New House Turned Home


Recently I wrote about our brand new rented house and our attempt to furnish it rather cheaply. I’ve learnt and accomplished a large amount in the last week and it’s already feeling wonderfully home-y. I thought I’d share a few lessons so just incase any of you go through the same situation in the not-too-distant-future.

1. Check your numbers. Measuring needs to be done many, many, MANY times in order to be accurate (and preferably by one person in one measurement system). We measured things out whilst having four other people wandering round the house, and feeling a little pressure to go get food with them. This meant we were trying to be quick. It also meant that we got measurements for a couple of rooms from them. We also completely missed the addition of a skirting board around the room which meant everything was off by about an inch; this didn’t affect everything but it caused a lot of stress. Also trying to convert inches into feet and inches in confusing. Trying to convert feet and inches, as well as centimetres, into inches and vice versa is ridiculous and the decimal system doesn’t help! (If you say to me 1.8 inches, are you saying 1 ft and 8 inches, or 1 inch and 8/10s of an inch?!)

2. Price vs. Effort/Time. Designing your own desk is far less money than buying one, will fit into the specific space you need it to, but takes far more effort and time. My wonderful father helped a lot by cutting the wood before turning up at the house, we had also planned it out a huge amount. Of course that didn’t work completely as the measurements were way off for all but one part of it – thankfully the width of the window alcove. All in all it was confusing and took far longer than expected. Plus Ikea didn’t help.. more on that later.

3. British Heart Foundation are amazing! You may well know them as a charity that clears out houses of stuff when you lose a family member, but the shops are amazing when you’re on a budget. We walked into Acocks Green branch and found most of what we were looking for under £300. OF course, when we didn’t move fast enough certain things went but even so I was hugely impressed by the care, the options and the general attitude. It definitely beat the commercial furniture stores which patronised us, were faaaar more expensive and we had to haggle hugely for delivery. BHF offered free delivery, were kind and the price was always at least £100 cheaper. Since our first main visit we have been back again and had to drag my Dad out. They helped us get stuff to the car, offered discounts if things weren’t quite up to their normal standard (that didn’t mean that if you found an antique with a few bumps and bruises you could get lots off – we’re talking a door off, or piece missing; basically don’t try to rip them off – they are already a good deal and a charity shop too!). I was never stressed in my visits or the time after, I always felt stressed when it came to…

4. Ikea. I can officially say I never want to buy furniture, or really anything, from Ikea ever again. When we decided to get furniture from there it was for a number of reasons: 1. Ease of buying; wander round, pick items, put in car, bring home. 2. Relative cheapness. 3. We could guarantee we could manoeuvre the pieces up our twisty stairs.
I would honestly have rather bought second-hand (especially after our experience of BHF) but the practicality of getting a large double bed up the stairs was just too much. So we ordered a wardrobe and a bed. I had researched both items online before we went
and were happy that they should fit in the right place, and would work together to give us a nice, not-too-plastic, bedroom. Our experience has been far from easy and we still don’t have a finished bedroom despite being here a week. There are certain things Ikea don’t tell you: the first we noticed is that despite the general consensus being that if you buy a wardrobe it normally has doors, maybe a shelf, probably a clothes rail, Ikea decides that wardrobes don’t require doors, or really anything else. My online form did not suggest they needed to be bought separately, or warn me how much extra they would cost. £100 was the cheapest we could find once we found out. I was not impressed. What they had sold pre-doors was a fancy, and expensive, box.
Our second shock was how much delivery was going to cost. For some reason they work it out by cost, so for example if you bought one small but expensive lamp for £100, it would cost the same to deliver as a £100 piece of furniture. It doesn’t matter how big or small things are, it’s the price that counts. Apparently if you have enough money to spend on Ikea, the more the try to pull out of you later. Once delivered/pushed into our car and then up the stairs, we thought we were home and dry. But then we found a hole in a piece that had obviously been packed that way. So we drove back, got a petrol-compensation and a replacement piece. We also picked up some adjustable legs for the desk we were making. We get it back and my wonderful family offer to put the wardrobe together a day or so later. The instructions suggested 2 people could make it, and yet when three people were carefully trying to put it together, one of the pieces almost landed on them and destroyed the lower base section. One hour and almost £400 completely wasted. It was only after this we found out that this wardrobe was meant to be fitted to the wall: something we could not do in our rental property and something not told to us online, in store, or anywhere other than the little piece of paper we find in the box after payment, delivery, etc. In general, I was p***ed and fed up with the stupidity of the whole situation. Luckily the only thing that went wrong with our bed was a small piece which pulled it’s screw out due to the angle being… tense, however, it was something so minor we won’t notice. Oh and a screw was missing.. but that’s normal right? Ikea? OK, rant over. Lesson: NEVER AGAIN!

5. Take your time. We felt massively pressured sometimes to move things as quickly as possible. At times we wanted to move fast and just get it over and done with, but when you’ve got one car and a lot to do (leaving job, starting new one, saying goodbye to people, etc) it can all feel so overwhelming. We had wonderful co-renters who were lovely and flexible on time, and we had a good 5 day spread in which to move things. However, despite the aim to do things slowly and calmly, there were points when we were exhausted and feeling pushed into getting the little things done all at once. It did not feel good, made us stressed, and we felt exhausted and ill by the end of it all. I am now slowly working my way through the house and unpacking, and I’m fine. We don’t need a show home immediately, we need our mental and physical health. If you can take your time, do. You won’t regret planning ahead and keeping things calm, and will probably be far healthier at the end.

In conclusion, we have had some great experiences and learnt a lot, but we’ve also had a lot of stress. One thing you will be hearing a lot more about is my new career leap. I am now a working-from-home full-time artist, and so this blog will be reworked to fit that change in life. As the header says, life is never boring, and like a chameleon I will be adapting to my surroundings. Watch this space! Specifically this space: my new desk!


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