Welcome to the castle: 110sqm of happiness

As most of you* guessed from my hints about The Project, it is indeed a house!

Our first house!

And it’s wonderful and adorable and I love it sooooo much, even though I seem to spend all my time trying to get it to the state we want it at, and cleaning it!

Mr D and I house hunted for over 3 years.  New Zealand has some of the most unafforable housing in the world, and while Wellington isn’t as expensive as Auckland, what you get for $400,000 (the average first home price in Wellington central) isn’t much.  So we scrimped and saved and looked, and looked, and looked.  We put offers on houses, and tenders (blind bids) and paid thousands for building reports and valuations, only to loose to higher bidders on tenders.

Then, in Mid-January,  our landlords at the flat where we’d lived for over five years asked us to move out as they wanted to move in.  Eeek!  If we had to move and rent, we’d have to sign a year long lease, and it would be that long before we could buy and move into our own house.

So the house hunt went into overdrive, and I freaked out and burst into a rash all over with stress, and on the last day before we’d agreed we’d have to give up and rent somewhere else, a house came on the market that ticked most of our boxes.

And we managed to buy it!

We put in a tender offer on a Thursday, along with other bidders, and found out on Friday that we’d won.  My knees gave out and I couldn’t stop shaking for three hours.

The next Thursday our offer went fully unconditional.

The Wednesday  after that we took possession.

The Wednesday after that, we were fully moved in.

Yes: offer to in in under three weeks!  Oh, and the day after we took possession, I drove up to Napier for Art Deco Weekend, because I’d already fully booked and paid for it.  And the day after we moved in I flew up to Auckland to spend the weekend with a friend and see Bruce Springsteen, because once again, it was already booked and paid for!  And in between taking possession and moving in, I completely repainted the master bedroom.

No wonder I was a bit busy and scattered and not good at posting for a time!

And ever since we moved in, I’ve been painting and fixing and cleaning and unpacking and rearranging, and the list of things that needs doing will never be done!

So it’s not perfect, but it’s still wonderful, and it gets better with every little thing I do to it (and now I can actually show them off!) and we are so happy with our little castle!

It’s a mid 1920s California Bungalow, 110sqm, in reasonably  sound condition but in need of a new coat of paint everywhere, and general love and updating.  It’s on a quiet road, so safe for Felicity (yes, that was a top consideration!), in a neighborhood we love, and (very important for Wellington!) gets good all-day sun.

Would you like the tour?

Felicity will lead it:

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comAt the front of the house there is  sunroom, where the Mommes sewing and me sleeping in the day happens.  Next to it is the bedroom where the me sleeping at night happens.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comCome in, come in!  I like the entry, even if the cat door doesn’t work.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comThey usually keep the door from the lounge to the entry closed, which really annoys me, especially when I bat a toy and it shoots under the door into the entry and out of reach!

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comMommes said something about replacing the icky black curtains with pale green damask ones, so I’m testing the fabric to make sure it’s strong enough.  The heater is my favourite thing.  I lie on the rug and worship it with my tummy.  When I get too hot, I lie on the chest, but right now Mommes has her project spread all over it.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comNext to the lounge is the bedroom – when they bought the house it was PURPLE, but I never saw it light that because Mommes painted it before I moved in, which is good, because even in photographs the colour makes my eyes hurt.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comThe windows aren’t done yet, because windows are hard and Mommes is painting them slowly.  I try to help but Mommes says she doesn’t want white pawprints decorating the floor.  Sometimes that woman has no taste!

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comNext to the bedroom is the bathroom – it really is just a bathroom, because a lot of old houses in New Zealand have separate rooms for the bath and toilet.  I like to sit on the sink and watch people take baths, which Mommes says is cute but creepy.  Well, duh, I’m a cat!  That’s what we’re for!

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comDown the hall from the bedroom and bathroom is the guest bedroom, which is good, because guests means more people to give me cuddles and tell me how cute I am.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comAnd across the hall is the kitchen, where people do boring stuff with people food.  Not exciting.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comThe dining room is exciting though, because that’s where I get fed!  

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comAlso, it has a lovely shiny table for me to make pretty paw prints on, only Mommes is always wiping them off and muttering some nonsense about me being ‘a floor cat, not a table cat’.  Seriously, no taste.

