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House painting in reality

By MIMI BECKER

Coffee With Mimi

Housework is satisfying and healthy. Clean surfaces, organized filing, tidy closets and drawers are comforting. They are efficient; everything has a place and everything in its place. What you need where you can find it when you want it. There is much research that order is mentally calming. Entering a room that is clean and neat is relaxing. Leaving a room clean and neat is simply clearing the way for calm and zen-like living.

We may get behind on some tasks, but a free weekend gets our world back in shape in a couple dedicated and disciplined days. By Sunday evening, the house is fresh and peaceful. We sit by the fire with a home-cooked meal on the stove, a glass of wine in hand, ready to face the week.

You think you’ve got it under control; the view from the couch is just about as good as it gets. Conversation starts with, “Wouldn’t it be nice to get some fresh colors on the walls?”

“It has been quite a while since we did a little redecorating.”

“I loved that color, but that was how many years ago?”

A list is developed of the order in which the jobs should be tackled. First the kitchen, then the dining room, the entry, the living room and the little sunroom. There are some dings and repairs, souvenirs of children and a 100-year-old house. The rooms have a total of 22 windows, eight interior doors, two sets of french doors, two built-in glass door bookcases, two built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and the front door. Between them, there are over 250 panes of glass encased in wood trim. There is picture molding all around, chair molding, a fireplace and mantle, and deep baseboards throughout. 

All the details which make this old house so charming. 

If I start now and keep at it, patiently, between other activities, work, mowing and such, I should be finished for Christmas dinner, hopefully this year. Of course, there will be no sitting on the couch viewing the calm and orderly rooms with a glass of wine. We won’t be able to see any such through the plastic sheets covering all the furniture gathered in the middle of the rooms. For the life of the project, there will always be a room in shambles. The wine glasses will be unreachable in the china cabinet under its sheath of paint splattered protective covering. 

Perhaps, we ought to consider some help. The thought was pondered while sitting on the couch in front of a pretty fire on the first free evening in several weeks. Sacrifice whatever is necessary in the budget. We could be fresh and sparkling from the walls in, with a minimum of disruption in a week to 10 days.

Make the call. Pick out the paint.

I am anxious when selecting paint colors for my home. Perhaps it is the knowledge that, once done, given past history, I will be living with it for years. We just had the exterior of the house painted. That was a most stressful decision. If the color is on the outside, the world will pass by it. We live on a street lined with historic homes. People tend to look at those houses. Anomalies are noted, good or otherwise. We are already an architectural oddity. An off-color choice would not be a good move. I do have a sense of the historically appropriate.

But, inside the house there is much less pressure to make a perfect color choice. I had a plan: a creamy, just off of white, but with a pleasing contrast to the soft white on all that wood trim. In every room. The trim color was a done deal. I had previously introduced the scheme in a bathroom. The trim color is never, ever going to deviate from room to room. 

With trim color name, number and finish in hand, we headed to the paint store. The clerk provided us with a paper chip of our trim color. We faced the long wall of paint colors. We quickly zoned in on the “white” section. 

There is a scene in “Madam Secretary,” in which Elizabeth and Henry are deciding on a paint color for the kitchen. It is both comical and silly, as there is so little difference between any of the samples under consideration. We were there at this moment. I pulled some samples of white paint, laid them next to the trim white, immediately replacing most of them. I had it narrowed down to two likely choices when my husband entered the discussion with his chip selections. Nope, too yellow, too gray, too blah.

The finalists were carried over to a source of natural light. Decision made.

The kitchen was painted while we were out of town. Returning home, I was acutely aware we would see the color we hopefully could live with for a few years.

Success! We happily imagined the imminent completion of the project from the comfort of the couch with a fire in the fireplace, a glass of wine in hand.