Those of you who follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, why not?!) might have seen my semi regular series ‘Disabled Man Does DIY’ – which is usually a humorous little Insta story about how Mr WCH and I do the decorating and gardening.
With recent events surround COVID-19 and more people isolating and social distancing in 2020 by spending more time in their homes I thought I would update this post (published in original form in 2018) about decorating when disabled. With more of us spending time at home in 2020, and sales of home decorating equipment booming I think it’s fair to say many of us will be doing some DIY over the next few months.
And it got me thinking…
How do you decorate with a disability?
I thought I’d share a little advice on things we’ve learned. Of course everyone’s disability is different. Here I’m referring to those people who have a level of mobility in their upper limbs at minimum. Decorating has a level of physical exertion that might not be suitable for everyone, especially those who get fatigued easily. And of course there’s a lot of going up and down of steps or ladders.
The easiest option is, of course, to get a professional in. Its least hassle, but it’s the most expensive option, with a single room costing anywhere up to £700 or even more depending on the complexity of the work. With COVID-19 around this year it’s also not the safest option.
The next option, is to get family and friends in to help you, reward them with food and cups of tea or have a painting party! We did a painting party BBQ last year for Mr WCH’s office at the end of the garden.
But how does the disabled individual participate in this? I think it’s important to have them involved in some fashion. Certainly Mr Wheel Chic Home likes to help as far as he can rather than sitting there helpless. So similar to my tips on moving house (here) it’s important that we always try to find him a job or two to do.
Choosing your scheme
Getting everyone involved in choosing the room decor is important, especially if you’re doing the children’s rooms, it’s great for them to choose colours and pick a paper or some accessories that they might like. This helps with the feeling of inclusion in the project.
The first challenge is moving the furniture out of the way. You may need help for this, but in our house MR WCH sits in the wheelchair, puts the brakes on and helps to push or pull furniture and I’m on the other side moving things. If you can empty the room with the help of family that’s certainly easier, but in our last couple of rooms we moved things around from one side of the room to the other.
Painting the walls
Mr WCH is able to move his arms relatively well and as such he’s able to help with the painting, but only up to a certain height (although we haven’t tried the extending roller pole yet!). When we are painting the walls he will sit in the wheelchair and paint the lower half, I’ll be on the steps doing the upper half. We start at opposite ends of the room so I’m not painting on top of him, because the way I paint, he’ll end up covered in it!
Here’s where you can get the children involved too – give them a roller, and as long as they have the strength to hold it, they can help with a little painting of the walls. When you’re doing the children’s room it’s great to try and involve them, from choosing the colour to a little roller work or give them a paint brush. Yes, you might have to re-do that piece but it’s the sense of achievement and involvement that’s key.
We live in a bungalow, but clearly trying to ask a disabled person to paint the stairwell is potentially dangerous. It’s dangerous for me to do it, come to think of it, let alone Mr WCH! We did try it once when he was more mobile and stable on his legs but I still had to hold onto him to stop him falling and frankly it was more trouble than it was worth! So of course it’s important to stay safe and know when to get help.
Painting the woodwork
This is the funny part for us – it’s at this point Mr WCH gets out of the chair and ends up face down on floor doing the skirting boards. Sure, it takes him longer to do it than it would me and sure, it takes us ages to get him back up and into the chair – but he’s involved and participating in the decorating. The last thing he wants to feel is helpless or useless.
I always try to take a photo, we make a joke of it and we enjoy your comments on Instagram. He’s helping to improve our home and why not – it’s his home and he wants to be part of it.
This one is more tricky. He’s not really able to help with this as I prefer to do this on my own with the pattern matching and cutting. Although I’m not very good at cutting, maybe I should get him to cut the bottom piece!
When the roll is paste the paper, he’s in charge of measuring the paper, pasting and cleaning the table, and clearing up the bits that I’m cutting away, so we are tidying as we go and there’s less to do at the end. That seems like a win!
If the paper is paste the wall, he can be involved with pasting the lower half of the wall, and measuring the pieces out and of course the tidying up.
We have to be realistic with wallpapering, it requires up and down the ladder so not feasible for him so we find other jobs that work for him and for me – I can finish the papering and walk away and he’ll finish the tidying up. TEAMWORK!
Last but not least something that’s important when decorating. The tea, coffee, sandwiches, ordering a takeaway – all critical and something Mr WCH also does when we are doing work round the house. Never underestimate the importance of this task!
What decorating plans do you have this year during self-isolation? Share your tips in the comments below!