Sitting in a draft folder dated 15 Feb 2017, are these forgotten photos of my living room. I had never gotten around to writing a post for them. As I was thinking of everything that has been happening, I thought if these pictures for a new post. I was surprised to see that I had done a shoot for the living room photos one year to the date that I received my official moving papers. How was I to know to know then that these pictures would be used in a post to say goodbye to the only home I have known since I moved to Australia!?
I have been debating whether or not to share my story here; that maybe it is too personal for a business blog. As an interior decorator, however, my job involves helping people through transitional periods of their life; be it a move, up-sizing, downsizing, or just a refresh. So here is my messy, emotionally up-heaving story!
Back in November last year, I was informed in a letter that the apartment I have rented for several years may be going up for sale, that the owner was looking at pricing. The strange thing is, I felt something was up. My lease had been due for renewal in the middle of the year like it was every year. While the agent was often overdue in sending out a new lease, it was never overdue this long. I remember standing on the sidewalk, looking at the mailbox, taking a deep breath and asking myself if I was prepared for what was inside. Subsequently, I found out the elderly landlord had passed away in the middle of the year, which would explain why my lease was not renewed.
The estate decided they would sell. I was told that I could stay during the sale as there was a good chance an investor would buy the property and I could remain living in the apartment. I chose to do this as; a) who wants to look at property before Christmas and b) moving is expensive and unsettling. I was already unsettled, but that’s another story for another day.
In hindsight, I wished I had moved when I was informed of the sale. Having your apartment photographed and posted on the Internet feels like an invasion of privacy; as does strangers exploring your home during multiple open houses. (Nine was the final number of open houses I had to clean for, then disappear.) With all the agent inspections and open houses, the final tally was twelve visits from estate agents. In the end, it sold to an owner, and yesterday I was officially given 30 days to vacate.
It has been a frustrating period, of not knowing what is happening and not being able to make plans. People were happily making New Year's resolutions (not that I necessarily subscribe to resolutions, but it would be nice to have the option!) and there I was, sitting in limbo. I can't blame the landlord for passing away, but the upheaval to my life has been significant. (And of course I feel guilty about being annoyed about that, too.) Now it's on to packing and looking for property, all whilst attempting to keep my business afloat. I am trying to find the balance between being flat out and giving myself a break, but my poor brain is freaking out.
There is nothing like being a renter to make you feel like a second class citizen. For property sales photography, homes are carefully styled and shot with a wide angle lens to make everything look grand and sparkly. Rental properties are another story; blurry photos shot in low light on an assistant's iPhone where personal items from the previous tenant have not been hid out of sight for the photos. Grubby kitchens that were never in style, bathrooms with black mould clinging to the grout, worn flooring coverings throughout. How to educate landlords on the fact that if they keep their property looking good, they will have a lower tenant turnover. How hard is it to paint the walls white and install a kitchen that doesn't look like it was lifted out of a 1970s caravan? It is frustrating, not to mention depressing.
So my delayed New Year's resolutions starts now.. I resolve to find a property that will bring me a feeling of home and well-being. If I am honest, I never really settled into this being my home. I hardly bought any furniture pieces, as I was always on edge about what the future would be. (Ironically, it was only two days before I received notice of selling, that I bought some things and started planning for the future in this spot. Those items have since been boxed up and are waiting for their new home.) This high density living is a challenge, and I resolve to find a more peaceful spot away from the noise of constant sport, lawn machinery, busy traffic, lack of privacy, neighbours food smells swirling through at all hours ... the list goes on. Say... why am I sad about moving!? Well, there are a couple of reasons, but I will let this be all for now!
All images © Donna Vercoe