I ache. Every part of me aches but, most especially, my feet ache. This has come about from standing on a ladder for hours and hours, cutting paint in along the great, old oak beams in the lounge. Twenty-six sections of ceiling. It takes me about 15 minutes to cut in the edges and paint each section. We did an undercoat and then two top coats. I spent about 20 hours standing on the ladder, painting the ceiling.
Why do we do this to ourselves? What drives us to want to change our interior surroundings from time to time?
When I was a child, “The Flintstones” was a prime-time television show. The idea was that even our early stone age ancestors were really just like us, with the same drives and wishes. Certainly, I think this to be true. They didn’t have the latest Pantone Colour charts to pour over first but they were happy enough to decorate the cave walls with art using whatever they could invent as paint. The results were as stunning as anything we could come up with now.
And my brief research into this subject turned up the fact that it is now thought that much of the painting seen in these pre-historic dwellings was done by women.
“What do you think of this colour? I really think it’s time we did something about these walls. It’s just so dreary in here and Mrs. Grunt, three caves down, has just finished a big, jolly mural on their walls of all of their kids hands. It is just so cute! I am thinking of trying some running animals myself…”
I suggest that even then, the hunting was likely to have been good, everyone was as well as could be expected and, for whatever reasons, there was time and perhaps an expectation that they would be staying in the same place for long enough to bother going to this sort of effort.
Decorating IS about effort. It is upheaval on a grand scale, domestically. Whatever the size of our homes, turning out all the things from one room to make space to decorate means the rest of the house becomes a chaos-fest and all “normal” things are on hold. Cleaning, laundry, shopping, and most of the cooking are all suspended until the project is finished and real life can resume once more. At least that is how it works in this house. And we do still do our own decorating. We did have decorators in once, to do the room that we have now just done ourselves. They were neat, they were quick and…it cost a bomb. Hum…I would rather nearly kill myself and have the extra cash to play with for curtains and such at the end.
And so, twenty years after we last decorated in there, out it all came- the technologies systems all labelled so we could put it back together again, the whole lot stuffed into the room next door, the horrible old carpet ripped out, the old painting clothes brought out, the painting equipment all dusted off and brought in and the prep started. It’s the prep that is the soul-destroying part but it must be done. I fixed a doozy of a hole in the wall myself, under instruction from our friendly builder. When it works, that sort of thing builds confidence.
The repair is not perfect, but then, not too much in a 300 year old house is perfectly straight, flat and even. I think it’s called “character”. We love it.
We worked for the best part of a week getting all the prep and painting done and then the floor layer came to fit the floor. No, we didn’t do that ourselves. There’s a limit to our DIY ambitions and what this man did was Art as well as very experienced Craft. He did a most fabulous job.
So, it’s finished apart from delivery of the curtains to come soon. We are happy with it. It certainly would not suit everyone. Inky dark and moody walls and very old- fashioned, Gentleman’s Club furniture, it is a sort of cosy theatre set for living in. Every theatre set needs creative lighting and this room has 8 ceiling downlighters and two picture lights (all on dimmer switches) and 6 table lamps- all low energy LEDs and all carefully placed to avoid being in anyone’s eyes when we are seated. There are endless possibilities for creating mood by just adjusting the lighting. AND, that television on the wall above the mantlepiece nearly disappears into the darkness when it is not switched on. When it is on and the lights are dimmed, it is like being at the cinema. It is a blissfully comfortable room in the evening, we are so grateful for being able to live here for the past 23 years.
Part of living in an old house is about learning to listen to the walls. We believe this old house has had a big say in how we decorate. Hanging hoop earrings on your Great-great-great Granny’s ears lobes is probably not going to work so we have gone down a very traditional route but with added bits of “us” as it is a home and not a museum.
It has been, and continues to be, worth all the effort.
Now, where did I put those paint charts…
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