Friday, 20 April 2012

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Project rental squat has been an altogether different experience than the original dust bowl. Not being woken up at 7am to the dulcet tones of Polish camaraderie and the sweet scent of cigarettes and instant coffee is, if I'm honest, a blessed relief. The absence of endless hammering and the gritty dust up the nose sensation seems to reduce the stress levels of house renovation. But it does have its downsides...

As a semi-qualified interior designer, I am ashamed to admit that I have committed many design sins. I should and DO know better and I only share them now in order that you yourselves are never tempted down the same dark paths. My excuse was lack of time it's a poor excuse and it does not warrant forgiveness. Here are my top 5 don'ts of renovation.

1. NEVER pick paint colours off a computer screen - you think you are getting a nice matt grey, grey, you are actually getting a faintly purple/ greeny/ blue. When we tell you to paint generous testers on the wall of each room - we tell you this for a reason.
2. NEVER trust your builder to get paint mixed on your behalf- it will always end up ever so slightly wrong.
3. Do NOT try and rectify above mistakes by using Farrow and Ball paint in a rental house. Yes it is beautiful, but it will cost you a fortune you will never make back. Sarah Beeny I feel your
4. Don't skim read adverts on ebay, such that you think an advert for 6 panel doors is for 6 doors, not 1 with 6 panels. There is a difference, it is significant.
5. Finally, please DON'T find yourself, unable to miss an opportunity, buying all your furniture before the work is done then having nowhere to keep it so you end up with, say, for example, I mean as if anyone would, a massive wardrobe at the bottom of your stairs blocking the entrance to and from your house for approximately 6 weeks!

All that aside, things are going swimmingly and despite what everyone tells you, I stand by my ethos of putting your heart into your project. DO think about the standards you would want to live in, do use interesting colours and finishes where you can, it doesn't have to cost more and I firmly believe will make all the difference to your tenants. Let's hope I'm right....!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day

As some of the more astute/committed readers amongst you maybe have noticed (someone? anyone? Mum...?) There has been a not so brief hiatus in posts of late. For this I can only apologise and assure you that it is not due to lack of activity. On the contrary life has been somewhat crazy in squat towers and it is with proud excitement that I announce the birth of squat number 2, or SJ (squat junior) as we like to call her. Yup you guessed it, we are at it again… with a vengeance.

SJ was never destined for the same fate as the original, this is an entirely different proposition, a business proposition no less – a buy to let. When operating in said business environment one must be governed at all times with head not heart. This is what they told me, they ALL told me and you know what they can be like, so god damn self-righteous. But, I bowed to their superior knowledge, yes, of course we will just paint over the existing flock, fake artex paper and make do with the kitchen in place, no, no, no, no, of course, no need to touch the ceilings, 60’s style gas fireplaces, fine for a rental, absolutely, boiler, it still runs doesn’t it? Yes, definitely leave well alone. I nodded and smiled with good intentions of following it all through.

Strange then, that I seem to find myself 1 month in with, pretty much the shell of a house, all ceilings and walls have been pulled down and stripped back, kitchen ripped out, fireplaces- can’t see them for dust (literally). It’s fair to say, I fell at the first hurdle, giving the house a name probably wasn’t the best start. In defence some of the work has not been caused by me, the house that we bought, although cared for by it’s lovely previous owners (and I mean that sincerely) had been largely maintained through DIY- herein lies a problem. Peel back one layer of paper and the wall comes tumbling down, inspect one of the sockets and discover it needs entirely re-wiring, take out a kitchen unit and reveal the large patches of damp carefully concealed by layers of plastic... and so it goes on.

Don’t get me wrong, I really am not doing this to the spec I would my own home, I haven’t even changed the radiators (yet), but it seems fair to say that when it comes to me and houses I cannot help but be emotionally attached, they very quickly do become a labour of love. Here she is in her finest original form (these are estate agent photos fyi).