Today marks one month of us being in our lovely little ‘fixer upper’, a Victorian semi detached which, while not requiring serious renovations, definitely needs a lot of TLC. It will also (eventually) undergo a hefty extension to turn it into our dream home.
We had a terrible time of it trying to get our mortgage for the house. There were incorrect credit checks where our details had to be corrected by Experian, mortgage offers fell through at the last minute, and my work announced a load of redundancies. Thankfully down to perseverance, a lot of sleepless nights and the efforts of our guardian angel in the form of Ken, the mortgage broker who stepped in at the last minute, we got it.
And it was so worth it.
Our home sits on the road next to the house I grew up in, so to say it’s nostalgic being back in the area is an understatement. While the house isn’t huge we spent a good couple of weeks trying to get used to the extra space. Two years ago I was in a studio, split level flat. Now we have two double bedrooms, two reception rooms and a huge kitchen. It’s amazing, but overwhelming. While my fiancé and I continue to have unrequited conversations with each other, forgetting that we can’t hear each other at all times any more, and genuinely miss each other if we spend too much time in separate rooms, the cats settled into their giant new home almost instantly. Eventually they will go in the garden, but we’re keeping them in for a while based on advice received and my irrational fear that they will run away.
We haven’t really done any decorating yet. Aside from a quick cupboard update in the bathroom and knocking down a garden wall the house remains untouched. Which is horribly out of character but I’m desperately trying to practice restraint and make considered choices this time around. I’ve bought and renovated two properties by myself before meeting my OH, so I am in my element. BUT this is a house that needs a long-term kinda love and commitment. No quick fixes just to flip it for a profit.
Our aim is to renovate to our style (although we are still trying to ascertain what that is exactly – it’s a real mix!) while restoring and maintaining the character of the house. There are some features that we had planned to get rid of, such as the fireplace in the living room as we wanted to replace it with something more modern, and certain ideas for rooms that we had been pretty decisive on. Much to my surprise, after living here for just one month all of those ideas have gone out the window.
Every day I wake up I feel more and more at home, and with that I noticed new things that I had missed. Just the other day we woke up and realise how beautiful the view out of our bedroom window is. It looks over these giant oak trees that are absolutely full of wildlife. There’s a family of parakeets as well as a family of squirrels (amongst other things) that are frequently having scuffles about the ownership of certain branches.
We also realised how beautiful the shifting light is within the house. It’s east facing toward the front, and so the morning light starts there and moves round to the back of our house where our kitchen/dining room is. Yet, because we aren’t overlooked at the back, our garden and master bedroom tend to get light all day. We had originally thought we would paint the front living room dark, and make it a real statement. But seeing the light in the mornings I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
What’s funny is that with each of the small odd jobs we have done (changing sockets, handles, skirting boards etc) there seems to be a complication waiting to be uncovered, as if the house has it’s own stubborn resistance to being renovated.
It’s also amusing how quickly we have formed routines. It’s been years since I’ve had a proper dining table and now I find myself constantly sitting at it, like I’m subconsciously worried it’s going to disappear again. I also find myself almost every morning before work walking into the unfurnished front room with my coffee, as if to to check that yes, it’s definitely as beautiful as I remember it yesterday.
- lighting our first fire, then freaking out and not sleeping because I was worried it wasn’t properly put out
- the morning light in the front room
- being able to eat at the dinner table. Every. Single. Night.
- cooking breakfast for my brother who I haven’t seen for 8 months (long story) after he randomly popped in on his way past
- the pap pap pap sound of our cats paws running up and down the floor, as they finally have space to run
- watching the birds and other wildlife with their reassuring daily routines
- shitting ourselves when the cats set off the motion sensor bathroom light after we had watched a scary film