We have lived here for 19 years – just me, my husband and our dog.

It is  a semi-detached 3 bedroomed house with living room and  kitchen/diner.

Not long after we moved in we built the conservatory where I sit and look out at the garden – that’s the only room that we are ever really in. 

 Two years ago we took the glass roof off and put a proper roof on, because  it was too cold in the winter and  far too hot in the summer. 

Now it’s lovely. 

Conservatory with two sofas and cushions
Conservatory

With the house we are at the point now where we know what we want. 

We had two other houses  before, but we only stayed a couple of years in each because they just didn’t  work for us, they didn’t suit.

When I first saw this house I liked the layout, and it was the size I wanted. The en-suite… the garden… everything  just worked in our favour  – and  it was flat. 

My first house was very hilly you  had to climb just to get into the house. As you get older you need things to be right for you.

Here, there are only four houses  in the cul-de-sac and it’s a nice little community… friendly. I couldn’t really ask for  anything else. It just suits. 

Because my husband and I are a mixed marriage (religion) we had to find something that was comfortable for the two of us in the right area.  You have to find that balance.   

This works for us, and I really like it.

Patio with soft seating and bicycle
Patio

I absolutely love the garden. 

It’s very private, we are really only overlooked by one neighbour, and I cannot wait to get out into it again. 

I have my lovely garden furniture… my pots… small bedding plants.. I just want to chill. It’s important to me that I just chill when I get the opportunity.

My husband and his friend are currently building a  gazebo with a roof  so  we can use the garden more – even when the weather is not perfect. I love having my family over for wee get-togethers, rather than always being stuck in the house.

I am very sentimental…  

My hydrangea plants are  my granda’s  hydrangea from 56 years ago.

He started out with one hydrangea plant and everyone in the family got slips from that one plant. I have three at the back, and one at the front that are his.

I have lived in other houses and  I’ve  always have a hydrangea from his plant. 

Wherever  I go they will always be.

Display cabinet with family mementoes
Family memories

Everything in this house means something to me. 

A lot belonged to my mummy and my daddy –  such as a wedding present of theirs from 70 years ago. I keep that on display.  The only three pictures I have on the walls are photographs   I took of places  I’ve been to. 

When you walk around you see photos everywhere: of my nieces growing up.. of my mummy and daddy when they were young… of my grannies and grandas.  You see all of that. 

There is a sense of family to it. 

I am really settled and happy here.

There is a real contentment in it –  and I know my husband feels the same way. It’s not just a house, it really is a home.

Old Singer sewing machine
My mother’s sewing machine

For me when I walk in that’s what I see.

In my living room I have my mummy’s sewing machine sitting on  a lovely sewing machine table.

She used do stitching – that was her job. She always sewed and made all our clothes  when we were growing up. These things are very special to me.

That’s the sort of thing  I like in the house.

I don’t like a modern house, I like a house to have a bit of character. 

I love vintage cups and saucers –  but not to use. In most rooms of the house I think I have a cup and saucer. I search for them online to get what I want. That’s the sort of thing I have in my home.

If I bought something new my husband wouldn’t actually notice – unless I told him. Everything is all down to me.

Vintage cup and saucer displayed on book
Vintage cup and saucer

I do all my own decorating. 

All of it: everything. I take a room and start on it, and get it to the way I want it.

I change and decorate my home all the time and I’m always touching up the paintwork just to make sure everything is in order.  

Because I’m just fascinated by homes I sit and watch all the TV programmes….  I love interior design, and I just love doing it all.  

I suppose I always strive for… not perfection, because that’s not possible in life. But.. my eye tells me: that piece of  furniture… it’s time to go.  I know when something needs to be changed just by  looking at it. And I re-place it.

That’s just the way I am.

Living room with fireplace and black sofas
Living room

But I would never discard anything. I sell it or give it to someone.  There is always someone who will enjoy it.

In the house I regularly change all the  colours and accessories- like cushions and throws, but the sofa  is a really good (quality)  so it’s  never been changed. 

Every room in the house is a different shade of green – bar one room, which is blue.

I am very much into greens.

The greens I pick are quite traditional. They are not  bright or in your face because I like a traditional  feel in the house.  It’s just… very calming.

white distressed chair against green wall

Lockdown came right bang when I was due to take early retirement. 

I had been working for 36 years in the same place and all the plans for my retirement party had to be cancelled, so I feel did not get  to say goodbye properly. It was heart-breaking for me.

In September they sent me my cake and all my presents and cards. But it wasn’t the same. 

I worked in a day centre for people with learning disabilities and I had service users who were like my children, the children I never had. It broke my heart not  being able to see them or say goodbye.  … I haven’t managed to go back to see them yet. 

Lockdown affects people in different ways and that is just the way it affected me. 

It was a difficult  time because my mummy has Alzheimers  and she did not understand that she could not just go out any more. Even though we were in lockdown I still had to go and get her things and  to see that she was taking tablets; she was practically on her own. 

We were trying to keep her safe and so everybody had to be careful.

She had her 90th birthday in lockdown  – it was just when things were starting to ease a bit. We had planned for a big party but that couldn’t happen, but we did have a wee thing with myself and my sister and niece.

Other people  came, but they just stood at the door and gave her flowers. 

patio gazebo in process of building
Gazebo – in progress

That first lockdown the weather was gorgeous. 

