We moved away to the semi rural countryside almost three years ago now to a delightful, charming property that we fell in love with straight away. However, things are never that straight forward or easy. We planned to live in our new house for a year before starting work decorating, etc, so that we could get a feel for what needed doing.
Well, a year later, several visits from friends recommending we get a conservatory attached to the space outside our kitchen lead to meetings with the architect and before we knew it, we’d signed up for an extension. (We couldn’t fit our double bed in the master bedroom – why we didn’t just go out and buy a smaller one is beyond me now). The electrician condemned the electrics in the house and the plumber instructed us to have new plumbing.
We moved into rented accommodation to a lovely two-bedroom apartment in a beautiful countryside converted manor house. To be honest, I would have been happy to stay there. You can get carried away with plans and thinking you need far more space than you actually do, when a two bedroom flat for two adults and two children would have suited us just fine. We didn’t have any room to entertain, so I had quite a lazy year and a half there (apart from the children’s parties where the immaculate, cream carpets got trashed with mashed in wet grass from the communal gardens – we had promised the owner that he wouldn’t even notice that we had children – whoops). Anyway, with us out, the builders, bakers and candlestick makers could move in. And in they did move. It took a year and a half of workmen to dig, build, plumb, etc, before we finally moved back in.
My dream of opening the freshly painted front door with Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen welcoming me in and showing me around each perfectly, decorated room were dashed. The first day back home, I cried all day. My mum, dad, children and husband could not believe where I was coming from. The hours of meetings and work already finished escaped me. I had wanted to move in with it all done and it so wasn’t. I looked around and instead of seeing what had been done; I could only envisage what was yet to be. My heart sank daily, as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, builders, tilers, etc, drilled until my nerves were shattered. I made so much tea I was forming an addiction. Every time I mopped floors, a second later, muddy boots were walked all over them or a film of dust would settle. I was in despair. I couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. How much longer would it go on for? When would I get my house back? When would I have privacy to go to the toilet? When could I sit down and read the paper with a cup of tea without feeling guilty? When?
Then, I had an epiphany. The situation was not going to change, so I had to. Now, I don’t feel sorry for myself or get stressed, with the months of work stretching ahead. I take it on like the part of my life journey that it is. Friends, who have been through renovations before, say to welcome it with open arms, as when it is all over, I will quite miss it. I couldn’t see what they were going on about before. I had been advising anyone thinking of doing a renovation not to bother but only to consider buying a house already done in exactly the way they wanted, down to the wallpaper on the walls. Now, I figure that it is all part of life’s rich tapestry. My husband’s best friend is decorating the last rooms and says that we are all building a house together. He is right. Instead of getting uptight about it all, I now treat this house like my office in the daytime and the workmen as my colleagues. I will quite miss the banter over the endless cups of tea. Maybe that’s why it’s all taking so long….