So we survived Christmas and settled into our new home.  We spent time wandering around the area – wonderful village a mile down the road that can be reached across fields and pubs a plenty that could be strolled to.  Farm shops abound and we found the local inhabitants to be friendly and welcoming.

Friends, old and new came to view our latest folly, as I named the house.  Neighbours expressed amazement at what we had achieved in the 9 days of mad renovation.  Friends marvelled at the trendy, soft grey hues of the kitchen with its oak topped island and  new ‘oak’ floor.  The new carpet throughout the house, the wooden floors that had been sanded and oiled and the freshly painted walls.

That is because they saw what we had wanted them to see – an illusion of a finished house.  It’s odd how people see what they expect to see.  The kitchen had been painted and did have a new island which was topped with 40mm oak.  But the main units were the original 1960 ones simply painted.  The paint had not taken very well due to the age of the cupboards and some of the doors were only held together with panel pins.  Indeed the painter refused to charge for some of the work as he wasn’t satisfied with the finish.  Most of the worktops were a thin laminate and didn’t match the island – but no one noticed – they saw the island and that was that.  The fact that the skirting boards had not been painted, that above the kitchen door was bare plaster board and in fact there wasn’t a kitchen door just a scuffed, unpainted door frame was missed by most people.  In fact a friend’s husband had decided to paint their kitchen because he thought ours was so wonderful and people were amazed when I said that we would be starting the renovations as soon as we could.

What did I learn from all this –

1 I have very polite friends

2 People see what they expect to see

3 You don’t have to have wildly expensive fixtures and fittings to create an impression – 40mm oak on the island conveyed the impression of luxury and solidity

4 By spending 9 mad days getting the work completed in the house has bought us time to think about our renovations whilst not crying every time we walk into the house.

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