Disclaimer: I love our house. I know it’s just a house. And as you’ll read this, you’ll probably be thinking to yourself, “What’s wrong with this woman? She clearly lives in an incredibly ordinary house.” And perhaps you’re right. It is an ordinary house. But it’s our ordinary house, and I completely love it.
We live in a Victorian house, which happily overlooks a huge bit of (ok, quite scrubby) green space. It’s four bedroomed, two reception roomed, two storey. Most of the period features have been ripped out at some point, but we have a few remaining, mainly in the shape of plasterwork both inside and out.
The bottom line is that we have lots of living space. (I mean in a UK, London sense. Don’t go thinking about those American home improvement programmes where the downstairs is like a football pitch.) But the reason that we could buy somewhere with lots of space was because we a) wiped ourselves out buying it and b) bought in an area so unfashionable that most people have never heard of it and c) bought a house that, whilst it didn’t immediately require completely full renovation, was at best scruffy and at worst down at heel. Other than the walls and the period features, when we first moved in there wasn’t a thing about it that I wanted to keep.
In fact, since we moved here in 2009, our little area of East London has started to make its mark, and is becoming rather smarter than it was. This makes me feel great and guilty by turns. Great because it’s exciting, it’s pleasing that there’s a buzz about the place, it’s nice to have more families moving in, because I LOVE the new coffeeshop and gastropub, it’s generally fun and – yes – I suppose no one was ever upset that their house went up in value. Guilty partly because I know that rising house-prices are further pricing out people who want to live here (there is not enough space here to write more fully my thoughts on the UK housing market and all its associated nonsense). Also guilty because I used to blithely refer online to where I live as ‘grotty East London’, feeling this showed a lack of pretension on my part, and a charming down-to-earth-ness. But I think I need to stop calling this ‘grotty East London now’ partly because I love it here, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think otherwise. And partly also because, well, it doesn’t feel very grotty here anymore. It feels rather green and pleasant.
Which leaves us here in a big old house, loving our area, but still aware that the house has what is best described as a shabby charm. (Or less charitably, that it’s still not at all stylish in here, in fact rather tatty and shambolic even years after we moved in.) So here’s the theory: corner by corner. I know that we can’t afford a complete makeover, Sarah-Beeny style, with hard hats and project managers and architects and soft music playing over lingering ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots. And I know that with our lack of DIY skills, not to mention Oli’s very full-on job, three small girls, an unfeasibly long to do list, and a washing mountain of biblical proportions, there is no way Oli and I are going to turn into those people who get stuck right in and renovate their own house any time soon. So I thought rather than waiting for some mythical point in the future when we can either afford to make all the changes we’d like, or wake up magically to find we have the skills we need, maybe we should break it down into manageable pieces.
Bit by bit. Corner by corner. This is my plan. If we can’t do the whole thing, then I will get stuck in, and chip away at this home little by little. This blog will chart
our my attempts to make the house into something more stylish, more functional, and more homely. One goddamn corner at a time.