Much like me, the Convent is in need of some TLC. Whilst she is in good shape structurally (unlike me), there has been little care taken cosmetically over the years. She has beautiful arches, character windows, the niches and fireplaces, picture rails and of course, the Chapel with its lovely detailed stained glass and leadlight windows. However the paintwork is shabby and peeling, false fibro walls and cheap office type ceilings have been put in some rooms and every floorcovering imaginable has been used. There has also been little importance placed on comfort, let alone luxury. The fireplaces have been blocked off and for heating, there are two old wall heaters in rooms and no air conditioning. Old porches have been closed in (not by tradesmen, by the look of it) and some makeshift walls put in place.
Now settlement has finally taken place, it’s time to get stuck into bringing the old girl back to her former glory. The building is best described as being a ‘U’ shape – with a long central hall and two wings. The left wing is the main back entry via the laundry, with the master bedroom with an ensuite and a large middle room which is destined to be my kitchen in the future. This hall goes through to the lounge room. The central hall accesses the dining room, the front foyer, the future kitchen, and 3 potential bedrooms and leads to the right wing which houses the chapel, the main bathroom and another bedroom. Given it was built as a Convent, there are up to 6 rooms which could be bedrooms. Some alterations have taken out walls and changed layout, for example the big old kitchen and dining room was changed to be the master bedroom and ensuite, providing a small separate living area when the priest moved in. There is an ensuite, two separate toilets and a bathroom which is in its original 1930 style.
There are a few small rooms like the sacristy and utility room and some of the bedrooms are not overly generous, but at the same time, there are heaps of rooms. There are many external doors although I think I’ve finally worked out the keys. Initially it is a bit of a rabbit warren until you work out the U shape and then it makes sense.
The bedrooms were called ‘cells’ and still have numbers over them. Some of the changes, such as partitioning off rooms, closing in fireplaces and dropping in false ceilings will be reversed as I get the place back closer to original condition. This work has already started in earnest and painting quotes for inside and out have been approved. Next will be sanding and polishing the floors (which I believe are tongue and groove cyprus pine and are currently covered in multiple layers of lino, underlay and carpet). Bedrooms will be carpeted for warmth.
There’s a lot to do, but the local tradies have been helpful and interested, so I’m hoping that by the end of quarter three most of the major work will be done.
Until the painting and floors are done, I’m holding off furniture and currently ‘camping’ on an air bed, sitting on cane furniture that is destined for the porches and my dining table and chairs are a card table and vinyl fold up chairs from Bunnings – basic but fine for now.
The initial renovations of taking out the false arches and partitions have already made a great difference. I’m looking forward to the next stage, albeit somewhat daunting.