Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beach Tale: "Color Me Indecisive"

          Time to add some COLOR to the place!  So today’s installment is brought to you by Cindy Lauper’s “True Colors.”  Take a listen:

          The next phase of our “little project” involved tiling the bathroom, painting the interior and selecting a floor.  In that order.  And what do these three things have in common?  They all required decisions relating to color.  I had been avoiding making the biggest decision of all, but now the time was at hand. I needed to dream up a “color scheme” for the project. Something that would connect each of the four spaces with the other without overpowering the tenant. Something bold yet subtle.  Something timeless yet contemporary.  Something that screamed “beach house” yet whispered “my house.”   Rather a tall order for a neophyte decorator like myself.   
First decision was with regards to the bathroom tile.  And since it was time for the “do it yourself” stage to kick in, I decided to do the tiling myself.  I really did.  The redecorating shows made it look easy.  My sister, who has done her own tiling, said “piece of cake!”  Friends encouraged me, even offered me use of their tile cutters. I felt empowered! Nothing would stop me!  I might even go into the tiling business!

           But where to begin?
          I laid down until that crazy-talk in my head stopped.  It helped when the neighbor across the street gave me the name of her really good tiler who was reasonably priced.  Plus, the sound of cutting tiles with that saw is, to me, akin to fingernails on a chalkboard.  I wasn’t sure I could survive it.  So the idea to hire a professional for this stage was what we call in our house a “no brainer.”
          The tiler-guy, however, only hangs the tile on the walls and lays it on the floor.  He doesn’t make decisions on tile itself.  I still had that responsibility on my shoulders. Has any one ever looked through a glossy magazine and sighed longingly at the stunning photos of beautiful tiled spaces?  Well, those don’t just fall out of the sky.  Someone has to mix and match and shop around to find the perfect thing.  I had exactly two hours to make my decision if I wanted to keep this project on track. 
          The tile guy recommended a tile shop that would HELP ME MAKE UP MY MIND!  Yeah!  I raced off to said tile shop and the lady pulled out a couple of options and one had the exact color of the cabinets I’d purchased for the kitchen.  Suddenly, I had a “color scheme” for the entire place!  A thread of sage green would carry throughout.  And I already had a bedspread that would bring it all together.  Hey, that was easy! 
          Tile day arrived, as did my tiler with a couple hundred pounds of tile in his truck—bless his ever lovin’ soul, he’d gone and picked it up for me! 
          The last he’d seen of the place was back in the stud-stage.  We’d since moved through the sheetrock stage.  Well, guess what…it wasn’t the right stuff for behind a tile shower.  So the first thing he did was rip it out and replace it with a more water resistant style.
          Yeah, that re-do added to the cost.  Another lesson learned. 
          (This construction education is rivaling that of a semester at Harvard.)   
          But the project remained on track and by the end of the day the bathtub was surround in a textured, bisque-colored tile with a pretty thread of sage-green glass tiles near the top.  The bathroom floor tiled in the same bisque tiles, only larger squares. I suppose you want pictures.  Are you ready for this???
           Things are starting to take shape, aren’t they?
           But now, it’s back to the decision table.  What color walls?  Trim?  Ceiling?  Some decorating magazines suggest a splash of color above…to match or contrast the walls.  Do I dare???
          So armed only with a paint chip that was close in color to the kitchen cabinets (which I wouldn’t get to see in person for another month), I took myself off to Home Depot.  I had it all in my mind…walls the color of sand with an ever-so-off-white-but-still-bright-and-cheery trim.  I approached the color swatch wall with confidence.  This would be easy.
          Or maybe not.  Hmmm…sand comes in a lot of shades, and most of the paint chips were too yellow, or too red, or too green or too, well, sandy.  I took stacks of paint chips outside to view them in natural light.  I got a lot of funny stares standing in front of a Home Depot comparing paint colors and, well, I’ll admit it, talking to myself.  “Yes.  No.  Maybe.  Wait. What if…” 
          Let me explain my fear…once in my married life I selected a yellow paint that looked light and frothy on a small chip.  Dear Husband stayed up one entire night and painted all four rooms downstairs.  I awoke the next morning and headed down, excitement and anticipation bubbling in my heart.  But the buttercup yellow, when painted on four walls, bounced yellow-ness off each other.  In the bright morning sun they seemed to take on a greenish tinge that for some reason reminded me of the lead character in Green Eggs and Ham.  (“I do not like them, Sam I Am!”)  It took a few weeks before admitting such, and dear husband spent another night painting all the walls again, this time in a barely yellow shade that was perfectly yellow when all was said and done.
          I wasn’t going to get the carriage house painted twice!  So right color choice was essential.
          So finally I made my decision, Harvest Brown.  It was on the lighter scale of the browns, think the bottom half of an acorn.  I thought it looked perfect.
          I gave the swatches to the paint mixer guy, asked for five gallons, and he said, “Too dark.  You won’t like it.”
          But I did like it, very much.  I’d agonized over the decision for an hour! I’d even gone outside!  I was quite satisfied with my choice. 
          Then he took me over to this nifty light machine. He stuck the paint chip under a light, and flipped various switches to show natural light, incandescent light and fluorescent light!  The color changed drastically!  (Maybe clothing stores should install similar lights in their dressing rooms!  Some things look sooooo different in natural light, skin tone included!)
          “Tell you what,” he said, hitching his saggy jeans up with his forearms.  “We sell sample cans for a couple of bucks.  I’ll mix one up, you go home and paint it on the wall and if you still like it, come back and buy the five gallons you need.”
          This sounded like a plan.  In fact, I even had him make up a sample of my second color choice, too.  All this was setting me back a day on my construction time line, but having to repaint all the walls would set me back even more.
          My neighbor with an eye towards design caught me outside and I showed her my potential colors.  “Too dark,” she exclaimed.  (Okay, so I obviously don’t have the eye needed for this business.)
          She took me inside and hauled out her Benjamin Moore color ring of thousands of paint colors.  I tried to explain what I wanted and she said, “Let me show you something.” She led me into her front office and ta-dah!  The color I was searching for…Historic Color 26—Monroe Bisque.  Then she pulled out her handy-dandy ring of colors and went right to 942-Marble White.  It looked perfect. 
          I tossed out the sample cans and first thing the next morning went off to purchase 5 gallons of primer, 5 gallons of wall paint, 2 gallons of trim paint and 2 gallons of ceiling paint.  That’s a lotta paint. 
          But I still had thing for that Harvest Brown color.  So when the paint mixer guy said I needed a different finish for the bathroom walls, I made a snap decision and ordered one gallon of Harvest Brown for the bathroom.  Sometimes I go crazy like that.  But I’m happy with the choice because it matches the tiles beautifully!  So it’s a little on the dark side, and I’ve very glad I didn’t paint the entire place like that, but it works well in the bathroom.  Here you be the judge…
       Still have a decision to make on floor color, and that involves not just color but also floor type; tile, carpet, wood, linoleum (ooops, my age is showing there…the Politically Correct term for that now-a-days is LAMINATE.)  But that’s another story (and another blog post) for another day. 


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