(The real estate photos originally shared in this post have been removed since we realised how easy it was to Google image search them and discover our exact address!)
Those who follow me on Instagram will have probably worked out by now that we have bought a house but I thought it was about time I actually blogged about it here as I will be sharing the reno journey with you over the coming month and years. Yes, definitely years! This is a long-term family home for us and there is plenty to do!
We have already done some updates (I have zero patience) but for the purposes of this post, I’m starting from the very beginning with the journey as to how we got here. As you can imagine if you know a thing or two about Sydney property prices, it has not been easy!
So, why did we sell our beautiful, two-bedroom apartment with recently renovated bathroom after just a year (I’m still mourning the loss of that bathroom!)? Long story short, it was a good time to sell. Another unit in our block went to auction and we couldn’t believe what it sold for. We knew ours was a better apartment and was likely to go for more and, doing the sums, it looked like we could just (by the skin of our teeth) afford to upgrade to a more long term family home; a standalone house with a yard! The dream! Not to mention the million and one issues we had with our owners’ corporation put us off living in a strata building for life (I could write a series of angry blog posts but that’s not going to help me move on!). We also have a very active toddler and hope to have another one day (no announcement, no!) and while we could have made it work, we knew more space and a yard would make life easier. Not to mention the constant fear of Sebastian managing to climb over the third floor balcony, no matter how safe and careful we were. Terrifying.
So, we sold the apartment for a great price (if you need an agent on Sydney’s Upper North Shore, James Tasker at Di Jones Wahroonga is exceptional) in early December. Happy days!
We started looking for modest three-bedroom houses in the neighbouring suburbs which we knew from our research were just within our reach financially. Then Christmas happened: nothing on the market for weeks. And weeks. When things started coming back online towards the end of January, we kept losing out prior to auction by frustratingly small amounts, but amounts we didn’t have nonetheless. We started to wonder if we had made a bad move selling the apartment as it looked like we might only have the option of buying a bigger, three-bedroom apartment or a townhouse (strata: ugh). The thing was, prices were continuing to go up all the time.
So we decided it was time to look a little further afield (still in Sydney’s north) and finally it seemed we were in with a chance on our budget. The best thing was we could get four bedrooms and a bigger house and yard if we were lucky. And we finally were.
Our “nanna house” (we used this to affectionately nickname her when discussing the other options and it stuck!) was the first house we saw in this suburb. It was packed at the first open. It had, and definitely still does have, a really good vibe and nice flow about it. It had a huge living room and a separate (yet adjoining) family room (which we immediately earmarked for a playroom we could close the door on and not worry about the mess) as well as four bedrooms. As I work from home, the extra bedroom is priceless as an office. We fell for this house, warts and all. We could immediately see ourselves living here.
The house was/is seriously dated. We’re talking original kitchen and bathroom and even the more modern (I use the word loosely) en suite is pretty embarrassing. The exterior is red brick veneer and UGLY. God bless her, this house has absolutely no street appeal. We have about four different kinds of flooring in here including cork! The same lady had lived here since 1989 and had recently, reluctantly (she loved this house) gone into a nursing home.
But we have space, so much space! And it’s peaceful. The back yard is just the right medium size for us, private and full of established trees, shrubs and flowers. The neighbours either side have kids and seem nice. We have several parks in walking distance (although Seb calls the yard a park now!) and a cafe and little shop right on the next corner (winning!). While we had been looking for a three-to-five-year home, we now have ourselves a potentially forever home.
So, there’s a lot wrong with the house aesthetically and it wasn’t exactly a bargain (clearly there’s no such thing in Sydney these days) but it is ours, it is structurally sound, it can last us forever if needs be, we are in and it feels really great to know we aren’t going anywhere for a really long time. I have had enough of moving.
We have hardly any money left and I’m doing deals and calling in favours left, right and centre to get our hideous kitchen ripped out and replaced ASAP (I’ll share more on my vision for the kitchen soon). We’d love to do both bathrooms but we will have to wait a while and save up and learn patience.
So what have we done so far? We have painted throughout (made a couple of errors there which I’ll learn from and blog about!), we’ve carpeted the playroom and bedrooms and recently had plantation shutters installed by our friends at DIY Online Blinds. These things alone have made a big difference. Next up, we’re replacing all the lights. To save on the electrician’s bill we’re replacing the existing pendants with new, more modern ones rather than going for downlights.
I’ve worked out there are a lot of little things (as well as the glaringly obvious like kitchens and bathrooms) which age an older home and will need replacing. These include lights, light switches and power sockets and door handles (maybe even doors!). And the other thing is, each time you fix up one thing, it makes something else look even worse in comparison! Not to mention the boring yet essential things which cost money and don’t make the house look any better at all (air con and termite prevention treatment being just two of them!).
Once we’ve done the kitchen, we can sort out the flooring situation. I have no doubt having the same floor throughout the living areas will make a massive difference. I’m thinking a medium-toned oak laminate of some kind. And longer term there are so many more plans, including an exterior and back yard makeover.
I’m really looking forward to sharing our reno journey with you and hope you’ll like it and learn from it! You can expect me to absolutely keep it real and if there are mistakes along the way I’ll be sharing them too!
Better get back to tightening my belt and working hard so we can afford to pay the mortgage…