Cold Comfort

As the days get colder it is becoming increasingly obvious that our central heating is not up to the job. The boiler is very old. It is highly efficient at warming the cupboard in which it sits, but precious little else. So, being the sort who feels the cold acutely, I have built a cocoon. I sit in my compact study with my laptop and a fan heater, typing in fingerless gloves. It can even get cosy.

Yesterday the study door was cruelly thrust open. It was Mike, bringing with him a draught of cold air. What followed sent a chill down the spine more effectively than any Arctic blast. “I’ve been thinking..”


“About the bookshelves. With it getting this cold, it’s going to be difficult to get the paint to dry.”

Our original plan had been to create a painting booth in the garage at the top of the hill. Then take all the bookcase sections up to it for spraying. It was never going to be easy. Even partially dismantled, the bookcase would be too cumbersome to carry up the 84 steps. No, the pieces were going to go across the garden to the drive, be loaded into the back of the car and then driven up the hill. Mike had measured the inside of the estate car and they would just about fit. Paint job complete, each bookcase section would then return the same way. In theory.

But, whatever the chances of success, it seemed that Plan A had now been dismissed. And there was more.. “How would you feel about doing the spray painting in the sitting room? It may not be toasty, but it’s a lot warmer than the garage.”

The cold had got to his brain. That would be it, wouldn’t it? “Are you crazy?” Or words to that effect.

Mike paints using a spray can attached to an air compressor. The paint emerges as a thick mist. Under pressure. How then to avoid everything in the room, and probably the dining room too, disappearing under a fine coat of Parma Gray? He would not be deflected. “I’ll construct a spray booth in the middle of the room with really thick plastic sheeting. Sealed with duct tape. It’ll be fine..”

I tried another tack. “But the air inside the tent will be thick with paint. How will you breathe?”

“I’ve ordered a proper paint spraying mask. It’ll be here in 1 to 3 days.”


I’ll keep you informed.


2017-11-08T20:34:03+00:00January 21st, 2013|Tags: |


  1. domesticali January 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Oh Lord. Stay cocooned in the study till it’s all over. Plead the chill.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      I will, as soon as I’ve moved to safety anything that can be moved..

  2. haggiz January 21, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    You have to admire his inventiveness! As long as it’s from the relative safety of your study! Julie x

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      The alternative is to wait until the temperature picks up… which doesn’t look like soon.

  3. Sue January 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I’m sure there’s an excellent reason why he can’t use a brush….

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm - Reply

      It’s such a huge and obvious bit of furniture that we wanted to get a very smooth surface. Hence the spraying. It’s also quicker – if you don’t include the set up time and cleaning up!

  4. where the journey takes me January 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Sounds like the Mr Bean way of painting! He obviously had this all planned well before he mentioned it.

    PS I should stock up on Paint Stripper…for Mike I mean as I can’t believe he will come out of this without looking as painted as the book cases!

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm - Reply

      I will have the camera ready..
      P.S. I had an email to say you’d left a message on my timeline, but it wasn’t there so I couldn’t respond.. strange. Probably me, I’m still finding Facebook utterly confusing!

      • where the journey takes me January 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm - Reply

        Hi Jessica..I was in a rush and accidentally deleted it – then the phone rang – then computer went funny – then I never got back to what I was doing – then I forgot what I was doing!!! Now I must go to bed before I forget I am going but will put the message back soon.
        PS When I do the photo you will see on Facebook will be me when I am only 16 – I have changed a bit since then!

        • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 11:18 pm - Reply

          I can’t wait to see the photo……!!

  5. BadPenny January 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Oh er sounds complicated !

    I’m sitting in a cocoon in the lounge with my kitchen ware surrounding me… the kitchen is being painted this week !

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      Oh poor Penny, I know that feeling. Just think about how good it will look when it’s done!

  6. Susan Tattersall January 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I admire his tenacity. If it was my husband he would use it as an excuse not to paint at all, six years later we would still have a bare bookcase.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      The mess we are living in has to be seen to be believed… even six weeks isn’t an option!

  7. Anne January 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    You will have to make a quilt to snuggle under – perhaps you could find a class to go to while the painting is being done!!

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      What a damn good idea!

