We negotiated with the landlords for them to lower the rent if we agreed to redecorate; they were apprehensive but the agent convinced them they’d be stupid not to agree to it (free redecoration for them) so they went along with it. Then we had to sign a contract saying we’d do it properly, only use neutral colours etc. (dark grey counts as neutral doesn’t it?) and send them pictures afterwards.
So as soon as the leash was off I was away spending every spare second finding everything I ever wanted in a flat through my favourite interior design instagram accounts and then set about finding cheaper versions of it all. I started with the ‘hard’ furnishings like flooring, wall colour and lighting. Laminate flooring ranges from about £4 to £25 per square metre and I’m sure more but if you want to spend that then B&Q isn’t the place for you. The laminate we went with was reduced to £5psm so flooring for the whole flat came to about £100 which is insaneballs. Dad had some white paint lying around in the garage which meant I just had to buy one can of grey paint for the feature wall in the lounge which was £18 and we were done. Then came the fiddly things like gloss for skirting boards and beading (the long wooden stuff that sits between the flooring and the skirting). I resented paying for this because it’s boring, like buying a new hoover, but these finishing touches made a big difference in the end.
We’d only viewed the flat once before buying all of this kit so I had to draw a floor plan from memory to add measurements to so I used my finely-tuned skills in The Sims to make it legible.
I helped dad as best I could by sanding the ceiling but the dust went in my eyes and the paper ruined my nails so I left him to it and concentrated on finding furniture as cheap as possible ready for moving day. The state of the furniture in the flat was so poor we couldn’t avoid buying some new bits, purely to prevent the spread of disease (it was that bad).
Dad spent a week at the flat working on it every day and sleeping either there (once the boiler was working) or at ours. We kept him happy with regular coffees and then unlimited beer in the evenings. We had various different unpleasant trips to Ikea which is only a couple of miles away but trying to get there in a van in London, it may have been 90 miles it took so long. One day we were mid-way there and I realised I’d cleverly organised for a plumber and a delivery on that day but had completely forgotten about it so we had to turn around and speed back, Ikea aborted.
When it came to the bathroom the landlords stipulated, to my disgust, that they wanted lino instead of laminate and my only experience of laminate was student accommodation when it was sticky and stained. But, gladly, how wrong was I! I found some light grey laminate at B&Q for uber cheap and worked out with dad (he’d never laid it before) that the best thing to do was to draw the floor plan of the bathroom on it and then Stanley-knife it out. It worked well and whilst we couldn’t change the blue tiles in the bathroom, it matches really well. Another sneaky trick that woke the old and tired bathroom up was by painting the side of the bath white, it was a kind of cream, dirty wood before so the white had made it look 10 years younger. The same worked with all the radiators; I would definitely recommend doing it if you want to freshen up a room and even if it’s rented, either ask the lettings agents or just do it; they’ll never notice.
Alongside the ‘hard’ furnishings I started finding furniture online. Now apparently hard furnishings count as furniture as well because it performs a ‘human function’ but then I’d argue that a blanket does too? Anyway, with my ever-deepening desire for all things Scandinavian I started my search for nested coffee tables. The majority of what I found was upwards of £250 and knowing I would almost definitely get carried away with furniture I was sensible enough to curb my spending and continue the search for a cheaper version. This is when I found Groupon was the best friend I never knew I had.
I’ll tell you in my next post about how I found cheaper versions of posh stuff, attempted to build furniture, had an almighty strop over a TV stand and failed in fixing the lampshade of my dreams to the light fixture.