So, a few weeks ago I took back possession of my house, from the tenant, who had been living there for ten years. Initially I felt bad. This place had been his home, nay his and his wife’s home – up until her death 18 months previously – and here I was, callously throwing him out, on a whim. Now that’s probably being a little harsh on myself. What I am doing is far from a whim, but nevertheless I felt cruel.
Then I saw the house. Well more accurately saw and smelled the house. Oh yes it was a multi-sensory experience that’s for sure! The previous tenant had two dogs, ferrets and was a smoker, hence the interesting smell and yellowed paintwork throughout.
He also didn’t seem to be one for particularly thorough cleaning. Certainly this last point became more and more apparent as we began the renovations.
After spending a, never to be repeated, night and hellish morning there, courtesy of the stale dogferretfag smell, the first job was to remove all the carpets.
No industrial cleaning for these bad boys, out and straight in the bin (well, shed, pending the hire of a skip but you get the idea). My parents took care of the carpet, on the grounds that I refused to set foot in the house, after my stay there, until they were gone. It really was that bad. The fact that I slept on an air bed only inches away from the fetid floor covering was the biggest problem, each time I moved sent waves of stomach turning odour right into my face. Bad, bad times.
After the removal of the carpet we tackled the upstairs. Over a period of several days the master and spare bedroom were repainted. Walls, ceiling and woodwork a beautiful pristine white. Dad had sensibly gone for the Dulux Once as it is a) good quality and b) only needs one coat. When finished, the bedrooms took three coats in total. It’s possible there may even need to be a fourth coat on the feature wall in the master bedroom because somebody decided to paint that a brilliant turquoise. Although fortunately not a Teletubbies mural – true story that one, not one of mine but one that proved, although I may have some decorating nightmares, others have had it worse.
Along with the improving décor, each visit we noticed the smell had faded a little more. To help, mum had washed the tiles that lived under the carpet in the lounge and the kitchen lino, discovering that bizarrely they had re-linoed the kitchen.
Only not properly, no, no they had got a piece of almost fitting linoleum and plonked it on top of the original stuff and then cut bits out to fit the gaps. This resulted in a border of original lino, a rim of grime and then the new stuff. It didn’t even go all the way up to the cupboards or anything.
Currently the lounge is in need of one more coat, the kitchen and bathroom are scheduled for refitting next month and then there is a little bit of wallpapering and adding a tiny bit of colour in each room. The overall vision I have is that each room will be white; floor, walls and ceiling. Downstairs I intend to have a laminate floor, upstairs carpeting. The only question is whether or not to carpet the stairs. A friend sent me a picture of a wonderful book staircase that I intend to replicate, which would look better it the book ‘covers’ weren’t ‘furry’ but I have a dog, who doesn’t do walking on wood very well… It’s a small problem, although I am sure he’ll manage fine, if I decide to choose creative vision over his comfort. Besides, he’s going to have to deal with wood throughout anyway. Upstairs I have been kinder, also more practical, by going for carpets, they make the rooms warmer, it’s quieter and my dog can run up and down and corner safely to his heart’s content. Each room will then have a signature colour, maroon for the master, yellow for the spare, lime green in the bathroom and pink for the kitchen. The lounge has more than one as I have to accommodate my existing armchairs (terracotta covers in winter, yellow in summer) and a new sofa (probably black/grey). The colour will feature in the window reveals and also for the blinds, another fancy feature I saw somewhere. Except for the kitchen, that will have a wallpapered feature wall at one end and then bright pink between the worktop and cupboards at the other. I can’t wait.
Once the inside is done we can talk about the garden…