Ah, visiting the in-laws. For most people, not particularly high on the ‘fun things I want to do on the weekend’ list.
Now, don’t get me wrong – my in-laws are wonderful people. But they live hours away, and coming up to Christmas, things are getting busy.
Usually I would try to do a quick fly-by visit and then be on my way. But this weekend was different.
When my husband and I pulled up to the house, something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it immediately, but there was something.
As the front door was flung open and we were joyfully hustled inside, I couldn’t shake the feeling – something was different in the hallway too.
And in the kitchen.
And the living room, and the spare room, and the bathroom.
Everywhere I went I saw changes.
My in-laws have lived in the same house for 40 years. They’re people of habit. They don’t do change. They go to the same place every year on vacation. They always buy the same type of coffee, and go to the same place for a tipple with the same friends. They don’t do change.
So imagine my utter surprise when my mother in law cheerfully mentioned that they’d had painters in two weeks before. And that they’d replaced the skirting boards. And replaced the light fittings. And bought new couches and covers. And thrown out years of hoarded stuff.
I nearly dropped my coffee on the (also new) carpet.
For years they’ve been talking about renovating and redesigning. Taking out walls, putting in islands and breakfast benches, replacing the balcony and changing the windows.
But never in a million years did I expect them to do any of it.
So when I finally wrapped my head around this seismic shift in attitude, I managed to splutter out, ‘What made you change your plans?’
Both of them looked at each other and said, ‘As much as we complain, we both love this house. We’ve worked hard to get it just how we like it. We realised it would be stupid to get it to that point, and then turn around and change it all. Sometimes a spring clean is all you need.’
I love that. So often I have clients come and tell me they want to make huge changes to homes that are already beautiful and perfectly suited to them. When really, what they want is to feel like they’ve got a good project, that they’re ‘keeping up’ and are able to have the best of everything.
But sometimes a spring clean is all you need. I’m going to start advising clients in that situation to try small but meaningful changes like a fresh lick of paint and some new carpet before they start tearing out walls and replacing facades.