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When Paint Goes Bad {And Other Tales From The Dream House}

Author: Lauren Coleman

My new house hates me. I came to this conclusion whilst I was scrubbing off freshly applied paint at midnight a couple of weeks ago. I don’t tend to make a habit of undoing hard work but in this instance the paint just had to go.

In an effort to prepare for re-carpeting the upstairs of our house, James and I have been embarking on the rather mammoth task of decorating all three upstairs bedrooms as well as the hall, stairs and landing in our rather limited, spare evenings. Last year my dad painted the dining room in our old cottage and eight months later we decided to use the leftover paint for this job. As you may have seen on our recent Right White post I had the pleasure of painting umpteen swatches to illustrate the post and Dulux Timeless was one of them. It seems when I got the paint out to do this I didn’t secure the lid on properly. Folks if there was ever a lesson in storing your paint correctly then this is it. In leaving the water based paint exposed to the air the water had become stagnant and it had gone off. Who knew paint could go bad?! Well I do now. Good God people, THE SMELL! While there was no whiff when we first started to apply, the sour stench of the bacteria as it started to dry back was bloody awful. After about half an hour of internet research we destroyed our new paint job scrubbing back with an all-purpose cleaner, then again with a white wine vinegar solution before painting again with an alkali attack-resistant primer. Not really they way I’d planned to spend the early hours of the morning. Thankfully the smell has gone and I haven’t lost faith in Dulux paint either, this was definitely our cock-up.

This wasn’t the first hiccup at the new Chez Coleman. In the first ten weeks of living here we spent more on maintenance than we had in a decade of home ownership. I won’t go in to too much detail for fear of boring you rigid, I mean this post started by talking about paint going off. You may have seen on instagram I mentioned how routine gas repairs left us without heating or hot water during the coldest week of the year nicely illustrated with a styled picture of my fireplace. What was also going on behind the scenes wasn’t quite so pretty; I’m not really sure how you instagram a photo of your drains? Well this was another expensive and whiffy tale which also brought with it something rather unexpected – a vermin infestation. When I was considering a pet I wasn’t thinking of something with quite as long a tail…
The biggest catastrophe of all (tongue firmly in cheek here) was when we moved in and realised we didn’t have a TV arial. As you know moving doesn’t come cheap so I would have preferred to buy a new chest of drawers rather than line the pockets of a TV engineer scrambling on the roof in the dark so I could watch the Strictly final. The said engineer joined the very long line of electricians, floor fitters, pest control, heating engineers, gas fitters and most recently very friendly police people (!) who have all passed through the house recently fixing and tending to things we really hadn’t anticipated.

We’ve now been in our new cottage over four months and I’d be lying if I said the little hiccups hadn’t tainted the experience. However one thing remains, we absolutely adore the house. We’ve been prompted to make changes we didn’t anticipate but we’re slowly getting a home that’s fit for the long haul. It’s an expensive business and while I was expecting to invest in a cat flap rather than a rat flap, this house better get used to us. We haven’t run for the hills yet and are well and truly staying put.

Any similar experiences you’d like to get off your chest? Any unexpected issues you encountered when you changed address? Did anyone else turn into the Pied Piper too?!

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32 thoughts on “When Paint Goes Bad {And Other Tales From The Dream House}

  1. Oh love! Sounds like you’ve had a right old time of it, but you’re giving good house karma and it’ll soon realise. Your house doesn’t hate you! ??

    We had a lot of surprises when we moved in. From discovering that the electrics were widely a dodgy DIY job, to the weird realisation that hardly any of the windows match (how do you even miss that). Needless to say, after 17 months we still don’t have flooring and we’ve only just fixed the problem of the upstairs fuse blowing almost EVERY time you turn on the light in the spare room (it stays on after the third go… you get used to it)

    It’s hard to have patience, especially when you have other things going on in your life, but you’ll get there. Don’t do too much though, take your time and look after yourselves. We almost burnt out at one point until we took the pressure off and decided to slow down and take back our evenings. The house is still a tip but provided I ignore having no curtains, it’s done wonders for our stress levels.

