We’ve been in our new home for three weeks now, and are starting to feel a little more settled. Last weekend Ste drove us down to Berkshire to collect our remaining belongings and so now we are totally moved. The house was tidy and everything had a place pretty much, but once again the dining room is piled high with stuff which needs to find its home in our new home. There is still so much to be done, as you can see from the ‘After’ pics below.
But, we’ve done quite a bit already really!
We started with getting the living room liveable, to have one clear space to relax at the end of a long busy day, which was a really good plan. I’ve also been suffering from awful backache, compounded by lugging heavy things about, so melting onto the sofa at the end of the day was very very welcome, though I struggled to get back up off it most nights.
Our very first priority was cleaning, most of which was done the day I waited for the removal lorry. The house had been left in a bit of a state, so every surface has been washed and wiped, the carpets hoovered and washed, and kitchen and bathroom bleached. We then needed to do a bit of work making the garden ‘dogproof’, especially as the neighbours also have a dog who they said used to escape into our garden and from there into the fields and woods behind the house. Toto is very small and Billy is a proper little houdini, so we needed to get this done pronto. It was tricky as it is on four levels (being on the side of a hill), and the fencing on the top two levels was awful, and the snow didn’t help. In the end we fenced off the bottom two and the dogs can make do with that until Spring!
We moved all the heavy items of furniture to their places, and then piled up boxes in the right rooms (though mostly they were already, thanks to super-efficient movers and my (if I do say so myself) excellent labelling system!) Next: operation curtains. There were three sets of heavy curtains in the house for all the windows downstairs at the front of the house, but no poles. We had to put some up quickly, because it was minus temperatures and a lot of heat was escaping through the windows. Two were relatively straightforward, one not so much, as it used to be a doorway so we discovered just plasterboard above the window! St had to make a couple of holes to find the beams behind, and now we have a functional curtain, though it doesn’t look pretty. Since we plan on stripping the horrible popcorn wallpaper in this room (and in every room!), we’re not going to bother making the holes good until then. The curtains are quite a bright red, which doesn’t really work with our style and furnishings, but they will do for now and they keep warmth in beautifully.
When we moved in, we realised both kitchen and bathroom had drippy taps, which started to drive us mad, though Tarquin loved it because he loves to play in running water, daft cat. We turned off the stopcocks (both of them, the cottage was knocked from two into one in the Fifties, and so has two cellars, and apparently, two water supplies) and headed off to the DIY store. Of course, once there we discovered lots of other things we needed, and spent a couple of hours in there. Driving home, we were horrified to see all the neighbours out on the street, and a Yorkshire Water van pulled up outside. It turns out our stopcock turns off the whole street! So embarrassing and such a great way to meet your new neighbours. Luckily they are all lovely and saw the funny side. And after all that, we got the wrong size parts so had to fix the bathroom tap another day!
Dripping taps were not the worst of our plumbing problems though. Every morning it seemed the central heating system had lost pressure and stopped working. Ste worked out that the overflow pipe was actually higher than the boiler, causing a few gravitational problems, so he ripped out that pipe and installed a new one, and now the heating works perfectly. Ste is already proving to be more of a DIY genius than I could ever have imagined!
Our final essential task for the first week or so was to get up some shelving in the kitchen. It is rather lacking in cupboard space, and given my love of cooking and baking and myriad dishes and pans and gadgets, there wasn’t enough space to unpack everything. We had a couple of Ikea Grundtal shelves from our old place, and found two other solid wood Ikea shelves in the cellar when we moved in, so Ste put these up in the kitchen to create space for all my pots and pans. A small console table found on eBay for 99p now houses my cookbook collection under these shelves and creates some more storage space. Ste’s sister counted my cookbooks. She was horrified that I have 43! I didn’t realise it was quite so many, but I have no plans to stop adding to it any time soon, I love riffling through them.
The office space was also something I needed to tackle before starting back at work on 5th, because I wanted it all sorted and ready by then. I’d been dreaming of dark dramatic walls in the office to complement the huge mahogany desk that has been passed down the family from my Great Great Grandfather, and is now mine. We found some 70% off paint in our local Homebase which is closing down, and so I couldn’t resist grabbing a can of Dulux Once in ‘Lost Lake’, a deep teal blue. I started painting as soon as I got home, or at least, once we’d removed hundreds of rawl plugs and nails and several sets of cheap shelves and filled and sanded the holes! With the first few strokes I thought it was too bright, but actually, I think it works really well in the space. Ste’s Mum kindly gave us some dark red heavy curtains which fit the window and door absolutely perfectly (and there was already a pole up so no more drilling!), and the Persian carpet which is blue and red picks up the colours brilliantly. Shelves will be needed once I unpack all my books, and I want to put up lots of big pictures with bright gold frames to lift the room a bit, but I love having one room that is dark and bold compared to the pastel shades in the rest of the house.
Note: Ste had to mask the ceiling edges and do the tops of the walls for me because I couldn’t reach, but I did all the rest!
So for now, the house is liveable, if not quite yet fully unpacked and sorted, and we’re gradually doing a little bit more every evening, if not too exhausted after work. On Sunday after the 12 hours on the road going down to Berkshire, we both needed a rest and spent the day snuggled on the sofa in front of the fire with the dogs and Tarquin (poor Julian is still recuperating from his accident, so is ensconced in one of the spare bedrooms upstairs to limit his movement), with a few movies and lots of cups of tea, and it was so lovely to just relax and enjoy our home for a few hours! We’re ready to tackle the next lot of jobs now. Almost!