I’d grown up in an old house that was constantly being done up so I guess it was in my DNA to take on a doer-upper. The 1890’s cottage and overgrown garden had so much potential and I could see Rupert getting excited too. The cottage walls were stained nicotine yellow and the wallpapered ceiling in the bedroom was sagging, ripped with scrim and was water stained. Perfect for us.
After ten months of weekend hard slog, thousand of tacks removed and a lick of white paint the cottage was habitable once more. All five of us plus two cats and a dog shifted into this tiny two bedroom home, fondly named Madame Apple Tree cottage, after the 100-year-old apple tree in the garden and the Madame that occupied the cottage during the second world war.
We loved living in the cottage with all its quirks and charm but after the first winter we named the bathroom and toilet ‘the icebox’. This feature definitely spurred us on to find alternative accommodation.
During this time, we brought another doer-upper farm house for $5,000 on TradeMe, relocated and started on renovations as this was going to be our family home. Much larger than the cottage and with bungalow and villa features she was pretty rough but had great bones.
Over the course of 2.5 years, Rupert pulled the house apart and put it back together, insulating and recycling materials where he could. We put in big villa windows to capture the view and to bring in the morning and afternoon sun and painted the interior all white to pay homage to its Danish Dannevirke heritage. To date this is still our work in progress....