Wednesday, 10 October 2012


...Or, The Sometimes Interesting Effects of Paint Fumes

Yep, recently I have been 'decorating'.  I use the inverted commas purely to highlight the fact that it might not be everyone's idea of decorating.  No carefully selected ornaments, accent colours or wall art here.  Just everything out of the room, a couple of coats of paint on walls and woodwork, and everything back in the room. Sometimes even before the paint's dry.

It works for us.  Luckily our house is old and rustic and so can take this wanton approach.

The reasons for this re-decoration spurt ... (I say 'spurt' -  again, might not be everyone's idea of a spurt.  But two rooms in the space of a couple of months is a spurt as far as I'm concerned) ... Yes, the reasons for this spurt are manyfold.
And here (in No Particular Order, as the lovely Dermot O'Leary would have you believe) they are...

1. We want to put our house on the market early next year. 

2.  Parts of our house have remained untouched since the last millenium.  (Possibly earlier - since we can't vouch for the previous owners.  Although they did spend a fair amount of time painting everything black.  And I do mean everything.  Except for the bathroom lightbulb, which was blood-red).

3.  The kids have languished long enough in their rooms painted - 'Passion Purple'  (Boys, Aged 11 & 14) - and "Bubble-Gum Pink" (Daughter, Aged 9).  The pink at least had been her choice.  Once. But it was many moons ago and borne of a deep love for Everything Pink.  Sadly, as is often the case with such an ardent allegiance, the love burned out preeetty quickly.  But she was stuck with the walls.

So I am prepared for what promises to be a marathon, rather than a sprint.  My window of opportunity can be quite slim.  The kids are only at school for a few hours, and there are twice-weekly visits to Woozelbears to fit in -  and once you take into account all the normal day to day jobs and general fannying's a feat of organisation I tell you.

Oh and the prep work!  Does anybody like the preparation?  Aaaaargh.  Clearing, cleaning, sanding, wiping...of course all this might take less time if I wasn't such a slattern for the rest of the year (I think I may be onto something there...)

I admit, I am a messy worker.
It's a sign of Creativity.

But I have made a start - the kids' rooms are done now.  Yay.
They now reside with their i-Pods and  their Hormones within walls of Nordic White.  Soon every room in the house will follow suit.  I will not rest (not true, I will rest) until our entire living arrangements are enrobed in Scandinavian loveliness.

I did have dreams of Reindeer, Nordic Blankets and Window Seats looking out over crisp fields of white. Only to have them cruelly dashed by monetary restrictions and the fact that we live in a Cotswold town.

There are some things I enjoy about decorating.   The (relatively) instant results, for one.  Since having the kids, most of my jobs have been very much long-term or ongoing - or both.
Planning and making meals/organising diaries/shopping and, of course, bringing up our Delightful Progeny.  The results of that endeavour will only really reveal themselves when they are (hopefully) Happy, Functioning Adults. 

And then I'll hardly ever see them because they'll be off Happily Functioning with their own friends and families.

As it should it should be.

But would it kill them to visit their old mum?  Would it?  A phone-call once in a while? 

Ok ... think I may be getting ahead of myself there.  Moving on....

The Dog actually looking ashamed of my mess

So, yeah....decorating.  The other thing I really like is the time with just my thoughts.  Although all that thinking, combined with the paint fumes, can have mixed results.

To fend off insanity (ha!) I often employ the 'Listen Again' facility from Radio Four and Radio 4 Extra.  It is because of this that now, whenever I look at Daughter Aged 9's window wall, I think of Robert Webb and his 'Teenage Diary'.  Her radiator wall is now inextricably linked with Michael Portillo and his 'Things we Forgot to Remember' - This particular episode being about a German World War II pilot landing his plane in East Anglia after mistaking it for Holland.  Can't tell you any more about that sadly, as I forgot to remember.

Then I thought...what if the memories of stuff actually stay in the paint, and under the paper? Forever.
Spooooooky no?
They might embark on a survival of the fittest type battle whereby the strongest, perhaps worst, memories triumph.

And what happens when you re-redecorate?  Do you just squish them down as you add more memories, until they reach bursting point and ... then what?
Do they get mixed up and distorted?  Might the memories mutate?
Is leaving re-decoration for decades a good idea, so that the memories become old and frail?
Or is it better to decorate more regularly, and cast them out before they regroup and become stronger?
Do they even want to be released?   If you peel off the old paper would they thank you?  Or would you have destroyed their safe haven?

There's a lot more to this decorating lark than meets the eye.

Witch : 'See what I have to put up with?'

Well I'm not doing any more now until the New Year anyway, as I have other - smaller scale - painting jobs to do.  Of which, more later...

    But for now ... I give you My Top Decorating Tips   -   At no extra charge :)

  1. Train your Dog so that when you tell her to  Stay on the landing she does. If you don't have a dog, would you please come and train mine?
  2. Get absolutely everything you might need before you start.  It's only going to pee you off if you have to go downstairs for something and you tread paint into the stair carpet.  Trust me, that's twenty minutes wasted.
  3. Use a teeny tiny roller (the ones they suggest for doors etc) for painting walls and ceilings.  I know this sounds counter intuitive, but honestly it is so much better.  I was given this tip by friends, whom I shall call Mr & Mrs B, and I still thank them in my prayers.  It's way less splashy than regular sized rollers, you can get into smaller spaces and right up to edges, and the roller is so light you don't get hideous arm-ache.  Also, they are much easier to clean and quicker to dry.  Hurrah all round.
  4. Win the lottery and employ a professional.  Then you can go out and play with your friends.


  1. Awesome work my friend, awesome. I feel very proud. You mother, you look after your house, you run your own business AND you do the decorating! You make me feel lazy, I would have 'got a man in', pennies allowing. Actually, last time we decorated we had our employees come help us! I did very little, other than clear the rooms and watch and point out mistakes. Rude huh? No, nobody likes the 'prep' work and yes, messy worker = Creative bod :) P.S. We just trained Pixie to sit and come when called. Not sure how to do stay though, as all our training revolves around Pixie getting a treat. I suppose I could ask her to 'Stay' as I walk away, and then throw her treat back to her if she does? I'll go now, just being silly ... xx

    1. Ha ha. Sounds like Pixie training is going a treat (see what I did there? I's late). Think perhaps my commands aren't sufficiently specific - 'Now you stay there Witchy because I don't want paint all over you and everywhere else' isn't quite snappy enough? xxx

  2. Also high as a kite due to paint/varnish fumes - also v grumpy as the cat jumped in the paint tray then ran through the house leaving green footprints everywhere!