After I had decided that I was 'done' here, that Himself and I were never going to work through the mass of issues that grew, like a nasty bindweed through our relationship, Himself moved out (his choice) and we tried to sell the house.
With a massive bill for (unsuccessful) marketing, not to mention the bills incurred for repair and refurbishment prior to the sale process, I was left to lick my wounds and batten down the hatches over winter.
Then our drains blocked up.
This is what the plumber extracted. It's tree roots, in case you were confused...
With lots of theatre and sewing to distract me, I avoided all thoughts of house sale for several months. And then I made some decisions.
One of the pieces of feedback we'd received about the house during the time it was on the market, was that the floor plan was awkward. Interestingly, I had thought this myself on our first inspection, but Himself and No 2 Son's enthusiasm had won me over and, living in the house, the quirkiness of the layout kind of grew on us. Mind you, it didn't stop Himself from complaining bitterly every time he had to climb the stairs from the garage with arm loads of computers etc. It didn't stop him complaining loudly about all the doors he had to open with full hands, because the vast size of the place meant vast power bills which meant that I spent my whole life running around turning off lights and shutting doors to 'keep the heat in'.
The most difficult time was when we had guests. There was nowhere to naturally 'congregate'. In Australia, people tend to move towards the kitchen on arrival in a home. Here they can chat whilst the host arranges drinks and nibbles etc, or in my case, attempts to finish the meal that should have been ready hours ago....our kitchen never lent itself to this. Designed as it was with a small hatch through to a similarly small eating area, people either got under your feet in the kitchen, or stood on the other side of the hatch, awkwardly, as people pushed past them, being in a corridor as they were.
Here it is from one side
And here's how crowded it seemed when we sat in the eating area (sad looking back on this photo).
I mean it was ok once we were at the table and eating, or in the lounge room chatting, but in that first 40 mins or so it was always decidedly awkward. The Bestie described the house as having 'no flow'.
And hey ho! There you go, everyone else thought so too.
They also mentioned the 'dated' nature of the place: kitchen, bathrooms etc. All the stuff you don't notice when you live with it.
Well, thanks be! It wasn't as bad as I thought it might have been, and we were able to get new bench tops AND a proper range hood to actually suck air out of the kitchen and prevent the build up of grease etc that I have been struggling with for many years. I began financial negotiations with Dad.
So in August the process commenced.
Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference!!!! Suddenly we have a place for people to congregate. The centre of our house is alive! It's lighter, cleaner, more inviting.....
But with the new range hood, we had the problem of tiling.
Being smaller and more stream lined, the new range hood exposed the edge of the tiles which had been previously hidden. And anyway, let's face it, those tiles with the 1980s still life......they had to go.
Here is where Himself stepped in. Mr Graphic Designer had a whole lot to say about the tiles. The thing is, he had successfully picked the new white-ish benches, so I had been softened up.
"Dark tiles," he announced. "We need dark tiles to make the benches pop and to draw the walls back, giving a sense of light and space."
Now dark tiles had been the last things I had been considering. After all, the kitchen is pretty big anyway! Why would we need to give a sense of space...and how would dark tiles give a sense of light????? But, since I deferred to his greater expertise etc etc, we went and picked an appropriate dark tile called 'satin cocoa'.
Then I started to get nervous.
That space behind the cook top was awfully big, I feared the brown tile would be too overpowering. I started to look on the web and found a slightly lighter brown tile, with an etched 'score' line across it, meaning you could fill it with grout and get the sense of more, smaller tiles, broken up by light grout.
Himself was happy too so it seemed like a done deal.
On the morning the Bestie and I started to attempt the tiling of the kitchen, we discovered that, at 10mm thick, we couldn't could not cut the tiles. Not even with an angle grinder! Massive panic, a re-think and it was back to the hardware store to buy the cheaper, but more importantly, thinner, satin cocoa tiles. Back to Plan A.
I was still worried about the over-all dark effect, so I bought some mosaic feature tiles while I was there.
I thought these would break up the dark tiles Himself favoured and I planned to put them in random vertical lines, behind the cooktop. Surely a fair compromise? Himself was cautiously in agreement and we settled on two asymmetric vertical lines behind the cooktop.
"Mosaics?! Behind a cooktop???? Imagine cleaning those!", squealed one of my more straight forward friends. " I would never buy a house with tiles like that behind the cooktop!"
How such minor statements can impact on our lives.
I spent a weekend planning a variety of ways to place the mosaics with Mondrian like randomness, anywhere BUT behind the cooktop. Most of these ideas got the thumbs down from Mr Graphic Designer.
"Keep it simple," he postulated and proceeded to outline two, slightly offset, tile width rectangles in very minimalist fashion. But more of that later.
In the meantime I had to contend with things like this:
which I got sorted with the help of some of my new found theatre friends. Lighting blokes can be very useful!
I then had to back fill the exposed brick with plaster to make it into a flat surface for tile application...
...and then the Bestie and I were ready to go.
We started at around 9am on a Monday morning and it took us most of that morning to reach a finishing point.
And I had lost significant amounts of hair.
And my wrinkles were 50% deeper.
The problem lay in that row of small tile cuts near the bench under the window there.
Rushing ahead like bulls in the proverbial china shop, and having wasted a day failing to cut the other tiles and making the decision to buy these ones, we forgot the number one rule of tiling. Put up a batten if your bottom tile is not a whole tile!!! (exhibit a) the correct method)
As it turns out, the correct method is NOT, putting up half a tile, then putting another whole tile above it, then watching them slide down the wall, then shoving bits of cut up lunchbox underneath them to prop them up and then putting the tile spacers in the wrong way so that some of the gaps were 1.5.mm and some were 0.8mm and then moving on to the next tile without really getting the line-up correct because the adhesive we'd mixed up was going to go 'off if we didn't get the bloody things up, and it cost a ****ing fortune to buy and we didn't want to have to back to the hardware store.......
Nope, that isn't it. But we forgot about that and, two hours later, covered with tile glue, red faced, panting and speaking quite curtly to each other, this is what we had achieved.
As a result, the Bestie suggested we hire a tiler. Hooray, hooray. My anxiety attacks abated (until I saw my bank account) and so, the brown tiles were applied, with 'marked' mosaic spaces (as determined by Himself) filled, by mosaic tiles.
We hated the mosaic tiles.
But Lo!!!! We took them out.
So, meh, It is ok, I don't love it, I don't hate it. I hoped to be excited and I wasn't. Roll on open inspections!