When the Cat’s Away…

Last week, knowing that S would be spending a couple of nights away from home and therefore safe from the disarray and mess of an M-style work in progress I figured it might finally be time to crack on and get the snug, the last undecorated room in the house, painted.

S had wind that a project of some kind was in the planning….

Throughout the week the postman had been a-knocking armed with varying sized boxes purchased in preparation of my scheme…or schemeing. First to block the hallway was a huge chest from EBay chosen for its multitasking potential as storage for bulky toys, surface for puzzle play and coffee table/footrest for when adults are curled up with kids and Frozen. Tugging the chest from its cardboard and styrofoam encasing I was greeted, however, not by a pleasant aroma evoking thoughts of contented play or movie nights but rather the heavy whiff of tar, sea salt and possibly pirates. The thickly applied black paint is, I believe, the culprit. I’ve yet to quite figure out what to do…..sand it back? Paint over it? Leave as is? I’m still mulling. S had the foresight not to even ask….

Next came a printers tray which I plan to use as a wall hanging. In its purchase I was reckoning that a few of the hundred small cars bought for O on a Ebay by Father Christmas which remain unplayed with could perhaps be repurposed as decoration if placed within the mini compartments. The tray might later also house the kinds of treasures gathered on walks ….fossils, stones and snail shells par example…..which if not swiftly salvaged from little pockets go on to lodge themselves somewhere less helpful and decidedly less decorative such as the washing machine.

Then there was a familiar Urban Outfitters delivery….its rugs now becoming a go-to for me. Two green and white arrow patterned specimens will sit overlapping on the floor beneath the chest to tie in the green found elsewhere in the house. Admittedly they look effective but what I hadn’t foreseen was that they act as a kind of unintentional skating rink sitting atop as they do a shiny wooden floor. Matting is now required….

Lastly came a set of wine boxes which I plan to put on castors and use as storage for Lego, bricks and the tiny trees, hoses, fire engines and figurines making up the plastic village of Ponty Pandy (within which its eight inhabitants seem to carelessly and consistently require the services of its heroic resident Fireman Sam.)

So with accessories arriving I realised I must finally cease with the umming and ahhing and make a decision about colour…a confounding conundrum with which I’ve now struggled for months. Having raided the cupboard under the stairs, risking the wrath of the unhinged door as I did so (which in its unfixed state more often than not makes both S and I look equally as unhinged …cursing blindly following trapped fingers and bashed heads) for any likely contenders from previous colour dilemmas and followed this by the rapid addition of a number of new mini tins thus swelling my, still redundant, collection I realised there was nothing for it. Off I went to F&B.

“Please help me” I began desperately. “I’ve got these tiles in the hallway…” I handed over an offcut “and these posters on the wall” I showed her a picture of my fairytale based quartet. “Plus the room is dark….there’s this tiny internal window and a doorway through to the kitchen”
I tilted my phone towards her as she hmmmmmed at the uninspiring image.
“Well…. painting everything white doesn’t make a dark room light” she said “so yes I’d go with something with definite colour although that grey is quite hard to match….” She rapped at the tile with a short glossy nail. Flipping through a rolodex-style box of painted wooden tiles she finally pulled two from within.
“I think this one….or maybe this one.”
“I’ll take both….” I said hurriedly “as samples and I’ll have a look”

Returning home I painted large sections on the wall before wondering if maybe….just maybe…..the hallway wall should also turn from white to grey. I swished a bit on an A4 piece of card and nestled it amidst the frame templates, now fully populating the wall and each representing a junk shop frame currently sitting awkwardly bundled on the landing upstairs in anticipation of the slow process of their precision mounting.

Later, as S and I made a conga-like transition from kitchen to the enveloping softness of the lounge sofa ….S taking the lead with bowls of pasta in hand and me following behind with drinks……he stopped short suddenly.
“Um…..what’s this?”
A bowl was tilted towards the hallway wall. Pavilion Grey was the exact answer but I chose, as ever, to keep the detail to myself.
“When the cats away….the mouse paints.” I said simply.
S shook his head in exasperation and continued his weary way to the lounge.

