Decoration botheration

home decoration

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.


Baby Austin, getting to know his new bedroom

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.

2013-11-02 16.02.48

My frst writing session in the study. I LOVE this place.

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.

decoration DSCF4222crop

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.


The room stayed like this for a couple of weeks, while we sourced a plasterer

We decided quickly on a colour for the feature wall: Roasted Red, by Dulux.

Roasted Red

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.


This was one of our selections as a partner to the red feature wall. What WERE we thinking?…

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.

home decoration

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.

home decoration

I’d say it’s been worth all that decoration botheration.

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  1. November 3, 2014 / 9:26 am

    I hate painting and decorating and will do anything not to do it, it stresses me out if I can see lines in the paint. You have done an amazing job however x

  2. November 3, 2014 / 10:49 am

    Ooh it looks lovely! And look at all your vinyl – ours is hidden behind a home made board at the moment as Syd kept pulling them all out and scratching them!

  3. November 3, 2014 / 1:18 pm

    It looks great! Love the red. Most of my home is ready for freshening up with paint. With my two running about though, I think it will take me some time to get it all done.

  4. November 3, 2014 / 2:03 pm

    Well done you – I’m very envious – we have lived with bare plaster for 7 years now – kids, work, horses, gardening, holidays, wine…all got in the way. You kind of get used to it!

  5. November 3, 2014 / 3:21 pm

    What a fabulous end result! We were toying with a loft conversion, but in the end we’ve decided against it – I don’t think I could cope with the destruction, dust and mess! I’d rather move >_<

  6. November 3, 2014 / 3:26 pm

    It looks lovely and cosy, I really like your colour choices, it is such a big undertaking to re-decorate so I bet you are glad to get it out of the way and with such a fabulous result too ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. November 3, 2014 / 6:58 pm

    Oh that does look lovely ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s such hard work isn’t it, we moved in last year but have only been given the go ahead for decorating and it’s going to be huge task…we’ve already discussed Roasted Red for our Living room, and I’m having trouble picking a colour to go with it!

    • November 3, 2014 / 8:29 pm

      We had the same dilemma! The terracotta you can see in my post, behind the stepladder, is NYC by Crown, which was a lovely colour but REALLY didn’t go with the red. We were hoping for a kind of Mediterranean feel, but the terracotta just clashed. We also tried painting more walls in the red – I’m sure this would work in some rooms, but in ours it just made the space feel too closed in. And our local paint merchant sold us a cheap colour mix, which was supposed to be a very pale beige, but looked a weird lilac on the walls. I’m really pleased with our final choice of Labrador Sands, though. We got there in the end!

  8. November 3, 2014 / 7:18 pm

    Your lounge looks lovely, an ideal place to relax. I’m envious of your study. I really need a study/ craft room.

  9. November 3, 2014 / 7:40 pm

    Wow, you have been working hard on the house! I am full of sympathy as I’ve recently moved into a total bomb site that I think will take me years to get on top of!

  10. November 3, 2014 / 8:15 pm

    I hate decorating and you are right it takes forever when you have kids. Looks great though, all your hard work has paid off x

  11. November 3, 2014 / 10:10 pm

    I love decorating, I find painting especially therapeutic but I struggle to fit it in. We moved into our current house a year ago and planned on redecorating everywhere. So far I got a decorator to do one room and I did one!

  12. November 4, 2014 / 9:21 am

    Once I have started decorating I don’t mind it too much, but cannot wait to get it finished.

  13. November 4, 2014 / 10:46 am

    Wow, it looks amazing. We have spend the half term repainting. Grubby fingers really do make a mess!

  14. Annie @ Simple Wanderlust
    November 4, 2014 / 4:33 pm

    Oh I know just how hard it is! We are currently having an extension put on whilst replacing all the doors, frames, skirting board not to mention refitting a bathroom and tiling and doing the kitchen – annnnnnd I have 5 rooms to decorate. Takes so much longer when you have to factor in school runs and little people!

    I love what you’ve done there – especially the curve on Austins wall xx

  15. November 4, 2014 / 6:38 pm

    I love that you have your own study to write in – full points there!!!! I’ll bet you love that space. Your new and improved living room is looking lovely. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of work on your home. Next year we are embarking on a big building on our home, and very timely too… as I’m running out of ideas for posts on my blog! :o). X.

  16. November 4, 2014 / 7:16 pm

    I love the colours they look so warm and inviting. I would like Mr Savvy to decorate our house and livening it up

  17. November 4, 2014 / 7:39 pm

    Wow, that’s quite some transformation!! I love the look of your home and it looks like you have beautiful high ceilings. We live in a very modern house and while I like how efficient everything is, I do covet a little more character.

  18. November 5, 2014 / 6:46 am

    We bought our doer-upper house 10 years ago and its taken us far ,longer to do than I ever though. Its worth it though!

  19. November 5, 2014 / 2:25 pm

    Your home looks soooooo cosy now! After several years of being a home-owner in France (and doing some crazy renovation work myself) we’re now renting in London, which means we get stuck with the layout and decor of our landlord, fortunately it’s not too bad but I do miss getting my own say when I read blog posts like this. I LOVE your feature wall too – we had that exact colour on the feature wall around our chimney in one of our homes in France.

  20. November 8, 2014 / 8:25 pm

    Hate painting but love the finished effect ๐Ÿ˜€ I still have 3 walls painted and one waiting for wallpaper – for about 2 months now ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. November 14, 2014 / 9:09 pm

    Wow it looks lovely, love the colour! It looks so cosy- perfect for the colder weather. There is nothing nicer than being all cosy and happy indoors when it’s cold and horrid outside. x

  22. James
    March 4, 2015 / 10:31 am

    Hi Nell,

    Very nice post. Your idea and the way you implement and describe it that was very good.

    Thanks for sharing idea and the images it look very beautiful and full of peacefulness.

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