Monday, November 21, 2011

Setting Sail on Home OwnerShip

When Taela and I bought our first house we didn’t really know what to expect…at all. I’m pretty sure everyone feels this way. I very clearly remember pulling into the driveway for the first time as home owners and seeing a guy who looked a lot like Ned Flanders at the fence (note: his name was Mike and he was a remarkably nice guy and good neighbor). He said “you must be the Joneses”…hmm…Lesson #1: a neighborly expression I need to acquire. I remember the first night we spent there as well. We set up our guest room first(something you have room for prior to having three kids…you’ll eventually have to go to Costco to buy its replacement which happens to be inflatable and comes with a pump). We decided to sleep in our guest bed the first night because we hadn’t moved anything into our master bedroom. Why? you ask. Because our master bedroom was lavender. Now if you’re a guy like me you’re thinking to yourself “what is this ‘lavender’?” and I’m here to tell you: good question. Lesson #2: lavender is a cross between pink and purple and it gives off the feel of death to those who haven’t acclimated to it. Oh, so you had to paint a couple of walls, Keith? Yes, a couple of walls plus a couple more and…look up!...the ceiling. The ceiling was lavender? Yes. Why did you buy this house? We didn’t know what we were doing, that’s why. Are you leaving out any other details about the room? Well, yes, it also had a 4 foot diameter black ring-of-fire sun emblazoned on one wall.

So we decided to sleep in the guest bedroom on our first night and all I can remember thinking was “we have this entire, enormous (1700 square feet poorly laid out by an architect who somehow thought the split-level floor plan could utilize space) home and I feel comfortable occupying just this one little bedroom with my lovely wife. What are we going to do with all this space?”

Well, the first thing we did was head over to the Home Depot for the first time. This answers the age old question “do homeowners actually go to the Home Depot for the first time or were they there all along?” There was a first time and during it we bought a gallon or two of yellow paint. Yellow is bright and sunny and exactly the opposite of the blackberry yogurt cave we had purchased.

So I went off to work the next morning and when I came home Taela had put on a coat of primer she found in the garage. Lesson #3: when buying a house is you also are buying 30 cans of mishmashed paints, thinners, primers and lacquers. The previous owner wasn’t allowed to put them in the garbage because they are toxic, he was too lazy to take them to Metro, so he decided to do you a favor and hand over the remnants of the colors that once were…although you’ll never figure out which can goes with which room. So I walked into the bedroom to see the work that my diligent wife had done and she kind of sheepishly said to me “I’m not sure it’s quite right.” I took a close look. Is primer supposed to be thick, rubbery, gray and textured in the shape of every brush stroke? No…”I also don’t think it’s quite right…where’s the can?” Hello can, what say you? “Well Keith, I say ‘concrete primer and sealant’”. Well, Mr. Can, thank you for your honesty. Lesson #4: Only paint with paint and only prime with primer.

So we called our parents to find out what we were supposed to have done in the first place and made trip number 2 to Home Depot. In retrospect we should have first bought stock in Home Depot THEN driven over but no matter how hard you try you can’t change the past. We bought ourselves a bucket of Kilz primer. You know the one. Then we spent a long time slapping it on the walls. I should digress here for a moment to let you know that Taela’s sisters, my mom and possibly other people helped on this project, but this was close to a decade ago so I’m not remembering who deserves credit and who doesn’t. My apologies to those who have been omitted by my struggling memory.

Great! White room! This must be what it’s like to be insane…clinically clean looking white walls with just a touch of soft, rubbery padding underneath. Oh…and a faded blackish-gray ring of fire peering through the layer of primer. So we slapped on another coat of primer over that sun, then another and were finally satisfied that it had been given its long overdue burial.

Next step: paint. I’m pretty sure Taela and crew painted the walls when I was at work again. I came home and opened the front door (which is down the stairs, around the corner, down the hall and through a door away from the bedroom) and went instantly blind. I cried out “Jesus! Jesus! Looking upon your glory has blinded me. Please have mercy!” then I realized it wasn’t Jesus. It was the glow coming from the bedroom. I climbed the stairs and pushed my way down the hall toward the blazing radiance. I walked into the room and if Taela didn’t come running down the hall yelling “No! No! Not without sunglasses!” I would certainly have sustained permanent injury to my retinas. In any case I walked into a room that had recently lost its sun on the wall and BECOME the sun all in one day. Lesson #5: the sample color swatch does not look the same as the entire room painted that color.

Hello Home Depot, can you please give us a cream color? “Oh, we thought you wanted yellow.” Don’t you worry about that, Home Depot, cream color when spread on a wall will certainly be yellow based on what we just learned. So we painted the wall for the fourth time. This time a cream color that almost looked as though it had a hint of yellow. It was basically off-white but at this point we just needed to get ourselves into our room and start living. Lesson #6: THE SAMPLE COLOR SWATCH DOES NOT LOOK THE SAME AS THE ENTIRE ROOM PAINTED THAT COLOR.

Remember when I said I didn’t know what to do with all that space? Well, now I didn’t have quite as much space to wonder about since each coat of paint shrunk the room ever so slightly. All I can do is hope that someone will read this before purchasing their first house and it will save them, literally, minutes of time.

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