The House of Dreams, thedreamstress.comSo the only thing left is the toilet, which I’m not going to show you (really, do you want to see my litterbox too?), and the laundry, which has enormous exciting cupboards full of fabric and boxes piled in all the corners and a window that I like to sit at while I tell Mommes about all the birds that I see.

So that’s it!  As you can see, lots to do – Felicity will never be bored or lacking in new paint to sniff or bits of fabric to sit on while they get made up into cushions and headboards and chair covers.

Thanks for your patience with the big reveal!  And I hope you’re looking forward to a little bit of home decor interspersed amongst the clothes sewing!

* Except for Laurie, who cheekily suggested that I’m pregnant – that would be quite some feat to hide for almost six months while continually posting photos of myself in corsets and fitted knit tops!


  1. Wow, congratulations! This looks like a pretty nice house. I particularly like the wooden floor (is that real wood?) and I am very proud of you that you repainted that purple room. Your taste can’t be as bad as Felicity suspects… (btw. I have friends who moved into a house where ALL the doors and window frames were painted in hot pink. It took them forever to get rid of that color.)

    • Thank you!

      Yes, the wood is real wood. It’s a native NZ timber: matai. I was madly in love with it when we first moved in, but now that I’ve realised how much time it takes to clean and care for I’m suddenly very fond of carpet!

      Evidence suggests that at one point our house was entirely painted in shades of purple, except for the lime green laundry and terra-cotta bath. I’m so grateful that we weren’t left to deal with all of that!

      • Elise says

        We got a robot vacuum when we had all-wood. I also use a swiffer body, but attach microfiber cloths to the bottom (much more eco-friendly) and do a quick wipe just after dinner. Then, a glass of wine to congratulate myself!

        I like to imagine that real wood floors are still part of a living tree, and by caring for them, I am caring for the tree that provided.

  2. MJ Ruisi says

    Yay! comgrats! who doesn’t love a Bungalow!

  3. Love Felicity’s tour — she is a great tourcat. And your house is looking lovelier by the day!

  4. Kathy P in Pittsburgh says

    I LOVE your new house! It will be great to see photos of your creations modeled in your very own garden.
    I have been forbidden to paint our bedroom purple. Yours would have been right up my alley. The dining room not so much.
    Enjoy fixing the house up Just Right. It’s a lot of work, but so satisfying.

    • Thank you! I won’t be able to do much outdoor photography, as that might spill the beans on our neighborhood, which is not allowed.

      The purple doesn’t look too bad in photos, but even my most ardently purple loving friends agreed that it was NOT GOOD in real life! It just didn’t work with the room and lighting, and glowed luminous purple.

  5. fidelio says


    Congratulations to you and to Mr. D for having at last moved under your very own roof!

    And my felicitations to Miss Felicity, for having acquired a residence with so many des fel cons*–heaters to bask in front of, sink counters to perch on, a sunroom, wide window sills where she can sunbathe and monitor the felonious doings of birds and squirrels, a sunroom, a good garden wall for Neighborhood Watch activities and more sunbathing.

    *Desirable feline conveniences–if only realtors thought to list those!

    • Thank you! We are so excited about it!

      And Felicity is most pleased by all the thought that has been put into her needs, though she’s a bit grumpy about all the cat competition in the neighborhood. There are too many cats, and not enough people without them to adore her 😉

      No squirrels though, they don’t exist here in NX!

  6. Deborah Thomas-Wilton says

    What a lovely little house. Will be looking forward to seeing you make it your own. I agree with losing the glow in the dark purple(purple is one of my favorite colors) but was tooo! much purple. That sunroom is wonderful! Is there a garden?
    Best wishes Debs in South Texas

    • Thank you! I like to use pretty restrained colours for paint, and then bring in splashes with fabric and more replaceable things, so a full purple room was too much for me.

      There is a little bit of lawn to go with the house, which Mr D wants to stay a lawn and I want to turn into a garden, so we’ll see…

  7. Oh wow, congratulations! It’s so lovely!

    (I sometimes pop by your blog, but haven’t commented before, so apologies if that sounds creepy! I just thought this momentous occasion warranted a comment :D)

    • Thank you! Your comments are not at all creepy – I understand that there are lots of lurkers! Glad you popped up to say something!

  8. Grace Darling says

    Reminds me of a couple of 1930s places I rented for a few years. I adored having picture-rails.

  9. Happy house: congratulations to all, and especially to Miss Felicity, who has so many good spots to sit, lounge, pounce, pose, and otherwise please her adoring fans.

