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Monday, December 16, 2002  

So we still have most of the furniture out of the basement from when we installed the new ceiling. I’ve been putting off moving everything back in there because I wanted to use this opportunity to paint the walls. And also because I didn’t want to move everything back in there.

What with the holiday rush, Saturday was the first chance I’ve had to slap a new tint up onto the masonite. Trash was out of the house all day, cranking out Christmas cookies like Mrs. Fields on speed. Every time we’ve painted since we first moved into the house, we’ve either had plenty of help or Trash and I did it together. I’ve always been curious as to what it would be like to paint a room by myself. Especially now that my curiosity has been satisfied about similar experiences, such as undergoing extensive root canal work.

I severely underestimated the amount of elbow grease it would take to get years of accumulated cigarette, candle, and furnace smoke off the walls. It probably wouldn’t have ever gotten so bad, but the basement light fixtures that came with the house were about as bright as the person who picked them out. Someone could have drawn occult symbols on the wall in charcoal and we never would have known. I’ve actually been in submarines that were less oppressive. But the combination of our shiny new white ceiling and new fluorescent lights made it apparent that I had some work to do before I applied the new color. Even when I turned off my 300-watt work light. Which I tried. But even I wouldn’t let myself get away with that.

So after several hours of scrubbing and taping off all of the edges and the woodwork, it was time to go get the paint.

“What?” you’re saying. “You didn’t even have the paint yet?” Well, no, but I had the color all picked out. Our house lacks a room with a red color scheme, so I was going to go with a kind of russet-brown color. I expected that this would match the furniture and the woodwork that we had down there, since I had taken the color directly from the matte on a painting we’ve had hung on the basement wall for years. Trash agreed (in exchange for her getting carte blanche from me on the new color of the second bedroom—in front of witnesses, no less), so I headed off to Home Depot with paint chips in hand.

In the actual paint aisle, I chickened out a bit. I decided to get the same hue in a lighter shade, out of fear that if I went too dark I would turn our basement into something that looked like the inside of a storm drain. So the color I went with was a kind of dusty tan. I paid for my two gallons of dusty tan paint, brought home my dusty tan paint, and spent several hours spreading my new, dusty tan paint on the basement walls.

Once it was on the walls, and the sun went down, and I shut off the work lights, my dusty tan paint became royal purple.

What the hell?!

I can think of a couple of things that went wrong. First, the lower half of our walls in the basement are made of a red-stained wood paneling. We have a brown leather sofa and another couch with a brown and gold floral pattern (it’s so much nicer than I made it sound). In that environment, and under the shiny new white ceiling and new fluorescent lights, the insufficient amount of red and brown in the paint color I chose just gave up and ceded equal ground to the dash of blue-gray.

It is also entirely possible that I’m color-blind.

But seriously, the color looked tan in the store. It looked tan on the ride home. It looked tan in the kitchen. Then I brought it downstairs, and I might as well have papered the walls with Vikings jerseys. Maybe the paint should have had warning label on it: CAUTION: Color will change dramatically below ground level. I don’t know.

I also don’t know why I didn’t just stop when I realized I had the wrong color. I think I was hoping that once I had it all evenly applied all over the room, that somehow it would counteract itself and look the way I intended it to. Instead, I just made my basement look like the inside of an eggplant.

Obviously we’re going to be repainting at the next possible opportunity (read: the first weekend in January, probably). Only two things have prevented it from being a total disaster: I only used one gallon, so I can bring the other one back. And I left the dropcloths and masking tape in place, so all that’s left to do is the actual painting. It’ll be just like putting on a third and fourth coat on the same project.

But this time, it’ll be in a good color. I know because Trash helped me pick it out this time.

posted by M. Giant 3:42 PM 0 comments


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