reflections of a reformed hoarder

We have been in the shed a couple of weeks now. We’re slowly finishing off things so our little home is well organised. Bean said just tonight, while he was making the new corner desk,

“I can’t wait for the day we realise there’s no more work to be done in here.”

Neither can I! I think when that day comes we’ll spend the whole evening playing board games, watching movies on the laptop &/or staring at the wall… We’ll certainly have earned it by then. You know? We might even have more than one lazy evening!

We’re getting close though, we’re so close I can taste it. There’s such a short list of jobs left, and then this tiny little space will be very comfortably set up for our family.

Today, we worked out where we want the wall shelves to go, we worked out what materials we need for those shelves & we went to the hardware store to buy it all. We’ve reached a point where we’re after cheap solutions over beautiful solutions, so we bought ply wood for our shelves rather than solid wood, it’s just so much cheaper and this isn’t actually our house. We’ll paint it with some left over paint, rather than oiling it like we’d finish solid wood. Even if we could afford the more beautiful materials that we want, it just makes a bit more sense to buy the equally functional, yet less beautiful, materials for less & save the difference for that “one day” when we have our own home again.

We’re so very close to having all the things we want to live with unpacked & put away in this space, everything having its own place, simple & beautiful. We had planned to store some things in one of the FOUR(!) spare rooms in Bean’s parents house, things that wouldn’t fit in the shed & (as yet unbuilt) wash house, but we have since decided to be more ruthless than we’ve ever been before. If we want to keep something, we’ll work out how to fit it in the (house) shed, wash house, or garden/tool shed otherwise it goes! We’ll sell or donate everything we don’t have space for, we’ll store nothing.

We’ve decided to do things this way because we’re planning to set up Van Halen (Bean’s kombi) as a camper van & travel for a little while once he’s qualified & we have saved some money for an adventure. We don’t want to be worrying about stuff we’re not going to use immediately we move from this shed. We don’t want to have things in storage. If we don’t use it often enough that we’re not going to miss it in storage then we’re not going to miss it if we get rid of it altogether!

A good old fashioned cull, it just feels so very good. We’ve already culled most of our sentimental stuff, childhood letters, trophies (all Bean’s, I never won at sport!), toys… Being a reformed hoarder, I’ve done the heartless chuck out already! It was hard, it was something I thought about & put off for so long, then when I finally got rid of it all I wondered why it had taken me so long?! Now, it’s just useful stuff left. Some stuff that we use every day, stuff that makes life easier, stuff that makes life more fun, stuff we wear… Then there’s the stuff we don’t use daily but that we use often enough to keep in our little house.

The useless stuff, the stuff we’d planned to put in boxes & leave in a room for who knows how long, just in case we want it again some day, that’s the stuff we’ll get rid of, one way or another. Then, then I’ll feel even more free. Less to pack when we leave. Less to worry about now. Just less. Beautiful, simple “less”.

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moving in to the shed

We’re in! Finally, finally, finally we have our own little space.

We’re not quite finished with the conversion. We still have some shelves to put up & the bathroom to finish off (nearly there!) but Tuesday night I put the last coat of paint on the floor so Wednesday night it was done enough & we’d had enough of living in the spare room in the outlaws place so we moved in.

As I always do when we move I set up the play space/Sprout’s bedroom first.

Moe’s clothes are in the left cupboard above the toy baskets & Sprout’s clothes are in the right cupboard. The ladder to the left takes us up to the loft, where the family bed is. Sprout’s bed was my bed when I was a child. It’s been used by me, my neice & now Sprout. It’s looking a bit rough these days, but I do like it so.

Here’s a little more of the toy shelves…

This is the family bed.

This is Sprout’s bedroom at night, complete with sleeping Sprout & faery light night lights turned on.

We spent today unpacking kitchen boxes. Mugs, plates, bowls, pantry food… We found spots for all of it. Ironially, in this tiny shed, we have more kitchen cupboard & pantry space than we have had in any of our other homes. We have “enough” bench space, even with the bench top oven & two burner gas stove too (different to the temporary fix that is in the pictures below). We’re quite proud of how we’ve planned this space to be so useful.

I am so pleased to have a tea shelf again…

I’ll share the bathroom with you when it’s finished. Hopefully in the next few days.

