Thursday, June 2

MY DECORATING DNA (OR OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE (RE)DECORATING)

I have a bit of a different post for you today. More personal than usual, but I felt it was relevant to share here, especially as people can never believe how often I want to (and do!) redecorate. I've never really had an answer as to why I do it, other than that I love it, I get bored with rooms and colours easily, and so I do it, but the other week I had a bit of an epiphany.

I've realised that my upbringing has had a huge influence on my Obsessive Compulsive (re)Decorating habits, but the penny has only just dropped...

I can count eight moves between the ages of seven and seventeen (when I left home), so that's an average of a move every 15 months. It may have been more. I guess that's a lot.

My family moved from Auckland in New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia when I was seven (I am Antipodean in the true sense of the word). Not long after we uprooted our lives and found a place to live in Sydney, my father left, and moved back to New Zealand. Our lives then became a never ending merry-go-round of moving house, as my mother tried to support four kids on her own, make ends meet, and keep a roof over our heads. I know it wasn't easy.

Sometimes it would be just us living in a house, then as my older siblings left home, to make her life slightly easier, she would rent big houses and fill the rooms with boarders (as we called them in Australia, lodgers as they're known here in the UK) to help pay the rent. They were either friends, or people she knew from work, so they were never total strangers. The houses were usually party central, so life could be a little chaotic, and um, noisy. It was never boring, and there was usually someone around to help me with my homework. My life, and the houses we lived in were the polar opposite from any of my friends at school.

We would sometimes stay in one house for years, but would then have to move because the rent would go up, the landlord had other plans for the property, or we'd get kicked out because my mother had neglected to reveal that we also had a big Old English Sheepdog (that'll be a Dulux dog to you!), and two cats! I remember having to hide all traces of the animals for house inspections, and taking the dog out for a long walk until the coast was clear.

It was totally normal for us to be moving again. I never gave it a second thought. It was never sad or scary, it didn't make me feel insecure or that I had an unstable or underprivileged upbringing, because I knew my mother had it sorted (truth is she was probably scared witless a lot of the time, but she never let on).

And she NEVER let the fact that these places were rented get in the way of making them beautiful. Because the houses were usually pretty run down (and therefore more affordable), the landlords were nearly always willing to let her do whatever she wanted, so it wasn't uncommon for some paint to be slapped onto the walls, and many pictures and plants hung. I remember in one house there was a huge mural painted on a bedroom wall by a work friend. And then painted over again. She didn't have the money to do much more than that, but she would fill those houses with so much character. She's always loved a bohemian look, so there was usually an abundance of textiles hung and draped here there and everywhere, and her bedroom was always particularly amazing - layered with more textiles and tonnes of costume jewellery on display. And baskets. Baskets everywhere. She always made these houses look like beautiful homes, and people would be clambering to rent a room. I suppose it helped that the parties were legendary, but I like to think it was more about the way she made the places look. Hindsight is great, but as young teen, all I wanted was a 'normal' house like my friends, yet they would come to my house and be totally blown-away and never want to leave. The grass is always greener, right?

My compulsion to redecorate didn't really kick in until I'd finished my party years and settled down, which didn't happen until I met my husband Ed at 30. We met when were both working in the television world on a job in Thailand. I was living in Koh Samui for about three and a half months and I had totally decorated my little 'villa' with local textiles.

When I moved to London, the first thing I did (bearing in mind that I only knew one person in the entire country other than him, and she and Ed were both working) was paint the entire house. He must have thought I was completely bonkers, but he was quite pleased all the same.

It hasn't stopped since, and thankfully Ed knows that it's just me - that's what I do, and he doesn't blink an eye when he hears about my next plan. In fact, I think he'd be concerned if I wasn't planning to redecorate in some way, shape or form.

Looking back now, I realise that all that moving around and decorating as a child and teenager really shaped the way I look at my home, and is probably a big part of the reason that I get bored of rooms quite quickly (some would say VERY quickly). I thrive on change. And I absolutely love moving. I must be one of the few people that finds it super exciting rather than super stressful.

It's unlikely that we'll be moving from our current house any time soon, and we've now been here for nearly nine years. It's the longest I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life, and I do miss the excitement of moving. So how do I deal with the itchy feet and 'boredom' of living in the same place for so long with no plans to move?

Well, I room swap, and I redecorate. A lot. I can't help it, it's part of who I am, so why not make the most of it, and have fun?

My friend Tania joked a few weeks ago that it's like I hear the paintbrushes calling whenever I sit still. And just the other day another friend (half)joked that I had some kind of redecorating illness. I think they're both right, but it could certainly be a lot worse!

The thing is, and sorry for shouting, but IT IS NOT HARD TO PAINT A ROOM. It just isn't. The hardest / most tedious part is the prep, but the rest is easy. The difference that a new wall colour can make is ABSOLUTELY HUGE. So in sacrificing just ONE day, maybe two of your time, you can dramatically change a room. It's magical and exciting to have the power to do that with just a can of paint, a brush and a roller. For a small to medium sized room, you can completely alter the look and feel for between £25 and £40 (plus tools) depending on what brand of paint you choose. You just can't argue with that. So honestly, I don't get it when people are completely gob-smacked that I'm painting 'again'.

