Life goes on.
Tricky, isn't it? You move into your family home, and find yourself left with two massive boxes of your parents' memories - '000s of photos, cricket-scorecards, panto programmes, entertainment and TV contracts, National Service mementoes... Well, my sister finds it tricky, I tend to be a bit more ruthless about it: Unless it speaks to me and my memories of my parents, it's going in the bin. If it has a sliver of personal context, I'll digitise it - and then it goes in the bin. One or two choice items, I'll make something to remind me or others of them... and hang it in the house. Which was theirs, before it was ours.
Life goes on.
...a shedload of which has been eaten in this room over the years. Because, when the family moved here in 1971, this room became my Nan's kitchen (she'd lived with my parents since they married - or, perhaps more accurately, they had lived with her). Nana used to do inhouse school-run and babysitting duties (lucky parents, do you know what we have to pay for that stuff nowadays?!) and typically this is where I would end my primary-school day, scoffing Nimble toast with apricot jam. Nimble toast is basically crisp air: you can eat a loaf a sitting.
When my Nan died, the room was left empty - until my Dad started using it in his last few years - we moved him onto the middle floor and installed a stairlift, as his mobility was pretty limited, but he had to be within reach of a bathroom.
So, after my Dad died, the room looked like this:
We ripped out the kitchen before we made any decision to move into 102, as no-one would lend on a property that had two kitchens - it put off buyers.
Then we decided to move in. And I had to have a room that I could work from, as did Al. Told the sparks that Nana's kitchen was now the study, please string some Cat6 to the cupboard under the stairs and put in lots of points:
In time, we stripped it, had it replastered, put downlighters in the ceiling, removed the gas connections, replaced the radiator, installed bamboo flooring, new double-glazing, had shelves built, finally emptied 20 boxes of books, sprayed some paint around:
And then we had venetians put in throughout the house, bought some proper desks, rejigged the arrangement a bit, hung my guitars on the walls (territory thing)... and it looks like this:
Also: I bought the world's best office chair. Call me fickle.
Not quite finished yet. Think the lighting needs some twiddling. But I love this room and spend a lot of time in it - if I work from home, this is where I am all day. It's 50:50 whether this is my favourite so far, or our bedroom, which was Nana's lounge - more on that later. Most of all, I take huge pleasure in the fact that, 40 years ago, I was sitting no more than 3 feet from where I am now - loving apricot jam, on Nimble toast.
I suppose it's necessary to acknowledge these Gregorian milestones, if only so we have a metric basis for assessing how much time we have left on this mortal coil. Although Pope Greg XIII failed to accommodate the extent to which perceived time accelerates as a function of age, so it's really not very useful.
Anyway, I had a wonderful time and everyone loved me. Move along now please, nothing more to see here.
We always intended to do this. 102 has a crappy old avocado bathroom in a state of disrepair, and an outside loo beside the back door. I personally think the latter quite handy, but the girls think it 'horrid' and 'full of spiders' and 'NOT A MODERN WAY TO LIVE' because they are girls and spoilt by American TV, in which every room in every house has it's own bathroom. To be fair, I don't particularly want them in our bathroom anyway, as even a tiny wee takes them half an hour and will involve them throwing clothes and towels all over the place, leaving massive slugs of toothpaste in the sink, hair-dye all over the towels and, quite possibly, the appropriation of MY RAZOR for god knows what, I am not prepared to ask.
There are some contextual bullets worth recording here:
Some early design twiddling... and some later design finalising, once we'd settled on tiles and lights. Ish
A collection of interims:
These next two are both taken from the doorway to the original loft-area
Half way there: Panoramic, left to right
Finished: Panoramic left to right
And some finished bathroom porn
In summary: We're delighted at how it's turned out. So are the girls. The homework desk was a really good idea, but it's covered in ccosmetics, hair-straighteners, hairdryers... I'm not sure we'll ever get it back. We just need to get some doors... and carpet. And a soundbar, as recommended by Bart, as he can lose a subwoofer in the ceiling. This latter totally non-essential, but I'm easily persuaded...
My Dad died two years ago yesterday. And my Mum died 9 years ago. Difficult times to work through - certainly, after my Dad died, the paperwork was a task that lasted months, over a period coloured by that 'I'm now the head of the family' feeling'. I don't mind admitting that this was the trickiest period of my life and that I melted down a bit - my Dad's death, dealing with his estate, coupled with some very challenging work situations and a few other domestic issues; it tipped me over for a couple of months. I'm lucky to have an understanding employer, who said 'Go home, come back when you've got your head sorted'.
And perhaps the biggest challenge was the decision to move into my family home, buying out my sister: I'd always said I didn't want to move back into the house I grew up in and only changed my mind after realising how difficult the housing market was. Alison and I had been seeking our last house from months before my Dad died and had been outbid on several properties, generally with offers of silly money. The final straw was getting a way-over-asking price offer on a property accepted, expecting to have to spend £100k on it... and then finding it needed more like £200k. Enough: We had just accepted an offer on 102, which had been on the market for a while, so I had a good measure of its real value and the amount I should pay my sister for her half. Apologising profusely to our buyers, we took it off the market, then set about selling our lovely Victorian end-of-terrace in Wallington. Quickly found a buyer who fell in love with it too, but she wanted to move ASAP so she could have Christmas with her ageing parents in it. We abandoned plans of gutting 102 before we moved - it really needed it - and just about managed a rewire and getting the girls' bedrooms liveable before we moved in, just before Christmas 2015. Ripped everything out, carpets n'all. The day before we moved, I had three painters, two electricians, a plumber and a team of cleaners all getting in each others' way. Right to the wire it went. There still isn't a carpet in the place.
We've been here a year and a few days now... and we've actually got quite a lot done. Rewired the place, sure - but also replaced most of the windows too. Replastered just about every room. A few decorated to completion, quite a few not, on account of not being able to do anything with the floor, because it needs to come up when we move some element of the services. We always had in our heads some major works, the first of which we've just completed:
Through it all, I've taken not as many photos as I should and had nagging concern that I'm not properly recording it, This is my family home that I'm remodelling and I feel I should be capturing what it was and what it's turning into - for my benefit and perhaps for the girls too. It's now Christmas hols and I have a bit of time - so I am going to start with the big job we've just got done and then work backwards. Hopefully start working forward in the new year.
Anyhow: Next post. A new bathroom and a make-up area that was meant to be for homework.