Well, we are (finally) on the cusp of beginning our renovation. All things being equal, the builder plans to start in the next week (insert excited squeal here). We will have to move out of the house after Christmas for about four months while the inside is reconfigured, and hopefully, we will be settled into a freshly renovated home before Winter really hits next year! I suspect that over the coming months, there will be more than a few posts about our renovation. How it’s going (or not going as the case may be), what choices we have been making, and the ups and downs of renovating this old farmhouse of ours.
This renovation has been a long time coming. We first started talking about it in 2013, had some preliminary drawings done in 2014, and finally found a builder at the end of last year. It has been a long wait, but the benefit of a long lead up is that it has given us a lot of time to work out exactly what we want in our home, and to design our home to suit our lifestyle.
No matter where you live, or your lifestyle, having a home that meets your family’s needs is important. So here are some of the things that are important to us in a home.
Store Our Produce
Currently, our produce is stored in boxes on the veranda, or packed into the fridge. We have boxes of jams, passata, and pickles squirrelled away in the linen press and under the bed in the spare room. Our new kitchen will have a large walk-in pantry with a passive cooling system and will be highly insulated so that the produce lasts a long time. If it goes to plan, in summer the pantry will be a lovely cool room, so we might just all hang out in there with our fruit and vegetables (there should be enough room for the whole family!). We will have large open shelves to encourage air flow and keep the fruit and vegetables fresh.
Room To Cook
This is (to me) one of the best bits. The new kitchen, while not huge, will have enough room to do large batches of food, or to have friends over for a baking session. I’ve splurged on two ovens as well as a five burner induction cooktop. I don’t need a high-end showpiece kitchen. I’m after simple and functional. I have thoughts of perhaps (one day) running cooking classes or making food commercially, so the kitchen has been designed with this in the back of my mind.
Another thing we are excited about is a dishwasher. Three kids, and a family that all enjoys cooking means that there is a lot of washing up. I know the dishwasher needs to be packed and unpacked, but I will take that any day (particularly because I plan to delegate that job to the kid hehe!).
Full Of Light And Energy Efficient
Our house has small windows, and virtually none of the living areas face north, which is important to get both light and heat into the house in Winter. The reconfiguration is going to put some large windows on the North side of the house which opens onto a sheltered veranda. We plan to put a pergola over the veranda with a deciduous grapes vine growing over it. In Summer the leaves will shade the windows, and prevent some of the heat getting into the house.
During the Summer months, we like to sit on our south facing veranda for dinner to catch the evening breeze, so we are building a new south facing deck area to sit on (no more precarious balancing to make sure no one falls off the narrow veranda).
We will continue to heat the house with our slow combustion fire. We can source the wood from the farm, and the fire will easily heat the entire house.
A Space For The Family To Be Together
Neither CB and I are not fans of massive houses. We see them as time suckers as they take a lot of time to clean and maintain (4 bathrooms to clean sounds horrific). I also wonder what effect large houses have on family life. When there are many separate living areas in a house, families can live in the same house while rarely interacting. I want our all family to share our space so that we spend time together and have all those incidental conversations that contribute to positive family relationships.
All though we are doing an extension, we are not actually adding that many square meters to the house. As part of the renovation, we are pulling off the back enclosed veranda. This will allow more light into the house. The reconfiguration will give us a large open plan living/dining/kitchen area, and an extra bedroom. As our kids move into their teen years, an extra bedroom will give the kids some space of their own when they need it, while the large open plan living area will provide the communal space we need.
Storage, Storage, Storage
Heaven knows, I am definitely not a hoarder. I love to declutter and keep life simple. I think that one of the easiest ways to do this is to have a place for everything which is easily accessible. Our home will have a large linen press/ store room to pop all those things we use here on the farm. Things such as our sausage stuffer, boxes of jars, as well as my teaching resources and the usual vacuum cleaner, sheets, and towels. We’re also planning to put in large Ikea wardrobes in the bedrooms (currently, only the kids have a proper wardrobe), and floor to ceiling bookshelves with doors (to keep the dust out) down the hall.
Like the name suggests, a place to take off shoes and boots before coming into the main house will help keep the house clean (fingers crossed), and also provide a place for winter coats, school bags, swim bags, and hats to be stored when they are not being used.
A Second Toilet
Our only toilet is currently in the Laundry. During the morning rush, there is always someone waiting to use it, so we are reconfiguring the bathroom to add a second toilet. This is the most exciting thing about the entire build! #livingthedream
I’m the first to admit that our lifestyle may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For every person who thinks that moving to the country is a dream come true, there is someone for whom it would be their worst nightmare. Fortunately for us, the only people we have to please is ourselves. This is the house we plan to spend another 40 years in (hopefully). By spending the time and effort to get it right now, we can enjoy the benefits for the long term.
Have you ever custom designed a home? What do you look for in a home? Are you ready to follow me on this adventure? Got any last minute renovating tips??