Monday, August 8, 2011


I'm not pregnant.

I thought I should start this post with that disclaimer, since what I'm about to write sounds eerily like nesting to me, and maybe to you as well.  But if I had been pregnant during this past week's activities, sometime in early May I'd be giving birth to a squid or a nine-headed monkey.

Wall frames with new photos
You see, when Joel is out of town, I get restless and bored.  Each and every time he heads off for a festival or music trip, I make a list of things I want to do and movies I want to Redbox.  (Yes, I just "verb-ed" Redbox.)  My go-to projects during his absences are things like switching out wall photos, reorganizing closets and cleaning out the boys' dressers to remove items that no longer fit.  It's like "Mommy Gone Wild" when Daddy is away.

But this time I had a bigger idea in mind.  After our recent bedroom makeover, I had been thinking about what other rooms in the house need help.  We were lucky that previous owners had, for the most part, made wise paint and fixture decisions, but there are a couple of rooms that still need some help.  One such space is our laundry room... my next project was born.

Laundry room with fresh "Hopedale" wall paint
I knew I had a sizeable amount of paint left over from the bedroom/bathroom walls, and I planned to reuse it to transform my laundry area from an overly-bright yet painfully boring space into a spot where I wouldn't mind spending a few moment folding teeny, tiny, Toy Story underpants.  So I pulled out the paint can, opened it up, and immediately knew that it was much too dark, and had a more purple tone than would look good with the neighboring greenish-grey walls. After a brief chat with Papa, I decided to get a gallon of paint in a lighter greenish-grey color that would transition nicely into the rest of the house.  I put the kids to bed, slapped some "Hopedale" on the walls and stood back. 

It looked exactly the same as the creamy yellow paint that had been there.

Another coat?  Why not.  But unfortunately the second coat yielded the same result, and did little more than waste a good hour and a half of my time.  But why does the green paint look so yellow?  I thought about it for awhile and returned to the laundry room to an epiphany-- the walls look yellow because of the atrocious caution-sign yellow laminate countertop that was installed.  I'm guessing-- or hoping rather, that the counter was a remnant piece, since the house was only built in 1997.  If it turns out that the yellow surface was intentional, it opens another can of worms that involves questioning any other home-related decisions the original owners made.  Will I pull up carpet and find avocado colored linoleum?  Who knows what other secrets are hidden in our 14 year old house.

But what was to be done about the counter?  It has been a thorn in my side since we've lived here, but because any money we should save will be going toward repairing our master bathroom, it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to replace it.  There was only one other thing to do-- paint it.

Countertop Paint in "Earth"
For those of you that don't know my family history intimately, I come from a long line of painters of things you're not supposed to paint.  My Dad, while in college and coming right off the failure of a botched perm he tried to give to a friend, decided to paint the carpet of an acquaintance who was unhappy with their existing flooring.  As you might have predicted, the carpet was crusty, smelly and generally unusable.  But real rule-breakers don't let that stop them, do they?  My sister Sarah, an accomplished graphic designer, painted a lot of surfaces while pursuing a degree in art during college.  Not only was she constantly tackling new and more intriguing projects each time I saw her, but she learned to live in a paint/rubber cement/paper making haze that blanketed our home's basement like an insect fogger.  So you see, it was meant to be!

A work in progress.
I picked up a can of laminate countertop paint from Menards, a local hardware/home improvement store, and after having it mixed to the selected color I returned home and promptly put the kids to bed.  I cracked the can open and the fumes nearly blew my hair back (and off) with their overwhelming potency.  Originally, I'd planned to wait for a cooler night when I could open some windows and encourage more ventilation, but then I bumped into Oscar's water dish and spilled a few drops of paint on the already sanded and prepared countertop.  It was now or never.

Day 1, after one complete coat.
The next hour went by like a blur-- with a towel wrapped over my face, I covered every bit of the mustard yellow hideousness.  It was kind of therapeutic, in a mind-numbingly hallucinogenic sort of way.  Once done, I made a bag of microwave popcorn and breathed in some buttery, fresh air.

At least I think I did.  I can't really say for certain what took place because of my altered mental state.  But I got through it, and by the next day I was able to give it a second coat and hope for the best.

After three days had passed, the counter was completely cured according to the instructions given with the paint.  Thankfully this surface is one that gets minimal use from anyone other than the cat, and shouldn't require heavy scrubbing or be subjected to scrapes and scratches.  And while I'm very happy with the results, I'm already itching to switch out those white plastic cabinet handles for some newer brushed nickel options.  When Joel returned home Sunday afternoon, he didn't notice the change at all until I led him on a wild goose chase to locate the "big project" I'd tackled while he was away.

Two coats and completely cured!
"Did you switch out the photos?"

"Yes, but that's not it."

"Did you paint the kitchen?"

"No, but it could use a coat."

"So what it is?"

Once he realized what I'd done, and after the requisite questions "Is it safe for countertops?" and "Can it get wet?" (all of which I'd addressed at the time of purchase), we were both happy with how it turned out.  And for $19.00, I couldn't ask for much more.

Perhaps a bottle of cheap wine and another Redbox movie.  Or some white tuna sushi.

But until our next sushi date, I can rest comfortably knowing that my home has one less eyesore, and there is one more project I can cross off the list.

I just hope the paint can hold up to the gale-force winds of Hurricane Cael-trina...


  1. Looks good! That sounds like something *I* would do. Before I had Raya I took my old plastic play kitchen set from home and painted it. Everyone made fun of me but now Raya has a lovely "almond" kitchen appliance finish instead of the previous yellow :-)

    Thanks about the hat too. I'd be happy to make your boys hats with interchangable flowers since you didn't have girls. I'm not one to discriminate....but then of course Sawyer is going to want one too :-P


  2. I'm all about the painting! I love how easily it can change a room. And in the case of this counter, I knew that even if I botched it, it couldn't possibly be worse than what I had before.


    Cael would probably prefer a hat that can change between a train engine and a piece of poo. But I'm not sure that's in our future... :)


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.