Lockdown didn’t  bother me that much because I like my own company. I was officially retired by then so I wasn’t under pressure to go back to work.

I was taking the dog for a walk… out painting my fencing and it was lovely… really lovely. Obviously, not in the sense that people died. But  it was nice to be at home – because you couldn’t do anything else; there was nothing open  and you couldn’t even go for a drive.  You weren’t allowed. 

I think everyone was feeling the same way – let’s get out into the garden and do things. And that’s what I did. And it was lovely.

My husband still had to work because of his job, which made me  quite anxious because you didn’t know what he was picking up when he was out. 

I wiped down everything and I was still washing all the food long after other people stopped.  It became a way of life… wiping handles.. wiping food, packages…bags.. light switches.. anything. If someone comes to visit me I still do that when they leave.

bathroom with black wall tiles and green accessories
Bathroom

I think it made you realise  just how many germs are out there – well it did for me.

I’m really obsessed now with handles. 

In the past I never thought too much about it, but now I put it  into my cleaning routine –  because I love cleaning.  I clean handles and light switches more so now than I would have in the past.

When you are caring with someone who has Alzheimers it’s  a busy time.  

My mummy took a stroke in lockdown so she’s not been great from that. I either take her out and go  for a wee cup of tea and do some shopping,  or I do some  cleaning in her house. Then I make a lunch. 

4 poster bed with cushions
Main bedroom

When I come home… it’s like breathing again. 

This is my sanctuary. 

I will carry on doing  what I have to do in my own house, whether it be cleaning.. making a dinner and always trying to catch up on a drama that I’ve been  watching.

Take the dog for a walk. And that would be me. 

Since lockdown my husband and I no longer go out for meals. 

We used to, but  we don’t now because we can’t leave the dog.

She is so used to me being in the house all day she can’t cope if  we leave her alone at night. I can leave her during the day,  but if  it is dark she gets really anxious.  So, she comes everywhere. If  I’m going to see my mummy she comes too. We won’t go anywhere without her. 

In lockdown we bought a van and converted it into a camper-van type thing for  the three of us – me, him and the doggie- so we could go out the day.

That way, we could bring your own food and go for a walk.

We have our own toilet facility in the van so we weren’t in contact with other people.  It is something we use in the summer so we can bring the dog with us.   

I thought: I’ve done everything that I want to do to the house so what will I do now? We will do a camper van! 

interior of camper van - with white dog
Campervan

We both like to keep busy. My husband loves being outside in his shed. I love being inside painting,  decorating, changing wee things. But you can only do so much of that.

My husband’s into vans and  knew  what he was looking for. 

Inside, we built the kitchen…  a sofa that becomes a double bed …everything you need. It’s a way of getting around so you don’t have to rely on other people’s facilities. It’s just another thing on our list that we wanted to do.

You can only do so much to your house!

bedroom with white cabinets and red curtains
Bedroom

I really like cleaning.

Even though not every room in the house is in use they are all cleaned every week.  I start at the top and work  my way down. 

I enjoy it, and get great  satisfaction from cleaning. 

You can see the result.

I just love when you have it all done and can say: its lovely and  clean now. There’s a satisfaction from cleaning, and getting everything nice. 

I have a busy life looking after my mummy and  I’m getting older myself. Because there is only me and my sister we have to do alternate days with her. It can be hard work, mentally more than physically. 

I suppose cleaning for me .. you don’t have to think. You just do it… and your mind… it can be relaxing.

For me it  can. It really helps my  mental health.

Everybody has  something that helps them – and that’s my thing.

At home, we  don’t  use that much electricity.

The only thing I use is a drier because I can’t get the clothes out in winter. We turn radiators off in rooms we are not using and just have them going in the rooms we use – the bedroom, en-suite, conservatory and kitchen, so we are saving a bit.

Diesel, that’s the one big thing for us!  

Because I live half and hour away from my mummy it’s an hour round-trip so we try  to buy the cheapest diesel. I need to go visit my mummy,  so I have no choice. I have to pay it… I can’t do anything about it.

hallway in shades of grey and black chair
Hall

As soon as I walk through this door I feel….this is mine.  

Maybe it’s from growing up … I never had anything of my own.

My parents couldn’t afford anything and I was given everything  (second-hand) from other people. 

It’s a nice  feeling… and I feel very blessed that I have been given so much. 

I don’t  want to sound like it’s all about material things,  that’s  not important. It’s just: when I walk through that door there’s a calmness here… and I feel good

My home gives  me what I am looking for… and helps me.   I am really settled and happy here. There is a real contentment in it –  and I know my husband feels the same way. 

We just love coming home. When we go on holiday – even if  it’s just a couple of days –  as soon as we come home we say: isn’t it just lovely. 

There’s just that… feeling of calm about it. It’s a really  nice feeling, and we just love it.

Maybe the word I should say is:  it makes me feel safe.  

When I am in here I feel safe.

We are not rich or anything- not by a long stretch- but we feel grateful and blessed  we have what we have, and I never take it for granted at all. 

This is my home….and I have done  so much to it by myself. I do all my own painting I never  get anyone in to do it. While I am still able to do it, I will do it, because I wouldn’t waste money. 

I suppose that is what makes it special to me.

yellow flowers against black fence - with white dog
Garden

All Photos By Respondent

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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