Wednesday, July 02, 2008

If you give a girl a paint chip...

Now that I am unemployed, I am about to repaint my living room so I have plunged bravely into the world of paint chips. My neighbor lent me her Benjamin Moore fan book, and with it were pamphlets from Pottery Barn with their paint collections from Spring, Summer and Fall of 2007. This was very exciting, as I had already purchased fan books with the Pottery Barn palettes for Spring and Summer of 2008, so now I have a wide variety of Pottery Barn-approved colors to choose from. Because where would the middle class be without Pottery Barn to guide us?

Even with all the help from PB, I'm having trouble deciding between Wedgewood Gray, Crystal Springs or Silvery Blue for my living room. I want the perfect blue-gray. Not too blue. Not too gray. I feel like Myrna Loy in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dreamhouse, a movie I rented last weekend because the narrator in Do the Windows Open? says she watches it often because it's so unrealistic. And it is unrealistic. Especially the scene where Cary Grant is arguing with his architect and his lawyer while wearing a quilted satin smoking jacket. It's also very funny. Anyway, there's this one scene where Myrna Loy is telling her painters what colors she wants. She says something like, “I want the kitchen to be white, but not a cold white, a warm white. Warm it up with something but make sure it's a color that doesn't give a suggestion of anything other than white.”

Actually, painting the living room is turning out to be something of a Project. Before I could even get started, I had to paint the armoire. We bought it second hand at Circa. The previous owner had antiqued it. She'd painted it blue, with an umber glaze and hand painted flowers on the door panels. She even signed it: Gloria Mitchell, 1993. I'm sorry, Gloria Mitchell, but what worked in 1993, does not work now. I felt bad painting over your hand painted flowers, but it had to be done. Now the armoire is a dark gray, although I'm thinking it needs to be black. I did just find the most fabulous new knobs for it at anthropologie.
Anyway, I realized that it makes no sense to paint the living room without doing something about the ceiling. Ever since we moved in, the paint has been peeling off the living room ceiling in large, loose flakes. Underneath is bare drywall. I realized that this means my ceiling hasn't been painted since about 1974. Long ago, some previous owner of our house covered all the old horsehair plaster with drywall. They did a really bad job, too. They also installed a hideous ceiling fixture in the living room. Yesterday I scraped all the large, loose flakes off the ceiling and I covered the areas with a thin coat of drywall mud. Today I will sand and prime those areas, and tomorrow I can paint the ceiling.

But I also realized that something needs to be done about the woodwork. Previous owners—probably the same ones who put in the drywall and the hideous ceiling light—painted all the woodwork in the living room mustard. Mustard. The people we bought the house from had painted white on top of the mustard, only now the white paint is peeling off in long strips—probably because the mustard paint is oil base and the white paint is latex. I have seen this happen before.

Not only that, Jon and I damaged the paintwork badly when we replaced the sash cords last year.
The only thing to do is strip them. Gah! I suppose I ought to strip them before I paint the walls. It's a good thing I'm unemployed.


  1. "Because where would the middle class be without Pottery Barn to guide us?"


    People would be lost, just lost I tell you. No one would know what fake apothecary chest to put in front of their artfully distressed brown leather sofa.

    All kidding aside, I completely understand your obsession with just the right paint color, because I'm doing exactly the same thing.

  2. If you give a mom a paintbrush...