COLUMN Erin Reilly

There’s nothing quite like having your own dining table to host lovingly-prepared dinner parties around (not to mention the ability to postpone cleaning the bombsite that is your kitchen until the following morning if too much vino has been consumed). And whether you have the inclination to do this or not, the opportunity to recline on your own couch in very little-to-no-clothing without fear of being walked in on by extended family members is a gift that simply shouldn’t be taken for granted.

My husband (Ben), one-year-old son (Jack) and I don’t live that life. When Jack was three months old, we moved out of our claustrophobic one-bedroom apartment into my in-laws’ place to save a bit of money, and we’ve been here ever since.

We are incredibly blessed to be living at home. Not many kids get to see their grandparents every day, and not many parents agree to letting their grown son move home indefinitely, particularly when they’d only recently converted his old bedroom into a gym because he was now his wife’s problem, not theirs.

But after nine months of living in each other’s pockets, we’re all getting a bit sick of communal living. I get the attack of the guilts when Jack vomits on the carpet or if I forget to take my wet washing out of the washing machine and someone else wants to use it. My in-laws are sick of never having a quiet moment thanks to two-and-a-half extra mouths to feed and a one-year-old who thinks it’s cool to wake up four times a night.

The plan was to move home until we could afford to buy our own place. That’s easier said than done when house prices continue to skyrocket like they’re on speed. It’s great news for those who are already homeowners, but not so great for people trying to get onto the property ladder.

Ben and I used to spend hours trawling online real estate websites searching for a home that ticked all our boxes. But the homes we could afford were always in areas synonymous with exorbitant commuting times, and the areas we dreamed of living in were only viable options for trust-fund kids or lottery winners. What would start out as a fun ‘let’s dream about our future, babe!’ exercise invariably ended in arguments and borderline depression because we knew the kind of home we dreamed of was so far out of reach.

Then we had a lightbulb moment: renovating. I mean, sure, we needed an actual house to renovate, but that option might be more affordable and attainable? Then we remembered that we’re not DIYers. In fact, we can’t think of much worse than renovating our own home. But, hey, there’s got to be someone out there who could create our dream home without us having to lift a finger, right?

In October 2016 Ben and I purchased a house in Auckland’s Beach Haven. It’s a one-bedroom property that backs onto another, and it has a nice big lawn out the front with plenty of room to extend. The current layout is very simple; an open-plan living room and kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and deck (don’t forget the fetching green carpet and kitchen cabinetry that might have been aboard the Ark) add up to approximately 40 square metres. The plan is to convert the current floor plan into three bedrooms and a family bathroom, then add on a new kitchen, living, dining and entertainment area along with a laundry and second bathroom somewhere and a study nook if there’s room.

But God only knows there’s no way we’d be able to do all of that ourselves – which is why we’ve started our renovation journey with Refresh Renovations.  

You might be interested in reading this: Making the decision to renovate


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This column by Erin Reilly featured on page 024 in Issue 022 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.

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