I made some progress! I think I have started to see just a little light at the end of the ‘constant breastfeeding and never-ending baby and small child wrangling’ tunnel. For the last two Sundays I have occupied myself during daylight, and in a reasonably uninterrupted fashion, for a few hours at a time, with continuing my mission to do up the playhouse. And it looks fabulous, even if I do say so myself. And – my god – it feels fabulous to sense just slightly that I might get a little bit of my life back. (Even if I do spend that little time I have got back in doing stuff for the girls…)
So here is where we started.
Remember this? It was part-painted (the wall you can’t see here was still bare wood), and was tormenting me. The inside was, if anything, worse.
This is where I’d got to last time:
As I described, I found two little sets of shelves, spray-painted them, and hung them up, then filled the larger set with a plastic teaset and some poundshop treasures.
Well, time went ticking on, and the playhouse was still quite a long way from the Playhouse of Dreams. So I decided it would be ridiculous to finish the playhouse just as the girls grew out of it, and finally squared up to the task ahead, wielded my paintbrush, and revisited the poundshop. And here’s where we are now.
The trellis is particularly lovely, isn’t it? There are two nice things about this trellis. One is that having white trellis on that exact place is EXACTLY what I’d imagined going on a blue playhouse. The second is that it really did come from the 99p shop, and when I saw it there for less than a pound I was stunned. It was as though my imagining had brought it into being. (I have since bought a rose to grow up it, but that’s for another post….)
I am also rather taken with the rainbow plastic thing that twists in the wind. It’s obviously objectively rather hideous. But here, somehow, it works. And turns from naff into sparkly and rainbowy and beautiful. Aren’t aesthetics odd things?
The 99p shop also yielded up various stick-y things, or ‘fun things to put in pots’. A beaded butterfly here, a jewelled flower pinwheel there. I agonised for ages about what to stick them in (sand? cement?) and in the end just filled up some pots with compost from the composter and stuck them in there.
And look – I finished painting the inside! It took a little longer than it looks, primarily because of all the fiddly bits of wood, and because I had to keep taking the windows apart in order to paint the frames. I can’t count how many times I have now unscrewed those little boxes holding the window dividers in. In fact, after the wood preserver, the exterior paint, the painting of the dividers, and the painting of the inside, I could count it, but I don’t want to.
But all that said, doesn’t it look fabulous? I don’t have much time for painting anything these days. So I had forgotten how lovely the experience of actually painting is. Dipping dark bristles into thick paint. The slap of the brush against the wood. The instantaneous transformation. I am, as I’ve said before, a big fan of spray painting things. The mistiness. The novelty. The way the colours build up gradually. But I’d forgotten the simple old-fashioned allure of brushwork.
I found the initial letters here on ebay. I wondered for a while what colour I should spray-paint them, then realised one day that since it was their playhouse, and their initials, I should let the girls paint them. So I got out their paints and let them loose, only involving myself to encourage them to paint all of the letter leaving no MDF blank (ok, and then painting the edges myself, in a slightly obsessive manner). I was feeling dead pleased with myself until I remembered that their paints are – of course – washable. Meaning not weather proof in any way. In fact, the opposite of weather proof. So I had to cover them in about ten coats of spray varnish. But they do look good now, don’t they?
Naturally I fretted a while over what order to put them up in. Birth order comes out as RIP (Rosa, India and Persephone) which felt a little morbid. ‘PIR’ felt odd, ‘IRP’ like… well, like a stifled burp, and ‘IPR’ too similar to ‘IPPR’ the thinktank. But that seemed the lesser of all evils in the end (not to mention highly thought of and beautifully left-wing) so I went with that.
Next up on the to do list are to mend the window, to put in carpet tiles, to find a small blackboard for the wall, make bunting and to make some curtains. And then I really think I might be done. I mean, please try to contain your excitement when I say it’s actually possible that I might FINISH something.
On the curtains topic, I will say more in detail in a future post. But remember this laminated cotton I bought for curtains?
The stuff that Rosa loved so much, she took it to bed with her? Sad to say it’s not going to work out. I cut out two curtains, wondering as I did so whether the material would not have enough drape. Once cut out, it was very obvious that they didn’t just ‘not have enough drape‘, they actually had no drape at all. Imagine, if you will, trying to make curtains out of corrugated cardboard.
I was bewailing this at my local sewing class (“What can I dooo? I can’t use normal material. It will get covered in mildew!”) when my friend Kath, genius that she is, suggested shower curtains. Of course! Shower curtains. So I’ve ordered some shower curtains, and will make curtains from those. And perhaps use the beloved laminated cotton to make a table cloth and bunting.
So it only remains for me to add that after a rather lukewarm reception to some of my house improvements (remember the reading corner? The letters ‘RIP’ would really be quite appropriate there), the playhouse ones have been nothing short of rapturously received. Once I started to paint, Rosa came and looked at my progress, and shouted, “Mummy, it’s going to look AMAZING!” then when I did some more, there was plenty of, “Oh WOW!”ing. And since then, whenever they can, both big girls demand that I open the back door, so they can vanish down to the end of the garden and play long involved games inside it with ‘pixie dust’ flowers from the tree.
A success, I think. Hurrah.