    Very best,


  10. So wonderful! I love all that white and the sunroom – it must be great to have that in winter. Living in what is apparently a late 18th century house with thick walls, low ceilings and small windows, I have a soft spot for houses from this era that understood the need for windows. 🙂 (But I love the thick walls both in summer and in winter, so it balances out.)
    You were really lucky to secure such a house, especially if it’s in a good enough shape. Good luck with all that work!
    On the subject of purple bedrooms, though, I must say my sister has one… but it’s only one wall. She told me she had a bit of an argument with her husband, because one of them wanted purple and one wanted blue; in the end, they settled on a colour she secretly knows to be purple. 🙂

    Felicity, I’m sorry to tell you, but our cats aren’t allowed on the table either.
    And such a shame about the cat door!

    • Thank you!

      I love all the white too, and the sunroom. Originally the sunroom would have been an open porch, because 1920s housebuilders took the need for windows and the advertising marketing New Zealand as a ‘South Pacific’ wonderland a little too far, and pretended our climate was actually subtropical (it’s NOT!).

      I can see some shades of purple being nice in a bedroom, but the particular violent violet that we had, while it photographed nicely, was an affront in person!

      • Elise says

        Sunrooms are wonderful. They have them in Germany very often, so that you can experience sun even in the winter. (They do lots of smart things to avoid depression during the colder months)

  11. Jub says

    I’m very glad for you, and for Felicity !

    I’m impressed by the time between first offer and possession, here in France, most of the time, it takes 3 months !!!

    Did Felicity meet other furry friends around ?

    • Thank you!

      3 weeks is EXCEPTIONALLY fast in NZ as well – 2-3 months is more common. We were lucky in that the house was unoccupied (so no one had to move out), the owners were desperate to sell and have the money as soon as possible (I suspect they had serious debt problems), and we didn’t have to sell a house or give 6 weeks notice on our rental, as we’d had notice given on us. There was still a bunch of mad scrambling to arrange all the finances and everything else in time though!

  12. It’s beautiful. I wish you much happiness in furnishing it, and living in it.

    You’re right; if $400,000 is what a starter home costs in Wellington and vicinity, that’s shocking!

    • Thank you! We’re really enjoying the living part, and I’m enjoying the little bit of furnishing I’ve done so far.

      $400,000 is shocking, but it doesn’t translate perfectly. One NZ$ is only worth about .80cents US. The minimum wage is $15 per hour in NZ (but it takes almost $19 per hour to have a reasonable standard of living in Wellington), and the average salary in NZ is generally higher than that in the US, but everything costs more here. NZ housing is definitely unaffordable though: the average house price in the Wellington region is over 5x the average annual income in the region.

  13. What a perfectly LOVELY house! I love the leaded glass in the sun room, and all the old doors and wood work around the house. So happy you finally found something with such great character!

    • Thank you! I love all those things too! Eventually we’re going to scrape off the paint from the doors to reveal the old wood, and the character in the guest bedroom and dining room will really stand out with a better paint job.

  14. Congrats on your new abode! It looks so lovely and cozy, yet airy at the same time. Can’t wait to see more of your sprucing up!

    • Thank you! I’m really looking forward to being able to show off the things I do. Nothing too exciting compared to most of the decorating bloggers, but they still make me happy!

  15. Susan says

    Congratulations! Your new nest has so much character – can’t wait to see how it will look with all the special touches you (and Miss Fliss) will give it. You’re already off to a great start!

    • Thank you! I’m slowly working on putting my own stamp, hampered slightly by the almost daily removal of Fiss’s mark – white fur on everything!

  16. Hooray! I’m so happy for you! The house looks great; I love the stained glass windows. So cool to have your own place and not have to worry about landlords.

  17. Ooo! I want to decorate a house! I’m sure you’ll share lovely and exciting progress in the world of decor. Looking forward to it.


    • Thank you! I am SO excited about finally having a house that I can do whatever I want to – but (of course) there are huge budget (and time) constraints!

  18. Lynne says

    Thank you for the tour, Felicity! Your new home is looking great!

  19. Deanna says

    Congratulations! Very exciting and your house is so cute. I love older houses, they are so much more interesting than newer ones, more to look at and they usually have nice cozy little nooks and crannies. 🙂 Felicity looks comfy and happy and was a very good tour guide.

