Friday, June 17, 2011

Still waiting but almost there.........

Eleven years ago my husband and I bought a Victorian single-front weatherboard in inner-city Melbourne.
Three months later we tied the knot, and this was our first home. I loved my new house, it's charm, the beautiful iron lacework out the front, the fireplaces, the high ceilings with their mouldings and roses. I took great delight in showing it off to family and friends. We were so proud of our little home. Little being the optimum word! Although our house was small, it had a fairly deep backyard, and our neighbours were presently building their extension. Of course this sent ideas off in our heads, and over the years we would delightedly fantasise to each other what sort of extension we would add to our house. My husband would cut out pictures and house plans from the newspaper and magazines I brought home. I'd day dream about the cook's kitchen I would create, the colour scheme, what my personal library would look like.

After almost seven years I was pregnant with my son and we spent two years in Queensland. Our home up there was a glorious Queenslander with wrap around verandah's and unusual architectural ceilings. Returning home (for we rented out our pride and joy), I was pregnant with my second child, and the small home that had been big enough for the two of us was just oozing from the seams with all our stuff. The children shared one of the two rooms, and my husband quickly knocked together a storage shelter on the front verandah to contain the pram/s and other paraphernalia we had gathered throughout our lives. Babies have lots of things.

I still fiercely love our home, but even I could see the woodwork at the back rotting and falling away. The windows and doors allowed draughts into our rooms and with putting up baby gates it became so much more enclosed. What was cosy before, had become pressured and almost unbearable. Where once before I took such delight in showing my home to people, I now cringed when they could see the old carpet, the shower screen that needed replacing, the smallness of it all in trying to raise two children. In addition to all this, our home in Queensland was very spacious and we had bought an immense eight seater dining table that became pivotal in our family home. Moving back the table had to go into storage, and I miss it tremendously. Presently we have to go back to our old way of dining with plates on laps. My youngest still uses a high chair, and my oldest uses a children's table and chairs from Ikea. But still, we never would give it up.

Our fantasies of a renovation and extension were now to be a reality. Eight months after returning home, we engaged an architect and spent six months devising a home that to us is the culmination of our dreams. Our application to council took almost one year for it to be approved. Yes, ONE WHOLE YEAR. It's now six months since gaining that approval, and yet I'm still waiting. We are about 75% through with the architect and will soon be ready to contract a builder. I refuse to get excited just yet. I think once I'm woken up at 7am, on that first day the builders arrive I may just allow my self a moment of tingly anticipation.

We plan to live in our house whilst the extension is happening, reluctant to release our hold on our home. The building is being staged in such a way that it should allow for us to do this. Firstly we are building two rooms, a small study and bathroom directly on top of our existing house. The builders should have the side access in order to complete this. I think when the stairs are built this may be the most intrusive part so we may have to spend that time with family.

We are keeping the existing three front rooms, all in the hope of preserving those quaint ceiling cornices, mouldings and roses. All interior walls in the three front rooms, built sometime during the 1890's will be demolished. This is our second stage. Everyone keeps telling us, why don't we just demolish the whole thing and start again. I know it's going to be changed really beyond recognition, but there is something in keeping those Victorian fireplaces and part of those ceilings and walls. So even though it is a home that is taking on an aethetic of the 21st century, there is something there of the Victorian era. Call us sentimental, for that is exactly what it is, albeit an expensive sentiment. Once the walls are gone a brand new kitchen and open plan living and dining will be created.

Our final stage is the creation of an internal courtyard, with a brand new two storey building at the back, linked to the old building by a walk way. The upper storey of the new building will be our master bedroom and bathroom. The downstairs is a changeable space. Initially it will be entirely for the children, the walls lined with shelves for their toys and books. No furniture so they can skate and tricycle to their hearts content. When they are a little older we will add a television and comfy couches. Possibly a table.

Our walkway is for my wall of books. So instead of a room for my library I have an expanse of wall to contain my literary treasures.

So that is it. I have described in words what our home will become. It is eleven years of waiting, and we are still waiting, but I know what is to come.

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