We have been in this house now for four and a half years, having acquired it as the result of awful circumstances. It is a long and wretched story which I may tell on these pages one day but for now I’ll stick with more present-day dramas.
There are a bazillion different wall colours and patterns through the house. I think, perhaps the previous owners taste was eccentric but not in a cool way more in a “we can’t get our heads around what would look good so we’ll just go with everything” way. We replaced the frightening purple, ruffled, floral curtains and funnily enough the nightmares stopped soon after. The walls however are taking a little longer.
In our living area which encompasses two dining areas, a lounge and the kitchen we had four colours, putrid lime green, lurid lilac, hideous orange and nauseating canary yellow. We wanted a crisp white which would work well with the warm climate and the big open space.
As it was such a huge job we called a painter we knew to get a quote. This fellow had already seen the area so was able to give us an estimate over the phone. After I picked myself up off the floor I was able to reassure him that we weren’t going for a job to rival the ceiling of the Sistine chapel just a simple white would do. “White?” he said. “It would be more for white.” I hung up in the knowledge that painters earn enough to rival Rupert Murdoch himself and that we definitely would not be hiring one to do this job. We’ll do it ourselves. How hard can it be?
The first day went well; we sanded and painted the skirting and doors. We probably wouldn’t finish on Friday, as Pete had planned, but he had kept Saturday ‘up his sleeve’ for any unexpected event so all was good in Pete’s world.
Friday ended and after two layers of undercoat which is priced to challenge the cost of gold bullion and some doubt was creeping in. The paint had covered the lurid lilac and the hideous orange but the putrid lime and nauseating yellow were still showing through and we were a little worried that the top coat was not going to improve the situation. ‘No worries’ as they say here, Peter would make a trip to our local hardware store to search out the solution. Back he came, a very long time later, with some black tint. “The girl behind the counter said to add this to the undercoat to tint it grey. She said that it would stop the citrus in the green showing through.” he said. That seemed logical; we’d heard about using grey in these conditions. The ‘girl behind the counter’ had told Pete to add absolutely all of the tint for it to work well. We were nervous that it would be too much so we added half.
The next day we roared into painting grey over our two coats of white. It did seem rather dark. Oh well the ‘girl behind the counter’ should know what she’s talking about, right? So off we went with the top coat. Half way round we came to the rather alarming decision that the paint was not covering the grey at all. We stopped to re-evaluate. We were back where we started. We haven’t done a lot of painting but it’s not like it’s rocket science and you don’t need a PHD to take it up as a trade so how can we two fairly intelligent individuals have got it soooooo wrong (don’t answer that). Pete headed back to the hardware store to get more undercoat (which by the way is just as expensive as the top coat) and to have a chat to the ‘girl behind the counter’. When he got back he was armed with a 6 litre can of undercoat, there goes eating next week. He had asked the ‘different girl behind the counter’ advice on two types of paint. There was no definitive answer and he was told the decision on which one to use was one he needed to make himself. I don’t think this particular ‘girl behind the counter’ got the memo from the store manager about their advertised promise to ‘provide the lowest prices everyday backed with the best service’.
We finished with the undercoat. The next day, Sunday, we did another two layers of undercoat then one of topcoat. Hoping against all hope that this would be our last we went to bed pooped beyond ludicrous and kidding ourselves that the finish would look better in the morning light.
It didn’t, exhausted we prepared to do another layer, but it was a public holiday and we needed more paint. I hit the phone while Pete started painting. I headed for the lone store in the city that was open and sold the brand of paint I wanted. I poured our sorry story out to the men in the shop. They weren’t as attractive as the ‘girl behind the counter’ at the erstwhile store but they were very understanding and suggested that perhaps the next time we want advice come and see them and they would put us right. We finished at last and stood back to inspect our job. It looked fantastic. Yeah, two thousand coats of paint will do that.
I haven’t added up the cost but I have a sneaking suspicion that even Rupert Murdoch would raise an eyebrow.
The next room we plan to paint is much smaller. Its walls are putrid lime green and nauseating canary yellow. As a result of our experience we have devised a plan to paint it in four or less coats. If it works I’ll let you in on the secret.