There’s nothing like a deadline to make you get a move on and this week we had two. The first being the arrival of an overnight(s) visitor meaning a spare bedroom was required. The second being a gathering of Owen’s little friends planned for the weekend to celebrate his second birthday ….an event which has felt like a perfect excuse to mobilise a man with a drill and issue him with a long list. That said, with both work and a couple of social engagements including a surprise night out with the drill-bearing man to the 72nd floor of The Shard having dominated the earlier part of our week, we found ourselves at Thursday..my mum arriving on the Friday…with no progress on the spare room to speak of.
“Just tidy it” S had suggested on Thursday morning, “we’ll paint another day”
Once the bed was assembled, painting would be made significantly harder. Besides, ‘other days’ were needed to progress the landing …with the woodwork being the last major painting project outstanding before the laying of the stair and landing carpet can commence….a significant last step which will mark the end of six months of building and hardcore DIY and the beginning of years more of tweaking. No. I would do it today, I thought.
Before I could reinstate it as a bedroom we still faced a quandary regarding the process. Which would be the better of two evils? Strip the lining paper at the risk of finding worse beneath? Or paint onto paper already hinting that it wasn’t planning to stay adhered for long? After some consideration I opted to reacquaint myself with an old friend and extracting the steamer from its box I set about, for better or for worse, proceeding with the paper’s removal. In doing so I realised two fairly unhelpful things. The first being that painting over it would have been a disaster. The second being that removing it would be one too.
The walls I revealed were porous and pockmarked, with ribbons of yellowed staining graffiti-ing their surface. A futile attempt was made at filling some of the many holes until my mind stumbled upon a vague recollection that painting was best done first …filling second… when flaws could be more readily seen. So with an hour and a half before nursery pick up I set about locating the painting gear which I suspected would be somewhere in the snug. It was the where which was proving elusive. With access severely restricted….one entrance blocked by P’s tools awaiting collection and the other barricaded by a row of miniature sleeping policemen – tubes of silicone, sealant and other gunk produced for the use of the gap-filling builder – silently waiting for an opportune moment in which to send me, cartoon-style, on a slow-mo journey to the floor, we had taken to standing in the doorway and lobbing items into the darkness within. The result? Hazardous chaos within which I had earlier lost half an hour and gained half a dozen bruises trying to find a wallpaper scraper. My chances of gathering a full set of painting gear – paint tray, brush, roller, paint and protective sheeting – seemed remote but find it, eventually, I did and I began the process of transporting my booty upstairs.
Mid- transfer, S called.
“Hows it going?”
“Yeah. Good. Wallpaper is off. I’m just about to get a coat of paint on.”
“Paint? I thought we agreed just to clean?”
“Yeah.” I said distractedly as I multi-tasked my way up the stairs, phone shouldered against one ear, a misbehaving arm-full of brushes and rollers in the other. “Well….I decided…”
I heard a resigned sigh.
With equipment transported and prepared …tarp on the floor and dust sheets covering both the wardrobe and (still homeless) fireplace…I got started.
The room was made ready for its appreciative guest …eventually. Not ‘finished’ by a long shot but rather made presentable, helped by a posy of garden peonies (an exciting discovery made this week nestling alongside the spunky rose). Meanwhile I oscillate, still, between feeling annoyed at our spectacularly bad decision to scrimp on plastering and feeling inspired by the predicament we now find ourselves in. The solution, you see, is wallpaper and with so many gorgeous (and admittedly many not so) papers from which to choose it means yet another excuse to indulge in retail therapy. Saying that, I may not have to look far as, in blatant plagiary of a stylish friend, I’m quite taken with this. My satisfaction at having got the room to a halfway house is not shared however.
“I cant help thinking when I go into the spare room” S said as we stood umm ing and ahhing about the positioning of our coat hooks, “that it looks like a Victorian prison cell”
Not quite at the boudoir stage yet then. Bring on those flamingos….