Monday, July 30, 2007

Home Improvement - Chapter Two

Although it's been awhile since I last posted an entry, don't think for a moment that my renovation project is complete and I've given up blogging to rest on my laurels in a newly decorated kitchen. In fact, unlike the weekend projects on HGTV, my kitchen redo has taken on a life of its own.

Don't tell anyone, but I suspect the Project Manager (ME) is in way over her head. Like I have mentioned before, on TV the workers come in, do the job and leave. They are always smiling and high fiving each other like they have found a cure for cancer, rather than applied a few coats of paint. Before starting my own project I thought this was a little bit of overkill. Now that I know what is involved in "applying a few coats of paint" I have a whole new respect for painters. In my opinion they earn their high fives!

I have learned that painting is a lot more involved than just picking out a color and slapping it on the wall. It is clear to me after spending the last 72 hours with paint roller in hand, that the HGTV film editor has obviously left a great deal of the home decorating footage on the cutting room floor. Before the TV show host paints a person's wall with a color akin to puce but tantalyzingly named something like "Island Envy," there had to have been several people behind the scenes making lots of serious decisions. For example:

Picking the color. Have you ever gone to a paint store and counted the number of paint chip cards? I think they've got even the biggest box of Crayola crayons beat. While standing in Sherwin Williams trying to choose between Buttercup, Sequin and Alchemy [alchemy... is that a color?] I couldn't help but overhear [okay, I stopped what I was doing to watch and listen] a couple who were choosing a particular shade of red.

He: Walks right in a certain I-know-how-to-paint-so-don't-think-you-can-pull-the-drop-cloth-over-my-eyes swagger, and heads directly to the gourmet color choices.

She: Walks in, with less authority, but armed with a swatch of paisley/floral fabric with several shades of red and purple and burgundy and fuscia.
He: Wants to methodically go through the entire color wheel before settling on a color.
She: Goes directly to the red section of the wall and picks one. "I like this one."

He: Looking incredulous asks, "What about this one? or this one? Where are the purples? Let's look down there at the pinks. What number was that color?

ME: Number? Who knew the delightfully named colors have their own number?

She: "I think this one will work."

He: Asks a few more questions of the paint salesman about spreadability, longevity and warranty.

She: Asks, "Is it easy to clean up?"

He: "Oh look, dear," pulling the wife's original color choice out of the bunch like it was a golden egg, "I think this is a perfect match."

She: Looks at me with a sly smile and says, "we've been married for 30 years," as if that explains their communication style and ability to work together.
ME: My convivial personality makes a color choice - Convivial Yellow. If it turns out looking puce instead of yellow, I have no one to blame but myself.

The next question I have about those TV shows is how do the people doing the painting, whether professional or the do-it-yourselfer, manage to stay paint free? Thinking this would be true of my helper and I, you can see we failed to don appropriate coveralls.
I took full advantage of my sister's offer to help, thinking we could knock out the paint part of the project in no time flat. [What I hadn't figured into the equation was the time it would take for the HAZMAT operations - sanding, cleaning, and priming. This actually tripled the operation time. I'm way beyond the two-day window. I have also learned that "priming" is actually just a fancy name for saying, "if you want your real paint to stick to the wall, you have to paint every surface twice;" once with a base coat (AKA primer) and once with the paint of choice, ie color, flat, satin, or glossy finish. FYI: Priming is also the messier version of the two.]
Jean took one side of the kitchen, I took the other. Because of our height differences, we might have worked faster and easier if I had taken the high road (standing on a stool to reach the ceiling) and she the low (crawling on her knees at the baseboards) but we didn't figure that one out til we were almost finished. Live and learn!
I also had the help of a curious kitten. As I worked on one end of a long tunnel of open cabinets, the Girl Cat supervised from the other end. Supervised might not be correct word; walking across the wet paint trying to shake the sticky pigment from her paws would better explain her kind of help.
As you can see from these few pictures our Adventure in Paintland was a messy one. The paint seemed to go wherever it felt like. When Jean cocked her head back to paint underneath a shelf and put her ponytail into the paint, she called it a day.
It was at this point that I realized the TV shows have masculine advertising sponsors like Home Depot or Bellawood Flooring which help them pay their bills. But what they really need is the sponsorship of a store like Body and Bath Works. This wonderful store has made a fortune selling sweet smelling soaps, body lotions and skin care products for the last few years. It is a veritable gold mine of things that make a girl feel and smell divine.

Unlike the all-purpose washcloth of my mother's era, my skin cleaning instrument of choice from BBW is an oversized, brightly colored net ball that resembles a Brillo Pad. It comes with its own hanger so it can drip dry, instead of getting that stinky-needs-to-be-washed smell. It has just enough scrathiness to scrub off stuck on paint and clean dirt-encrusted fingernails, yet is soft enough to leave one's top layer of skin intact.

Just so I'm not accused of being too much of a feminist, I think it would behoove BBW to come up with a unisex line of products with a kinder and gentler name than "Lava." Perhaps they could call a pumice filled soap something like Volcanic Vanilla, or Pineapple Polish. I expect all manner of do-it-yourselfers would flock to the mall in various stages of paint coverage to buy these cleaner uppers.
This brings me to another idea I've had while lost in painting reverie. It seems like no matter how well prepared I think I am when tackling a maintenance project, I always forget something. Huge home improvement stores thrive on this aspect of the amateur artisan. Like eating just one potato chip, it's impossible for me to walk into Lowes and buy just one thing. In fact, I've learned that a five minute walk-in and walk-out trip usually turns into an hour's stroll through the whole store. So why not a home delivery service?

Picture it ... You are stuck on the top of a ladder. You realize you need masking tape, a can opener, or second can of Kilz. Wouldn't it be easier to call Home Depot and have them deliver your needed items, instead of stopping the momentum and going to the store yourself? Sure it might cost a little more for the service, but look how much you'll save if not perusing the plumbing aisles! Hmmmm, maybe Home Depot and Pizza Hut could go in together! Oh well, so much for my marketing ideas. I've gotta get back to work.

Covered in paint, but feeling productive, just call Merry Me

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading this post, I wonder; is this the ow-man I know and Love? She of the ow-y and damn it set? "Brillo - pad scrubbers that hang so as not to stink?" I GUESS! Is that what those things in the bath tub/shower are? You couldn't smell them if they were designed to smell. The blended odors of (who knows) how many bottles of 'smell good' stuff to bathe with over powers everything else. ( I will admit though that some of the aroma's that waft their way from bath room to office are tantalizing.) AND.....I can see a pizza hut located inside a Loew's. You order your pizza and paint scraper at the same time. Lowe's would love it, more sales, no added cost as the drivers work mainly for tips. ME is pretty damn smart! The kitchen by the way is really looking great. The orange/tomato/hot pepper/??? accent paint is something to behold! Even "POP" grins when he looks at it. The aztec/western-indian border paper around the walls should fit right in. The door people are coming at 9:AM on Monday. With any luck at all (and being on schedule) the kitchen will have it's new look completed by next week-end. Then the weekend can be spent putzing everything back in the cabinets. I'm told we need a label machine thing-y so we can id the contents of various shelves. I have one stashed away as a surprise for ME. Oops - I just spilled those beans. Oh well, the new counter tops won't show THAT stain.jdc