Our Second Hand Home: Starting From Scratch

22 Jun 2019

I've talked a lot over the past few weeks about how Alex and I have got a new place, and also that my mental health has been kind of terrible, but I haven't let on too much that those two things are entwined. I figured that I could sit and stew over all of this on my own, but I thought, "why not turn something that's a bit rubbish into something fun?" So here we are, a new series on my blog - Our Second Hand Home.

You might be thinking, "Olivia, how can getting a new place be 'a bit rubbish'? Surely, you're super happy?" And you'd be right, I am super happy and I can't wait to make a whole bunch of memories in mine and Alex's first place, but something happened that threw a great big stinking spanner into the works, so let's have a bit of a story time, shall we?

Going with the easy option

We started looking for flats back in mid-May. Alex's student house tenancy was ending on July 1st, so yes, we left it a bit late, but we were actively looking and booking in viewings. The only problem was that nothing was really taking our fancy. We knew we couldn't be too fussy, but some of the flats that Alex went to view just weren't great in comparison to the photos. Plus, one of the places we'd set our hearts on got snatched up really quickly, which was kind of gutting.

While we were still looking, my auntie offered the house that she lets out to us. You might remember that this is the place that I lived in with my ex, so at first, I was a bit iffy, but this was a place that I was so happy in and it broke my heart when I had to leave, so I quickly came round to the idea. It was a furnished place too, so it meant that we wouldn't have to spend a ton of money - it was pretty much ideal. We cancelled all our viewings and went with my auntie's house - the easy option.

The place was completely empty

We got very excited about the move and were planning which room would be used for what, and what extra furniture we might like to buy. We even walked past the house a few times, just to see it and get even more excited. We felt pretty tip top - that was until Alex went to visit the house with my auntie for the first time since the last tenant left. I was at work at this point, so I didn't get to see what they saw, but the place was completely empty. It had been gutted from top to bottom. Every single thing had been stolen.

Obviously, I was absolutely devastated and I couldn't understand how something like this could happen. It turns out, the tenant had taken the keys back to the letting agent, but kept the back door key for themselves. They'd let themselves in at some point and taken anything they could get their hands on. This included the beds, the wardrobe, the TV stand, the freezer, the washing machine, shelves, the coat hooks - literally anything they could take, they took. Oddly, though, they left the fridge and a bookshelf... The place was also a complete tip and lots of the kitchen cupboards had been replaced with mismatching doors, so it was just an eye sore.

Where does that leave us?

Because we had left looking for homes so late and because we didn't want to let my auntie down, we decided to stay with their property, even though it meant that we were having to start from scratch. We'd have to get some basic furniture to keep us going and re-decorate to freshen up the place, hence the name of this little series.

I'm going to be documenting our process, mainly so that I can look back on how far we've come, but it might also be a good read! Who knows, eh? But being a copywriter and a student, we don't exactly rake the money in, so most of the furniture we're going to be getting is second hand or donated, and any DIY work is mainly going to be done by us. It's going to be a big challenge (especially because at the time of writing this, we've only got a week until we move in), but we're both looking forward to tackling it together.

It could make or break us!

What have we done so far?

Right now, as I'm writing this, someone from the rubbish letting agency that let this fiasco happen is fixing a broken window for us. This was obviously a major problem because the house was being left overnight and absolutely anyone could break in!

The locks have been changed on the front and back door, and the letting agency are going to change the back gate, so I've got absolutely everything crossed that we don't have any more attempted break ins. I'm not sure my little heart could take it. The agency has also fixed the broken door frame that the previous tenant broke when kicking door the locked bedroom door.

Alex and I have cleaned the walls on the two upstairs rooms and started painting what will be our office/studio space. We want to have a desk and somewhere to put up our studio lights, and possibly a dressing table for me, so this room will be perfect for that. We've gone for a solid white emulsion base to start with, but we might add a feature wall once we're actually in the house. So far, we're only aiming to get this room and the bedroom painted because wow, painting takes ages and we don't have a lot of time, especially because I work full time, but we'd like to paint our dining/living space too.

Speaking of dining, we put our first piece of furniture in (kind of). A lovely lady from Stockton donated a gorgeous table with six wooden chairs, plus some extra folding tables. At the minute, the main table is in pieces, because it needed dismantling in order to get it through the front door, but it's going to look brilliant and serve us very well. We love sitting at a table to eat and I'm looking forward to putting some flowers and our personalised carafe on it!
So yeah, welcome to the start of the Our Second Hand Home series! It's definitely something that's going to help me make light of the whole situation, which I know shouldn't get me down - I am so grateful that we have somewhere to live, but it's awfully hard to come to terms with the fact that someone broke into the place that was supposed to be your home, putting you all the way back to square one.

I'm going to share every step of the journey with you, so if you love interiors or just having a nosy into someone's life, I hope you'll enjoy!

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@thenorthernist