With body tired and mind full I ventured yesterday to a friends house for an evening of food, wine and gossip. It had been another week of little action on the house so when conversation steered inevitably to it….and with her being a loyal follower of the blog it felt at times that she was more up to date than I was…I had very little to report other than a snug-shaped headache…
“Now…have you sorted a colour for it?” she asked as she opened the fridge to extract goodies in both solid and liquid form, “….and don’t even think about calling it anything else….it’s not a den…..its the snug”
Every spare minute not occupied by work or family life has been spent puzzling over this oddball room and my head was hurting with the effort.
“Er….no” I admitted with a shake of it.
“You’re a bit lost with this one, aren’t you darlin?” she said with a sympathetic smile.
“I think I have some ideas…..” I answered, spooning potato salad onto our plates. “I rather like the thought of using the Net and Ball wallpaper…”
“What?” came the muffled sound from within the fridge as packets were extracted. “Prawns?”
“Ummmm. No thanks.”
“Um…yes, a bit. Thanks.”
My friend, I should add, having willpower to be reckoned with, has lost almost five stone in a year and evenings like this are both rare and calorie counted …with the wine and lemon torte being made up for elsewhere. As I poured she looked on.
“100 calories….200 calories…”
“Yes, and this is even worse.” She raised a squat-shaped bottle in her hand. “Salad cream?”
“No thanks!” I’d save my calories, I thought, for a pale, cool liquid in another bottle.
“So. You were saying?”
“Net and Ball” I repeated, picking up our now heaped plates and heading towards the sofa. “You know….like the Southbank Centre carpet?”
It’s not often that you can ask someone to recall a carpet within a public building and have them a) think you’re of sound mind and b) actually remember it. My friend did both initially……though it became apparent as the evening continued upon this line of enquiry that her conviction as to the soundness of my mind was to fall seriously under review.
“I know the one you mean” she said “its very famous and they wanted to keep and restore it….”
“Well…they have issued the design in a wallpaper and I thought it might be fun ….” I clocked her raised eyebrow “…its got tennis balls on it and balls are, next to ice cream, O’s favourite thing…..”
“Mmmmmmm.” Taking a bite of her quiche she looked unconvinced. Perhaps I was too as I added hurriedly, “I sent a picture to S but I must admit I think he made his opinions clear by way of silence….”
My friend put down her fork and looked me squarely in the eye.
“Don’t take this the wrong way darlin, but, I think you need to be careful with wallpaper. And I think you need to avoid grey. Why not go bold in there? Something bright and colourful and lovely?”
She looked ardently at me for a reaction.
I frowned, unsure.
“Like what?” I asked dubiously.
“Draw the room for me…”
Pushing my plate aside I began. The library wall with TV embedded….her idea and one which remains very much on the table or rather the wall ….within which electrics have been chased in preparation for its installation. Going clockwise I drew the radiator wall, alcoves, chimney breast, prison cell wall and wide doorway through to the kitchen.
“Ok.” She leant over my drawing.
“I think it needs to be cosy and…well..snug. Perhaps an armchair here with a tall standard lamp…” She pointed to an alcove.
I shook my head purposefully,
“No….you see I’ve been thinking about that this week. I’m thinking a daybed…pushed right into the alcove with tons of cushions all around. We can lie on it and watch TV or pull it out as a spare bed….that’s another bit of criteria we have for this room…having a spare bed.”
“Hmmmm. Ok. Might work.”
We stared at it a little more and after a bit more sketching and crossing out established that two other loungey squashy chairs might be needed for the radiator wall and the daybed could stay.
“I still think it needs to be bright though” she said “definitely not grey.”
I nodded thoughtfully.
“I had been thinking,”I began “at one point in this dilemma….of painting this wall something fun like aquamarine….” I pointed to the prison cell wall. “It’s a colour which pops up in our poster wall and I’m just thinking about what it would look like as you look through from the kitchen…”
“Yes!” She nodded enthusiastically. “Do it!”
“But what colour would I paint the other walls?” I asked with a hint …I self-detected….of a whine.
