The weekend just past is the last one we will ever spend in our current house.
We had our last pancake breakfast, Arlo and Rory’s little neighbour pal came over for the very last time, and we squeezed onto the sofa that is definitely too small for a family of 4.5 and watched Ninja Warrior in our teeny but cosy living room, for the last time.
It was a simple a chain as chains can be: first time buyers > us > probate sale. After agreeing sales in early October, we originally thought we would be moving before Christmas, an estimation that we now know to be a little optimistic. Our buyers needed more time, and at several points in January, it felt more like maybe it wasn’t going to be so straightforward and we might have to go back on the market and prepare to lose the house we had wanted to buy – we were now on a much tighter pre-baby deadline and at this point needed reassurance from buyers who could definitely commit.
Then all of a sudden, we got the go ahead from our solicitors and it was all go again. We exchanged in early February. It was official.
The next week passed in a blur of action. Finally, after weeks of waiting, uncertain that we would actually be moving at all, we could start packing. We could instruct our builder, putting together a formal plan of all the work needing doing.
We’ve been so busy packing, organising, and hurriedly nailing down our bathroom design (the bathroom is not functional at the moment and is currently the only room with a toilet, so we can’t actually move the kids in until a bath is installed and the builders have finished up in there, so that’s priority number 1. Until then I’ll be ferrying children to and from school from the other side of London whilst we stay with family).
We’ve been so busy that I haven’t had any time to stop and THINK about the fact that we are actually leaving our house.
It’s a good thing I haven’t really had time to dwell, really. There’s something about bricks and mortar that makes me sentimental. Of course, there are the countless memories, happy times and poignant times that are played out within four walls over the course of time. But you take those with you. The house itself – once you close that door for the very last time and hand the keys over, you know you can never revisit. The house belongs to someone else now, it is their turn.
I’m trying to be practical in my thinking. We were never going to stay in this house forever. It was always a stopgap, and we’ve very much treated it as such – steadfastly refusing to spend any money decorating to our tastes, as it wasn’t our “forever home” or even close to somewhere we could live for long time with small children.
I’ve never been “in love” with this house. There are so many impractical things about it. But we’ve had many good times here.
And so, I’m not thinking about the time we brought a brand new Arlo home. Those first couple of weeks where we felt like a family for the first time, in our first little house.
I’m not thinking about the moment we met Rory, the exact spot that I walk past every single day, between the kitchen and the dining room.
I’m not thinking about all the things that have changed since we first came to view our cosy little two bed in the summer of 2010.
I’m not thinking about leaving the garden, the thing that we love the most about this house.
I’m not thinking about Rory having no memories of this house, and that baby 3 will never have set foot in this house. A whole new chapter of our lives will be played out in another house, and it’s that house, really, that will probably come to most represent our young family life in years to come.
I’m trying hard not to think about the house that first made us a family, and instead focusing on the things we are really excited about in our new house.
Arlo is excited about having a landing upstairs so he can build train tracks leading from one room to another.
Rory is excited about the builders and the possibility of seeing some heavy machinery.
Sam is excited about starting afresh without all the clutter we’ve accumulated in this house over the last six years.
There are many things that I am looking forward to.
An oven door that doesn’t swing wildly open at toddler height.
More than one toilet, including ONE UPSTAIRS. Groundbreaking.
A bedroom large enough to fit a king sized bed.
A living room large enough for something bigger than a two seater sofa.
Having an actual, genuine hallway. Somewhere we can leave the buggy and shoes. No more mud and wet shoe marks in our main living room.
A proper kitchen. With actual surface space. Enough room to fit the fridge in the kitchen as opposed to the dining room, and room for a dishwasher too.
A table big enough for the whole family, plus guests.
Creating an open plan kitchen / dining / living space with wide bifold doors opening out onto the garden. The sort of set-up that works so well with family life and allows us to all be together whilst getting on with different tasks.
We are not gaining a massive amount of space compared to our first house, but it will make such a big difference to us.
The house is in a pretty dated condition with every room needing a complete overhaul. It’s the first time we’ll be making these sort of design and decor decisions. It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to make our mark on a house.
We never set out to have a project this big, but we know from past experience that if we choose a house that doesn’t need work, we end up living with things that are perfectly functional, but just not to our tastes. Why spend unnecessary money? So, in choosing a house where everything needs work, we are giving ourselves the opportunity of a truly blank slate, and I think I’m most excited about that.
If you are interested in seeing what our first house looks like, I filmed this tour a couple of years ago. (Sorry about the mess -literally.) It’s a lot less cluttered these days, Rory has moved in with Arlo and no longer shares our room, the boys have since upgraded to a bunk bed, but you can get a good idea of the overall space.
I’ll have to try and find time to film a “before” video of our new house before it gets filled with boxes and the builders start knocking down walls next Monday.
I’m looking forward to documenting the transformation process from start to finish, and so much is going to change that I know that one day we will look back at photos and video before the work started, barely able to remember what it used to look like.