When I finally got the keys to my flat back in 2015, the excitement soon turned to ‘what is that smell in the bathroom?!’ When I bought my flat I bought it sold as seen, there was no mould, no smell. So what the hell was this?!
I found mould like I had never seen before in the bathroom. It ran about the tile line just about the toilet on the wall. It was white and crystal like. It looked like a f***ing albino forest. I was bemused by this and mortified as I am actually a bit phobic about mould. Alright, that may be a lie. I am massively phobic abut mould. I can’t breathe it, I can’t touch it. It freaks me out that spores can survive in outer space. I mean what the mother f’ing freakishness is that about??? I was also super ill at the time from a mystery illness which I suspect was from my body reacting to the mould or something nasty at work. I was throwing up daily and had nausea 24 hours a day. I was bloated so none of my clothes properly fitted. I actually looked abut 6 months pregnant. Sometimes I felt like I was going to throw up and faint at the same time. I was spending every day throwing up in the toilets at work and I was almost in tears on the journey home from work. I couldn’t walk without being out of breath. There was no way I was going to have to deal with this mould. The lady from the housing association stated this was unacceptable and she would escalate this and promised me they would sort it out.
In the meantime my mother wiped away the mould with mould remover and I bought some special paint that promised to hide stains and inhibit mould. It was strong stuff so that went on as soon as the area was dry. We still couldn’t figure out the smell though. It was strong and rancid. I actually wore a mask while I went to the loo! The bathroom deserves its own post so I’ll it here for now.
I had two full weeks before we had to move out of our old flat so I took two weeks off work, bought all the tools and set to work. I’d never been able to really do any DIY as we’d always rented in my lifetime. My mother had never had to do any DIY. I’ve always loved watching shows like ground force and DIY SOS. I secretly felt confident I could do a large DIY project. Fool hardy confidence? Yes I agree. But where would the world be without fool hardy idiots? Leaderless that’s where. Anyway, during the purchasing process I googled the hell out DIY solutions and Ikea Hacks. I also chose the paint colours and wallpaper.
I cannot express how much joy this flat brought to me. It made living in London more affordable and it meant I kept my promise to my myself and to my grandma. It was sad she wasn’t here to share it with us anymore. Having lost our fortune when I was little, it was always a bit tight at home. We went from being affluent and having housekeepers and maids to constantly worrying. At the risk of sounding like a spoilt brat I hated being poor. I hated not having my clothes from petit beateau, or having candle lit dinners in lovely restaurants. I missed the four and five star hotels that I grew up in. These were my home in Europe. But that said I’m glad for it. My mum did super well. She was a single mama and she made enough to look after my grandma and I, and even changed careers. I never wanted for anything, but watching her work so hard made me determined to work hard and become self sufficient. So finally getting a flat albeit by shared ownership was a foot in, as it is for so many people. The next step is to get 100% ownership.
But I digress. I decided on Little Greene paints. I was on a tight budget and if you google this brand your eyes may just fall out of your head. It is very pricey. My thinking is always the same. Do it once, do it well. I wanted to make sure I bought paint that I didn’t tire of, that wouldn’t fade, that was good quality and non toxic. What I loved about Little Greene was that it was chalk based and the paints caught the light and reflected different shades throughout the day. It is on par with Farrow and Ball but I just preferred this brand. I also decided to go the extra mile and go for the Intelligent Matt Emulsion versions. The shop staff thought this was unnecessary in the hall way and bedrooms and lounge and said I would only need this in the kitchen and bathroom area but when I explained I wanted it to be washable they agreed this was best. It was pricier than the Absolute Matt Emulsion, but it meant I could also paint the radiators and woodwork with the same paint if I wanted. At the time it was something like £75 per 5 litres, it’s now £84 for 5 litres. So yes compared to Dulux, it’s very expensive. But there was no way I was going to paint it every few years. I wanted it to last.
I also decided I wanted feature walls in the hallway and bedrooms. Since I was a kid I dreamed of having walls covered in William Morris, Osborne & Little and Designer’s Guild. The flat however is a modern flat and I didn’t want to overwhelm it with pattern and yet my desire for some wallpaper was overpowering. So feature wall it is. I have to say the wallpaper was eye watering and started from about £75 a roll (I needed at least 4 per wall). I was quite aware people were judging me for spending so much on the walls when I was on a tight budget. But my belief is in only buying things that bring joy and to be honest I work bloody hard. I go to work throwing up, before that job I had about 14 days off in two and a half years. I was going to get those wallpapers if it killed me and my mother…. and it nearly did.