Grand Mess in the Lounge

There is the sound of trains in our front room, well the rhythm of trains, a chug-a-chug-a pace that can only mean one thing, bust thumbs, aching wrists and nostrils full of plaster for days on end. It is the sound of hammers working on the walls, the tap-tap-tap of the plaster gang working on the walls. All that horse hair, lime, concrete and DIY plaster has to go. We have lived with exposed walls since last autumn when we stripped away all the wallpaper, and since then it has been drying out, leaving little offerings on our carpet; tiny pyres of dust and debris. 

Real renovation show

Every builder who has been into our home, every friend who has come over the doorstep, has stopped short, looked at the walls and said, 'I don't know how you can live like this'. We don't think it is odd to have to move furniture from one room to another, humping it through narrow doorways, and playing a giant game of manic, swearing, filthy Tetris. We have wedged chairs and tables into spaces between oven and boiler that wouldn't have taken a toddler, we have folded space in our home in a way that would outstrip the CGI in more science-fiction films. We have had more arguments about spacial awareness than most couples have in a lifetime. Sanctimonious Man: 1, Follow the Woman's Plan: 246. Yet this idea of moving into a static caravan, or rental property, when doing up a property seems to us to be frivolous and even wasteful idea. It would certainly be nice to move out and come back to a finished property, but it wouldn't be a home, it would be a romantic idea of property renovation found on Channel 4. The kind of shows we sit watching and yelling at when the couple say, 'Well Georgie-boy/Kev-meister, we decided it would go faster if we moved out'. NO IT DOESN'T. Not when you tell the presenter, 'We're going to project manage it ourselves' and the presenter turns to the camera and gives one of those knowing eyebrow raises that translates into, 'They're buggered'. Then the show descends into seasonal montages, camera sweeps, drone passes that culminate in 'Oooh, look a cold winter and they're in a static caravan'. BUGGERED AND COLD. 'Look they just managed to finish the house before their static caravan was flattened by the escaped radioactive ego of the architect presenter'. LOOK TO CAMERA SAY IT'S A GOOD HOUSE AND YOU'RE SURPRISED THAT TWO TWERPS MANAGED TO FINISH IT OFF. Then we see the finished house, cameras sweeping past furniture, probably knocking it over, cameras licking their way over kitchens and probably scratching that imported Italian stone finish that cost over ten grand and then a panoramic sweep of the outside of the house which is still stood in the middle of what looks like bombed crater and then as a nation we go, 'Is that it?' Then they tell us they've run out of money and will do the garden when they can afford it. SHOULDN'T HAVE GOT THAT STATIC CARAVAN. Then they tell us all the final costs, which can be anything from the price of a battered tin of beans to the GDP of a small island state and we all blow raspberries. We couldn't afford a static caravan, we couldn't even stretch to a tent in Skegness. STICK THAT IN YOUR COPPER BATH TUB.

Property shows don't really tell us the truth about renovating

So, the game of property Tetris continues and we move all the furniture into the kitchen, the toilet, our bedroom and plug up our noses as the dust gathers at the corner of our eyes. Doesn't matter if you wear a mask or goggles, the dust will find you.


So, these are the last images of a knackered set of walls, in a knackered room and the back end of winter. Time to roll up the carpet, cover the settees - the only thing we can't move to another room - wrap up the stove and then see you on the other side with wild hair and ashen faces. Now that would be a property show worth watching. We can hear the presenters summing up at they look at this room and the house. THE PROBLEM IS THAT CAROL AND ANDREW HAVE BIG IDEAS, THEY WANT A KITCHEN, THEY WANT A BATHROOM, THEY WANT A LOUNGE BUT THE REAL QUESTION IS: DO THEY KNOW WHAT THEY WANT?

What you want in a house and what you need are two different things


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