When we first bought our apartment, the bathroom didn’t look that bad. It was clean, white, and had a fairly decent bath-shower combo. However, we soon discovered that the previous owner had simply painted over all the surfaces with exterior house paint, and then never used it again. Once water splashed on the walls, the paint peeled off revealing dirty old chipped tiles underneath. Then the shower fixture fell off the wall. Then we got a letter from the building co-op stating that the pipes in some apartments were leaking water.
After living with these problems for two years, we decided it was time to get our bathroom renovated. At only 2 meters by 3 meters, there was not much space, so we decided to stick with the bath-shower combo, but try to make the best use of space possible. We found a great English-speaking builder who consulted us on every decision and did a great job. Though for three weeks our bathroom was out of commission and looked something like this:
This was the end product. The original sink blocked the door, so we moved it to the opposite wall. We swapped out the old 160cm bath for a grand 180cm bath, and splurged on a 24cm shower-head to celebrate the lack of water restrictions in Belgium. A three-piece glass panel folds out for shower time. New pipes underneath, and tiles all the way to the ceiling, I am so happy with our new bathroom.
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They told us that it would take three days. Seventeen days later, our kitchen is nearly complete. The sink and the dishwasher were connected yesterday, so now we no longer have to wash our dishes in the bathroom sink. This was our kitchen before the renovation. Note the lack of: extractor fan, dishwasher, freezer, oven, power points, and counter-top space.
This is our new kitchen, 90% complete and finally functional. We actually have space to cut, chop and prepare on the granite benchtop. We have plugs for our toaster. We have lighting to see our food.
To give us some more bench space, we shifted from a four burner ceramic stove to a two burner induction stove. I really like the new induction stove because it heats liquid a lot faster than the old one (and also because it uses magnets).The kitchen lady seemed a little judgmental that I wasn’t the type of wife to cook my husband a dinner requiring four different pots, and as I was trying to justify my decision, Adrian quietly reminded me that I was not actually mandated to supply an explanation. Now we can also proudly display our toaster that we won betting on the ‘pigs.
The dishwasher, fridge, and freezer are all nicely hidden away. As we have been living with a bar fridge for the last six months, the fridge and freezer seem cavernous in comparison. And for the first time in my life I have a dishwasher, small enough so that we can run it with dishes from just the two of us.
Where is the microwave? In the oven. I didn’t believe the kitchen people when they first showed me this dual oven-microwave. On one setting, we put in metal oven trays and it acts as a perfectly normal oven. On another setting, we use a ceramic tray, and it is a fully-featured microwave. It is very strange to put a plastic container into an oven, switch the oven on for three minutes, then open it up to find my meal bubbling away.
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In addition to hosting our Australian friend Lina for a couple of weeks, we are also having major renovations inflicted on our apartment. The old kitchen is being ripped out, and they are installing a new kitchen, three new wardrobes, and a mini-laundry.
We are locking the kittens up in the study during the day, because the whole house looks like a disaster zone. Boxes, cabinets, and live power tools are all over the place. However, everything seems to be coming together quickly, and the builders seem very dedicated, working from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM. Fingers crossed when we come home tonight, we will have a fancy new kitchen and we might even be able to stop living out of boxes.
We have the first plans drawn up for our new kitchen. Unfortulately these people can’t fit us in until January, so I am still shopping around to find someone who is available in July. We are going with a small-sized dishwasher, and a half-sized oven that is somehow also a microwave even though it is filled with metal. To maximise our bench space we will have a two-burner oven and a single sink that can be covered with a chopping board. We will have lighting under and on top of the wall cabinets to brighten up the area as much as possible.
We’d really like to have the renovations completed before our stream of visitors increases. Who knew that living in the heart of Europe would mean that we would have so many lovely people coming to visit us? It certainly makes us feel less lonely to know that we are going to have friends and family coming to visit. I just hope that they can both shower and eat while they are staying here.
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