January 03, 2006

Fear of Painting

I don't know what my problem is. I shouldn't have a hangup about house paint, but it does seem to trigger that weird hand-wringing behavior. This is the sort of thing I see in my mother: she can make the important decisions. But small choices drive her to distraction, because she's afraid of getting beaten up over having done The Wrong Thing. For good reason, because as soon as she does something she beats herself up for it.

Oddly, this leads to moments of paralysis.

When I was 15 or 16 I painted my bedroom, and it was great. It had always been an awful dark yellow color, and I found a nice off-white that had some yellow in it (no, I don't think it was Navajo white, but it was likely similar--it reflected the light in a room that generally received only filtered light).

Ordinarily I can chant The Mantra: if you don't like it, you can always change it. It can be painted over. Painted over. Painted over.

But in this house I have wallpaper in nearly every room. With two exceptions I despise the patterns, but I haven't quite had the courage to take it down. I've even considered trying to paint over the wallpaper, since a small fringe minority of home-improvement people claim it can be done. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and I eventually realized that the only path to nice walls went right through the valley of nasty solvents, weird tools, and tremendous amounts of elbow grease. After which I would have to climb Mount Decision, where the paint samples live, and get married to pick a color.

It's finally happening in the hall bathroom. There's a little seam that's been lifting a bit, so a corner has peeled up ever so slightly. It's near the floor, barely noticeable. But I've known it was there. It's been there for months.

Yesterday I took that corner and just started pulling. The top layer of the wallpaper peeled right up, leaving a material reminiscent of drywall. I'll be cleaning the rest of this up papery stuff up with solvent and a scraper.

Today I bought to small paint samples. I'll clean up a section on each of the walls and paint a few large patches. Then when my color consultant comes over to help me make the final pick, I'll have an idea where I'm going with this. I'm thinking of a sponging effect, or a combing effect. Or even the walls in my main color with my accent color as a stencil around the edges. I guess I'll have to get a third color for the molding in any event.

But in that first moment, when you take a corner of the horrid floral wallpaper and just tug, there's no deluding yourself that "if it doesn't work, I'll just do it over." After all, some poor soul was hired by the previous owners to accomplish something exquisitely that—to my mind—should never have been done in the first place. And I'm undoing all his/her work.

My first act of vandalism—the peeling, the tearing, the "no turning back"—horrified me at first, until I saw how much better the walls looked without that cluttered, annoying pattern on 'em.

"Time to murder and create." I'm ready.

Posted by Attila Girl at January 3, 2006 11:21 PM | TrackBack

Its a good feeling when theres no going back. We've just painted our home 2 tone and we hate both of them. It was design by commitee that sunk it. maybe this helps.

Posted by: dave bones at January 4, 2006 04:47 AM

I've always been a fan of white walls.

Posted by: the Pirate at January 4, 2006 09:51 AM

Love it, Dave. Thanks!

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 4, 2006 09:58 AM

sounds like what we did, were worried about getting the wall paper off but once i started pulling i couldn't stop. it was sooooo easy.

Posted by: maggie katzen at January 4, 2006 10:37 PM

Does the blue-collar job help you with the Painting Thing?

Posted by: k at January 6, 2006 04:43 AM

Yes! It de-mystifies it.

Posted by: Attila Girl at January 6, 2006 11:46 AM

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