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.