After the existential crises of Ikea last week, I was ready to face getting the new purchases up onto the walls of my home like an adult. So, naturally, I called my parents.
This is completely normal for my generation, by the way. I am one of nature’s weaklings, it’s true (I have the upper body strength of a kitten which given I’m over 5’10” and built like a farm lass never ceases to amaze people), but I’m not alone in experiencing rising levels of panic when faced with DIY. There are probably many Tory-party explanations for this, along the lines of “no more Design Technology in schools, kids can’t even use a bloody lathe, christ knows what they feed em, being back the strap!“. I happen to think it’s not quite that simple It’s true that I left school with a brilliantly useless set of home-based skills (I can put together a fuse tester which doesn’t work and sew a small dog-shaped beanbag if someone rigs the sewing machine for me). But this is less to do with the teachers at my school and more to do with the fact that I was a lazy bugger who preferred reading Agatha Christies in the library to actually listening to kind Mrs Clarke as she patiently explained for the 46th time where the bobbin went.- it’s a mark of my ineptitude that I’m still not sure if the bobbin goes in the fuse tester or the sewing machine*
Maybe it’s the fact that we can buy everything ready-made these days, it means that stuff we have to make ourselves or fix sometimes defeats us? I don’t see why that should be, I can make sourdough for god’s sake. But give me a hammer and a drill and ask me to put something on the wall and I’m more likely to end up nailing myself to it. So like many of my generation I turn to parents, who have time, knowledge and (more often than not) up to 30 years’ of experience in making terrible, horrible mistakes to draw on.
So Poppa and Momma L were cordially invited (read: begged) to attend Casa Lewishambles for a gentle house sorting session. To be fair, we’re not talking 60 minute makeover or Changing Rooms-level style rearrangement. The bulk of the job was moving clutter and getting stuff off the deck. But a few key changes have made the world of difference.
The task: my flat was pretty okay but filled with things which needed removing, putting away or just hiding. Like most flats in london the storage space really is at a premium – sellers look to maximise the potential of a live-dine-cook area but unless you have a row of cupboards somewhere you end up buying a lot of stuff to hide all your stuff. It’s certainly led me to reappraise whether or not I need the stuff, certainly. I’m also looking after my lovely friend Renja’s stuff while she travels the world, so my cupboards are a bit full at the moment. What can I say? There’s a lot of stuff going on in my life.
Job One: The Shower
My bedroom has – or had – a shower in it. That’s weird. I know. Essentially a tiled cupboard which dominates proceedings and yet doesn’t even work properly. Until I have the funds to pay a person to professionally rip it out and return it to a cupboard state, I had to improvise. AND HOW!
So, it’s not perfect, but our solution – ripping off the doors and popping in an Ikea Breim wardrobe, £25 – allows us to use the space rather than wedging stuff round the glass. It also allows us to go up – putting a board on top of the Breim and putting some storage boxes and spare pillows helps get stuff off the decks – always good. Plus there’s space to hide the ironing board – score.
Job Two: Lights and Images
Getting my second Made Cage lighting fixture up and getting some pictures on the wall has really, really helped the look of the living room. Much warmer and live-able. Unfortunately the blinds I inherited with the flat were completely buggered, so after struggling to get one up, Poppa L and I looked at one another and went “nah”. The living room doesn’t *need* a window treatment urgently although it would be nice to be able to shut out the lights from the road. But I’m secretly pleased that I won’t be using Ikea blinds, instead I’m hoping to go local and get some pretty clean white ones from a local shop.
I also started filling up the frames with pictures – admittedly, I didn’t get far but I got my favourite couple of things – some pictures by my little sister and an Arne Jacobsen typographical print – up and looking really nice indeed.
Job Three – shelves shelves shelves
Poppa L did a sterling job when I first moved in, throwing up some shelving in the kitchen so I could store my bakeware and jars. While the kitchen is quite large, sadly a lot of the cupboards are taken up by hidden fridges, freezers and dishwashers so actually there’s far less storage than you’d think. For a person like me who owns 8 different types of flour (DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT YES I NEED THEM ALL) there are obvious storage needs and so I hurriedly crammed ALL THE THINGS on them. But this left the kitchen a touch unbalanced and so an extra shelf on the other side of the hob plus a knife rack on the wall has freed up some essential and valuable space.
Flatmate is similarly keen on cooking and so maximising storage is key to harmony – otherwise we may come to blows over whether or not there’s space for her slow cooker in the cupboards (“Why do I have to move the Korean Chili Powder!!??“). We also put up some tiny shelves on the chimney breast for small items. Snuggled in under what I now like to “the booze shelf of dreams”, things are looking ultra-snazzy.
And Poppa L also helpfully fixed the cupboard door I thought was broken forever – a great man.
Job Four: De-clutter and re-imagine
I’m still looking for a few major pieces – a coffee table, an armchair, TV table etc. But getting stuff organised meant I could look critically at the space and make it a bit more serene. I had just resigned myself to balancing stuff on boxes and having a pile of things for the charity shop. Getting Momma and Poppa L to do a blitz, Lovely One and I found ourselves getting really organised about doing what needed to be done. Reorganising, moving a few bits and getting more Lekman boxes into the units allowed us to get stuff HIDDEN. It certainly looks more *home* pending finding those dream touches.
SO, a successful couple of days has resulted in a major upgrade to Lewishambles Towers. Flatmate and Lovely One’s verdict? “Very nice, I like th- OOOH YOU MADE COOKIES.” Naturally.
*I happen to know that Mrs Clarke is an excellent teacher, as she inspired my little sister to become a costume maker. So it’s clearly not a genetic failure either. I really just am this useless.