We moved into this house in March 2013, almost exactly six years ago to the day. However, on that very first day, the girls had already decided that, in five years time, they’d be switching bedrooms. To be honest, at the time, I never thought it’d happen. I certainly hoped it wouldn’t happen, because I’d be the one shifting all the furniture around… but happen, it did.
Not that I was too worried, really. I mean, aside from from a bit of furniture building, I figured that even if they were switching bedrooms, it wouldn’t really impact on me that much. After all, in this new house, I’d finally made my way back to a decent ‘study’. Or man cave… call it what you will; it was my space in the house. And, given that I work from home, I spend a lot of time in this area.
Our previous home had been a four bedroom house and we’d moved in when Julie was pregnant with Emma. I took the second bedroom as my study and was very happy with it. Bedroom four was Emma’s nursery and bedroom three was the spare room.
18 months after Emma was born, Ceri came along and the bedroom switching began. Ceri took the nursery and Emma took bedroom three.
Time passed and the girls got older. In a depressingly short amount of time, Emma got old enough to form an alliance with her mother. The target of the alliance, of course, was me. Or, more precisely, my study. Apparently it didn’t make sense that I have the second biggest room as ‘my room’, when Emma could use it as a bedroom. Actually, this made perfect sense to me, but I wasn’t really consulted, so I had to move to bedroom three, while bedroom two became Emma’s bedroom.
It came as no surprise, a couple of years later, when Ceri was inaugurated into the female alliance and I was shifted from bedroom three to the former nursery of bedroom four. While bedroom four was the perfect size for a nursery, it was only really a box room. And it was very difficult to fit all of my worldly possessions in such a small room. But I managed. It was very snug, but I made it work; little realising that this would soon be used against me.
You see, the girls each having a bedroom and me having a study meant that we no longer had a dedicated spare room. I didn’t see this as being a problem as we only had people stay over about five times a year and the girls could easily share a room during those times. Simple; everyone’s a winner.
Turns out that I was wrong about that as well.
Unbeknownst to me, it was far more important to have a room that got used five times a year, by people who weren’t me, compared with five hours a day by people who were me. Now, sure, there were other contributing factors, like it was a good place to set up the clothes horse in the winter. And it was a useful place for Julie to use as a dressing room, in the morning, so she didn’t wake me; she’s always got up much earlier than I have.
Besides, the room was far too small for me really…
The net result was that I was moved to the garage.
On the plus side, it was a double garage; even if it was the ‘tandem’ design. The tandem design is where one car parks behind the other, instead of side by side, which makes the garage long and thin. Not that we used it park cars in. It was more a dumping ground than anything.
Which meant that, on the negative side, the garage wasn’t habitable.
So, in order have my own space, I would need to convert the garage first. And, before I could even do that, I needed to find somewhere else to put all the crap that was currently cluttering up the garage.
I solved the clutter issue by putting up a shed in the back garden. It was only a prefab shed and I managed to assemble it with the help of my brother. And, to the surprise of everyone who knows us, it actually stayed up; as far as I know, it’s still there now.
Then it was just a case of emptying the garage and surveying my domain… I was faced with a spider infested ice-box that somehow operated as a wind tunnel. It also only had one way in: the up and over garage door.
It was what you might expect Hell to look like if it actually froze over. But it was my Hell and I was going to make it work.
The passageway between the house and the garage was already enclosed, with external doors to the front and back of the house. So, with lots of help from the father in law, we cut a doorway into the side of the garage wall and installed a door. The position of this side door meant that, if it was open, the garage door couldn’t be lifted up. Well, it could, but it would hit the side door and gouge out a piece of wood. Not that such an occurrence ever look place, of course. *whistles innocently*
Next, a stud partition went up from just beyond the furthest reach of the garage door in its ‘up’ position. This also had a door, meaning I now had a room, thus ending the wind tunnel effect. Next we gave it a ceiling, which, if nothing else, acted as a barrier to the spiders.
The garage already had electricity, so I had lights and power to run my PC. There was also a window, under which I set up my desk. I put loads of insulation above the ceiling but decided against insulating the walls. This was for two reasons:
- If I dry lined and insulated the walls, the room would get even narrower, and it was narrow enough as it was, and;
- I figured that, as most of the walls would be lined with bookshelves, thick with books, this would offer some insulation.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the books; they offer exactly zero insulation. Some winter nights, I’m sure I heard the ghostly voices of Oates and Scott, whispering in the background…
But what, I hear you cry, has all this study nonsense got to do with the girls switching bedrooms…?!
Well, I’m glad you asked.
After 11 years in the old house, the last four of them with me shivering in the garage, we moved here. And this is a five bedroom house. That’s enough for a room each for the girls and a spare bedroom and a study for me. What could possibly go wrong?
On the day we moved in, Ceri was 9 and Emma 11. They ran up the stairs to choose their bedrooms. Ceri got in front and called ‘dibs’ on every room as she passed. On the top floor, she ended up in the far bedroom. Emma, seeing this, ended up in the near bedroom, which was considerably bigger. Emma decided it was hers. Ceri said she’d called dibs on it first. Which of course she had; she’d called dibs on every room in the house, including our bedroom!
This, clearly, was a gross breach of dibs etiquette, but neither of them was old enough to realise that, at the time.
And so the arguing began.
Incredibly, they actually came up with a compromise, before it went nuclear.
The deal Ceri came up with was: Emma could have the top floor, near bedroom for the first five years, then they’d be switching bedrooms. Emma agreed, because; what nine year old would remember a deal like that, five years later?
And so the five years passed and Emma, just after the last of her GCSEs exams and at the age of 16, was going to be switching bedrooms to something much smaller. She was less than thrilled.
I, meanwhile, had spent five years contentedly occupying the other bedroom on the middle floor. This room, my study, was bedroom three: smaller than Emma’s bedroom but bigger than Ceri’s. You can probably see where this is going…
Inevitably, the plan of switching bedrooms moved away from a straight swap, to a game of musical chairs. Only with rooms instead of chairs. And also without any question about who was going to end up screwed when the music stopped. Me! It was going to be me.
So, I waved goodbye to my wonderful man cave and decanted into the spare room. Emma then ruined my room my painting it purple and beige. And when I say, ‘Emma’ painted it purple and beige, you know what I mean, right?!. Then we moved Emma’s possessions into her new room, and ‘Ceri’ painted her new room, blue and grey.
When Ceri’s new room was finished, we moved her in. I looked at what I was left with and started to redecorate.
I painted my new study magnolia – the colour of misery.
The colour of defeat!
I had to downsize considerably to fit into my tiny little bland-cave. There was no room for full size book cases, because most of the walls are pitched. This’ll be because they’re not really walls; they’re ‘roof’. As such, virtually all of my books had to go. A shame but then we do live in the age of the Kindle.
And the biggest irony of all?
We’ve now thinking about moving…
Less than a year after the switching bedrooms debacle, we’re leaving it all behind.
We don’t know where we’re going yet, we’ve only just started looking, but it’s bound to happen. Ceri’s about to finish secondary school, so we’ve no need to be within walking distance of the school any more. The girls will both be going to Richard Huish college, as of September, so there’s a good argument to move close to there. But the girls will only be going to the college for two more years and Julie will be working out of Wellington for at least a decade more than that. And houses are much cheaper in Wellington, so maybe we could move close to work.
Like I say, nothing is decided, at this point.
But, wherever we end up, I’ll be having a good sized room for my study, and I’ll be keeping it. And one thing is for damn sure; there’ll be no switching of bedrooms!