Try as we might to pretend our homes are havens of peace and tranquillity, the truth is that the bathroom's a battle ground, the front room's a field of war, and there's been a massacre in the master bedroom...Yes; those of us with Style and Taste often find ourselves confronted by our nemesis (AKA the partner/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend) who stands in the way of all our excellent interior ideas.
But NEVER FEAR - The Pink House is here to help. We've rounded up some of the UK's savviest interior addicts who've worked out how to win the interior war. And they're here to share their secrets.
First up is wallpaper fanatic and stealth decorator Jess Burnett, Design & Interiors Director at UP PR, who lives in London with her husband Anthony and their two children, aged 10 and seven. Over to you, Jess...
"Stealth is my main weapon when it comes to winning the interior war against my husband Anthony. I like colour, pattern and lots of wallpaper (so do the kids - I've converted them), but he prefers everything to be painted white – or magnolia, he’s not fussy – with polished floorboards. This causes problems.
"So I usually wait until Anthony goes out. And then I decorate - fast. I’m a dab hand at putting up wallpaper and can whip up a wall in no time. I’ll smuggle in wallpaper paste and hide it behind the kids’ football stuff. Then he’ll go out for lunch; just enough time to get a feature wall done.
"I did our bedroom in Fornasetti keys wallpaper while he was out late one night. When he woke he was surrounded by foliage. “Why am I sleeping in an f***ing hedge?” he demanded. He wasn’t chuffed. “Darling, it’s a Fornasetti hedge,” I replied, but that didn’t seem to improve matters. I don’t know why – happiness is waking to a glorious wall-hedge covered with gold keys, not an expanse of white.
"I think he’s on to this technique though - last weekend my bag of decorating tools strangely vanished so I couldn’t do any of the stealth decorating I had in mind. He claims he hasn’t seen them anywhere, but I’m not so sure. I’ve declared an amnesty on all decorating products until Saturday. If they don’t turn up I’ll just head to Homebase and buy some more. Ha.
"I’ve tried showing him things before I do the decorating. Big mistake: if he says he hates it, it’s much more difficult to go ahead anyway. I once asked him to hold some plates I planned to hang on the wall, while I checked the height. “They’ll look stupid; what are you thinking?” he scoffed. I explained that hanging plates on the wall is a thing, but still he vetoed it. If only I’d waited until a friend came round to hold them for me instead they’d be on the wall already. I’ve propped the plates on the mantelpiece for now but I’m planning to gradually creep them up the walls; I’ll get some of those sticky hooks and move them up until they reach the perfect position. He’ll never notice.
"Then there’s being creative with descriptions – for example, I told Anthony I wanted to paint an alcove grey, and he agreed. But what I had in mind was dark charcoal, and I knew he was thinking more off-white. While he was out I got to work – predictably when he returned he wasn’t impressed. But I knew it would take him six coats of white paint to get rid of it and, true to form, he hasn’t bothered to erase it. He lives with it – slightly sulkily – instead.
"My biggest décor triumph is also wall-related – it’s the six meters of large scale cloud wallpaper in our living room. Anthony complains it isn’t even wallpaper; it’s a “massive mural” apparently. But it’s been great for helping us meet our neighbours – it’s visible from the street and we’ve had people coming round to ask, “what’s that on your wall?”
"It’s not just my walls he has a problem with. In the kitchen I have a lovely collection of Campbell soup cans; they’re for decoration, of course – I won’t let anyone eat them. “What’s the point?” he always says. “Soup is for eating! It’ll go past its sell by date soon.” He just doesn’t understand.
"I once allowed him to get involved in the decor: when we first moved in to our new house I let him choose the colour of the stair carpet as he was so keen. Our stairs are now donkey brown. Never. Again.
"However, he can claim one major interior triumph...A couple of years ago, while in the process of buying a bigger property, he said we shouldn’t order the sofa until the purchase was confirmed and we had the keys. I ignored him and bought a huge L-shaped sofa anyway. Of course, the purchase fell through and we ended up having this massive sofa delivered to our small flat. For three months you had to climb over the sofa to get to the kitchen, and every time he had that ‘told you so’ look on his face. To make matters even worse, the L is the wrong way round for the property we did end up buying. To this day that same look passes his face whenever he sits on the awkwardly-positioned sofa."
Jess's Top 3 Tips for Winning the War
- Use stealth at all times; never confess what you're planning
- Enlist the kids - they can be your greatest interior allies
- Never let him anywhere near a decor decision
Did YOU win the interior war and have a fabulous home to show for it? If so, The Pink House would love to hear from you - please comment below and leave your email address if you'd like us to get back to you.