Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Fixer Upper: How to Blow a Simple Paint Project Completely Out of Proportion (in 91 easy steps)

1. Be a detail-oriented perfectionist married to a man with mad painting skills who loves you deeply and will go to great heights far above and beyond the call of duty to make you happy.

2. Make a big, dramatic deal about the stench of your new home and get your husband to agree that the entire interior must be painted from top to bottom to rid the home of stench remnants.

3. Express that you are perfectly content with white paint. Anything to get rid of the smell.

4. Go to the recycled paint store and bring home two five-gallon buckets of Mountain Snow White paint.

5. Derail the project at this point by also bringing home a brochure of color options from the same store, which you have discovered you can get for the same price as white.

6. Pore over the color swatch brochure for the better part of an hour on a long road trip while your husband is effectively trapped into listening to your musings. Make no conclusive decision.

7. Automatically reject your husband's suggestions of two new colors not shown on the brochure, Tuscan Olive and Caramel, because the names of the colors remind you of your grandmother's early 80's home, and candy you hate.

8. Days later, eventually choose Sweet Corn Yellow for the kitchen, living room, family room, master bedroom, and master bath, even though your husband reminds you that it is the same bright, exterior yellow you painted your old house, and it may be too bold for interior walls. Choose Spring Green for the boys' room.

9. Drive back to the recycled paint store and change your mind from Spring Green, after seeing the swatch, to Tuscan Olive, after seeing it on the wall of the paint store. Respond to your husband's smug expression by poking the end of his nose affectionately with your finger while making a clownish honking noise.

10. Also buy white semi-gloss for the cabinetry.

11. Begin your paint project by ripping out the living room carpet and painting the sub-floor with white Kilz sealant.

12. Paint all the cabinet doors and drawers with white semi-gloss. Mask off and paint all the cabinet frames.

13. After the paint on the cabinet frames is dry, mask all the cabinetry and all the windows. Paint all the ceilings Mountain Snow White with the paint sprayer. Block all of your skin pores.

14. After the ceiling paint is dry, paint the boys' room, main bathroom and laundry room Tuscan Olive with the paint sprayer.

15. Observe satisfactorily that Tuscan Olive perfectly matches the striped 70's paneling in the main bath which you kept as a tribute to the original style of the home at the time it was manufactured.

16. Spray one wall of the living room with two coats of leftover red paint from the previous dwelling's red wall. Instead of watching the paint dry, watch it drip and sag in big, dramatic swoops down the paneling wall. Realize the paint must have frozen and re-thawed while you were in Idaho last winter.

17. Observe the dripping wall and respond rather poorly, in such a way that your husband claims that a) you don't trust him to fix it, and b) you have issues with how you respond to things that don't turn out the way you want them to.

18. Allow the conversation to deteriorate into a prolonged snit the likes of which requires all of your best junior high squabbling skills to reach its masterful climax of mutual, arm-crossed scowling.

19. The next day, buy your wife a new can of red paint. After you purchase it, call her and tell her the name of the color. Ruby Lips.

20. When you receive your husband's phone call, try to prove you are really a flexible person by declaring cheerfully, "Great! As long as it's not burgundy, I'm happy," even though you are actually very, very picky about your specific shade of red for the wall, and even though Ruby Lips sounds burgundy to you.

21. Hope beyond hope that your husband's idea of red is your idea of red, remembering that his last purchase of "red" paint was so burgundy it was almost brown, and it was on the wall for a year before your husband casually referred to it as red, at which time you realized his idea of red is not your idea of red.

22. Put three coats of paint on your wife's red wall, then purposefully present your work to her accompanied by a dramatic speech about your love for her being so deep and fierce that you are willing to scrape off two coats of dripping semi-gloss, buy brand new paint, and spend the whole day putting three coats of it on the wall, all for her.

23. Be very grateful for your husband's gesture.

24. Accept your husband's tender, affectionate kiss, and whisper softly in his ear, "Thank you..."

25. Take a deep breath, and, still positioned near your husband's ear, whisper just as softly, "It's burgundy..."

26. Turn quickly away from your wife and breathe deeply for a very long time, to keep your face from turning the shade of the burgundy wall.

27. Watch your husband attempt to compose himself, and wish vainly that you could be the flexible person who can handle things that don't turn out as you expected.

28. Tell your husband you can live with the burgundy wall and it's going to be okay. Then double over in frustration and burst into great gut-wrenching sobs because a) your wall is burgundy, and b) you know there is no flexible person in you; there is just the real you, who doesn't want a burgundy wall. Continue to sob, lying prostate on the vinyl floor, for twenty minutes.

29. Sheepishly watch your tears dry up in a big, fat hurry when your husband suggests that the two of you pick out a new gallon of red paint the next day.

30. Choose an interior flat red paint called Red Delicious that is neither too bright for your husband nor too burgundy for you.

