Yes, we have a property crisis. But it's not impossible.

I bought my house in an expensive (but not London-crazy) part of the South East of England in 2014. It cost £225k and my boyfriend and I had a 15% deposit (So, 7.5% each). It took me 2.5 years to save my share. I saved. I worked - even when I was a student. And I have never owned a car. I have always been called 'tight' and a 'cheapskate'. But it pays off! Obviously I know this is an extreme plan (and probably doesn't work if you have kids) but if you want a deposit, you gotta earn it.

My 'modest' terrace was nearly a quarter of a million pounds :P
  1. Make a plan.
    The south is very expensive and it’s almost impossible to get an affordable mortgage on your own. I was lucky in that I was buying with my partner - but you can also buy with a friend, sibling, maybe even a parent. Owning half a house is a better step than paying someone else’s mortgage. Then work out what you want to buy, how much you’ll need to save (5%? 10% Remember, the higher your deposit, the less you pay on interest) and how quickly you want to save it. Get on the same page. Then, download an app like Fudget to really help to budget. 

  1. Get a job that pays - moderately well.
Sadly, this means sucking it up. No one REALLY wants to work in Sales or be Mortgage Broker or go into Marketing but it pays the bills. Being a failing freelance writer whilst working full time at Argos was far more demeaning than doing a 9-5. And stay out of London. What’s the point of a higher salary if you spend it all on travel or rent?
  1. Cut transport costs by moving.
Where is your (potentially, shiny new) job? Find cheap accommodation nearby. Walking or cycling distance, preferably, or a bus, or a short train ride, away. Sell your damn car - which apparently cost around £3,500 each year to run.  Cutting your commute gives you more time to cook, less time to buy those coffees… And more money to save.
  1. Reduce rent.
I was incredibly lucky - straight after graduation I moved into a £300ppm student house with five other friends. It was damp. It was grotty. It was cold. But it also meant my meagre £1,100 Argos paycheck didn’t get hit too hard. It also meant that when I got my ‘better job’ it left me with over a grand a month after bills. The easiest option is to move home (but please pay some rent, don’t be a freeloader). But moving into a shared house, negotiating with friends to move into a spare room, or ‘hutching up’ can all work. Just get a good deal.

Christmas Dinner in the grottiest house ever.
  1. Never buy anything…
That isn’t food, toiletries or cleaning products, anyway. No starbucks (SERIOUSLY, no take away coffee ever. I don’t care how much of a connoisseur you are. It costs 10p at home and you can carry a thermos about if you’re desperate for a fix). No new shoes. No ‘extra’ makeup. Stop buying useless nonsense. You don’t need anything right now, apart from a deposit. I checked my bank statement and discovered I spent over a grand on Amazon in a year. WHAT. Books, CDs, gifts… basically stuff I didn’t need. I stopped all that and I made a purchase when something needed replacing.
  1. ...Unless it’s going to create memories. Although, you can’t JUST stay in and watch Netflix for two years. Not without killing youself, anyway. Visit friends. Have a nice lunch with your partner. Go to a festival. Take a budget trip to Europe. But do these things infrequently. It’s a treat. Set a budget in Fudgetand stick to it. And I apply this to nights out, too. Two drinks, fine. Spend a tenner and get the last bus home. Don’t be a dick and spend £40 getting plastered and get a taxi. You won’t remember it.
    This long weekend in Berlin cost us around £300.
  1. Food shop smarter. I think I need to establish here that you don’t need to ‘meal plan’, or spend Sundays ‘prepping’. But you can pack lunch every day and if it’s a £3 tesco meal deal it’s still cheaper than your £6 splurge from Pret. And dinner is even easier; just find a few recipes you can bear to cook. Buy Value, Basics or Smart Price. Buy frozen vegetables. Reduce your meat consumption.
  1. Sort out your direct debits
Yup, it’s only £7, but do you really need NOW TV and Netflix? Deezer? A make-up delivery service? Nope. Stick to one music streaming service and one tv/film streaming service. Negotiate with your utility provider and consider switching. And DON'T get a new mobile! Smartphone contracts are available for as little as £11 a month. Do you NEED an iPhone? You can't live in it.

There you have it. Eight steps to save money. Now, go buy a house!


Loft Storage: how built-in cupboards made our annoying eaves into useful space

source here
I'm going to hold my hands up here and admit that I hate DIY. I don't have many practical skills and I'm lazy as sin. I'm more of an idea person than an execution person...

...Anyway, one of the many ideas I had to improve my house was to create some better storage solutions. We really are short of space, which is rather unfortunate - we're certainly not short of stuff. T and I are terrible hoarders, and to minimise the mess we needed to be able to put stuff away!
However, the furniture you can purchase - wardrobes, cupboards, sideboards - are horrendously

We begun to look for opportunities to create extra storage in the house. The bedrooms are very, very small so, whilst acquiring furniture was a possibility, we felt it might make the rooms feel cramped. What we do have, though, is a large loft. A large, but awkward loft.

