Home Rules: Acorn Does Not

First arriving at 16 Bedford Place, I was greeted with a smile and a clean flat with two kitchens located in the heart of central London. The shower may have been a little small, but that was easily overlooked because of the great location, appliances and room sizes. It only took a week to see that this was merely a façade hiding the dysfunctional business located at 19 Bedford Place.

We first faced the problem of the bathroom light going out about 2 minutes into my shower. Luckily, Acorn quickly changed the light and the problem was forgotten. Next, our washers and dryers made our clothes smell worse than before we put them in, a problem Acorn still refuses to recognize. From there an avalanche of issues arose and Acorn has not shown the slightest indication of fixing any of them. We faced broken lights, broken washers and dryers, lopsided beds, a sporadic alarm, mice and an incompetent security guard. Some say it is a bonding experience, I see their point, but I don’t know how I feel about bonding with mice…

Kate Fox’s chapter Home Rules describes the English obsession with “home improvements and DIY.” Maybe she is right, but I have yet to meet anyone at Acorn who seems too keen on the idea. Fox talks about a survey of males and females involved in DIY and apparently only 2% of English males and 12% of females don’t ever do any DIY. If this is true, we need to find these people ASAP. We could use their skills to improving our flat because our current rodent tenants definitely aren’t doing their share of the work (despite what you would expect after watching any Disney princess movie).


  • Great sizzling hot take on the ineptness of Acorn. In a matter of 5 weeks our beautiful home has devolved into the set of Ratatouille. However, I would argue that Acorn does prescribe to the “DIY” method. Judging by the effort of their weekly cleaning team, they expect us to do it all ourselves.

  • You blog post reminds me of the section of the book where Fox talks about how the English seem to ‘muddle through’ life. Americans tend to expect things to be done here and now, but that is just not the English way. They have probably fixed the washing machine a few times, but instead of fixing everything, it feels that a quick fix is put in place each time. I agree that Acorn can sometimes seem unorganized, because sometimes they will insist on having all the issues emailed to the appropriate address, but not all the time.

    Also, there’s a pretty interesting section in the book about consumer habits and how consumers here don’t expect that things will work perfectly. Maybe if we regarded our flats in this perspective, we will be less frustrated with the situation?

  • I feel your pain Haley. We have had quite a time in dealing with our own household appliances and utilities. Though admittedly some of it, or rather a great deal, may be self-inflicted in our case, we have had a number of issues arise beyond our control. Within the first week, we lost the shower light as well though it took acorn at least six days to remedy the situation. Moreover, we suffer from consistent power outages as the circuit breaker seems ill-equipped to handle a modest energy consumption. As such, we tend to trip many switches, blow fuses, and in general only about half of our electric outlets and lights tend to work at any one time. We have also faced the ordeal of the basement laundry room. It was recently discovered that one of our dryers doesn’t actually emit any heat whatsoever.

    As for doing-it-yourself, I am inclined to agree with you again. I’ve seen no particular evidence of personal initiative in that field from anyone. Generally speaking, Fox’s assertions imply that a sweeping majority of male and female homeowners regularly improve their homes. One would think that the topic would occasionally surface amongst our coworkers at our internships of at least with someone though I’ve yet to hear anyone speak of improvements to their homes. What may be worth considering however, is that Kate Fox may be discussing homeowners, which vary in status and flexibility from tenants. In London, an increasingly small percentage of the population live in their own homes while more and more are made to rent due to the rising cost of ownership. As tenants are not afforded the luxury of altering their domicile, it’s quite possible that the DIY trend may still be true with us simply not having met many homeowners. Let’s take a trip to a small country village and see if things are different.


  • I had the same thought while reading the DIY section of the “Home Rule’s” chapter, and think Hermione’s comment may be a good explanation of the differences between Fox’s claim of the Brit’s love for DIY and the lack of interests regarding home improvements at Acorn. I think the “muddling through” aspect of British life wore off on us the longer we were in our apartments. Our bathroom light stopped working the first week of the program. At first, we were insistent on getting it fixed. However, the longer it was out for (and the less we wanted to work with the staff at Acorn), the less we were worried about it. Needless to say, we all got good at showering at the dark. I think the fact the Brits want to fix everything themselves also relates to “muddling through” – calling a repairman would be too much of a fuss.

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