  8. Denise January 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Can’t you get a man in? Just think of the luxury – it arriving all finished – and no more cold blasts.
    We replaced our Aga of 20 years (and we bought it second hand) with a Rayburn. Does a great job.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm - Reply

      We have probably done it for a quarter of the price Denise, albeit with a lot more hassle!! And yes, the boiler has to go.

  9. Jill Chandler. January 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I would have to leave home – hope to god you havent any lung problems and with the room well ventilated, I would definitely move out. Good luck.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

      It’s a tempting thought..

  10. Vera January 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Oh dear, what a conundrum. To let the bookshelves be painted indoors and then they will be finished, or to get them up the hill to get painted which is not likely to happen while the weather is not so nice. Personally, I think I would cover everything up and let my man paint them indoors, that way the job will get finished even though it might mean having the windows open to get the paint fumes out of the house. But since you are chilly anyway, it is not going to make much difference! Will await with interest as to which route you take!

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm - Reply

      Mike is going out tomorrow to get more plastic sheeting.. I think we have decided.

  11. Cumbrian January 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    First time I’ve ever heard of anybody spray-painting internal timber.
    Got to admire the mans enthusiasm and ingenuity.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      The bookcases will be partially deconstructed and moved away from the walls. I hope it works.

  12. Em January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    I fear this is not going to end well…..HUGE ‘I told you so’ opportunity though! I have the fan heater in our bathroom every night and try to forget our carbon neutral intentions when we moved in.

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      The trouble is we’ve all got too dependent on heat. Well, I have anyway!!

  13. CherryPie January 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Perhaps you should go away for a week and come back when he has finished?

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Tempting Cherie, very tempting.

  14. BadPenny January 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I love reading the comments you get… and your replies !

    • Jessica January 21, 2013 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Getting comments is the very best thing about blogging. And quite often they are more amusing than the post!
      Thanks Penny.

  15. Josephine January 22, 2013 at 12:45 am - Reply

    We once spray-painted a piece of furniture inside, plastic tent and all, we are still finding overspray in places we didn’t think it could travel.
    I’d wait until Spring, and stick with the up’th hill plan.
    Love the picture 🙂

    • Jessica January 22, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

      On the plus side, we haven’t yet decorated the sitting room.. I know it sounds a bit cart before horse. But before decorating there’s some (expensive) structural work to do in the room. Mike has designed the bookcase so that it can be dismantled and put together again with relative ease. But getting it constructed now means that we can remove the immediate problem of 25 remover’s boxes full of books in the dining room that have nowhere else to go!

      It’s a relief to know that someone’s done it before… and that it’s feasible. Thanks Jo!

  16. Simone January 22, 2013 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Is keeping the bookcases unpainted an option?!!!

    • Jessica January 22, 2013 at 10:09 am - Reply

      I wish…!!

  17. Heda January 22, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Glorious pic of icy rose(?) buds. Best of luck with the book shelves. Are there any reasonably priced hotels nearby? Or even a small tent that is vacant? Sleeping with paint is harder work than the painting IMO.

    • Jessica January 22, 2013 at 10:13 am - Reply

      I know what you mean about the paint! Oh I wish we were in Australia – shift it all outside and job done!
      Yes, it’s a miniature rose! Thanks Heda.

  18. Rosie January 22, 2013 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Oh, my goodness nothing is ever simple is it? Can you use the bookcases unpainted until the weather is warmer? The alternative sounds very drastic and labour intensive. Of course you could treat yourself to a day or two away somewhere nice until it is all over. Good Luck:)

    • Jessica January 22, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Using the bookcase unpainted as a temporary temporary stopgap is an idea we hadn’t considered. I’ve just discussed it with Mike. The risk is it would then stay like that forever because we’d move on to the next job and they’d always be something else (easier) to do!

  19. Vintage jane January 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Sounds just like my man … he will always find a solution to the problem, just not always entirely practical, well in my eyes anyway!! Your challenging house sounds rather like ours … we’ve been there 12 years and have no central heating and the only hot water we have is in the bath! The ceilings need replacing before they fall down and we have a constant battle with the army of resident woodworm … but it’s home!
    Thank you for popping over to my blog. Sorry I can’t reply direct as you are coming up as a ‘no-reply’ blogger. You can always email me your address and then I can reply to you in future!
    M x

    • Jessica January 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Oh goodness, hello & welcome to rusty duck!
      It comes with old house territory I know, but I sometimes wonder why we do this to ourselves!

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