I cannot be the only one that fantasised about my “grownup home” when I was younger.
Not helped by every Hollywood film ever, I would while away the hours dreaming of open brick walls, White Company throws and Jo Malone candles burning atop my Urban Outfitters restored wooden chests.
My coffee table (oak preferably) would be strewn with glossy magazines (that I would not only have read but would have folded down the pages so I could remember to either re-read intellectual pieces or to buy the £350 LK Bennet shoes I’d seen and liked next time I floated past one of their shops).
My (incredibly comfortable) mattress would be stain free and covered in very high thread count sheets (whatever that means) and more throw cushions than one person could ever have use for and my wardrobe would be sensational; mostly full of clothes still in dry cleaning bags because, yes, I do get all of my clothes dry cleaned… don’t you???
Of course I’d live here alone, old and mature enough not to freak out every time I found a spider in my (copper, stand alone) bath, ever get lonely or worry about the risk or burglars/serial killers/rogue Tinder dates, of which I’d have had a few ~i’d be very in demand, of course~.
My friends would come and stay a lot though, normally when they’re in the midst of some huge crisis that only I (with my fridge full of dry white wine and absurdly inviting guest bedroom) could help them deal with.
Other nights they would come over for less dramatic reasons and whenever we’d hang out we’d always find classy as hell things to do together (much more cool than watching Clueless for the 456702 time and eating pizza), and whenever we did find ourselves without any real plan, we’d start interesting conversations surrounding the articles I had dog-eared in those glossy magazines, fuelled by a few glasses of the aforementioned dry white wine, that was expensive enough to prevent a hangover.
In spite of my intense female friendships (the likes of which the IRL me complains about if ya want to read the blog post about it you can do so here), I’d be fiercely independent, not relying on a man for anything, beyond sexual enjoyment that is.
For that reason i’d have a steady stream of gentlemen callers, all of whom would want me infinitely more than I’d want them, good looking shirtless men who’d have a nice combination of respect and confidence would pad around my wooden floored apartment the morning after a night of raucous passion to bring me my coffee in bed.
A coffee from my shiny white nespresso machine which would be steaming in one of my beautiful anthropologie mugs… obviously.
I had big dreams. Big plans for my perfect home and my utterly enviable life.
Well. Well, well, well, well.
Say hey to my current life that looks absolutely nothing like anything I ever hoped it would.
I have a dog now, something that never appeared in the fantasies, and a brilliant boyfriend that even in my wildest of dreams I hadn’t had the confidence to dream up… but the real difference of course, is with the house.
The house that has absolutely zero open brick walls, the house that has overflowing bins (because no!! it’s YOUR bloody turn), the house with scratches all over the walls because really how the hell else are you meant to get up a narrow staircase when you’re drunk as a bum without plummeting into everything on your way up?
When I first moved in I did not, as I had fantasised about spent the day between Bo Concept and Urban Outfitters buying the furniture, the White Company for the ‘bits’ and Farrow & Ball for decoration purposes because when I fantasised about my dream house MONEY WASN’T A CONCEPT (let’s blame Pinterest for not putting bloody a £45 price tag on the bowl that you’ve fallen in love with).
It never occurred to me, as I daydreamed my life away that if I wanted so much as a Jo Malone candle I was going to need to sacrifice two weeks worth of food and enough pairs of socks to last me my whole damn life.
So yes. Although I am now living in the home of my dreams (maybe not #decorgoals but one with no bed time, no fighting for the TV, eating what I want, whenever I want), it is not filled to the rafters (lol it has a flat roof there are no rafters) with the furniture of my fantasies.
When we first moved here in Spring 2015 neither Alex or I had lived not with anyone other than our parents before. Although Alex had bought and built (badly) all of his own furniture, he was living in Dublin and it would have been way too expensive to get it all sent over so we just left it with his mum.
My mum told me I could take my shitty ass bed with me when I left (yay, love you – even if you only did it because you wanted to make my room a guest bedroom) and my 20 year old chest of drawers (still with labels on every draw… ‘tights’, ‘school tops’, ‘home tops’ etc – yes, I know, adorable) but other than that we had to start from scratch.
Hello Habitat no no no I can’t even afford a wine glass from here, Ikea please can you help?!
You know when you are playing with The Sims and you decide just ONE TIME to try and play it properly without cheating with the motherlode? Well that was the first shop.
We got basic everything. Basic table, basic chairs, basic book shelf, basic glasses, plates and bowls.
Non essential items could wait.
I dream of one day owning pasta bowls, for example. An item so non-essential that three and a half years later they are still on my mental shopping list.
Over the years we’ve accumulated the little things, the homey touches (either because one of us is feeling flashy with a spare £20 or because everyone we know knows we are trying to build a home), the pictures and pizza slivers and egg cups and loo roll holders and bath mats and even a candelabra (not essential, will never be essential but was a great present that made me feel hella-classy anyway).
Soon, in spite of the what was fast becoming terrible furniture (because, as it turns out, the cheapest of the cheap Ikea furniture does not age particularly well) our flat was starting to feel homey and comfy and full.
Surreeee, every time you put a book on the book shelf the whole thing would collapse (we had to move Bua’s bed to the other side of the room in case it crushed her), every time you opened a draw on the chest of draws the thing would fall out and sitting at the kitchen table was fast becoming a game of Russian Roulette, particularly for our heavier friends as the chairs began to crack and crumble underneath them, but for the most part, I was basically no longer embarrassed to invite people over…
(Apart from when Bua went through that unfortunate stage of bringing my dirty pants out of the washing basket – another non-essential time purchased about 18 months ago, and delivering them to the feet of whoever is visiting at the time.)
It’s been the most amazing process, particularly over the last year as the threat from falling book shelves and collapsing chairs forced A and I to collect together our pennies and actually put a bit of money towards creating a home we are proud of rather than drinking a pint that we’d forget on a Tuesday when we didn’t need one.
Between Ebay, the Christmas Sales and shelling out a bit more at Ikea we have upgraded nearly everything (Bua can sleep soundly once more and all of my Rugby playing friends are now invited to supper again).
Of course those daydreams have stayed with me and I want a new sofa and to paint the walls and a big mirror and an otterman and a dressing unit. But I also sort of want to be living in New York with the high thread count sheets and the glossy magazines and the open brick walls… so I’m not sure how much of my time I should really spend holding onto this fantasy.
The reality is of course that I am incredibly lucky just to have a roof over my head. I’m even luckier to live with one of my best pals, my boyfriend and my adorable little Labradoodle.
I love (almost) everything in here… anyone living with a boy can understand that sometimes sacrifices need to be made and know that as I grow older my home will become nicer.
The thing that makes this flat so special to me in truth is the memories I have made here.
By living in London I am sacrificing the a lot of space that I could pay less for elsewhere and so we have to be selective with the things we have (not easy for a hoarder like me) and the best thing really is that everything here comes with a story.
Couple that with the fact that Alex and I have had to really work hard for and then agree on (the biggest test in any relationship) all the things we have and you won’t take anything for granted ever again.
As nice as my fantasy home is, let’s be honest; after two weeks of me living there there would be wine stains on the carpet, coffee stains on the distressed wood dresser and tear stains on the high-thread-count bed sheets because, try as I might, I will never be the don’t-give-a-shit type of gal.
Building this home with Alex and watching it grow as we grow (sadly not literally), is the best thing in the world.
And yes, this entire blog post was inspired by the arrival of our new table. Who’d have thought I’d ever be so excited by a piece of furniture eh?