To Paint… or not to Paint?

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To Paint, or not to Paint?

I had noticed lately that our house was starting to look rather shabby. The paintwork looked dull and the walls had seen better days. As for the ceilings, well, it made me giddy just thinking about trying to paint them now I am an old lady!

We found ourselves discussing paint colours, but that does not describe what usually happens around here. We argue heatedly for hours and then try to forget that we ever thought of it in the first place. We have gathered quite a crowd in wallpaper shops too, trying to make up our minds.

Mind you, all of this is probably academic, as I am having trouble keeping up with the housework now my knees have begun to hate me with a passion, so climbing a ladder might be a bridge too far!

My mind took me back to the early days when we did so many silly things, trying to put food on the table when the kids were small. I remembered the house that we were hired to decorate. Gloss paint on all the woodwork and an expensive wallpaper on all the downstairs walls and of course, the stairs. Nothing complicated, we thought. A piece of cake…

Now, I am very tall, but that doesn’t help with old houses with high ceilings.

We had a ladder, but that wouldn’t be any good on the stairs. Then I remembered the exercise bar we had at home. The kind that spans a doorway so you can do pull-ups. With a bit of luck and a following wind, we could clamp it across the stairs to take the other end of our scaffold board. Make sure it is firmly fixed and level, then we could balance the stepladder on it to reach the top of the wall.

At this stage, I must confess that I don’t like heights. I get nauseous and more than a bit giddy, but we needed the money.

Praying to all that was Holy and armed with a carefully pasted and folded length of wallpaper, I ascended the ladder. It was very wobbly, and I fully expected to fall and end up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, wrapped up like a parcel in soggy wallpaper.

Those of you who have papered a wall will know that a fair bit of stretching goes on as you align the paper, trim the top and smooth all the bumps and air bubbles away. Several times, I swayed precariously on one leg but managed to complete my mission.

What I didn’t know at the time, was all the near heart attack moments that Anita was having as she tried to keep the ladder steady. She was in the perfect position to see just how dangerous it was and how close we came to disaster.

We had fun in those days, taking incredible risks, and impossible jobs. This job was memorable for another reason too.

The owner of the house had celebrity friends, and they would often have to duck under our ladders as they came and went. The best day of all was when Bucks Fizz visited, and Mike Nolan signed his name on Anita’s arm! They signed their latest record for us and told the world about the crazy girls who were decorating their friend’s house!

So, taking risks was worth it that day!

Not every job had such high spots. Like the time Anita knocked over a tin of white gloss paint all over a dark chocolate coloured carpet! The owner caught us trying to scoop up the paint with spoons, and we expected our marching orders (or worse!) But they couldn’t have been nicer about it.

By the way, how are you supposed to wallpaper stairs?

5 thoughts on “To Paint… or not to Paint?

  1. A long time ago, before I purchased my condo, I found this house that I absolutely loved that I could afford. A lovely split-level. I was all over that house looking and inspecting. And I was ready to sign anywhere they wanted me to, even though it was expensive enough that a mortgage was required, but based on what I had saved it was a minimal one.

    I went back to see it with my parents. My dad loved it, but hated the idea of me taking a mortgage for a big house with a yard.

    My mother immediately hated it. That poor house offended her by its use of doors and walls and everything else. After like 5 minutes, I tuned her out. About 10 minutes later, I was showing the upstairs and my mother couldn’t seem to go up the steps. She was frozen. At the time she was fully mobile she just had a bum knees that she should have gotten replaced so I thought she just may have needed a little help which was in itself strange for her. My father even stopped poking around to see what was wrong. All she said was “loookkk….” In a weird almost whisper. We did, I didn’t know what she was talking about. My dad burst out laughing. She stayed where she was, her brain furiously trying to make sense of what she saw and my dad just kept laughing.

    Almost everything was perfect with this house although it needed some work. Except this, and once I saw it I honestly could never unsee it. It was hilarious, but enough to make me pass on the house.

    I’m split levels, they usually have that half wall (usually a slat or tongue and groove kind of wood) on an angle that goes up the wall with the railings on both sides attached. This did not.

    In place of the wooden wall, they had deep brown, extremely long and thick shag carpeting and no railings. The steps had the slat wood that was pinned (nailed) down. I asked and the honest answer was that with normal wear and tear, the steps had to be redone every 13 months or they’d fall apart under your feet and you’d roll down.

    My initial thought was “just rip it out and do it right.” Brought in two contractors the next time I went. They had torn the wall down to the beams to attach the carpet solidly. I would have to basically rebuild the bottom half of the walls before I could put the slats, which I would need to hide the fact that there was a huge seam, or they could tear out the whole wall to make it one solid piece. The steps were somehow worse. The sun flooring under them was warped and sagging (unfixed water damage from a years before). The slats were down as a quick fix instead of fixing the sun flooring and bracing it from the crawl space under the steps. We separated them and my father took one and I took the other to have them explain exactly how they would do it if money wasn’t an option and how they would do it because money totally was a consideration and got quotes. By separating them, they weren’t trying to outbid each other and tell tales of how quickly they could finish it or how cheap they could do it which would have all been lies (as it is they always give a price and exceed it and give you a time and take twice as long). After all was said and done, they both had the same “affordable” suggestions to do it right, minus a few small differences that really didn’t change the outcome much), and the price was pretty much right up there with the price to fix half of the rest of the random minor stuff with house.

    I still loved it, so my father brought in two more the next time, and he figured they would find less within the house but the steps would probably be around the same. They found three times as much wrong with the house with the first two, and one flat out said that if we only fixed the stairs, that in itself would be “cost prohibitive”. His way of fixing them would fix them for absolutely the rest of my life, even if we had a hurricane directly on top of them. The other guy had the same idea as the first two and came in under both of them, by $25. I walked away.

    I’m sorry. The idea of wallpapering steps made me think of that, and I haven’t thought of that in over a decade at least. So random…

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