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A House of a Different Color

Get me upset enough, and the cliché’s will come out of the woodwork.

For instance, when my daughters wanted to paint my youngest girl’s room:

“In a pig’s eye. Over my dead body. In fact, I’ll be spinning in my grave when pigs fly over my dead body, because you’ll fall and break your leg and put somebody’s eye out, and when you do don’t come crawling to me!”

It turned out pretty nice, actually. It’s hard to describe the colors – they have these names that are not actual color names, which seems to be a trend these days. Did you know Crayola put out a crayon called Macaroni and Cheese? That’s not a color, that’s a food. What, yellow’s not good enough for them?

So now the room’s walls are, I don’t know, “Leaf”, and the trim is “effulgent”, or something. (That’s my word of the day.) They painted the door a combination of “Veronica” and “Bile”. I’m telling you, it’s getting out of control – call a blue a blue, for crying out loud.

Where was I? Oh, yes. My daughters concocted this scheme to move every room in the house to another room. My youngest would move into the spare bedroom, I’d take her bedroom, my office would go into my old bedroom, and our exercise equipment (go ahead, laugh it up) would go into the former office, which was supposed to be the dining room.

This was an awfully ambitious plan for a family that once caused $7,500 in property damage and 8 lost work days just putting together a Wal-Mart bookcase.

I agreed because Jillian’s new room, the smallest bedroom (Jillian calls it “the hallway”, to give you an idea), was painted a decade before. That means the wallpaper had already been removed.

My home has truly ugly wallpaper, which dates back to the art deco days of, what, the 60’s? 70’s? Back when they were making olive green kitchen appliances.

Under that is 50’s wallpaper. Under that is 30’s wallpaper. Under that – and I recently found my house on a 1901 map of Albion – is wallpaper from an unidentifiable period, although it appears to have been a time when there was no taste. Maybe it was original, from the “Aughts”.

If I was an archeologist I’d be in hog heaven (see above about the flying pig’s eye). But no, I was a homeowner, trying to remove
wallpaper so old it had actually become part of the wall. And everyone knows how much I hate power equipment.

So I nixed the idea of painting anywhere else in the house (even though, let’s face it, a few coats of Salmon or Ivy are desperately needed), but agreed to painting that one room. I was looking forward to the end result -- moving my office out of the room by the front door, which tends to collect everything that’s brought inside. My desk once collapsed under the weight of coats, junk mail, trash bags full of junk food wrappers, and a stuffed trout. Never did find out where the fish came from.

All this moving also gave us the opportunity to clean everything out of the nooks and crannies, where stuff tends to build up after 18 years in the same home. I mean, we completely emptied rooms for the first time in a decade. We had to call for a special trash pickup. We removed so much junk that the house actually groaned in relief.

Turned out there was a closet in the spare bedroom. Who knew? Just a selection of what we found inside includes a 1986 Playboy magazine, a buffalo nickel, a camera I reported stolen in 1992, and an unopened set of spark plugs from a 1988 Ford Escort, a car we got rid of in 1991.

All of this was hidden behind a life size cutout of Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala, which I’m ashamed to admit I hid there so the kids wouldn’t throw it away. It’s gone now, since some wiseguy gave her a mustache with a dandelion colored crayon.

Once the room was clear, I had to remove several dozen nails from the walls, and then apply spackle to repair the gaping holes left behind, now that wallpaper is no longer holding those walls together. Spackle is a material that, once painted over, convinces you that your walls are in good shape. It’s the modern version of rose-colored glasses.

Then we had to tackle the all too wallpaper-like teddy bear border, which lined the entire wall at ceiling level. Jillian’s 15 now, so you can see why she was no longer thrilled by the pink walls and cute little teddy bears. But the teddies weren’t just cute; they proved a bear to get off the walls, fur sure. So, the house was reminding me who’s boss? Fine. That ugly wallpaper in the other rooms will be there forever, as far as I’m concerned. At least until I’m dead as a doornail.

Finally, nothing was left but the painting. Easy, right? But the open stairway is in that room. The rest of the painting was fairly easy, especially since I put my daughters to work on it instead of me – but the dangerous part I did myself, because I’m dumb. I had to bring an extension ladder into the room (which itself makes for a great story). At one point, somehow, I was further above the base of the stairs than the roof level. I was so high, I could actually see my house from there.

Still, the painting was the quickest part of the project. It lasted only about a week, from the instant the paint mixer exploded in the face of the surprised store clerk, to the moment we gave up trying to remove the pumice colored paint that sloshed over onto the carpet. As for how long the cleaning and moving part took …

Well, now you know how I spent my summer vacation.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
LOL!!! Sounds like fun (?)....

Why don't you paint the wall paper - we did in my house because it was disgusting 1950s stuff that had gold 'highlights' (I'm sure you can imagine the only thing the 'highlights' highlighted were the awful patterns). Cream paint can do wonders if applied thickly enough....
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
All the "experts" I talked to told me you have much less trouble in the future if you remove the wallpaper first; plus all the wallpaper in my house is dark colored, so it would take an awfully lot of base to white it out. Just the same, somethng needs to be done, so one of these days I'll probably give that a try. Cream, huh ...?
Aug. 25th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
Being a dude-ette - I think it is fun to move rooms and throw away old stuff. It drives my husband crazy - so I tend to do the throwing away when he is at work. But I like to clean - how boring is that?

I'm here to tell you that you can paint over wallpaper. You can even do it right - with a primer coat or two and then the color. Painting over wallpaper is much easier than gouging the walls getting the wallpaper and sizing off.

Plus - your girls would prolly do all the painting, so you should just enjoy the free labor!!

