04 November 2010
Personality in a Can
When we first moved into this house, we knew that painting would be imminent. And necessary. Very, very necessary. The color blanketing the first floor is a light rust that we have named "Sadness." The upstairs color is called "Flesh." The trim is a cloying reproduction of a colonial blue that was chosen to compliment the twee wallpaper. Remember the wallpaper? The wallpaper that burns holes in your retinas if you look directly at it? Here's a picture in case you forgot:
Our plan was to paint a little at a time so we could ration our money in a reasonable fashion. I love how HGTV says that paint is the cheapest way to remodel your house; but that's only if you don't use a primer, you only do one coat, you don't paint the trim..........and you do the actual painting yourself. Which we haven't done since The Dining Room Debacle at 4041.......when the edge work along the ceiling (which was not square) wavered ever so slightly. It couldn't be seen by the naked eye but it bothered Mike enough to call in a professional for a whole new paint treatment. Lesson learned: it's very difficult for perfectionists to be frugal.
But "Sadness" and "Flesh" were starting to affect our moods. And I'm pretty sure they were making the house smell like actual sadness and flesh. Like scratch and sniff paint. I'd rather have the house smell like pot than sadness and flesh. (*for more information about our attempts to rid our house of sadness while filling it with the smell of mary jane, please read last month's post called "The Smudge Stick.")
So we scrap the "little by little" plan and commit to dousing the house all at once. Like a flea bomb. We call painters and get a bid. Mike looks at the bid.........looks up at "Sadness"..........looks down at the bid..........looks up at "Sadness".........and says "Let's do it!!! What can we sell?"
And now the fun begins. It's not like I haven't been thinking about this since the day the previous owners accepted our offer. In Minnesota, long before we moved, I'd say "Mike, what do you think about using a blue in the downstairs bathroom?" And he'd be like "What downstairs bathroom?"
Poor Mike is tired of talking about paint colors. It means nothing to him and I sound obsessed.
"Did you get a chance to look at that "Robin's Nest?" Do you like it more or less than "Bird's Nest?" What do you mean there's no difference? There is too a difference."
I browse paint stores daily, standing in front of the wall of paint chips, waiting for something to catch my eye and change my life. Pulling out one at a time, holding it up to the light, holding it down to the light, holding it next to a similar color, putting it in my bag. I have a circuit of stores I visit so they don't know I do this every day - so it doesn't look like I have a problem. But I can stop any time I want. I just don't want to.
When the accumulated mass of paint chips falls out of my bag, I feel the shame of a secret hoarder. So I start sorting and classifying them into separate ziploc bags when I get home. Then I distribute them around the house........to give the illusion of less. Mask the depth of my preoccupation. I can hear the conversation with my PA (Painter's Anonymous) support group : Did you visit a paint store today? (yes.) Did you visit a paint store yesterday? (yes.) Do you have paint chips hidden in your house? (yes.) Do you have paint chips in your bag right now? (yes! but I don't even like these! I've hardly looked at them!)
But, through the madness, a clear ending is in sight. I always feel that the proper color is ultimately chosen by the house, not the inhabitants. Just like with children, I provide a limited range of choices (ok, not limited at all) and the house's preference will eventually emerge. If it doesn't, then you're choices aren't good and you have to start over. I'm sure this house didn't choose "Sadness" and "Flesh;" and over time, it buckled under the strain of this persona. A self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone needs to set this house free.