I’ve always had a pretty straight forward attitude to DIY, and that’s D. I. DON’T. But the tables have turned – and I’m tempted to sand-down those turning tables and paint them heritage Farrow & Ball Pavilion Blue.
When I first moved to the UK, I was adamantly anti-DIY. Why fix it, when you can buy a new one and grab a Starbucks on the way back home? (Mmmm… Starbucks…) It’s bizarre because I come from a creative family of fixers and menders – but somehow the 21st century consumption (20th century back then) had a firm hold on me.
But let me take you back to the beginning of my DIY-downfall. Little did I know what my future held when I first started dating Mr. Nice Guy at the tender but fearless age of 17. He was already dreaming of owning his first house – but not just any house – a FIXER-UPPER. When he first said these words aloud, they struck horror in my very core. ”Surely,” I thought, “By ‘fixer-upper’ he means brand new house, freshly and professionally painted complete with landscaped garden!”
No. No he did not.
In fact, what he meant was a Victorian house built in the late 1800′s with knackered wiring, leaky plumbing, damp crumbling plaster and asbestos in the loft. *shudder*
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I see why it’s sensible to buy an old fusty bargain, rip it apart and put it back together again. It’s a good investment (at least it was before the housing market crash), you can create your ideal home, you get the exact kitchen and bathroom that you want AND you get the satisfaction of the ‘I did that’ moment when it’s all finished in utterly glorious splendour.
Fast forward to a year ago (2011) when we started looking for a house in earnest. The thought of all that work always niggled at my mind (sometimes it’s stomped all over my mind like the T-rex in Jurassic Park when the electric fences failed.) How long would it take? How much would it cost? How could I cope with the upheaval? How much would it COST? Could we both keep our businesses running and redo a house at the same time? HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?
The thought of it conjured up images of Mr. Nice Guy and I banding together and petitioning the UK government for an official day-time extension. It would read something like this:
“We, Yankeebean and Mr. Nice Guy, formerly request that the 24-hour length of the UK day be extended to 32-hours, therefore increasing the amount of time the aforementioned applicants may then spend re-plastering the second bedroom.”
But I reasoned with myself that all the positives would out-weigh the negatives and I remained open to the idea of taking on a DIY dinosaur.
To be fair, Mr. Nice Guy was entirely open to the idea of getting a house that was already done-up – something that we could move right in to. We came at from the same angle – If we find a house that we love, we’ll put an offer in regardless of the state it’s in.
So we looked.
And we looked and we looked.
And lo and behold, a house that was recently re-done came along! It lit Mr. Nice Guy’s fire because it’s Victorian from the late 1800′s. And my fire was blazing because it had just been completely redone, freshly painted, re-wired and had a brand new boiler. Plus it was gorgeous – totes adorbs – and we both knew that it was worth going for it.
Fast-forward lots of paperwork, red-tape, terrifying amounts of money and celebratory champagne aaaaaaaand — WE’RE IN!
And though I don’t have to worry about fusty plaster laced with asbestos, I find there’s still lots of little jobs to do. AND I LOVE IT.
I never DREAMED I’d be so excited about sanding and painting a cabinet for the living room. The official term is ‘up-cycling’, but I call it ‘I-can’t-afford-to-buy-it-from-John-Lewis-so-I’m-going-to-buy-it-off-Ebay-for-ten-quid-and-do-it-myself-ing’.
Mr. NG asks if I want to help put up some shelves and what do I say? ”YES!” I almost shout – like he’s just gotten down on one knee to propose and I’m accepting.
SO, when did it happen? When did I become Aunty-DIY instead of anti-DIY? I suspect somewhere around the time that I signed that scary mortgage contract and sent it, sweaty-palmed, back to the bank.
But one thing I know for certain, along with learning to love Marmite-spreading, wellie-wearing, and weather-discussing – learning to love DIY has made me even a little more English. How about you lot? Any DIY converts out there?