    The thought of having to scrub the paint off your walls though? Never mind everything else youve faced. Soul destroying! xx

    1. Windows not matching? What’s that all about?! My sister has exactly the same thing!
      We’re going to press on during May (upstairs bedrooms nearly all done – so hopefully on to my favourite faffing very soon) and then have a break in June x

      1. They also used to whistle because of the scary gaps either side! My life will be complete the day I get new windows.

        Make sure you do missus. Rest and plenty of it xx

  2. Get the right cat and your rat days will be over!! We had mouse problems when we moved here and couldn’t understand, we felt dirty but a neighbour pointed out everyone here either has cats or mice, that’s just the way it is. Enter two ferocious feral rescue cats and the mouse problem was solved…. A little terrier would probably do the job too ??

    The paint made me laugh but I feel so bad for you- that’s such a sucky situation!

    The builders are coming on Tuesday to finally start our barn conversion so I’m sure we have travails ahead too. Hang in there, it will be worth it!

    1. I reckon these bad boys were the size of a terrier Lucy!
      Yay to the barn conversion. I’m sure it will all go to plan x

  3. I totally agree Karen. You really do have to take your time with these things and trust in the fact that things will get finished even if they take longer than expected. I honestly thought our house would be finished in three years and now I know that’s crazy! I hate DiYing ( and so does my husband) which is unfortunate in a renovation house! I can’t bear to spend my weekends fixing things up so for now it’s getting left for a while. It will eventually drive me mad but it’s exhausting spending so much time fixing up, painting etc etc. However with all the hard work and effort, Lauren’s house will be beautifully completed and finished in the time it takes us to do one metre of ours! Massive hats off to them for that .#wearelazybums

    1. Absolutely! I wish I had half the talent and motivation that you have Lauren.

      Hannah I’m in your lazy bum gang. Saying that, we’ve booked today off and apparently I’m spending the next four days either filling and sanding ceiling cracks or stripping the purple paint from the woodwork in our bedroom.

      Both soul destroying. x

    2. You’re not lazy Han! Yours is a full-on renovation we just wanted to paint a few rooms!
      Oh Karen – I really couldn’t say which is worse. You’re going to need some serious pampering by Monday night. Tell Lee I said that 😉 x

  4. Oh Lauren, I feel your pain but it will get better. Having been through it and survived I feel I can say this. I think you know that our house was exactly the same and I remember standing at the top of a ladder, paintbrush in hand crying my eyes out because we had discovered yet another issue. Rewiring, building works, aerials (yep us too), flooding, drains, roof, repairs you name it. My dreams of nice furniture and pretty accessories went as all our budget was eaten up by building and repair men. It took 3 years until we could start on the nice stuff. I can laugh now but it was a nightmare at the time. On the paint front my worst was our living room. I painted it when we moved in only to decide we needed to thermal line the walls as it was so blinking freezing. Once the work was done I repainted, didn’t like the colour, so the next day did it all again. Pleased with my handiwork I suddenly noticed a rather shiney look to the walls. I’d accidentally picked up silk paint not matt. Not my usual preference but made worse by a call to our damp proofers who said I shouldn’t use silk on the newly damp proofed/thermal lined walls as it stopped the walls breathing and could cause further damp. That was my weekend sorted sanding off all the paint back to the plaster. NOT a fun job. And after all that I decided I may as well paint it a different colour!! Good luck and you will get there. After hating it for years I now LOVE my house btw x

    1. I remember when were on a shoot together when my sister got her survey back and you told me everything you’d been through with your house. So worth it in the end – your home is an absolute stunner.
      Oh the silk paint fail – been there done that! x

  5. I know that exact smell Lauren. It is awful! I used some very old paint and I even smelled the paint before putting it on. But I thought that it would be fine! The smell lingered for weeks. I even remember cutting an onion in half and putting it in a bowl of water. I read somewhere that it would help get rid of the smell. Mad! I don’t remember now how we got rid of the smell the n the end. I think it just went over time and we had the windows open all of the time. Definitely learnt a lesson there.

