Monday, 20 June 2011

More of Monkstown!

I had to take some pics of where we are now so that our landlady could relist the property.  So just so we don't forget it!  Here are some more pictures:

Cals Bedroom:
Actually last night I had a go at peeling off his wall stickers and they weren't too tricky to get off so I think if I just get loads of baking paper I should be able to save them on that until we are ready to put them up at the other house.  Another couple of quid saved ;)

Living Room:



Doesn't look so bad once I make the effort to tidy up!!!!!!!!!!

Some pics of Week 2

There are no pics of Week 3 as such because we didn't do a whole lot :(  Though the plastering was finished which is something.  We are just at that hard part now where hard work is involved!!!!!  Most of the clearing has been done so now it's all about stripping old wallpaper and sanding down about 60 years worth of paint off of skirting and doors.  So needless to say we haven't been too eager to get stuck in.  Think we can't put it off any longer though so hopefully next week I will have something to report.

IN the meantime here are some pics of week 2 including that gorgeous vinyl floor.

Living Room:

You can see that the wood floor is in pretty good nick.

And here is the fireplace which granddad had obscured with a dresser type thing (of course).  It's a bit on the naff side but hopefully this will be so naff it doesn't end up looking that bad when the rest of the room is cleared up:


Actually now that i'm looking at Week 2 pics I should have taken a Week 3 picture.  Will take one today.

Most beautiful floor in the world:

The skip:
Just unbelievable how much stuff went in there when we're not doing a renovation as such, we're just supposed to be clearing out rubbish!  And with 3 more lots of carpet to come up and some more dressers to be dismantled there's definitely going to be more!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Monkstown - we will miss you!

I just posted some pics from the new house but thought I would just quickly put up some nice ones of here!  I have to take more for our landlady as they are going to start advertising the house so will put up some more later.  But I will definitely miss this place, it has been good to us!


Spare Bedroom:

Calvins Wall Stickers


And a picture of a gorgeous picture I got at a bootfair in Spain when we were there 2 weeks ago.  I LOVE BOOTFAIRS!

Week 1 (and I guess Week 2)(whoops)

Well I meant to update this a lot sooner but have been faffing about trying to figure out how to make a picture montage on a powerbook.  No joy I'm afraid so there'll just have to be tons of photos.

Week 1:

I took some before photos.  They are not brilliant really.  And what surprised me the most was that the house didn't look that bad!  That sounds terrible and I don't mean it like that really, but it's amazing how peppy fake flowers look in a picture!!  So see below for some before shots!  

The exterior of the house dreadfully needs a good paint job and that is definitely something we would like to do sooner rather than later but I'd like to see how things shape up inside first, and also whether we need any new guttering or anything like that.


So the biggest change was of course the kitchen being ripped out!  I am getting excited about this now.  

It's still going to be small of course but I was able to choose my doors (whoop whoop).  I went for the white gloss finish.  And then for the counter top I wanted black but mum and dad thought black would be too dark in a small space so we opted for a wooden effect top.  

Not dissimilar to what they've got here:

I haven't chosen the tiles yet but to be honest I think I'm going to be really boring and go for white metro tiles.  There is such a small area to cover, and also there is one wall which hasn't been touched which is tiled with white square tiles.  So rather than go crazy I'll play it safe and stick with white at least.  Flooring also hasn't been decided on.  My mum said that she has some tiles in the garage which should do the trick but she's currently in Spain!  So can't check them out.  When she is back I will have to have a look and see what they are like (and whether there's enough).

At first I desperately wanted the Cath Kidston floor tiles:

But even on such a small floor space these would end up costing £140 which I guess is a bit more in Euros plus I'd have to get them shipped here.  Which isn't terribly expensive I suppose but when you have about a billion jobs to do it soon adds up.  

Once I had gotten over that idea I thought that some black and white vinyl floor tiles would like nice.  They had some in B&Q much more reasonably priced than Cath with the total being something like 60euro.  Very palatable!  (Of course you could actually just get some sheet vinyl put down for about 26 euro if you really wanted to cut corners.)  But now that we are not going with the black counter top I'm not sure that I like the idea of the black and white floor as much.  So basically I'm waiting to see what mums garage turns up and then if we have no luck there it'll be back to scouting around seeing what I like.  There is a little extension/utility room off the kitchen which leads out to the garden and the floor tiles are a beige..............not so sure I want to tie in with those necessarily but we'll see.

Living Room

Next biggest change was in the current living room (and which I envision as our bedroom).  

