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Ever lived in a house like this?

The estate agent shows you around and – with imagination – you see promise: what you can change, what you'll keep, the things you'll buy. And then you move in. None of your furniture works, there's nothing like enough of it anyway, the place smells weird now it's empty, there's loads of strange details you didn't notice when you looked around and you can't ever imagine having enough funds to make your new house or flat a home.

That's how this website came to be. Two weeks after moving into my house, I sat on a broken plastic chair in the garden left behind by the previous owners (the orange one in the photo above) and buried my head in my hands in despair. I'd moved from a small Victorian flat into a vast, four-bedroomed, boxy, 1968-built wannabe Span house or, at least, my local council's version of one. I knew I was damn lucky for the most part – it was a bargain – but the task of decorating and furnishing it was overwhelming. And potentially bankrupting. 

I'd spent all the money I had on buying the place – with the intention of being able to afford to inhabit it by becoming a live-in landlady, possibly even opening south London's first inner-city estate B&B (a preposterous idea for many reasons, not least because I hate making beds). But who would rent rooms in the house with no furniture and some really crazy leftover decor – like the claustrophobic bathroom, in which having a shower felt like being locked inside a reproduction Victorian panic room, the mildly sinister depiction of Rembrandt's Blue Boy painting filling the entire wall of one room, and a downstairs colour-scheme described by one visitor as "like being inside a packet of Opal Fruits"?

I had to get creative. And resourceful. And willing to DIY, despite deep
 resistance to familiarising myself with my dad's box of drill bits. There was some wheeling and dealing that included live-in builders (literally, rent for plastering) and amazingly I started enjoying it all – the nice builders even gave me a drill for Christmas. (Which I loved.) 

As things began (and continue) to take shape, I became evangelical about nice surroundings being achievable on the cheap. But all that bargain-hunting takes time and tenacity. So Your Home is Lovely is the result of what I have learned and am still discovering. Hope you find it inspiring – or at least find comfort or amusement in reading about the cock-ups I've made along the way along with the treasures and talent I've enjoyed finding. 

Kate Burt, Editor