We will not trade spaces

In case you were wondering, I will not be trading spaces with you.

It seems possible to paint a room in a weekend. Certainly, it can be done. They do it on home decorating shows all the time. Tear out the rug; throw in a wood floor (or wood flooring, as they like to say. Wood flooring and cabinetry instead of cabinets and tiling instead of tiles and all of that other stuff that makes me crazy) and paint the fucking walls. Better yet, throw down some wood flooring and paint your neighbor’s walls—a hideous color you would never choose on your own or allow into your house or your neighbor’s house for that matter had you not been egged on by some “designer” on television.

Ahoy mateys! This room needs a nautical theme! Let’s paint waves on the walls… and seagulls! How about we do one wall as mural with a pirate and a parrot and a hook and…

And you’re talked into it and next thing you know you’ve painted your neighbor’s Ethan Allen furniture blue and white and have hung lobster traps and buoys from their ceiling.

I don’t think so.

This weekend, my husband and I traded spaces with ourselves (we had no choice. We don’t know any of our neighbors. We’ve lived here for a year and only actually seen a few of them) and painted my office. We thought we would be done on Sunday but as I write this today, it’s still not quite finished. See, Allen has a checklist for painting. It is five pages long. He tells me that the upfront work pays off in the end. I have no choice but to believe him, but for a person of quick movements and little patience a five-page checklist is nothing short of torture. They never use checklists on Trading Spaces, for example. They just blaze forth with paint brushes and glue guns blaring and decorate that room!

But we are in charge here, right? So we use the checklist. So there’s the sanding and the washing and the ceiling and the trim and the ceiling and the trim again and the primer and the sanding and the washing. That brings us to page four: painting the walls.

So the color I chose was a yellow. Behr color Pismo Dunes to be exact. I thought it would work well with the green we painted our bedroom last year (yes, in one year we have only managed to paint two rooms). I was wrong.

By the time we started on the walls yesterday, it was clear that this yellow was not just yellow but crazy-ass yellow. Big, bold, Ronald McDonald’s trousers yellow. But we painted on and kept trying to convince ourselves that we liked it.

me: “Wow. It’s bold.”

Allen: “Yes. Bold and interesting.”

me: “Yes. Interesting.”

Silence as more paint goes on the walls, closing us in a cage of yellow.

me, standing back and observing, “Hmmm. I’m thinking red accents with this yellow.”

Allen, “Yes. Red accents.”

I continue painting, feeling satisfied with my flawless decorating plan. It would be great. A sort of Parisian cabaret feel. We would have low lights and a smoky atmosphere with a mural of girls in fishnet doing the can-can. I not only know how to pick the right color but my design sense is impeccable.

Where did I put my glue gun? I’ll be wanting to glue those sequins to the walls and the red fabric. Also, I’ll want to start on the mural… Hey! Wait a minute. I don’t even own a glue gun. Wait just a second there…. this is my office. I’m supposed to work in here. I need to be inspired. I need light and air. I don’t need girls in fishnet on my wall… Oh crap. The whole room is painted and it’s scary. Maybe if I just walk outside for a minute and come back, I’ll like it.

But it only got worse and more claustrophobic and crazy making. And then in a desperate panic to rid ourselves of Pismo Dunes, we decided to put a lighter color on the top. The right decision. Almost immediately, we felt relieved.

Had I traded spaces with you, this lighter color never would have happened because we wouldn’t have had time and we would be too proud (and over it) to go back on our decision. You would end up with the mural. And the sequins. You would have to so that we could make our deadline. And you would have to suck it up and like it because you don’t want that film crew to capture you crying in frustration because we painted a smiley face on your grandmother’s armoire. Not after we spent all weekend on it.

But you won’t catch me crying. Not today. Because today I have a room that is the perfect shade of yellow.

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