Sunday, August 14, 2005

In Living Color

Our home's new paint job is almost done. Like the scene in "Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy's black and white house lands in Munchkinland and she opens the door to a Technicolor world, Duloc Manor's stark, white walls are now alive with color.

The light pastel hues didn't worry me too much. After all, if I hated them, it wouldn't be too hard to simply paint over them with a neutral shade. My biggest worry was the family room, for which I'd selected a vivid maroon. I wanted a bold splash of color in at least one room, and our lamps and sofa pillows contain that shade of red. The sofa itself is a neutral brown, selected to hide the coffee stains caused by my careless cup-balancing, and our furniture is an orangey-brown oak. Thus, I figured the maroon wouldn't look too badly out of place.

Many of our friends have bold primary colors in their homes that look really good. After seeing so many houses splashed with color, I'd slowly but surely started to feel adventurous. Eventually, this culminated in my selection of the candy-apple maroon paint.

But I have a loathing of dark, dingy houses, and my big fear was that the darkish shade of red would make my family room seem too gloomy. It is ringed with windows and opens onto the sunny, white-cabineted kitchen, but I still thought it might be overwhelming. And once such a dark shade has taken over a wall, the difficulty level of changing it is slightly worse than herding cats.

My chosen maroon was so dark that we had to purchase tinted primer. Even with that preparation, the wall hungrily soaked up two coats of paint. The primer was bright pink; it gave me flashbacks to my teenage years, when my bedroom was a similar color. We were living in a dilapidated home inherited from my grandparents. My walls were cotton candy pink, but the floor was checkered with white and mint-green squares. To add to the hideous combination, my bedspread was an orange and brown quilt. At least that wasn't as bad as our livingroom, where the walls were an ugly shade of brown that I dubbed "Bridle Path Tan," or the back porch, which was festooned with an eye-searing shade of "Violet Beauregard's Blueberry Surprise" (the surprise was that anyone would buy such a terrible shade of paint).

After living with that horrible mixture, it's no wonder that I'm a little gun-shy of wall colors. But I knew that the groovy pink wall would be short-lived; soon enough, it would be transformed into a deep, warm maroon to complement my decor.

The color was only being put onto two walls; with our open floorplan, we decided to keep the largest wall, which goes all the way up the stairwell, in a neutral shade of off-white. Both of the colored walls have windows, so I was fairly confident that the house would remain bright and cheerful.

The painters applied two coats over the pink primer; they half suspected that it might need one more coat, but once the walls had dried, the coverage was nice and even. They did an expert job in the corners, keeping the line of maroon straight where it met the two Irish Mist (i. e. white) walls. The ceiling remained white, too, so they had the additional challenge of trimming the top. I marvelled at their steady hands; if my husband and I had attempted the job ourselves, the cursing would have been audible all the way to I-4, and the white edges would have been mudged with red.

Once the walls were done, I could start to visualize the "final product." But they were still wet, so we had to wait overnight to put back the furniture and wall hangings. The next morning, I awoke and wandering downstairs to discover that my impatient husband had already hung the pictures and pushed back the sofa and loveseat. When I found him, he was in the process of rehanging the blinds. With the sunlight streaming in, I breathed a sigh of relief; my deep red wall looked quite lovely. The color matched my pillows and lamps, just as I'd hoped that it would, and it made a nice counterpoint to the brown couch and my colorful Disney artwork.

It's oddly patriotic, too; our kitchen is painted a light shade of blue, with white cabinets and white wood chairs. Since it's wide open to the back of the house, the overall effect is quite patriotic.

The painting of Duloc Manor is still in progress, but the family room was the only area that I was worried about. The rest of the colors are quite tame in comparison. Between the richly pigmented walls and the new concrete patio lying just outside of the family room window, my home has changed quite a bit from the place that we purchased two years ago. At that time, it was sterile and white, with nothing to give it character. Now, it's full of the touches that give it a comfortable, homey feeling.

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