This is the tale of how a sad and neglected spare room/junk room got its mojo back by acquiring a gold ceiling and becoming my new office. Read on to find out what we did and for a quick room tour as well.
When we moved in this room was given to the 18yo (that birthday happened at the weekend) who was nine at the time. He was very clear about the decor he required: there was to be a black carpet, a lime green wall and shelves for his books. The other three walls were to remain white. It remained this way for seven years. It also had some luminous zombie stickers for added frightfulness. Two years ago he painted over the lime green and was going to paint the fireplace green instead but lethargy got the better of him.
Then, last year, he decided he wanted to move into the, larger, room next door, which was the former spare room. We asked the 15yo if he wanted to move out his tiny room into this bigger space. The answer (that boy hates change) was an emphatic No. So we heaved the old grey sofa bed in here and gradually the room filled with junk.
No-one really wanted to stay in it and the grey sofa, black carpet and white walls, in a north-facing room was too gloomy for words. To the ever-increasing piles of junk, was added the rarely-used ironing board, the laundry racks, and the stuff the 18yo didn’t want in the cupboards next door.
Something had to be done. We were wasting a whole room that we were lucky enough to designate as spare and it was mainly because we couldn’t be bothered to sort through all the rubbish. We needed a plan.
I was keen for panelling but The Mad Husband was insistent he wanted proper panelling and not MDF panels. The builder came round and quoted an exorbitant amount to fit said, extravagantly priced, panels. We went to Plan B – you guessed it – my favourite anaglypta. This one is Oriental Dado panels and we bought a dado rail (from Homebase) to be be fitted above.
So far so good. But the colours. For once I felt paralysed. I wasn’t sure we could replace the black carpet. Or the grey sofa bed. And, since the door is usually open, it needed to tone with the burgundy spotty stair carpet, which I bought from Alternative Flooring when we first moved in and still love as much today as I did back then.
So we had decided on burgundy. But the whole room? Half the room? The ceiling? The weeks rolled by and the decisions weren’t made. We wondered about our old favourite Down Pipe to tie in with the sofabed but I couldn’t bring myself to go back to it after having used it so much in previous years.
Eventually I hit on the idea of using the leftover Mylands Threadneedle paint from the bedroom on the top half of the walls and burgundy for the panelling. We had a plan. And then I started eyeing the ceiling. For a month I veered between burnt orange and ochre. The Mad Husband was on board – basically because he never goes in there.
Then Mylands rang. They wanted to give me some paint for the bathroom, which I was painting green to match the green wall in the bedroom. That was very kind, I said, but I have to match the greens and that was from Dowsing & Reynolds (I bought it for the bedroom and they sent me some more for the bathroom).
So I started chatting about the spare room. Orange or yellow? Well, came the tentative reply…. “We have a metallic gold…” I was so excited I nearly dropped the phone. But first to get it past The Mad Husband.
Now many of you ask about how to get your partner on board with decorating schemes. Marianne Shillingford, creative director of Dulux, recommends steak and red wine. I usually suggest a lot of talking and some compromise. But, to be blunt, I wasn’t prepared to compromise on this one. So I unloaded the dishwasher. And reloaded it. And did the laundry. And a few other generally helpful things like emptying bins.
By this stage he was eyeing me suspiciously. “I need you to sit down,” I said eventually. “Because there is something I want very, very much and I can’t allow you to say no.” (See how it works this compromise lark?).
“IwanttopainthespareroomceilinggoldandIwantitveryverymuchandyounevergointheresoyoucan’tsaynodon’tsaynoIwantitveryverymuch.” I said.
“OK,” he said.
So I rang Mylands and asked them to sent the paint on the wings of unicorns so he wouldn’t have time to change his mind.
Of course then I looked up and realised the ceiling was covered in woodchip. Now as I mentioned before in my post on paint; a gloss will show up every lump and bump while a matt will flatten it all out. Pulling down that woodchip would very likely have brought the ceiling with it and that was not in the budget. Instead we bought some very heavy duty lining paper. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good apart from a slightly freckly patch by the window.
This, and the painting, was done while I was away in Milan for the Salone press conference and then in Glasgow for some filming (more of which tomorrow). I texted from the airport as I was about to board a plane. “How does it look?”.
“Like a 1970s Indian restaurant,” came the swift reply.
And you know what? I knew he was right. This room isn’t big enough for all that colour. So I flew back and spent the weekend painting over the burgundy with more of the pale pink. And the result is what you see before you. And Alternative Flooring, with whom I have worked many times since I paid for that first stair runner, sent me this gorgeous carpet from their barefoot Hatha range, which is in natural undyed wool (Japa) and is perfect as it allows the gold ceiling to shine in all its glory.
The sofa bed was gifted to a good home and I bought a vintage Georgian writing desk on eBay. Welcome to my new office, or how the spare room got its mojo back.
It feels wonderful, not only to have a room of my own, as the saying goes, but to feel that every room in the house is being used and visited every day. Not least by Enid Cat, who has thoroughly inspected every corner from the top of the chest of drawers to behind the chair.