What I learned at the hardware store this week – besides the realization that a career as a paint-colour namer is my roller not taken – is that late August is not the time for home renovations that I thought it was. Things don’t start heating up home-wise until September, my local hardware guy told me. That’s when folks wake up in a post-Labour Day haze and say, “Oh, crap! Summer’s over and I still haven’t glazed my gazebo!”
Here at the Murray house, where we always buck the trend, we’ve been working all summer on the semi-regular task of painting our downstairs, if by “semi-regular” you mean “every 20 years or so.”
When we first moved into our home, we looked at the living room wallpaper and said, “That’s got to go.” We just didn’t specify when. Eventually, we stopped noticing the frou-frou rose vines and the navy blue runner. It became like, well, it became like wallpaper.
But this past weekend, with great delight and the occasional maniacal laugh, we peeled off that old wallpaper and only some of the plaster with it. As with every other aspect of this painting project, we anticipated there might be surprises, but we were undaunted – in for a penny, in for a pound of Polyfilla.
It started when our 23-year-old returned home for a brief sojourn. Emily has energy, so when she asked, “What can I do?” I semi-jokingly replied, “Well, you can paint the TV room.” I should have stopped there, but then I added, “You could start by stripping the paint off the arch between the TV room and the dining room.”
We knew there was nice wood under that arch. We could see it where kids/animals/toys/drunks had nicked the paint off over the years. There was also the fact that the archway was decorated in early period Pokemon stickers. The prospect of removing those stickers was yet another motivation not to paint. (As if I needed one…)
So Emily headed to the hardware and loaded up on strong chemicals, goggles and rubber gloves, which sounds like a fun night out, but in this case saw her get to work stripping years of paint.
We learned as we went. We learned that Emily is keen but messy and that paint stripper also works on hardwood floors. We’ll get around to repairing the burn marks, probably in about 20 years.
We also learned that it takes many cans to strip an archway, but once you got the hang of it, it can be enjoyable. Or maybe that’s just the fumes talking.
We decided to also strip the door frame into the TV room because we sure loved that bare wood. And when we had finished that, we decided to do the kitchen door, and this is when it stopped being enjoyable.
I don’t know if years ago they used special NASA-grade paint for kitchen woodwork, but this door frame required much straining, grunting and sweating, which also sounds like a fun night out but I can assure you was not. Was lead-based paint actually a coat of lead, because it sure felt like it.
I would have preferred to have stopped after this door but there was one final one, equally tough. Like I said: in for a penny, in for a porpoise. (Sorry, that might be the lead-based paint talking.)
In the meantime, with the stripping under way, we started painting as well. It was time; the children have grown up, there’s no toys smashing into the walls, there are far fewer drunks than there used to be. Plus, we had the momentum and a line of credit at the hardware.
We chose our paint colours within five minutes, despite the countless options. And it was then that I realized I had missed my calling as a colour namer. Put a random adjective and a food/nature noun together and you have a colour: “Pugnacious Mango,” “Reticulated Bog,” “Alaskan Praline,” “O’Reilly Bile.”
We finished the TV room and dining room and, after a pause, have moved on to the living room. I’ve already forgotten what the wallpaper looks like thanks to the Honey Cream and Polynesian Blue, although as I write this it’s still mostly Half-Assed Spackle.
We have plans to do our kitchen and, because the paintwork has hit the staircase, the upstairs as well. Deb and I are on our own, though; Emily left us two rooms ago and the other kids have dedicated their summer to watching what feels like 97 seasons of “One Tree Hill.” I fear the fumes and lead are affecting their decision making.
But we’re doing it, all because our twenty-something daughter was bored. And they say millennials don’t get things done!
Lol at the title. Very clever
Thanks. Sometimes it all starts with a title.
Funny! Do we get before and after pics?
Ha. I’m not that organized.
Ha! Very funny Ross. Females the world over are like your daughter, they roar in, divulge a plan, do part of the work, and then roar out. Sigh. Ha! My ex and I were out doing errands one day (this would have been many years ago before she was my ex) when her daughter of 11 (Chantal) called. Chantal said she needed some paint. I knew this conversation would not end well. Apparently she had felt a driving need to paint her room, had found some part cans in the basement where I kept them for touch-ups, and had commenced painting her room – and ran out of paint after 1/2 of one wall.To her credit, she and her friend had moved all the small furniture out into the hall, piled the big stuff in the middle of the room and covered it with a tarp. We spent the rest of the weekend finishing the job.
