HOME IS WHERE THE DOG IS (posted 17th November 2017)
Any interior designer will spend inordinate amounts of time getting their home up to scratch, perfecting the environment that is essentially their own shop window. Even if we don’t actively ‘sell’ from this particular interior we are always aware of other people’s perceptions of our own, private space and how it might reflect on us and our ability to design. It might just be me, typically indecisive, but every choice I make is caveated with ‘will I like it in six months’ time’. Every decision is marginally hampered by ‘what will the neighbours think’, or more traumatic still, ‘what will my colleagues think’. Sometimes I even take into consideration my husband’s feedback...
Five years on, we are still in the mid-design stages in our house refurb. This is a particularly painful time for an interior designer as we have to make very clear what has been ‘done’ and what remains to be attacked. God forbid anyone gets it the wrong way around. That happened, in our last house. I chose a beautiful, ornate Osborne and Little wallpaper for a dining room wall that a friend assumed was an unwelcome leftover from the previous occupant. It wasn’t. He knew I was displeased and I’ve never let him forget it. Design heathen.
So back to the mid-stream refurb, our kitchen is all done, ready for inspection by any visitors, even the ones that probably aren’t interested. I’m not sure our chimney sweep wanted or needed to know all about the combination of finishes and fixtures, the blend of vintage and contemporary, the mix of wood, stone and lacquer. He liked the hot water tap, but I suspect that was only because it made him a cup of tea that he could drink while I rattled on.
Our living room is as complete as a constantly evolving living room can be, but it is Forth Road Bridge time for this particular room, it’s been done for so long that it’s time to start again. Hallway and dining room, tick. But do not, not yet, go upstairs. Do not judge me on our bathroom, with its 10x10cm ceramic tiles decorated with shells and dolphins and navy-blue carpet. Carpet, in a bathroom. I’m so sorry. Don’t glance at the bare plaster walls in our bedroom. Pay no heed to the horrendous curtains or the half-stripped walls in the spare room. You can cast a very quick eye over the children’s rooms, but my children live in them so that immediately compromises my vision of what they should look like. Children are messy, messy creatures who don’t like putting clothes away unless you pay them to do it. And apparently, we don’t pay well enough.
But, I have a solution that throws all these worries about interior design out of the window. A solution that makes our house an instant home that we unfailingly adore coming back to. A solution that distracts any visitors instantly from the peeling paint, un-sanded floor boards and bare plaster. A solution that makes our petrol blue velvet chesterfield sofa just that bit more inviting and comfortable. This solution comes in the form of a little rescue pup that joined our family only three months ago. A mix of dachshund, terrier and something with longer legs. A friendly, funny, black and tan mixture of who knows what. A stray from Cyprus, picked up and rehomed to us via the amazing Wild At Heart Foundation (look at the website at your peril, you’ll have a dog in no time).
This is the dog that runs so fast her ears go inside out. Who sleeps with half her body hanging off the sofa, nose touching the floor. Who is properly scared of the cat, so much so she walks around with her head averted in case of accidental eye contact. A dog who will cool off her tummy by lying with spatchcock legs in wet grass, even in November. A dog of such personality she makes us all feel privileged to have her in our lives. My daughter has never laughed so much or so hysterically in her eight years, my son sits with one hand on her head, whilst playing on his iPad. He doesn’t put the iPad down, but we can’t have everything. Even hubby-not-really-a-dog-person is won over and sits trapped with her on his knee for hours on end.
Talk about making a house a home, our little snoozy bundle manages to make cosy nights in front of a box set on TV even more appealing. She manages to make our new kitchen look like a magazine cover, put a dog on a lovely tweed bed in front of a Victorian radiator and it’s a winner every time.
So this is my answer for any interior design dilemmas. If your living room is missing that vital elusive something, if your kitchen doesn’t quite hit the right note, if your bathroom has disgusting navy blue carpet on the floor, if your kids are incapable of picking up their clothes or tidying away their Lego, just add an element of dog. Responsibly of course, and after all due consideration and careful thought. A dog is for life etc etc after all.
And, maybe take into consideration getting one that coordinates with your colour scheme. That’s a joke, obvs.
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