All’s fair in officer country

A grown up scheme but with a giggle by Dulux balancing punches of whimsical orange, fresh whites and surprisingly fragile pink against the authority of stone coloured walls.

Pillar Bongo Jazz, Wall Rich Praline 4, Presses Rock Candy 2 and Bongo Jazz.

There’s a three year old springing off the back of the white linen DFS, the wardrobe’s been raided again by the 15-year-old stranger and somehow what’s yours has become consumed by the adolescent firm of Mine, Mine & Mine. Where did it all go wrong?

This is still your house and home. Couples don’t stop being full individuals just because they have propagated. Guard your private territory, rule the spaces you share, and you’ll be a less resentful and more available parent the rest of the time.


In the US Navy, the commissioned officers’ mess has a simple sign on the door that reads, ‘OFFICER COUNTRY’. It’s understood that lower ranks are not expected to enter unless invited or bearing a tray.

Reclaim your bedroom from the little sailors under your command. Make it clear, that you expect to find nothing following an audience other than footprints in the carpet pile, and clean footprints at that. Knock is not just an airport in Mayo, it’s a mark of respect, one you will be happy to return where their bedrooms become closely guarded warrens as pre-teens. Make it crystal clear when and where you expect more mannerly behaviour around the house. Once the rules for formal or private areas are in place, don't compromise.


If life was really like an IKEA illustration, with handmade wooden toys sprinkled around like spring blossom, infant clutter wouldn’t be quite so depressing.

The truth? Bright, plastic and it’s everywhere. Children ignore instructions to tidy up largely because they can, (more fool you), and secondly because the storage system doesn’t work, oiling their sense of indifference.

Primary scholars are more likely to hang their coats, hurleys and other paraphernalia if they are sturdy, height appropriate, in the traffic path and assigned personally to them. Micro-manage rooms, assigning storage for your remit alone too. If an article is out of reach, or in the officers’ mess or cupboard, they can assume you mean ‘by permission only’. Tantalising fragile objects should be put away until the under sixes have come to their senses.


Do you ever use the dining room? Is there an extra bedroom only hosting a travelling aunt twice a year?

A playroom or den for older children allows them to hang out unapologetically in their area. Shovel their multifarious gee-gaws in there with them. It’s ‘no-fair’ to primp and rule the house so stiffly that they have to hide in their bedrooms to relax and designating extra generational areas will benefit everyone.

Involve children in decorating and setting up the room, to deliver that important sense of ownership in the project. If they vouch for an acid green paint job, chew off your tongue if needs be. It’s only paint and rarely more than €12 a litre. Technology can not only splinter the family around the house, but in some respects is proving downright dangerous. Fight the urge to put internet connectivity into a private adolescent space.


Powerful colour has returned to our homes in the last season, but there’s a levity to the mid-century modern inspirations in paint, paper and accessories. Clear up the storage issues and you can deliver bright, stimulating rooms the kids will love, that will also satisfy when you want to play with the grown-ups for a dinner party around the kitchen table.

Grey is holding it’s subtle own this year, but is transformed by the addition of a measured does of orange (we love Crown Seville Orange), pink (balance even the most racy fuschia by putting more grey to a ratio of deeply crushed rose petals) or a putty-based yellow such as Dulux’s Sunflower Symphony 4. You can lift all these new combinations with metallic and mirror accents, fresh white woodwork and fabulous fabric remnants, vintage and new, stitched into soft furnishings- all signalling- adult sophisticates live here.


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