Thursday, December 20, 2012

Redoing the Hallway

Mr. Wonderful looked at the hallway quietly.
“It’s small,” I said standing behind him.
He touched the walls silently. 
“So painting it will go fast,” I said grabbing a paintbrush.
He knelt to examine the baseboard wordlessly.
“Imagine,” I said, “redoing a room in just one afternoon!”
“Shhh, don’t jinx it!”

Unfortunately I spoke too soon.  The hallway in question was tiny, consisting of more open doorways than solid walls so I had sky-high hopes of redoing it quickly.  I was hoping remodeling it would be described as “short and sweet” or “done in a snap”!  Instead it was “Welcome to Hell”.

When we moved in the entire hallway was painted a shade I could only describe as puke tan/brown—the walls—and ceiling—all of it was puke tan/brown.  It was as if a dog caked in mud, puke and excrement had shaken itself dry in the hallway.  It was a depressing space too reminiscent of gross bodily functions and had to go!  We redid it in a few steps:

Step 1: Remove paint.  When we removed the puke colored paint we discovered a layer of wallpaper.  It’s not unusual to paint over wallpaper, it just means more work for the re-doers.  Which lead to…
Step 2: Remove the wallpaper and find plaster.  Discovering the plaster meant we’d reached the end of scraping off paint!  Yippee!
Step 3: Sand down the plaster to smooth it out.  When—lo and behold—under the plaster we discovered a second layer of wallpaper.  Plastering over wallpaper was highly unusual, undeniably lazy and completely wacko.
Sooo Step 4: Collapse on the sofa and cry ourselves to sleep.
Step 5: Wake up, drink coffee and prepare for another full day of work on this X%&#$ space.
Step 6: Drink more coffee.  Then suck down three triple espressos.
Step 7: Scrape off the plaster—and the paper stuck to it—all the while cursing the people who did this.  In our zeal to remove the plaster+paper combination we also scraped off plastered chunks of wall, thereby turning our solid walls into Swiss cheese. 
Step 8: Cry some more. 
Step 9: Realize this project gets worse with each passing hour.
Step 10: Remember the original puke tan/brown walls as being highly attractive.  “What an ironic comment on human society to have puke colored walls.  Why did we ever remove it?!”
Step 11: When arms ache from scraping, tumble into bed with a bottle of Advil.
Step 12: Go to work after a weekend of “relaxing” in The House.
Step 13: Smile all week as your friends tell you how lucky you are to be a homeowner.
Step 14: Embrace the new weekend and plastering.  Big whoop.  We mixed plaster and covered the walls and ceilings in a fresh coat of plaster that looked as creamy as cake icing—without the calories.
Step 15: Sand down this coat of plaster.  Once dry, apply a second coat of thinner plaster to smooth out the entire surface.
Step 16: PAINT.  Twice.  Walls and ceiling.
Step 17:  Hang picture frames. 
Step 18: Weep with joy at competing this redo!

Yes, the smallest room in the house took the largest amount of scraping, elbow grease and struggle.  A process I could best describe as “Small and Fighty”.  With this project we went to hell—and back—and the red walls remind me of our journey.  I look at them with a source of pride.  I’m a survivor!

The redo taught me—the hard way—to avoid talking about the ease with which we could do projects in The House.  Although the bathroom is such a small room, I bet we could redo that by lunchtime!

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