Saturday, 28 June 2008

A Painter's Nightmare

My friend, Loretta, has been bugging me to paint her bathroom. So this past Tuesday, we decided, would be the day. I had a gallon of Martha Stewart's 'Cabbage' sitting around, which I thought would be cool and bright.


"Yeah, it's more like cucumber."

"Sounds gassy."

" It's perfect for your little bathroom there. Nice and cool. Airy."

" Alright, G, I trust you."

" I have everything I need, so just leave it to me."

" OK, I'll call you on Monday."

" Great."

I feel honored that Loretta wants me to help decorate her home. Picking out colors, textures, drapes, hunting for the right accessory or furniture, that which best reflects the personality and tastes of the occupant. That's my thing. Sure I've never had any schooling in interior design. Seems like you look at enough magazines and check out enough showrooms, you just get a feel for what works. Besides that, I possess a certain enthusiasm, confidence, and a willingness and do it all it for free. In fact, I've found that people who have experienced my work first hand, still don't mind my trying to get in there to lend a hand. Generally.

One time I enthusiastically convinced Ang to allow me to paint the front door at her parent's home where she was living at the time. Her parents were down in Florida at their other place and were due back in a few days. I had envisioned a nice dark cranberry color with a new brass handle and kick plate. Anyway, something went terribly wrong. I now know that the door should have been primed and that I probably tried to add a second coat before the first was completely dried . Oh, it was just nightmarish. All bumpy and streaked with clumps of paint coming off with each roll on.

Angie was like, "OK STOP."

"What... It's gonna look good. I just have to....uh"

I already knew that most of my mess ups come out alright in the end. I just didn't know what I was doing. Many of my problems in life come from trying to do what should be left to a profession or at least a more learned person, but ever since I watched my Dad putting up those rustic brown panels in the living room, the one's with the black tape between them...ever since I saw his labor of love with the simulated bricks, stone, stucco and whatever else medium Mom could find besides paint and wall paper, ever since the styrofoam 'Beam' went up, I too have had an appetite for doing it myself.

" It just needs to dry, Ang."

"It's horrible! My mother sees that, she's gonna freak."

"Maybe we should just strip it all off and start over."

I'm sure she held back.

Well it wasn't the right color anyway. More of a magenta. Long story short, I ran and got some stripping stuff and took the paint off. It left behind a residue of magenta but had to dry before I could paint it again. I would be back. Had to work the next day, I guess.

" It can't wait. My parents are due back soon."

She wound up getting some nice white or some kind of off white, I don't remember, and painting it right. Phew.

Anyway, Loretta had no idea about these things in my past. Besides, you'd think by now I know what I'm doing.

So. The Cabbage Paint. I couldn't find it. Looked everywhere at my parent's house. Nowhere. I grabbed my other supplies, and drove to Lowe's to pick up a gallon of something else. So many colors to choose from.

I guess she's just going to have to trust me with... Lime Meringue. That was my first mistake. Loretta wasn't home when I got there, but the door was open, so I went in and got started. I taped off the edges, took down the fixtures, and started to cut in with the Lime M. Somehow, this color just didn't look the same as it did at the store. It had a glow in the dark hue. Didn't contrast nicely with the white molding. I took it back to Lowe's and had the guy add some pigment, to make it a nice soft cottage green. Perfect.

I ran back to Loretta's and cut in again. Satisfied with the improvement, I painted over her mottled maroon. It was some kind of fuax paint job she had going in there with a color which reminded me of 'redrum', from 'The Shining'. I was thrilled to be the one get rid of it. Unfortunately, the new color wasn't looking right. I really should have brought the paint samples over for Loretta to decide, I am thinking. This is not good. Reminds me of Crest Toothpaste. With some convincing it could pass for beachy looking, and she can accessorize with a 'sea and sand' theme. Loretta had returned home and was fixing to do a BBQ for her husbands birthday. I had no idea it was Pete's BD. I sure hope he's happy with what I've done here. I don't know. The first coat was hardly covering the redrum. I was getting nervous. Her friend Kristen showed up with her 3 week old baby boy, Axel. It was thought that I would be finished by then and we could all enjoy the afternoon out by the pool. Loretta called me out of the bathroom. As I moved the chair I was standing on, the back scratched the wall. Took off a couple of inches of paint. A couple of layers spanning a few inches. Down to the 'pink' beneath everything. I pulled at the paint and to my horror, two layers of paint came off like a latex balloon. A facial mask, revealing that old pink wall from the 1990s. That must have been her Victorian phase. Instead of leaving it alone, and spackling the edges, I just couldn't help from pulling at it. The paint lifted off like a facial peel. Like Elmer's Glue dried on your hands. I opened up a hole the size of window in my paint job. Looked scarey. Like some abandoned house. Shabby chic would have been a stretch. I had to settle my nerves to keep from running screaming out of there. Ok, P won't be home for awhile. I have time. This can be fixed.