Like many terraced houses built in the 1800s, the stairs are slap bang in the middle of my house so the loft room is really very awkward. It's essentially a horse-shoe shape with the stairs in the middle. Additionally, this was a very simple conversion, so the roof wasn't raised at all. As a result, we only have a very small 'corridor' of head-height ceiling, and then some awkwardly low eaves.

I began looking on Pinterest for some inspiration, and lo-and-behold; lots of other people have had the same problem. Funny, that.

Source here
source here
source here

After some consideration, I asked my Grandad to build something similar to the first image. Although I wanted drawers, the mechanisms would take up valuable space so we settled for shelves and baskets that could be slid in and out. The doors I chose were the cheapest from ikea. We also installed 'push' mechanisms so I could do away with handles, for a more streamlined look.

The finished product, with doors sourced from Ikea.

The insides of the cupboards have ikea baskets, and the shelves have handles so they can be pulled out to reach things at the back. The largest 'cupboard' actually disguises hanging space!


Bathroom Renovation: Slowly moving forward

It's been slow progress in the bathroom. This week has been a bit of a plod, and we seemed to stumble at every possible point. Nevertheless, we're five days in and things seem to be working out.
view from the doorway
When the floor tiles came up, the floor underneath was really decomposed, thanks to a leaking shower and toilet that occured at some point in this house's history. That put an extra day on the project.
Then, we had an issue with the under-sink cabinet from the Bath Store - one of the doors was damaged, and we managed to buy the wrong height of cabinet too. Urgh!

Basin: Bathstore MyPlan 600 available here
Not a problem, of course, except the store was quite hopeless and couldn't arrange us a replacement. We also expected someone to collect our gargantum shower enclosure on Thursday, but no one showed. This meant T wasted a day off, and it was apparently 'the worst day ever'. He has a very hard life, ladies and gents.

I would have loved to have reported that it was all done and dusted this week, but I think we're going to need two extra days to get this done. However, we're on the final lap!

In other news, I had an old frame lying around. It was huge and I couldn't really figure out what to put in in. Then, I bought this awesome wrapping paper from Waterstones for just £2.95.Suddenly, we have a work of art for the dining room!


Bathroom Progress - no more doors!

Day one of the building work, and I hardly recognise the top floor of our house. ....It's so normal now. Going to the bathroom is no longer like playing a medieval game of tetris.

Admittedly, it's far from finished. In fact, it's hardly been started, but it feels like a completely different room already. Here's a sneak peak....

I was a bit disappointed to find out that there's a lintel right in the middle of the ceiling. It's not ideal, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Anyway, the Bath Store were fantastic when I rung them to return the shower we had bought - no questions asked at all. We ordered a replacement from Victoria Plumb which offered next-day delivery so we're not really behind schedule.

I'll keep you posted!


Sometimes I forget how to be a 'grown up'

The last few months have felt oddly disparate.
January was an incredibly busy month for me; I started a new job, celebrated an anniversary and quite a few birthdays. I also did a lot of work around the house.We painted all the downstairs rooms and 'finished' the dining room. It felt lovely to be so constructive.

Then things began to slip. February was a very ill month; I spent two consecutive weeks feeling just plain awful - firstly, with a stomach bug, and secondly with a hacking cough which just will not shift. Now we're into March (eight days into March, somehow?!?) and I'm realising that time is slipping away again.

Anyway, the fixtures for our bathroom arrived on Friday. This was incredibly exciting, until I realised how badly we'd  messed up. There is one major oversight we made when we decided to buy a beautiful, luxurious walk-in shower enclosure.

This is a Victorian terrace. This house has narrow staircases. Our shower enclosure isn't going to fit, and the builder is coming on Monday...!

Help, I forgot how to be a 'grown up'!

So T and I are having a last-minute panic. Luckily we found a plumbers' merchant that can do next-day delivery so we are (sort of) saved - but I'm not going to get the dream bathroom I had set my heart on.


Tiny Dining Room Decor: I'm not afraid of dark paint!

 We spent Saturday at Homebase. Oh my god. Who knew picking paint was so hard? We already had a very good idea in mind of what we wanted...but getting it right was no easy feat. Yup, we were looking for a colour for our 'feature wall'.

I know this concept is quite old-fashioned by now, and I am personally quite taken by a modern scandinavian all-white finish. However, the bikes are being stored on the wall - as I mentioned in my previous post post - and I'm certain bikes and white don't mix well.
I wonder how on earth the apartment dwellers cope? My bike drags in half of Berkshire every time I go for a ride; today, I found a twig folded up in my tea towel. It was just resting there, wrapped up like a deciduous baby jesus. Hmm.

Anyway, we decided to make the bike wall into a 'feature wall' because A) the bikes are going to be a pretty big THING anyway and B) I'm hoping that we can put a nice dark colour on there and it'll hide a multitude of sins (read; dirt and scuffs. I've had mixed feedback on this. Someone told me it was going to end up being a 'rainy cloud room'. Another person told me it would make the room look small - we already do have a tiny dining room. Well, I'm not afraid of dark colours. Anyway, I've seen it done well in other small spaces... 

