The Floors – Nearly There

The central hall. Is that new carpet I see to the side?
The central hall. Is that new carpet I see to the right?

I was thrilled tonight to get photos from Michael from Mudgee Carpet Court who is looking after the floors. The boards are Cypress pine and every tells me they’re good quality and should come up well – but it’s hard to imagine what they’ll look like when I’ve only seen them covered in multiple layers of old carpet, masonite and lino.

The lounge room looks great. And I now have some furniture to put in there.
The lounge room looks great. And I now have some furniture to put in there.

Anyway, I’m relieved and thrilled with the results shown in the photos and can’t wait to get up there and finally put some permanent furniture in place and set up rooms. Looks like this can start next week. I also have removalists booked in a few weeks from now to take some things up to make the Convent look a bit more homely and tidy up my place in Sydney.

Hard to believe this is the old weathered verandah floor outside the Chapel. The old cane furniture should be great here.
Hard to believe this is the old weathered verandah floor outside the Chapel. The old cane furniture should be great here.

More auctions may be on the cards this weekend as it will be best for me to buy what I can prior to finally moving from Sydney. Removalist costs to Kandos do not come cheaply! Items I have my eye out for include smaller old wardrobes (often a good buy as most people have built-ins these days and you can pick up quality old pieces very reasonably), chests of drawers, study/library type chairs, perhaps a sideboard or credenza. Auctions are very opportunistic – you need to be well prepared, disciplined and bid fast – most items are only up for auction for less than a minute! I also think some floor rugs will be in order – and lots!

This was the big surprise. No idea that the old green carpet covered the original parquetry flooring which I've been told was great quality and has come up beautifully.
This was the big surprise. No idea that the old green carpet covered the original parquetry flooring which I’ve been told is great quality and has come up beautifully.

The Small Touches

As the Convent gets her well-deserved make-over, I’m finding that sometimes it’s those small touches that can make such a difference.

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I couldn’t have hoped for this outcome. Seriously beautiful, heavy door piece with lovely detailing

The tradies who have been working with me since the start have been incredibly helpful and patient. This weekend whilst in the midst of the big stuff – outside painting and just prior to the flooring – a few small touches have had a big impact. Firstly was the handle of the front door. I knew it was a nice old handle but was lost after years of being painted. Some stripping and polishing revealed a beautifully detailed heavy silver handle and matching lock.

ImageThe old concrete urns out the front which feature in all of the old photos of the Convent deserved a bit of freshening up. It’s amazing what a difference some paint can do! The Gazanias are now filling out nicely and are a perfect complement.

The front windows, as mentioned before, have had the old fibro from the bottom half removed and replaced with glass. Removal of the old flyscreen and some serious elbowgrease in cleaning the windows has made a huge difference. The views are more spectacular than ever. So different from the city when the neighbours across the street are calling out instructions and comments. No, I’m not doing your windows as well!

External doors I’ve never opened are seeing daylight and areas that have probably not been cleaned for decades are lapping up the attention.

The view from the front of the sunroom - a much clearer vista. And this is nothing compared to the views from the back of the Convent.
The view from the front of the sunroom – a much clearer vista. And this is nothing compared to the views from the back of the Convent.
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View from the side sunroom window which was previously permanently covered.

The Star Treatment for the Convent – my own renovation rescue

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The “Before” shot with the untreated fibro sheets at the base of the windows
The "After" shot with full glass and street views. The neighbours like it too!
The “After” shot with full glass and street views. The neighbours like it too! Light now streams in making it the ideal location for those long Winter mornings.

The Convent seems to be enjoying all the treatment she is getting and is responding well. The painting inside is finished and the outside is getting pressure cleaned in parts and repainted for all the white areas which should make her glow.

The niche in the lounge room. The fireplace below is yet to be restored.
The niche in the lounge room. The fireplace below is yet to be restored.

The detailing which was overlooked with more bland institutional painting is now apparent with picture rails, feature niches, detailed windows … all being highlighted. In the next few weeks the floors will be done – predominantly sanding and polishing cypress pine boards which look as they will be in varied condition- some pristine and never exposed, others with heavier use. And Black Japan finishing which I am learning is not a good thing. Bedrooms are being carpeted. There are some reservations expressed by others about me not carpeting the whole building. Cold keeps being mentioned. I’m hoping that lots of rugs, furniture and some wood fire heaters and eventually and AGA or something similar in stoves will help. Closed doors also work well! If the worst happens, I can always carpet the rest although obviously I hope this isn’t necessary. I love the character of timber floors and these are original thick tongue and groove boards.

Just so much fresher and displaying the original attention to detail, particularly the beautiful doors
Just so much fresher and displaying the original attention to detail, particularly the beautiful doors

One of the great successes (and cheapest) has been the front sunroom window. I had great plans of replacing this with a heavier timber structure of full length glass, but the glazier encouraged me to try just replacing the daggy untreated fibro panels down the bottom with glass for a few hundred dollars instead of an expensive carpentry exercise. The aluminium fitting is actually fitted into a solid timber frame and the new glass panels look great. The views are much improved  from the loungeroom, the light floods in and it has become the dogs’ favourite hangout as they can watch the street activity whilst basking in the sun.

Post flooring will be curtains ordered from Mudgee Material World which I’m really happy about. Robyn has gone to great trouble to get me looking at magazines for ideas and has sourced curtain rails in keeping with the building. All the curtains are neutral but beautiful linens – from floaty light in some areas to much heavier texture in others and ranging from full length pleated curtains to Roman blinds.

With any luck floors and curtains could be finished by the end of September and me up there most of the time with my Sydney home on the market. There’s a long way to go yet, but all the basics should fall in place shortly.

The Chapel colours are more sympathetic to the amber headlights. All the old fluoro lighting has been removed so photos are a bit more challenging.
The Chapel colours are more sympathetic to the amber leadlights. All the old fluoro lighting has been removed so photos are a bit more challenging.