| 15.9°C Dublin

Our freshly-painted home is a reminder of a distant past


Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud, Rob Hodgson and Kay Ralph

Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud, Rob Hodgson and Kay Ralph

Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud, Rob Hodgson and Kay Ralph

It's shocking how excited I was about going home from holidays. It's not normal to look forward to the end of free time, but in this instance home time meant checking out our freshly-painted house. A job that should have been tackled 12 months ago, we finally got it together to line-up the painter for when our house was empty.

The sparkling white walls look so fresh and clean that it almost feels like we're living in a new house.

After years of wear and tear from three kids with questionable hygiene tendencies, it had become a horribly grubby space with paw marks on every surface.

The kitchen was the worst. No matter how well you think you've sponged down surfaces there's always that rogue Bolognese splatter that's found its way on to the wall or leg of the table unnoticed. Personally, it's the Weetabix bombs that kill me.

Camouflaged against the wood floor they go undetected until they've solidified into cement-like blobs. Some days you get a full gym workout trying to remove the hardened gunk.

Alongside the dirty handprints and stray food particles, what home hasn't found its walls viewed as an attractive canvas by creative toddlers clutching felt tip pens or crayons?

I know I'm not alone in discovering random, indulgent squiggles running the length of a wall, drawn in especially dark colours that stubbornly refuse to clean off.

One culprit I know was caught midway through a free-style mural in a friend's new house that she'd just finished renovating.

It seems her son and his pal weren't as impressed with the Farrow & Ball colour scheme as we were, and decided to undertake some custom marker flourishes.

While the couple appreciates creativity in their kids, they weren't so pleased when they had to fork out to have the whole wall repainted to hide the awful mess.

The reality of sharing your home with small children is especially tough on neat people.

Parenthood requires lowering your expectations of what a clean and ordered home is and forgetting everything you knew before the kids arrived.


Aside from a minuscule percentage of super-organised parents, most of us are destined to live in compromised circumstances for a decade or so.

That means we can all look forward to falling over school bags, shoes and dumped coats for the foreseeable future.

Laundry mountains now populate once Zen interiors and artfully-arranged ornaments flounder buried, broken or lost behind a stash of kids' books and paraphernalia. That's just the way a family home is, and that's before we even address the filthy paintwork.

Anyone engaging in a fresh paint job will also want to consider having the ever-annoying dents and bumps removed from the walls too. Nothing extraordinary, just the usual scars inflicted by years of scooters and buggies and stair gate brackets.

The improvement is immense, but don't let the white canvas lull you into a falsehood that life is about to change for the better.

Your home may look shiny and new for a brief, glorious moment, but you'll soon realise that where you see a clean wall kids may see a challenge.

Our painter thinks we're mad choosing white paint, arguing that it gets destroyed quickest and shows up everything.

Deep down we know he's right but somehow I can't let go of that hope that one day soon I may once again live in a clean home.