An ability to see potential in anything leads columnist, Kylie Jurgensen, to contemplate her next renovation project...
People have accused me of being open-minded to a fault. The ability to see potential in anything is a touching character flaw when it comes to stray animals, worthy causes and otherwise irredeemable situations, but it can become costly in so many ways when that same idealistic zeal is applied to properties (and men, for that matter) that are, not to put too finer point on it, beyond salvation.
In addition to being too kind a judge of character, I’ve found that as I get older, wiser, and poorer, my DIY projects have been getting disproportionately grandiose. It started with a boardroom table salvaged from a university garage sale, and then it was a campervan followed by a little two bedroom down a ROW, a three bedroom ski bach, a four-bed-two-bath in a coastal suburb, a lifestyler on the fringe of an impoverished rural town. Now I find myself looking longingly at decommissioned schools, factories and one-time rehab centres imagining them relocated to a small piece of land by the sea somewhere where I can host sophisticated getaways and long Italian lunches for friends needing time out from their loft conversions and city apartments.
I like to think of myself as an “early adopter”, a visionary of sorts. The sort who makes a virtue of necessity. While the more trendy of my friends were eyeing up decrepit villas on the city fringe, those with young families were aspiring to sprawling bungalows “in need of TLC”, and the prudent were accumulating a growing portfolio of ex-state bargains in transitional suburbs, I was trying to recover from the expense of years of penurious wanderlust and became the proud owner of a late (aka confused) “seventies” townhouse that didn’t even boast the virtue of a quarter acre planted in overgrown heirloom fruit trees.
No one else saw the charm in the fake wood panelling, those inconveniently shaped windows and riotously patterned wallpapers. They were too busy installing indoor-outdoor flow and recreating French provincial kitchens with handmade tiles in sunny yellows and Greek Island blues. I’d like to say I cashed in when seventies eventually became retro-hip but that would be a lie. We got bottom dollar for our little goldmine during that ultra-conservative hiatus when all those optimistic Mediterranean colours were being smothered under a less excitable breakfast-hued spectrum of oatmeal, coffee and the ubiquitous half-tea. By the time a few brave souls were beginning to experiment with fuller flavours like my authentic avocado cistern and progressive marbled apricot melamine shower, a clutch of offspring had pushed us out of our shag-carpeted nest and I was well into extolling the virtues of fibreplank, spurred on by irrepressible optimism and ever-dwindling equity.
Meanwhile, in a cruel twist of fate, the wider world developed a green conscience at the same time as the bottom fell out of the real estate market. So while we live in hope that a buyer may one day stumble upon the depressed little village where our latest reno project languishes like a diamond among the rough, our tenants enjoy the fruits of our labours at bargain basement prices. For my sins we pay a monthly penance of sky-high mortgage repayments along with a steady stream of requests, quotes and bills for retrofitted insulation, double glazing and clean, green heating.
Which, though inconvenient, has got me thinking about my next project. Money may be tight these days but here at the coast there’s plenty of sand and up-cycling is all the rage. Hmm, scratch the relocatable dream – what do you think about sandbag homes, earth roofing, wine bottle walls, and pallet furniture…?
This article by Kylie Jurgensen featured in Issue 001 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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