Saturday, July 14, 2012

A new home. A new adventure begins

Have you guessed what my big news is yet? I know I've been dropping enough hints over the past few weeks on my Pinterest boards with my collection of home and studio ideas building up into a nice inspirational heap. 

Yes, we finally have a new home! And I will soon have my own space to live, sing, dance, cook and most importantly, to create art in! A STUDIO of my own 

I thought it might be a good idea to share the renovation process via this blog and to keep a picture diary of what will have to be an almost entirely DIY job. The renovation of the cottage will be located on the dedicated page for 'Our Little Cottage Home'

First of all, let me introduce the cottage

A little bit of history

The house was built around 1950 - 1954. It sits on 3 acres of land right next to a beautiful swimming hole and creek in the Orara Valley, NSW, Australia. There is a small shed with a covered garage out the front. This will be 'my little house' and art studio.

not the best angle perhaps... though everything has to start somewhere

removing the dodgy bits...

We can only assume the shed was built sometime in the 50's, though it is difficult to be certain. We have found a couple of old framed aerial photographs of the property showing a now non-existent building (perhaps a dairy shed) and water tank on the eastern side of the cottage. 

These photos are hand colored...but there is no date written on the back. It would be great to know when they were taken...and to get a copy of a recent aerial photo...because the forest has certainly reclaimed a great deal of the paddocks behind the house!

A name for the cottage?

We don't yet have a name for this sunny little retro home...though we've given each other the task of finding suitable names and we will vote on our favorite suggestions. It would be great to have a little sign at the gate when we move in at the end of the year

Ok, where's my hammer? Let's get started!

I'll post the photos and daily stories of what we get up to. When I say 'we' I am referring to myself and my family (my parents and my youngest brother). You might see us appearing in a few photos (probably covered in mud/dust/cobwebs/paint) during various stages of the renovation. 

Whether its tearing down walls, putting them back up again, recycling floorboards or creating clever storage in small spaces, I'll be recording every detail for posterity and for reminding ourselves in weeks to come that even though it is exhausting, dirty and very very hard work, we can do this. We can do this. We have done it before. We CAN do this :)

Here begins a diary of turning my tiny studio shed into a creative living and art space... 

Day 1

 It was of course raining and miserable, being mid winter here in the Orara Valley. The current state of the building is...rustic to say the least. 

Today we started on revealing the bones of the shed; ripping up the old floorboards (most of which we saved for later) and assessing the termite damage to the structure beneath. Because this space will be temporarily used to store all the furniture and fittings that will be used in the main cottage, it needs to be clean and dry. 

 My 'future studio' sits just behind the open garage and you can see the many years worth of silty earth that has washed beneath the shed and built up around the east side resulting in the footings being destroyed by termites and the eastern wall and south east corner are now resting directly on the ground with rotten beams beneath. 

We cut out as many of the rotten and termite damaged areas as we could safely do without causing the walls to collapse. These sections fueled our happy little bonfire outside (in the soon-to-be horse paddock). Dad enthusiastically dug a hole to demonstrate how much earth we are going to be shifting next week. 

It was my job to go over every piece of salvageable timber and remove all the old rusted nails so the planks would be ready to be cut to size & cleaned up. I cannot wait to see what this timber looks like with all the dirt and rough bits shaved off.
If it polishes up nice it may become shelves or cabinets in the house and in my studio...or it might be the start of a new verandah...who knows

While clearing out all the junk left in the shed from before, we came across a few interesting things. A jar full of horseshoe nails (yay! I have ideas of how to use these already brewing away in my head); a few strange brass star shaped things...I'm not sure what they are but I like them and I'm sure I can find a use for them somewhere; an old Singer sewing machine (I hope it works... that would be so cool!); a timber door (for my future bathroom, thankyou); an ancient metal vice (very handy, Dad claimed it immediately); and a vintage medicine bottle (more on this later, we have to clean it up, make it presentable) many treasures! I love reclaimed materials :)

What we have learnt by the end of the day

Bring more shovels for tomorrow. Wear gumboots. And take snacks. We worked up quite an appetite today!

Jobs for next week

The shed needs to be lifted up, the dirt dug out underneath, new footings fitted beneath and a new floor laid on top. Hopefully, making it very difficult for the termites to make trouble.
Sounds like a lot of work. Looks like alot of work. 

Though considering what we achieved today in the rain and on our first day... 

I'm quite chuffed really.

Now, how are we going to lift up the building?