The saying goes that “things will get worse before they get better” and whoever coined that one wasn’t wrong. Monsieur and I completed on our Georgian house back at the end of May. We had viewed it numerous times and naturally expected to do some renovation works. For a start, there were carpets to rip out and a new kitchen to install. What we hadn’t anticipated was what is happening now: a complete gutting job and restoration of the entire house. It was only once the previous owners had moved out that we discovered the extent of the true horrors lurking below the shiny veneer.
Badly warped lining paper and 80s wallpaper that had been painted over in a haphazard way. A leaking bathroom that has caused so much damage to the room below that if we don’t take the ceiling down, it will come down on its own at some point not too far in the future. Damp walls made worse by a layer of cement-style (sorry, I’m not quite an expert - yet) plastering which has locked the moisture in. A stair banister that is so low and wobbly that just half a bottle of Merlot might potentially prove fatal. A “fake” stud wall in the kitchen that absolutely nobody saw coming until the kitchen had been ripped out and that meant the design of the new kitchen had to be altered at the last minute. The list seems endless and we not only have our work cut out, but also need to find the money for way more work than expected.
And yet, amidst all of the chaos, dirt, dust, headache, worries and what at times feels like an overwhelming feeling of sheer despair (mainly because getting all the builders in on schedule is like herding cats!), there’s something of a poetic beauty in the building as it is right now. Peeling back and stripping out all the 80s chintz and shiny brass, the thick carpets, the pink (not in a good way!) tiles and cheap laminate has revealed the bones of the building and some original flooring. At first glance it does all look like a complete mess (actually, it really is!), but looking closer I found a wealth of beautiful textures and details. It feels like the old building (the house is over 200 years old) is breathing a sigh of relief at being rescued from layers and layers of unsuitable decor. I imagine in my head that it feels the same way I did when (back in the day) I had to dress up in a way that felt so uncomfortable, restrictive and “not me” for my office job(s) and the relief I felt when I got home and could discard that “costume”.
As you will have noticed by now, this post isn’t a typical “renovations diary” or anything as exciting as a big before/after reveal as I’ll reserve that one for when I actually have an “after” to show! No, this is a quiet observation. This is about looking beyond the obvious and finding the beauty in what at first glance looks like a crumbling mess. It’s quite a personal post for several reasons: I actually really love all those textures and will probably print some of the images out to then hang them in the house once it’s all done (I’ll call it abstract art, darling). These images will one day be a lovely reminder of how far we have come with the renovations. I wanted to capture something different with my camera, something that “just is” and hasn’t been deliberately created. I guess I’m somewhat tired of seeing perfectly setup images all around me on social media. It’s as if everybody is trying to create and build the perfect image, the fantasy, the thing thats sells, and forgetting to actually look around and explore what is already there. But that’s a whole different subject for another post…