I quietly shut the door behind me and walked pokerfaced into the kitchen.

" How's it going? Can I see it?" asked L, moving toward the bathroom?

" No, Retts, I'm not done. You have to wait." I insisted, blocking her way. "It's gonna be nice. You'll see."

She went along with me and we popped open some cold beer and munched on chips while she made up handburgers and chicken. The baby was adorable though I did not touch him, only his big toe. My stomach was not feeling well.

"So when exactly is P due home?"

"In a couple of hours."

" Then I better get back to that bathroom."

" Ok, but come on out when you're done. Don't take forever!"

The girls went out to tbe pool, while I went back to the nightmare. I quickly discovered that the walls were still too tacky to paint and needed time to dry. It was getting humid. The A/C was not on. What to do...what to do....

I finally decided it was time to tell L about this mess. I called out the window. She came into the house. I warned her before letting her in. She took one look and handled it all with a straight face and a few words of concern.

I quickly told her exactly how I planned to remedy the situation. "OK, G, I trust you."

She went back out and in a few moments later, I had another vision.

I sealed up the paint can and and went back outside.

"When all else fails, go neutral". She and Kristen agreed that I should go with a warm flat 'Nutmeg'. " Nutmeg... Yes! Flat~ Yes!" they chimed. I found her 17 year old son, Matthew, and asked where the nearest hardware store was. Around the corner.

Matt has that quiet strength I need in these kind of situations. He agreed to come with. One of the 9 year old twins, Brett, came along as well. The skies looked dark in the north, and it felt like rain. We got to the hardware store and I discovered they sold my old favorite. Benjamin Moore! I decided on a nice warm 'Pittstown Buff' in an Enamel Flat. Flat but scrubbable. Meanwhile to add to the stress, the man at the counter told me that I should have primed first. "You can't paint latex over enamel without priming. Furthermore it was too humid to paint. And if it rains? Forget it. You can't paint in the rain."

" Furthermore", and without blinking, he told me, "I'd have to wait days for the mess back at Loretta's to 'cure'".

Baloney. Thanks, but I need this done today. I can't have her Cuban husband coming home to THIS! I asked the boys to pray that it would all work out. Brett immediately speaks up.

" Dear Lord Jesus. PLEASE tell Mother Nature not to make it rain."

We got back and I found that Kristin had left. Something about not wanting to be there when Pete got home. I figured she must have witnessed the nightmare. I touched the paint, and found it to be completely dry. The edges around the mess I had spackled before leaving, were also dry.

I sanded the spackle. The Benjamin Moore went on smooth and easy. One coat pretty Imuch covered everything. It was a pure joy to see my nightmare become a dream. Pittstown Buff was looking good! Benjamin Moore was the BEST ever. It never rained and before long, I was rounding that last corner. Just as I was finishing up, I heard Cuban Pete come in the door. I quickly shut the bathroom door. Have to clean up his floor first.

Finally I called him to the bathroom.

"Happy Birthday, Pete."

"Wow! It's beautiful!" He loved it. No. He really loved it. So glad the red was gone. The beige contrasted beautifully with his elegant white window molding. It looked every bit Martha.

What a relief. At Loretta's absolute insistance, she and I ran out to Kohls to find the perfect sea blue accessories ( hand towel, rug, candle holders and a ceramic turtle for the floor) for that perfect sea and sand effect.

" Wow. It's just beautiful, G."

" Thanks, Rett. I'll have to come back to do the ceiling."

"No rush, G."


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I kid you's fantastic.

Gina said...

what...that mural? I din't paint no mural on no wall. I take my images from google. I should actually take a picture of that bathroom, though and post it. Really cute.

I started painting my den with the remainder of paint, as there was more than half a can left~! I love leftovers, LGS.

Angelissima said...

Great story G! The ups and downs of this paint job were completely palpable.

Sure, I balked when I heard Pittstown Beige, but it sounds like it came out lovely in the end. I'd love a sand and sea half bath downstairs....

you in? We can go sand (my floors are sandy) and sea/sky on the walls. It is tiled half-way up with an off-white brown speckle tile.
We ain't removin' no tiles.