Before having children, you really don’t appreciate just how bloody easy it is to accomplish major things around the house, like repainting a room. Yes, it is a kerfuffle, moving things about and being in chaos for a while, but it is soooooo simple. You just decide to decorate a room and do it, singing along to the radio as you merrily get covered in paint together. I have rather fond memories of doing up our flat in London before having children. I’m totally rose-tinting it as it took months and was hellish at times, but at least we didn’t have to worry about anyone but ourselves in the mess and dust (although we did have to pick a fair few cat hairs out of the gloss, as I recall).
These days, things are far less straightforward on the decorating front. We’ve done a bit of wall painting since having kids and we’ve had a new bathroom and kitchen fitted (I actually shuddered as I typed that; it was a traumatic time). We’ve even repainted a couple of the bedrooms pretty recently, but there is no merry singing together any more. Oh no. What happens these days is that I end up looking after the kids for a couple of weekends in a row while the husband does all the donkey work. We swap every now and again, just to relieve the boredom, but it is pretty crappy and we both end up feeling grumpy and resentful.
So, we dread DIY. We were never naturals at it and it is no fun at all any more. But our living room has been in serious need to some TLC for a long time, so something had to be done.
After years of abuse in the form of kids’ bodily fluids, not to mention all the ground in food and spilt milk, our disgusting carpet has simply got to go, preferably before the third and final round of potty training. The need to remove it and lay a wooden floor was what galvanised us into redecorating. It simply had to be done.
We lovingly chose our carpet before we had children but it has taken more shit (literally and metaphorically) in the last seven years than I care to remember. If only we’d known then what we know now, we’d have opted for wooden floors immediately, no question.
You really can’t spend money on a lovely new wooden floor and leave your walls scraped to pieces by kids, so really we had no choice but to revamp the whole room. Once you make one thing look nice, everything else looks old and crappy in comparison, so the stained and drawn on curtains had to go too and the cheap, badly beaten-up fireplace surround.
We decided to be extravagant and hire someone to decorate for us. A few hundred quid spent seemed like a price worth paying to avoid all that DIY misery.
Even though we were paying someone to decorate this time, I was dreading it. We spent our Bank Holiday Monday completely emptying the room and getting it ready for the decorator (well, the husband did most of the getting ready while I endured soft play, to get the kids out from underfoot). There are books piled all over the house, pictures leaning against bedroom walls and random bits of furniture in a pile in the baby’s room. In short, it is chaos and I’m not dealing with it very well. It makes me twitchy and the number of potential hazards that T can get involved with has quadrupled overnight.
But the decorator has been this week and done his shiny, painty thing and the walls look great. He only took two days and I somehow managed to keep all sticky mitts clear of wet paint. We were out a lot, despite extreme winds. It was the only way.
Ok, so the room is still an empty shell with nothing but a couple of sofas and the TV in it but it is the first step and I think it will be worth the disruption. I am under no illusions that the walls will stay pristine for long but we’ve gone for super-durable and apparently wipe-clean paint this time so I’m hopeful we can avoid them getting too messed up too soon. Last time we redecorated I managed to throw an entire glass of red wine down the wall within weeks, so I think the wipe-clean feature would be useful even without kids.
For now, we have to live with the crack den look. Think Jesse’s house from Breaking Bad. Bare walls, no curtains and all the furniture pawned or burnt for warmth. At least until we reconstruct the room again, that is, but that is going to take a while. I also have to put up with Baby T handing me pieces of frayed carpet from where we’ve cut the edges off it for the decorator. Oh, and eating bits of it, of course.
The remainder of the carpet comes up and the floor goes down next Thursday with the skirting boards going in the following week. After that, we just have to buy curtains, a new fireplace and various other bits and pieces.
I’d love to spend hours browsing some beautiful homewares shop to find the perfect curtains and cushions. That isn’t gonna happen. So I guess it will be a mixture of online shopping and the odd fraught trip to Homebase, attempting to stop Baby T from smashing light bulbs and the kids playing hide and seek around the aisles, while we juggle curtain poles. Something to look forward to.
It is going to be good to have a grown-up and smart room, even if it doesn’t last long. With Baby T’s current obsession with pens, I suspect we will be testing that wipe-clean claim pretty soon.