On The Road Again
Our cheeky offer was accepted! I believe it was the only firm offer the vendor received. It seems we are the only family in Northern Ireland crazy enough to consider taking on this beast of house.
And we really must be crazy. I haven’t been well for quite some time and am due to have major surgery. There is a long recovery period where I can do next to nothing for a number of months. I’m supposed to be taking it easy and instead I’ve been packing boxes and lugging bin bags full of toys and clothes to the nearest charity shop.
But, you know what, God’s timing is perfect. My surgery is scheduled for six weeks after our moving date and I know in my bones that all will be well. Our search for a new home has been a drawn out, frustrating affair but looking back, I can see the Father’s hand in it. I have had a confidence and peace about what we are doing that at times, I’m quite sure, has not been shared by those around me. My hubby wobbled a few times and wanted to cancel our sale but I talked him round. My confidence that we would find something was unshakable. I must give credit to our long-suffering estate agent, Neil Templeton at Templeton Robinson who worked hard to keep our very patient buyers happy while we carried on searching.
A couple of years ago now, we had fallen for a lovely Victorian house that needed work, not far from the house we have now agreed to purchase. As was the case when we bought ‘The Old Manse’ eleven years ago, we weren’t initially looking to move, just keeping our eye on the market. The property we found was close by and our kids could stay at the same school. It had just the right amount of work to be done and looked like an ideal project. We put our house on the market and placed a bid for the asking price. However, in the end, we lost out to a family who had already sale agreed their house.
And there is a twist in this part of the tale… Last year I stood at my son’s birthday party chatting to the mum of a child who was rapidly becoming my little boys’ best friend. I was telling her about the house we are buying and she told me that they had recently moved into the area. Yes, you’ve guessed it, she and her husband bought the house that we had been bidding on.
I have no filter. She now knows me well and I hope she has since forgiven me for my highly inappropriate response which was to exclaim, “you mean you bought my house?!”
Of course she and her husband didn’t buy a house that was meant for me. They bought the house that was meant for them and have done a great job of restoring it. She has even shared a couple of good contacts (and given me a couple of tips on who to steer clear of). Best of all, our boys will grow up around the corner from each other and good neighbours are something that money cannot buy.
After that, we took our house back off the market, took a little time to re-group and started looking in earnest. We had caught the moving bug and couldn’t shake it. We decided on what we thought were our priorities. We looked at all sorts of things. We widened our search area and thought about moving schools. We even bid on a couple of other houses.
We took the opportunity to get feedback from our estate agent. If we were to list our house again, was there anything they would advise us to change? If we had decided not to sell, I had planned to re-decorate the living room and our agent gently suggested that a few viewers had commented that they would also want to redecorate that room. The bright red and black wallpaper on the feature wall had seen better days and I had been hankering after a grey and yellow colour scheme in the bedroom for months. I loved my bedroom curtains which we had ordered from local firm IFD (Interior and Floor Design) based in Carryduff so I decided to use them as the starting point for a neutral colour scheme in the living room. We ordered some great sofas from Argos which had a sophisticated look but didn’t break the bank. We painted the walls with Crown paint from Homebase and the results were definitely an improvement.
As for the bedroom, a trip to Ikea for some yellow cushions and a soft grey throw teamed with some plain white bedding gave the bedroom a more sophisticated air. I brought home tester pots of my favourite Farrow & Ball greys and we had a frantic weekend of painting.
I love wallpapers but mindful of the need to keep a neutral scheme, I made a trip to Laura Ashley, grabbed some samples of my favourite patterns featuring yellows and greys and arranged them in a simple photo frame that I had come across when decluttering. This is such a cheap, effective way to put some colour and pattern onto your walls and worth a try if you want to add an injection of colour but are not quite confident enough to go for wallpaper on a large scale. It is also useful if, like me, you struggle to make your mind up about what pattern to choose.
Throughout this last year of searching there has been next to nothing on the market that would have suited us. At one stage I even wrote a letter to a couple who have a beautiful period property in the area to ask if they might consider selling. They called me back to say that they would consider selling at some stage but they were not ready to move just yet. They asked me if I had seen a house similar to theirs across the road which had just gone up for sale- the house we are now buying.
“What’s for you, won’t go past you”
My Granny used to say that what is for you, won’t go passed you and she was right. We could have ended up buying a beautiful house quite a distance away and having a nightmare commute to school or uprooting the kids from all their friends only to find that we bitterly regretted it. As it is, we are only moving round the corner. The school commute is a three minute drive or a fifteen minute walk. Whilst we are compromising on some of the things we originally had on our wish list, we have come to realise the old adage- it’s all about “location, location, location.”
Our vendor was born in the house we are buying and has lived there all his life. We called to see him a few weeks before the sale was due to go through and he kindly took us to meet some of our new neighbours. The street has a wonderful mix of newbies like us who are taking on refurbishment projects and long-established residents. They were all lovely. I just can’t wait to move in and begin the next stage of our journey!
Living room curtains and cushions from IFD, Carryduff (www.interiorsandfloordesign-ni.co.uk)
Sofas from http://www.argos.co.uk
Paints from the Crown range at Homebase
Bedroom curtains, wardrobe, soft furnishing and bedside tables from Ikea.
Paint Farrow and Ball lamproom grey.