Monday, August 1, 2005

To Paint Or Not To Paint

If you were like me, you grew up in a house with white walls. The occasional room might have had a bit of color, or, again if you were like me, wallpaper. But the majority of the house? A sea of white walls.

"A nice Eggshell," is how my mother described it. Growing up, we lived in five different houses in four states. Each time we moved to a new house, my mother would walk through and light up at the prospect of slapping white paint onto already white walls. To her credit, I did once have a yellow bedroom. Light, light yellow.

Somewhere between our mothers doing the decorating and our having our own houses, paint took on a whole new meaning. I stand at the paint counter in the Home Depot (where they recognize me now, I am there so much) and watch people get giddy over all kinds of colors - many of which should just not be applied to a wall.

The little paint squares they provide as samples are the culprit. I like pink very much, even hot pink. I just think that ninety square feet of it is asking a bit much of the eye to absorb. I'm not sure if people make this connection when they are choosing paint color. I once saw a woman purchasing five gallons of paint the color of Wet and Wild nail polish. All pinkish and rosy. A beautiful, lovely color - for feet.

As the paint guy opened the can for her approval, I waited for her to shrink back in terror and scream, "No, I said beige!" She did not do that. Instead she smiled broadly and with the same excitement that everyone else was showing for their earth tones. I wanted to ask her, "What do you plan to do with that?" But then I realized, I didn't want to know.

We have a growing paint collection of our own. I don't pick ugly colors, but I do have tendency to pick colors which offer no remote connection to what is going on decor-wise in our home. We have had a blue kitchen that begged for someone to do a 1980's Sheena Easton impression. We have had a purple bathroom that would have met with Prince's approval. It took me a while to realize all that I've stated above: that a color can be pretty while at the same time completely wrong for your walls. I have also learned that if I wouldn't wear it, why would I want to be surrounded by it?

Still - I walk into my mother's house (eggshell) and my mother in law's house (builder's beige) and note how unconcerned they are about white walls. They aren't making a trendy statement by decorating around white: they actually like white. This is an amazing occurrence to me, considering I have a friend who wanted to own a house primarily to paint walls and no longer live with brass switch plates (having shelter from the weather coming in a distant third).

The color of my office walls are stark white. My mother's eggshell would look like mud against these walls. In fact, I could add a dentist's chair and that bright light and start doing cleanings without raising suspicion at all. It is completely sterile, and we are not allowed to paint it. I could go with white accessories and lots of fabrics and throws to warm the place, but I have decided instead to tack up a plastic calendar and a cork board and complain. You gotta have something. That and the fact that we all feel that the moment we overdecorate an office, that's the moment we'll be fired. But I digress.

I'm not sure how we've arrived at this paint worshiping state in our lives. I'm not sure why our parents could care less about color. What I do know is that I really, truly, should have gone after that woman with the rosy pink paint.

Now that would have been a random act of kindness.

1 comment:

Smee said...

when i buy paint for my house i use one simple rule:

Soft on the eyes, soft on the wallet.