Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fixer-upper

Yesterday we got a new house. Me and my fella move house quite a lot - this will be number 7 in 17 years. We always say "this will be the last time", but it never is. This place is quite different from our usual purchases. We normally live in flats (now annoyingly rebranded as "apartments") which have had a weird tendency to be ex show-homes or at least have been renovated in some way. Usually we've been able to move in immediately - although, being typically wasteful and extravagant, have often redecorated just for the sake of it.

This new place is a proper house - with a garden - something which we haven't properly had for a long time (communal gardens don't count - nobody uses them). This garden is secluded and gets the sun. It's the sort of place where you could enjoy a gin and tonic without having anyone look at you. Also, the house is about as far from show-home as you can get. It was built in the 1840s and the previous owner doesn't seem to have done any decoration since the 1970s. Sadly, a lot of the original features have been removed. Some new features - rather reminiscient of Abigail's Party have been put in instead - there's a rather pointless, tiny hatch from the kichen to the dining room. There are home-made book shelves in the lounge, which have been painted in white gloss. There is bad taste wallpaper everywhere. Upstairs the bedrooms have a variety of home-made fitted wardrobes. They'll all have to go. The bathroom has uninspiring white tiles. Even worse, two little dogs have been using most of the house as a toilet for god knows how long. We spent yesterday pulling up carpets to reveal urine that had soaked through the underlay and pentrated into the floorboards. I'm hoping bleach will get rid of the worst. I don't want to be cruel about the previous owner - she's getting on a bit - and the house had clearly become too much - but I wonder how she managed to live there with the stink. There's also rising damp, possibly woodworm and the electrics look like they need a rehaul. So this looks like a long-term project. Fortunately we don't have to move in until we're ready, so we'll try and get as much as possible sorted out over the summer. Tonight we got the carpets taken away. Tomorrow we're going to get the fitted wardrobes out.

I suspect I may be making a big deal of the problems. My parents and sister came round today to have a look at it. They liked it - my mother liked all the things that I have complained about above. She said she would keep the wardrobes and the floral wallpaper. She loved the hatch. She couldn't see what was wrong about the bathroom. "From the way you were talking about it, I was expecting it to be like a condemned property." They couldn't even smell the dog wee (though I had gone on an insane bleach blitz this morning). I don't care. I suspect the house has never been occupied by two difficult-to-please gay men. It isn't going to know what hit it...

2 comments:

KAZ said...

Sounds like an excellent project Lubin.
Do you want to borrow my back copies of 'Elle Decoration'?
Be happy in the new place.

Fin De Fichier said...

English housing terminology is vaguely medieval sounding: "rising damp" and "woodworm"? I had a cat odor problem when I bought my house...piles of NaHCO3 in the affected room absorbed the odor over a month or two, and then could be vacuumed up. Sounds like you might have needed/need something more aggressive.