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tips for renovating with children

The experience of renovating the shed has been great, and awful, and everything in between. The sproggets have been so patient with us. We have regularly told them,


“Don’t touch that!”

“Please wait, I’m busy right now.”


“In a minute…”

It has been challenging trying to find the balance between doing a huge amount of renovation work and trying to amuse the sproggets. The sproggets have certainly suffered for it some days and as we near the completion of the shed conversion we’re really hanging out for a weekend of just hanging out together as a family. A weekend of saying “YES!”, a weekend of playgrounds, long dog walks (the poor dog has also suffered a bit of emotional neglect while we’ve spent every waking moment scrubbing, painting, bashing out, building, patching, drilling, sawing, connecting etc.), reading books together, dancing together & generally having fun without any renovation jobs hanging over our heads. We need some time to reconnect, all of us. This experience has been stressful overall. Living in someone else’s house, people who live so very differently to us, having  a huge amount of work to do in a short space of time, pressuring ourselves to get it done so we can get in there, so we can live in our own space, in our own way, again.

I thought I’d share some tips for renovating with young children (remember ours are nearly 4yrs & 18 months old)… Things we’ve found useful on the days where we did manage to strike that balance between getting the job done & keeping the children happy.


1. Buy toys from the op-shop to have in the space. Don’t spend heaps, they’ll get covered in paint, they’ll be played with outside, they’ll get trashed.*

2. Let your children help whenever it’s safe – give them a paint brush & let them paint a section of the wall, if you’re worried about drips let them paint in the fridge recess or somewhere that will be hidden and go over it with a roller after them. Let them sit on your lap while you’re drilling something at a low height. Let them climb the ladder in front of you if it’s safe. You know? Just try to say “Yes” to requests to help as often as you can, even if it means the task takes a little longer.

3. Have “work clothes” for the children, just like you do for yourself – pretty obvious really, but worth mentioning because even if you don’t give them a paint brush they’ll definitely get covered in paint!

4. The playpen is your friend! Not for your children… no! Paint buckets, dangerous tools, anything you don’t want the children getting in to while your back is turned – all of it goes in the playpen.

5. Keep chemicals up high, in a locked room, anywhere that is out of reach of the children – another obvious one but probably the most important one. We didn’t use many chemicals, we used no-VOC paint & natural, food safe oils for wood, but still… it’s just good to keep it away from small folk.

6. There are two types of tools. Tools that the children can’t use (they’re dangerous &/or they’re expensive &/or they’re work tools) and the tools that the children can use (the small hammer you bought especially for them because it’s the right size (naaawww), the cheap & (relatively) safe tools – paint brushes with or without paint, screwdrivers (with supervision!), sandpaper blocks etc.)

7. Stop regularly for food & water (& breastfeeding) breaks. This is an important one for YOU as well. Eat regularly, it will vastly improve everyone’s mood to have full bellies & stable blood sugar levels. Eat in the sunshine if you can. Take a proper food break, rather than eating on the go. Those regular breaks mean more productive bursts between them.

8. Sometimes you’ve just got to drop everything and find a playground!

I’m sure there’s others I’m not thinking of right now, but these are the small considerations we found useful over the 6 weeks we’ve been renovating for. That’s 6 weeks of all day every Saturday & Sunday with lots of evening work as well. Evenings we’ve tag teamed the renovation work & the parenting work if one or both of the sprogs were still awake. When they were both asleep we’d set up a skype call between our bedroom & the shed so we could see & hear them, as they woke one of us would make our way down to the bedroom immediately to tend to their needs.

So, have you renovated with children? We’re not quite finished yet, we’ve another couple of weekends full of renovating ahead of us so please share any tips you could add to this list.


* we wouldn’t have thought of this one ourselves. MIL bought some toys for the children at a garage sale, plastic junk we’d not have chosen, for them to play with while we stay with them. These are the toys that migrated up to the shed for the renovation phase & they have been so immensely helpful in keeping the sproggets amused while we renovate.

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the evolution of the shed project

If you’ve been following wildecrafted lately you’ll know we’ve been converting a backyard shed at Bean’s parents place into a grany flat for our family to live in for a while as Bean finishes his electrical apprenticeship and as we recover from some poor financial decisions.

