Charlotte’s Playroom

I promised that I’d update the blog more often in 2011, so here’s a quick post to show how we converted our downstairs workshop into a bright playroom for Charlotte. I’ve added a new gallery with about 40 photos showing how the work progressed. :-”

Basically we had a large, unused room under the house which the previous owner used as a workshop for building model ships. There was no internal access, you had to go outside to enter through a separate door. Although it was handy for storage, we weren’t really making good use of it. Inside it was pretty basic: exposed rough brick walls, a cold tiled floor, a big old radiator and a couple of fluorescent strip lights. 🙁

So, because the room is directly below our living room, we came up with the simple idea of cutting a hole in the ceiling and installing a staircase. As with any renovation project, we hit a few snags along the way:

  • Firstly we would need to smash out some horrible 1970s-style built-in cupboards, move some electrical wiring and relocate two radiators. Unfortunately we discovered that 99% of Aussie plumbers and heating companies refuse to touch “hydronic” heating systems like ours — we ended up finding a friendly ex-pat plumber who knew what he was doing, but it still cost us hundreds of dollars. Removing the fitted cupboards also made a bit of a mess of the plaster upstairs.

  • Then we discovered that the joists ran across the room, rather than lengthways along it. This meant that we’d have to cut through several load-bearing beams, requiring additional reinforcement.

  • We also received a couple of ridiculous quotes for the downstairs plastering work — over $2000! We thought we’d struck lucky when we met a plasterer at the local pub who quoted reasonable rates, but he repeatedly failed to turn up for the job. We ended up hiring a guy from Gumtree, who did a really good job.

  • We decided the room should be a colourful and bright place for Charlotte, so we went with the primary colours theme. The blue is bloody blue and the yellow is effing yellow! (I’m not sure they’re called that on the Dulux paint chart.) Paint is stupidly expensive in Australia and, because we wanted the colours to be really bold, it took several coats to get the right finish.

  • After getting a new carpet fitted, we finished off with some quirky light fittings and stripy curtains.

As you can see from the top picture, Charlotte loves it. That said, she still brings all her toys upstairs to make the living room messy, but we’re working on that. :-w

There’s still a bit of work to do: skirting boards, boxing off underneath the stairs and fitting a new front door (we now have two!) but the room is usable so these jobs can wait. We’re going to continue with the living room next, so that we can call this end of the house finished. The other parts (kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms) is going to be a heck of a lot harder. We’ve also realised that our renovation budget is not going to be enough if we have to rely on tradesmen, so I predict we’ll be learning some new skills this year! #:-s

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