November 12, 2008

Painting the Great Room

We've had a messy house this week because Frank has been painting the walls of the great room. They are paneled with old barn wood that was a faded brown. I kind of liked the effect but he was tired of it.

He had already painted one wall in July (the west wall with the glass doors). We had selected a gray color called Garden Stone after trying and rejecting various shades of beige. He wanted to paint the other walls the same color but I objected strenuously. I don't care for the prison-gray tone that it has on cloudy days. I talked him into leaving the fireplace wall brown. He refreshed it by covering it with a water-based stain by Minwax called American Walnut.

It wasn't easy buying the stain. We had tested a sample that we bought at Lowe's, but when I went back to buy 3 quarts, they did not have it in quarts. I had to drive to Home Depot to buy it (an extra hour's trip).

Next we tackled the east wall. We picked up a gallon of an off-white paint, Valspar's low-odor water-based premium paint with the odd name, Woodrow Wilson Putty. (Low-odor is important to me; the smell of paint can give me a severe headache.)

On the wall, however, it was too yellow. I suggested mixing it with the gray paint. This gave us a gray that was lighter and slighter warmer than the Garden Stone, an acceptable compromise.

Frank said we needed three gallons of it. He painted an art board with the mixture and I took it to Lowe's yesterday to get them to match the color. A young woman scanned it into the computer and presented me with a sample that did not match. It had a touch of mauve in it and I know from experience that Frank has a strong dislike of paint with any trace of pink. The clerk said that was the closest she could get.

I found sample cards of Garden Stone and Woodrow Wilson Putty and had her look up the formulas. She said that she could not match our color that way because the base colors were different. Getting a bit frustrated, I asked if a "real paint store could match our sample." She did not think so.

I said to mix equal parts of each paint and it would work. I had to argue with her a bit and wound up buying a quart of each and having her mix them in a plastic bucket (which I had to promise to pay for). The color was a perfect match, of course. (Let's call it Woodrow's Putty Garden.) So then I asked her to mix a gallon of each, which would give me a total of 2 and a half gallons. I figured adding that to the paint we already had would be enough. (It was.) The clerk mixed up the gray and the putty separately and presented me with the cans.

"Please mix it together." I had to pay for another plastic bucket and she mixed the paint while talking on a cell phone.

Another clerk gave me the paint and cautioned me that the lid might not hold securely so to be sure to keep the cans upright in the car. Then she went through the checkout with me so that I would be charged correctly for the now-empty cans plus the buckets and lids. By this time I had spent an hour in the store. (Did I mention that I don't like shopping in home improvement stores because of the chemical smells? And I don't like house painting projects because of the hassle and the mess.)

All went well after that. Frank painted the wall and the hallway today while I was at a physical therapy appointment. The paint looks fine and he even got the mess cleaned up.

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