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Cabin fever: See what one bored editor did with these mis-mixed paints.

Winter was getting the best of me. I had plunged into despair, watching Olympic ice dancing, writing grumpy columns about the unchanging climate and paying way too much attention to celebrity stalkers.

In a moment of desperate boredom, I forgot how much I hated and how little I knew about painting and decided the only way to survive until baseball season without becoming a psychopathic snowball- and shovel-tossing maniac was to finally cover the walls that had been white since we moved in a decade ago.

White, of course, is euphemistic for “greyishly scuffed up and stained,” which is what happens to walls over a decade of kid-raising and husband-cleaning up after.

It started at Theisen’s, where a collection of tan-ish paint filled the clearance aisle, right next to an on-sale collection of paint brushes.

My bathroom was my guinea pig, where I learned or re-learned (mostly learned for the first time, really) to tape the stuff I did not want to paint, and to patiently cover the stuff I wanted to be tan-ish with the right thickness.

“You missed a spot,” said Mrs. C.

No, I replied. I missed lots of spots.

But we (I conscripted the equally bored-to-tears teenager to help) added another coat, removed the tape, fixed most of the spots we missed and the bathroom looked passable (or maybe I just got tired of trying.)

“Now, I want a yellow bedroom,” said Mrs. C.

Ah, well. OK.

So we went yellow-shopping.

“This color looks good,” we thought. Its name – Bumblebee – should have been a warning.

It wasn’t. We bought it anyway.

“Wow,” said Paint Mixer Man. “That’s gonna be one bright room.”

We painted a corner of the bedroom, behind the door.

“That looks like highway markings,” said Mrs. C.

We went back to Theisen’s.

We found a more mellow (or so we thought) yellow and went back to the painting.

It actually looked pretty good, except for the spots I again missed.

So, we added another coat, a couple of large pictures (there’s a great sale at Nelson Furniture) and a beautiful antique desk from The Hope Chest.

I even began to learn more about how to tape (and carefully remove the tape) and how to gently remove the almost-dried paint from the edges of the trim.

Thanks to those additions, the yellow seems to look ok. No, I have to be honest and say it looks so good I can’t believe I did it myself.

Buoyed by that success, I moved on to our large office/living room area.

Basically one large continuous room that shares one 50-foot-long wall, the two rooms are kind of one space and kind of two. I still am not sure where the living room ends and the office begins.

We – well no, no I, it was my color choice – tried a pumpkin/spice/cinnamon color, but again, the first choice was way too bright.

“Wow!” said Mrs. C. “That’s bright.

“Wow!” said bored-to-tears teen, a few moments later. “That’s bright.”

But instead of going back to the store, I went to the basement.

It occurred to me that maybe the way to make my paint less bright and more reddish was to add some chocolate brown paint and Coca-Cola red (Oh, I forgot to tell you about our kitchen).

Suprisingly, the paint after I mixed in the brown and red looked almost exactly like the color I had envisioned.

So, that color, which I have named “Prodigal Muse” for a couple of reasons, now covers the office area (except, of course, for the spots I missed).

That success went straight to my head, and I went back to the basement to concoct a living room potion.

I had bought (Theisen’s clearance aisle again), gallons of bright green, cement-mix grey and faded yellow paint. We had not yet decided on a living room color, but I started mixing. I actually used a more scientific formula than my “add brown and red until it looks right” office potion. I mixed eight parts of that yellow to three parts of that green and grey. The result was a unique greenish color that at first surprised us then kind of inspired us to keep it.

I ended up with four gallons of that color, one or two which I may be enticed to sell for the right price.

Not every attempt to mix paint, of course, turned out well. I tried mixing that bumblebee with a little chocolate brown, but the result of that was something that only deserves the name: Bountiful Diaper.

The project’s not done, of course. I still need to finish the areas between the living room and office, as well as the small bathroom and the hallway leading to it. And the Coca-Cola kitchen looks promising, but needs more work.

But the end is in sight; hopefully I will be done at the same time the weather is warm enough (and the grass dry enough) for baseball.

And I do have to say I mostly enjoyed the projects; however my advice for those of you considering spending your late winter weeks as I did is: Hire a professional.

“So,” says Mrs. C. “What are you going to do next winter?”

Easy, I replied: I am going to spend all of those months doing feature stories on local residents who were smart and fortunate enough to go south for the winter.

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Comments (1)

Great article, Dean! Remind me not to ask you to paint my house.

Editor's Note: There is a long line of people with that request.....
By: Chris Harwood on March 13th 2:58pm

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