Everyone tells you that when you have children everything changes. True, it does. And no amount of warnings and well-meant advice can prepare you for this. It’s a truly life-altering, mind-blowing, earth-shattering, fother-mucking game changer that’s for sure. Some things I was more prepared for, or at least aware of, than others; for example, sleep deprivation, because literally every parent on the planet warns you about this. Other things have taken me more by surprise like umm my first sneeze-wee post birth and more importantly, well for the purposes of this blog anyway, the effect children would have on my interior design decisions. Yeah, that’s right I’m talking soft furnishings and shit (by which I mean actual human soil). This blog deals with the serious issues.
When we moved into our house the top priority was to redecorate the main family living room. It looked more than a bit dated and was covered in a delightful trio of wallpaper in an ‘eclectic’ mix of pastel peachy hues and various shades of green ranging from pale pistachio to a more classic-1970s-bathroom-suite-avocado, mmm tasty! We decided to jump on board the ‘paint it grey’ bandwagon, which seems to be the millennials’ magnolia. It turns out that there are far more than 50 shades of grey. Indeed the choice was quite overwhelming-did we want a warm grey, a grey-neutral or a not-so-grey-grey? Not sure, and I was getting distracted by the names-enigmatic elephant or dappled dove? (Inventing alliterative paint names, what a top job that would be!) Literally the best family friendly DIY advice we’ve had from friends (with kids obviously) was to get wipe clean paint. Not only did this dramatically reduce the number of shades of grey to choose from but it’s also very handy for easily cleaning up the toddler’s drip and splatter à la Jackson Pollock painting style used for liberally adorning the walls with paint and food.
That’s the walls sorted. What about the floor? I was quite tempted to leave the sticky-back-plastic protective floor covering in place, practical but fairly unap-peel-ing to the eye (sorry, couldn’t resist). The parquet floor was aesthetically the best bit of the room (and wipe-clean-able) so full carpet coverage wasn’t on the cards. Time to review rugs…
Don’t know the difference between hand-tufted and hand-knotted? Neither do I. I need my furnishings (and friends and family for that matter) to be resilient and forgiving. I want to know how they cope with stains and how forgiving is the pattern i.e. can stray shreds of marmalade subtly blend in? And they need to be pretty tough, by that read man-made, because I’m not talking light soiling; I’m talking heavy duty family ‘wear and tear’ – melted crayons, trampled-in mud (oh no, maybe it’s fox shit) and crusty bogeys amongst other bodily fluids. As much as I love Mrs B and the C.W.A. (see previous blog entry) their advice on stain removal seems heavily reliant on organic solvents and whilst they’re pretty up there on cleaning marble and banishing mildew they don’t really address the aforementioned matters afflicting my furnishings.
But I digress, as usual, so back to rugs… clearly there’s no point lusting after luxury items, which aside from being ludicrously expensive aren’t tough enough for a family home, like some bespoke organic hand-tufted (or knotted?) Himalayan alpaca tapestry-esque delight. Hmm, there may be no point but clearly, I still do! In my parents’ dining room is my Granny’s beautiful pale green oriental silk rug, which I remember from my childhood. Specifically, I remember me and my cousins repeatedly being told not to make a mess on it and my Mum desperately blotting at various stains when we inevitably did. When we visit said rug now gets covered by a plastic fantastic floral tablecloth from the random aisle in Lidl that works wonders as a splash mat for family dinner times. Praise be for #Lidlsurprises.
Can a rug be tough enough, on trend and on the cheap? There’s THE La Redoute Afaw Shaggy Rug that’s so popular it’s got its own Instagram account with over 2K followers (jealous, moi?) that boasts photos including small children and pets, but they look suspiciously well behaved and are pictured snoozing or playing happily (no messy snacks or potty-training incidents). The website states the rug is “easy care, vacuum regularly. Remove stains immediately with a clean, damp cloth. Dry clean recommended.” Hmm, I’m not convinced my vacuuming regimen is regular enough and for my household stains a damp cloth just won’t do. So, it’s back to the temple of IKEA for the ubiquitous family-friendly multicolour, low pile, 100% nylon children’s LEKPLATS rug. The website highlights its key feature as “the rubber backing keeps the rug in place when the child runs/plays on it”, it’s machine washable and it’s only £14-sold! (Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with or sponsored by IKEA. Although just for the record I would happily be.)
Oh lordy, I’ve rabbited on about paint and rugs for too long so I think cushion covers and curtain fabrics will have to wait until next time. I know…you can hardly wait…cliffhanger!