Swapping rooms around is a little more challenging I admit, but when needs change, and kids get older, or if like me you just get bored with the way things are, sometimes it means that a home can just work better, so don't rule that out either for the sake of a few days of mayhem.

So far in this house, my studio has been located in four different rooms. We've moved our bedroom twice, Baxter's room twice, Edie's room three times, and I'm currently plotting another studio move (which I'll be telling you all about in the next week or so).

It's funny that I've only just put two and two together, though who can say for sure, but I'm pretty certain that my upbringing has at least a bit do with my redecorating habit.

So here's a little look at a couple of rooms in their various guises. Mind you, I've not been blogging the whole time, so I don't necessarily have photos of each room looking it's best. I can see my choices have gotten bolder over the years (and my photography and photoshop skills have improved somewhat too!)

Oh and I've just realised that like a true interiors geek, that I remember the name of every paint colour used without referring back to paint cans. Ha!

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog









Bedroom - clockwise from top left

Chalky Downs 6 by Dulux
French Grey (original 113) by Little Greene and the floorboards painted black. Big mistake!
Green Blue by Farrow & Ball
Pale Lime by Little Greene (this is when I briefly moved our bedroom to another room)

And this is how it looks now, but maybe not for much longer, in Lamp Black by Little Greene, and the floorboards painted white. Yes it did take lots of coats to cover that black!

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog











Next up, the Living Room, which has actually only had two colour changes since we moved in...

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog


On the left is Chalky Downs 6 by Dulux, and on the right, the beautiful Hick's Blue by Little Greene. And below, the current look, with walls painted in Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball.

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog

The Dining Room in it's original Chalky Downs 6 by Dulux (and the new sideboard before the top was installed!)...

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog


And in it's Grecian Spa 4 (Dulux) phase...

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog




And now, in it's pretty in pink incarnation - Pink Ground by Farrow & Ball and a fresh coat of floor paint...

Obsessive Compulsive Redecorating - French For Pineapple Blog


I could go on, but I think you probably get the idea. It changes. A lot. And I love it.

Right then - psychoanalysis over. L E T ' S  P A I N T !








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8 comments

  1. Hey your rooms look great & no it's not just you or the fact you moved a lot, I'm exactly the same & my dads still in the same house after 40+ yrs & me 23yrs now, I'm always recolouring rooms & moving the rooms purpose round too. I had 50 different foster children over the years & they used to 'help' me, I let them choose me an email address & to my shock they had realised my habit & set me up with decorholic@, so ye !

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    1. Hi Rose, thanks for your comment! Ha, I love that your foster children chose that email for you! And what an amazing woman you are fostering all those children - the world needs more people like you. I think it's also about keeping things interesting and fresh. I house not changed for years on end for me, is stagnant. Change is good!

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  2. I just wish I had your energy! It's the prep that always puts me off but I know it's essential for the best finish. Loved this blog piece.

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    1. Prep sucks - no doubt about it, but the end result is always worth it! X

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  3. Love seeing all the transformations, they all look great actually! I think your need/desire to redecorate often is definitely down to how you grew up, and since moving and redecorating was linked with joy and pleasure and not the usual dread, I guess subconsciously you are emulating what your mum did, creating happy, fun spaces. I believe that we are the sum of all our life experiences, both good and bad ones and I guess yours was good since you enjoy redecorating/repainting frequently! Hah! I sound like a psychologist, which I'm not, but I find our human behaviour quite fascinating! Look forward to seeing a lighter??? bedroom again? or green gloss?

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    1. Hey Sharon! Aw thank you. It's funny looking back at all the old shots - I had actually forgotten the bedroom was ever the green colour! Oh yes, I like that theory, and we're all amatuer phychiatrists at heart! Surprisingly I'm not planning on changing the bedroom just yet, as there's so much else to do, but that could change any minute. Ha! X

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  4. Love this honest blog post and hearing about your childhood. The 2 things are definitely related. All the room varieties in your pics all look great too! A change is as good as a rest they say...

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  5. Oooh ya know, I didn't move much as a child (once when I was 2 so don't remember, stayed in the 2nd home for 12 years and then the third for 7 until I moved out at age 20) HOWEVER I moved like crazy between the ages of 20 and 35 - I think I've moved 20 times over the course of 20 years, never staying in one place more than 3 years that whole time. We've been in this house now 6 years (as of Sunday!) and it's the longest I've ever lived since I was a kid. I've often thought that all that moving was fun and exciting and challenging - and always decorated my spaces best I could. And now, living in one spot, I constantly change my home as well. So yeah, I definitely think it's related to how well you embrace change (personally I thrive on it) so it makes total sense. I love the story of your upbringing though and I always knew your mum was super cool so this didn't surprise me at all! xxx

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So, what do you think? I'd love to know!

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