8 THINGS I WISH WE'D DONE WHEN WE FIRST MOVED IN
We've been living in our lovely flat for just over a year now. As you may have seen in past blog posts, it hasn't been exactly how I envisaged the first year here to be. To be honest, I thought we'd have EVERYTHING done before we moved, but that quickly became apparent that it was a bit of a dream! So a year on, I'm reflecting on the things that I do actually wish we had taken a bit longer or spent a bit more to fix when we first moved in (or before) as they seem a bit harder to sort out once you're in. It's just more chaotic and sometimes more expensive too.
So instead of my usual 'isn't this beautiful' post, I'm about to get real and share all the things we missed when we moved in that I wish we'd taken more time on now, so that you can save yourself time and money by learning from our mistakes.
We live in a 1930s block of flats with concrete walls, ceilings and floors, which means that the electricity wires sit on top of the wall and are boxed in. This isn't a massive problem, but I do wish that we'd spent a bit of money on getting them all chased in to the wall, or having the walls re-skimmed to hide them. It would give so much more of a polished look to the flat.
The lesson? Take a good look at your electricity, wires, sockets and light switches. Are they exactly where you want them? If not, change that all first thing as it will be a pain to come back to and you can have it all out of the way in one go.
2. SANDING AND PAINTING DOORS
I hadn't really learnt the value of the perfect finish and we were in such a rush to move in (Marley was a newborn and we were living in a small room at my mums house), that we didn't properly sand down the original 30s doors and instead just whacked a load of thick, one coat brilliant white paint over them. Now, I'm noticing the finish isn't smooth and it looks a bit bumpy or uneven. I've really learnt my lesson when it comes to painting, the prep is WAY more important than the paint itself!
The lesson? I know it's dull but spend a bit of time properly prepping your wood, walls and metalwork for any painting you will do. Trust me, it will be a lot easier on the eye down the line.
3. KNOCKING THROUGH THE BATHROOM WALL
Our toilet and bathroom are separate, and the original plan was always to knock through to create a larger bathroom area. However, things got over budget and then we found out we'd have to have a survey and pay extra for permission to knock down the wall. £500, which when I look back would have been so worth it, but again we were desperate to move in. Now though, I think it's gonna be a big job to knock through and the likelihood is we will probably leave it how it is. Which is a shame.
The lesson? Don't cut back on any substantial jobs that will improve your day to day life. Something like a bathroom or kitchen alteration will cause a lot more chaos once you're settled in the property than before, or when you first you move in.
4. REPAIRING THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY DAMP / CONDENSATION
We had a damp survey carried out when we first moved in as we could see a bit of plaster bubbling in the rooms with external walls. It wasn't seemed to be anything to serious, so we literally just painted over it and forgot about it. But a year on, the bubbling has continued to get worse and we're now having to have new damp surveys, exterior and interior work done to correct it. In hindsight it was just naivety, we didn't really think it would be much of a problem but in a single glazed building it's likely to get worse due to condensation.
The lesson? If you spot any damp or condensation fix it asap! It will only get worse.
5. PROPERLY LINING THE WALLS FOR PAINTING / WALLPAPERING
Do you see a common theme here?! I was really excited to get in the flat, so instead of prepping the walls properly I just went fully in with putting colour and wallpaper on to the walls. Ok I say I, but actually my brother and Jason did all the painting! I can now see air bubbles in the old lining that was on the walls when we moved in and it just created a bit of a crap finish.
The lesson? Spend time properly lining and preparing your walls for paint or wallpaper. Air bubbles or lining paper that's becoming unstuck is minor, but noticeable when you've lived somewhere a while.
6. CREATED A CONCEPT AND COLOUR SCHEME
It was only a year ago but I realise how far my knowledge of interior design and scheme has come. When I think back, I know I had an idea of how I wanted the flat to look in my head, but it was all a bit of a shot in the dark. A bit of wallpaper here I liked, wouldn't that colour look nice here, type thing. But that was no cohesive scheme or pre planned concept, so as a result we are now looking at redoing certain areas to have more of an overall look and feel.
The lesson? Work on developing an over-arching concept for your home's look and then plan each room's colour scheme. Make sure that overall all of your rooms work together, so that you don't feel like you're taking a tour around a mad house! Get your ideas on paper to look at it in the bigger picture.
7. BEEN MORE BITCHY
Getting the work done on our flat was the first time I'd had to personally manage a renovation project, and the first time I'd solely dealt with a builder. Looking back I was a little scared to say when I wasn't 100% happy with a finish and I also relied on him to pick out some of the fittings. CRAZY! I would never do that now, I'd have it all planned, even down the the colour of a screw!
The lesson? Don't be afraid to keep going back and asking for the perfect finish. Don't just take what's 'ok', you're spending your hard earned money and deserve the perfect finish. To the builder it's just another job, but this is your home, so feel free to get bitchy! Sorry, not sorry!
8. THOUGHT ABOUT THE ORDER OF WORK
I lost count the amount of time we had to repaint over something because we had messed up the order in which we did works. For instance, in the last few months we had our hallway floorboards sanded, stained and varnished, and they look beautiful, but it also scuffed all alongside the skirting where the guys had to get the sander right up to the edge. So we will need to redo those all again at some point without getting ay white gloss paint on the floorboards which is going to be fun!
The lesson? Think about the order of works. Will wallpapering mean you will need to finish the paintwork adjoining it again? Will redoing a floor ruin paintwork? Trust me, it's really boring to redo the same thing.
So I realise this post may sound pretty ungrateful, and honestly I'm not. I understand that we are so incredibly blessed to own our own place. I think spending a few months on an interior design diploma has really got me understanding where it's worth spending more time and money, and after living somewhere for a year little things that you could deal with at the start can start to niggle. My husband is way more humble about it and says I need to take into context where we were at in our lives at the time and the financial situation we were in that meant we were unable to do some of the things I've listed above. So I guess this is a bit of a wishlist, and may serve as useful to you if you're doing works on somewhere that you're about to move in to.
I've learnt a really big lesson on owning my first property; the longer you take to get something right, the longer you will enjoy it for!