A tale of four houses.

It was a big year for my friends and I, in the space of 12 months 4 of us had bought our own houses. Our houses were all different, but they were ours,  we were responsible for them. It was down to us to ensure that they were looked after and decorated appropriately.

House 1 was a big house, standing 3 storeys tall and sporting 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a large open plan living room / diner / kitchen and small concrete yard out back.

House 2 was smaller, a 2 story 3 bedroomed house with spacious living room and kitchen and a downstairs loo with a large garden.

House 3 was a maisonette, with 2 bedrooms a small kitchen and a long thin hallway on the ground floor leading out to a small garden area landscaped with unique and beautiful flower beds..

House 4 was a ground floor flat, 1 bedroom, large living room and small kitchen.

All very different, with their own lists of chores needed for maintenance and rooms needing to be decorated. We knew that we had our work cut out but that ultimately all four of these properties could be wonderful homes full of happiness and enjoyment if we looked after them properly.

We all decided to employ the same decorator. After all, we were very busy and decorating is very hard work needing time, training, patience and knowledge. This decorator came very highly recommended, every one said that he had great results and all the houses he had decorated looked fab. So we all went a head and hired him.

One of us, with house 1 was very busy, they didnt have to check on their house at all. He would give her updates every now and again on how her house was doing and she might have some questions to ask which he would answer and she would be happy  that he was keeping her up to date.

Another friend (house 2) was also very busy, but would check in on her house every so often and peek in through the windows of the house to the rooms to see the progress being made. She saw walls being painted and wall paper being hung. All looked to be doing wonderfully from what she could see. Sure she might not have chosen THAT colour for herself, but it looked ok on the walls.

The owner of house 1 returned to her home when the decorator told her it was finished. She was suprised walking around, the rooms looked ok, painted, wall papered with all new shiney fixtures and fittings. But it felt sterile. There was nothing special about the house. No character. It looked exactly like all the other houses in the street. When she went to the top up on the 3rd floor she found that it had not been touched. No decorating done and it was in quite a mess. It would take years and a lot of money to repair the damage caused by neglect. The decorator mearly explained that his job is only to work on the first two floors and that the top floor was someone else’s job. It wasnt his problem any more and he was moving on.

The owner of house 2 was fairly satisfied with her house. Sure it was decorated in some colours that perhaps she wouldnt have chosen herself, but it was perfectly functional and comfortable for living in. She had to do a bit of work in the garden as that wasnt the decorators area of knowledge so she employed a gardener to take care of that, he ensured that she had a healthy grass lawn, he wasnt there to landscape it or put down any plants or flowers, one lawn to match the others in the area would be quite sufficient. She was happy there and made it her home.

Now the owner of house 3 was a bit different. She knew that while the recommended decorator was a professional, it was her home that he was decorating. She understood that once he was finished she would be left living in her house and he would return home and begin work on other houses. She paid a lot of attention to what he was doing. She visited her house often and played a very active role in talking with the decorator and looking around inside her house. Yes it took time and she could have been doing other things, the decorator wasnt very welcoming all the time, he was used to being left to get on with it without being disturbed or questioned but it was her home!! As she walked around her home she found that each room was decorated a different colour. Not all colours that she would like either. In fact she knew from talking to her friends that he seemed to be using the same colours in the same rooms of all of their houses. She looked around her home and questioned “why do they have purple bedrooms when mine are grey and this green colour?” the decorator replied “They also have a grey and a green bedroom, but you only have two bedrooms so these are the colours of bedrooms one and two” He explained that you dont get to have a purple bedroom until you have a grey room and a green bedroom. She wasnt happy with his explanation. She would be the one living and sleeping here, surely she could have the bedroom that she wanted. The decorator was adamant and explained that was just how it was done. “but the bedroom would look lovely in purple!, it would pull of purple really well!!” but the decorator smiled and said “no”.

When she looked outside at her beautiful unique flower beds she found that the flowers had withered away and died. They were covered instead with decorating supplies that the decorator had required. The supplies had smothered their beauty and individuality. She got quite upset at this and questioned the decorator, who apologised but explained that it was necessary. That the unique beauty of the flower beds did not take priority over the job that he had been tasked with so it was a sad but inevitable loss. Possibly the beautiful flowers would regrow, as long as the soil had not been damaged permanently by the paint, rubbish and chemicals that had been placed there. This was the final straw. She told the decorator to leave, that she would finish the job herself. The decorator wasnt happy, he tried to tell her that her home would not reach its full potential, that decorating in this way would prepare it for when she decided to sell it as this was the current colours that were expected. It didnt matter that no one knew what the desired or expected colours would be when she did decide to sell. No, she had had enough. Sure it would take time and patience and she didnt have training in decorating, but she had certainly painted a wall before and was sure she could do it again.

It took quite a bit longer, she had to go over a lot of the decorators work and to try and treat the soil and regrow the flowers was very tough and draining. For that she did ask for some professional help. Several gardeners tried telling her that they couldnt help because she should have never got rid of the decorator, had she kept the decorator they would have treated her garden for free. But her house and garden would never be the same again. Over time she was able to have the walls painted the colour she desired and yes over time flowers grew back, she never managed to quite get the old ones back in all their glory again though, they really had been quite unique.

The owner of house 4 having spoken with her friends and hearing their experiences decided in the end not to have a decorator after all. She was sure that she could decorate her house however she saw fit. She wanted a room of rainbows and flowers on her doorstep and window ledges. She wanted pets and trees and murals and notice boards and bookshelves. The money that she saved by not paying a decorator she spent on travelling, she was able to experience places and try different foods and visit museums and parks and zoos. She filled her home with souvenirs from all over the world and knew that it was hers. Comfortable. happy, unique.


Its a funny world isnt it, the same decorating treatment just didnt work for four such wonderfully different homes. It was obviously no great surprise. One size doesn’t fit all.

As a society we are happy to do our own decorating to have our homes how we want them, we are happy to do our own research before buying a cr to ensure we get one that will meet our needs, we research and plan our own holidays, our own meals our own hobbies even our own careers. Yet why, when it comes to our children are we happy to lay down to what the government, a bunch of suits who have never met our individual children, decides is best for them en masse? Why is it in every area of our lives do we research and read up and check reviews and follow evidence except a childs education?

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