We’re back in the matrix (ok, BT exchange), and things are slowly falling into place. We’ve had the new house for two months now, and been properly living here for a month. Sometimes it feels like time’s whizzed past so quickly, and other times it feels like we’ve been taking ages to get things done and unpack properly (usually when the DIY isn’t going to plan). We’ve been getting quite a bit of redecorating done; destroying the old and creating anew – like the cycle of life but with paint and screwdrivers, and MANY trips to B&Q and Homebase!
The first room we finished was our bedroom. We stripped off all the woodchip wallpaper from everywhere,
got some paint, (and also a new bed, units, and carpet)
and came out on the other side with this. Can I just say, at no point did I insist on the lovely plum colour – Gareth suggested it all by himself and I was willing to comply 🙂
For some time the only places we could sit down were on the bed and the barstools at the little kitchen breakfast bar. Those bar stools are fine for a cup of tea and toast, but aren’t really made for relaxing in – after 15 minutes you realise just how big your (my) bum is and no longer wish to utilise this particular seating device or have that piece of chocolate after all (perhaps not such a bad thing then).
So we were very very pleased to have finally finished the living room.
We took off the dado rail, the peachy/salmony wallpaper, and the interesting carpet.
We then got plasterers in to fill in the hole that used to be a fireplace, and skim over all the walls and ceiling. And then we had to wait for it all to dry during a week of miserably wet weather. Well worth it though. After the first coat of diluted paint onto the plaster, it was a lovely surface to paint on.
So we painted and painted, and sanded, and painted (reminding ourselves often that this is the largest room in the house); got carpet put in yesterday, and hey presto!
Today some friends brought round a little dining table and chairs for us (good old fashioned hand-me-downs they received, which we’ll eventually pass on as well), and I am just loving being able to eat at a dining table instead of a coffee table or off your lap. Other things one can do properly at a table: write, use the computer, sew, survey one’s living room with pleasure.
I think we’ve been doing fairly ok for new DIYers. Especially for me anyway; in Malaysia DIY means changing a lightbulb, or assembling flatpack furniture. Ok I exaggerate, but it’s just different, as labour (and therefore tradesmen) is much cheaper. On the flip side you can’t just go and buy window sealant and a saw from Asda, and B&Q type places aren’t as common. Gareth is much more familiar with what needs doing, but there’s still a difference between knowing what needs done and how exactly to do it. So we’re learning lots of weird and wonderful things about houses: central heating, sockets, light circuits, etc. etc. (ask Gareth about wiring a 2-gang 2-way switch. Oh yes). Sometimes it’s been pretty frustrating. They don’t tell you about this side of things when they give you a mortgage. To be honest, instead of asking you useless things like what your salary is and how long you’ve lived in the country, the bank should really ask you things like “Do you know how to repressurise a boiler?” (I do now) and “What are your thoughts on quick drying vs regular polyfiller?” (regular – quick drying gets dry and crumbly almost as soon as you squeeze it out; just too quick for us slow rookie DIYers!). But there were always going to be bumps along the way, and usually after some griping / banging / frantic flipping through the DIY book / keywords in Google, things work out eventually and we’re all smiles again.
The good bits definitely outweigh the annoying or scary bits though, and things are a little less frantic now, and much more homey with the living room done as well. The kitchen’s sort of finished-but-not-finished, and the spare room has still a bit left to do, but we’re getting there. We’re also slowly getting to know the area, and we’ve met our next door and two-doors-down neighbours, who seem very nice. We even got given cake this morning. So far so good in suburbia.