This is a bit of a mammoth post but I’m aware I haven’t spoken about the house much lately. So, here’s a tour of the house in its current state and a report on our progress…
Upstairs we’ve got three bedrooms. One will eventually be my study but it needs tons of work, so we’ve just closed the door and are ignoring that room! For now I’m working in the guest bedroom (the ‘yellow room’ I call it after its fresh coat of paint). The guest bed is only a sofa bed that came with the house but I like its retro London-underground-style fabric! I think it’s a keeper, although I can’t vouch for how comfortable it is to sleep on. Apologies in advance to our future guests. My temporary desk is a garden table (until we ship our furniture over) but I insisted on a chair that swivels!
|The yellow room…check out the retro sofa.
|Garden furniture inside the house…surely the next big thing in interior fashion.
|The hallway upstairs|
The hall is also finished – just needed a lick of paint in here. Then we move into our bedroom, which is pretty much untouched. All we’ve done is fill in (a LOT of) cracks and make it ready for painting. That’s my next job. We’re sleeping on an old metal bed that came with the house and our blow-up mattress on top. It’s so uncomfortable; I can’t wait to get a proper bed. We don’t have much else in the way of furniture. A clothes rail serves as a temporary wardrobe and the rest of our clothes are in suitcases on the floor. We don’t have any curtains yet so we’re improvising with blankets up at the windows! All the windows in the house need replacing actually – most have cracked panes, rotten frames and don’t close properly. We’ve had a window man come to measure up and they should be fitted in October hopefully.
|Not a scary bedsit, but in fact our bedroom. It’s next on the list…|
We’ve still got an outdoor staircase, and we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves to having to live with that for our first winter. Funds don’t allow us to enclose the staircase yet – it’s an expensive job because it means glazing a large area on the balcony upstairs, and knocking through a supporting wall into the kitchen downstairs. So, for now, every time we go downstairs we have to go around to the side of the house and let ourselves in the front door. Interesting when you’re in your PJs!
Downstairs we’ve fashioned a kitchen worktop from a plank of wood balanced on two chairs. On this we have an electric hotplate, a kettle and a toaster. We also have a big gas camping stove. We’ve got no oven yet but you’d be amazed how much food can be cooked on just two hobs! Last night’s dinner was homemade onion soup and giant croutons, the night before was aubergine and pepper pasta. We’ve splashed out on a new fridge, and we have a new sink (with hot running water!) so it’s a very workable kitchen. It still has a bare concrete floor and bare (crumbly) plaster walls, so it’s not exactly cosy, but it is workable.
|This is where the culinary magic happens.|
The bathroom is not finished but, again, very liveable. We have a new toilet, shower, window, and it’s all newly tiled. The sink and bath are lying on the floor in another room, but they’ll be fitted in the next couple of weeks I hope! Rob has plastered the walls above the tiles and he’s plastering the ceiling as I write. We’re using traditional lime plaster which is fairly easy to work with and super cheap. Rob’s a natural – here’s a picture of his beautiful plasterwork around the window.
|Rob’s lovely plasterwork around the top of the bathroom window.|
Sadly the living room is another room that we just shut the door on and ignore – for now. It needs completely re-plastering and new flooring. It’s pretty low down on the list of priorities but that’s okay. We’re kitchen dwellers anyway.
We chose our woodburner yesterday so hopefully that will be fitted in the next few weeks. It has a large section at the bottom for burning logs and a small oven above it – the woodburner will go in the kitchen and will be our main oven until we splash out on an electric one. I can’t wait to be able to cook with an oven. I dream of roast potatoes or toad-in-the-hole. Pipes will connect the woodburner to radiators in the rest of the house to make wood-fired central heating. The woodburner will also heat our running water in the winter, and our electric boiler provides hot water in the summer.
Sometimes it’s challenging living in a not-even-half-finished house, but mainly we love being here. I’ve been lucky enough to keep my full-time job and work from Bulgaria most of the time (I return to the UK for one week per month), so I work in the office upstairs while Rob beavers away on the house. We have a leisurely breakfast together each morning then I wander upstairs for a day of work, cup of tea in hand. A few hours later Rob bangs on the ceiling downstairs to tell me that lunch is ready! Evenings are spent working on the house (it’s my painting time) or watching something on the laptop. We don’t have a TV yet so thank goodness for the internet. We don’t have a lot of time off – we’re usually doing something on the house – but we’re enjoying it.
We’ve come a long way from that first night spent in the house in May – both of us huddled in a sleeping bag in near darkness (no electricity) swigging from a giant bottle of beer like two tramps, muttering “Are we mad? What are we doing here?” Well, I guess we’re still a little mad. And we’ve got a long way to go. But at least now when things get bad we can drink beer from an actual glass, under the light of an electric bulb!