It is a complicated sum, but they’ve boiled down the advice to a simple adage – lower your expectations. Happiness, it seems, depends not on how well you are doing but on whether it is better than expected.
With that freshly in mind, when a press release arrived from PriceYourJob.co.uk, detailing the ten most common home décor items that make your home look outdated, I set my expectations to find myself guilty of most of these crimes against style. Here is the list and my marking notes.
1 Magnolia walls It is not that I don’t know the current trends in interior design, as my job gives me a front row seat to new styles. It is more that – apart from the odd feature wall, done in a rush of enthusiasm or as a response to spillage – my walls have stayed the same colour they were painted when we built our house 13 years ago: magnolia. Guilty.
2 Vertical blinds I try not to judge other people’s décor harshly. However, we all have standards, and vertical blinds are an outrage in any home. Definitely not guilty.
3 Word art I’ve never bought a generic plaque reading “Home” or “Live, Love, Laugh”, but – as any middle-aged woman will know – even if you don’t buy these items, you will be given them by well-meaning friends who also think coasters saying “Wine o’clock!” is the height of wit. To throw them out would be rude, and they reflect my affection for the giver, so visitors may spot the odd guilty offender.
4 Nautical motifs We have no seashells, ships in bottles or anchors, but does a framed map of the shipping forecast areas in the downstairs loo count as nautical? If so, guilty, but I don’t care. One day I will win the Pointless jackpot thanks to my encyclopedic knowledge of Fitzroy, North Utsire and German Bite.
5 Tile countertops The advice here is to change to natural stone or concrete bunkers for a modern look. The PriceYourJob list does not specifically state that stained wooden counters are outdated, so I’m going to count that as a win.
6 Wicker furniture With a cat in the house, any we had have not survived. The advice is to switch to rattan, which is very now.
7 Glass block walls A 1980s decorating craze which I’ve never tried, thankfully.
8 Popcorn ceilings Artex has been the bane of my life in previous homes. In a flat in Glasgow, the look included Artex walls which used to snag my tights. Fortunately, we don’t have any in our current house.
9 Potpourri It is seen as more modern to have reed diffusers and air misters, although I’m not convinced. A friend dries fruits and spices at Christmas to hand around, and I’m always delighted to receive my consignment.
10 Heavy drapery Swags, tie-backs and valances are so last century but I am not guilty of any of these. However, I do have mismatched curtains in the living room which gives it a quirky look.
So there it is: four out of ten – better than expected – so by the UCL algorithm, I should be happy.
Any reader who gets ten out of ten – a full house indeed – please could we have your excuses...
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