Doesn’t home decoration take aaaaages when you have small children?
Five years ago, we popped the cork of some celebratory champagne and spent our first night in our new home (I only had a sip, as I was six months pregnant at the time). We’d spotted the house as a bargain the moment we set foot through the door, but ten years of renting had left a musty smell in most rooms, and walls of a tobacco-stained magnolia. It needed a complete revamp.
Our redecoration list felt daunting, but not impossibly long. A new second bathroom upstairs. Fresh colour in the master bedroom. An overhaul of the front reception room. A nursery for baby; and, some way off in the future, a loft conversion and a new kitchen.
Then, out popped Austin, and the hours we’d planned to spend sprucing up the house, were given over to mopping up sick and changing nappies.
Luckily, with the hard work of some dear friends, the final slap of colour and turn of the plumber’s wrench had been applied to our new bathroom, just in time for the birth. And the owners of Larry, our local community dog, helped paint our bedroom a crisp ivory and terracotta. The nursery we put off….and put off….and put off….until, at nine months old, we decided that Austin had to be relocated to his own pad, rather than snuffling away at my side all night.
Gwen’s arrival forced the issue of the loft conversion. We now needed extra space for our growing brood, so we decided to brave opening up our house to five mega-efficient Polish brothers, and the January snow. It was a hard slog, and it took us a few long months to recover from the weeks of dust, cold, and D’s endless sanding of new doors (he did all the decoration himself).
But, in retrospect it was worth it, five times over. We now have two extra bedrooms, and a study (yippee!) for me.
All this meant that our poor living room – which had been high priority for redecoration when we moved in – was shunted down the list. But, this summer, we decided to tear down the damp, ancient vinyl wallpaper and ‘picture frame’ embellishments on the walls, and turn our murky front room into a cosy sanctuary.
Here it is, stripped of books, just before we started to steam off the wallpaper.
The wallpaper was tough as rubber, with bottom layers that looked as though they had been there since the house was built, in the 1930s. So, predictably, great chunks of the plasterwork came away with the paper. There was no way to avoid skimming the walls.
We decided quickly on a colour for the feature wall: Roasted Red, by Dulux.
The colour of the rest of the room, on the other hand, took a little longer to decide. No less than three false starts later, we settled on a colour mix from Dulux: Labrador Sands no. 6.
And now – after a lot of hard work by D – we finally have our living room back, complete with hand-made shelves. It feels like a completely new place.
We’re not quite there yet. I’d like a corner sofa, to fit the space better; new throws and carpet would help freshen it up even more. And we need to find out whether the fireplace is safe to use. But, for the time being, this is my favourite spot in the house. Perfect for curling up with a good book; perfect for the Christmas that’s just round the corner.
I’d say it’s been worth all that decoration botheration.