31. Roll two coats of Red Delicious over the three coats of Ruby Lips that serve as your base coat. After a total of seven coats of paint on one wall, narrow your eyes at your wife and declare the wall to be finished, working diligently to keep the threat in your voice safely in the playful zone.

32. Agree with your husband truthfully, under no duress whatsoever, that the wall is finished.

33. Wearily move on to the next step, which is masking the ceilings, cabinetry, mirrors, and kitchen, in preparation for painting the walls. Gratefully accept help from your wife's Uncle Nate, whose skill saves you a full day of masking.

34. With the paint sprayer, shoot the master bedroom, master bath, family room, and kitchen with Sweet Corn Yellow.

35. Run out of paint before you get to the living room.

36. Go to the store while your husband paints with Sweet Corn Yellow. Upon your return, walk into the kitchen and go instantly blind as you shield your eyes from what, under your fluorescent lights, is very clearly a nice, bright shade of neon yellow.

37. Agree with Uncle Nate as he understates mildly, "That's pretty bright..."

38. Wire your mouth closed as you run a commentary in your mind that goes something like, "Yep. I warned my wife about this. I said it would be the color of yellow we painted the exterior of our old house. But would she listen to me? Noooooo... she had to have Sweet Corn Yellow... We could have had Caramel, but now we have neon."

39. Discuss a return to the store for more paint, nodding seriously when Uncle Nate suggests gently, "Something a little more mellow, perhaps?"

40. At the paint store, all alone, with no one to pull you back from the brink, choose a nice, burnt yellowy tan called Toffee Crunch.

41. Paint your wife's living room Toffee Crunch.

42. When your husband calls you into the living room to see the freshly painted walls, restrain yourself from your usual response of falling down on the floor and sobbing. Instead, manage, around the pool of vomit at the back of your throat, to say meekly, "This is orange..."

43. Nod your head sarcastically at your wife's declaration, and add the following annoyingly cheerful commentary, "Yep! Pumpkin orange! With maybe a hint of salmon thrown in!"

44. Look helplessly at your husband. Rather, look in the general direction of the sound of his voice, wishing you hadn't been blinded by your neon yellow and pumpkin orange interior walls.

45. Suggest to your wife that a little paint mixing might be in order. Lug in the five-gallon bucket of industrial gray you keep on hand. Let your wife help you mix it into the pumpkin orange Toffee Crunch until it turns a soft, creamy... caramel color.

46. Acknowledge to your husband that the re-mixed paint is basically the Caramel he suggested way back at the beginning. Swear you will always take his paint color advice from now on.

47. When the Toffee Crunch is dry, re-shoot the living room with homemade caramel, and watch with unprecedented relief as your wife declares the color to be satisfactory.

48. Vow, for your husband's sake, especially after the burgundy saga, to put up with neon yellow in the rest of the main living space, but frown dishearteningly every time your eye catches the spot where the neon yellow butts up against the homemade caramel.

49. Brainstorm with your wife about ways to keep the neon yellow from clashing quite as spectacularly with the homemade caramel. With goodwill bursting forth, offer to break up the colors by painting one of the family room walls Red Delicious.

50. Agree instantly to your husband's offer of a second red wall in your home.

51. Paint two coats of Red Delicious on the fireplace wall in the family room. Run out of paint.

52. Observe that while breaking up the clashing colors, the red wall does not make the neon yellow any less neon. Admit that you are disappointed in the yellow, anticipating the likely result of making such a statement.

53. Offer to mask the master bedroom, master bath, family room, and kitchen while your husband is at work, pointing out optimistically that then, all he has to do is spray.

54. Nod wearily at your wife, drawing upon super human effort to keep your eyes from rolling back into your head.

55. Send your husband off to work, send your kids off to school, and spend the entire day very slowly and meticulously masking the master bedroom and master bath, acquainting yourself by trial and error with basic masking techniques like ripping two-foot strips of the brown paper/tape combo off the dispenser and sticking it to the ceiling, rather than trying to run one, long, continuous strand of brown paper all around the entire room while you dangle by the dispenser from the step-ladder and attempt to lengthen your Go-Go-Gadget stretchy arms.

56. Graciously praise your wife's efforts when you get home from work, even though you could have done in one hour what took her six hours.

57. Spray the master bedroom and master bath with homemade caramel.

58. Observe satisfactorily that homemade caramel does not clash with the velvet yellow paneling in the master bath which you kept as a tribute to the original style of the home at the time it was manufactured.

59. Go to sleep hopeful, feeling glad that half of the neon is gone and looking forward to burying the rest of it in a yet-to-be-determined-but sure-to-be-perfect-this-time color.

60. Spend the next day masking the kitchen and family room, once again with Uncle Nate's help. Note that he has masked the same spaces twice in less than a week's time.

61. Arrive home from work to find the kitchen and family room masked and ready to be painted.

62. After dinner, bring every paint color you can find into the family room. Three gallons of some sort of creamy white and about a quart of reddish-brown leftover from the last tenant, a bit of Tuscan Olive, a dab of the semi-gloss red, a touch of Ruby Lips, a gallon or so of remaining Sweet Corn Yellow, and the rest of the industrial gray.

