monster. But more importantly it was about potential. There were plenty of people who walked in and walked straight out with barely a cursory inspection. But we think this place has enormous potential. We see this as our ’20 year house’ so luckily, we’re in no particular rush. Luckily, because it needs a lot of work!

Time Warp

Removing the carpet

The house is structurally sound but it’s internal aesthetics need the most work; these were all original 1970s interiors with wallpaper to all rooms including the bathroom and some ceilings! The first priority was to remove the forest green carpet that covered all living and bedroom areas. While it was still surprisingly lush, it was covering up some beautiful hardwood timber floors that were in excellent condition! We hired a company to sand back and finish the floors with a water-based polyurethane with a smooth matt finish. We could have done this work ourselves, but I firmly believe that this type of job is worth paying the professionals for as it will save money and time.

Planning our priorities

Replacing the kitchen has been our ongoing priority as the original one was far too small, outdated and difficult to use. One of the challenges we saw with the kitchen (and the house in general) is creating a layout that makes the most out of limited space. The kitchen was broken down into three stages; sink unit, appliance wall and laundry unit.

The decision to move the laundry from outside, back into the kitchen was to create efficiencies in space, but this will also be a time-saving practicality that allows us to easily manage domestic chores while keeping an eye on children in adjoining living and dining spaces. This kitchen layout and staging plan also allowed each area to be treated as a ‘small project’ and helped prioritise work with the limited time available on weekends.

It’s all in the detail

Demolishing the kitchen and installing Ikea cabinetry
The old kitchen

The first stage was installing the cabinetry for the appliance wall as it had the least impact on the functionality of the remainder of the kitchen. I’m sure there’s some taboo about architects and interior designers going to Ikea… however I have to say that we’ve installed an Ikea kitchen unit – and we love it! The amount of storage we’re packing into a small space and the ease of ordering and installation was incredible. Installing the laundry unit was interesting – I found some old pipework in the wall which suggested there once used to be a laundry in the exact space (great minds!). Once this was installed and the sink was operable it allowed the existing kitchen sink to be removed and replaced. This was the trickiest part as the wall in this location was kind of but not really straight and flush.

An astute approach

Now while kitchens generally do cost a lot of money, there are a few tips that I’d give for anyone looking to save a dollar while undertaking this type of renovation. All of the cabinetry comes from Ikea. We bought it all, much earlier than we needed, while it was on a huge sale. The savings contributed to all of the kitchen accessories and furnishings we also wanted (needed!). Get on Gumtree for a saving! Our kitchen sink – $30. The laundry sink – $50. You could easily pay over $300 for each of these items brand new. They’re stainless steel so after a good going over with Gumption they’re as good as new! The benchtops are Tasmanian Oak laminated timber panels from Bunnings which were then extended from 600mm to 630mm in width. A cost-effective solution that has been applied with a solid clear gloss finish that I’m very happy with. The appliances were the items we ‘splurged’ on (a big thank you to Uncle Dave for installing them!). My wife and I both agreed that a dishwasher was a much better solution than the arguments over whose turn it was to do the dishes! In fact it was the same model we purchased for our apartment – we loved it so much we just walked into Winning Appliances and said “we’ll have another one please!”.

Stay tuned…

Hopefully these photos provide some justice to the space and an idea on what kind of renovations I’ve been up to – relax, it’s not blue. I just didn’t want to remove the protective film until after we’ve finished tiling and painting. Upcoming weekend projects include extending the banquet seating from the kitchen with a waterfall bench edge, tiling the splashbacks, patching the cork flooring and last but not least – painting! What I have learned so far is that I’m a terrible Gyprocker – but I still enjoyed doing it.

Hope to share more updates in the coming months.