Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nest Building pt. 2

I’m feeling slightly more human today after having spent most of the weekend covered in paint.

It always boggles my mind, in what little I have seen of property programs, that people can go through a house, wrinkle up their noses, go, “I don’t like the color much,” and seriously be put off buying due to someone else’s love of a shade called Harvest Orange. The flat that Mr. DD and I were first planning on purchasing looked as if it had been lived in by a giant 6 year old girl- every wall was a different shade of childish pastel. (This was not, of course, what put us off the property- a bunch of lying bastard estate agents took care of that.)

The flat that we’ve just now taken possession of was much more liveable right away. Even if we’d had no money for paint, we would have been able to feel alright living there with fairly little assault to aesthetic or dignity. However, Mr. DD and I are not ones for putting up with a half-assed aesthetic for even a few minutes when we could have a whole-assed one, so this weekend was less about moving and more about image enhancement.

We decided this weekend would be all about the living room and the master bedroom- both places we’ll be spending the most time in. The bedroom was my top priority as I felt it was most urgently in need of cosmetic assistance. Mustard yellow, while cheerful, is hard on the brain, so literally 5 minutes after having stepped across the threshold for the first time as homeowners, I had at least 4 square patches of tester on the wall.

Naively, we had hoped not to have to spend more than 150 pounds on paint. However, over the course of 3 days, we managed to drop a whopping 475 between lucky home improvement chains B&Q and Homebase. Not all of this was paint of course. It’s the other stuff you see while you’re looking for paint. Like brushes and masking tape and rollers and pans and bath towels and small tool kits and Britta pitchers and pipe insulation and pretty light fittings and dead bolts and trash bins and oh my god, we just spent 475 POUNDS.

However, spending money is not all we did this weekend. Against all odds, we managed to finish the two largest rooms in the flat with the help of my brother in law, his girlfriend and my father in law.

I spent 2 summers on my college’s paint crew, back in the day, sprucing up properties owned by the college, both off and on campus and was pleased to renew my acquaintance with the feeling of wall paint between my toes. This is a hazard when you are moving a ladder around the outskirts of the room and lose track of where your supplies are in relation to you. You find that you narrowly miss stepping in a full roller pan and while smugly congratulating yourself and heaping abuse on the pan for it’s failure to ensnare you, you find yourself up to your ankle in an open bucket. Luckily, while I managed to avoid full on ankle sinkage in a can of Dulux “Bracken Salts #4”, I did ruin several pair of socks and manage to track base coat across the laminate floors in the rest of the flat. (Yes, I was up a ladder. Everyone can shout at me for that if they like, but the room is done and I’M GLAD.)

I’m hugely pleased with the results, really. Our lovely red wall in the living room makes the space much more cozy and will look quite groovy with a large black and white photo collection on it. The bedroom now no longer looks like you could receive radiation burns from long exposure.

Of course, with the completion of the painting, no new property owned by soon-to-be penniless 30-something parents would be complete without a full compliment of furniture from Ikea. Again, our naiveté lead us to believe that if we turned up there at around 4 knowing what items we wanted, we should be out by 6 and home in plenty of time to spend an evening putting things together.

I think we lost the will to live somewhere around the textiles section of the Marketplace. At around 8.30pm, when we were finally wheeling all of 4 hugely laden trolleys and flat pack carts through the check out with the help of Mr. DD's bandmate, (who's a courier and has a transit van) we were utterly exhausted and I couldn’t help but look at our gargantuan haul with a nameless dread, knowing that my credit card was going to bear the full force of this DIY disaster. (We actually have the cash, and are going to pay it off right away, but the lure of getting 15 pounds worth of Amazon.co.uk gift vouchers with my credit card was too strong. Spend 1200 pounds and get a free paperback. That’s value for money.)

“Oh my god,” I said to Mr. DD's bandmate, “this is going to come out over £2000.”

“You’ve never shopped at Ikea before, have you?” he said, pointing at our small items cart, which was overflowing. “90% of the stuff in that cart is well under 10 pounds.”

And he was right. The bill came to just over 1200 pounds, which was well within the budget we set ourselves, so despite the overwhelming tension headache, I was pleased.

In the end, we fed our helper a generous helping of spaghetti bolognaise for his trouble and managed to assemble a coffee table and two lamps before collapsing, exhausted, into bed. The rest of our vast flat pack haul lies waiting in the bedroom, like a troop of compressed Scandinavian soldiers awaiting deployment.

And so the remodelling continues. More updates from the front line as the war on banality progresses.


SaraS-P said...

Sounds like fun!

I have declared that we cannot move into our new place until we paint the walls and put down new flooring. I have lived in only partially complete homes before --- it is not pleasant at all!

Color is important for well-being.

Good luck!

rockmama-in-waiting said...

I totally agree! It's hard to live in a building site or in a house where you can't stand the decor- I've lived in enough student houses to know that!

Congrats on your new place as well!

MsPrufrock said...

We spent sooooo much money at B & Q and Homebase when we first moved into our flat too, much in the manner that you did.

Your place looks lovely and inviting. I'll be round tomorrow for a cup of coffee.

lisalou said...

Welcome to the cash vortex of homeownership! I think, probably, a good warm up for the cash vortex of parenthood. We bought our place a couple of years ago and ever since new shoes, jeans and vacations have had to take a back seat to oil tanks, paint and replacement old circa 1970 busted up appliances. It is exciting though. And, painting IS the most satisfying (and least expensive,sad, but true). How did we all get to be grown ups?

rockmama-in-waiting said...

I'm loving the whole redecorating thing. When you sit at a computer all day, it's so satisfying to get paint all over your hands and at the end of the day, look at a totally transformed room! I'm really pleased that we were able to set aside as much as we were so we can feel like we're not just going deeper into debt to make a beautiful home and to make B&Q, Homebase and Ikea richer companies.

Pru- It was even MORE inviting this morning when we looked out of our window on an orchard filled with snow! Beautiful! Stop by for coffee anytime. :)

katty said...

I really like the red. I am panicking over my new house (which I don't exchange on until next week) and am so exhausted by choice that I'm just going for white everywhere. But I do have an enormous number of pictures and paintings and photographs and tapestries and wierd things strung on wood so hopefully it will not look too bland for long.
I am spending 475 on paint just for the nursery and the bedroom. This is because I am being environmentaly friendly paint having scared myself about the toxic fumes from normal paint. It is a stupid worry really (I should be more scared about the rays from the computer or the mobile phone or all the times I sat far too close to a satellite phone because I couldn't be arsed to use the longer aerial lead). Really well done. Very impressed.
Your husband looks like a nice man.
I too looked out my window this morning and felt happy. The garden was iced in snow, as the church. Victorian picture postcard.

Nilla (Vanilla Dreams) said...

I LOVE the red paint! Very nicely done! I'm actually planning on painting our dining room red -- probably a nice deep scarlet red I think. :)

Congrats on the successful (if exhausting) Ikea trip and your re-painting!

So happy for you guys!