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Making my home

On this day in 2021 I moved into my flat. I got the keys two weeks prior, but one week prior the boiler gave up and it was freezing, so I had to postpone.

On February the 14th, Dave and I unpacked boxes, cleaned anything we hadn't already cleaned, and exhaustedly wondered what we should do for dinner. I begrudgingly started getting out some vegetables. There was a knock at the door with an Indian food delivery. We hadn't ordered Indian food. The guy left, then came back again. Were we sure? Dave checked the name on the order.

It was ours.

Only then did we remember we had pre-ordered it some days before, knowing we would not be in the mood for cooking dinner that night. Great work, past us.

When I bought this flat, I was full of doubts. I'd never expected to own property, nor particularly wanted to. It was in a middling state of disrepair - habitable, but not pleasant - and I didn't know anything about decorating or have any idea what work would be involved. I thought I'd be on the road again, nomadding, within a few months, and that this would be a place for Dave to live if he hadn't found somewhere else by then.

It turned out to be a great decision. I've made amazing friends here. The local community is wonderful. The local nature is incredible. I can see the sea from my window and go down to the beach every day for spectacular sunrises. I can borrow my neighbours pets. I have learned a ton of DIY skills. I have barely had itchy feet to travel again the whole time. I still feel like I'm on holiday every time I walk outside.

What I saved in rent I sunk into improving the flat interior, which would have been difficult if not impossible without the hands-on help of friends and family. I tried to do as much secondhand as possible, or failing that, using local companies. There were a few big chains involved as well though. All of my furniture is from local secondhand shops, Gumtree, Freegle, given by friends, or a nearby skip. As of last week, I've almost done all of the refurbishments I want, so this seems like a good time for some before and after pictures.

You can see all of the in-progress DIY photos here.

In lieu of a fisheye lens, I used vertical panoramas to capture as much of each room as possible, so some of the photos are a bit janky.

Living room

This is the boring one. No redecorating, just furnishings.

Before, after:

Before: A sparsely furnished room, mostly beech-effect laminate, aging sofas, red curtains line the window at the end with a vivid sea view After: A room with the same red curtains and sea view, but now with many plants, cosy colourful chairs, and art on the walls

  • Dining table and chairs: thanks Felicity
  • Sofabed: free from Gumtree
  • Chaise long: Furniture Plus
  • Cosy chair: Gumtree
  • Coffee table: Furniture Plus
  • Rug: Gumtree
  • Chaotic plant table: Furniture Plus, was my desk in the old place
  • Snazzy clock: Kirkcaldy Boot & Mart (20p)
  • Oil paintings of Dysart Harbour and Ravenscraig Castle: Methuselah's
  • Speakers: Freegle
  • Projector: Kit and I bought this 50/50 in about 2012. My turn for custody.
  • Curtains: original, but cut down and lined by a local seamstress

I gave away two old sofas, two TV cabinets, a coffee table and a great deal of bric-a-brac on Freegle/Gumtree or to local charities.

Kitchen

The kitchen, once all the grime was cleaned off, was the best room in the flat. We took out some weird electricals, gave away a tiny dishwasher and washing machine, and carved out some cupboard space for an under-counter freezer (The Bed Shed). Replaced the fridge freezer (Andy's Buy & Sell) as the one in the flat gave up after a few months. Put up some hooks in a few different places.

Before, after:

Before: Kitchen with green worktops, wood-effect cupboards along each wall, some aged appliances After: A kitchen with green worktops, wood-effect cupboards, shelves full of tea and spaces, utensils hanging

I'd definitely like to replace the floor, as it's all warped MDF tiles. Maybe some dark green subway tiles on the walls, too... but that's a long way off.

Bathroom

I count myself extremely fortunate that my Dad is a qualified plumber. And that he was well up for coming up here for a month to completely refit my bathroom. I helped.

Before:

Before: Cream, gold and beech decor in an aging bathroom, showing sink, radiator and toilet Before: Cream, gold and beech decor in an aging bathroom, showing toilet and corner bath with a pulley clothesline

After:

After: Bathroom with stone effect grey and brown tiles, modern white sink and toilet, mahogany colour sink cabinet, grey heated towel rail After: Bathroom with stone effect grey an brown tiles, black shower and taps over the corner bath

  • Wall tiles: Tile Warehouse (local)
  • Floor: Tapi
  • Toilet: ripped out of Mum's new house
  • Corner bath: original; frame made from the old one plus floor tiles
  • Shower, sink and bath taps: Ebay
  • Shower screen: Gumtree
  • Sink bowl: B&Q
  • Sink cabinet: Furniture Plus, upcycled by me
  • Mirror: gumtree
  • Heated towel rail: B&Q
  • Shelves: wood scavenged from R's shed down the road (sanded and oiled)
  • Ceiling bar and towel rail: Ebay

I gave away the old toilet locally, bath taps on Freegle and built-in cupboard on Gumtree. Dad took the mirror. The sink is still sitting in the flat stairwell because I refuse to send it to landfill. Many of the old tiles are smashed up and serving to help drainage in pots in my footpath garden. The radiator went to the scrap metal dealer.

