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