Rental Opportunity of the Week: Sure, Cut a Bit of Stair Out for a Wardrobe

What is so special about wardrobes that it was worth cutting a little bit of stair out of a stair to fit one in?

What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? Little bedsit where they’ve cut a wedge out of the stairs to fit the wardrobe in. There’s a lot for me to comment on but I know already I’m not really going to move past that. They cut a section of the stair to the mezzanine bed floor out of the stair! To better fit the wardrobe in! (Of all the things, a wardrobe!) You may as well stop reading now. I’m going to do my bits for however long as normal but it’s just going to be about the stair thing.

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Where is it? And the wardrobe thing. It’s in Crouch End – 

What is there to do locally? Crouch End is just one of those parts of London where a lot of people you recognise from being on panel shows in 2013 are being dragged around by a group of fearsome eight- and nine-year-olds who are all called Jonty and have wheat allergies. They’re all wearing a judo gi and have at least one child acting credit on IMDb. Junior Bake Off type of kids. You know what I mean. Little tiny people who will make our lives miserable as soon as they start taking easily-won positions of power in about 15 years onwards. Oh, how I fear Crouch End’s children! Whatever will you grow up to do to my council tax rates, boys and girls!

Alright, how much are they asking? £780.

I think we’re a bit obsessed with wardrobes in this country, in a way you don’t seem to ever see in depictions of America, or even around Europe. Our go-to solution for the storage problem of clothes is a big freestanding box with two doors, maybe a drawer maybe not, and we put our suitcases on top of it. And that’s wardrobes for you. Americans have “closets”.

I mean I personally like a rail. Some little shelves in an alcove, something like that. But I think wardrobes are these curious things that use a lot of space badly despite doing the job they are meant to do – what is ever really at the bottom of a wardrobe? Just a void of space where you sort of might put your shoes or something, but then not even in a particularly findable way – and we need to move out of the “Wardrobe Brain” that has haunted us for generations and find enlightenment, another solution. I mean, what’s really wrong with a storage box full of t-shirts.

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So in honour of that, I do have to wonder: What is so special about wardrobes that it was worth cutting a little bit of stair out of a stair to fit one in to this?

The stairs in the wardrobe. Photo: SpareRoom

We’ve talked before how landlords dictate our furniture choices, both with what they discard in the houses we rent from them and what they choose not to give us. It’s hard to ever have a sofa that is both clean and comfortable, for example: It is always one or the other. They are always leaving a very deeply horrendous dinner table in a place where it has to be manoeuvred around. The furniture they set us up with is often ugly and visibly cheap.

And this goes for kitchen and bathroom choices, too: How many places have I lived where a person without a soul has chosen to install an electric hob in the kitchen? How many low pressure showers will I have to stand beneath before I die? The tiling choices, the radiators artlessly painted white to match the walls, too-short curtains in a sickly-looking colour. To rent from a landlord is to be surrounded by their aesthetic un-choices, to be enrobed in their cheapness. You can feel it every time you open a drawer and feel it clunk and collapse. 

The kitchenette. Photo: SpareRoom

So this is a very small room with a (horrible, carpeted) mezzanine floor looming above it, which again you cannot really ever escape, and also in the void that raising the bed up to almost head-height creates, they have decided to stuff too much furniture in. I do not think one person living in here needs a small single dining table as well as a wardrobe as well as a set of shelves as well as some drawers. This room has been rendered less functional, not more, by stuffing a kitchenette and a floating bed and too much cheap furniture into it. Whoever designed this has rarely, if ever, been inside a room.

But the bad part of this one is in the copy for the house, which details the reality of living there: Your mezzanine bedroom is one of many mezzanine bedrooms, up to nine with six currently occupied, in a huge old Victorian house which has been converted into an HMO.

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“It's in a lovely old Victorian house with a garden, just round the corner from the Clock Tower. The house has 11 rooms on three floors, with four loos, two showers, one bath with shower, two washing machines and two tumble driers,” the advert reads. “Other utilities are on coin meters or timers, [power to the room on £1 meters, showers on 10p timers and washing machine and driers on £1 coin timers] which don't cost much and so you only pay for what you use yourself.”

The top of the mezzanine bed. Photo: SpareRoom

What a bizarre thing to do to a lovely Victorian house in Crouch End: convert every room in it into a dreadful grey wash, stuff it with wardrobes and a coin-operated shower (!) and get as many people to live in it for £780 as possible. Landlords don’t even like property, judging by the way they skim them and minimise them and make them worse. They only really like direct debits, and middle-of-the-day property auctions, and posting on LinkedIn. 

Once again I am thinking of the conversation that led to the small wardrobe-shaped hole being cut out of the stair. “Hey mate yeah mate yeah,” the builder is saying. “Little problem with your wardrobe: It’s in the way of the stairs to the bed.” If someone said that to me I’d say: “Well, probably the room is too small to have both a wardrobe and some stairs to a bed, then. I’d say: “Maybe I should make room for human life by destroying the kitchenette, and putting the bed on the ground, and fucking being normal.”

The view from below the mezzanine bed. Photo: SpareRoom

But instead the person who owned this said: “Well could you not jigsaw a bit of stair out instead? Cover it with carpet if you can’t make a neat cut. For some reason giving everyone in this house a separate self-contained kitchenette makes more sense to me than just having a shared kitchen they can all go into and out of. And make sure you put that coin-lock on the tumble dryer. I’m not having any fucker in here dry their clothes for free.”

Good these people run London, isn’t it! It’s actually very good. 

@joelgolby

Tagged:

London, North London, landlords, London Rental Opportunity of the Week, renting, rentals

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