• Louisa at Starre Corner

Bagging ourselves a home

My husband is pretty non opinionated with the day to day mundane. Question: ‘What would you like to do today?’ Answer: ‘Whatever’. Question: ‘What would you like for dinner?’ Answer: ‘I don’t know’. I know that I am not alone in saying that this can be quite frustrating. Quite possibly more frustrating however is when it comes to more important decisions he becomes quite forceful, stubborn, opinionated and alpha male. When I asked him for his hand in marriage he said yes, as long as I agreed to a whole list of conditions regarding our wedding day. It was a LONG list! Neither can we ever agree on interiors; he has strong definite opinions about this too. As for house hunting - that’s worthy of a full blog post.....

On our quest to find our dream forever home we viewed a lot of disappointments. There were a handful of houses which I liked but when I asked for hubster’s thoughts he’d reply with a strong cold ‘NO’. When I asked if we could discuss it he‘d once again reply ‘NO’. Not a great time for a laid back man with very few opinions to suddenly become over opinionated. I actually began to dread going along to viewing. It was only my loathing of our current home which made me persevere.

We met the estate agent at Starre Corner. They'd arrived early to open doors and windows, quite possibly in an attempt to disperse the smell of damp as the house had stood empty for several months. The first thing I noticed was fungi growing on the kitchen walls. Walking from room to room I could feel my excitement rising. It was exactly the type of project I’d been looking for. The estate agent was very keen to tell is that an offer had already been made way above the asking price and was very vague about why it had fallen through.

John Bailey is the son of the owner who moved out of Starre Corner when she was 98 . She'd lived there for 74 happy years

Sitting back in the car my heart sank. I knew we couldn’t afford to buy it and do the renovation work that it so desperately needed and the upstairs layout was totally wrong for us with one bedroom leading into another. I didn’t even want to discuss it with hubster. I felt sure I knew what he’d say. ’Well?' he said. ‘What‘s the point of discussing it?’ I replied, ‘I know what you’ll say so let’s just go home. My heart had hit the floor. ‘I love it‘ he said.

But we can’t afford it!

I sat in the passenger seat as hubster drove home, chatting away about all the possibilities Starre Corner had to offer. I was drowning in a cocktail of excitement and disappointment. There was no way I could pull the cat out of the bag here. Stopping off at a Starbucks on the way home I scribbled down all the obvious essential renovation costs on the back of a paper napkin. The figures were scary.

Once back home I sat down to compose an email detailing who we were, why we loved Starre Corner, what we wanted to do to the property and stressed the desire for this to be our forever family home. This house would be a labour of love. The tricky bit was making a credible financial offer. To us it was quite simple; what was our budget and how much immediate renovation work needed to be done to make this property habitable and safe? With some jiggery pokery and number crunching I came up with the figure. It was 10pm on a Friday night and with a sinking sick feeling in my stomach I pressed send. An offer had been sent with a clear message that regrettably this was a non negotiable offer. We'd laid everything on the table. All I could do was wait for Monday morning to come around. Little did we know that being a small independent estate agents our message was picked up early on Saturday morning and immediately forwarded to the seller.

Mr Opinionated on the weekend we moved in

After talking about Starre Corner all weekend I think I’d resigned myself to the fact that there was no way our offer would be accepted so when the phone rang at 9.30am on Monday morning it was quite a shock. Our offer had been accepted because we were exactly the kind of family the sellers wanted to see taking on Starre Corner. We were amazed, stunned and possibly slightly alarmed - what had we done?

Excitement soon kicked in and a surveyor was engaged to asses Starre Corner. When they called with their findings I was horrified. I remember hubster asking if there was anything good to report? There wasn’t. No sane person would progress with such a property.

I called the estate agent and told them that although we weren’t pulling out of the sale we needed to put the foot on the brakes and take a breather. We were terrified.

The next day the estate agent called with some more surprising news. As much as we wanted Starre Corner the sellers wanted us to have Starre Corner too. I mean REALLY wanted us to. By this time they‘d read my blog, found out as much as they could about us on the internet and they wanted us as a family to take on the house which had been their happy place for the past 74 years. They asked if we would consider progressing with the sale if they accepted a little less. The extra incentive still wouldn’t pay for all the work, or even a fraction of it but I was too much in love to say no.

So that’s the story. That’s how I bought Starre Corner; with love, opinions and a fair bit of insanity.

The above photos were taken on the day we moved in - ripping off wallpaper to find hidden cupboards and Mark knocking down an internal porch. The fireplace fell off the wall when we touched it.