    My husband and I also started house hunting three years ago (with a break in the middle due to burn-out). We just closed today on our very first house. I’m hoping excitement will come soon, right now I’m still stressed. It does have plenty of room for our bunny, so the most important item is checked off. 🙂

    • Thank you! I like old houses too, but of what is available in NZ, 1920s-30s is my favourite: not as pretty as Victorian, but generally much warmer and much cheaper to upkeep!

      Congratulations on your house! Best of luck with the final moving and other things!

      • Deanna says

        I think 1920-30s still has plenty of pretty. The area we live in does not have really old houses (not even 1940’s or earlier, that I know of). The house we ended up with is only a decade old. So not much character, and an open floor plan, which is the opposite of what I prefer. But that’s okay! At least we can paint the walls colors we like and let bunny roam if we want too.

        Thanks so much! Moving is always a bit of a hassle.

  20. Rachel says

    How wonderful – congratulations! And thank you for sharing something so personal with us (funny how the inside of your house is more personal than your reproduction underthings!!)

    • Thank you! Mr D is a really private person, so I can’t share much of anything that includes him, but I do like to include you in my life as much as possible!

      Wait until I start showing you my real underthings though 😉

  21. Lyndle says

    I didn’t know houses here were expensive compared with other places., I just knew they were verging on unaffordable. But congratulations on yours, it is lovely, and it looks like it has flat access and probably comes with a garden. ( As a hill dweller, I reckon street level access in Wellington adds at least 50k to the price). Beautiful! I wish you many happy years in it.

    Ps love those floors!

    • Thank you!

      There are certainly cities in the US where houses are as unaffordable as they are in NZ, but on the whole, our house price to income percentage it significantly worse than most places 🙁

      It has a little garden, which is all we want as we have no time for gardening! I won’t be able to take many outside photos though, as I can’t reveal where it is 😉

  22. Libby says

    Oh, congratulations!! I’d just been looking at archives and wondering what had befallen The Project…. I never suspected it of being a house, though!

    It’s a lovely place. Hope you’re enjoying every minute of Not Househunting Anymore!

    • Thank you! I’m tickled that people were actually still wondering about it. Perhaps I should go back to old posts and link to this one!

      Not Househunting is wonderful! All those Sundays not running around open homes! No more depressing trips to see houses with mold everywhere and wobbles all across the floor that are still barely in our budget! No more smarmy realtors! Heaven!

  23. It’s darling! I’m assuming since Mr. D is a private person, you can’t share which neighborhood you’re in. But I’ll ask the other pertinent Wellington question – what kind of heating do you have?

    • Definitely can’t share the neighborhood.

      Heating is most pertinent though! We have gas heating, and it’s AMAZING. Takes the lounge from nothing to tropical in less than half an hour, even on the coldest winter days. The house as a whole stays really warm – we’ve only run a heater in the bedroom once this winter.

      All the smallish, separate rooms really help too. Open plan is lovely in summer, but in winter, you can’t beat a lot of doors to close!

  24. I still remember the thrill of getting my first house instead of renting, and that’s over 25 years ago! Congratulations, it looks lovely. I hope you’ll be very happy there.

  25. Congratulations!!! That is so exciting, especially after looking for such an incredibly long time. We’ve only been looking for half a year and that was already exhausting; I can’t imagine three years! Miss Felicity, I hope you have many happy hours in that fabulous sunroom, and thanks for the lovely tour!

    • Thank you! Three years of house hunting wasn’t fun, but it’s exciting that just the right house came through when we needed it most!

      Best of luck with your own house hunt! May it be much shorter, and just as satisfactory!

  26. I do love purple (our hall is a lilac shade), but that was screaming violet which is a bit much even for me! I love the floors, I have to say I like hard floors in dining/kitchen and service areas cos although it marks up it’s easy to clean spills; carpet in bedrooms and lounges though. Our hard floor isn’t wood unfortunately, just looks a bit like it.
    Yours is a very pretty house and was obviously meant to be

  27. Martina says

    Just found your blog, which I love. Congratulations on the house, the hardwood floors are gorgeous!

  28. Kathryn says

    Oh, I am *SO*delighted that The Project turned out to be your very own house! A lifelong project just for you and your husband. Nothing profound to say, I’m just really happy for you. 🙂

  29. Fliss did an excellent job as Tour Guide, and you did an excellent job finding and landing your lovely HOME!!! Huge congratulations to you all. Years of fun ahead!! 🙂

Comments are closed.