The 11-Mile Store

We have a little piece of real estate on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where once upon a time we planned on extending and modifying the original ugly eye-sore and building our dream home.  For so, so, many reasons, it wasn’t to be and so when a few months ago our tenants said they were moving out, we seized upon the opportunity to improve the ugly duckling.

All ready for new tenants

All ready for new tenants

The building has a rich history with the area.  It used to be known as ‘The 11-Mile Store’ as it’s 11-miles from Manly.  Around one-hundred years ago, people going up to Palm Beach from Manly and travelling either on horseback or with a horse and buggy, would stop at The 11-Mile Store to water their horses.

Looking at the entrance of the downstairs apartment

Quite a bit of work to be done

In the 1960’s the RTA decided to widen the road and the 11-Mile Store was smack-bang in the middle of their planned new road.  They had to compensate the Store and relocated it to the edge of the road.  They pulled down the weatherboard building with a bullnose verandah that was full of character and built a brick structure that was certainly solid but devoid of the original charm.

The backyard before the renovation

The backyard before the renovation but after the new fence

The tiles over the floor in the hallway were a big concern.  We wanted to take them up but the effort!  Concrete sheets were glued and nailed into the floorboards then the ugly tiles were higgledy-piggledy laid on top.  Of course getting them up caused some damage and in sections, new floorboards needed to be laid.

Who would tile over floorboards?

Who would tile over floorboards?

A few issues raised when the tiles came up from the floor

A few issues raised when the tiles came up from the floor

We would have liked to have pulled up the tiles in the kitchen but we only put the new kitchen in a few years ago and so taking up the tiles would also mean ripping out and replacing the existing kitchen.  That wasn’t in our budget so I primed the floor then painted it with two coats of non-stick paint and I think the floor being all one colour is so much better than rusty-coloured tiles with grey grout.

The kitchen also had the horrid tiles over the floorboards

The kitchen also had the horrid tiles over the floorboards

The kitchen window was removed and that went all the way to the floor.  I had a bricklayer lay bricks to the windowsill level and a new window was installed (after the first one that was delivered arrived in the wrong colour!)

The kitchen

The kitchen with a new window, and walls and floor painted

The bathroom was our largest concern and certainly the room that needed the biggest investment.

We upgraded the bathroom a few years ago - it was dire before this

We upgraded the bathroom a few years ago – it was dire before this

Believe it or not, the bathroom was worse than this when we bought the property.

A pretty tired bathroom despite a few improvements

Believe it or not, we actually improved on the existing bathroom 12 months ago when we removed the large grey tiles that were on top of the existing tiles and installed a new vanity.  But it was rather a patch job and truly the only solution was to strip out the entire room.  This involved a lot of tradesmen but the end result has been so worth it.


New bathroom with frameless glass shower, stone floor, new window and wall-hung vanity

The floors in the bedroom and living room were sanded (mess went all through the apartment), then stained with a dark tint as they are cypress pine and I didn’t want a ginger look.  If anything, the floors will become darker and I will be happy with that.

The living room

The living room painted with the floors re-polished


New windows in the bedroom, floors sanded and polished, walls repainted

There was never a deck across the property but a few years ago we took the windows out of the lounge room and replaced them with doors and built a deck off that room.  That deck really needed extending across the length of the building so we had all the mishmash removed and the deck went across what used to be a total mess of a staircase leading to nowhere and a large overgrown shrub that should have been cut down years ago.

Originally there was no deck off the property

Originally there was no deck off the property

The deck

The new deck – a great north-facing entertaining area

The land also needed tidying up and we had new fences installed, a dead tree removed and a level area cleared for turf.  The recent rain has been very timely in helping establish our new lawn.

Levelled area with new turf

Levelled area with new turf

It may not look like it from the images, but the interior of the property needs a complete clean and so I’ll be heading there tomorrow to give every surface a once-over (or possibly ‘thrice’).

All ready for new tenants

All ready for new tenants

And while the handyman who has been working with us for a couple of months shakes his head and says, ‘With this sort of a property you can keep going and going’, I believe we can put down tools as enough has been done to make a lovely and comfortable home.

It’s taken more time and money than we ever expected but we’re very happy with the results.


  1. For some reason – perhaps to do with my laptop screen resolution – some of the pics obscured some of your copy. Still, from what I can see and read, it looks lovely, wouldn’t mind living there myself!

  2. As you know I Just completed my kitchen reno and oh yes, reno takes more money than expected, especially with older homes, friends had told me to add 1/3 more than original budgeted.
    Love the frameless glass shower in the new bathroom. The layout of your property is full of character. I see beautiful landscaping in the future.

  3. looks great – that old bathroom reminds me of ours a little – it is 1960s and drives me crazy but when I got someone in to look at it we were told it could be a huge job and we weren’t up for it and just did a patch job. I love those old style tiles in the kitchen but they don’t go with the rest of the kitchen and I really like how it looks now. Hope your new tenants love it

  4. Having just done a reno myself I know how much time and effort it takes to coordinate everyone. And lots of patience and gallons of wine. My budget disappeared after 2 weeks – it was a huge learning curve! I love what you have done to the bathroom – it looks clean and modern and with that beautiful deck you’ve have it rented out in no time at all. Now you can forget about it for 10 years at least 🙂

  5. I love how fresh and inviting the new deck looks, makes me want to throw a bbq party – fantastic reno!
    Great photos 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. I love what you’ve done with it. The bathroom is gorgeous – especially the shower. And the deck looks like a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Nicely done!