If you could stand the colors.
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:22 am (UTC)
like to clean? I don't get it ...
Hee -- they chose a pretty good color for Jillian's room, a kind of bluish green with an orangish kind of trim. I don't recall the real name of the colors; nothing normal, I can tell you that. Anyway, you're right, they probably would do the painting themselves, so maybe I'd better let them before they get past that stage.

Sounds like your husband is a packrat, like me. For everything I threw out this summer, there was five times more junk that I *should* have thrown out. And since I'm not married and my youngest is also a packrat, there's no one to sneak in while we're gone.

I think, as soon as I've saved up enough money, I'll try that painting over wallpaper thing. That wallpaper deserves a quick death.
Aug. 25th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC)
hooray for puns!

Turned out there was a closet in the spare bedroom.

Aug. 26th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC)
Puns rule!
Aug. 25th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
the cliché’s will come out of the woodwork.

Closely followed by the puns. Really enjoyed reading this one.

(and is there really a paint called bile? Because I really don't think I could stomach that)
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:25 am (UTC)
bwah hahah ...!!!


Before I make fun, maybe I should check to make sure it's *not* really a color. After all, I wore a salmon shirt yesterday, even though I thought it was awfully fishy.
Aug. 25th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
Oh boy - I can empathise! We stripped the walls of our bathroom, and discovered, somewher about 1960 by the paper, that someone had filled a couple of holes in the plaster, without bothering to strip the paper - so the polyfilla was over the lower levels of paper!

I don't think we will ever cope with having to move everything to redecorate the living room. It will still be green in thirty years time!
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, this moving everything around was a big deal to us; a once-a-decade kind of a thing. And what I haven't been saying is that, while the painting is done and almost all the furniture moved, I'm far from done -- I've still got boxes of the smaller stuff laying around, waiting to be sorted.

But now I've got lots of people telling me you can paint over the wallpaper given enough base, so maybe I'll tackle one of the other rooms someday.

By the way, someday someone will be complaining about the lousy repair jobs I'm doing around the house, just as I complain about whatever drunken fool wired and plumbed the place 75 years ago. :-(
Aug. 25th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
That actually sounds a little bit like fun. But then I always thought it was fun to paint walls. (Ok, sometimes I'm a little - um - odd?) William the Bloody Awful Poet would love that trim!
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:38 am (UTC)
William's trim
Yeah, I thought it would be fun to throw in a little BtVS inside joke; I'm sure most of the newspaper readers never noticed, but I knew my flist would. :-)

And truth be told, we did have fun, although we could have had just as much fun with something that was less stress inducing. :-)
Aug. 26th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
Well, sounds like your summer vacation was colorful.

And do doornails really die? Or are they more in the living lead category?

I think I lost track of who moved where--they put you in the rediscovered closet in the spare room, right? 8P
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:10 am (UTC)
doornails never die; they just get nailed
Actually, I came out ahead of the game. Because Jillian didn't want the waterbed, and it wouldn't fit in what became her bedroom, I got the master bedroom to sleep it. That and the living room are the biggest rooms in the house. My old bedroom, which became my office, is very small; but my office furniture fit into it perfectly, it's on a southwest corner, and unlike my former office it's not in the direct line of traffic between the front door and the kitchen.
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC)
Yay! A buffalo nickel! Some good came of the move. So, I have a thing for buffalo nickels. There's one in my bike jacket and I have no idea where it came from. Bear in mind I'm on the other side of the planet and your nickels are a different size to any of our coins.

Have you considered that it make work out cheaper and less stressful to hire someone to do this for you?
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:15 am (UTC)
Yes, hiring someone would be less stressful, but all I've got to my name is ... well, one buffalo nickel. The actual monetary expense for us to do it wasn't very high, unless you count future therapy expenses.

It's strange that a buffalo nickel should show up way over in your neck of the woods; they're pretty rare even over here. I collect old coins, along with anything I can find from other countries, so the buffalo nickel was a great find. Unfortunately, it's been so used that the date has worn off, so it's not really worth anything -- but it's fun to look at!
Aug. 26th, 2006 06:41 am (UTC)
Usually we get New Zealand coins intermixed with Australian ones. The silver coins are the same sizes and both have Liz's head on the face. Sometimes Fiji coins end up in circulation too. Rarer still are old pre-decimal (1966) coins kicking about the system. I'd see them as a kid, but haven't done so for years now.

My buffalo nickel is worn, but the date's still legible. I looked it up ages ago and I think I was worth around US$15. Not bad appreciation for a five cent coin.

My sister did better in a weird coin finding stakes. She found a gold half sovereign when she was a kid. You think someone would have noticed that in a handful of change before a kid did.
Aug. 26th, 2006 10:02 am (UTC)
a handful of change
Some people just have an eye for that kind of thing; I'm pretty good at picking out old coins, myself. I've got hundreds of "wheat" pennies, which date back to before about 50 years ago, as well as a pretty good collection of other old but not too valuable coins. Also, on occasion I get ahold of coins from places like South America and Greece. Canadian coins are pretty common here; strangely, despite the large influx of Mexicans to this area, I've never seen a Mexican coin.
Aug. 26th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC)
That moving rooms thing is a fantastic idea! I'm going to store that away for whenever I get a home :)
Aug. 26th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
Generally, my daughters and I don't like change, but it's a good thing to do every once in awhile; keeps things fresh.
Aug. 27th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
I used to hate change of any sort. The idea of moving at all terrified me (I was the one who put a stop to my parents plans of moving to BC when I was 16) but now I sort of am enjoying it. Moving back and forth for school I think is what did it :)
Aug. 27th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
Some change is better than others, but it's largely in the attitude with which you approach it.

Anyway, nobody wants to move when they're a teenager!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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