    1. I was reading somewhere that opening the windows when it gets warm can make it even worse as the spores multiply! Didn’t want to chance it so got the rubber gloves on! x

  6. Ah, the smell of bad paint. Unfortunately I know it well thanks to a batch of Farrow and Ball rescued from my mums shed.
    A few months After we moved into our ‘forever (but needs a hell of a lot of work) home’ all the ceilings fell down. I’m not sure I have forgiven my house for that just yet.
    There’s a lot to be said for buying a new build I think, I just love old houses more!
    I hope it’s smooth sailing from now on for you!!

    1. Oh Alice, the ceilings? That’s so much worse than anything we’ve had to contend with. These houses are sent to try us! x

  7. 10 days into owning our first home we had a massive water leak that took down 3 ceilings and had boiling hot water pouring through our electrical sockets! We were left with damage to almost every room in the house and no hot water for weeks while everything was replaced.
    The resulting boiler/ pipework/ electrics replacement had not been something we expected to have to do (completely fine in the full survey we had) but it was the push we needed to give the place a complete overhaul, we are almost finished with the downstairs and now have to start making headway on the top and middle floors of the house – 8 months later there are still patches of ceiling missing in the middle floor!

    1. Not another ceiling Claire 🙁 What is it with these surveys? While I would never advocate buying a house without having one I’ve heard so many horror stories about things that weren’t picked up on surveys.
      Sounds as though you are making fab progress though x

  8. Oh no! When we bought our new house we knew the dining room and kitchen needed damp proofing so the seller agreed to do the dining room and we agreed to the kitchen when we moved in. When it came to removing the kitchen units the whole lot collapsed – they were completely knackered. We had to buy a new kitchen on a tiny budget and fit it ourselves.

    Just after this we painstakingly did the laminate floor through the kitchen and dining room (in a Victorian terrace where walls are never quite straight it was a nightmare) only for a pipe we didn’t even know about to burst in the utility room where the flooring starts. Having ripped it up and relayed it a few weeks later a leak in the bathroom seeped through the ceiling and we came down to find the whole kitchen and dining room flooded again and the floor completely ruined.

    On the day we moved in we found the bath/shower tap was broken and had just been glued back on! Queue having to get a plumber out. And when we recently replaced the bathroom and put spotlights in we found the that the electrics throughout the house weren’t earthed and we were lucky not to have electrocuted ourselves. They houses are an expensive business!

    1. As if it’s not enough of a chore having to do DIY in the first place, and then having to do it all over again? I feel for you massively. Hope the floor situation is all sorted now x

  9. Ahh the joys of moving home, I’ve been in my little thatched cottage 8 weeks today and the list of ideas and things to fix seems to get longer: build storage in the alcove so I can unpack the final boxes, sort out the hanging rails in the walk-in bedroom cupboard to make more efficient use of the space, landscape the garden with new patio, change kitchen cupboard handles, repaint the bathroom after updating the sink – the list goes on (and on). I also need to build a temporary sound proof wall to block out the main pain and that’s of my noisy neighbour. It’s the wall’s fault I can hear him yawn and every word of his conversations but at 4am when he goes mental at the cat – that’s another story, and yes I’ve had a polite word, to no avail. I’ve not mentioned the boring (structural and more important) things that need fixing as I’m ignoring those and have been busying myself with looking at soft furnishings and lighting. I did attempt to put up the new venetian blinds but 2 broken drill bits later I gave up and they await my Dad (who is a carpenter and growing increasingly scared of his to-do list). The house is beautiful, I’ve had nothing but compliments but a Grade 2 listed building doesn’t come without it’s difficulties! £173 for permission to have a Sky dish at the back of the garden (I’ll hide it behind Bamboo) and endless forms for a ceiling hatch to be made to check the roof timbers *sigh*. The previous owner also stained the wooden worktop once it was in situ and only as far as she could reach – so many why’s. Anyway, enough moaning, I’ll feel better when I start making a dent in to the do list and look forward to having a garden this summer, the birds are loving the feeders I’ve put in place and this weekend I’ll be planting the 100 bulbs I bought on Groupon, as well as sewing all the wild flower seeds bought with the bees & butterflies in mind…who needs to go out on a Friday night when you can snuggle in front of the wood burning stove with Monty Don?!

