Apartment Therapy :: Session I

If I had a dollar for every drawing my husband has sketched to help me understand the vision or engineering behind the project he's engaged with at the time, I would have a lovely nest-egg by now. I've been wanting to share what we've been working on over here on Gloucester street for some time, but just haven't known where to start... because, well, I've been a bit hesitant to share images of our current living situation... because, well, let's be honest, the size of our place is a bit shocking and the living conditions a bit sparse (ie - Un-Inspiring!).

Let me give you the tour.... 

This is the 19.5m2 (approximately 210 sq foot) self-contained flat that I share with my 6'5" tall husband in the heart of City Center, Christchurch. There is no bedroom. No closet. That's right - No refrigerator! (At least when we moved in). Our landlord finally got around to installing our heat-pump, so we no longer freeze at night (YAY!), and that stove - nothing but a hardwired piece of installation art at this point (we're working on affording a new one)... But, all-in-all what you're looking at is the potential for very efficient, simplistic living.

One of my favorite features about this space is the boatload of light we get everyday! I absolutely love (and am one of those people who needs!) lots of natural light in my home. And this place delivers! It wouldn't be a stretch for me to assume that Drew's favorite feature about this place is the price tag :) Since so many homes and apartments have been devastated by the earthquake, we've found that quality, affordable housing is hard to come by. Along the road, we've met a number of people who've been displaced from their homes and a surprising number of them either living at holiday parks or there for extended-stay while their home is repaired - and this is 2 years after the earthquake! 

Although this space is teeny and...um...basic, we both agree that the location of our new home really can't be beat! Christchurch may not have much of a nightlife right now (I'm assuming it's) because so many businesses have been shut, moved away, or their buildings torn down, but our current location puts the rebuild quite literally right outside our front door. We're within a one block walk to many concerts, festivals and activities that take place in Hagley Park. And nearly every day we see new buildings breaking ground or new boutiques and restaurants popping up. It's really exciting to think about and it's really amazing to watch this city rebuild. The people here are lovely. Other than the occasional grump at the market, most people are very warm and excited to learn that we've relocated here. And I'd say, those who've chosen to stay to see this city get back on it's feet are some of the most resilient people I've met.

We moved to NZ for the adventure, challenge, and opportunity to slow down and live more intentionally. Not to say we couldn't have done that back in the States, but cleansing ourselves of most of our belongings to make this move happen, we have embraced the opportunity to build a newly-wed life from scratch as we participate in a community also starting anew. This move was also and opportunity for a newly married couple to focus on something else that is important right now. Us. My husband is a structural engineer and the opportunity for him to gain international work experience in a field that is in very high demand right now in New Zealand was a career choice this family couldn't pass up.

We don't know for sure how long we will be in New Zealand, but we do know that everyday counts. Although we are reminded everyday of the sacrifices we chose to make to move here, we agree it was definitely worth the risk. And even though we desperately miss our family and friends... and Sam, our handsome, easy going golden retriever, we agree this was the best time in our life to take such a risk if we were ever going to.

Ehem... Getting back to our apartment - It's going to take a lot of thought, design, and some time to get this place up and fully functioning, but Drew and I have become quite comfortable in this space already. Perhaps living in our semi-converted campervan for the first couple months we were in New Zealand, touring the north island countryside helped us realize just how spacious and full of potential our new home really is! 

This is what we upgraded from....

A 1994 Toyota Townace that was once used as an electricians work van. The company decal including contact info is still visible from both rear windows. I love it!

And here are couple more photos of us enjoying 'life on the road'. See, it's not too hard to live without all the common amenities we're accustom to, right? Ok... I will admit, there were days I wished I didn't have to put on my shoes to use the lou, but in reality, I would do it again in a heartbeat!

That wooden 'box' with the folded cushions on top ufolded into our bed. We would unfold it and use the cushions as sleeping pads every night and then put it all back together the next morning so I could cook. As you can see from the photos, Mr. Robinson also designed a drawer that pulled out of the box, which held our camp stove. I don't have a picture of it, but I bartered with a guy at Bunnings (like Home Depot) in Rotorua to sell me the floor model of a rolling hard case toolbox for 40% of it's retail price. I used it as a campbox, which stored all of our pots, pans, dishware and spices. It worked great as our portable kitchen and kept the rain out too, so I could leave it sitting outside during the night, but packed away easily when we were ready to roll! However, now that case has been turned over to Mr. Robinson who uses it for actual tools that he brought with him and a few that he's started to aquire.

Here are a couple of photos of Drew building our 'first home' in New Zealand...

And this is the view I enjoyed for most of that project... Not bad, right?

This last photo isn't much to look at, but it is one that always makes me smile. There were so many places along the road where we just pulled off the highway onto a beach and we could set up shop. Drew would pull out the spare car battery we bought at a garage sale in Whangarei and he somehow hooked up his power tools to it to outfit our campervan. This picture depics that activity very well... We actually spent 4 nights at this beach. Mostly because it was free (which is pretty hard to find unless you're traveling completely self-contained), but also Drew had a couple finishing touches to do to our bed, so this is where he worked... in the rain! And yes, that is my laundry hanging out to dry over the passenger side door. :)

I'll be back soon with updates on the loft bed Mr. Robinson is building for our new place and some design inspiration I'm planning to use as I decorate our flat!

Have a great week everyone!

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