A while ago, you may recall, I shocked a few girls by posting up my living conditions, which were less than hospital sterile. In fairness, lots of factors worked in my defence, however there was little defence for aging, rotting food in my living room, and less defence for some of the greater horrors in my bathroom.
But, times change, and last week, after much effort, I finally finished the flat. Not just cleaning it, but the extensive repairs and upgrading that have been ongoing for over a year. The feeling of finishing this long-term project was a mixture of extreme satisfaction and paternal proudness, and also a little empty sadness. For finishing it meant moving out and moving on. The flat is now on the rental market - a market very buoyant in Aberdeen - and I expect "others" to be living there by next week, paying me an extortionate £650 a month.
But one word = just one word, but a picture equals a thousand. So here is the photographic evidence of the final changed state of my flat.
We enter the living room first. Clean, relaxed, and with an apricot finish, this light and airy room overlooks Aberdeen's popular King Street. We observe the lack of decaying pies or fungal growths, and instead observe the tied-back curtains maximising the light, and the quaint coffee table packed with oaky character (bought for £5 from the Thrift Store, which is where everything else you can see was bought - £50 for the 3-piece suite, and a fiver for the little tables).
Another view of the living room, these comfortable armchairs face the window and the TV, despite there being no TV connection points as yet (although my agent is on the case). Time should be taken to study the carpet, which is fresh and new, and (kind of) professionally cut. It also lacks any trace if glass, after a light-bulb spontaneously and dramatically exploded the day before.
Moving - gliding even - into the first bedroom, this photo cannot do justice to the space afforded by this pleasant room of soft edges and muted colours. Overlooking a quiet street and defiantly overgrown garden, this is another light and tasteful room. The most expensive thing you can almost see here is the mattress, at a whopping £70, then the bedsite table at £40, with the duvet and lamp lagging behind at a mere £20. The lamp is expecially pleasing, as it is touch sensitive and has four different brightness levels - simple, but oozing luxury. The chair was a mere £2.50 from the ever-enchanting Thrift Store, the bin a budget £3 from John Lewis, and the bed free, from my brother.
It should be noted that this bedroom is the only room in the house to have been professionally painted and decorated. This is because its original state resembled a scab, and holes had been cut out of the wall, and moudly blinds hung dankly. Also, way back then I was far less confident of my own home improvement abilities; these days I would tackle this kind of problem head-on. Nonetheless, having a room done by a professional does make a difference, and still I wonder how he managed to hang the wallpaper so perfectly than I cannot see the joins. I can barely hang a roll of wallpaper without getting about five giant bubbles forming.
We venture into the second bedroom now, yet another room with a refreshing, airy, invigorating, energising and spiritually uplifting pine feel. "The essence of pine." It is from this window just recently that I observed a nude girl! Yes, really, a real, live naked girl, in a flat opposite. I could hardly miss it - she was standing at her window, doing her hair in the mirror, for ages. This beats the girl-in-a-bra I once saw from my King Street flat. Anyway, I'm not sure if I'll be making this a selling point of the room.
Another study of simplistic elegance, again the touch-sensitive John Lewis lamp, with a soft chocolate lampshade, bringing a rustic but modern style. On the right, you can see a line running up the wall. This is because this room used to have a gargantuan built-in wardrobe, that took up half the room and looked like some clunky beast from some alien industrial planet. So I took a big axe and hacked it to piece - a task I'm sure everyone can appreciate was immensely satisfying. This released black clouds of dirt, just like the attic soot that ruined all my carpets. With the wardrobe gone though, this bedroom has become so much more spacious and versatile, with just a few scars remaining from the built-in wardrobe days (the wall line, a stump of wood on the floor, and an indentation on the ceiling).
Perhaps, of all the rooms, I am most proud of the kitchen. This used to have units down both sides, and little space for manouevre, and certainly no space for dining. But by simply ripping out a few units and moving the oven back, room for table and chairs suddenly became available, thus giving extra function and desirability to this cosy kitchen, plus probably adding about £10,000 to the value of my property. The garish yellow has been repainted a mellow blue, and extra shelves installed for storage. The table and chairs came from that haven for the working class, Argos, which just goes to show that good purchases can still be made from such a place (unlike the crappy wardrobe and chest-of-drawers in my King Street flat, which are already falling apart after a year).
A bit of a pish photo, just of the other view of the kitchen. I should really have opened the cupboard for this, so you could see the fancy-dan combi boiler, and also the shelves I specially made, with cuts to accommodate taller items such as the hoover and the brush.
A simple picture of the hall. On the ceiling I have the attic hatch, with a ladder which folds down, and the attic - which I have part floored and wired for electricity - allow for that much-needed storage space this flat otherwise lacks. It is, however, unspeakably filthy up there.
Finally, the bathroom, with a clean white and fresh pine finish. This is another room utterly transformed from its original state, which didn't even have a shower, and was like being trapped in the cell of a mental patient.
A view of the bath and the sink, and also the bright pink bin. My other flat also has a bright pink bin, for historical reasons, so when I saw this bin in Tesco I couldn't resist. The shower installed is particularly good, with a range of different powers and temperatures than never hesitate or run out.
And for those of you with powerful memories, you will know that last time I specially withheld from putting up a photo of my toilet, for fear of provoking widespread panic and a public ruckus. But times have changed, and here we are - so clean and sparkling white you could eat your dinner off it. I actually broke a toilet brush in half getting it this way, seriously. I am so pleased with the transformation that I may instruct my future tenants never to use it.
There we are then. That was the middle of last week, and now I find myself in my King Street flat, which my previous tenants left in quite a state. It needs new carpets, new paint, and a whole new bathroom (which wasn't their fault). However, I am taking this opportunity to upgrade a number of features, and give this potentially lovely flat an air of sophistication and luxury previously lacking. Of course, the practical upshot of this is that I'm now living like a vagrant again, surrounded by debris and filth. For three nights I slept with only a curtain as cover, on the sofa, but have now progressed to a bed and duvet combo. This flat won't be so long term a project and will be done in a couple of weeks, though I expect to be sent away somewhere before that. Until then, I'll plough on, and see how many remains of pies I can gather in the name of home improvement.