Paint Fumes

By: Peggy Willms

(6 min read)

Apparently, I have colors on my mind since I have written about them for the past several weeks. This week I find myself painting.

I am a tad O.C.D. especially when it comes to cleanliness. I am one of those who will see a scuff mark on a baseboard and be unable to proceed to the next task without finding my Mr. Clean white eraser and plopping down on my hands and knees to scrub it off. It shouldn’t be surprising I would decide to paint the entire inside of my new house including walls, baseboards and doors. Once we began moving things in, I was overwhelmed with the weight of the darkness. The house is immaculate. The issue simply the walls are too dark.

The shade falls into the category of tan slash orange slash brown. I am not a painter; therefore, I am unable to tell you what primary colors mesh with what to accomplish that special “pukey-type” hue. Bottom line it is not in the white family.

I am not a newbie to renos and painting. I guess I just wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t processed the concept or the time it would take when moving in so our timeline has been thrown off as well as my task list.

We first thought we would hire experts to come in and swipe through the house, call it done and move in a few days later. The expense would be worth it. Time is money. We needed to be settled and get back to work. I decided to make a quick call first as I knew I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I didn’t want to miss a beat.

When you live in a long-line of painters and handypersons, there are certain phone calls you can make and get right to the point. “Hey, Sis, I have a few questions.” She rattled back as if the local auctioneer passed away, and they hired her for the job.

“You will want to do it yourself if you want it done correctly and if you can make the time. It allows you to control the thickness of the paint and paint choice. Nowadays, the “professionals” will come in with commercial grade paint, spray a quick coat, charge you through the roof, and be gone.”

We had done a bit of research prior and the process and price range was so vast I felt like I was reading the side effect from NyQuil so I knew she was on point.

She continued, “Did the previous owner have animals? Did they smoke? Were they clean?”

So far so good, I thought. The previous owner was an older version of my Mr. Clean addiction. No animals. Non-smokers. Yippee you might say. We are ready to pick the color and go. Not!

We went from my simple question of do we do it or hire it done to the longest run-on sentence you’ve seen in a hot minute. Jesus is she in her lane!

“Well first you need to wash with TSP (a conversation ensued on what it is and why it isn’t a waste of time), rinse it off if is really dirty, get this brush, use this mesh thickness roller for this and that one for that, pick a good primer, use either satin or semi-gloss for the baseboards, kitchen and bath (easier to clean), the rest of the walls you can use semi-gloss or egg shell, and don’t cut corners on good paint …” I am sure she kept talking, but my braincells shut off after I absorbed the suggestion of using different types of paints for different purposes in different areas. Way too many “different.”

And let the adventure begin.

I actually love painting. I am unable to think of anything else when the brush or roller are in action. It is easier than meditating, yoga or having a massage. I go to a world of “whatever.” A painting aroma coma perhaps.

I hit the master bedroom running. I have the energy of a hummingbird slurping on sugar cane. The intent is to get that area of the house done first then we can move in once it is cured. High quality air, especially, while sleeping is apparently a real thing. I forgot to mention that we have been in a ‘transition home’ (another term for friends who have a kickass house who are letting us stay there by ourselves until we want to leave). However, it is a two-hour trip daily thus making this wonderful experience more of a challenge than one desires.

I am lightning speed at prep work. Ready to go. It is literally Prime Time. Primer Time. With the loopty loo sway of the bristles, I begin thinking about the textured walls and how metaphorically it relates to life. Each one is not like the other. There is no consistency. They are like clouds in the sky – oh look over there that one looks like an elephant drinking from a baby bottle. That one looks like a candle held by Ebenezer Scrooge. Damn, plop. Back down the ladder to deal with that splatter five feet away. “Pay attention, Peggy.”

Tape, brush, roll, wipe. Up the ladder and down. Repeat.

I didn’t want to prime then paint. I wanted to use the primer and paint mixture and swoop these walls in one process. Easier and faster. Boy am I glad we listened to my sister. The original color was deeper than we thought. Maybe a whole wheat bagel color. Hmm. Naively, I also thought we would be done painting the whole house in a few weeks. I forgot the last time I painted a whole house in a few weeks I wasn’t on mania meds. DAMN. I knew I hated being normal. You don’t get half the stuff done you can when not on them.

When I do decide to do something, quality is of the essence. Painting is not different. I am not one that will paint around the light switches or paint the doors while they are hanging. I care how far back I can get behind the toilet. “Should we remove the toilet?” I ask my man. “NO!!!!” Clearly that wasn’t happening.

Four days later we are headed to get ‘samples.’ The infamous determining factor. The shade that will affect you the rest of your dying days. Sounds dramatic. It is a biggee though. Yesterday, we grabbed the swatches for Ceramic White, Ivory Lane or Crescent Moon. We went from room to room taping them on the wall and trying to narrow it down. We stuck them on the baseboards, in the middle of the walls, and along the high edges. And I am no closer to making a decision that I was before the exercise. WHATEVER. At this point, my decision is anything but black or stark white. I am one of those that likes all everything one color. I like to pop the color into a room with accents such as paintings and throw pillows. I’ll take a white wall and a hand-painting of lemons before I will take a lemon-colored wall.

Diverse colors shift my moods, toy with my personality and flip the pages in my memory bank. A mint-shade in the bathroom might bring you a relaxed ambiance. For me, I think of those hard-shelled TicTacs that to this day, I  cannot have in the house because I will consume the entire container.

I will let you know what we choose. In any event, I am convinced we will love it compared to what it was on move-in day. Of course, I am higher than a kite. “Go, paint fumes – it’s your birthday. I’m gonna party, like it’s your birthday…”

Peggy Willms
                                                                     All Things Wellness, LLC
                                                                  peggy@allthingswellness.com

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