Painting and decorating

This morning we drove out to Ospedalicchio, on the far side of Perugia, to the DIY store called Leroy Merlin.  They rang to say our utility room furniture had arrived and so we combined the trip with picking up some more light fittings that had arrived from Idea Luce.  While we were there we ordered the monkey lamp, mentioned in an earlier blog.  The company now makes an outdoor version and we thought this would look great in the garden and would be a talking point for guests (and, probably, the neighbours). A friend’s garage is filling up with our stored purchases of flat pack furniture, paint tubs, light fittings and bits of furniture inherited from friends.

Things are beginning to come together back at the house; the tiling in both bathrooms is now finished and they have begun to grout them. The utility room has been started and the builder keeps saying how lovely the tiles are … if they were on the floor.  We have chosen to use them on the walls which he cannot quite come to terms with. He isn’t the most diplomatic person on the planet either; commenting on our bathroom tiles being similar to those in a more expensive home in the area, he said that our tiles look like the others but are like ‘cardboard’ by comparisons.

At the weekends and evenings, we have grabbed our chance to get into the house, armed with drums of white emulsion, rollers and industrial quantities of filler.  I have painted three ceilings and several walls and on the top floor of the house. It is now possible, if you half close your eyes and ignore the boxes of tiles, fittings and builders tools, to imagine the space as bedrooms.  We decided on white everywhere and then maybe later when we have lived in the place, we may think about adding some colour.

I have brought my Farrow and Ball paint chart out to Italy.  You cannot buy it here but also it is very difficult to get a paint chart from the usual decorating centres. They have huge colour swatch cards attached to the counters and you choose from them, but how you work out if it goes with furnishings or with a south facing room will be a bit like pot luck. The Italians do like painted walls in different colours though and also paint effects, from rather dubious rag-rolling to incredible polished plaster.  In our local paint shop (where you have to ring a doorbell to gain admittance) we were chatting to a local lady who, armed with a magazine cutting of an amazing rococo lounge with damask curtains and bullion fringed sofas, was trying to get just the right shade of pistachio for her lounge.  Anyway our white is an ‘antique’ white thereby avoiding the need for the wearing of Ray-bans in our lounge and kitchen.

The terracotta stair tiles have been collected and are slowly being laid.  The whole ‘laying’ process is as laborious as their manufacture.  The tiles need to be immersed in water for about an hour.  They gurgle and chirrup in the water, as the tiny air bubbles are released.  If there are any faults or imperfections in the terracotta these will become apparent after the soaking, as small faults will ‘blow’ or pop the surface and those tiles will not be used, as they might fracture or crack in the future.  Once soaked, the tiles are dried completely in the sunshine. Luckily we have had loads of sunshine this past week so no problems there.

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