I shared a few photos on instagram of the progress of my lounge/dining revamp and whilst I received a lot of praise a lot of people commented that they didn’t know what it looked like before. My bad. I thought I’d whack up an old photo but I realised as I went through all my old posts that I had more than one worth sharing, more than one photo that would showcase just how far our little (rented) house had come on an non-existent budget.
These are from when we first moved in back in 2008. The house we were renting was claimed by the bank and we had 14 days to vacate. We found a suitable house down the road, it was just listed, had a big yard for our two labradors (Toby has since passed away) and whilst it was tiny it was liveable. The only problem was that we had accumulated furniture that suited an open plan Queensland lifestyle. It fit comfortably in our last house but it was a serious squeeze in this one.
We tried countless ways to make it all work within the space and we’d be happy for awhile but I always felt so claustrophobic. Steve had served in the Middle East so we’d paid off bills and set up house. We’d “invested” in quality long term furniture, we couldn’t just part with it. We didn’t think we’d be in this house for long, we’d never lasted more than 12 months in a property in Sydney due to selling market. We’ve lived here just shy of 6 years now. Funny that.
We made do, we were just two young working/studying people and we were/are very house proud. We collected things, we colour co-ordinated and we enjoyed prepping our nest. We just longed for a baby honestly and everything was just a distraction from what we didn’t have. Hindsight can be a cruel bitch.
Then in 2009 came along baby (and better camera gear) and it just really highlighted how much would have to go. Finally Steve started to see reason and things began to change…
A new rug (and TV) and everything started feeling lighter and brighter. We also put some furniture in storage… in order to buy different furniture. Sigh. I was really happy with this for awhile but the couch had started to die. Steve was too attached to it to let me even consider buying a new one. They took up so much room and I knew Aidan wouldn’t be constrained to the swing for very long.
I hated the fireplace, we never used it and it blocked off an entire area of the room so I experimented by putting the huge couch in front of it. I had to deal with a very awkward L shape and weird door positions and wonky floorboards. As Aidan got older the space had to adapt further, especially when he started walking. Did you ever notice just how BIG little kids toys are? It’s insane. We also started to have more mothers group friends come over and needed space for them too.
I did everything I could to declutter but I still found we had so much stuff. We’ve been watching the market for years, watching what comes up for rent and considered moving but we just couldn’t justify it. As we’ve lived in this house so long, before the big rental spike, we’ve managed to keep the price quite low, to move would almost double our rate. When you’re saving for your first home that’s a huge kick in the pants so you buckle up and deal with what you have.
When Aidan was 3ish I made a bold move and put the big brown couch on the curb, replacing it temporarily with the small couch from my office. I wanted to see if a smaller couch would work, did we really need all that overstuffed sitting space? That little thrifted retro couch lasted a year and confirmed that less was more.
It still wasn’t better though. We still had the huge dark china cabinet and dining setting. They sucked away all the light and space. Yes those pieces were highly functional, in good condition and gave us heaps of storage but I HATED THEM. I knew in my mind what would work and even though each change brought me closer to that vision it was frustrating to still be so far from it.
Now everything feels so much lighter, so much fresher and it’s a much more liveable space. You can check out the rest of the photos tomorrow. Sure there is a lot more to tweak (the fireplace for one) but this is the most “at home” feeling I’ve had in this house. Reality and vision are finally coming together!