Maggie’s Musings Decorating Blues

By Maggie George

I hate decorating; I loathe the upheaval of clearing rooms of furniture and I dislike the stench of paint. My clothing gets covered with splatters and spills and the wet paintwork is a magnet for pet hairs. The cat’s tail becomes a furry roller as it’s brushed against the paint tray, leaving it looking more skunk than feline. Then there’s the cleaning of brushes afterwards, so I can never understand people who have the urge to decorate their homes on a running cycle, beginning all over again once the last room is complete.

As for match-pots, have you seen the price of them? These little sample pots of colour are a licence to print money, it requires a mortgage to find the colour of your choice! My daughter is a match-pot aficionado. Mention the word “decorating” and her husband runs for the hills while the kids hide the cat. Their walls rapidly take on the appearance of a bad case of multi-coloured measles, covered as they soon are in a rash of paints in every hue under the sun before she decides on the colour of her heart’s desire. Mind you, they aren’t guaranteed to do the trick either, as it appears that the level of daylight in the newly-decorated room can turn the selected colour a tad too dark or too bright, thus necessitating her long-suffering hubby to begin the whole process all over again.

Decorating Blues
Decorating Blues

Friends who decorate their homes frequently are a real annoyance. It creates in me a feeling of despondency when they proudly show off their lovely clean rooms and I return home to my shabby-looking walls and chipped skirting and doorways which looked perfectly serviceable before I visited their house. I think I might have to knock a few of them off the Christmas card list this year!

I have a couple of friends who have only recently moved into their terraced house and, as I haven’t yet remembered their house number from my initial visit, I recalled that their front door was brown. However, when I popped round to see them the other day, I ended up being greeted by a total stranger. It turned out I was standing in the wrong porch, albeit sporting a brown front door. He was a pleasant enough chap though and seemed to find the funny side when I explained my mistake. Although I did overhear him muttering something about “some old dear” to his wife as he closed the door, leaving me to beat a hasty retreat. A quick phone call to my friend solved the problem and it turned out that their front door had now become a bright, pillar-box red. Red, pah! Common as muck! What was wrong with leaving it brown?

Do you remember the days when Sundays were kept sacred? When the family enjoyed roast lunches together followed by walks along the beach or else simply flopping in front of the telly or listening to the radio. Father would enjoy having forty winks while Mum sat with her knitting or darning socks while the kids played with dolls, train sets and Dinky cars.

Nowadays it’s a rush to pack the family in the car and head off to the DIY Superstore to seek out the latest must-haves in home colour schemes. Each year means a new colour for the season, so what was “in” last year is now totally passé. Not to mention that when you decorate you’ll likely need to buy a whole new selection of soft furnishings from throws to scatter cushions and vases. The recognisable colours have disappeared to be replaced by shades in a muted “hint of” with mind-boggling names. I mean, what the hell is “Thimble Case” when it’s at home? As for “Field Mouse”, I’d run if someone told me they’d got that in the lounge! Even my car, which is actually light blue, is referred to by my son as “Varicose Vein blue” although fortunately it doesn’t say that on the Log Sheet.

As well as the choice of selecting the paint shade which will be absolutely right for the inside comes the worry of selecting what will look perfect on the outside of your home. Now, don’t even get me started on that one! I once lived next to someone who decided to paint every single item of guttering, fascia-board, windowsill and door in a bright vomit yellow. I went to work in the morning leaving a street which looked perfectly normal with its varying shades of black, red and blue only to return to “Chuck-Up Avenue”. The paint colour they had selected meant waking up to something which would not have seemed out of place on an L.S.D. induced acid trip.

A similar thing happened to a friend too, when her neighbours decided to cover the whole front of their house in Coronation Street-style cladding. Thank goodness that fad has died a death along with the once-popular idea of covering the entire exterior brickwork of a property in red paint, thus transforming it into something which wouldn’t look out of place on Nightmare on Elm Street.

It seems to me that the most desirable method of decorating is to simply look for a man to come in and take the problem off my hands, thereby ensuring I won’t have to spend hours trying the scrub the paint from under my nails or off surfaces where it doesn’t belong.

However, choosing a competent decorator is fraught with problems too. Should I go for a “man and van” who will quote a figure for the job over a cup of tea following his visit round complete with a pencil behind his ear and a packet of Rizla papers on which to scribble his workings-out? Or a larger company who will submit a smart, letter-headed quotation on posh embossed paper, which will automatically add an extra nought to the price, not to mention the addition of twenty-percent V.A.T.!

It’s all too much of a worry really for me to consider and so I think the best thing is to buy a few lower-wattage bulbs which will dim the lighting, thereby obscuring the shabby paintwork and grubby walls. Maybe a new pair of heavier curtains will lessen the light showing up discoloured paintwork while I have bit more time to debate the matter. As for friends with their newly-decorated homes, I might simply send them a quick email instead of popping round next time. Or I might end up with a colour scheme simply called “green with envy”.

“Rye’s Own” March 2014

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