My bedroom

The walls were such a violent blue that I had to repaint them before I even moved in. Removing the built-in wardrobe yielded gaping voids that needed plastered. The carpet in my room was the last to go, and I think what finally got the smell of 12 years of cigarette smoke out of the flat. Floorboards needed replaced. But any amount of work was worth it for the sea view.

Before:

Before: Bedroom with builtin cupboards each side of the bed, bright blue walls, green carpet Before: Bedroom with builtin mirror door wardrobe, bright blue walls, green carpet

After:

After: Room with pale grey and dark green walls, a hammock, a white desk, bookshelf, plants and flowers, grey laminate floor After: Room with a dark green wall, long grey chair, grey laminate floor and rug, lots of plants and flowers

  • Walls: Silver Birch from Victory Colours and Otillie from Craig & Rose
  • Floor: Tapi; edging: ebay
  • Hammock: ebay; wall fixings: R's shed
  • Cosy chair: Kirkcaldy market
  • Desk: thanks Kit and Mariette
  • Chair: ebay
  • Standing lamp: thanks Kit and Mariette
  • Chest of drawers: thanks Kirstin
  • Bookshelf: Furniture Plus
  • Yarn shelf: Barnardo's
  • Rug: Cancer Research
  • Curtains: original

I gave away the bed, smelly mattress, and built in wardrobe on Freegle/Gumtree.

Dave's The guest room

Removing all the built-in cupboards wasn't quite as bad as in my room, but we did do quite a lot of damage to the walls that needed plaster to fill in the process. As well as visible redecorating, a weekend was spent crawling around under the floor to insulate all the pipes.

Before:

Before: Bedroom with a wall of beech-effect builtin cupboards, blue walls and carpet Before: Bedroom with blue walls and carpet, mirror door wardrobe, creepy baby photo on the wall

After:

After: Bedroom with dark purple wall, teak laminate floor, dark wood desk After: Bedrom with white walls, teak laminate floor, tall bookshelf with books and jars, grey chest of drawers with a buddha statue and swords

  • Walls: Victory White and About Damson from Victory Colours
  • Floor: Carpetright; edging: B&Q
  • Bed: Furniture Plus; mattress: Freegle
  • Desk: Ebay
  • Chair: Dave's
  • Drawers, bookcase, shelves, bedside: Furniture Plus
  • Built in wardrobe: original
  • Curtains: Barnardo's
  • Blind: Furniture Plus

I gave away the bed, smelly mattress and extremely excessive built-in cupboards on Freegle. Dave put up with extensive inconvenient redecorating by complaining the whole time, but I think he enjoyed it really.

The ensuite

Dad came for a second trip to refurbish Dave's bathroom the guestroom ensuite. This involved knocking out a bit of a wall, which went surprisingly well all things considered.

Before, after:

Before: Cream and brown decor in an aged bathroom, gross looking shower cubicle

After: Modern grey stone effect tiles and grey wood effect floor, white sink and toilet, black rain shower

  • Walls: tiles from Tile Warehouse (local) and Victory White paint from Victory Colours
  • Floor: B&Q
  • Ceiling: Rembrand Timber (Glenrothes)
  • Toilet: ebay
  • Shower tray: original
  • Shower, sink taps: Ebay
  • Shower screen: B&Q
  • Sink and cabinet: Freegle
  • Mirror: Furniture Plus
  • Shelf: wood scavenged from R's shed (sanded and varnished)
  • Heated towel rail: ripped out of Dad's old bathroom
  • Cabinet: Castle Furniture, yet to be upcycled
  • Towel rail: original, moved

Old sink, toilet and shower enclosure were rehomed on Gumtree. Dad took the mirror.

Hallway

This years dream is to replace the half of the hallway floor that is terrible MDF tiles with something nice. I also plan to rip out the two built in cupboards and replace them with organised shelves instead of chaos drawers or useless space. One of the cupboards (with the electric meter in) can only be opened when the bathroom door is open.

Before:

Before: hallway with blue walls, beach effect cupboards, glass sliding door, mirrors

After:

After: hallway with purple-grey walls, lots of coats and bags, stainless steel engraving on the wall After: hallway with purple-grey walls, barometer on the wall, view into living room with a dining table and chairs

  • Walls: custom mixed of Craig & Rose Lady Emma, by Victory Colours
  • Floor: original
  • Barometer: Chest, Heart & Stroke
  • Scotland etching: Furniture Plus
  • Coat hooks: original
  • Hat stand: Ebay
  • Shoe racks: one from the Bed Shed, the other homemade from scavenged wood

The hallway was originally divided into two by a brown glass sliding door. I gave this away on Freegle.

So what?

This has been a really fun adventure, and absolutely not what I'd have imagined myself doing a year before. I don't think it's over yet.

🏷 fife home household diy life

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