Reality bites – or, the worries of how to try and update your home without losing your mind

 

your Hans Wegner chairs mock my ambitions, Danish Design Museum...
your Hans Wegner chairs mock my ambitions, Danish Design Museum…

I LOVE my flat. It’s adorable, if noisy, and perched in an old victorian building on a busy road at the outskirts of Lee. It’s warm (when the boiler works), cosy and yet big enough for me to have a flatmate to help out with the rent. My new flatmate (or “friend” in old-world non-london speak) is moving in this weekend and is filled with plans for her room. Unlike most live-in landlords I’m not terribly precious about what she does with the room. I mean, obviously I’d be cross if she started to sublet it to a large family, obviously.  I’m not looking to be the next small-scale slum landlord – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/27729033 for more nightmare-inducing horrors (and yes, I link to BBC’s Newsbeat, what of it huh?!). But generally, as long as she’s not knocking a portal into another dimension I don’t really mind what she does.

Being an incredibly useful person she is already planning on the grand ikea journey to turn the wall into a bookshelf and have the bed in some sort of sexy recess, paint the walls, buy a desk and I’m all “whoa nellie I should definitely finish unpacking”. Because having moving in in August, I’ll be honest. I’m still at that… deciding stage.

I’m definitely not one of those people who has vision quests about taupe and vermilion or has this amazing afghan rug around which I build my design colour palette. I hold a lot of that wank-speak in fairly low estimation given that half of me suspects that design porn is a combination of experience, mistakes and blind luck. I mean, who the hell is able to make their home into some sort of Grand-Designs-style paradise in under 6 months?! Ah, wait. Yes, the good people of Apartment Therapy.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Apartment Therapy. It’s the kind of site I browse in a yearning way, sighing and then extolling the virtues of hand-crafted pottery to loved ones. In fact, I thought about coining a phrase to express this kind of nerdy longing to be as cool as Apartment Therapy – being very yearnest – d’ya see what I did there? But, reality has to intervene and I need to accept that standing in the way of Farrow-and-Ball hand-printed wallpapering and hand-moulded interesting vases stands the following:

1. Lack of money – obvious.  I love that kind of Hans Wegner/Ercol brilliant design look but am in the Sally Army repo shop bracket for most furniture finds. That, or Ikea, naturally. Being the kind of aspirational snob who actually wants to look a little bit different – or at least like ME – I get terribly shirty about buying the same as everyone else. Which means I use a large plastic storage box as a bedside table for 6 months while trying to source my ideal. FAIL.

2. Lack of time – I genuinely don’t have the time to scour local charity shops to find my perfect sideboard. This is because invariably some cool hipster who works from home has nabbed all the good shit already, and also because most charity shops are havens for homeless forever-friends valentines mugs and shitty pyrex. Not le creuset and vintage ercol.

3. TOO MANY IDEAS – seriously, between the fashion for ultramarine and jungle-print wallpaper and feathers and cushions and ikea hacks and everything else how do you find a moment to decide what it is you want to do?

4. The FEAR. I am the kind of person who will spend 4 hours making a recipe only to decide I’m not that fond of the result. I genuinely worry about spending a load of money on something which, when I get it home, I hate. It’s wasted time, money and effort and the kind of thing my asian momma hates. It’s neurotic and probably linked to some long-forgotten childhood trauma but failures cannot be tolerated. Perfection is the only acceptable outcome and failure to achieve this will sadden me. So if I’m not sure about an idea – it’s going to take much persuasion for it to happen.

That’s not to say that I haven’t done anything. To wit: My flat looked like this in August.

kitchen looking a bit bare
kitchen looking a bit bare
happiness is a decent living area. Um... with a giant pillar.
happiness is a decent living area. Um… with a giant pillar.
bedroom. it's fine. Presumably my flatmate will turn it into a haven of gorgeousness and I will be FILLED WITH JEALOUSY
bedroom. it’s fine. Presumably my flatmate will turn it into a haven of gorgeousness and I will be FILLED WITH JEALOUSY
The shower in my bedroom. I'll repeat that. The shower - or, more accurately - TILED CUPBOARD in my bedroom. Who designed this shit? A pervert or an OCD sufferer?
The shower in my bedroom. I’ll repeat that. The shower – or, more accurately – TILED CUPBOARD in my bedroom. Who designed this shit? A pervert or an OCD sufferer?

Now looks a bit like this:

Ooh, shelves
Ooh, shelves
ooh, moar shelves. Now filled up with all kinds of crap.
ooh, moar shelves. Now filled up with all kinds of crap.
My mother made these curtains because I am an incapable savage who never listened to Mrs Clarke in Home Ec and so cannot now even sew in a straight line.
My mother made these curtains because I am an incapable savage who never listened to Mrs Clarke in Home Ec and so cannot now even sew in a straight line.
Made.com Fonteyn Media Unit. I love this.
Made.com Fonteyn Media Unit. I love this.
Christmassy living room is Christmassy. Note Ikea units filled with ALL THE THINGS.
Christmassy living room is Christmassy. Note Ikea units filled with ALL THE THINGS.

It’s a work in progress but it’s getting there. I just need to stop reading property porn and figure out what I actually like.

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2 thoughts on “Reality bites – or, the worries of how to try and update your home without losing your mind

  1. Hey! Your place looks fab! I feel your pain as far as wanting to be different in an IKEA world, but almost all of their stuff is hack able (check out my post Copy Cat Carrera but only if you want, of course) and I am also the biggest do-it-for-less kinda person. So, deep breath, you’ll be fine 😉

    Like

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