There was a serious case of bad mould in here and mostly (according to the builder) it stems from a lack of air flow.  Granddad had built an absolutely massive dresser/media unit which housed all his vinyl and music equipment.  This hadn't been moved in about 40 years!  And when we started taking it apart the whole back wall was covered in mould.  Gross!!!  So dad broke this down.  We also moved the piano out from the wall and again, covered in mould!  I think the lesson we can all take from this is that rearranging furniture semi regularly is no bad thing!!!!!  The piano was so full of mould that when we tried moving it out further, the back disintegrated!  A real shame as I had been thinking of having it in the dining room so people could plunk around on it if they liked.  But it's in bad shape, not all the keys work and none of us actually play it.  So really it's kind of senseless keeping it.  Pat, our builder, says he knows someone that should be happy to take it away and do it up.  As long as it's going to a good home I'm happy.

In this room we also took up the carpet.  I was absolutely delighted to see wood floors underneath, and jolly decent ones at that.  They are in great condition and with a bit of sanding and a nice varnish will be absolutely lovely.  This was exciting because we had thought we would need to recarpet which could have added up the costs.  But I don't think carpet is needed at all.  A rug is all that's needed - and of course rugs have the added benefit of being able to come with us when we eventually move on.

Not much more has happened in this room really.  One of the walls is very damp so we are trying to let it dry out.  Hopefully that will work.  Otherwise we may have to get it brought down and replastered.  The plan at the moment is to scrape off all of the layers of old wallpaper and gloss paint (!!!) and let the wall breathe.  Then we'll put on some insulating paint/damp proof stuff and then polybond/skim the wall where necessary.  Not looking forward to this job I have to say!!!

Calvins Room:

In Calvins room we broke down the wardrobe in there and also one wall has been pulled down and is being rebuilt.  There was real damp here, and not the crossing your fingers hoping it will dry out kind.  So insulating block has been put in and it should be replastered tomorrow.  I am excited about this room actually.  It's a nice size for Calvin with a lovely view to the garden.  It's nice and bright now that the larger furniture has been moved out.  So the plan is to keep this room as simple as possible.  Calvin will just have a bed and a small chest of drawers.  There is tons of underbed storage which is great.  And I'll have to find some nice toy storage as well.  

I had been thinking of getting the Cath Kidston cars wallpaper but am now thinking twice about it. 
Mostly because I discovered that we actually have quite a bit of the paint left over from when we did his room here.  We used Pale Peacock on the walls and Just Walnut on the woodwork, both from Dulux and it's really nice.  So we might just do a similar thing.  He has the Cath Kidston airplane wallstickers up now and they are lovely.  But not sure that we can transport those.  There are tons of cool wall stickers out there though so I think that might be the way to go.  Also they I can just buy him different bedlinen to jazz the room up.

Dads bedroom:
This room is the one that I want to be our front room.  

It doesn't feel that spacious at the moment as it has 2 single beds and a chest of drawers, 2 wardrobes, a bed locker and a bookcase in there.  Whew!!!!!  But it's at the front of the house and enjoys nice light.  We did toy with the idea of keeping this as a spare room but actually when we moved all of the furniture around to remove the carpet, we saw how big it is and how much potential there is.  We took the carpet up on Saturday and again, the floors are tip top!  Actually though when we were taking up the carpet we came across the most amazing vinyl flooring I have ever seen!!!

Doesn't do it justice really, and had I known that was underneath we would have been a lot more careful taking up the carpet.  We assumed it was just underlay similar to what had been in the front room but it was like a vinyl rug!  SO PRETTY!!!  But unfortunately we had already ripped it by the time we realised was it was :(  Absolutely gorgeous though, so cheerful.  But being practical, probably not what we would go for in a living room anyway (Chad tries to reign in my obsession with flowery prints).  But as I say, the floors in here are fantastic, and again, with a bit of sanding and a nice rug we are pretty much there.  Now we need to take apart the wardrobes that are either side of the fireplace as I want to have shelving either side.  This space is pretty redundant unless you do something like that with it, and it will be great for us to house books, vinyl, cds etc.  This room in my mind has the least to be done.  And originally I just wanted it painted really quickly.  HOWEVER!  The walls are painted in gloss so it's not as easy as just giving it a fresh lick of paint.  So now we have to decide if we want to go down the liquid sandpaper route.......or if maybe we will go with wallpaper.  Still trying to decide on this one.  Have been looking at tons of wallpapers but not getting anywhere.......all of the cheaper wallpapers seem to have a real sheen to them which I don't like.  And then the ones I like are about 60euro a roll which if you need 5 rolls.....well that's a lot of money.  So the jury is still out here.

