Six shades of Grey

by mutteringhousewife

I did think I’d have a lot more to tell you about renovating.  I’ve put off renovating our house for years for a number of reasons – should we just go zen and chuck everything out and make the kids all sleep in the same bedroom? Would we ever get anything past the local council who likes to think of our suburb as a museum which shouldn’t have garages because when the houses were built there were no cars?  But the main reason was the experiences of my friends who have been through a renovation themselves.  One had to fire a builder half way through and have much of the work redone.  One almost made it through to the end before having a minor nervous breakdown.  One said it was worse than having cancer, and she’s had cancer.  Twice.

But the kids are starting to take up a lot of space, and I’m studying and working and trying to do both without actually having a desk or a spot to put one and it was time.  And apart from the council being predictably ridiculous and taking six months to approve something perfectly straightforward, it has been smooth as. I am going to write the project managers a glowing recommendation to put on their website. We’re nearly finished, my hallway no longer looks like this:


Well, actually, it does a bit, only with stairs and the odd plasterer.  There is still quite a bit of tidying up to do.  Which I’m sure will take eternal weeks before we can move up there and never come down. But I’m at the point where I have to choose stuff. Toilet, taps, tiles, paint colours, carpet. Ugh. How can anyone have a strong opinion about a toilet? Here’s the one I chose.


I did rather enjoy watching a selection of tradesmen deciding exactly where in the bathroom it should be located by drawing a circle on the ground, then squatting over it. They were a bit concerned about knee room, it is a tiny bathroom. Talk about attention to detail. Also, quad strength.

Anyway, I shall tell you about tiles. You go to a tile shop. They have a dizzying array of tiles. But you must always choose something whitish for the walls and something brown on the ground. I’m not sure why they bother having the rest of them, fills up the space, I guess. The first time I went in the sales assistant spent a long time agonising over the comparison between a large white wall tile and another large white wall tile that looked identical to me. Then showed me what must surely be the most boring brown tile on the face of the earth. I almost couldn’t look at it. I asked to look at something else and she again showed me what appeared to be the identical tile, only a bit more matte. I muttered some excuse about having to go and stab myself in the eye and fled.

I did, dear reader, venture back to that tile shop, because whores must have their trinkets and time was a ticking. I drew a far more vibrant shop assistant this time. Possibly too vibrant. She kept dragging me by the arm to look at more large white wall tiles, and you know how I feel about that kind of thing. Then when I managed to say “uh..” she’d shriek “you’re right! Come over here, you must look at this, you’ll love it!”. You know, don’t you, that I ended up with a large white wall tile and a brown floor tile, after quite a lot more dragging and shrieking. But they weren’t quite as boring as they could have been.

I should add, as a coda to that story, that tiles for quite a tiny bathroom will only just fit into the back of a Subaru station wagon.


At a rough calculation, they weighed four hundred kilos. “You dribe carepul, you too low” was the helpful advice the storeman at the tile shop gave me. He was quite right, I’m fortunate to still have an exhaust pipe. Lucky I had the Muffet to help me lug them into the house, grrl power.

And similarly with carpets. I actually wanted a green carpet, but was politely informed by the carpet lady that that was toasted insanity. Or words to that effect. To give her credit, she was right. The lighter green ones, when flung onto the daylit floor all looked the colour of something that may have come out of your nose. The mid greens looked disturbingly like astroturf. She only had plush in dark green, and while I loved the colour, it looked as though every bit of fluff and dandruff that had ever floated in the door had chosen to settle on that beautiful green square. Again, do they only keep them in stock to service the mentally disturbed of the Inner West? Or as some kind of solemn object lesson? But you’ll be pleased to know that there were choices other than brown. There was also grey.

I took home six different squares of grey carpet, having culled the selection down from well over ten. I’d gone into the shop imagining I’d get a wool carpet, because you know, natural good, plastic evil. I was quickly talked out of that. Our new bedroom has three skylights in it and apparently the new nylon carpets never ever ever fade, but wool will. And you go and try it, even the trés expensive wool feels scratchy and produces volumes of fluff, but the nylon is very cuddly indeed. I did say to the lady that I obviously wouldn’t be sitting on it, but that was a lie. The family overwhelmingly voted for the darkest grey, so the next stage was to pet test it.


No visible pet hair and any drool wiped right off. So that’s that done. Hang on, my phone’s ringing.

“Hello, this is Giselle from Carpets R Us. We’re out of stock of your carpet and it will be four months before new stock comes in from the outer asteroid belt. Would you like to come in and make another choice?”