To be honest, the world of home decorating and I have largely been strangers. Our paths have only ever crossed when wallpaper has actually been peeling off the wall or when mould has started to show through the paintwork. However, even I was starting to tire of the mud-coloured carpet and the increasing amount of clutter. So, when an investment matured and I found myself with some money to spend, I thought I might use it to revamp the ground floor of my small terraced cottage. But where to start? I mentioned this to a friend (who shall henceforth be referred to as The Colour Queen). She recommended that I should get in touch with The Decor Cafe and consider using their new decorbuddy service.
A perusal of the website revealed that this was a service designed for people who were busy and needed some advice, without having a style or budget imposed on them. This seemed to fit the bill as I work away from home a lot and therefore didn’t have a lot of time to do the necessary research. I contacted Debbie for an initial chat and sent in some photos as requested. Impressed by her enthusiasm (and wholly implausible flattery of my limited design efforts to date), I agreed to become a decorbuddy guinea pig. I assumed that this term was used because I am chubby cheeked and live in a small untidy home strewn with litter, but apparently it was because I was to be one of the first clients of the new service.
Over the next couple of weeks, emails, photos and colour samples were swapped with my appointed “buddy” and phone conversations took place, in which I was interrogated about what feel I wanted, what styles/colours I like, what stores I would be likely to use, what my budget would be, etc. As a result of all this – only 3 weeks after initially making contact – a 17 page “Mood Pack” thudded into my Inbox. This contained ideas for everything from colours to lighting, from floors to furniture and from windows to storage. Inevitably, it also included terms unfamiliar to a decor-innocent such as I: engineered flooring, floating shelves, feature walls! A follow-up phone call with my “buddy” brought enlightenment and also allowed us to talk around the suggestions in more detail. I liked the fact that it wasn’t a blueprint to be followed slavishly, but was more of a springboard to help me reach my own ideas.
Over the next few days I used the pack as a starting point for online research and gradually worked out my plan of action. As I only had a few windows of opportunity during which I would be at home, this advanced planning was essential. While I wanted to do as much as possible myself, it was also necessary to get tradesmen in to such things as laying a wooden floor, replastering a wall and changing many of the lights and switches. To that end, I hired skilled workers from all over the world…….well, all overPoland. Before they could start, however, I needed to empty the ground floor of the house. With only one small room available for storage upstairs, this necessitated a substantial decluttering exercise. I could have recruited a decorbuddy to help with this, but as I was the clutterer-in-chief, it seemed only right that I should be responsible for despatching the detritus of my life. In any case, had I not done it myself, I would never have made all those new friends at the local recycling centre, where I seemed to spend much of my time over the next week.
Eventually, once the ground floor was cleared and half the Polish population of North Londonhad added their contributions, I was faced with the BIG decision. What colour scheme to go for? I lost nights of sleep over this dilemma. Why do we have so many colour options anyway? It only complicates things! Life would be so much easier if we just had red, blue and green to choose from. Thankfully, I was able to narrow down the range of possible colours somewhat because the choice would have to work with my – regrettably multi-coloured – sofa bed, which was the only piece of furniture to survive the purge.
Both my decorbuddy and The Colour Queen had recommended buying paint sampler pots and painting large pieces of card, so I could see what the candidate colours looked like in different parts of the room. I wouldn’t say that I was indecisive, but does anyone want 17 half-used sampler pots? I gradually whittled down the options and painted the shortlist onto the “feature wall”, which ended up looking like Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. After further sleepless nights, I eventually arrived at a decision…….Orange. I chose 3 shades of orange, a strong one for the feature wall, a paler shade for the other walls and white with a hint of orange for the ceiling. I relayed this decision to The Colour Queen and was reassured to hear that someone eminent/knowledgeable had decreed that orange was the colour for 2012. Phew!
The painting was done over my next couple of spells at home and I am now the proud owner of a much brighter and more spacious-feeling residence. Of course, the feeling of spaciousness is probably due to the fact that the rooms remain largely empty. Much remains to be done: blinds, furnishings, shelving and storage. I have ideas for all of these, some of which come directly from my “Mood Pack” and some of which have been inspired by it more tangentially. Some of my wackier concepts have been rejected because they stray too far from the “anchor” that the pack provides.
So, some months after contacting The Decor Cafe, I now consider myself “decor-literate”. Not only do I know about engineered wooden flooring, I also know the merits of the different types of underlay beneath it. I am now an expert on the Dulux paint range and can provide advice on the umpteen different shades of any available colour……as long as it is orange! A decor-monster has been unleashed.