  7. All of your hard work looks like it has paid off, and I’m sure new tenants will agree!

  8. I would be happy as well! It’s gorgeous!

  9. Renovation sounds like so much work. I don’t envy you the headaches but the results are lovely. Hopefully your new tenants will appreciate the jewel you’ve created and take good care of it.

  10. Wow! It looks amazing! I would love to move in there!!! 🙂 xo

  11. You’ve done such an amazing job! I actually quite like the floor in the kitchen and the new bathroom is lovely!

  12. Investment properties often need a makeover to make them habitable. This reno looks like it will last some time. Better to spend more cash on a serious job than doing it piecemeal and ad-hoc. It is great that you added more light to the kitchen area and provided a deck. With the summer coming, the new tenants can enjoy living outside.

  13. This is a beautiful redo. Would you please fly to Minnesota and help me with kitchen/dining room and basement redos? You have such an eye for design.

  14. Such a big job but you’ve done beautiful work. 🙂 How lovely it will be to walk through it barefoot when it’s all tidied up. 🙂

  15. Those floors are stunning Charlie! You’ve done a great job of making a lovely modern home from a tired brick block 🙂 xox

  16. Wow! You’ve done an impressive job, Charlie. I’m ready to move in? Will you rent it again or use if for weekends??? Love the floors.

  17. What a marvelous transformation!!! You did a beautiful job!!!

  18. Looks fantastic, hope you get great tenants that will keep it just as lovely – have an awesome weekend, even if it is cleaning 🙂

  19. Nice.

  20. Nice . . . . nice to have backup to one’s finances of a mill or more . . . .good’on’ya

  21. Beautiful, second homes are always in our minds, lovely job here Charlie!

  22. G’day! What a great reno Charlie!
    Hope you can get tenants that will appreciate all you did do!
    Cheers! Joanne

  23. youve done a wonderful job! it looks great, especially the deck!

  24. Looks lovely Charlie. I hope you find some just as lovely new tenants that will care for their new home. (and tiles over floor boards? Sheesh!)

  25. I wondered how this job was getting along. Thanks for the tour. I think you’ve done a brilliant job of remodeling. Well done!

  26. Always takes more time and money doesn’t it? You did a great job! What a lovely spot.

  27. Definitely much improved over the original! Everything looks beautiful!

  28. Congratulations, Charlie! Looking good 🙂

    Gourmet Getaways

  29. The end results are gorgeous – I love the new bathroom and the garden, the new deck, wow! And you painted the tile?!!? What a great idea – I would never have thought it was possible – brilliant job Charlie!

  30. How have you had time for anything else, what a big job! Well done, it look fabulous! Liz x

  31. Its always the kitchen and bathrooms isn’t it. We were glad that the floorboards were done when we moved into our place but the renovations do take off years from a life!

  32. What a beautiful renovation. Those newly polished floor boards are just fantastic – and as you say, how could anyone tile over wood?! You rescued the kitchen floor nicely too, and what a change in the bathroom. Really impressive 🙂

  33. It looks great. The sanded and refinished floors and the new bathroom — both very glamorous. The deck will be wonderful, and it looks like there is even a nice view. I’d say the new tenant will be lucky ducks! P.S. Your blog had dropped off my list somehow — I wondered why I hadn’t been seeing any new posts from you!

  34. It’s gorgeous and I think it turned out fabulous! I am very familiar with the ” never ending project “. There’s always something else you can add, but when is enough, enough? Renovating is exhausting! So happy you can have a good rest now and prepare for your summer. 🙂

  35. What a lovely little hide-away, will you be keeping it or renting it again? Have you thought about home away or air b n b? They are mostly vacation property rental portals. We’re thinking of putting up our basement suite for the Pan Am games in 2015. The floors do look lovely. You did a great job renovating it. Did you do the work yourself or hired contractors?

  36. Oh the improvements are spectacular. Love the gorgeous ugly duckling!!! My dad is in construction, and does remodeling on homes. It has always been fun to see the before and after of projects. I love the cheerful kitchen, and that shower rocks! Hugs, Terra

  37. WOW, it looks beautiful!! You have done such a great job! What a nice property, you must be very proud 🙂

  38. Charlie, it looks gorgeous. Lots of work but so worth it. I bet your new tenants love it.

  39. It looks like you’ve done a terrific job with the reno

  40. Fantastic, Charlie. It’s a really lovely and inviting home. I am sure it feels really good to have the renovations behind you, but now you can be so proud of it! Good for you!

  41. Looks so cute!

  42. I think you have been renovating it very well, with cool appliences & a cool modern feel & interior too! What a difference before & after!
    I could live easily there myself with my husband Peter. Ooh yes!

  43. I have no clue how you manage to be so active on your blog and do so many stuff at the same time…I thought your were visiting US, and turns out you were renovating at the same time…what a superwoman you are Charlie! Congrats on the great reno work.

  44. Great job!

  45. WOW.

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