We live in a bungalow. One of the wonderful things of living on one floor, either a flat or a bungalow, is that you have more freedom to decide what function your rooms will have and plan a layout that works for you. If you want to use your largest room as a mega-size bedroom to try on ballgowns you can do that; if you want a small cosy TV room you can do that too.
Our Morecambe bungalow has three rooms, plus a kitchen and bathroom, so there aren’t limitless options. We are conventional and use the biggest room as our living room. The other two rooms are identical and on opposing sides of the bungalow. When we moved in we chose to use one of these as our bedroom and the other as our Everything-else room. The Everything-else room is a study or workroom for the two of us and also a spare bedroom for the few times we have guests staying over and a dining room when we are entertaining [we eat in the kitchen when it is just us two]. We haven’t had many dinner parties through Covid-19 but BC [Before Covid] friends and our book group would regularly come and eat at our house. Book group meant sitting eight people around a dining table to eat and talk comfortably and, to a large extent, these once or twice a year events dictated the furniture and layout of that room.
During lockdowns our book group became an online experience and now, even though we are meeting in person, as another member has also left Greater Manchester for Yorkshire, the group has become more widely geographically distributed than it was when it began. Having decided that Yorkshire and North Lancashire were too far apart, it was agreed to restrict meetings to the Manchester middle ground. For us, this decision has opened up options for the layout of our Everything-else room.
I like changing what we store in cupboards and moving furniture around and so I am perhaps overly enthusiastic about going even further and changing rooms! After two years living with one layout we began to mull over whether we had got the use of the two identical rooms the wrong way round. Fed up with being woken up from our slumbers by the noise of the bin lorry at seven in the morning and wanting a more interesting view when we were working at laptops in the Everything-else room, it began to make sense to flip around the function of these two rooms.
As I’ve said, the rooms are identical in shape and size but that is where the similarities end, in aspect they couldn’t be more different. One gets the morning sun, overlooks the garden and is a cooler room, whereas the other looks over our [not very busy] road, gets to see the stunning Morecambe sunsets and is a much warmer room. Moving them around would be easy wouldn’t it? All we had to do was put the furniture in the same places in the opposite room.
We have no nine-to-five jobs to take up our time and I was in a travel writing lull so this was an ideal time to make this moving plan a reality. We procrastinated for quite a few weeks while we established this wasn’t just a whim and, although still enthusiastic, I slowly began to realise how much work it would involve. We talked about the difficulties in our way and the pros and cons of the different rooms and how the move would work. Mostly I thought about how lovely it would be to be able to sit in bed with my morning mug of tea watching the birds in the garden and how appealing having a warmer Everything-else room was when I am writing and editing. Weeks went by and we did nothing.
Eventually, we could talk no longer and we put two rainy days aside for the moving of the furniture. In a small bungalow and with our bed and a double futon to move, this was like completing a large Rubik’s Cube! These are not big rooms and we had to think ahead and move pieces of furniture to a holding space before we could move another into its space. We started with the two biggest pieces of furniture, taking apart our bed and the futon. We swapped these two over by juggling them between the old room, the living room, the hallway and into the new room. We had a night in our ‘new’ bedroom with half the bedroom furniture and half of the Everything-else room furniture. In our new quieter and darker [no street lighting] room and after a day lugging heavy furniture around we slept like logs until an hour later than usual!
The next day after more carrying of chests of drawers and cupboards our new bedroom was soon a mirror image of the old bedroom. The Everything-else room took a bit longer to complete as we tried out different layouts. Now we no longer need to leave space to allow us to extend the dining tables for eight people we had much more freedom to set up the room to suit us. By the late afternoon the furniture was in place and we were able to kick back our heels and enjoy our handiwork.
Of course, as furniture was shifted, the stuff we stored in the drawers and cupboards also moved. I believe that these changes keep our brains nimble as we not only have to remember which room to go in and why we are there, we also have to remember which drawer or cupboard we have stored things in! You’ll not be surprised to read that we’ve both found ourselves heading into the wrong room once or twice!
The only trace of our moving experience are the feet imprints of the previous furniture in the carpets. Teasing these out is the next household task!