Our very own House Flipper

*doorbell rings*

Hey, so glad you could make it! How are you doing, did you find it ok? Yeah, it can take an hour or so to get here on the train from London but you get used to it after a while; and I use the time while I’m commuting to get my blog posts written so it all kind of works out. Come on in, don’t just stand there out on the doorstep!

home, hallway, rooms

Please excuse the mess – we’ve been here about a year-and-a-half now and renovations are going slowly. You know what they say about having the money but not the time and vice-versa? That’s exactly the situation we’ve got ourselves here. We’ll get there eventually and you’ll have to come back again once the house is finished.

home, dining room, table, chairs, bench, bookcase

Come through to the kitchen and I’ll get Pete to make you a coffee – Link has come to say hello too. Here’s where we tend to spend most of our time at home when we’re not playing video games. It’s a good place for blogging on weekend mornings, as you can look out over the garden and see the birds or the cats getting up to mischief out there when you’re taking a break.

home, bookcase, books, plant, diving helmet, Rapture sign

We found that diving helmet on one of our trips to the antiques centre at Battlesbridge. It was a bit of an impulse buy but we turned it into a lamp and decided to have a BioShock-themed corner. We’re thinking about getting a water-eroded sign or neon word lights to go down the other end of the kitchen, to finish it off.

home, coffee table, television, shelves, PC, PlayStation, headphones, video games

Finished your coffee? Ok, come on through to the living room and we’ll show you where the PC and PlayStation are currently set up. There’s still a lot of work we need to do in this room so please ignore the wires! We’re planning on this being where we’ll mainly play console games, once the PC is in its new home.

home, staircase, window, cat tree

That’s going to be moved out into the hallway at some point soon because we’ve got a lot of unused space under the stairs, due to this place being a converted bungalow. The staircase was one of the features that convinced us to buy the house; Pete and I both fell in love with it when the estate agents showed us around.

home, hallway, staircase, cat tree

Here’s where the PC will eventually go. It’s a sort of ‘cat playground’ at the moment – yes, that’s what happens when Pete tells you he’s going out to get a scratching post for them! I’m able to work from home and blog regularly, so we’re going to make a desk to go under the stairs to be used as an office and PC-gaming area.

home, picture, LeChuck, Cave of Pixels

The pictures? They’re good, aren’t they? I got them from Cave of Pixels while at the London Gaming Market last year. We’ve got a few other pieces of video-game-artwork that need to go up but figured we should really finish the painting first; we just wanted to get a couple on the walls now to make it look more like home.

home, sofa, cats, Link, Zelda

I know, all this talk about video games is making me want to play them now too! Really? You’d be up for that? Ok then, let’s do this – Pete, grab us some drinks while I dig out the controllers and stick on Overcooked. Now make yourself comfortable on the sofa with the cats (that’s Zelda with the white paws there) because we’ve got burgers to fry!

This post is dedicated to Bandicoot Warrior, who very kindly nominated Later Levels for the Neat Blogger Award in April. Thank you to him for giving me the opportunity to share these photographs and shame us into getting a move on with our renovations (ha ha); we’ll give you an update once our gaming area has been finished!

Home improvement, the BioShock way

My other-half and I have had problems with house renovations since buying our home back in October last year. We’ve been focusing on changing the layout of the ground floor and, despite our builder originally advising that it’d take up to four weeks, we’re still living in a building site three months later.

Fortunately though, the work is almost complete and we should hopefully have a fully-working kitchen within the next several days, if not a completely-decorated one. But that’s the fun part: adding paint and those other finishing touches to turn it into something uniquely ours. We’re both long-time gamers so it’s pretty much a given that most rooms in the house will feature something subtle (or not so subtle) to do with video games.

Last month we visited the Battlesbridge Antiques & Crafts Centre with the intention of finding some furniture. I love this place: an old granary and surrounding buildings that are full of curious and beautiful things. We bought ourselves a table that’s in the process of being made (if you’re looking for one yourself, check out Mr and Mrs Smith because they’re so helpful). But we also came home with something a little more… well, unexpected.

While browsing though the various rooms, making our way past old armoires, delicate vases and frightened-looking stuffed animals, we came across one laid out with the accessories of an old office: green velvet, an old desk, lamps, book shelves and sherry glasses. On a bureau in the corner stood a beaten-up diving helmet perched on a hand-stand, and our conversation went something like this.

Me: “Look at that…”
Pete: “It kind of reminds me of BioShock.”
Me: “Yeah, I was about to say the same thing.”
Pete: “I want to try it on and be a Big Daddy.”
Me: “Shall we buy it?”
Pete: “Yeah, go on then.”

And so that explains how we came away from Battlesbridge with a diving helmet – and more importantly, why my other-half ended up trying it on. This has now set the tone for how we’re going to decorate the kitchen and dining area in our home; the aim is to have our gamer-friends walk in and recognise the BioShock references instantly while others will simply assume we’ve gone for a vaguely-nautical theme, which seems to be everywhere in interior-design nowadays.

We’ve purchased a few other items for the house too, including several from Gametee: their lovely mana and health potion candles, along with this ‘respawn point’ tin sign. It’s a shame there aren’t more places like this which cater for people who’d like to have something geeky in their home decor without it being too ‘in your face’ (if you know of good online shop, please let me know!).

Gamers are able to see video game references everywhere, including in a random room at an antiques centre in the middle of Essex. How do your gaming preferences influence the way you decorate your home?