Making your home your own 

By | July 5, 2018

Finding your first home, away from your parents/carers, is always exciting, isn’t it.

Whether it be a room in a shared house, a flat share or taking that first step on the property ladder, it’s an exciting time, a chance to exert your personality onto a blank canvas.

When I first left the family home, I had a room in a house, owned by a man and his live-in girlfriend. Their relationship was in the process of breaking down and was very on/off. It’s probably a bonus that I was doing anti-social hours as a hotel receptionist, I missed a lot of the on/off aspect as I was either working/sleeping/going out!

Next up, was a bedsit in a large house, which had been divided up into bedsits on each floor, with a shared toilet/shower. There was a tiny kitchen area (with a very temperamental mini water heater) and a fold-down bed, the toilet was the sort-of place were you’d frequently find fungi and discarded unidentified undies on the floor and you’d have to kick them to one side and hope that whoever left them there would claim them back on their next visit! Turnover of tenants was high and I often go past that block of houses going into town and wonder if it’s all been spruced up and if the (rather ancient) landlady is still around.

After that, it was time to get that first step up onto the property ladder and a little two up, two down terrace fitted the bill. It was over 100 years old and it was the second in of a line of ten terrace houses, each very individual as people had moved in and extended out to the back in various ways, all adding a bathroom and some adding kitchens or keeping as per that original layout of a front room and a kitchen. It was (still is) very close to a main road, with a bus route so net curtains were a must! It was small, you could hear when your next door neighbour was washing up (!) but it was home.

I remember feeling mega excited when we had a table and chairs, they were solid pine and bought from a shop near where I worked at the time. I’d been “stalking” them for a while, going in and loving the fact they were fully assembled and that no instructions were needed to put them together.

The disadvantage to owning an older house was just that, it was older! The heating system was confined to a huge hot water tank, there was no central heating and, as the water was so hard, the heating element would need replacing every 1.5 years, which was a case of calling someone out who’d drain the tank with a hose (out of a window) and then replace the very furred up element, you could literally mark on a calendar to the day when you’d wake up to no hot water and know that it was element-replacement time! 

That house had probably seen a lot of drama before and saw some in my time there, most memorably being T’s planned homebirth in our living room! His birth at home was planned and he arrived bang on his due date. It was absolutely lovely to give birth, have a bath and head upstairs to our own bed and have a cuddle with our son.

There came a point though, when, with D on the way, we had to find a new, larger home and luckily for us, we received an offer on our little terrace after six days on the market. It helped that we had decluttered massively (taking advantage of storage elsewhere) and presented the house with minimal furniture (not that you could fit much in anyway!) and also that we’d applied a fresh coat of paint everywhere so that it looked ready to move into.  

Despite the fact that our buyer had no chain, we had a mortgage offer in place and the seller of our new house had a minimal chain, it seemed to take ages for everything to complete. My D-bump was ever-growing and we were potentially facing the prospect of putting everything on hold, having her in our terrace and then re-starting everything after she was born. 

Fortunately everything was signed, sealed and delivered and we moved with six weeks to go before I had D in our new home, in our bedroom, again planned and a lovely way to christen our house.

Over the years, we’ve made it our own and the garden especially has changed its purpose. For a long while, it was our children’s play area with numerous little plastic vehicles to be put together, a football goal (naturally!), a climbing frame/slide combo and a trampoline, all requiring technical documentation with detailed instructions as to assembly.

Depending on my mood, I can have a bit of a gung-ho approach to instructions, sometimes thinking of taking perhaps a little short cut because, at the time, you think it’ll look better but then you remember that these illustrated manuals have been tested over and over and they really should be followed for success! 

An advantage of our technical age is that a minimal amount of instructions can be included sometimes to get you up and running, on say, a new phone or my bike, but a more detailed product manual is available online which can always be “bookmarked” on a smartphone or computer and referred to as and when needed. 

There is an environmental saving to keeping a product manual in this way too, no need to print reams and reams of paper off when maybe one page needs printing. Google translate can also be very useful if you have a manual online for a product in a foreign language, something that would have been very useful for the memorable flatpack purchase I made online, which came with minimal (paper and no drawings) instructions in Chinese (I think). It was pure guesswork as to which component to use for where and there “may” have been a bit of inner-head swearing involved in assembling that!

Our house right now, feels just the right size, yes the kitchen could do with upgrading but it’s ours, our family home.

I guess however much technology advances further, nothing can beat that feeling of holding those keys to the door, that new home, that little bit of independence, that will never change, will it? 

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