63. Pour all the creamy white into the Sweet Corn Yellow to build up the quantity of the paint. Begin to add colors of your wife's choosing.

64. After an hour of mixing, decide it's time to stop at a sort of muted tan color. Not because you like it, but because you're about to overflow your five-gallon bucket.

65. Shoot the kitchen and family room walls with homemade tan.

66. When your husband calls you into the kitchen to see the new paint color, search fruitlessly for words, allowing your silence to yawn into the danger zone.

67. Break into your wife's dangerous silence by spluttering, "You hate it. You have a big frowny face. Say it. You hate it."

68. Gaze with utter despair past your husband into your kitchen which is now the exact color of a paper grocery sack.

69. Disconsolately review your elementary school paint mixing lessons. Red and yellow make orange, blue and red make purple. Remember that while your sons were toddlers, Joe from Blue's Clues even taught you a catchy song about secondary colors. "Mix blue and yellow and they're suddenly green, then blue and green make aquamarine." But when you mix all the primary and secondary colors together in one everlasting experiment, it makes brown. Every time. And when you mix Sweet Corn Yellow, industrial gray, Ruby Lips, Tuscan Olive, homemade caramel and Red Delicious, you get brown. Every time. Brown like a paper grocery sack.

70. Tell your desperate, wild-eyed wife that you will go with her the next morning to help her pick a paint color for the kitchen and family room that she can live with.

71. Thank your husband, and then say mercilessly and firmly, aloud, to yourself, "But after this, we have to stop. This is beyond ridiculous."

72. Agree with your wife.

73. Go with your husband to the paint store the next morning. Make him swear that he will force you to take his advice. Work yourself into a nervous frenzy, knowing this is absolutely your last chance to choose the right paint color.

74. With lots of frowny consternation, several samples, and a trip outdoors to see your choices in better light, finally settle on Winter Wheat -- a creamy yellow color that does not clash with your homemade caramel.

75. Trying to keep your voice casual, comment on the fact that the color your wife has chosen is basically the same color as the previous evening's Sweet Corn Yellow after it was mixed with the last tenant's leftover creamy white, before she added the rest of the colors that turned it into paper grocery sack brown.

76. Slowly narrow your eyes at your husband until they taper into long, dangerous slits.

77. Wordlessly carry three gallons of Winter Wheat out to the car.

78. When you get home from the paint store, surprise your wife by spraying the kitchen and family room before work instead of waiting until after work like you'd told her.

79. Watch your husband spray the kitchen and family room. Feel the heavy, constricted weight lift off your chest as the rooms turn from paper grocery sack brown to Winter Wheat Yellow. Cry happy tears of relief.

80. Pause in your painting to ask sternly whether or not your wife's tears are happy. Upon determining that they are, grunt with satisfaction and return to your task, muttering under your breath that they'd better be happy tears, since you certainly would not be painting the kitchen for a fourth time if this color did not work out.

81. Send your husband off to work, feeling that the kitchen is quite yellow, but saying absolutely nothing to that effect, on pain of death, and trusting that once the paint dries and the masking is down, everything will look just right.

82. Impatiently test the paint all day for signs that it's time to remove the masking. At 3pm, when the paint is finally finger-dry, pull all the tape and plastic off to reveal your new, whether-you-like-it-or-not, kitchen.

83. Smile. Sigh with relief. Tear up. Whoop and cheer. Praise Jesus.

84. When your husband gets home from work, confess to him that when you were down on the floor the week before, sobbing about the burgundy wall, you noted unemotionally in the logical corner of your brain that the vinyl into which your nose was pressed still clung to the lingering stench that your paint project had been meant to eradicate.

85. Well beyond caring at this point, just go ahead and rip all the vinyl out of the rest of the house.

86. Spend the next few days walking around on papery felt sub-floor which is really the remains of the underside of the vinyl you tore up. Watch the felt pill up into little balls and attach itself to every fabric in the house.

87. Tell your wife you are planning to paint the sub-floor, but artfully distract her from asking what color you will use. Then, before she has a chance to protest, paint the entire sub-floor your homemade paper grocery sack brown, so that all the sub-floor is the same color.

88. Observe in the quietness of your heart that paper grocery sack brown does not look as bad on the floor as it looked on the kitchen walls, and tell your husband this fact.

89. Nod wordlessly at your wife with a very serious face. Then finish up the last of the floor, noting with your last stroke that you have actually painted every single square inch of the interior of your new home. Many square inches twice. The kitchen three times. And the red wall seven times.

90. Tell your wife you love her, and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing it was all worth it when she replies with a gentle smile, "I know."

91. Tell yourself that the next time you go to the recycled paint store for two five-gallon buckets of Mountain Snow White paint, under no circumstances whatsoever will a color swatch brochure ever accompany you home.