brown wall

Living Room Refresh | Before

We painted the living room last night.

I dunno… we’d just gotten rid of the huge hole (and associated mess) in the hall, and had the new flooring installed to cover it… I guess we just thought there wasn’t quite enough MESS in the house already?

OK, I jest. Obviously. As it happens, right before the whole Hall Hell thing went down, I was excited to be approached by Farrow & Ball about a possible collaboration, involving painting a single wall in my living room. You see that murky brown wall with the TV cabinet (hate that cabinet) against it? That’s the wall in question, and repainting it has been on our To Do list since we moved in, basically. This collaboration would be the kick in the butt we needed to get on and actually DO it, so I said yes, the paint arrived… and then this happened. Ah.

Anyway, now that we have the hall back in working order, and some of the mess has been battled back, we’re ready to get on to some of the things we’d been intending to do in the house before everything got so dramatically delayed, and the wall was first on the list.

Here it is, in all its brown glory:

brown wall

Now, if you’ve read any of my other posts about our house, you’ll be unsurprised to hear my usual disclaimer at this point:

This isn’t a colour we’d have chosen ourselves.

(I’m actually going to add another quick disclaimer to that to say, “Yes, I know it’s really bare and spartan looking. That’s not a design decision, it’s because we moved from a much smaller house, and, well, we don’t really have enough furniture to fill it all yet. And we still can’t agree on artwork. We’re working on it.)

This is the colour that was on that wall when we viewed the house for the first time, and also for the second time. When we actually moved in, however, it looked like this:

crazy wallpaper OMG

Yes, for reasons that will forever remain a mystery, the previous owner had allowed the tenants who were living in the house at the time to wallpaper that wall. While the house was on the market, and had a good chance of being sold. (Seriously, who DOES that?)

Now, I don’t want to bag on anyone’s taste, so no offence to anyone who has, or who likes, this wallpaper, but in addition to not really being our taste, it was also really hard to look at. I mean that literally: everyone who visited the house on that first day agreed that after just a few seconds of staring at it, those lines would start to look like they were moving, in some strange optical illusion, which I worried was going to trigger a migraine at any second. (I mean that literally too, by the way: sometimes horizontal lines and patterns can really mess with my brain if I look at them for too long, and they CAN actually trigger migraines. Just to make matters worse, this is the wall we planned to put the TV on, so every time I sat down to watch something, I’d be staring at those strange, moving lines. It’s making my eyes feel funny right now, actually…)

Anyway, unlike everything else in the house, this was one feature we DIDN’T think we could live with, so the day after we moved in, Terry, my dad and a bunch of our friends got to work on the garden, while my mum and I tore down that wallpaper.

(It was actually kinda sad , to be honest. I mean, it may not have been MY taste, but someone had gone to the trouble of buying it, and putting it up, and I felt really guilty and horrible for tearing it down so soon. This is why I’d make a terrible home decorator. That and the fact that I’d just paint everything white…)

This left us with the dilemma of what to do about the wall underneath, which was now brown again, but looking a bit the worse for the wallpaper removal. At that point, we hadn’t given a second’s thought to what colours we’d eventually want to paint the room (the wallpaper took us rather by surprise), and as it was only day 2, and we still had the entire house to unpack, we decided to go for the easiest option, which was just to give it another quick coat of brown. Luckily the previous owner had left a tin of the original paint, so we decided it would be easiest to just patch it up with that, and then think about it later.

So, now it’s “later”. And yesterday morning, the living room looked like this:
living room: before

living room makeover: Before
back wall of living room

Farrow & Ball had kindly provided us with the paint for the “feature wall” (I feel like that phrase is giving the wall credit it doesn’t really deserve, hence the inverted commas), the repainting of which would’ve been a pretty quick job – no more than a morning’s work, really. But…

“Once we’ve pained that one wall, it’ll make the other walls look a bit shabby,” I pointed out.

“And the light switches,” said Terry, who has something of an obsession with light switches and plug sockets. Yes, really.

“Also those horrible, ’80s office’ blinds,” I said, warming to the theme.

And that’s why last night, having only just returned the downstairs of our house to some semblance of normality following last week’s chaos, we promptly messed it all up again, in a bid to re-paint the entire living room, remove the blinds, and also one of the light switches.

I’ll be posting the “after” shots next week sometime (We, er, still have to actually paint that feature wall first…) but just in case you’re sitting on the edge of your seats, expecting some big, dramatic reveal, I’m going to ask you to kindly lower your expectations, and then keep them lowered for the duration of the journey. Because yes, we painted three of the walls white. OF COURSE we did. I mean, I know everyone thinks white is boring and dull, but so am I , honestly, I’d have everything in the house white if I possibly could. Our style is very light, bright and minimal… which is handy, on account of that whole “we don’t really have a lot of furniture” thing. So white it is. Hands up who’s surprised?

Anyway, having spent all of yesterday evening painting, I now feel like I’m living my own private hell, in a house which will just never, ever be clean and tidy again. And we haven’t even started on the powder room. Or the kitchen. And we’d also quite like to re-paint our bedroom, actually. GOD.

Here’s how Rubin felt about last night’s painting activities:


I know exactly how he feels…

books by Amber Eve
  • Come on, I want to see how it turned out!

    My house is all white walls, but each of the bedrooms has a “feature wall” done in wallpaper. However, it was chosen by a professional interior designer so I like all of the wallpaper except the one which has, in big curly script, “Illusion is the first of all pleasures” about 30 times on the one wall. Apparently the 16 year old girl whose room it was previously loved it. I’ll get around to changing that one day.

    October 16, 2014
  • This makes me think of the opening lines of Storm “Inner North London top floor flat, all white walls, white carpet, white cat.”
    I think it’s best to get it all over with at once, and then your done with it. If I had the option I’d paint my entire house cream, with dark hardwood floors. I like white, but sometimes it’s a bit to stark for me. And I can’t do bright patterns like that either, for the same reason as you.
    I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!
    Fashion and Happy Things

    October 16, 2014
  • Fran


    I think white is the best possible colour to paint a wall. So light!

    October 18, 2014
  • Seven years in my house and we’ve just painted a room. We did have the house built with our chosen colors, so I guess it’s no surprise that it took a while, but let me say I absolutely hated every minute of painting. The mess was especially hard to handle and going with a dark color is a little intimidating. It takes more time, more paint, and more work when you accidentally paint the white ceiling and trim that you weren’t supposed to. White is a good choice! 🙂

    October 21, 2014