    1. Big congrats on your new house Nicola. Hopefully you’ll make a bit dent in your list very soon. It sounds like a stunning property x

  10. Oh god, pest infestations are the worst! My first house had a HUGE flea infestation, and the one we bought 18 months ago ( in a much more rural environment mind) has so far thrown up rats, ladybirds and wasps! Honestly, it’s almost comical. But for now at least they are gone, but we know we’ll always be watching out for them and sometimes will have to start fighting with them once again. The biggest lesson learned? Investigate and treat the minute you hear or see anything ?.
    On another note, I had no idea whatsoever that paint could go off but I’m so glad I read this today as I was about to start touching up our kitchen with the last owners matching tin of F&B I found in the shed tomorrow! Phew! Thanks for the warning!

    1. I couldn’t agree with your tip on treating the minute you hear anything. We kept thinking ‘Roland’ and his friends would miraculously disappear but instead they came deeper through the walls of the house!
      Happy DIY weekend 😉 x

  11. Claire that sounds like a total and utter nightmare!!! Fair play to you for not completely loosing the plot. I really do feel your pain. Going back to the survey discussion- we had a nightmare survey which resulted in us pulling out of the sale. The house- we were told, was a disaster waiting to happen; a money pit and in the surveyor’s words ‘ no one will even consider buying this unless they want to live in a caravan for five years.’ In hindsight and a year and a half down the line, the surveyor did us a favour. By telling us it was disaster zone it encouraged us to get two second opinions from a builder and structural engineer. We wanted the house so desperately that we just had to fight for it. In the end their opinions eased our mind and actually it was salvageable with the right advice. Yes it’s been costly and we didn’t live it in for months during the work but I’m amazed that some major issues can be missed by surveyor’s whilst others are so cautious that you are scared to even consider buying it??

  12. Oh I feel your pain, Lauren – a few months ago I had a day where I found mould in three different locations throughout our house/garage. I had to ban myself from opening cupboards for the rest of that day! We’ve had a purlin replaced in the roof, new transformers in spotlights, a few boiler repairs and just this morning, a new thermostat. We also need pointing replaced (hopefully the cause of the mould in the pantry) and our entire porch needs rebuilding (it’s not actually built into the house, just stuck on like a bit of lego and it’s coming away from the house!). Some of this came up on the survey but some of it didn’t. I still love our house but still get terrified when it’s windy and the bay window starts groaning or I drop something in the kitchen and it rolls – down hill! Your home is still beautiful Lauren so it’s worth it already!

    1. Thanks Katie, hope you get your quirks sorted too and the only mould in your pantry is on your stilton 😉 x

  13. Lovely Lauren I needed that this week, to make me realise that I am not the only stressed person with moving house! I have had someone out for my TV aerial this week as nothing would connect and also had my brand new shower leak through the ceiling into my beautiful new kitchen…..

    It should all be sorted by Tuesday so my 2 weeks of stress is minor in your comparison to 4 months but it makes me very glad to know I’m not alone and that not everything about moving house is Instaglam!
    Beckie x

    1. Oh love, not your lush new kitchen! 🙁
      Hope you’re settling in okay and everything will be fine and dandy very soon x

  14. This sounds familiar, we moved two weeks ago. Have no aerial, mismatched windows,some windows you couldn’t open, some that didn’t even lock so you could open them from the outside (!) No longer the case thanks to my ‘have a go husband’! Need to change boiler from conventional to combi boiler as on its last legs according to gas man. Also needs three ceilings skimming and plastering due to artex! Pretty purchases will have to wait until all the have been sorted. It’s all good fun tho isn’t it! Haha.

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