Monday, April 24, 2017

Be Careful What You Wish For...

I’ve been in DIY mode this month. I finally managed to whittle down Mr H into agreeing on a new carpet for the hall, stairs and landing.

It’s the last BIG job that needed doing in our house and, after all of the upheaval of a complete new kitchen and living room in the last twelve months, one he was reluctant to commit to so soon. He is prone to being sensible like that and I find it infuriating. I’m an act-on-impulse-let’s-just-do-it kind of girl. I only ever consider the consequences when it’s too late to do anything about them. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, he finally relented when I introduced him to the bold, stripy carpet I had set my heart on. A bold stripy carpet that could be laid within just ten days if we so desired!
I so desired.

It went without saying we needed to redecorate and, because I really wanted that carpet, I refused to listen to Mr H’s caution that he was really busy at work and wouldn’t be around during the week days to help me. Perhaps ten days is a bit ambitious?

“That’s fine!” I pronounced with infinite confidence. “I’ll have most of it done by the weekend. You’ll see…” It was just one hallway. I mean, how hard can one hallway be to redecorate largely on my lonesome? What I lack in sense, I make up for in blind optimism.

Since those rash words, I’ve been drowning in gloss paint and definitely feeling my age after scrambling about on my hands and knees to paint the bottoms and over-reaching to get to the tops.

I suppose sensible people hire the services of a painter and decorator, but being neither sensible nor the sort of person to entrust my house into the hands of a stranger I much prefer to do it all myself. Or at least I think I do at the start of the project and bitterly regret that decision somewhere around midway. With the hallway, the regret was almost instant because there is a lot of wood in my hall. A lot of wood! Bannisters, spindles, never-ending skirting boards, eight big doors and eight big doorframes. They all needed sanding, which filled the house with dust, and they are all fiddly which drove me to distraction. But I sanded my heart out because I'd said I was up to the task and I'm stubborn as well as misguided.

Painting the thirty-nine spindles was a special kind of hell in itself. You paint them, then spend the next two hours revisiting them with your trusty brush to catch all of the inevitable drips. I thought I’d got every pesky drip until the paint was completely bone dry and I saw a couple of huge ones set like stone for eternity (or until I next time I get the sander out), dribbled like stalactites on a cave wall.

And then there is the physical pain to contend with. Glossing skirting boards gives you back ache, knee ache and arm ache. The doorframes give you neck ache and arm ache. The doors just give you arm ache but at least I now have hulk-like muscles in my right arm which I am sure will come in useful when the arm ache wears off. If it ever wears off.

There is also the inherent problem with sticky gloss paint, because it coats your hands and is a pig to get off. It doesn’t matter how much soap I’ve used, or how viciously I’ve scrubbed my skin raw, my hands still have the faint aroma of white spirit several days on. Short of flaying all the skin from them and waiting for it to grow back, I don’t know what else to do to get rid of the smell.

I painted all of the downstairs walls and Mr H did all of the ceilings over the weekend. At 6’10” he was born to paint ceilings and doesn’t need a ladder, so at least I was spared that onerous task. He also proved to be a dab hand with the extendable roller and managed to cover the huge expanse of wall in the deep stairwell with the stylish ivory, wipeable emulsion I chose.
It’s funny. When we bought this house, it was brand new and every wall was covered in magnolia. Back then it was our mission to de-magnolia the house to put our own stamp on it. In the last two years, we have redecorated it in varying shades of cream again. A sensible person wouldn’t have changed the original décor, but as I’ve already said, I’m not sensible.

Painting finally done, I had to clean the house. The dust got everywhere, so everything needed polishing, scrubbing or vacuuming to within an inch of its life. As with all big decorating jobs, stuff got moved to facilitate the painting, and that all had to be dragged back to its proper place and every room then got de-cluttered because every room leads off my fabulous, pristine new hallway. You know how it is, decorating shows up all the other flaws and they all need to be righted or they drive you madder than an itch on the arch of your foot while you’re motoring at 70mph on a road you can’t stop on. So now I can add housemaid’s knee to my hurting Hulk arm and broken back. But my house is spotless.

It won’t last.

Yesterday, the carpets came. I say carpets because I chose two. A dark beige for the downstairs entranceway and the bold, daring, candy-striped delight which was the root cause of all this pain to cover the stairs and landing. When we had the last carpet laid a decade ago, it took the fitter two hours. But that was plain and this time I chose striped… Suffice to say, I was woefully unprepared for the five hours I spent held hostage in my own living room with only my phone and daytime TV to entertain me while the difficult flooring was laid.
With hindsight, I’m glad I never holed up in the kitchen. I was so bored by hour four I might have availed myself of the knife block and put myself out of my self-imposed misery. I can assure you, time has never gone so slowly and there is only so much Candy Crush you can play before you want to smack your head against your cream wall and howl at the moon.

A sensible person would have taken in their laptop and written a few chapters because her next deadline is looming. But then again, a sensible person wouldn’t have embarked on a huge DIY project when she had a deadline looming either!
I will probably rue the day I impulsively ordered all of that turf for the garden. Turf I was adamant I could lay. Turf that arrives this Friday and has to be laid in twenty-four hours…

Virginia Heath writes witty Regency romantic comedies for Harlequin Mills & Boon. The first book in her 'Wild Warriners' series, A Warriner to Protect Her, is released this month

An heiress in distress and an earl in disgrace… 
When heiress Violet Dunston escapes from an abduction, she finds an unlikely protector in Jack Warriner—a member of one of England's most infamous families. Ensconced with mysterious Jack behind his manor's walls, soon escape is the last thing on Letty's mind! 
Jack may be an earl, but his father's exploits have left him with nothing to offer except a tarnished name. He's turned his back on the ton, but with Letty tempting him day and night, he finds himself contemplating the unthinkable—a society marriage!

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