Thursday, 7 August 2014

Living out of boxes

The view through our roof
The shambolic FDMTG household decamped some four months ago from our perpetually shrinking North London semi in search of a home that was big enough for us to lose one another. We sold our home in less than 24 hours thanks to a completely crazy London property market, but that has been the only thing about this move that has been fast.

Goodbye swirly mustard carpet
Given said house buying madness in our fine capital, the only house we could find that ticked our boxes of big enough for four boys and affordable without selling both kidneys, was a wreck. It had not been touched since it's late owners had clearly gone to town doing it up in the late 60s. There were swirly carpets and avocado bathroom suite, thick, brown velvet curtains throughout and even a fully kitted out tiled bar with both optics and coloured spotlights.

While I had a soft spot for the bar, the rest was an eyesore itching to be ripped out. Which is exactly what has happened over the past four months. We bought a house with four solid walls and ended up with a shell full of rubble and builders. It was the most expensive three walls I had ever seen.
The bar
Gradually, over the months, our new home began to emerge, with many, many hiccups along the way. They say house renovation is akin to bereavement or divorce in terms of the stress levels involved, but let me tell you the split of my first marriage was like a week in Barbados compared to doing up our home.

There have been tears, hysterics and much screaming and rowing between myself and Mr FDMTG. Most memorable is the humdinger caused by the use of white plastic plug sockets instead of stainless steel ones. That one almost broke us. It's amazing how worked up you can get about the minutia that you will never notice once you are moved in and living there.

Though there were plenty of proper stomach hitting the floor moments of panic. Having stretched ourselves to the limit to both buy and do up our house, imagine our horror when our builder revealed that the extension we had been assured was sound, actually had no foundations and had to be demolished and rebuilt? There were plenty of tense conversations about that as we juggled meagre funds try to meet that rather vast hidden cost.

The most expensive three walls
We worked our way through over 50 paint samples, most of which were tiny variations on the same shade of lilac. In the end our decorator suggested simply painting the whole house from our sample pots and we spent as much on them as you might expect to pay for slapping on a couple of coats of white paint.

I have lost days of my life poring over lighting websites, trying to find the perfect mix of cool, affordable and not-so-fashionable-that-they-will-instantly-date fittings. Only to have the electrician bugger off on holiday for four weeks leaving nothing but bare grey wires hanging from the ceiling.

We have dealt with kitchen fitters who dematerialised, leaving our budget bustingly expensive kitchen a half fitted mess. We have had stand up rows with window companies where they held the key to our bifold doors to ransom as we attempted to get them to finish fitting them properly. We have been presented for bills for tens of thousands of 'extras' by our builder who saved this treat for so near to the end of the job that all our contingency funds had well and truly run dry.

That's not to mention living for months with my four children in the spare rooms of my in-laws house. Admittedly we were incredibly lucky to be able to benefit from free accommodation during our build, or we simply wouldn't have been able to do it. But with the best will in the world a family of six invading my husband's childhood home has not been a barrel of laughs.

We have squished daily life into three rooms, a single fridge and a drawer in the freezer. We have coped, but living out of boxes has lost any appeal that it might once have had. And it's questionable that it ever did appeal.

Whenever the children ask where something is, the rest of the family choruses 'In a box' as that's where all our worldly possessions have languished for the past few months. We have had to buy new clothes, toys, swimming trunks, lunch boxes, uniform, drinking cups all of which we already own, but they are all beyond reach mysterious box whose location remains unknown.

However, the end looks as if it could be nigh. We have a tentative, I-will-believe-it-when-it-happens, moving in plan for this weekend. Of course everything is far from finished, but we have bathrooms, bedrooms and, fingers-crossed, a kitchen, and that is all you need to sustain life. I am just hoping that my dear friend over at From the Valley to the Palais is right and it really is more fun unpacking!

1 comment:

  1. Well I am enjoying unpacking, because this time I know it will be permanent! Seriously, hope you get in this weekend and that you find all the contents of the mysterious boxes. Looking forward to the housewarming!