Our eyes dropped to the latest issue of Living Etc, a magazine preference we share, lying on the coffee table between us.
“Like this?” I asked, pointing pensively at the lettering.
“Exactly like that” she agreed. “With bright artwork, mirrors, gorgeous lighting and lots of cushions.”
I sat back visualising the space and warming to it.
“You might have something there” I said eventually. “Sod it. I’ve got no better ideas. Aquamarine then….”
We continued to munch.
“Any other rooms?” she asked, getting in the swing.
“Yes. Seeings as you mention it. I’m looking for the right light for the lounge…”
“Ah. Ok. Draw it.”
So I did. My sketch met with approval.
” I get you. Sideboard…sofa….what kind?”
“Thank god.” Her hand fluttered to her heart and back again.
“Do I look like a bachelor?” I asked
“Right…..TV…fireplace….armchair…ok. So what’s the problem?”
“I need a light.”
“Here..” I circled the spot where the ceiling pendant would fall. “We’ve a bare lightbulb at the moment…”
“Ah…ok…..” she thought…but only for a beat. “A big drum shade. Not deep but very wide. Maybe in a taupe to match the carpet. Not in the blue, not in the yellow…that would be too much….go neutral.”
“Oh. Ok. No chandelier?”
“Yes…I agree” I scooped the last morsels from my plate. “Ok then. A drum.”
We ate. We sipped.
“Wanna help me with the bedroom?”
What’s wrong with the bedroom?
“It’s boring……soooooo boring…..”
“Ok. Describe to me.”
I started to scribble and as I did she accurately deciphered.
“Ok..bed, bay window, alcoves and….” I slashed a line across the chimney breast wall hurriedly. .
“…you’re wardrobes over your old fireplace…?”
“Shhhhh. Say no more….” I implored, the presence of the cast iron beast still on our landing only serving as a guilty reminder of our irresponsibility (the good news being we may have secured it a caring new set of adoptive parents.)
I blocked out the rectangular footprint of my dressing table and quickly sketched in the door and when I was finished put down my pen and grappled, instead for my phone.
“So….I had been thinking of something like this for the bed head wall….” I tapped at the screen to expand a picture of the much lauded Brooklyn Tin Tile paper. “but its ludicrously expensive and actually not all that….”
“Hmmm. What colour are the wardrobes?”
“No. Ikea. Flat, semi glossy.”
“M” she said despairingly ” You can’t have distressed tin on one side then flat, perfect, white wardrobe doors on the other.”
“You dont think?”
“No” she said firmly.
“Ok. So you are not going to like my next thought then…”
“Wood panelling made of the reclaimed floor leftover from the kitchen….?”
“Darlin. ” Her tone was one of disappointed exasperation. “your reclaimed floor looks lovely in the kitchen. Thats where it should stay.”
“Dear god, for someone who can get it right you can get it so very wrong…..” She took a fortifying sip of wine. “Right, lets do this another way. What material is that?” She pointed at the bed.
She gave her head a little disbelieving shake.
“And the wardrobes white?”
“Right. Well. That….” she pointed at the wardrobes, “that” she pointed at the bed “or that” she pointed at the dressing table “will have to go.”
“Wood….white….black…..it’s all a mix. One of the three will have to go”
“Well the bed is new and the wardrobes are fitted so neither of them can go”
“Dressing table then…” she culled decisively.
“…Thing is…..I bought a black curtain pole…..”
“To go with the black dressing table….”
Her hands covered her face as I sat back in my chair, with a stubborn fold of the arms.
“Listen….if you are going to advocate for the binning of the pole then you had better speak to the Finance Director. I’m not going to…”
She shook her head.
“Out. eBay. Once that’s gone you could go pale and dreamy…layer up textures, maybe a white rug…an old chair as a bedside table…. Look at The White Company for inspiration. Keep it pale….”
And with that, fickle girl that I am, the dressing table’s fate was sealed (the curtain pole, however, may just have to stay) and feeling the weight of indecision lift I returned home to a sleeping husband, blissfully unaware of the expensive new changes to my Decorating Direction.
I’ve decided I might just let him find out here.
I await his silence…..