My main source of inspiration is from the amazing Carrie Clarke, whose choice of Dulux's Bowler Hat was total perfection. She made such a bold choice to go for such a dark grey against pure white, but I think it works. Her living room is quite large but it shows how effective these tones can be on an archaic, older home. It really makes things pop.


I also took a few more ideas from Pinterest....

 We also perused a few paint catalogues (Dulux and Crown) and made a nice little mood board which I think reflects the look we want. Dark, sophisticated, but with a playful pop of colour.
I want to utilise dark colours to emphasise the light and bright details of the fireplace, which has been painted white by previous owners/tenants.

Then, we spent around two hours choosing paint. OH MY GOD it's so hard. Also, not cheap. Seriously, £3.99 for a Farrow & Ball tester pot? Are you laughing? The rest were between £1.50 and £2.30 each, which was better but still added up.
In order to stick to budget, we picked just eight colours. I was really sad to find that the Bowler Hat shade is not available at Homebase. We chose the closest counterparts, and also went for a few stronger blues.

In terms of quality, the Dulux paint went on the best - and the tester pot had a little brush inside it, which was really very convenient! The coverage was fantasic, too; I gave all samples two coats but really it only needed one.
The Crown paint also had a very smooth application, although the squeezy tester 'tubes' felt quite amateurish and were distinctly more fiddley. I was happy with this coverage and I really liked  the colours they had.
I was least impressed wih Farrow & Ball. For the price, and product positioned as the premium brand, I expected a lot. I felt that the paint was too watery and needed more than two coats for a decent coverage. At around £50 a tin, that's not on!
Finally, Homebase's own brands (Blue Slae & Aegea) were also very good value for money - they didn't quite match up to Dulux or Crown but are excellent on the affordability front. They certainly get the job done.

I still haven't made up my mind.... maybe tomorrow?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!


The Yup Blog


The Dining Room gets a Look-in

My bathroom journey has hit a pot-hole, and I’ve learnt a very important lesson.
Resources. Check their availability. Darn! This is the first thing you learn at marketing school! Just to give you some spiel: Your resources (Men, Money, Minutes) are vital for a project’s success and I’m missing my man. More precisely, I’m missing a builder. Through some freakish builder drought in the central Reading area, I’m without a burly pair of arms and plumbing knowledge until the end of February, so that little project is on the back burner. What’s on my mind instead? The dining room!

The dining room has been moderately neglected on the blog so far (aside from its brief mention in the Christmas post). I think it's about time it had a share of the spot-light. Introducing....

The YUP Dining Room
view from the doorway; full of light, but also junk
  I decided to put my dining room in the front room of our little terrace, which is actually furthest from the kitchen. Why? Well, that room is the first you pass when you come in off the street, so it's the most likely to become a dumping ground.
The dining room is the least used room in our house - T and I have good intentions, but often end up eating on the sofa. Therefore, a little clutter in here will help us maintain order in the rest of the house. I plan to create a beautiful yet informal space that we can enjoy, and will remain practical too.
view from the opposite corner
 There’s also the small matter of the bicycles…

looking from the window: they need a home!

Buying a house is sometimes a matter of painful compromise. Not between you and your partner, either (let’s face it, if you’re making serious sacrifices, you probably shouldn’t be buying together) – I mean in terms of want vs need. I wanted a beautiful, clean space in which I could entertain and have fancy-schmancy dinner parties… but what I needed was somewhere dry, secure and convenient in which to park my noble steed.

Hi Bikes, meet dining room wall.


After being inspired by many an apartment therapy blog post (if it’s good enough for sophisticated new-yorkers, it’s good enough for us), we decided that the best place to store our biggest babies was right here in the house. I actually think it’s rather beautiful (although, grandparents tend to disagree). However, we did NOT have a good experience buying a bike rack. T purchased a GearUp Oak Rak (Floor to Ceiling) bike rack from Amazon at the beginning of October. It was very expensive (more than I wanted to spend) and it took a long time to arrive.

I was so angry when we opened the box. Parts were missing, and our countless attempts since to contact Amazon/the seller and get the missing parts have been futile. I do NOT recommend this seller. The goal is to have the bikes on the wall, as seen in the right picture, but.... yeah. we're still waiting.


We also have a storage requirement. The corridor from my front door is, in my opinion, too narrow to hang coats in, pile shoes up, or dump your keys. ‘Landing strips’ are a very desirable (or essential, depending on your source) feature in a house now - no longer the hallmark of glamour models or the pages of Cosmo. That's a term for a conveniently placed coat rack and table on which to rest your hat/keys/handbag when you enter your home, as seen to the left of this text.

I hope to build that in to the dining room, creating a clever duality between storage space and entertaining space.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on making the most of a space like this!