Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Decorating Tips for Busy Parents

Last Friday we were overtaken by an urge unlike any other (keep it clean people, not that kind of urge, this is a family blog, remember?).

No, buoyed by the promise of a house empty of children for the following six hours, DH suddenly announced that he thought we should crack on with the decorating in our hallway.

Words cannot express how much this surprised me, bearing in mind that it has been nearly 18 months since we started decorating the hallway.  I know this because with DIY being such a rare event around here, I took a picture of my husband painting the walls at the time to mark the event.

So, over a year later we had finally decided on a whim to get on with finishing the painting - namely 9 doors, several metres of skirting board and the b*stard dado rails that some idiot had decided were a good idea to put up 14 years ago*.

It was kind of like the start of an episode of Sixty Minute Makeover, in that the urgency to complete this task before the small people descended on us again at 3.30 pm and put their fingers, faces and any other available bodily parts in the freshly painted surfaces, was fairly great.  Only we didn't have Peter Andre or that annoying Linda Barker woman who used to be on Changing Rooms in the 90's helping us. Although Peter Andre and I do have a few things in common (shops at Iceland - check, love my kids - check), that is pretty much where the similarities end.

So with the six hour makeover now complete (who am I kidding?  Its been a whole weekend) I feel that it is up to me to impart a few words of wisdom onto other parents who may be tempted to start the process of re-decorating their homes, sans offspring.

That skirting board there?  Looks identical to how it did before it was painted...


Firstly, it had been 10 years since we last embarked on decorating our hallway, which to some may seem quite slatternly but we had a very good reason.  The skirting boards had seen better days, it was true, but when you consider that 90% of the paint on them was made up from the die cast coatings of Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, from toddler after toddler smashing them into the doors and walls, it really is no wonder that we had chosen not to bother until now.

Decorating is not a skill that I am naturally proficient in (I cannot even remember how the hallway originally became a different colour to the one it was when we moved here) and so it fell to DH to direct me in the ways of wielding a paintbrush.

My first mistake, as apprentice decorator, was to pour some of the gloss paint into another container, so that we could each start decorating in different parts of the hall.  This was wrong.  I discovered this just a minute later when DH dropped the tin of paint onto the living room floor, spilling it under the door and sticking the newspaper, which was thankfully protecting the floor, to the bottom of the newly painted door.  It was my fault because I had dribbled paint down the side of the tin you see, making it too slippery to hold properly.  *sigh*

My next mistake, was to not get the memo about taking the masking tape off the walls before the paint was fully dry, in the words of the master, "so that you get a nice crisp edge".  Whatever.

After this I was relegated to "masking off" duties only, where I could apparently do less damage discovered my next revelation...

It turns out that when you can't be bothered to vacuum right up to the edge of the carpet (which is all the time, right?) and it then goes a bit grey and manky looking, rather than using the special tools on your Dyson to dislodge the fluff, a far quicker way of dealing with this problem is to wait until you decorate.  When you mask off your carpet edge you can effectively remove all of the fluff (plus the odd dead spider and other assorted insects) when you later come to rip the tape back up.  Clean carpet edges guaranteed.  You're welcome (always thinking of tips for my readers, me).

Lastly, do not whatever you do, spill your gloss paint on your very expensive carpet as you carry the tin around the house.  I was very careful not to do this.  DH was not.  But, it was my fault for dribbling paint down the tin earlier.  Obviously.

And so, several hours later, we had a newly decorated hall which looked a lot like it did before we started, a ruined carpet, and vague thoughts of divorce in the back of our minds**.

We had at least achieved the seemingly unachievable - completing the decorating in a house full of kids.

And the best bit isn't even the sense of satisfaction, the beautiful paintwork or the really clean carpet edges.

The best bit of all of this is that we won't even think about attempting this feat again for another 18 months at least.


* Don't look at me, it wasn't my idea...

** Joking, in case my mother in law reads this.

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