Mar 27, 2017

Spring Clean Your Loft (Part 1)


How many rooms are there in your house then?

Go on, take a guess. And yes, you can count the hallway and landing. I’ll grab a quick coffee and muffin whilst I’m waiting.

Done yet? Kitchen, living room, three to four bedrooms, a conservatory maybe? Say ten, eleven or maybe twelve rooms in total.

Bet you’re surprised at just how many rooms you’ve got. I know someone who lives in a very nice, albeit modestly proportioned house. When I asked him that same question, he had to think about it, indeed, he literally ended up going through them one by one, ground floor first then the first floor.

“I can’t believe it” he admitted after he’d done all of his workings out. “There are ten different rooms in my house”.

But he was wrong. He does, infact, have twelve rooms in his home. Because he’d forgotten his lofts.

Easy to do. So easy infact, that I bet a fair few of you are now saying to yourselves pretty much the same thing.

“Oh yes, the loft. I forgot the loft”.

Such is the lot of the loft, that great forgotten space in so many of our homes.

Dark, dusty, damp and forgotten.  We probably see more of the ski slopes, Kasbahs and medieval cathedrals of the world than we do our lofts.

Sound familiar?

Well, maybe it’s time for you to do something about it. Today.

You may, of course, have grand designs on your loft space. Its somewhere you’ve long talked about as being an extra bedroom, an office or study, a home cinema, a den for the kids. All of those things and more. And that’s great, we salute your vision and ambition. Because the loft is a great underutilised resource, a quite literal waste of space. But listen. It’s not going to become anything fast until you know exactly what’s up there and what you’ve got in terms of space and potential. Because for as long as it’s nothing more than a dumping ground for all the stuff you don’t need, you’re never going to do a thing about it and you’re only ever going to poke your head above the hatch a couple of times a year (ie) to get the Christmas decorations down and, two or three weeks later, to put them back up there again.

What. A. Waste.

So come on. It’s time to spring clean your loft. And we’re going to suggest how you might want to go about it.

First and foremost, if it really is as neglected a space as I think it is, then you are going to have to get dirty. So no popping up with your dustpan and brush whilst you’re wearing your everyday clothes. Because this is going to be dirty. Very dirty indeed.

So prepare yourself and dress for the occasion. You have absolutely no idea how much dust, fluff, mould and other grimy unspeakables are going to be stirred up once you start removing all the old bits of furniture, boxes, crates and numerous layers of loft insulation you have up there. So make sure you are protected. That means getting hold of decent FPP3 grade dust mask from any reputable hardware shop. And make sure its CE marked. And no, this isn’t being over cautious. Inhaling too dust can easily give you a nasty respiratory infection, especially if the dust includes dried bird droppings. So with that in mind, get yourself some eye protectors as well. Plus some disposable overalls. If you get the white ones, you can guarantee that they will be a rather nasty shade of black once you’re finished. Which might otherwise have been the colour of your favourite cashmere sweater. Or even the inside of your lungs. So don’t be too cautious. Lofts, especially ones that have been neglected for a few years, can be absolutely filthy places. So look after yourself whilst you’re up there.

You should also look out for flora and fauna whilst you’re up there. I kid you not, if you leave that great cavernous space above your heads unattended for a few years then you are going to get visitors and they are either going to make themselves right at home and claim squatters rights or, worse than that, they are going to die in-situ, meaning you may have a few rotten corpses to remove. Look out for evidence of wasps, bees, moths, spiders and birds, especially with regards to this time of year, those that would rather like to nest in your loft, starlings being a prime example. If, on the other hand, you get bats up there, then there is nothing you can do about that other than report it to your local council. Once bats make themselves at home in your loft, you’re going to find it very difficult indeed to shift them as they are a protected species which means you won’t even be able to get up there to shift the great quantities of bat droppings they’re going to gift you as part of their stay.

Now, assuming you’ve been able to fight off the starlings and put some ointment on all the wasp stings, what about all the stuff you’ve put up there, pre-loved and forgotten, those oh-so-precious keepsakes of life that are so special to you that you had no choice but to thrown them in a box a few years ago and dump them into a room full of pigeon shit, cobwebs and mould?

Yep, those love letters from a former love must have been special. Likewise your collection of old Marvel comics and the three boxes of videos that you swear you “might want to watch again one day”.

Hey, and why not? Who can’t get enough of watching Big Trouble In Little China again and again and again...?

So come on, be ruthless. If you took the time to pack it all away in boxes in the first place just so you could dump it all in the loft and forget about it, those things can’t be that special, can they? Make a decision: can you live without it? Yes you can. So throw it all away. And that means you can’t just move all the boxes from your loft to the garden shed or underneath a bed somewhere. Seize the day. Be brave. This is about reclaiming lost and wasted space, remember?

We’re getting somewhere now, aren’t we? You’re dressed for the occasion, you’re prepared for anything and you’ve decided, finally, that your household has no need for three spare Breville sandwich toasters, a pushchair with one wheel missing or your collection of Iron Maiden and Saxon albums.

I’m proud of you. You’ve beaten many obstacles to get this far so now, before the real hard work begins, you just have one step to make-which is making sure you’ve allowed for the size of the job in hand and the time it’s going to take you. Is it a case of a bit of dust and grim, some added sweat and around half a dozen bin bags? Or might it be thirty, forty or even more? And are you going to be able to leave it all out for the bin men to take away on Thursday morning or is it a case of you taking several trips to your local dump? Or even hiring a skip?

Don’t underestimate how much muck, filth and rubbish you might end up getting rid of. Remember, you won’t have been the only person whose gone to pack away a bookcase full of books and thought that one large plastic crate would be more than sufficient for the job only to find out that you actually needed four.

Put it another way, there might not look like there is much up there. But that’s because it’s all scattered over a wide area. Once you get it all in one small space, well, things are going to look just a little bit mountainous.

So make like a scout. And be prepared.

But look, you’ve made a start. And, sooner rather than later, you’re going to be able to reclaim all of that lost and wasted space up in the roof and make it your own again. What you can start to do with it once its empty is what we’ll be covering here next.

Which is when things start to get just a little bit exciting. So keep reading...