Friday, 22 November 2013

Home is where the…tea is

Last weekend two ladies we know through blogging, Sarah and Laura moved from their current location of London up to our home town of Birmingham - a house opposite us in the next street to us in fact! (Seriously, Birmingham should pay us commission!)

Buying your first home is such a special time, and it made us think back to when we moved into our house three and a half years ago. As it was quite a while before we started our blog, we have no record of the memories of moving in, so decided to write them down here.

After moving from our flat in Leeds, where we had lived for two years, we lived separately with our parents for a year and a half to save for a house deposit.  We started looking for a house in December 2009, and did lots of research. We started by compiling a list of boxes we wanted our new house to tick. They were: (I may have forgotten some, its been a few years!)
  • In Birmingham - being close to our family and friends was the most important factor
  • Three bedrooms. We wanted a 'forever' house that we'd never have to move out of, and would house us and two future children.
  • Within our budget. As we knew we would soon want engagement rings, and a wedding, and then fertility treatment, we were adamant that we would not get into any debt (apart from the mortgage obviously!) buying our house.
  • A large living room. Although people usually go for big kitchens/bathrooms/bedrooms, the living room is the place you spend the majority of time, and where children like to play, so this was our most important room. 
  • A decent sized back garden - for future dogs and children!
  • The last one was a bit of a wildcard, but it was 'a nice view'. We love a good view, and our street in Leeds was a beautiful tree lined lane which we both said we would really miss. 

We found three houses online we really liked (out of a looong list!), and arranged bookings. The first one we arranged had already sold, and we couldn't view our favourite as the agent couldn't make contact with the seller. So we viewed the last one. It just wasn't for us - it had so few windows that it felt dark, and we love lots of light, so it was an instant no. The agent still couldn't contact the seller of our favourite, but said there was an identical house, on the same development, just in the next street, so we went along to view it. We fell in love with the house as soon as we saw it. It had three bedrooms, wasn't too big or too small, had a grassy back garden, and the all important large living room. There was also a field two houses down where our future dog/children could play whilst being in our sight from the house. We put in an offer, it was accepted, and we began planning how we'd decorate the rooms!
A few days later however, our estate agent rang and said the seller had accepted a higher offer. We offered higher, so did the other buyer, and essentially we were being pulled into a bidding war we weren't willing to be part of. Estate agents are evil! We were heartbroken to have lost the house. However a few days later, I contacted a different estate agent (out of spite!) and asked them if they could get in touch with our original favourite house's seller, as it was for sale by both agents. They did! The funny story is, I couldn't get time off work for when the seller was free to show us round, and L had swine flu! We loved the house so much that L went by herself, swine flu and all, to view the house, and put in an offer there and then. I hadn't actually seen it, although didn't feel the need as we loved it so much online, and it was the same layout as the house we lost.  After lots of drama from mortgage lenders, surveyors, solicitors and estate agents, it was ours!

A few of our cards
We moved in on 7th March 2010, and began decorating! We love interior design and already had dreams that we wanted to fulfil! We love houses that look like / reflect the people that live there, and definitely think our house fulfils that. Houses that people have filled with their own style and ideas are always amazing, rather than copies of catalogues/other people's houses in our opinion - L's friend H's house is filled with bright colours and eclectic decorations, whilst my friend A has every room decorated purple! They aren't to our tastes, but you can tell who lives there just from looking at the house.

We still actually have the first thing we ever bought for the house - randomly, tea towels! L has always loved Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater, so bought the teatowels a while before we even started hunting for a house, let alone knew what the kitchen would be like! The kitchen is neutral, with pink and green accessories, lots of gadgets (stand mixer, bread maker…we love cooking and baking) and lots of herbs and spices!