I blame it all on women – big ones or little ones. Without women, there woud be no house of strippers. 😀
We would be slobs in caves, for sure. But don’t worry, pretty soon men will be obsolete anyway.
While I’d settle for before and after pics, I would love to see this on HGTV – the big reveal and all.
Very funny, thanks for the giggles. And the warning. I’ve got wallpaper to deal with in my living room. I’d strip that, but there’s horsehair underneath.
Underneath our paper was paint on top of more paper, looks like several layers. Buying an old house, you buy everyone else’s half-assed jobs.
While I am still in horror that you did not control-alt-delete your rose vines and runner in the 90s, I did enjoy Reticulated Bog. I have also wondered who gets to name these things. Our entire house is a neutral that we will not be changing bc as long as we keep it devoid of character, we can one day sell it. The paint is Desert Fawn. Are there fawns in the desert? Perhaps you could also come up with car names, if you are so sharp on colors/colours. Car names are just wretched.
True indeed. But I prefer the names over the secret code names: SR7 or V8H2O or whatever.
You’re smart to go neutral. I believe we’ve captured the Peewee’s Playhouse look.
I love Pee Wee’s Playhouse! Now you just need all his cool gadgets! And Chair-y.
We had an open concept house in Victoria that had a Pepto Bismal Pink main floor. Even the kitchen cabinets were pink! We bought it with the intention of painting immediately. It was a learning experience for us. (We learned that we’re lazy and don’t enjoy home renovating.) Neither of us touched a paint roller until we put the house on the market several years later. The colour we chose was Dusty Phlegm. Believe it or not, it was an improvement over the pink!
I have a feeling that all this improvement is merely a subconscious prelude to entering the real estate market.
Dusty Phlegm… chuckle.
Taco Bell fire sauce red is a personal favorite of mine
Do you rent her out?
She’s looking for work…
Stripping is destruction, and who doesn’t enjoy some domestic destruction every 20 years or so? I painted my daughter’s bedroom this summer and instead of feeling pride for a job well done, I beat myself up for taking so long to do it. That’s how I play this game.
I’m sorry to hear there are fewer drunks. Fewer drunks usually = less fun.
The fewer drunks are mostly me. It’s less fun, sure, but better for the family and the furniture.
As for the time factor, what, was your daughter hovering over you? “Paint, Daddy! Paint, goddamn you!” You’re too hard on yourself.
My wife and I recently went with Burnt Ulcer for the kitchen. It just seemed right for that room. I’m sure your project won’t give you as much heartburn when it’s over. Keep that momentum going! (It’s still going, right?)
I think renovating is the perpetual motion machine that science has been seeking for eons.
You’ve inspired me once again my friend…
Not to start any renovation whatsoever. Just accept the sheer lack of decorative skill exhibited by the previous owner and learn to live with it. Or remain high which will make the atrocious puke-green painted on your wall seem mildly interesting.
Don’t have a bad trip, man… to the paint store.
What? House of Strippers? And not one mention of those “Danceuses Exotique/Erotique de Lap”? aka Quebec’s biggest export cross-Canada next to poutine & Hydro?
The ol’ bait and switch…
You know that the next step will be a huge party to show off the renovation. There will be drunks and kids and animals……
I was wondering why I suddenly felt the need to powerwash the house, paint the porch, mow the yard, and do everything else I put off all sumer, but now I see that I am not alone in feeling summer is almost done and in three days winter will destroy all my hopes. You’re right about those millennials my son unloaded the dishwasher yesterday (after waiting three hours for a preseason football game to finish and then acting like he had raised the Titanic).
“But I didn’t dirty all those dishes!” Right?
You know the routine. He is probably responsible for about 75% of the dishes though.
My dear wife Karen loves to paint our walls. I love that she loves to paint our walls. I say, the living room looks so lovely this color between yellow and orange, and she tells me the burnt or the hatched or the flamingoed of it. I say, the bedroom looks so lovely light gray, and she tells me it’s a new shade of kerneled green. Next up, the laundry room. She’ll pick the color, paint it, and I’ll compliment it wrong.
You’re complimenting it. That’s not wrong.