Of course the biggest amount of work that we've had to do has been simply clearing out my grandparents stuff.  And boy did they have a lot of stuff.  I counted (and I'm not remotely exaggerating) 37 pairs of curtains!  WHAT???  So needless to say there was a lot of towels/bed linen/curtains bagged and taken down to the charity shop.  Annoyingly enough yesterday I was taking more to the charity shop when I noticed a shop up the road called  (  I took what I had in the car and had it weighed and got 28euro!!!  The worst thing is though that that was my last lot!!!!!!!!  And the smallest carload!!!  I could have made a fortune!  GAH!!!  But anyway, a lot has been removed from the house which is great.  We also had a skip on Friday and boy did we fill it!!!!  And truth be told we could do with another one.  But I think it will have to wait until more work is done and all the carpets are up etc.

So now we still have some clearing out to do.  There are some really large pieces of furniture that need to be broken down as they are too big to actually be moved out of the house (Granddad built a lot of the furniture in situ).  And as I said there's all the naff removing of wallpaper and awfulness like that that we need to knuckle down to and get on with.  But it's taking shape.

Originally I wanted as much as possible done before we moved in but now that I know that's not going to happen I am much more relaxed about seeing it take shape.  

So we shall have to see what developments take place in week 3!!!

And the Week 2 pictures will go up tonight I think but I can't find the cord for the camera right now!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Measurements are In

the (rough) measurements

Entrance Hallway
45" wide X 187" long
3 ft 9" X 15 ft 7" = 60sq ft

Bedroom 1
156" wide X 149" long
13 ft X 12 ft 5" = 156sq ft

Bedroom 2
160" X 107"
13 ft 6" X 8ft 11" = 117sq ft

Bedroom 3
97" wide X 120" long
8" 1" X 10" long = 80 sq ft

Dining Room
140" X 152"
11 ft 8" X 12 ft 8" = 144 sq ft

Living Room
154" X 106"
12 ft 10" X 8ft 10" = 130 sq ft

Kitchen floor
55" X 63"
4 ft 7" x 5 ft 3" = 25 sq ft

Total sq ft = 712 sq ft

My very first post!! An introduction to the blog!

We have been living in Cork for a year now.  We are renting in Monkstown, is a lovely suburb by the sea.  It's about 20 minutes from the city and it's very residential.  Beautiful homes.  Mostly period homes.  We have a huge house with amazing views.......but we rent...and we don't want to rent forever.  We would like to buy one day but the problem is saving for a deposit.  With rents and living expenses the way they are it's almost impossible to save any money regularly. 

My grandparents house is currently unoccupied.  My grandfather died 3 years ago and my grandmother can't live on her own so the house has been slowly deteriorating over the last couple of years.  Not only that but even prior to the house being empty it was being lived in by 2 elderly people that weren't really able to maintain it so it's in pretty rough shape.  There's no central heating.  There are damp patches on walls and peeling paint.....the ceiling has come down in the get the picture, not pretty.  

My parents have offered it to us - as an opportunity to save some money as we would be living there paying a nominal rent.  Really, they would like us to live there to stop the house deteriorating further.  

1)  Whilst they appreciate that some changes will have to be made to make it habitable, they do not want any structural changes to be made.

2)  Not only has the house seen better days, it's tiny.  TINY.   Not small.  TINY.  This is not a house that has "potential".   There is no "wow factor".  It is a tiny 3 bedroomed semi detatched bungalow that my grandfather built when he and my grandmother married (and my granduncle built the adjoining bungalow at the same time).  It was a modest house, even when by in large Irish homes were modest.  And now in this day and age.....modest doesn't even cover it.  I haven't measured it up yet but I am thinking it's maybe about 700 sq ft.  Possibly less.  I don't like to complain about the lack of space too much seeming as my grandparents managed to raise a family there without any problems but it is definitely not what people expect of a home now.  There is no storage whatsoever but even worse - there's no where to put storage!!!!  If we were just a couple then maybe one of the bedrooms could be a closet....but as is, a family of 3 with a dog, and another baby on the way it's going to be a real challenge to make this work.

In fact sometimes I wonder why we should bother.  We are not actually struggling to pay rent right now....we are not struggling at's the lack of savings that bothers me.  We have no cushion.  We have no way of moving forward.  It's this that makes me WANT THIS TO WORK.  But if the objective is for us to save money, I don't want to spend so much money making the house livable that we defeat the purpose.  If we're not going to save money then we might as well stay where we are, in our rental that's over 2000 sq ft, with walk in wardrobes and quite frankly an airing cupboard that is bigger than my grandmothers kitchen (I wish I was kidding).

BUT again, there's the lure of this chance to save.....

