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Thursday, February 10, 2000

Two weeks after buying my house, I sat on a dirty, broken plastic chair in the garden, left behind by the previous owners, and buried my head in my hands in despair. 

What had I taken on? Well on the plus side a bargain - I couldn't believe my luck at landing such a whopper. And there lay the fear: how in hell was I, all on my own, going to tackle a four-bedroomed house and - alien territory - a garden, filled with DIY obstacles I had no experience of tackling, jobs for workmen I couldn't afford, and about a zillion decisions to make - all on a zero budget?

Gnome place like home: about a month after
I moved in - no curtains, no furniture, no cash...
but at least I had the flashing gnome (left by
the previous owners) to keep my spirits up
Your Home is Lovely is, partly, the story of how I'm slowly transforming my house: it's also about everyone's homes. It's hard work - and that's just the thinking part. Yes, I had found a bargain (relatively speaking - this was the summer of 2007, after all) but hadn't left any money over to spend on making the place somewhere I'd enjoy living (see left...!). 

I wasn't after a designer interior, didn't want anything flashy - I just wanted to create somewhere I'd like enough not to live for a long time. Which meant getting rid of the 1988 warehouse rave-themed hallway ("like being inside a packet of Opal Fruits" was how one friend described it); the claustrophobic bathroom (having a shower felt like being locked inside a faux Victorian panic room); and creating bedrooms civilised enough to - down the line - be rentable out to lodgers to pay off the bits of debt I couldn't avoid accruing (which involved, among many other things, seven coats to cover up the black painted woodwork and wallpapering skills to blot out the larger than life copy of Rembrandt's Blue Boy painting, which filled an entire wall of one room - and had eyes that followed you around it). 

And so ensued a crash course in DIY (I could not have been more reluctant to pick up a paintbrush or familiarise myself with my dad's box of drill bits - far too impatiently cack-handed) and a deep well of resourcefulness that included procuring live-in builders (literally, rent for plastering). I also quickly had to adapt my journalistic research skills in order to find things to fill the place on a budget of next to zero; having moved from a small Victorian flat into this vast, boxy, 1968-built Span house none of my lovely old furniture looked anything but freakily incongruous (and, besides, I only had around one fifth of the quantity required).

The aim of this blog is to share some of the stuff I learned - and am still learning - and to get your tips in order to share them with everyone else. I hope you enjoy reading it.  About the author

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