Since I moved into this flat four years ago, I have told people that the plan is to buy it, then sell it in a few years’ time and move to a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, probably in the Scottish highlands. I mainly told people this because it shut them up about my life plans, and because it’s the kind of Sensible Plan most people seem to approve of, but in reality I’m not convinced I ever actually wanted to do that.
I called my landlord a couple of weeks ago to find out whether I could buy the flat, and they said I am eligible to buy a flat from them, but not this flat, because it’s not for sale. Which is a pretty good reason.
I expected to feel disappointed but I actually felt relieved. I don’t think I really wanted to buy it anyway, I was mainly just saying that to stop people asking me more questions. I have a lifetime assured tenancy, so I can stay here as long as I want, and the rent is obscenely low for London, which is quite a plus.
Over cocktails with a couple of friends the other evening, I told them I couldn’t buy it. One of them said: “That means you can do all the crazy things you originally wanted to do to it!” and I realised she was correct. When I first started redecorating, I’d been planning all sorts of exciting bits and pieces: a custom-made carved floor; a dark greeny-blue, underwatery theme; possibly knocking down the wall between the kitchen and the hallway to make it a big open-plan kitchen that you’d walk into as soon as you opened the front door.
When I thought I was going to buy it, however, I scaled things back a bit because I wanted to make it seem tempting to a potential buyer. And not just a potential buyer, but most potential buyers. The truth is it’s in such a desirable location anyway that I doubt people would be put off by the decor, but you never know. So I scaled back my plans and decided to go for a nice soft orangey-saffrony colour in the living room and no weird floor carvings.
But if I’m not selling it, I don’t have to worry about that. And oddly enough, since I’ve stopped thinking of it as a commodity – something to buy and then sell – I’ve come to love it again like I did when I first moved in, and that’s made me want to stay longer. Perhaps a very long time, like until I retire.
So now I’m back to square one in the decorating plans, but that’s quite a nice place to be. I went through all my Pinterest boards and repinned things that looked tempting and like I might want to do something with them, and ultimately it seems like I want my living room to look like a kelp forest.