Tom Gutteridge: Move back to London proves a challenge

Tom Gutteridge talks de-cluttering and decorating as he and his family move back to the capital

Some say that moving home is one of the most stressful life events
Some say that moving home is one of the most stressful life events

We’ll never do it in time, said Jo.

‘Nonsense – it’ll be easy,’ I said. ‘We have four whole weeks, we’ll just do one room at a time.’ As if I knew what I was talking about.

That was two weeks ago. We have two weeks left.

If moving home is a nightmare, relocating from a rambling 17th century farmhouse back to our London place is a scene from a horror film.

Our house is already a maze of black plastic sacks. There’s no sign of order or plan, but we’re on our third packet of plastic sacks. There are 30 sacks in each packet – that’s 90 sacks so far. I’m very friendly with the man at the tip.

Where did all this junk come from? We are living proof of the formula that clutter expands to fill the space available.

Seven years ago everything seemed to fit quite nicely in our little three-bedroomed London house. Then we came up with the idea of moving back up north to my childhood home.

I don’t remember going on a buying spree. I don’t remember where we got all those hundreds of extra books from, or the thousand DVDs or the mounds of extra saucepans and plates and boxes of crockery. Or the pairs of wellingtons and piles of jumpers. And the toys.

Did we have so many parties? Did we start a catering business? Did we buy shares in John Lewis? I only ever wear the same gardening jumper and jeans most of the time. I found three pairs of leather gloves and six pairs of gardening gloves yesterday. How did we end up with all this stuff?

Of course we weren’t planning to move to London at all – we’re supposedly enroute to L.A. But then we received an offer on our house. They were such a nice family, and their children had already run around excitedly choosing their bedrooms, so we couldn’t really disappoint them.

Besides, our London house was still empty. Despite the agent’s assurances that it would be snapped up in weeks, it had stubbornly refused to sell itself since last March.

A report in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph said it’s in one of the most desirable areas in the country, where homes have gone up 129% in price in the last ten years. You could have fooled us.

‘It would sell better if it were redecorated,’ said the agent, after it been displayed in his shop window for three months.

So the decorators moved in and, after filling and sanding and doing all those things builders do to put up the bill, they painted it a nice shade of Swedish white, and we added new carpets to make it look really plush. By the time they’d finished, we could scarcely afford not to sell it.

‘Nice colour, but perhaps it would sell better if it had some furniture in it,’ said the agent after another three months of inactivity. By now the house had been removed from the shop window and was in the Also Available pile of brochures gathering dust on those stands at the back of the shop.

So we hired some snazzy Italian sofas and beds from a furniture rental place and added some silk flowers and old copies of London Style. But still no one wanted it.

‘It would definitely sell better if it had someone living in it,’ said the agent. So we’re taking him at his word.

‘We’ll have to redecorate of course,’ said Jo.

‘But we just painted it,’ I protested.

She glared at me. After ten years together, I can easily decipher Jo’s glares. This one said, ‘Swedish white is so last year.’

So out came the Fired Earth paint chart, and in came the same bemused decorators to start all over again. And a carpenter, to build new cupboards for all Izzy’s toys.

Because that’s going to be the big difference for our new life in the South. Back then there were two of us, now there are three. And three dogs as well. All with Geordie accents.

London won’t know what’s hit it.

www.blogfromthenorth.com

 

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