Our house has, so far, developed through an eclectic combo of meticulous planning (more hours than I care to remember spent grappling over the kitchen layout), hastily made decisions (the patio….choices about size and surfacing made with very little time for thought though both seem to be holding up to more considered scrutiny), mistakes we’d prefer not to say too much more about (sea blue WC complete with fish mural….?) and happy accidents (the discovery of two original fireplaces downstairs dictating the mood of both lounge and snug). Its coming together helped by the obsessive study of interiors blogs, magazines, catalogues and Ebay (moi) and a laissez faire attitude from my better half who says that he “doesn’t really care” about the decoration from here on in. I’m not sure that’s true….indeed I’d be sad if it was as when he proffers ideas they are often insightful and surprising…..his stag coat hooks and emerald green kitchen tiles now being two of the elements I’m most in love with and certainly the ones for which we’ve had the most compliments. All that said however, there is no doubt that my dictatorial approach is quashing any notion of democratic design.
It’s fair (or rather unfair when you think about it) to say that S is getting little chance for a word in edgeways at present as we move from a period where moodboards and graph paper reigned supreme (and with it opportunities to discuss together in clear detail how a room might look) to a place where ideas pop from my head unannounced. Certainly he has said very little about the (rather more) vibrant (than I thought it would be) linen cupboard which appeared out of the blue as part of an unauthorised consignment of ‘junk’ and is now sanded, painted and officially ready for occupation by a pile of our cotton …and more recently bargainous linen (H&M) …sheets.
“Er….what’s happened to that? Is this distressed look on purpose?” went his only question but once answered in the affirmative he resignedly agreed to help me move it upstairs if only to get it out of the snug.
He has grumbled ever so slightly about the appearance of yet more scatter cushions…
O – “What’s that Daddy?”
S – “(sigh) I’m not sure son….new cushions your mother has bought for me to toss on the floor….” before proceeding silently to do just that.
And the vintage lampstand I’d hefted home from a coffee-come-junk shop in a nearby park?
“I’m not sure quite what to do with this….” I’d said as I stood musing over paint colours with which to modernise it.
“Throw it away?” came S’s immediate suggestion.
The fact he has to fix it first doesn’t help its cause. Having paid for both drinks and lighting…oh the new world in which we live….. I’d gathered up my purchase delightedly, coiling the electrical lead neatly around the wood as I did so.
‘Will you be ok?” asked the proprietor doubtfully.
“Of course.” I’d replied breezily. “The car is at the top there” and with lampstand on shoulder and O scooting closely behind it was out of the door we went ….where it promptly snapped in two. Well. Three. The lampshade also fell off. Examining the damage…..a touch of wood glue and perhaps a few dowels are all thats needed for its repair….before gathering back up the now awkwardly shaped pieces fastened loosely together by the tangling wire I glanced up to see the proprietor surrounded by a gaggle of raised-brow customers looking suitably entertained by the impromptu show. I threw them all a self conscious smile, lamp a-jumble in my arms, before following in O’s squiggly scooted wake but it wasn’t long before the gathered ensemble were treated to a second act. Stopping abruptly at a glossily enticing puddle, my called warnings against entering it falling on voluntarily deaf ears, O plunged in.
“Like Peppa!” he declared with a bounce sending muddy water flying in all directions.
Unlike Peppa’s parents, who frankly have no one but themselves to blame for their offspring so regularly embarking on muddy puddle splashing, I had broken furniture taller than myself to negotiate and adding a sodden son to the mix wasn’t part of this rapidly unravelling plan. Dropping the cluster of furniture like a heap of firewood a negotiation ensued which ended eventually with O reluctantly exiting the puddle and disappearing instead beneath the fringed lampshade.
“Hat mummy!” came the muffled sound from within… and so it was that a lampshade with wringing wet legs and a frazzled woman wrestling two unwieldy halves of what should have been a whole with electric wiring tangled amidst them both made their way to the car where it soon became apparent that there were considerable benefits to the breakage…there would have been little chance of it going in whole.
Once fixed the stand is destined to be a bedside table for my side of the bed, painted grey and with the madly marvellous shade replaced with a simple drum. A cardboard box temporarily serves on S’s side but unbeknownst to him (there you go again….the dictator at work) two wine boxes are winging their way here from a French vineyard, or more likely a Mancunian garage, which will be either oiled or painted….I’ll assess quality on arrival…..to provide him with a surface for the mandatory alarm clock and book plus an additional shelf in which to stack his piles of unread New Scientists.
