Saturday, 30 November 2013

White Space

In common with roughly 25% of those resident in the UK, I live in a rented property and have done for roughly 6 years (11 if you count student accommodation too). Although I've lived in different types of properties - houses, flats, halls of residence - they have all had one common theme. White (or magnolia) walls.

White! Everywhere!

As much as I like clean lines, and light and airy spaces, I also like variety. I like patterns. I like colour.

As a teenager and student, I covered my walls with pictures, posters, photographs and any other items that could be easily affixed, just to make that space my own. At my parents' house, unlike at university, blu-tack was not banned, and once I grew out of the pink floral wall paper of my childhood, I tried to cover as much of it as possible.

My bedroom in my teens
Later it swung back to a cleaner blue with minimal things on the wall which I liked at the time as it was more "grown-up" and calm (you know teenagers, they can't wait to be "adults"). At university it was back to covering many surfaces with photos and postcards, mostly to put a bit of me into the identikit rooms.

Having escaped the university requirement of not damaging the walls, I discovered the joys of renting and tenancy agreements. Don't get me wrong - I full understand why most unfurnished rental properties are painted in white or pale shades. Not only is it cheaper than coloured paint, but you can put any colour with it and it works - no trouble with clashing soft furnishings or prospective renters being put off by the bright orange living room.

At first this was fine - partly constrained by budget and time - I lived, worked, bought things, sold and gave away other others, was given items - and the white walls were a barely  considered backdrop. However about 2 years ago, finally living in quite a nice house (though probably not one I could afford to buy any time soon - in some ways renting spoils you!) I started feeling oppressed.

Yes, I could paint the walls and put up pictures, but always in the back of my mind were those clauses about returning the property in the same condition (excepting fair wear and tear). I felt like I was living in a world of blandness. Where had all the pattern and colour in my life gone? What could I do about it?

From a practical point of view the cost (both monetary and time) of adding colour by painting walls, when the likelihood was of being asked to paint them back to white again, was too much, so for a long time I did nothing. Occasionally I ranted about not being able to do what I wanted, but essentially I gave up.

I moved house again* and decided I would start doing things - one of which was making my home space a place I enjoyed living in, rather than a container I rattled around in.

I read books, articles, and blogs. I started looking around me for inspiration and discovered Pinterest, and became inspired by all the people out there doing the same thing, sometimes on a much smaller budget, sometimes on much bigger budget. And finally I started my own projects.

Painted by me... 

Why didn't I do this before??

It is so much fun turning an unloved item or bland piece of furniture into something you like. I look at one item everyday and it makes me smile; not only because I love the way it looks but because I think "I Did That"! Ok, so personalising my living space is still a work-in-progress, but I now find inspiration everywhere (and far too many projects on my to-do list). What has been so exciting is not just the items, or the daily boost to my happiness when I see them, but also that fact I now get inspired in so many places I go - by patterns, by items in charity shops and by others online.

I'll be revealing what the pieces above actually are, and showing you their transformation from boring to beautiful, so, if you like what you've read, or the taster of what's to come (even if you can't guess what they are yet!), then please pop back later.

*The irony is, that this last move was to a house that has very little white. Woo hoo! I thought I would love it - but in reality, I have had a fair few "Ugh! Who would choose to do their house in neutral browns and beiges, ugh! They don't go with x and y." moments. You live, you learn.... still can't be bothered to repaint though.

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