Your home should be your castle – a safe haven you happily rush to for the peace of mind you deserve. For poor Samantha, this was not the case for the 15 years she was married to her husband, Joseph, an architect.

“We met when I was re-decorating a client’s flat,” said Samantha. “The client had recommended Joseph’s services for some of the landscaping and he was quite friendly and a thorough professional.

He was a single father of two children from two different women and I had a five-year-old son I adored from a failed relationship.

“I was delighted we got on professionally and on a personal level. Inevitably, we became an item. I’d wanted  more children – so had he and when I got pregnant, we got married. I lived in my own bungalow on a big expanse of land and Joseph lived in a flat in the only building he had then.

It made common sense for him to move in with me so we would have more room and privacy for the family we hoped to have. Within years, he became the father of my subsequent three children and life changed. The house needed to grow to accommodate the children and we made extensions to the main building, and that’s where the problems started.  I was making a home with a man who loved clean, modern design to reflect his profession. I wanted something more homely, more feminine and more me.

“I wanted my home to reflect what I’d done to professionally improve a lot of homes and offices, I started cutting out magazine pictures of houses to show my husband but he wasn’t interested. ‘Our house is not shaped for frills like that,’ he would say, replacing my idea of carpeted floors with wooden floors and tiles. I began to feel miserable in a home I couldn’t stamp my personality on.

“Only four years ago, we separated. Joseph had a heavy schedule and my business was thriving too. When he got a big contract in his home state. he quickly built a convenient bungalow so he wouldn’t spend a fortune on hotel bills. Inevitably. he met a younger woman to share his new life with him and that was it. We were both too realistic to be bitter. and once the pain had subsided,  I made the decision to reclaim my home. To make it mine again by painting over all the bad memories and start new ones. It was a way of clawing back my independence. to draw a line under the misery of the past and turn my future into something fun and feminine. After all it was my house in the first place and in spite of Joseph’s spending time and fortune on it. he could hardly kick me out of my own home!

“My first move was to turn the bedroom into an en-suite one with an ante room that leads to a brand new exit from the house. That way I would have my complete privacy – my own front door key without the hassle of the children barging in. I was in my 40s and intent on having fun. I could hardly ask Joseph for help but Ifi, another decorator I met at the gym happily helped. The kitchen I hated because it looked and felt cold: almost impossible to clean was transformed into something homely and warm.

“The children didn’t have time to dwell on the absence of their father as Joseph’s long absence from work had prepared them for his not always being around for any length of time. They were quite excited about the transformation of their rooms and toilets. For me, it was bliss walking into my bathroom, relaxing in a hot bath or shower and going out of the house without having to go through the main house. And it was bliss sending a date out of the house without any of the kids being none the wiser.

“When Joseph visited the kids after the house’s been modified, he could see through my scheme. He wanted to know why I thought it necessary to have a second door leading to the front drive and I told him why. He no longer had control over the house. He joked he thought the door was designed to make my lovers have a quick get-away when cornered. By whom? He advised that ‘If you’re not careful two men could be slogging it out with each other when you two-timed them.’ 1 told him he was only jealous. But how prophetic he was when a couple of weeks later, my ‘steady’ boyfriend was relaxing in my bedroom when my eldest daughter knocked discreetly on the door. Thinking she needed something urgently from the room, I opened the door to find this joker I’d only been on a date with twice, looking hopefully at me.

I was enraged. I discreetly sent my daughter back to her room. Thank God she hadn’t seen the other man relaxing on my bed. ‘What do you want?’ I asked this intruder, trying to suppress my anger. ‘I was in the neighbourhood, saw your car in the drive and thought I could say hello.’ ‘You thought wrong: I told him coldly, flinging open my door. ‘As you can see, I have a visitor and I don’t like surprise visits. I would appreciate your calling first before you drop by – I wouldn’t come to your house without letting you know. Afterall, you’re a married man!’

“I didn’t care if he was embarrassed, he certainly embarrassed me. And I’d since instructed the children not to let anyone in without my telling them such a person is expected. Afterall, it is my house with my own stamp on it and I don’t care who I let in – I don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s wish now but my own.”