Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Painting, a.k.a. home improvement.  §

Painting is a kind of slippery thing.

You start out by seeing a little patch on the wall that is just worn and stained enough to be distracting. You decide that you’ll just get ahold of a paint and a brush and spend a half an hour touching that bit up.

Then before too long, you think maybe rather than just touch that bit up, you’ll maybe paint the entire wall. After all, it’s just one wall. One flat surface. You can put down some canvas cloth, get a roller as well, buy the big bucket instead of the little bucket, and really make a difference by knocking out that one, worse-than-the-rest (you tell yourself) wall.

But then, you think, “Well, if I’m going to do an entire wall, maybe I can choose a new color. After all, one wall is just about the right size for an accent color. Since you’re painting anyway, now is as good a time as any to do it with a new color. So you go and get some color chips, and you pick a new color as you have the people at the hardware store prepare your paint bucket.

Now you get the paint home, new color and all, and you set to work. And as you put it on the wall, you realize that you really like having a nice, clean wall and a pretty new color. You like it so much, in fact, that you don’t want to put the old, faded light switches and outlets and their old, faded cover plates back on the wall when you’re done. It won’t cost too much to get new ones, maybe ten bucks for the lot, maybe a little more.

So you make another trip to the hardware store and you get some new electrical supplies. New, bright white outlets and light switches, and clean and shiny plates to go along with them.

Then you notice that the old furnace intake grate is also dented and old-looking, and if you’ve gone to all the trouble to choose a new color, paint an entire wall, and replace the electricals, it would seem silly and a complete waste of effort to not replace the intake grate as well. Back to the hardware store.

Of course to prep the entire wall, protect the area, get it painted, and to re-do all of these fixtures, you’ve had to completely disassemble the room(s) along this wall, moving furniture and furnishings to the centers of rooms and/or to other rooms. And now as you start to move them back it occurs to you that it seems a shame to move dusty, nicked-up furniture back into place against the backdrop of a smooth, beautiful, new wall with new fixtures.

And while you’re wondering how you can possibly afford to refurbish or replace a growing number of furniture items, you also begin to realize that other nearby walls also have a decent amount of wear and tear on them, and that they really do stand out as old in contrast to your new wall…

And before you know it, you have not one small paint can and a single brush as you’d imagined when you embarked on this journey, but four large paint buckets in different colors, three roller handles, a pile of roller brushes, canvas and plastic dropcloths in various sizes, multiple rolls of tape, plus new tools, cans of spray paint, replacement shelving, and more—and you have multiple rooms taken apart, multiple walls in the process of being repainted in multiple colors, furniture in various states of disassembly on the driveway sitting on cardboard to protect the concrete from the spraying of new enamel that you’re giving to them, not to mention piles and piles of cleaning supplies from all the cleaning that you’ve been doing.

And as if that weren’t enough, you’re now eyeing the flooring as well and wondering what amongst your personal property you might be able to trade to whom in order to get some new flooring put down.

That’s the thing about home improvement projects, and about painting in particular. You start, and then the boundaries are fuzzy. It always seems that for just a few dollars and a few hours more, you can do more great stuff. And the more great stuff you do, the more it seems a shame to let it all come to fruition next to the same old stuff.

Before you know it, you’re halfway to a remodel that you can’t actually afford, either in dollars or hours terms.

I want to say that this is why it’s important to be disciplined and careful when you do home improvement projects, but that just sounds pompous and silly.