It’s getting exciting (and terrifying) at This Old House this month. The weather has been extraordinarily kind over the winter months and the builders have finished the bulk of the building work. Just as the rain and snow finally arrives, the scaffolding has gone up and work is about to commence on taking the roof off the rest of the house. Never mind dry January, I’m praying for a dry February!
I have actually been attempting dry January (with mixed results). I like my red wine with a steak on a Friday night- oh and another wee glass on a Saturday night in front of the telly. Maybe just one more with my Sunday dinner. All these ‘wee glasses’ keep adding up. It’s one of the reasons along with ill health (and also being pretty greedy, let’s be honest) that I have put on around three stone in weight over the past three years. It really is time to do something about it and aside from swimming regularly, I’ve decided to cut out the red wine for a while and have gone back to Slimming World. I know there are other, healthier plans out there but Slimming World has worked for me in the past as I need the shame of a weekly weigh in to motivate me. I want to be fit to tackle some of the simpler jobs of finishing This Old House when the time comes so I’m back to food optimising (essentially eating less rubbish and more veg).
In my defence, I also live with a ‘feeder’ whose love language is gift giving which really doesn’t help my lack of will power! “Sure a wee bit of rhubarb crumble won’t hurt- it’s mostly fruit…” “Sure it’s only a wee Gin and Tonic and I’ll drink it if you don’t want it…” and on another note, he’s also a shop-a-holic so I also hear things like, “I know we have nowhere to store any more furniture, but that sideboard is a real bargain….” You get the idea.
Speaking of Sideboards…
Friday morning antiquing has become a bit of a ritual for him and me. We have found some lovely bits and pieces in our local charity shop. We promised each other last Friday that we were just window shopping and would definitely not be buying any large items of furniture. In spite of our good intentions however, as well as some other great finds (check out my Instagram feed @him_me_and_our_three for more details), we ended up buying this little beauty.
My mother is horrified. She tells me that my granny threw something similar in a skip at some point. It wouldn’t surprise me. My granny and Marie Kondo would have got on well. If you couldn’t sleep in it, sit on it or eat off it, my granny didn’t keep it. Granny May was quite a girl. She used to say that she would never be dead as long as I was alive. I’m proud to say that we are very alike in lots of ways but on this we differ. While I do get stressed when surrounded by too much clutter, I do love my pre-loved bits and pieces.
I have to grudgingly admit however, that our pre-loved purchasing is getting a little out of hand. As a family, we do seem to accumulate a ridiculous amount of ‘stuff’ everywhere we go. It was quite a job to de-clutter in preparation for our last move as you can see from my Top Tips For a Smooth Move post here. I’m seriously starting to wonder whether I need to factor in an antique store to our plans for This Old House. We just can’t seem to resist beautiful old things and at some point I’ll need to consider selling some on if we keep going the way we are.
I’m a Fraud
Oh who am I kidding? Even as I write this, I know I am too weak to resist the temptation of hunting for treasure in other people’s trash. I secretly have my eye on a couple of pieces in one of my favourite antique shops. I’ve seen a stunning dresser which would be lovely in our bedroom and a wonderful carpet which would be perfect for our drawing room once it’s complete, in all it’s navy and pink splendour.
I even persuaded the owner of that special shop to take me into his store room which was crammed to the rafters with everything from French antique beds to seats made from fuel drums. Doing my best Drew Pritchard impression, I clambered through towering corridors of teetering antiques to reach a set of Polish military lockers which would be fantastic as wardrobes in my daughter’s New York/graffiti themed bedroom (she’s only eight but it’s her design and she has asked for the lockers).
I have to hold back though and let some things go. I really can’t justify gathering up any more lovely things while the house is still open to the elements and the pigeons are roosting in the bedrooms. We are still a long way off being able to decorate and furnish This Old House.
Buy Nothing January
What I should really be doing is ‘buy nothing January.’ This is the notion that you buy only essential items (e.g. fresh food, toilet paper) during January and specifically avoid any non-recyclable or frivolous goods. It’s quite a challenge. My good friend Kathryn is a great advocate for this. You can check out her Instagram feed (@mybundleofboysandme1) for ideas on sustainable and less wasteful living. Sad to say, I’m just not well enough organised to make a success of it this month and, what with dry January and ‘food optimising,’ I have needed a little retail therapy to keep myself sane.
When I am not scouring the shelves of the local charity shops, I am following the Instagram accounts of fellow renovators, lovers of Victorian achitecture and those with a knack of displaying and photographing beautiful things. I’m late to the party when it comes to Instagram but it is rapidly becoming my new addiction. I’m gathering ideas and getting tips on how to renovate and decorate on a budget. It’s also good to hear what challenges and pitfalls others have come across and to see fabulous before and after shots that give me hope on the days when I’m watching the snow and rain pour through the vast open spaces where the roof should be.
There are too many to mention here but some of my current favourite accounts include @this_victorian_house, @alittlevictorianrenovation, @georgianmoneypit2012, @restorationexploration, @victorian_welsh_home, @rebecca_anchorman_house, @renovatingnorthstreet, @victorianseasidehome, @mrs_c_cottage and @our_victorian_hame. Why not check them out.
If you are in the midst of a renovation, I’d love to hear your tips on how you keep calm in the chaos. I’d love to hear what everyone’s favourite charity shops finds are too. You can get in touch by commenting here or why not follow us here or on Instagram @this_auld_house