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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Adventures in Painting, part I

This past spring, I wrote a series of humorous essays about my experience giving our 1st floor bathroom a makeover. Thought I'd kick off my blog by posting these. Here's the first one:

April 2, 2008

Sometimes it might be easier to be Baptist.

My son Charlie is preparing for his First Holy Communion. Generally, in the second grade, Catholic boys and girls learn about the mystery of Jesus Christ being present in the Eucharist. It is a critical step in the Catholic faith.

At the same time, their parents try to solve mysteries like “what is that melted into the carpet and will it come up before the First Communion party?” They look at their homes with a critical eye, determining what must be attended to before guests will be allowed into the house.

I’ve known this event in Charlie’s life was coming. And I’ve known that the first floor bathroom needed serious attention before the festivities. So, last weekend, in an unexplained burst of energy, I peeled the no-longer pretty picket fence wallpaper border from the walls of the bathroom. I went to the basement, dug out a print that has been in storage since we moved to this house 10 years ago and determined it to be just right to be the focal point of the new bathroom d├ęcor. I took down the oversized mirror that I’ve hated for years. And I made the first of two big mistakes in this bathroom re-model.

First, I decided that the walls would go from chambray blue to sunflower yellow. Then – here comes the second big mistake – I decided that I would do the painting myself.

So, I took all the hardware off the walls. No problem. I walked into Home Depot and purchased spackle, painter’s tape, primer, paint and this cool little edger thing that would make getting up to the ceiling and down to the baseboards easier. I even knew to have the primer tinted yellow. Pretty smart, huh?!

I spackled and re-spackled where needed. I sanded the spackle down to a smooth finish. So far, so good. Expertly masked off the baseboards and vanity with painter’s tape and began to wonder why we had wasted so much money hiring people to do our painting for us.

Now it was the time I’d been waiting for. I cracked open the lid of the primer and stirred it with excitement. It was such a good color, maybe I’d only need one coat of primer and one coat of paint.

I used the handy edger tool and filled in the rest with the roller. A few drips on the floor (and a couple of new “blonde” highlights on my dark hair), but not too bad. By this time it was after midnight, so I decided to call it a night. I washed out my paint tools and fell into bed.

In the morning light, I could see that one coat of primer was not going to be enough. So I set up shop to apply a second coat of primer. Two coats of primer, one coat of paint. That might do it.

Annie asked if she could help and quite frankly I was ready for a little break. Since it was just primer, I figured it would be all right to let her try. Besides, it would be good life experience for her. And really, she didn’t do a bad job. Well, except for the tiger stripes that now line her bangs. And the strip of yellow primer running down the white vanity. But all in all, not too bad.

Lunch time brought another painting “time out.” A hearty meal of pigs-in-a-blanket and strawberries strengthened my resolve to get back in the bathroom and put on what I hoped would be the first and final coat of real paint.

Wow! Now, that is YELLOW. Like a school bus. I’m sure by the time we hang the mirror (let’s make it a big one) and the picture that I’d dug out of storage, the impact of the color will be a bit toned down. So I painted on…

On the walls, on my hands, on my feet. My resolve to be a careful painter was beginning to wane. I was frustrated that while the edger did make nice, straight edges, when the paint started to dry, the “frame” created by the tool was quite apparent. I burned my wrist on hot light bulbs while trying to paint around the light fixture.

One coat on. Not enough – by a longshot. Probably will require at least two more coats. Do professional painters give you a sympathy discount to finish the job you’ve foolishly already started?

If it weren’t for First Communion, my bathroom would still be chambray blue and my feet, hands and hair would not be sporting streaks of sunflower yellow. Somedays it seems it might be easier to be Baptist.

For Part II of Adventures in Painting, click here.


BB said...

Ha! We call this color "King's Monkey," but 10 years after the incident that ended up with our family room wall this color, I couldn't tell you why. But I do feel your pain and laughter.