It was no coincidence that the timing of this new founded burst of energy to paint walls corresponded with the arrival of my mum, The Master Painter. I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous at first…..my irritating obsession with what I perceive to be the ‘correct’ way of painting a room….cutting in, ceiling, walls…..is nothing compared to the oft-voiced opinions of my mother.
“Get yourself a damp cloth” she instructed “then its there ready to wipe away any spills. No use waiting til its dry. I never understand why anyone gets drips on their sockets….just wipe….look….wipe with a damp cloth and it’s done.”
I stood aside as she duly demonstrated.
Bloody hell M, who did this?” she stared in horror at the light switch. “You’ve gone and got white paint everywhere….”
“Ummmmmm” I mumbled.
Fetching a blunt kitchen knife she proceeded to scratch at the paint as I squeaked my defense…..”it doesn’t really matter as actually one day I’d like stainless steel covers……”
That, I soon came to realise, was deemed to be no excuse.
With sockets now cleaned we surveyed the chaos of the room as well as that of the rest of the house as builders trudged through like muddy ants with armfuls of executed trees and shrubby.
“What’s first?” I said with a sigh. “How best to do this?”

With nowhere to store anything currently residing in the room finding some kind of floor-and-stuff protection was priority number one so I began the search for a dust cover. You would think, after the extent of building work conducted last year, that both dust sheets and tarp would be in ample supply. I looked in the loft. No luck. I peeped hesitantly through a crack in the door of the cupboard under the stairs and, shuddering at the mess found within ran away….quickly…..before the door attacked again. Finally I ventured outside where a brand new pile of mess sits jumbled on the patio. It turns out that most sheets had been kept in the shed (RIP) and were now serving, coupled with easy access to the nearby mini greenhouse of vegetable seedlings, as a luxury B&B for huge families of snails. Looking like we may have to resort to a stolen copy of J’s Daily Mail we then stumbled across a huge plastic sheet-in-a-bag once found discarded on the street outside and squirrelled away in preparation for eventualities such as these. Triumphantly we spread it out, shifting toys and ANOther paraphernalia (such as four dismantled school desks and every redundant charger and piece of electrical equipment from the office which I’m midway through clearing out) to one end of the room as we diligently started on the other. Working quickly we broke every rule in my DIY book by mixing cutting in and wall painting with wild abandon whilst sticking steadfastly to my mother’s….a wet cloth remained in hand at all times.

“Don’t think much of the colour” said J with a wink as he muddied his way past.
“I don’t much care” came my curt reply, softened with a smile. “Every one of our builders had something to say about the lounge green. I ignore it. ”
He laughed.
“No, I like it. I’m joking. Good paint that Farrow and Ball stuff. I use it all the time” and resuming his trajectory through the house called back “but I must say…..I’m confused about this hallway wallpaper…..”

The next day, home from his travels, I gave S a hug.
“You haven’t said how much you love the snug yet.” I said from his chest.
“I love the snug.” he proffered obediently.
I smiled.

The uninspiring image given to F&B

Surveying the mess

Notice the wet cloth?!

Continuing to work in mess….thank you mum for your patience!

The wine boxes have their makeover

Toys organised!

The pirate chest


Desk midway…..

O with easy access to toys….room is painted but lots still to be done. Pictures up, chest made over (somehow?) new lamp, sofa covers of some kind to cover up its blue, desks fully sanded and painted within and desk frames binned in favour of new wooden legs ….

A new lamp is needed….this is the much hated (by S) coffee shop purchase which broke on exit and is being used here only as an example of what we might do

The wallpaper…


4 thoughts on “When the Cat’s Away…

  1. Haha brilliant! And i love the wallpaper 😉
    I feel like I should have done this when we’ve got nothing but rotten 100 year old plaster to look at. Much more inspiring!

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