Every room in the house needed to be painted. I started with the boys’ rooms, but eventually had to address the green in the kitchen. It’s a very small room and was a very bright color. I love white kitchens, and have always had white kitchens, but these cabinets are stained and the countertops are grey and the backsplash is slate. All relatively new. They stay. So I thought charcoal was the answer. I hoped it would make everything sort of blend together and allow me to ignore it all. Ignoring kitchens, after all, is one area where I excel.
Really dreamy charcoal grey paint wet can turn into seriously black paint dry. It took a few tries.
But after a fistful of paint chips and a few pots and swatches, I hit on Benjamin Moore Deep Space. Back at the paint store I confidently (and thankfully) requested a gallon. The woman who was helping me chatted about using a color so dark in the kitchen while the computer directed steams and shots of color into the can.
“Do you want to see?” she asked.
“Do I want to see?”
“You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I love to see the paint before I mix it. I think it’s amazing,” she said smiling broadly.
I did not think she was crazy.
“Yes. I’d love to see.”
As we both peered down into the swirl she said, “I bet you would have never guessed there’d be so much red.”
It is moments like this when I think the universe is giving me just the kind of thing that I need.
She had pulled eight or ten tiles up by wedging the toe of her gold sandal under their sharp edges.
“I just don’t think it will be very hard,” she told him, pushing a lock of blond hair out of her eye and smoothing it behind her ear with the back of her forefinger.
He looked down and across the patio, noting the places where the tiles were loose or chipped. They had been this way since they had bought the house about three years ago.
It wasn’t so much a question as a stall. This was not their first conversation of this sort and he knew where it was heading. Still in his work clothes, he put his hands on his hips and pushed at a tile with the stiff leather of his loafer.
“I don’t.” She went on, “You can hear how loose they are when you walk across it.” She looked up at him, squinting into the sun. “I mean, it doesn’t require a rare skill, just a little muscle. We can totally do it.” She could see she did not have him yet. “Sometimes I look at jobs like this and think, ‘If someone can do it I can do it.'”
So they began that weekend. She did wedge and pop the tiles that could be wedged and popped, which were surprisingly far fewer than she had supposed. She slung the sledgehammer and though she could see the patio jump, the tiles did not spring loose quite as easily as she had imagined they would. She was right that it was a job made more of muscle than skill, but not her muscles, honed though they were. He soldiered on without her and she felt guilty for getting him into this spot. It made it worse that he neither complained nor blamed. Still, she was pleased that the project moved forward as she had planned.
I know that you will think I’ve come unhinged, but we really are expecting snow. Three to five inches and my sanity is, seriously, hanging by a thread. I told Bill last week, “When people ask how I am, I am going to say, ‘I am not fine.’ Because I’m not.” So I have retreated a bit to small, dark spaces and started thinking about the bathroom that we recently finished in the basement. I kept the original turquoise sink and toilet because, well, they’re turquoise and what could be more fabulous? Now I get to paint the walls.
This page from a recent Serena & Lily catalogue caught my eye. I thought this might be a clever way to use the four-hundred-and-fifty-two sample jars of paint that I have languishing in my basement.
Then, somewhere trolling the internet, I ran across an image of Cecil Beaton’s powder room and, truly, I cannot imagine anything more charming than guests tracing their hands on the wall.
I had asked the boys (it is the basement, so mostly their domaine and their crowd) what they thought about my painting frames around squares of chalkboard paint and then their friends could draw their own pictures on the walls. “They wouldn’t do anything crude would they? Naughty?” I asked. All three, in three different exchanges said, “Yeah, mom, of course they would.” And I thought with annoyance not for the first time, “Girls wouldn’t.”
So I’ve settled on something in-between. I think I am going to paint replicas of some of my favorite paintings, something of an Abstract Expressionists hall of fame, and leave a few blank with the tempting chalkboard centers. Naughtiness be damned.