Up and down the land, couples will be sitting in stony silence after having had yet another row not about money or inlaws or whose turn it is to take out the bins, but about redecorating the house. You know what it’s like. You take down the Christmas decorations and suddenly the rooms look spacious and uncluttered. Unfortunately, they also look rather dowdy now that the glitter and glitz has been packed into boxes for another year.
There’s only one thing for it: a trip to B&Q. Plenty of choice there. And that, of course, is where the trouble starts. It’s amazing that the person you live with, whose politics you share and whose views on life you respect, can be so wrong when it comes to picking a pot of paint. While one partner might think that you can’t go wrong with white gloss on all the paintwork, the other might prefer a splash of colour to provide harmony or, perhaps, contrast, with the rest of the décor. And what about the walls – do you go for painted walls or papered? A flamboyant pattern or something simple and neutral?
But before even that, there is the thorny question of preparation. For one partner a quick fix is all that’s required: a perfunctory rubdown of the existing paint – or perhaps not even that: maybe a good wash over will suffice – then rip the old paper off and slap up the new. Or, if you want it done in a day, just paint over the old paper.
At the other extreme is the person who wants to strip everything right back, removing not just the wallpaper but also the lining beneath it. Of course, this is likely to mean some of the plaster will also come away, creating a whole different set of challenges. This same person is likely to want remove radiators and leave light switches and sockets dangling precariously so that every last scrap of paper can be stripped off. Then he will want to take one of the massive hair-dryer thingies to the paintwork and get back bare wood. Meanwhile the clock is ticking.
Clearly some compromise is called for between the standards of the perfectionist and the ‘that’ll do’ attitude of the other. This will involve negotiation, by which I mean debate, by which I mean arguments, shouting, huffs and sulking. The solution is often to leave the room as it is for now, which probably means until this time next year when the whole process can be gone through again.