Well, it has taken a lot longer than I had anticipated. It’s become a bigger project than any of us imagined at first. We started off with the plan to put insulation & plasterboard on the bare shed walls & ceiling with a camp stove on a table for the kitchen. We’d head down to the main house to use the toilet & for showers.

That then became including plumbing at the shed for a kitchen sink so doing dishes wasn’t a hassle… Which led us to ask, if we’re putting the energy into getting water up there & waste water back out of there then why not plumb in a shower & a tap for the washing machine too? That would make living there much easier wouldn’t it? We’d not have to share a bathroom or laundry, only a toilet…

I know, you can just see what’s coming next can’t you?! Yes. Then mother-in-law said we should have a toilet up there too.

We don’t have the room. It’s already a squeeze getting the shower, washing machine, kitchen, lounge & beds in… it’s only 28 square metres! It’d only work if we built an outhouse & that’s too much work, let’s shelve that idea. Reluctantly she agrees, until….

The plumber says it’s not that hard. The plumbing will all be there, it’s easy to connected, building a stud frame outhouse will be easy.

Ok. We’ll do that then.

Then mother-in-law decides we can’t possibly have a toilet without a basin in it so we plan to make the outhouse bigger.

Then I ponder… If the outhouse is going to have a toilet & a basin in it, why don’t we swap the washing machine that’s planned to go in the shed with the basin that’s planned to go in the outhouse, turn the outhouse into a wash house? It makes more sense to have a basin next to the shower so we can brush our teeth, we can just come back inside after using the toilet & wash our hands, much better than going outside to brush our teeth, and so much better than keeping our toothbrushes in the toilet (ick! That’s a thing of mine). I suggest it to Liam. He says they won’t go with it. I ask him to suggest it anyway. Not only do they go with it, they’re very enthusiastic about it. Yes, yes, much better to have the washing machine outside, it’s too big & noisy to have in such a small space as the shed.

So the shed plan has become the pre-existing room that we’ll add a loft bed to (our friend the carpenter comes tomorrow morning to begin that job) for our family bedroom, a bathroom with basin/cabinet/mirror & shower, a kitchen with not only a camp stove but a bench top oven & a brand new electric kettle (courtesy of shop-a-holic MIL!) plus the out house which will include a toilet & laundry.

With all of these luxuries we’ll have no need to use any part of the main house & we’ll live quite comfortably in 28 square metres, I think.

Please forgive the lack of regular posting at wildecrafted lately, we’ve obviously had a large project occupying our minds & time! The shed is nearly ready for us to move in to now, as soon as it’s finished & we’re happily settled in I’ll blog a pic-heavy post about the whole process.

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a renovator’s delight

We spent last weekend at the shed. We’re at the very begining of the renovation so there was lots of banging & bashing with hammers, which was SO MUCH FUN!

Looking in from the front door.

Looking left from the front door.

Inside the bedroom.


We pulled nails out of the beams & pulled shelves down, then when all the bashing & banging was done Bean pre-wired it all ready for the plasterers to come in with insulation & plasterboard this week.

I was Bean’s labourer for some of the time, I drilled massive holes in a couple of the jarrah beams with a very expensive drill. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used a drill before so it was a bit exciting to find myself drilling holes the size of a 10 cent piece through thick, hardwood.

Giving myself a shower of jarrah shavings!

I also got down with some nasty, nasty paint stripper & scraped a few layers of paint off the weather boards in the bedroom. It was a bit full on… actually it was a lot full on, the fumes were intense, but I wore a gas mask (most of the time) & had the window wide open for fresh air & the door closed so the sproggets weren’t exposed. It was satisfying to see the paint come away & give an idea of how it’ll look when it’s done.

We’re going to sand it back a bit more then seal it with ecolour polyclear (no VOC) to go with the distressed look. We’ll finish the door, ceiling & skirtings in that room with ecolour high gloss interior paint (also no VOC), so the distressed looking weather boards are framed with fresh, clean paint.

We’ve chosen our paint colours. Inspired by this post from SouleMama, we’re going with light green walls & a creamy white for the skirtings, shelves, window frames, door frames etc. The jarrah floors will be sanded back & oiled. The kitchen cabinets & bench top will be varnished (polyclear-ed) pine & the walls in the wet area will be covered with zincalume mini orb.

