May 05, 2018

Home Style || 9 Years In Our Home...

Last month marked the nine year anniversary of living in our home, this home. This home that we thought would 'do' for a few years, that we'd definitely move from before we had children and that we would spend a year doing up top to bottom. Ha!

In that nine years we've had four cats, two children, three cars and some of the happiest and toughest times of our lives. Having recently decided to stay here even longer and invest in the house, I thought it would be a great time to look back at all our ups and downs here and talk about why we still haven't finished decorating!

When we first moved in, understandably as twenty something first time buyers we were a little naive about quite what an upheaval and money pit buying an old house can be. Our house was built in around 1900 and although we loved the high ceilings, arch details, coving and original ceiling rose, we had no idea what lay beneath the wallpaper, plaster and floorboards so it's been quite the learning curve.

When we first got the keys, we walked in and literally said 'shit'. The damp that we were aware of was more like a mild flood, the walls were dripping wet and we began to realise why the previous owners had the heating on and windows open every time we went, thanks for that! It was so so damp like I've never seen before. We got straight to work though with that first timer excitement and ripped up the wallpaper in the worst rooms, started airing the place from all the residual smoke and took down all the old curtains that were just weighted with damp and stale smoke. Although it was grim as anything, we had lots of space, it was all ours and we were both working so knew we would be able to take on the project and get started. We sat on the floor with a MacDonalds and started making plans.

While we still had a few weeks to stay in our rented home, we had a builder in to sort our bedroom, put in a new ceiling, fix the damp work and skim most the walls. This is where things started to go a bit wrong and the real learning curve started.

Although the builder we had in had done a great job on a friends home, for some reason ours was done as a rush job, they ruined the carpets we had in, poured plaster down the toilet and just made a crazy mess, with poor plastering, bumpy edges and just a general crappy finish. Knowing no better, we sanded down the bumps, fixed up what we could and were just happy that we would finally get started, with the damp work being sorted.

Stock image - we wished it looked this good!

Just a few months later, having decorated and floored our downstairs, the damp came back with a vengeance, stinky mould, wet plaster and newly painted walls ruined. This was just so heart breaking for us. We got in contact with the builder who basically just denied all knowledge of us and our home having not given us paper work after we paid him. We were a bit stuck and made the best of it covering up damp patches and trying to ignore it as best we could. We were silly, but we were also naive and totally taken advantage of. We now know that the cowboy builder was just useless, he saw the opportunity to send his boys in for some quick cash and didn't care about the effect it had on us. We are now a lot more cautious, we make sure we get paperwork and contracts where needed. One of the worst things for me was that I was a new Mum, but I couldn't invite people to our house as I was embarrassed and worried they may run straight out when they saw the damp. I felt guilty that Alf may get poorly, I felt lonely and trapped in a crappy damp crumbling house. We got out as much as we could, but in those early days not being able to invite people round really did me no favours.

A few years later, we arranged to have the damp work re-tackled by a big company. We sadly had to rip up all our flooding we put in, take all our walls we had plastered and decorated back to brick and gut the whole ground floor! Gutting, literally.

When your dream home becomes a bit of a nightmare, you kind of lose enthusiasm for DIY, when you've plastered all your cash into a house only for it to be ripped out again not long after, it really is gut wrenching.

Anyway, we moved on to a bigger national damp proofing company and despite having a few hitches and the most sexist arse of a plasterer you could ever wish to meet, our house was now fixed again and ready to decorate, again. Meanwhile, the rest of the house that we should have been able to move onto next was further neglected and we had to take out a loan to have the work done that we'd already paid thousands for, only this time it was more than double the price because we had it done properly AND they had to fix the bodge job the first cowboy had done. Lesson learnt!

By the time that work was done, I was baking a baby Soph and got to work decorating her bedroom which had always been a spare room/dumping ground and cleaning up our bathroom. Needless to say, a lot of the decorating went on the back burner, but we did get the main spaces sorted which we found pretty tough as I was working part time and like most families had no spare money, let alone the hundreds needed to decorate a whole floor of our house with a baby on the way!

We've done odd bits to make the house livable since then and it does look quite nice in places, but we have been left with open electric sockets, a naff old boiler on the brink of death and the worlds OK-est family home, with bare plaster and skirting missing in places.

As much as I love owning our home, it is a money pit and as soon as you feel you're getting somewhere, the bits you need first need doing again so it's kind of never ending. With life bringing new exciting things like babies, time, energy and money seriously lacks and it gets harder and harder to get things done.

Which brings us to now.

With the kids out of the baby stage and no plans for any more, we feel like we're ready to get stuck into the house again and make it a beautiful and usable family home. At the moment we have lots of wasted space which we are making plans to improve. We have a whole conservatory that is unusable most the year, far too much stuff absolutely everywhere and a playroom that the kids don't really get the use of enough to warrant the space used.

We're hoping that this time round, we will have a little more luck with our ventures, have a lovely end result and finally reignite our enjoyment for decorating as well as our home, which just feels a little unloved at the moment. 

I can't wait to start getting the house in shape, I'm not expecting some Pinterest worthy palace, but I do want a home that makes me happy looking at it, that does what we need it to and gives the kids all the room and things they need as they grow up. We've got married here, I've had all my girl friends stay here for my hen do, I've had my babies here and it's time to be kinder to our home and show it some love.

Here's to 9  rollercoaster years!

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