3)  The neighbourhood.  Now granted, we are definitely living in a desirable location right now.  And my grandparents house is at the very other end of the spectrum.  When they built there it was lovely.  But now....not so much.  It's had a bad reputation and to be honest we have mentioned to a couple of people that we are considering this and the general reaction is one of "Ewwwwww", not because of the house but because of the address.  

So let's think positive.  


1)  Offroad parking.  Now i know that a lot of people take that as a a given but let me tell you, having lived in Boston, and London where on street parking is a complete hit and miss, and then living in Maidstone in Kent where we had the worst parking situation of our lives (pedestrianed street and we had to walk to our car), I still think of offroad parking as a real luxury.   Also, and this again is a tiny thing but something I think is great........where we are now, the house is split level so there are steps up to the house.  Not a big issue right now but when I have a toddler and a baby to haul up and down them it's going to get old.    So the fact that at my grandparents there are no steps to speak of anywhere......bringing in the shopping should be a fairly safe endeavour.

2)  The garden.  It's amazing.  It's huge.  The front garden faces the road (obviously) and to be honest I can't envisage ever using the front as it's very exposed.  However the back garden is completely secure and is very private.  I know that toddler and doogie can enjoy themselves whilst I can actually get something else done.....the kitchen overlooks the garden so I feel like this is a good thing.  OUr garden right now is terraced and also set off to the side of the house so it's a minor thing but I can't load the dishwasher whilst keeping an eye on bubs, I have to be out there with him making sure he's not killing himself.  But at granny and granddads I will be able to see everything whilst taking clothes out of the machine or whatever the case may be.

3)  Another positive is that we will be able to decorate it to our taste.  We have spent a lot of money repainting the house that we are renting right now.  And to be honest it has always wound me up that we are making this house look so nice for the benefit of our absentee landlord who has not done a thing since we moved in.    At least if we make granny and granddads house nice it is for the benefit of my grandmother and my own family.

4)  Plus I feel like this this "mini makeover" might be good for us in that I have always lusted after a proper doer-upper, you know the old crumbling wreck with amazing bones that you just know you can make amazing.  The husband is allergic to the idea.  He wants a brand spanking new, everything perfect, let's move in, plug the telly in and not do a thing type house.  SO either the amount of work involved in this little project will mean that I am cured of my obsession with period homes as I realise it's hard graft and having a toddler, newborn and epileptic dog is enough work in itself.......OR....hubby realises there can be real sense of accomplishment in making something beautiful yourself and that actually he's not as bad at DIY as he thinks......only time will tell!!!!!!  But perhaps when we do eventually have a deposit we will know what to spend it on!!!  I feel like this is a good chance for us to see how much space we actually need and what the priorities should be when looking for somewhere more permanent.  I do think that is the best thing about renting - you basically get to try it out without the long term commitment.  I LOVE Monkstown as an area and would love to settle here permanently.  I think it's a great place to raise kids, it's near town but near the beach too, it has a nice feel.  BUT is it one of the most expensive areas to live in Cork.  Plus most of the houses here are massive and I actually don't want a mansion really.  I'd only have to clean it.  But I also don't want to feel trapped.......I need to feel that we have room to grow, room for guests, room to entertain - and rather crucially, that on rainy days there is room for the kids to play without us all wanting to kill each other (or needing even G&T once everyone is safely in bed).  But there may be other great areas that I really like too, and being on the North side of the city, instead of the South side might open up some new options to us.

As i said above, the whole point of this move (if it happens) is for us to save money.  So I don't want to spend a lot of money on furniture that will suit the house but not where we eventually end up.  Now I would like to say I'll just buy what I like and bring it with us when we move but I think we all know that regardless, you always end up buying to suit the space.  And this is such a small house, I know that of most concern will be smart storage.  

So the challenge will be making the space work........making the existing furniture look like ours.....and then just decorating it to make it feel like a home that I want to live in.

We have agreed to get some quotes in for the necessary work so that we can see if this is really an option for us.  If the cost of making the house habitable is prohibitive then we can't move in there.....and all of my imaginings and rereading of Living Etc will have been in vain.  So i really really really hope that it is doable.  Despite all of my negativity above I want us to move in there.  I don't want us to move in and suffer from manic depression the entire time.  But I also want us to be able to save so that I can live somewhere I love and somewhere that I can invest in.  I want us to put down roots so that for once in my life I know where I will be in more than a years time.  I want to register the kids in a school and actually live in that neighbourhood when school starts.  I want to put wallpaper up because I love it.  I want to save up for a couch that I think i'll be sitting on for a long time.  And not just keep "making do".  I have moved pretty much every year of my adult life, always putting a little stamp on the place because I like to be in nice surroundings, but never really investing that much.  

Ok, so definitely starting to feel more positive and really getting eager to get those quotes in for work.