Friday, September 21, 2012

Renovation Don'ts - Part II

Every time I open a property paper lately, I see this beautiful house for sale in Coorparoo and it reminds me of, what I believe, to be a very important 'Renovation Don't'.
You don't need to race in and change everything about a house immediately for the sake of change. Think people.  Once features are ripped out, they're gone for good, and there's some things that can't be faked, like the patina of age and time that gives a house its charm and character. If you don't want charm and character, if you want everything to be shiny and perfect, maybe an old house is not for you?
Every time I see a picture of the kitchen in this house, I automatically think of that saying; 'Fools rush in'.
How beautiful and gracious is this kitchen? I can just imagine the lady of the house clicking around in it in her kitten heels when it was brand new, making sandwiches for her girlfriends and a tray of g & ts on a hot day. Call me a pessimist, but I just know some doody head is going to make it their mission to rip this pretty girl out and install some sleek pre-fab eye sore.
This is how I would have loved our kitchen to look, but the existing 'kitchen' in our house was more just a room with a sink and a recess where the wood burner had been.
Just look at this beautiful house. It's at 251 Chatworth Road, Coorparoo.

If you're about to renovate, may I suggest living in your house as is for six or twelve months. The plans that we had in mind when we first moved in changed completely after living in our house for 12 months.
You probably don't remember it, but when Alex Baldwin's character was made the head of CNN in 30 Rock, he say's 'Well, the first thing I'll do is redecorate my office, even though it's perfectly fine the way it is'.
It's human nature to go into a new place and mark our territory. Remodelling or redecorating is the more civilized equivalent of peeing around the boundaries.
Just keep in mind, it's not always necessary. Old houses are gracious and romantic, two qualities that are being wrung out of the world on a daily basis. You may find it very refreshing to forgo fashion in the name of something more classic and nostalgic.
Say no to remodelling and redesigning more, and embrace the practice of restoring and preserving, at least that way, you can always change your mind.


  1. I suspect they're marketing this place to developers, with the agent's price estimate being astronmical and the amount of land...such a shame. Would be lovely to see it go to someone who will appreciate its beauty and not chop it up.

  2. Love that kitchen-just the right amount of quirkiness,just needs an old aga. Hope someone doesn't rip out all the traditional features.Those garden chairs are lovely too!

  3. I too have been admiring the qualities of that exact Coorparoo home, it is a beauty in need of TLC and the block of land is huge.

  4. Maybe we'll all be pleasantly surprised?

  5. Oh I completely agree with this post. I took it to the extreme of living in our old girl for 15 years before we renovated.....

  6. Absolutely, great advice, I think you need to live in a house for 1 year to see and feel what the seasons do in each room and see how your life settles into how your family uses the house spaces.
    Once your renovation dollar is spent, changing your mind later is just going to be more expensive than getting it right the first time.
    It is helpful to talk to someone about the Northerly aspects of living areas and why you don't want your kitchen on the Western side if possible, energy costs are just going to get more expensive.

  7. Couldn't agree with you more. I hope this beauty falls into the right hands. I grew up in an old Queenslander in Paddington that is on a double block ... my parents still live there ... I woke up bawling my eyes out recently as I'd dreamt that someone had subdivided the block and bastardised the house ... It took me a couple of minutes to realise ít was just a nightmare. One other of my pet hates is when people renovate and old Queenslander and add a modern addition onto it that somewhat resembles a shed ... just ugly. The Brisbane City Council has a lot to answer for.

  8. The kitchen is just what I love. It speaks of quiet industry and meaningful purpose within sweetness and light!

  9. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


  10. It is even more amazing in person. I had the honour of helping the family sort through some of their possessions. They were a large family and the house was big but unpretentious. However it does need a lot of work that perhaps the photos don't really show. It is an emotional thing for them to part with the home, I wish them all the very best.

  11. My Grandma had a kitchen with those cupboards - she had top cupboards as well which were filled with out of reach treasures like Crunchie bars, Flakes and awesome baked goodies!