Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Edward's room: near death by flat pack

As I have mentioned in previous posts, there are plenty of checks to be completed during the process of approval - not just checking us, but also our house. We have had to do quite a lot of things to our house to make it ready for a foster child, including decorating and furnishing their bedroom.

When we moved into our house about 18 months ago, the upstairs had not been touched for over 20 years - and it showed! Edward's room was the worst of the lot. 'Who is Edward?' I hear you cry - well Edward is the 60 something year old son of the old man we bought the house from (who recently died at the ripe old age of 103!) His room was the one we are now using for our foster child/ren, and we know this because his name is still on the door! It feels nicer referring to it as Edward's room, rather than the spare room or foster room, don't you think?

So anyway, back to how Edward's room was when we first got here - one friend referred to it as 'The Sauna' due to the wood effect wallpaper, but I've never seen mustard coloured shag pile carpet in a sauna before! Have you got a mental image of it yet? Well whatever you are imagining, it was so much worse!!

After stripping the wall paper we found some pretty rough walls, but since moving here my husband has become pretty handy with the old Polyfilla so he managed to get everything smooth enough to paint, even the ceiling! We decided to keep things pretty neutral and the walls have been painted a yummy vanilla colour (my husband's favourite!) and it works perfectly for either a girl or boy.

We weren't planning to get new carpet but instead sand the floor boards and put rugs down - but that wasn't possible. The amazing shag pile was laid on newspaper, dated 1956, and under the newspaper was some rather ugly, battered floor boards (functional but not pretty!). There was no way they could be used. So off I went to Carpetright, with a rather tight budget but an attitude to haggle, and haggle I did! By being dead set on what I wanted (style and colour wise) and what budget I had, I got it all, yippee! Putting up a colour- matched blind added the finishing touch to the room - it was transformed!

The next thing was furniture. We had discussed with our social worker the possibility of having two same sex siblings who could share the room on bunk beds. My new mission was to find reasonably priced bunk beds that could split into two single beds if necessary. I started obsessively watching eBay items, scouring Gumtree and stalking Freecycle. The problem was, it seemed, so were loads of other people. Secondhand  bunk beds are like truffles, saffron, frankincense or  diamonds - very rare and really not very cheap either! In fact one relaxing Sunday evening was completely ruined by a very frustrating eBay gazumping. I was tracking my 'winning' item and was so happy to have found one that was local too. Then suddenly with only 7 seconds to spare a new bidder got in and got it for £1 higher than my maximum. AHHHHHHHHH, I was so cross - cross enough to want to write a letter of complaint immediately (I am so British!)

Even though we had been looking at second hand beds and furniture (we just don't have a lot of money to spend) we also knew that we wanted the room to look nice, so that any child coming to live with us would feel valued because they had a decent bedroom.  Unfortunately the pre-loved route wasn't looking very productive so we decided to go for the next best thing to decent secondhand and take a trip to Ikea! Off we went, the four of us, to the big blue and yellow furniture haven with our shopping list of bedroom furniture and hungry bellies ready for meatballs (so disappointed that they are on the 'horse' list)

I don't mind flat pack, in fact I quite relish it! I have always seen it as a bit of a logic problem, a challenge with the fab outcome of new furniture - it always seems a bit of a win-win situation to me, new furniture and entertainment! My husband, on the other hand, hates it. He sees it as a necessary evil and gets frustrated by just looking at the boxes waiting to be unpacked! If I could get the job done single handed I would, and relieve my hubbie of the stress he gets from it all, but wardrobes and bunk beds cannot be done single handed so a joint effort was required. We would have to wait till the boys were in bed and then get started on each project - first the chest of drawers, simple; then the book shelf, easy; next the wardrobe, tricky hingey things and lastly the bunk beds, my nemesis!

The bunk beds took close to 5 hours to get up 5 long, frustrating, exasperating hours, and once they were up I just wanted to cry. It looked like flat pack had finally broken me. No longer did I have the joy of a fabulous piece of furniture to make the whole process worth while. The bunk beds looked HUGE in Edward's 'little' room and the place just looked crowded and confused! My little day dream of creating a lovely, comfortable space for a damaged little soul was completely shattered. I now felt flattened!! Over the next couple of days I couldn't even open the door of Edward's room, I had to just avoid it. But I started thinking of alternatives, trying to logically find a solution and I created another game for myself! I could smile again.  When I finally got the opportunity to start putting my ideas into practice things weren't so straight forward. Moving the furniture round the room was like doing a very large sliding puzzle (do you know what I mean, one of those little puzzle things children get in party bags?) Everything had to be moved this way, then that way till I finally got it all in place. Sitting down on the floor, by the door, feeling a little bit worn out by it all, I observed my work and do you know  I liked it! It had been achieved, the lovely room for whoever may need it had been created. Flat pack, you did not beat me!

So now Edward's room is ready to be someone else's room, but who's, we do not know. We have now just got to play the waiting game.

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