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All the pretties!

Please 🤞!

Since I suffered a glut of army quarters and pukey magnolia paint for years, too many years, I've really wanted to decorate properly, soooooo badly. You know, take a blank canvas and actually throw my personality at it, wallpaper, paint and all the glitter!

Many of my friends say 'oooh I like your style Donna' and I am perplexed, for I have just done a quick job, of placing things I already have and coped with whatever rental colours I'm given. I just try to throw confetti at those bland walls and cover the rotten carpets with rugs. Job done.

It became a talent of sorts, this thing I do. We move in, I wave a wand and a cozy room soon takes shape. In little under two weeks, there's a home. Tad Dah. Sows ear into a silk purse, I guess?

When we were moving with small children, way too often, I always felt the need to lessen the blow for them. If home was a nice place to be and recognisable, then surely they would feel more grounded?

You'd have to ask them if it worked?

I did sometimes feel, like the world was spinning around me and home making was the best thing I could offer.

By now, I definitely have rental apathy and I actually despise renting, spaces that need better maintenance, renovating or at the very least a fresh carpet and lick of paint. It's exhausting and it's a trap. The positive I will take from all this, is that I know what spaces work and I know what I like.

Always go for a handsome or pretty exterior. The interior can be worked on, but unless you have the funds for a Grand Design, leave the ugly where it is.

We have owned several houses over the years and found with fluctuating markets, us moving from one side of the world to the other more than once, it was just too much of a worry. Renting made more sense from that point of view, but it went on rather longer than anticipated and is probably why we bought the French house in the end. Just to have something solid somewhere, waiting.

I'm definitely not a wallflower when it comes to interior style, but I really haven't had the chance to prove it to myself. We try, when renting, to have very little impact on the house in question. It seems to be expected these days. God forbid one would actually want to make it a home, of course we do, but there's a fine line between investing in ones lifestyle and investing in someone else's home. The short term gain is not worth the long term loss and is very bad for ones bank balance. So, it was with regret that I limited my interior style to lamps, art and cushions!

I did my best.

However, the worm is turning, my powers are being unleashed and consequently I have tiles, wallpaper and paint turning up daily ready for the off.

My name is Donna and I am a MAXIMALIST!

This first French house (yes there will be others) is my pet project and really my first go at it all! I've surprised myself with what I like or don't and also I'm learning more about how a room is built from the facilities up. Yes, I've already wished I hadn't done this or that, but I will learn and fast.

For instance, the vanity I wanted for the dressing room is now legendary for the fuss and faff it caused. I didn't think about the backdoor bits, such as plumbing and electrics and those walls are mighty thick! Even now that it's in, we've had to remove it again, to build a false wall, to hide all the doings! I am not popular I can tell you!

I'm not hugely into the tiles I bought for the main bathroom shower area, but positive now that they are cool, because House and Home (can't remember the name of the magazine but I feel justified) have them featured! I will make it work and that room is the only one out of many I'm not really confident about at this point in time.

I haven't gone beige folks, it's not in me. I'm not frightened of colour, we need colour in our lives.

It's bizarre to me now, how I spent soooooo many hours stripping old wallpaper from those walls, only to be wallpapering again! The house really does suit dark and moody, it's original hue. The rooms are voluminous with very tall ceilings, they can take a little frivolity.

Those endless layers of really expensive flocked jewelled green wallpaper, really did suit the house, only the house lacked maintenance and therefore it was all damp and mouldy. It simply had to go. The glue was possibly designed by NASA for it never wanted peel off, which was rather tiresome. Even now, in the study, we are still trying to get rid of wallpaper that simply won't bugger off!

One thing I have discovered, is how expensive decent paint and wallpaper is! So I've tempered the expensive with the less so and Dunhelm has definitely won my heart this season. Great decorating supplies, on trend and for not a lot. Other wallpaper is from Farrow and Ball but I've metered how I've shared my budget to make sense.

Tiles? Initially we shopped local to the house in France. We bought the main bathroom tiles there, but had to wait months for delivery. We then ran short and re ordered mid December. We have only just got them months later and so it made sense to find tiles in stock from this point. I used a British firm called Your Tiles and they were also much cheaper!

Paint? Well what a faff! On the French side I needed 10 litres for the master bedroom. I couldn't get the colour mixed and the customer service was rather lacking. 'Come back in January they said'. Oh FFS! Also, I find French paint inferior to British. Not Sorry. Expensive and nasty, so I am using a mix of, Farrow and Ball, Little Greene, Fenwick & Tilbrook for main areas.

So far it's been fun buying, but the proof of the pudding is now in the getting it on the walls! My poor husband has been rather perplexed at my choices and can't quite see what I'm doing, yet. He's not hugely into aesthetics in the same way I am and equally, I don't speak engineering, plumbing and electrics, we muddle through, both learning as we go.

The French house will not be boring that's for sure!

We could have used Leyroy Merlin and Brico for all our supplies of course, but I wanted different not the same. Our Bathrooms are from TOTS online and very good quality. My one splash out, is the Big stand alone Italian Bath for the dressing room, we will gloss over the getting it plumbed in bit!

Our Hallway floor is reclaimed oak and I can't wait to see it down, herringbone pattern, the panelling painted and those chandeliers hung, a nice mix of old and new, but first the ceiling has to be put back up, because we've run a lot of plumbing and electrics through there.

I want a tomato red front door.....wonder how the Mayor will feel about that! Dear Mayor, you've let the Creperie nearer to the church than we are, paint their frontage pink and black...erm....!!!

I've been on the search for Fire surrounds, as the originals were fancy, but fragile and crumbling. I've ordered a salvage piece from Ireland and hope with a little magic she will be just fine and dandy, but we did get hoodwinked into buying a marble fire surround which turned out to be resin!

The expensive new windows are in and making a huge difference, I guess they were worth the money. We did try to save the originals with their paper thin panes, but honestly they were too rotten. We fought 'rotten' for a while, until we realised why she was so cheap to buy! She needed a full overhaul!

We did have architects plans drawn up and got planning permissions for an extension, pool and barn conversion. We haven't used it, because of the amount of money it would add to the project bill. Ouch! Instead we moved the kitchen from the back middle to the front. We lost a formal living room in the process, but it was totally worth it. Then we opened up that room into the old pantry, making the space flow better, feel more open and modern.

Upstairs, we've open up some rooms and joined them up to make suites. Saving period features was really rarely possible, without also saving the damp issues with the house. So, the only real features left are some panelling, the salon x 2 oak floors and the old double front door! Everything else is new. The house walls have been reframed and insulated against damp and cold. Worth doing. I couldn't live with a sticking plaster approach.

The house has new plumbing and electrics all round, but we've saved many of the old cast iron radiators. We are on mains drains, so that's good. no need to make a new septic tank, the cranky monsters in your garden! Stinky too!

The theme is taking shape, botanical meets pink and black. I've ordered my first Mural from Bobbi Beck for the dressing room and whilst there's a few good months of faffing ahead and nothing much to show you yet, I'm excited or deluded, whichever suits!

It has been a long and winding road to get to the light at the end of the tunnel, yes! We've turned a corner now and are on the home straight, literally.

Oh I've just remembered , we've yet to start the second floor!

More soon!

D x

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