How bespoke wardrobes brought me peace in London
When a work opportunity brought us to London more than a decade ago, I never expected to be living here still. I liked London to visit, but it took me a while to like living here when we arrived. It’s massive, crowded with tourists and above all, living here is expensive. So when we started our journey here, we found a shared apartment in South London that was within our budget. The place was ideally located, near a metro station, on a line that dropped us off at work. But it took more than that to start liking life here. Two years in and we moved to a tiny flat. It took me significantly longer to get to work, but the neighbourhood was wonderful. Lots of small local shops, bars and restaurants, a short walk away from Borough Market, and friendly neighbours made us feel right at home. The flat was tiny but full of fitted wardrobes and bespoke storage, making it look and feel way bigger than it actually was. We could put all our stuff in the functional storage, and we still had room left to collect more useless items. Slowly I started enjoying our prolonged stay in London, and now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. But things were about to change.
Our landlord brought us a life-changing message. He was going to sell the flat and wanted to offer us a deal to buy it. We need time to think. The flat was our home, but it was still tiny, and if we were going to stay and buy a place here in London, we were not going to stay in this flat. We kindly refused the offer and started thinking about what to do next. Were we to rent another flat. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do, but then we started checking what was on the market, and my heart sunk. Prices had gone up a lot since our last search, and suddenly, we realized that maybe, this was not an option. We had some savings, but it didn’t seem like a good idea to spend them on a place that wasn’t ours. So off to plan B, the property market. Again, the real estate market in London is among the most expensive in the world. How would we ever be able to buy a home?
Nadeem to the rescue
Our friendly next-door neighbour Nadeem offered us some advice. He had already bought a few properties in London that he fixed up and rented out. According to him, it would take some luck and courage to get our hands on something we liked. Nadeem told us about a few properties in the area going up for auction the following month. We really wanted to stay in this neighbourhood, and amazingly enough, four properties were near; two, we could see, had potential. One in fact, really caught our eye, but it was in desperate need of massive renovation and lots of TLC. Nadeem was hopeful. Many people are looking for a quick fix that can go back into the housing market, and this was not a quick fix. It was going to take a while to turn it into a home.
The following week, we put on our big-boy and big-girl pants and drove into battle. I dreaded losing the property to some property mogul with bottomless pockets, but to my surprise, no one else was interested in the terraced property with great potential. Was there something really wrong that we had overlooked? Did we make a bad decision? Nadeem did not understand how no one else bid on the property. So, within five minutes, we had won the lot; the property was ours! We were the proud but worried owners of our very own home.
Home sweet home?
We rushed to our new home with the keys in our sweaty palms. On the way there, I kept on convincing myself everything would be fine. My husband was good with his hands, and one of our best friends is a builder with lots of experience salvaging worn down properties. A quick tour of the house, and all we could conclude was that we got a fantastic bargain that would need lots of work and TLC. But nothing we couldn’t handle. We even have the smallest possible garden with room for one tree. Now, back to business, we had a deadline that would arrive sooner than later.
We took on a builder for the major structural work and the needed fixes to the roof. A certified electrician redid the complete installation. Painting and decoration was our job. The deadline we didn’t make, although it was close. We had our furniture in storage while we camped in the new house.
The fun part
I have to admit that we went to Ikea for lots of things; assembling their furniture is my guilty pleasure. But we really wanted to get practical and good-looking storage solutions. Our previous flat had some genius storage solutions, and I got in touch with our old landlord, a wonderful man really. He recommended a company called Wardrobe Solutions. So we went to their warehouse to have a look around and get an appointment for a consultation. The following week they came to the house and took the measurements they needed. We had a few problematic spots, for example, under the stairs and the roof space where we wanted a made to measure wardrobe. Shortly after their visit, they presented us with a 3D design, and we made some choices on the look and feel of all the storage units.
As soon as everything was ready, they came to install our bespoke furniture. We now have a super practical under the stair storage unit that perfectly fits in our narrow hallway. Coats and shoes go in and are hidden behind the sliding doors. The living room counts with bookshelves and integrated office space. Upstairs the guest bedroom has a fitted wardrobe and customized storage in the laterals of the room and in the alcoves under the roof. Our master bedroom is another floor up, and we have a walk-in closet with conveniently fitted wardrobes with sliding doors.
When we started our journey in London, I found it hard to get used to the hustle and bustle of the city, but now everything is different. We enjoy our jobs, live in the nicest neighbourhood, and have a pretty and practical place we can call home. What more could we wish for?