Hello! First may I just apologise for the month-long blogging hiatus. In my defence, moving four Pink House Dwellers, a highly breakable pink neon sign, a very large wooden oar, seventeen tonnes of Lego and about "infinity" (the 4yo's term) other things from Edinburgh to South East London is a fairly time-consuming activity. Throw in the summer holidays, a lack of childcare, a desperate need to find schools for the boys (sorted now thank the LORD), no wifi for weeks (BT you’re no friend of mine) and an inability to find my pants, and you might get an inkling of why it’s been a bit quiet on the blog front of late.
But sort-of-normal service is starting to resume – I’ve washed within the past five days, I’ve found my pants and the kids have been unleashed to explore the four-acre communal woods behind our house. They’ve been gone a few hours now but I don’t think I need to worry until it actually gets dark, right. Right? Oh and if you’re looking for me between slightly-less-regular-than-usual blog posts, I’m to be found on Instagram @pinkhouseliving, which I like to see as a short-form, daily version of the blog. So do pop over to the squares and say hi if you haven’t already – it’s a great place to chat.
Anyway, back to the new-house project in hand. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where to start when it comes to pimping a new pad, so I thought I’d share those thoughts with you, lovely Pink House Guests. And if you have any other suggestions on where to begin when you’ve just moved to a new abode, I’d love to hear them – please share in the comments below.
So without further ado, here are my musings on 5 ways to get your new-home renovations off to a flying start…
1) Start with...sleep
If the small Pink House Dwellers’ bedroom is any brighter than Donald Trump’s soul, my kids don’t sleep. If my kids don’t sleep, I don’t sleep. If I don’t sleep, I argue with the Pink House Husband. If I argue with PHH he won’t agree to my fabulous interior plans. If PHH won’t agree to my fabulous interior plans the whole renovation project is BUGGERED.
And so, if your family set-up even slightly resembles mine, I’d urge you to fit the kids’ bedrooms in your new home with bespoke blackout blinds as a matter of urgency. If, like, me, you’re planning to redecorate their bedrooms completely, choosing blinds made out of a fabric you love (useful if child also approves), will also create a great starting point for the entire room’s scheme. Me and my 7yo are planning on a jungle theme for his blind fabric – here are three of the front-runners (does anyone else find fabrics for boys' bedrooms quite the challenge?):
2) Start with...stuff you love
Here’s the thing: when you’ve got a whole house to decorate, instead of just a room, you can start to feel a bit overwhelmed with all those paint charts, Pinterest boards and folded-over-corners-of-Livingetc pages (is that just me?). And such feelings can lead to you forgetting what it is you actually LIKE when it comes to colour schemes, styles and sofa fabrics.
What you need is to remind yourself of the shit that makes your heart SING. And the easiest way to do that is to look at the stuff you bought just because you fell in love with it, and not because you were fitting it into some scheme or other, or following a trend: The painting that caught your eye while you were wandering through Soho. The Christmas decoration you loved so much it’s still on display in July. The vintage lamp you spotted on eBay that makes you smile whenever you pass it. Focus on these items, position them prominently in whichever room you intend to keep them, and let them inform how the rest of the space will look. This concept also works with those images of interiors that occupy prime position in the ‘swoon-worthy rooms’ section of your brain. For me, it doesn’t get much better than the combo of pink and green, and images of Pietro Nolita, Palm Vaults and House of Hackney keep swimming in front of my eyes. It’s highly likely my main family room/kitchen will be swathed in pink and greenery. And I’ll be forced to buy a House of Hackney dress just to keep the fabric front of mind (that’s the sales pitch to PHH sorted).
3) Start with...structure
As luck would have it, I am in possession of an excellent uncle who also happens to be an excellent architect living in London (did I mention I now live in London?). Said uncle (let’s call him Fred, because that’s his name) came round last night at my request, bringing with him various scale drawings of my new house, with various walls removed, or bits added on. Now I’ve done knock-throughs in period properties before and I’m in no hurry to go through that dust-choked nightmare again, but I know I need to think of the bigger picture. Which is basically that if I don’t sort the structure of the house NOW, I’ll add on layers of plaster and paint and expensive wallpaper and then it ain’t never going to happen, and then my house will never reach its true potential. Deep breath (wearing a face mask) and let’s get that sledge hammer out.
4) Start with...windows and floors
I’m a very impatient person. Even writing that sentence made me impatient to get to the next one. So when it comes to renovating an entire five-bedroom beige-bathed Edwardian house, my instinct is to instantly slap Farrow & Ball on every magnolia wall; literally paper over the cracks. But I know this would be foolish. Because aside from the aforementioned wall demolition/erection (why is that word so FUNNY today? Maybe because the moon’s in Uranus) I ALSO want to replace the cornicing; build in shelves, cupboards and wardrobes; replace the plastic windows with wooden sash-and-case; and rip up ALL the laminate flooring and investigate the state of the floorboards underneath. And I know sorting windows and floors is a messy, time-consuming, expensive job, but I also know that if I paint the walls and construct the cupboards first, when it comes to sorting out the floors, I’ll have to deconstruct the cupboards and repaint the walls, and ultimately the whole thing will take longer and cost more.
5) Start with...the thing that most excites you
I just told you NOT to do that didn’t I? I told you to leave the fun stuff like wallpaper until you’ve done the labour intensive, dirty stuff, didn’t I? But bear with me here, because I’m talking about the fun stuff you can do WITHOUT having to do the boring, expensive stuff. Like painting your front door. Or buying a fabulous new rug for not too many £££ (try La Redoute, Marks & Spencer and H&M). Or finally getting a fiddle leaf fig. Because renovating is hard work. It takes ages. It requires patience. But sometimes you need to just give yourself a break, because you know what? If you don’t take the whole thing too seriously, doing up your new home can actually be fun *heads straight to Jonathan Adler to buy rocket gin decanter; drinks gin.