Buying their 1929 California bungalow in 2002, it took Jennifer French and her husband Ian a whole decade to complete their renovation. But looking at the finished project, it was certainly worth the wait!
“When we bought, we knew we would renovate but it took us about five years to employ some architects,” explains Jennifer. “They came up with so many things we hadn’t thought about. We were just going to update the kitchen and take out a wall, but they were thinking so much bigger. So it then took us four years to finally decide to do it! I’m married to an accountant so the shock of how much everything cost had to sink in with him!”
Taking off two fibro 1070s additions and rebuilding in the same area — but with a larger footprint — the three-bed, one-and-a-half-bath home became a four-bed house with four toilets (one ensuite, one bathroom and two powder rooms), a studio, formal and informal living rooms and a dining room.
The biggest job was definitely the transformation of the kitchen and dining area, creating an open plan living space that had previously been lacking. “We took out the adjoining wall between the kitchen and TV room, and put the kitchen where the old TV room was and the casual dining room where the old kitchen was. We then added another room for the TV room. We really opened up the floor plan, as originally they had all been individual rooms and the kitchen had four walls. Now the kitchen is completely open and goes out onto a covered deck, perfect for entertaining.”
Situated in the Sydney suburb of Roseville, the original property had standout architraves and skirtings and ornate bedroom ceilings. Jennifer wanted to stay true to the house’s design. “Our brief to the architects was that we wanted the house to look like it had always been in this format; that the additions weren’t just tack-ons. So we matched the architraves and skirting boards to the existing ones, stained the four different types of timber floors the same dark colour and gave all the bedroom ceilings (bar the master) the same ornate design.”
While the renovation was the result of 10 years of preparation, the actual construction only took seven months (but then another two years to do all the gardens and painting!). Jennifer and Ian did a lot of the labour themselves, painting the whole house inside and out, as well as picking the finishes, fittings and colours. Even so, the whole reno wasn’t cheap, costing around 60% of what they paid for the property. Yet while they have no plans to sell, the current market value is about two and a half times the original purchase price, meaning the project is sure to have been a fine investment.
Having done multiple personal renovation projects herself, Jennifer also runs her own interior decorating and colour consulting business, Inside Out Colour and Design, where she helps others with their renos.
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