Painting Ourselves into a Corner

Painting Ourselves into a Corner

It all started with the ever-so-slightly-off-white carpet in the living room. It was the kind of carpet that made a statement. “Single. Meticulous. Manhattan,” it had whispered to us.

“Married. Kids. Small -- sometimes muddy -- town,” our life had screamed back.

But did we listen?

Despite our no-shoes-no-food-no-drinks rule, the ever-so-slightly-off-white rug soon became even more, um, off. And when the dog came along, well, I eventually gave up the rag-and-cleaning-fluid method and resorted to moving our furniture to odd places in the center of the room whenever anyone came to visit.

But the carpet is gone now.

In its place is a shiny, wood floor that for some reason, despite how nice it once looked, we felt compelled to immediately cover with a new area rug. And it looked great. Except for how it clashed with the peach walls. But painting can be so disruptive. Which leads me to the great idea I had.

“Let’s hire a painter while we’re away on vacation.”

And that’s what we did. We let a painter loose in our house with only a few one-inch cardboard paint chips to guide him. (WARNING: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!)

Ever go into a paint store? Suddenly, your world is blossoming with potential. Your four walls become a palette for an endless spectrum of possibilities. The plain old yellow we were thinking of for our living room was instantly out of the question. Not with Lemon Drop and Country Comfort and Old World Romance and Candlelight to choose from. With colors that sound so lovely, who could go wrong?

Coral Spice, for instance. As long as the painter was coming, he could spruce up our bathroom, too, couldn’t he? That would be the room where the wallpaper was curling at every seam. (Question: If wallpaper can only be removed by steaming it off, then why would we ever put it in the bathroom where we take showers every day?)

Anyway. On our late-night ride home from the airport, my husband and I debated whether or not we should look at the fresh paint or wait until morning when the light was better.


Once inside our house, we couldn’t resist a peek at our living room. It was midnight and our judgment was probably impaired from all the travel, yet somehow our Golden Honey walls seemed more like -- how do I put this -- Taxi Cab Yellow.

But that was nothing compared to our bathroom. The fiery glow spilling under the door should have been the tip-off. Let’s just say the paint chip Coral Spice bore little resemblance to the actual bathroom Coral Spice. Words could not describe it. Not until one night later that week, when there our color was scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen on CNN: TERROR ALERT LEVEL ORANGE!

As our always competent and occasionally funny painter said later: “Think of it this way. You go into the bathroom. You close the door. You’re in. You’re out. It’s not like you hang around in there.” When did painters become philosophers? Being the gentleman he is, of course, our painter somehow resisted saying I told you so. Even though, in truth, he had.

So now we’re off the chips and on to the quarts. Eleven dollars bought us the privilege of slapping a splash of Daffodil over TERROR ALERT LEVEL ORANGE! only to learn that the pale orange color was very nice but not enough of a contrast with the beige tub and sink.

No problem. Another $11 let us try Savannah Clay, which was a little too brown. Or a little too pink. Or a little too something.

Of course, we could always replace the tub and the sink. Not to speak of the tiles. As I said, the possibilities are endless. Including this one:  Maybe we should have left that ever-so-slightly-off-white carpet alone.

Photo by Yoann Siloine

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