“If you really hate the lampstand I’ll put it in the spare room” I have offered.
“I really don’t care” he countered with a shrug. “Its on your side.”
S’s laid back acceptance of a house evolving around him is perhaps just a way to make married life to his bossily obsessive wife a little easier….a woman who spends a Pilates class concentrating not on the accurate execution of her downward dogs as she should be but on downstairs… how the addition of a black and white runner in the spare room might serve as an aesthetic link to the gorgeous Fired Earth tiles in the hallway. Monochrome mixed with sage green? Will that work? Dilemmas like this consume my mind almost constantly with their apparent importance.
Another example of an M-manufactured dilemma is in the kitchen. Whilst for the most part this room has been furnished as per our original plans, one area has changed. With the omission of the banquette and the moving of the dining table over to the far poster wall we are left with a funny little area which temporarily houses a sofa and toy collection but would lend itself to becoming a ‘cosy corner’ furnished, I’ve been thinking of late, with a trio of armchairs pulled together by a rug…perhaps circular…a reading lamp or two and a coffee table. Its a campaign I’m currently hounding S surreptitiously with….much in the same way I did the hallway tiles…..with pictures of eBay armchairs being emailed on a daily basis. S remains on the fence….I’m not really sure if he agrees with my thinking or not but certainly none of my Ebay choices have appealed. “They all have a touch of the care home about them…” has been his predominant observation thus far.
The snug is undergoing a similar process…..one which has begun in my head and has remained there, until recently, uncommunicated.
“We are not really sure how we will use this room” I heard S telling a friend at dinner last weekend. I stared at him in indignant disbelief. I’d just finished conducting my own version of the house tour within which the purpose of the snug had been fully explained. I pointed this out.
“Ah” said S turning back to his conversation companion. “We know exactly how we will use the room. Or rather…. M does….”
That said the only thing definite about my definitive decisions is that they will most definitely change and that’s both before, during and after S has had a chance to feed in. The snug has, after all, gone from being a playroom to a playroom-come-office to daybed-sporting-TV-den to my current grand plan….a ‘light hearted’ library with bookcases enveloping two walls, blackboard-painted boxes lined up on the bottom shelves for O’s toys and the ‘light hearted’ bit coming from playroom-coloured cheer…a gallery of fun posters and that turquoise. The inbuilt snug cupboard has already undergone its Marraming offering an insight into what my snug rather than a collaborately designed ours might look like and an ominously sounding silence is emanating from the man about the house. To be totally honest I’ve joined him. Is it too bright? Is it too much of a departure from the grey of the hall or the lounge green? Will all of these random ideas of mine ever eventually knit together? Or do we just need a few more stags?
Last week whilst making wall murals for some dance lessons I planned to deliver I dunked a paintbrush into varying tester pots leftover from my interior deliberations and swirled. Green, grey, a touch of light blue and a shot of raspberry made up one. Grey, navy, turquoise and olive another. I stared. There had been no deliberation. There was no obsessing. I’d just mixed and matched and the results, I thought, were rather pleasing. S had agreed. “They look really nice, pet” he said. I’d beamed.
I thought about them some more. Perhaps they are proof after all that we can pull turquoise, green and grey together…..that we can tone down the lariness of a marram snug with wooden shelves, soft furnishings, art and books…..that we can liven up the corporate looking grey in the hallway with an injection of colour through a frame, picture or the insanely bold hit of colour from the new linen cupboard. Or maybe it’s just simply proof that I should stop planning, rethinking, nagging and obsessing.
But there’s still one worry. Does S really not care about any of this? Colours? Furniture? Accessories? I suspect actually that he does…..but……he cares about me more. He knows that in some odd way I need these superficial dilemmas to steer my mind away from thinking about situations Ill never be able to change with a coat of paint or addition of a rug so unselfishly he steps back and let’s me do my thing. Selfishly I take that for granted.
Perhaps those murals offer a much more profound lesson then than the one in colour combinations I first took from them. Perhaps I need to stop worrying quite so much about choosing chairs ….and actually sit on one instead.
Next to my husband.
Whom I love.
Another thing I regularly forget to say….