Another thing we always said we'd have was a White Company bed. It's my favourite home shop by far, and my favourite colour is grey; it makes up an embarrassingly large proportion of my wardrobe, and was the colour I chose to go with L's choice of pink for our wedding. We have always loved pure white beds, with stacks of pillows in different sizes, and soft grey blankets. So bed linen, and a good mattress (more important than the bed frame!) was the only thing we 'splashed out' on. We wanted a white and grey room, but also had a deep purple feature wall, and a black wrought iron headboard, made up of beautiful intricate detailing, to put a bit of our stamp onto an otherwise blank canvas. In our opinion, minimal is best,  so the bedroom was finished off with a vase of white flowers, and some candles on a chest of drawers. We love our bedroom, it's probably our favourite room in the house.

The two spare bedrooms were awkward - we didn't want to decorate them expensively as they are to be future children's rooms. So the slightly larger of the two we left white, and put L's old single bed in it. We added brightly coloured accessories from our flat in Leeds, and it serves as our spare room, as my mom often stays over. It will be a nursery soon, hopefully!

The other room won't be a child's room for many years, so decided to make good use of it as a dressing room. We put a large dressing table in it, full length mirror and storage drawers. I love makeup, don't get me started on how many beauty products L tells me she 'must have', and we both love girly things like jewellery and perfume so having the ability to have a dressing room in our twenties is fun, but it's not something we will miss when little person number 2 comes along. 

The large hallway in the house was one of the things that really appealed to me - it is flooded with lights from the two windows at the top and bottom of the stairs, and we were so lucky that the beautiful  marble floor was already there, but we only recently got around to decorating this room (paying for the wedding put a big halt to decorating plans!). The estate agent that showed us around said he loved how light and airy our house was compared to many of the dark, narrow houses in our neighbourhood. We extended our love of white and grey down here, with a white bookshelf for our many cookbooks, which are the only colour in the room! We also display our love of tea, with teacup themed vases, lamps and accessories throughout the house.

We have shelves of photo albums, but as we used our table plan from our wedding as a photo frame for some of our wedding pictures, and started a stair collage of other photos, we now have lots displayed around the house too.

The bathroom and downstairs cloakroom are decorated bright pink! My dad describes our bathroom wall as 'almost has your eye out as you walk up the stairs' - I think that means he likes it. As a tin of paint was all we could afford, we didn't do anything else to the bathroom. However the bath is tiny, and not great for when L is hopefully pregnant next year, so we are about to replace the bathroom now we have a bit more money, and are decorating it in grey (I know, surprising choice from me) and lilac.

Finally, the living room. We like the Tiffany blue colour very much, probably due to L's adoration of Tiffanys. We decided this would be a calming colour for the living room (nope not a hint of grey or pink in sight!) We have lots of candles too, not just here but throughout the house as I love them, especially ones from Jo Malone and The White Company. And now I don't have my dad telling me off for leaving them unattended like when I lived with my parents! 

This one smells of our Christmas! 
As the living room is the biggest room, given that it's at the back of the house so has the full width and quite a bit of length, we split this into a dining area and living area. We liked the fact the living room has three windows and patio door windows, and as it's at the back we sit with the doors open to the garden in summer, and don't have people walking past. The garden was also larger than the initial house - things definitely always happen for a reason!

 Another advantage over the first house was this one ticked our wildcard box - a view! It's on the most beautiful street we have ever seen - a tree lined pathway that cars can't drive down. Although the development is next to a busy road in to the city centre, looking out onto our street, you could be in the countryside. 

We are trying to decide how to remodel our garden, and hopefully next year or the year after we will be decorating a nursery!
We know just how lucky we are to have a beautiful place to call our home, and absolutely cannot wait to bring our babies in to the world and in to the home that is already so full of love. We worked so hard for our house, we worked and saved every single penny ourselves, and as we continue to work hard to pay for it and make it how we want it, it is so very worth it. The only thing lacking is more puppies. A great big box of puppies would fit in quite nicely don't you think Willow?!

1 comment:

  1. Hi girlies, just read this post - lovely, thank you very much for the welcome, we are so excited to be there! Can't wait for dog walking parties just the six (seven with our little niece/nephew?) of us, and loving slowly moving our lives out of busy expensive London! :) x


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