Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Once again we've embarked upon a home improvement project. We actually have a handful of them planned, some which can wait `til summer. Among our scheduled upheavals are redoing the OTHER bathroom, redoing the auxiliary sink area for the bathroom we already redid last year, and doing some rock facing repair outside. But the one we chose to tackle over the past week was a fairly quick one in which we would redo the laundry room. While not the ugliest room in the house (the title of which still belongs to the guest bedroom with its hideous wallpaper--oops, there's another project for the list) it could be a close second due to its sky blue painted walls and peeling vinyl floor. The plan was to get the washer and dryer and storage shelves out, take out the floor, put down ceramic tile, repaint, and put all the stuff back in there before my parents show up next week or before the dirty laundry topples over and kills us.

As much as a pain in the ass as redoing our bathroom had been, almost every step of redoing the laundry room has gone very smoothly. We'd budgeted thrice as much time as we normally would have, because that tended to be how long everything took with last year's project, but we almost never had to use the other 2/3 of time. Neat. We even bought a tile wet saw to speed up the tile cutting process. (Actually, we bought two wet saws, but the first one, a Craftsman, broke before we even had a chance to turn it on. The plastic guide bar that is supposed to clamp across its surface proved to have a clampy bit that instantly shattered when the wife tried to install it. We decided paying that much for a power tool that would break before we could even use it was not something we were willing to put up with, so back the whole thing went.)

Once the tile was laid and grouted, we had to come up with a complimentary color to paint the walls. The tile was whiteish sandy colored (I can't recall the actual name of the color, but it had white in it somewhere), but also had faint hints of a brown and a mauvey sort of color veined into it.

"Seems like we could use mauve," the wife said. "Only lighter." I was skeptical, cause if you lighten mauve, you get another color entirely. Plus, the first "mauve" she picked out was really more of a brown almost exactly the shade of a Wendy's Frosty. The wife soon assigned the task of picking a color to me, as I'm the guy who's had impressive success with the last two color choices for our house. Even I had trouble with it, though, and wound up buying five test cans of paint from Lowes before landing back on Twilight Mauve. It's actually a lighter shade of mauve, which turns out to be possible to achieve after all. (I know, I know, it's still mauve, but I promise it works. Oh, and I know, I know, it has twilight in the title which is also irritating given the images from popular fiction and culture that name now conjures, but I promise it works.)

"Get a gallon of kitchen and bath enamel," the wife said, two nights ago, before I went to pick up our paint. And a gallon of white kitchen and bath was what I did pick out from the paint aisle at Lowes and then haul over to the counter where they mix the color. The kid walked over to me and I pushed the can in his direction, my paint chip lying on top of it.

"I need a gallon of Twilight Mauve," I said.

The kid picked up the paint chip, then looked up at me with an expression I interpreted as saying, "Twilight Mauve? Really?" However, what he actually said was, "What sort of finish do you want?"

This threw me, because I was under the impression that the finish was determined by the type of paint you were attempting to mix color into--in my case Kitchen and Bathroom enamel. I don't buy a lot of paint, though, so I usually have enough time to forget all I ever knew about buying paint by the time its time to buy more, so this could be some additional part of the process I had forgotten.

"What are my choices?" I asked. Kid listed a number of choices, none of which was kitchen and bathroom. I chose satin finish as that was what all the test paints had come in and was not too shiny. A warning bell still tingled in my head, though, and as I began walking away to go look at some other supplies, I looked back to make sure that the kid had indeed picked up my can of kitchen & bathroom enamel to use. He picked it up, so I turned off the warning bells and didn't give it a second thought when I took the gallon can he passed to me a few minutes later.

Of course, it wasn't until we painted the entire laundry room that the wife announced she didn't think it was kitchen & bath enamel paint in the first place.

"Well that's what I bought," I said.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. I picked the can of kitchen & bath enamel from the shelf and took it to the dude to color."

"This is not kitchen & bath," she said. "It's not shiny enough."

"That's because it has a satin finish," I said.

"I don't think that's how it works. Where's the can?"

Now here's where I did myself a GIGANTIC favor and just kept my my damn mouth shut. My my impulse, you see, was to snottily and with tones of defensiveness, reply, "It's in the garage. It'll be the can that says `kitchen & bath enamel' on it."

This I did not do, A) because it's an asshole kind of statement to make, designed to chastise my wife for seemingly doubting my word, and which would definitely have escalated into a fight; and B) there was always the possibility that I was wrong. Being wrong would have been far FAR worse than a mere fight, because an unbelievably asshole statement like that followed up with such a colossal failure of accuracy would live long in everyone's memory, be recounted in family stories for YEARS to come, and haunt my every step, perhaps even beyond death. So instead of shaking the asshole stick, I wisely went to fetch the can itself to see what it really was. The label on it read "interior satin finish."

"You're right, babe, it's not kitchen and bath," I said.

Despite it being completely the wrong paint finish, it still looks great, as does the floor. And, fortunately, I got the major part of the painting done in an afternoon, so we were able to move the washer and dryer back in and tackle some of the mountain of laundry that had piled up in the intervening days.

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