Painting Rooms


Finally got to a chore I’ve been meaning to do for 3 years. Painting my bathroom- that’s the color up there. And fixing the scars of two failed toilet paper dispensers. I also have been staring at the same painting flaws in that room- former paint is brick- little strays outside the lines onto the molding and ceiling.

I’ve painted more rooms than I could list here, but as I’m talking to the Cole Hardware guy preparing my paint, realize 1) painting technology has improved and 2) my paint preparation skills suck.

Last night before going to bed, I flipped on the light in the bathroom and surveyed the night’s work- primer on all surfaces. Instantly saw some bits I’d forgotten- under a shelf that’s totally visible from the doorway. I have a built-in shelf I really want to rip out, and it’s a total b***ch to paint. My back and arms are so full of ache lifting my arm to turn off the light hurts. And, it’s just primer, so I let it slip.

What struck me, 1 AM standing in the doorway, is that I didn’t have the feeling. The feeling of newness and change, of potential, that things would be different with a new paint job. I wasn’t doing it for that feeling- I just hated the brick color. But something about painting always brought on that feeling, and I didn’t recognize it until it was gone. Instead, I felt curious about whether my experience of the room would be perceived as larger since it was a lighter color, and other strange decorator things that go along with colors. Mainly, would my new towels match. Should I swap out the cabinet (Ikea, white) for the Pottery Barn one that matches (see image above). Little domestic concerns regarding aesthetics, and not the feeling I had when I was younger and painted my room baby blue. That one paint job made me feel super grown-up and adult. Note- the rock posters that I put on the wall didn’t help the maturity (Morrisey & James Dean, huzzah!).

Just to psychoanalyze myself, I think it’s because I bought this place, and the weight of decisions exceeds the joy of decorating. When I was younger, it was a sign of hard won independence and self-definition to go to the hardware store, pick out a color, and paint it. Even renting for so many years, it was still a small area I could control and call my own- in someone else’s house, with roommates. Painting other people’s house, of course, was a delightful surprise that their decisions were good ones.

Now, as all the decisions rest on my shoulder, it’s more of a thinking game. “Was it right to leave in the built-in that I hate? Should I have paid someone to do this? Patch of putty the hole from the dispenser screws?” Little hurdles like these I can determine, but still not as much fun as splashing a new color on a wall and calling it a day. And I don’t have my dad’s huge array of every solvent and tool in the business to pilfer if I don’t have a putty knife. Granted, he did offer to give me all of his paint stuff the other weekend. Painting your only bathroom and having it essentially out of commission is proving to be… interesting. That’s another post.

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