Thursday, 17 July 2014


Two months ago I decided that the time had come for a change. It has been 25 years since I bought the apartment I live in, and parts of it have not seen any decoration or repairs in all that time!

A few years go I remodelled the bathroom, and just two years the kitchen and living room had a makeover. Now it was the turn of the hall, utility room and bedroom. Surprisingly, the smallest space, the hall, took the longest, possibly because it sees the most traffic, and was the one area I had done nothing to except a lick of paint in 25 years. Two weeks later and it had a fresh matt white finish with new modern lighting. The utility room needed just a tidy and reorganising and a fresh lick of paint, which took just a couple of days.

So far so good.

I then turned my attention to the bedroom. The first job was to gut the place, and somehow I managed to fill the equivalent of five wheelie bins over a whole week! I laughed at times at the things I had kept for over 10 years, like receipts from a coffee shop I used in New Zealand on my travels in 1999. Go figure. Obviously important at the time. But now the rule was, if I hadn't used it or looked at it in the past five years out it went.

Then the decoration stage. The dark wooden doors of the bedroom cupboards were painted a pale blue, seaside-feel wash, and the walls went from a deep yellow to a pastel yellow. This all took around three weeks, as I was busy with my own business that had recently brought in a lot of work. I reached the final stage of painting, and one evening, tired from work, I spent two hours painting the walls with Crown Sunrise yellow. The manufacturer Crown pride themselves in a product they call "Breatheasy", as it has literally no smell, though it does have some odour as you paint.

Late at night, proud of my work, I closed the door and slept on the sofa in the living room so as not to breathe whatever odour the paint would give off.

At around 5am I awoke suddenly. I could smell something not of this world. It was as if a tramp had taken his vest, not washed in the last decade, and stuffed it up my nostrils! I leapt from bed and went to investigate. As I got closer to the bedroom door it grew stronger. I cautiously opened the door, expecting to see a pile of rotting corpses. The smell was overpowering. I held my breath and flung the window open, then left and closed the door firmly behind me. I vented the rest of the house and left for work.

When I returned in the evening the apartment didn't seem to smell. That is, until I opened the bedroom door. I think in text speak my exclamation would be something like, OMG!

It was the paint. Don't ask me how, but it was the paint on the walls giving off this indescribable smell. So I decided to brave it, and give the walls another coat, only to result in exactly the same scenario repeating itself! I contacted Crown by email straight way, furious that their product had rendered an entire room of my home unusable, and once more slept on the sofa with all the doors firmly closed.

The following morning, less than 12 hours after emailing them, they phoned me, offering me a product to seal the walls with, and a trade equivalent of the colour I wanted. All free of charge. Then they offered to send a team to do the work! Hmmmm, was this a worried company I wondered? As it turned out I couldn't wait the week they had suggested for their team to get to me, and I ended up doing the work myself. The sealing agent was very unpleasant to work with, very smelly and like painting with thick glue. But it did the job and the story has a happy ending. I was impressed with Crown's customer service, but my confidence in their products I feel is now sadly lacking.

Maybe in another 25 years I'll be so old I'll have lost my sense of smell and it wont matter what I paint the walls with.

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