The plumber came Monday afternoon to tell us all the plumbing we have in mind could be done, & with more ease than we had initially thought. He’s also told us it’ll be a cinch to add a toilet there too. There’s not the room in the shed for a toilet (& we’re not keen on having a toilet right next to our pantry!) so we’ll build a little outhouse next to the shed. That will make us completely self sufficient, having no need to go to the bottom house at all, which means more privacy for the outlaws & more privacy for us 🙂

We probably won’t get much more done on the shed this coming weekend, since we’re moving our things from Wonderland to the outlaws place. We’ll be staying with the outlaws from this weekend until the shed is finished. Our timeline is a couple of weeks. We’ll be able to get a lot more done from here on in because we’ll be staying so close to the shed. Bean & I are planning night time renovations while the sproggets are asleep.

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At the weekend we went to visit the outlaws & measure the shed so we could begin planning the shed-to-granny-flat conversion.

In previous jobs, and a little in his current job, Bean used AutoCAD a lot so we decided to draw a floor plan using AutoCAD. After Bean drew the basic plan we then worked out what furniture we’d be using in the shed & what would be put in storage (in a spare room in the main house). We measured the furniture we’d be using in the shed & Bean drew all of that in AutoCAD too. Once we had everything measured & drawn it was time to shift stuff around (virtually!). We played with all kinds of layouts, then 2 or 3 hours later we had a plan we’re happy with.

Bean has run it by his parents & they’re happy with it too. Awesome!

The total floor area of the shed is around 28m2 (just over 5m x just over 5.5m). The existing separate room in the shed is 7.8m2 (2.65m x 2.95m).  We’ve decided to increase our usable space by building a loft bed in the separate room. Under the loft bed will be The Bubble’s single bed & a space for the sproggets – a wardrobe for their clothes & shelves for their toys. By doing this, we’ve managed to create enough extra space for the washing machine & a shower(!) in the shed. Originally we thought we’d have to get a little garden tool shed for the washing machine to be outside, which won’t be necessary after all. Having a shower will be a total bonus. We were expecting to use the bathroom in the main house, which could increase stress because it’s not a child-friendly house & having a shower while wondering what dangerous things the sproggets are getting into is not terribly relaxing, nor is having a shower with the sproggets every time I want a wash!

As much as I’m proud of the loft idea & all that is made possible by having a loft bed, the kitchen is my very favourite part of the shed plan. We’ll be able to prepare most things we can prepare in any house kitchen with the exception of a massive roast (which we can probably cook in the hooded BBQ anyway…). We’ll have a sink with running water, our large fridge, 2 pantries, just over 3m of bench space with cupboards underneath plus a small island bench on casters, 3 or 4 roughly 2m long shelves along the wall, a pot rack hanging from the ceiling, the thermomix (which will actually be of use to us when we replace the broken blade), a gas camping stove, a bench top electric oven/grill, slow cooker & kettle. For the kitchen cupboards, since we lack the cabinet making skill & time to build them ourselves, we’re actually going to break my ikea-free ideals & buy ikea products. Not their kitchen products though, not only are they too expensive, I’m unsure of what chemicals they could be offgassing & would like to avoid VOCs. We’ll be using “ivar” cupboards, they’re solid pine – untreated & unfinished. They’re 80cm wide by 50cm deep & 83cm high. We’ll put them on blocks of timber from the salvage yard to raise them to a better kitchen bench height & we’ll screw a wooden bench top to the top of them. We’re hoping to get some milled, raw edge pine that we saw at the salvage yard for the bench tops, provided they’re not too expensive, our plan B is to use salvaged floor boards, plan C is to use pre-fab wooden bench tops from ikea or Bunnings (or other hardware store).

We won’t have a traditional dining table. Instead we’ll have the same set up for meals that we have already, the coffee table (which was once  a dining table anyway) next to the couch with the children’s little cane chairs. We still sit down & eat together, just not at a traditional dining table. That will work extra well in the shed, since we’re after furniture that can serve more than one function. The coffee table is a perfect height & size for children’s craft.

We’ll paint the interior of the shed with ecolour no-VOC paint in an as yet unchosen colour. Suggestions of funky wall colours most welcome 🙂

That’s just about all I can think to explain of the plan for now, so I’ll finish with a copy of the floor plan…

Click on the image to enlarge

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