One of the stipulations for getting to live in this big (mostly) empty house is that Dan and I agreed to help my mom out with some of the major projects that need to be accomplished to make the house sale- or rentable. Since we had no furniture, internet, or television for the first week+ we were here, we spent most of our time working on the first big project, which was to paint my sister’s old bedroom. Somehow, back in the early ’00s, my mom took leave of her senses and let my sister paint her bedroom red with black trim. The worst part is that the large built-in book case/desk units in the room were also black, which meant a lot of small fiddly painting, and because the room was mostly red and black, we knew that it wasn’t a matter of just a simple coat of paint.
We knew it was a big job, so we decided to consult an expert. A friend of mine worked for an independent paint store for many years, and knows more about paint and the paint business than anyone else I’ve ever met. I sent her an email describing the situation and asking for recommendations and advice, and she wrote me a novel in response that outlined all of our options and choices, with helpful commentary. The first thing we had to do when we got here was to check how many layers of paint were on the walls, since I knew there were at least three and maybe as many as 7 or 8, depending on how many times it had been painted since the last time it was stripped. (The house is pretty old, with at least 3 owners prior to my mom, so it was possible that we’d have lots and lots of old paint to deal with.) My friend had given me a plethora of options for paint stripping, so we were prepared to have the room closed off for many days while waiting for a stripper to do its job. When we did a bit of chipping away, however, we discovered some faux wood paneling on some of the walls covered with three layers of paint, so we knew stripping wouldn’t be necessary.
The second thing we did was to go to the Ace Hardware in town, where my mom said was a list of all of the various paint colors she’d used in the house in the past 20-odd years she’s been here. We decided to use the same color on the walls in the bedroom as in the hallway and living room (“Powdery mist”, aka a light tan color) and all the trim in the same color (“linen”) as the trim in the whole rest of the house. My friend had told me that if we didn’t need to strip the paint, we would for sure need stain-blocking primer to help cover the black and red, and Ace was kind enough to tint it for us to match the color we’d eventually paint.
So once we’d bought the tape our friend recommended (“The green stuff is cheaper and if your project is going to last a week or less, don’t bother buying the blue stuff”) and taped everything off and put down plastic, we began by priming all the red walls and all the black trim. And then we started on the first black built-in. Only a few minutes into our project, it was clear that Laurel was going to have to die for her sins. Painting every surface of every cubbyhole in that built-in was absolute torture – we had to do it all by hand, sharing the same bucket of primer, Dan doing the above bits (and only getting a little bit on my head), me doing the below bits (and cursing at the tedium).
It was toward the end of the first coat of primer on the first built-in that we began to plot our revenge. And then we started on the second built-in, which has a desk and an underside that I had to lay on my back to reach, while primer dripped on my face, and the murderous fantasies began.
We ended up doing two coats of primer on everything, to ensure we wouldn’t have to use a ton of (more expensive) paint, and then we did two coats of paint. So we painted each and every one of those built-ins over and over and over and by the last time, we had all kinds of elaborate torture situations dreamed up, and decided that my mom and the friend who helped her paint deserved horrible, horrible death as well. Finally, after working on it for several hours a day together, we finished the last touch-ups on the trim five days later.
*Dan wrote the above poem using the fridge poetry. It really says everything that needs to be said about the sucketry of the paint project.