After the 10th conversation about what I would do to the kitchen if we had the money and the justification for doing so, I heard the Mad Husband say to a friend: “She’s got that look in her eye. I know that look. She needs to decorate something.”
Turns out I have a recognisable decorating syndrome (RDS), which is good to know (and treatable if not curable) and then, well the opportunity kindly presented itself. In a way that gives me a project (two) and won’t disrupt The Mad Husband’s life at all. Winning.
Five years ago we redid the 17yo’s bedroom (he has been in there since he was seven and has refused to move to a bigger room during the ongoing Tetris that is this house). It’s very small (very) and an awkward L-shape. So I came up with a plan to build in a desk and a shelf bed and over the years we have added storage under the bed and more shelves at the other end of the bed and he extended the desk into an L-shape by propping up a piece of wood on a spare bedside table. And it would have been all very practical except that the 17yo is very messy. Very. Redefines messy. Plus he turned the desk into a work bench with a 3D printer and a drill press and a wooden dowel hanging across the window with all his tools hanging off it. And then the pandemic happened. And because the desk was full of tools and the floor was full of clothes he basically spent six months working and sleeping (and eating if I didn’t catch him in time) in bed.
Except for when he had zoom lessons when he went to my office, except for when the 19yo was in there for a change of scene. Meanwhile I sat typing furiously (literally and figuratively) on the sofa.
But the last six months have changed how we use the house (for so many of us I imagine). And so I have lured the 17yo out of his tiny den and offered him my study as it has two alcoves – one either side of the fireplace which means he can have a workbench and a work desk (we will remove the cupboard you can see below. It’s narrow and not much use. I have lured him out with the promise of a small double bed and space for a chair so he doesn’t have to lie down all day. I have not lured him with the gold ceiling. He’s not keen on that. I have tried to suggest wallpapering it (probably easier than painting over it) he looked at me scornfully and said: “Wallpaper? The clue’s in the name.”
So we are at a decorative impasse. He wants a white ceiling…. And I yes I know it’s his space…. I imagine we will compromise on off-white but he’s quite up for some Smalt on the walls. He was also quite up for a stripe over the bed and onto the ceiling to zone the space so we might do that.
As for my new office. Well it’s small; it would be almost 3m square except there’s a chunk taken out for the bathroom next door. So there’s an entrance that is 1.35 wide and just over 1m long and then it widens into a sort of square that is 2.4 by 2.8m.
I intend to practice what I preach and fully embrace the small, north-facing dark space by going dark and dramatic. There will be floor to ceiling bookshelves painted a deep emerald gloss – currently trialling Puck by Little Greene. I wanted these on all the walls (25cm deep is plenty enough for an Elle Decoration) but may struggle to fit my desk in. So I will panel the other walls and paint in the same green gloss. The ceiling will be wallpapered and I am looking designs by Ottoline Devries.
The furniture will come with me from my current office, the floor will be sanded and painted off white to match the rest of the house. I currently have my eye on one or two of the Persian rugs from the sitting room but they would then need replacing so that may not be a goer.
Above is a very bad photoshop rendition. The pink paint will go between the top of the panelling and the papered ceiling. The furniture is what I have already. I think, however, that fitting that chair might be touch and go so I may need a smaller one. The pendant lamp is from La Redoute and is probably the only thing I will need to buy. Ignore the floor that will be boards and rugs but my photoshopping skills ran out at that point.
As you read this the builder will have been to quote for the work and we will, hopefully have a start date.