Following our Anima Rising post this week, I thought it was time to share why we moved house again, because some of it is connected to what Harper and Jesse talk about, which is probably why it resonated so deeply with me. An unholy muddle of crap came howling toward us just before we left for our 5 week camping trip in August which eventually led to us moving all of our belongings into storage. We saved a few months rent by doing this, but added a whole lot of upheaval and unsettledness. We didn't realise it at the time but this eventually ended up leading to some very good things. All clouds, etc.
Why we decided to downsize
Our trip gave us so much, but the best thing was the talking time. When you have night after night round the fire, with no telly, you get some gooood talking done. And boy, we covered everything. Brilliance of current baby, Ponderances regarding future babies. Hopes and dreams for our careers and families. Favourite albums of all time, the merits of barbecued fish vs oven baked fish, the tin foil shiny side in vs shiny side out debate, strategies to survive a Zombie apocalypse, etc etc. Our present homelessness consumed most of our conversation however, and we did a lot of reflecting on what we really wanted. Living happily in a tent for 5 weeks was actually pretty life changing. We realised so so many things during that time: that, as it turns out, you don’t need tons of STUFF around to be happy. That you don’t need that much space. That a fire, simple food and good company are all you need for an exceptional evening.
That maybe living in a more simple way permanently would be really good for us. That living in close community with others is probably really important and meets a deep human need; one that collectively we are doing a really bad job of meeting. That if we are ever ever going to afford to buy a house, and start our dream project of building a self sustaining (zombie apocalypse proof!) home, we need to re-evaluate how we spend our money and start saving some more.
So when the house next door to Dave’s sister came up for rent, we decided to go for it. It is much, much smaller than our last 3 storey 15th century mega beast of a house. It has a lot of elements in a home that I really hate, like having no entrance hall and a downstairs bathroom. And half the space of our last house, But I already love it more. Weird, huh. It has a real fire! That probably has something to do with it. And we are next door to my sister in law. And it’s brilliant, we see each other at least once a day, help with each others washing, cook for each other, share childcare. And my worries about feeling somehow claustrophobic or not having enough privacy, or not being able to argue or have sex loudly without the other hearing, have all become defunct, Because the benefits far outweigh the positives.
The other rather brilliant thing about this house is that the owners are allowing us to do a lot of work to it. They are contributing some money and we are paying the rest, and are more than happy to do so. We get to live in a really cheap house, and make it our own. Win win.
So. The work. We still have tons and tons to do to the house, but so far we have ripped up the carpets and sanded the downstairs floors (a pretty mega job!) then painted them. We have also removed a ton of wood chip and 80’s floral wallpaper, sanded skirting boards and doors. Our main job however has been getting rid of our stuff. We are really attracted to arguments about minimalism, for earth, sanity and good childhood reasons, so we are in the middle of having the most brutal of culls of our stuff. Unless it brings us deep joy or is useful, it's gone.
House progress slowed once we moved in because work has been so busy for both of us, and we aren't going to be able to spend time on house stuff again until Christmas, so in the mean time, I thought I’d share some before and during photo’s.
We ripped up the carpet then took turns hammering in all the nails (TEDIOUS). We hired a sander from a local hire company for 2 days then sanded the floors, skirting boards and some of the doors (we have more doors to do). We were going to use Woca Wood lye , the authentic Scandi floor treatment, but after testing it it didn't look right as our wood was old. It would be perfect if the wood was new however. (we are selling our barely touched Woca stuff cheaply if you want it!) We ended up using 2 coats of Ronseal Satin Ash White floor varnish and 1 coat of Ronseal clear varnish, all bought from Homebase, and we are really really pleased with the effect. It's super hard wearing, and has given us the clean, scandi look we wanted.
Next up: the walls. The house had some 80's floral wallpaper in the lounge, a room that was far too small for it. There was also wood chip in one of the upstairs rooms. We borrowed a steamer from Dave's dad, bought all the basic decorating supplies like floor coverings, brushes, rollers and trays from Homebase, and got to work, all the while with Frankie 'helping us'.
We then painted everything White. Dulux very kindly sent me some of their Satin Diamond White wall emulsion and we couldn't believe how much better it was then the cheap white paint we had used elsewhere. You need much less of it and it rolls on so beautifully. It also has a slight sheen that makes the space feel so much lighter and bigger. We subsequently went to buy some more of this paint for the rest of the house. We also painted the bottom half of the downstairs grey, using Frogtape. We love our grey bottom half! ;)
And that leaves us where we are now, with some pretty area's, but still surrounded by boxes of stuff we're selling and giving away, and most of the work yet to be finished. It is incredibly exciting to do a house up, something I've wanted to for years, and I always enjoy feathering our nest, and displaying little treasures and meaningful trinkets. We cant wait to finish it, but we need to wait until we're both less busy. The following rooms will look very different once they're completely finished; less stuff, more plants, a bit of art on the walls, etc.
These rooms are definitely not the polished, de-cluttered rooms they will be, but this is real life, and many of you have asked to see some photo's. We'll get there eventually! Having a messy, cluttered, unfinished house is really difficult for me as it makes my brain feel messy and cluttered and unfinished, (ugh) so as each box is unpacked, each bin bag taken to the charity shop, (and each work deadline met!) my head feels better too.
So that's us. Decluttering, minimising, healing, nesting, pondering.
P.S I'll have a vintage stall at the Faversham Vintage and Antique Market (it's a really really good market- less than an hour from Kings Cross, and near the sea and the countryside- you Londonders could make a day of it?!) on Sunday 6th December if you want to buy my wares (cheaply!). There'll be some beautiful stuff on the stall, much of which I still love but just no longer have the space to keep it.