The Child's "midwinter break" has been hell on wheels--literally, since the car has turned on us. It is now the Demon Car, shuddering and passing out in dreadful places at unholy times, racking up towing fees after Shackleton-worthy waits for tow trucks, then sneakily pretending to be perfectly okay as the mechanic coaxes it to exhibit its symptoms. Fine. We'd been thinking about leasing a new one, anyway...now that's definite. But...paying off the "negative equity" on the car loan (don't you just love that concept? So CrazyStable!) will eat the money allocated to replace the downstairs hallway floor. The Overarching 20-Year Plan calls for honey-colored wide-plank reclaimed-wood floors, like this. The Short-Term Solution To Lessen the Horror called for painting the (crappy busted-up dark-red-painted) parquet with a bucket of grey porch paint. Frankly, it's a surprising improvement.
(Here is phase I, including a thoughtful exit path; phase II covered the path, too. And here is the Ragdoll cat whom I forgot to imprison, washing alkyd-based paint off her toe tufts. The scene was one 0f such madcap paw-smearing frivolity that I half-expected to turn around and discover that Spouse had turned into Dean Jones in some forgotten Sixties Disney flick--"That Dumbass Cat," perhaps.)
Now, I know what you're thinking...Does painting an oxblood-red floor grey really help when the walls are Band-Aid pink and the trim is a color best described as, say, "Shrimp-Bisque Bordello"? The truth is, this front hallway paint-job affair is the absolute nadir of our long and fraught relationship with paint-color chip-strips. We keep looking at magazines, and getting ideas. Occasionally, they work very nicely (as when Spouse insisted on a deep-blue contrast wall in the sky-blue guest room upstairs; it rocks.) More often, we are left wishing we'd stuck with Navajo White (as in our bedroom, which is pinkish with some sort of greenish trim). As for the Shrimp-Bisque/Band-Aid thing here, well, I can't even imagine what we were thinking at the time. I seem to recall it being very important to "pull out" some colors from the stained-glass window lights; these colors do not appear in them. Maybe I thought it would be "warm and welcoming." Maybe the spirit of Yetta's Pink Palace was trying to reassert itself. Maybe we spent too long in the hardware store before lunch, and were mildly hypoglycemic by the time we decided. I dunno.
Anyway, Spouse is peeved about repainting it so soon, and about admitting mistakes in general (once he admits them, he tends to excessive self-mortification). I say, get out a bucket of primer and let's move on. But to what? Several of my friends are Swatch-Women--you know, those exquisitely choosy ladies who will drive workmen mad until they get exactly the right shade of whatever, and that's why their houses are gorgeous and not Band-Aid-colored. The Swatch-Women all say, go bold. Deep, saturated colors make a statement. Spouse used to agree, but now says he will recuse himself from the deliberations so that the next disaster, er, decision, can be all mine.
I don't think I want to go the "deep saturated" route. What this whole front-hallway-painting dilemma really involves is a desire to exorcise Chang demons. Our first interior glimpse of the house, when Chang was selling it, was of this center hallway--a dank, dirty-white corridor with a blood-colored floor and no daylight, because in a boarding house everybody keeps their doors shut. It reeked of sorrow and pity and stale cooking grease. What I want--what would erase that doom-laden entry--is purity, sweetness and light. In magazine pictures, what best evokes this (for me, anyway) is pale butter-colored walls with white trim. Not all that creative--in fact, a mere notch in originality above Navajo White--but "safe" from egregious color delusions and still warm and welcoming. The colors that come closest on the nifty click-and-paint Benjamin Moore website are "Moonlight White" and "Little Dipper." I've gotten some sample bottles in very similar hues, and will share the results of the experiment soon.
Meanwhile, the dried-blood-colored floors and bannisters have gotta go. Twenty years is long enough to kid ourselves that the paint is actually a good "temporary protection" for the wood floors from any eventual demolition. And that is why, for Lent, I have decided to take up stripping!