Plans have been in the works for a big interior renovation on my home since early this year.  The last time I designed a renovation for myself, I was still living in San Francisco. It was one year before our move to Auckland and it was decided that a new bathroom would be an important selling feature. From decision to builders on site took 2 weeks, with all materials in place.  Granted this renovation is much larger, but 9 months to get ready was a surprise.

Now that time frame is not at all unusual when I work with a client. But since I had the basic layout in my head even before we finalized our home purchase, I expected it would go quickly. What I had not counted on is the nature of shopping for materials in this big, sprawling metropolis, devoid of one central design center.

So I used this as an opportunity to educate myself. I can honestly say that now I can direct you to all the tile shops in Auckland and speak knowledgeably about the products within. Same for plumbing, flooring, lighting, furniture, you name it, I know where it is! Except that you can’t count on those products being there when you go back to buy them! But I get ahead of myself.

My house is on two levels. Currently the main living area is upstairs, but that will change so that we live equally on both floors. We will replace the kitchen, add and delete closets and shelves, all new lighting and re-work the function of some of the rooms.  But walls and layout stay mostly intact.

Downstairs will change entirely. We will add walls to create rooms where there is one open rumpus space, build a new master bath, new laundry, walk in closets off of our new master bedroom. Since I already had a pretty good idea of the overall design, my first step was to select my products. There are essential details needed for any designer before sitting down to draw up installation plans. For example, I can’t lay out a kitchen until I know all the appliances, and for a bathroom I need to know the size and type of lavatories and taps. So I went shopping.

I got everything selected, all the big and small decisions sorted, then settled down to draw. I am an old fashioned girl, so I do hand drawings. I have an Autocad program, I have even taken a few classes. But I prefer the old way. With pencil to paper I work out all of the installation details of every little corner. And design and re-design as it comes to life in front of me. That also took longer than expected, as I learned to work in metric. That’s okay, it’s all done, it’s gonna be great and I’m happy!

Along the way I met with builders and various trades, including a wonderful joiner who so impressed me I decided that I would not bother with anyone elsefor my cabinets.  Then I met another builder who impressed me in the same way, so he’s on board. A great electrician, plumber, tiler, painter and we’re off! Start date scheduled, with each phase following along to a projected March completion date. So it was time to start buying some of those things that I had selected all those many months ago. And so the trouble starts.

First stop, the limestone tile for the master bath. Which of course is no longer in stock! That means more shopping unless I want to wait 5 months, which I don’t.  For the powder room, I want Statuario marble, that beautiful white stuff with the simple grey veins. I don’t need a lot, it’s a small room. But I want it in tile, and I want the real stuff, not porcelain, which I have yet to find. The simple side lights for the mirror cabinet are also not available in the style I want. And now I am worried about my plumbing fixtures.

Which all serves to remind me that I live in New Zealand now.  A small country far away from everything.  All the things I love about this place are also all the things that frustrate me. I was determined that my project would run smoothly, on schedule and I would not run into the usual delays that infect most projects here. And I am still determined that will be the case. I will have my beautiful home and I will use locally sourced products and materials!

So watch this space. Before and after photos and more on The Process, including how you live through it  all, coming your way in future posts!