Ugly Duckling


I have always found that the moment you get the keys and enter your new home for the first time, smelling of somebody else and empty of possessions, it is far from the exhilarating moment you had built it up to be during the months of frustrated correspondance with solicitors. Our experience was no different. S and I with baby O entered our first family home together and saw immediately the damp patch the damp specialist hadn’t spotted, the foam in the kitchen cupboards (hopefully) keeping the mice out and the full extent of the artex. It’s everywhere.

This really is an ugly duckling of a house. Its pebblesdashed with yellow paint on the render and a turquoise door, filthy carpets, engravings (pet burials? Or commemorative tributes to the birth of grandchildren?) on the garden path which bolts up the garden like the A19. Terrible wallpaper – most of it bubbling and peeling. Ancient and haphazard tiling. One scolloped bathroom suite and one pink one.

In fact there are really no redeeming features.

Well, maybe a tiny bit of original plaster work in the hallway which is quite nice. Or would be if it wasn’t caked in gloss paint.

The space is what sold this house to us. It feels huge particularly coming from a 2 1/2 bed maisonette flat filled with baby paraphenalia. I feared at first it would be dark as its quite long but the lounge and master bedrooms flood with light on a sunny day – if we ever have any of those – and the garden also attracts the sun most of the day. By opening up the back and hopefully building a side return extension it should be transformed. The place really hasnt been touched for 40 years so the fact that it is a blank canvas crying out to have a bit of love (and lots of money) lavished on it also appealed. Well – the money bit didn’t quite so much.

We want to turn this house into a family home which allows us to live harmoniously alongside one another – which to my mind means creating lovely functional spaces where we can all be together in addition to creating intimate spaces designed specifically for each member of the family’s individual needs. So thats our mission statement so to speak. Added to that is an additional caveat – S and I have set ourselves the challenge to be as green as possible in the refurb which means buying second hand where we can and making considered choices about materials and appliances in a bid to be as eco friendly as possible. This is out of a moral obligation more on S’s part than mine – not that I don’t care but just that he, nobly, cares about this alot . Its also, if we are honest, out of a financial need. This house could swallow our bank account whole so we will need to check ourselves constantly to make sure we aren’t losing perspective and obsessing about costly details which in the grand scheme of things won’t matter. If I’m really honest I’ve already failed at the first hurdle as on the day we moved in my mum and I shot off to John Lewis to buy blinds so we could have some privacy and then to Ikea for a few immediate essentials like hooks for coats so we could unpack the coat box. I pledge to try and do better.

I plan to document our progress and deliberate about choices here and thereby record the slow transformation from ugly duckling to swan. I’m hoping that any readers this blog may attract will help with advice and opinions and keep us on track with our mission to be as green as possible. Funny, really, that I’m so openly inviting opinions as S would probably say that I dont ask his opinion enough and just forge ahead – I made a colour palette while he was at the pub and presented it to him on his return for example. But I thought it might do me good to be a bit more open to ideas. Er…..good ones of course.

So here goes. Anyone know the best way to achieve an eco friendly kitchen? Surfaces offer a number of green choices but carcasses seem a bit more problematic….thoughts anyone?


The current kitchen – though we are hoping this will be drastically reconfigured thanks to a side return extension…subject to planning/budget etc….


4 thoughts on “Ugly Duckling

  1. The eco policy on materials may cause you grief. Kitchen cabinet bases are made of chipboard because its cheap and it works, allowing the base to be made to exact dimensions.

  2. Its a good project. You are making it harder than it should be. But that’s what you want. I am sure you will enjoy doing it, and living in your home when it is completed

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