When we bought this house, like most first-time homeowners, we saw nothing but potential. We saw the tall original windows, the large rooms and convenient (for us, for others it’s a weird maze with too many doors) layout, and our brains automatically overwrote all the ugly because we were certain that it would all be “easy enough to fix.”
Heh. Tiles are not a small issue. Also, in case it ever comes up in your life: a pink bathtub is not a small issue. Nor is the pink sink and the pink toilet that go with it. I am not even kidding about these things. And then they leaked.
The people who owned this house before us, herein always referred to as Ward and June Cleaver, seemed aware of only two colors: blue and pink. Everything is either blue or pink – except for the carpet, which is either blue or white – and every room had a different ugly wallpaper in some (usually floral) theme that was either mostly-blue or mostly-pink. I used to like both of those colors, but after staring at them constantly – and being financially unable to get rid of the vile blue carpet, what with one thing and another – I’ve come to genuinely hate blue. And there’s blue everywhere.
The outside of the house is blue, the shutters are blue, the carpet, the walls, the goddamned curtains she left behind… all of it blue.
I am determined to paint every inch of this house a color that is not blue.
After months of deliberation (and some struggles getting the paper off the walls safely; I don’t ever want to know what they used to stick that shit, but I got sick every time I started peeling and would end up in bed for a few days) I settled on a bright, sunny yellow for the foyer, stairs, and upstairs hallway.
Problem: I hated every color from that year’s paint chips.
Did you know paint was seasonal, like fashion? Yeah, they put out new colors every year; the really popular ones, along with some classic basics stick around from year to year, but 90% of what you see when you walk into your local home improvement place is new crap that they made up by slightly altering an existing formula. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that they actually go out and hunt down “new colors” from nature or some shit: they just slightly alter the formulas from last year and release a whole new batch. And they don’t even play around a bit, looking for something good – it’s all done by a computer with the aesthetic sensibilities of… well, yeah. Your toaster could do worse, but your phone could do better, essentially.
Naturally, I found a better method. Being a generous sort, I will share it with you.
How to Find the Ideal Yellow Paint:
Step 1 – Collect stacks of paint chips from every store for 50 miles. Discard these, they’re crap.
Step 2 – Go to Home Depot. If they don’t know you already, they will soon.
Step 3 – Enter paint department, encounter aproned employee who asks if you need help, then lags behind as you start the conversation while walking away. Coax this one in, you’ll need him.
Step 4 – Describe your ideal color using words that have absolutely nothing to do with the numbers and terms that are actually used to mix paint. Point out that all sample cards are too orange, too green, or too “dead inside”. It is important that the employee agree with you on this last point, and he will do so readily if you’ve managed to convert him during the course of this conversation – this is accomplished by lots and lots of talking and enthusiasm for your imaginary, sunny but not over-the-top, yellow.
Step 5 – Leave helpful husband out of the conversation now, because you’re building a relationship with Paint Guy, who is totally malleable.
Step 6 – At this point, Paint Guy should suggest starting with a white base and slowly adding drops of only pure yellow until you are happy. Agree to this plan, then decide that you’ll need several samples of various stages in this process. Your goal is to break the spirit of all the paint department employees.
Step 7 – When you have three samples of three different lovely, sunny, bright, happy, not-at-all-orange-or-green yellows, ask for a color you saw in that one store, by color name. No need to recall the brand or the store you saw it in; these are professionals.
Step 8 – Grab a bunch of other chips and promise you’ll be back soon for more of the same fun. Take your samples home with you.
Step 9 – Test each of the three perfect yellows on every wall of the room, changing your mind several times as to which is the ideal.
Step 10 – Go back to Home Depot, the next day if possible. Everyone will recognize you, and ask which color you’ve decided on. You are now totally famous!
nb: Repeat these steps for enough rooms (my moment of triumph came after I asked for something “like the color of lilacs, but if they were made of glass”) and they will eventually reward you with a giant fan-book of aaaaalll the paint colors, ever. Your husband may tell you that they’re doing this to make you go away and leave them alone, but trust me: this is a sign that you are now a member of their exclusive club of People Who Are Super Serious About Color.
So the walls were painted the perfect, sunny yellow. As mentioned above, the process for creating this yellow involved a white base and yellow pigment. And nothing else.
Do you see what’s coming?
I’m in love with my sunny foyer, and every morning I leave my (sweet Jesus, why is it pink??) bedroom and am immediately revitalized by the color in the upstairs hall, which remains bright and cheerful even when the light is dim.
Husband swears it’s green.
ME: There is literally no green in that paint. And we thoroughly covered up the blue, you said so yourself.
HIM: It looks greenish! You should’ve added a drop of orange –
ME: NO! That would have made it too orange! We went over this. All of the ones with even a little orange were too orangey and it was gross!
HIM: Okay, but it looks green.
ME: You’re blind.
HIM: We can always touch it up…
ME: Don’t. You. Dare.
ME: It’s yellow. Everyone compliments this color. It’s a lovely, cheery, not-too-bright yellow.
HIM: That’s sort-of greenish.
ME: THERE’S NO GREEN!
And so ad infinitum.
What, you don’t believe me? After all we’ve been through together? Fine.