Monday, August 18, 2008

I See a Red Door and I Want To Paint It Black

Our hallway is still a beautiful shade of primer white. However with our short attention spans (Look! A squirrel!) we have decided to abandon that project for now and instead completely redo our family room. None of our visitors ever go upstairs anyway.

Our family room is rather small. It had two 1/2-watt ceiling lights in institutional-looking square settings in the middle of the room. The carpet is gray, '80s-vintage berber with something akin to single-ply toilet paper as a pad under it. I suppose at one time it may have been white. At some point, the previous owners installed dark brown molding around the top of the room to match the dark brown baseboard, window frame, and door frame that were already there. They must have raised Mogwais. Dracula had less fear of light than these people. The walls were a sickly yellow color. There was a ceiling fan that we haven't turned on once in the four years we've been living in the house. All in all, the effect was sort of like being in a locker room, only a little less bright and pleasant-smelling.

So we decided to call in Attila the Decorator for some advice on how to open it up and make it look bigger and brighter while spending a minimal amount of time in debtor's prison. She's been very helpful in the past, so we put ourselves in her hands, trusting lambs that we are. Here are Attila's suggestions:

Step 1: Get rid of that ceiling fan and put in some new lights. The electrician and his brother-in-law, the wallboard guy, show up bright and early one Saturday morning. In a matter of about 3 hours, we have 4 really bright pot lights, 2 ugly gray squares in the ceiling, and a little round plate where the fan used to be. After questioning the presence of the little round plate, I was told that it was actually illegal to have the hole plastered over as long as wires were still running from the wall switch to where the fan used to be. For just a few hundred dollars more, all the wiring could be removed and the wall switch could be plastered over as well as the ceiling. We decided that the little round plate in the center of the room was actually quite beautiful. All in all, this was a fairly painless step until Attila dropped by for her check.

Step 2: Pick out new carpet, wall color, and furniture patterns. Painless, but exhausting. Did you know that there are about 368 gazillion paint colors? We finally settled on something in the pale green range, reducing our choices to 62 gazillion. Then the carpet samples. Then the fabric pattern books. Did you know that there are 10^2876532 fabric patterns, and each one comes in 5 different color variations? My wife (who reads this blog and is a very forgiving person) has excellent taste and a sharply critical eye, but she has to see every single combination of carpet/paint/fabric that can possibly be put together. Given that we're getting both a new couch and a new chair, that's everything times 2. Since I've been burdened with a Y-chromosome, I tend to see the first combination, declare it good, and move on. "A purple floral couch with a yellow shag rug, blood-red walls, and pink paisley chair? I love it. What's next?" We have the same sort of issues when purchasing clothing or planning a vacation.

Step 3: Remove the hideous kitchen wallpaper that spills over into part of the family room. You may recall my previous wallpaper experience. That was an acorn falling on my head from a beautiful oak tree. This experience was more akin to what a large, diarrhetic bird in the tree would do to my head. Just before the tree fell on my head. I did take J. M. Tewkesbury's advice and scored the wallpaper before spraying on the remover, but I was still only able to remove about a 1/2 square inch at a time. It took me 3 days to remove about 1/10 as much wallpaper as my previous effort.

Step 4: Spackle, sand, and paint. Attila dictates that we can't just paint the walls. Oh no. If we want to really open up this room, we need to paint all the dark brown wood, too. A quick trip to the paint store nets me a couple of gallons of paint that, judging from the price, is individually mixed by hand by Christian Dior himself and contains liquefied platinum and yeti milk. I declined the Lloyd's of London insurance policy for the brief ride home. Saturday morning, bright and early, we move the ratty furniture to the middle of the room, cover it all with a drop cloth, open up the paint, and start a-slatherin'. We get the first coat on the walls, shower up, and head out for our weekend errands. Come home, second coat, shower again. Sleep like the dead. Sunday morning, mask off the baseboards, ceiling molding, window and door. Pop open the semi-gloss, and start painting the dark brown stuff white. God, is it streaky. Since the semi-gloss stuff doesn't dry nearly as fast as the flat, we have to wait a minimum of 4 hours before the second coat. The second coat looks a lot better, but it's going to take a third.

The paint we're using is enamel. It's supposed to be non-toxic, but paint fumes are the only possible reason that I can come up with for the following incidents:

A) At some point, one of us realized that the chorus of Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life" fit pretty well with the materials we were using, and we spent the rest of the weekend hilariously singing

I want something else
to get me through this
semi-gloss kinda white,
a-baby, a-baby....

Really. We found this funny.

B) While putting the second coat on the walls, I was handling the brushing chores while wife was handling the roller. Admittedly, it was the second coat and it's sometimes hard to tell what's been done and what hasn't, but the following conversation took place:

Wife: Did you do this corner?
Gilahi: Yes.
Wife: All of it?
Gilahi: (pause) No Honey, I only did a third of it.

"All of it"? (Did I mention that my wife reads this blog? I love her very much.)

C) Lying in bed Saturday evening, we turn on the television. No reception whatsoever. We tried several channels, turned it off and on, wondered if we'd have to call the satellite folks. It took several minutes before we realized that the receiver box is in the family room and is currently under a sheet of plastic.

And that's where we are. Stuff piled in the middle of an unusable family room, no TV, pristine, beautiful walls edge in blue tape and molding that looks like bacon. We'll continue our saga as it progresses. Since they're no longer doing Flash Gordon serials, I'm sure many of you are just dying to see what happens in our next installment.

Will the streaky brown wood be defeated?

Will Gilahi and his wife ever be done with their house?

Will Attila the Decorator approve?

Stay tuned....


GreenCanary said...

Dude, I so feel your pain. Once upon a time, I helped my cousins prime their ENTIRE house. The previous owner had painted everything an institutional blue, circa 1953. We were using an industrial grade primer and didn't realize we were smoking our brains until I fell off of the ladder and lay on the floor in a gasping heap of laughter. That's when someone grabbed me by the arms and dragged me out into the fresh air. That person saved my life *shaking head melodramatically*

Herb of DC said...

If you leave the blue tape up for almost a year it will damage the walls when you go to pull it off. Better to wallpaper over it at that point.

Gilahi said...

Canary - See, when I was your age, we used to go to great lengths to get into that state on purpose. Only it didn't include all that labor.

Herb - The blue tape is actually not a bad color. I'd consider just covering the walls with it.

bozoette said...

Mmmm -- bacon...

Gilahi said...

Bozoette - Leave it to you to focus in on the one food-related word in an entire article about home improvement.

Bilbo said...

It occurs to me that we are both married to the same woman...

Gilahi said...

Bilbo - I wondered why she has to "work late" every other night or so...

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