Making Thamesmead Home – Chloe
As part of our blog series ‘Making a Space a Home’, one of our guardians in the Thamesmead/Abbey Wood area, Chloe, has written about the area and how she made her flat an amazing space. Read on for her musings on high rise living, prehistory, vinyl wallpaper and more.
What I love about Thamesmead
Thamesmead is a futuristic utopian vision of a city, seen through the eyes of the past (the Sixties, respectively). A testament to its sci-fi grandeur is that Clockwork Orange was filmed here, and to its romance, Likely Lads by The Libertines. There is a lot of raw concrete, but also a lot of greenery – fields of horses and ponies are woven through the estate and are really quite spectacular in the early morning mist, there are reservoirs home to swans, and Crossness Nature Reserve is nearby. It coexists with the ancient – a prehistoric forest that is a remainder of the once-great forest of Kent, and host to the ruins of Lesnes Abbey, which dates back to 1178. And if sewage works don’t excite you, I suggest taking a trip to the Crossness Pump Works to challenge that stigma. It’s really just a huge Victorian techni-colour jewlery box. Plus the Thamesmead residents are very friendly, and it is easy to recycle.
I live in a high rise so I have a sky view from my apartment – east on one side, west on the other, so I get to see the sun rise and set each day. I love walking through the maze of low-rise houses in the evenings. Lit up with warm coloured lights, cats slinking on the balconies, and puffs of steam pouring from laundry ventilation makes it feel like I’m somewhere else in the world, like somewhere in the far east. The maze-like arrangement means a couple of things, first that I’m still finding my way around after a couple of months, and second, that surprises are literally always around the corner. When you look up, new compositions of bridge-stairs-cat-steam-lights always to be found in a trusty concrete monochrome against whatever pretty colour the sky is that day.
What my apartment was like before
I was fairly lucky with the base furnishings of my apartment. The hall and lounge are imitation-pine laminate, the bathroom and kitchen are a non-invasive black linoleum. The bedroom had a decades old murky brown linoleum which I just painted white with what I had to hand – white wood undercoat paint. I also used this paint on the plastic kitchen cupboards and it holds well and is wipeable. One thing I’ve learned whilst doing this is it isn’t absolutely necessary to buy all the right paints and primers, especially if you’re on a budget, just try out what you have if you like the colour – you might be surprised.
The walls where a mix of pink, grey, turquoise, red, and vinyl wallpaper. Vinyl wallpaper can just be peeled off without a steamer or tools, just using your hands. I then painted all the walls and woodwork white, making the space feel more open, calm and fresh.
Since I prefer space to stuff, I’ve only furnished my apartment with what I will thoroughly use, which as I write, realise is in the spirit of utopian architecture where function dictates form. I also paint which is why a lot of space is good for me, and do have the odd thing which inspires that.
I use black out blinds for night-time privacy and net curtains for daytime privacy. These were bought cheaply from IKEA. My home office consists of a plain wooden desk and chair I have had since childhood. I think the simplicity (and durability) of these items have contributed to their sustained use over time. My dining table and chairs is actually garden furniture, so I can move it to the balcony in warm weather.
For my bed frame, and for a multipurpose sofa/relaxation/spare bed, I use construction palettes. A friend of mine gave me these but you can find them cheaply online, even discarded out and about, or call up your local construction service se if they have any there were going to throw away or if now, that they’re willing to sell. Around my bed I use IKEA LED lantern lights, which are cheap to buy and run. Also cheap from IKEA I have a net around my bed. Whilst I put it for a cosy den atmosphere I learned of its benefits the first time I used it, because when I woke up I found a vampiric insect perched on it’s outer gauze. So long as you don’t get bitten, bugs cannot survive. It’s the best deterrent, and free of toxins.
Lessons and Special Recommendations
Palettes are great – you can stick a cheap cut of upholstery foam on top and have yourself a bed or sitting area. Don’t’ underestimate their uses – I’ve seen them as lampshades, tables, and bookshelves too!
Plants make the best decoration, and they cleanse the air by feeding off Co2 and creating new oxygen. Personally I
love looking after plants, feeding them and watching them grow and change with the seasons. I plan to grow tomatoes, strawberries and a rosebush on my balcony – all available from the Woolwich Market florist nearby, or Columbia Road in central-east where I got the ivy hung from my living room ceiling for a lovely Sunday morning out.
A single hob stove for a single person. It’s all you need, trust me. It easily portable, light, takes up minimal space, is cheap to buy, and if you get induction like me, cheap to run and more eco-friendly. I got it using my Nectar points.
Wifi-alternatives are useful if you want to save money. I found a sim only phone contract with unlimited data for £15 a month, so I use that and tether if I want to use my laptop. It was the best option of all when I was looking, better than dongles too, so I suggest shopping around as new deals come up and generally improve with time.
Warm coloured LED candles since guardians cannot use flame candles, these are a great alternative for atmospheric lighting. Some even mimic the flicker.
Thanks to Chloe for writing this blog, and congratulations for making her home so beautiful. If you’re interested in living in her area or becoming a Dot Dot Dot guardian, apply now.