Winter and DIY don’t work well together. Full stop. After a summer and autumn full of painting and decorating I had high hopes for the winter. All of those long, dark nights indoors, I was bound to be able to get things finished in the flat so we could reign in the spring with wide open windows, perfect paint work and a fresh home.

But it’s now February and with weeks and months of rain and cold behind us, our flat is looking more tired than fresh. The window frames I painted in the Autumn are rimmed with stubborn mildew and most of our windows are fused shut with the damp air.

The bathroom has no ventilation at the moment and so we are relying on a small dehumidifier to dry out the windows every day. What’s more, one of the fresh white walls in the living room that we worked tirelessly on during the summer is now discoloured with damp patches most likely seeping in from the exterior brickwork.

We have, however, had the time to reflect on our space and how we want to change it. Sitting in our small living room, working out our fantasy flat has become a favourite pastime. And so, perhaps hitting pause on the DIY activities has been a valuable action. Instead of living around heaps of paint cans and wallpaper steamers, buckets of tools and general DIY mess, we have been able to live in the whole space and experience it without the everyday chaos and frustration that comes with the general ‘muck’ of painting and decorating.

This has allowed us to rethink how we would have designed the flat to begin with, if we had been around in the early 80s. My goodness we would have given the builders here a ‘talking to’! ‘Who puts a bathroom at the end of a corridor when the only way to get to it is through the master bedroom?’ ‘Why waste a meter of space by raising the floor?’ ‘Use the attic space for a spare room!’ Alas, neither one of us what a glint in the milkman’s eye when the building was originally converted from a bathhouse into a series of tiny ill-thought-out flats. So, we’re hoping to have the chance to slowly change the flat’s layout to make it better suit our living needs.

First step – an architect. Up until this point, our plans and ideas have been merely dreams. Yes we want to remove this wall and drop that floor by a meter and move the kitchen here and consider a roof terrace there, but when it comes down to actual plans that may honestly work and not simply dreams, well we need an architect to bring us back down to earth and show us what may in fact be possible.

In the meantime, I’m waiting for the windows to dry out so I can begin stripping wallpaper again. Can you believe it, I’m actually looking forward to being able to strip wallpaper again! There are many aesthetic changes we can make in the run up to a much larger construction project, as most likely our big plans for this home will take several years. I already foresee a Spring filled with more painting and decorating to get the kitchen and bathroom looking less drab and more fab. Bring on the spring!

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