Thursday, December 07, 2006

Salmon sunset

The kitchen cupboards in our house were painted peach by a previous inhabitant.

Maybe the color is called salmon. Whatever it is called, I have complained about it for five years now, but repainting them hasn't been a high enough priority to happen. After repainting cabinets at our last house, I learned my lesson. We cleared out every cupboard, removed the doors, removed the hardware, sanded, prepped, primed, put two new coats of enamel on them, re-installed the hardware, and re-hung the doors. Construction projects always require about 10 more steps than I'd ever imagined before starting them. That's partly why I prefer plain wood cabinets.

There are a lot of other reasons they have been left as is. With discolored green formica countertops, no dishwasher, and some awkward cabinetry, the situation feels a little futile. Besides, a few decades ago peach and green were a hot combo, and there's always the chance they'll come back in style again, right? The preppy look? Argyle, tuxedo shirts, knickers—oh, it's happening. So we've been patiently waiting.

Meanwhile, since furniture was all helter skelter from the new heater installation, this last couple weeks we painted the inside of the house in the same color scheme.

I've been trying to figure out how to explain our rationale for this course of action, but when two people get together whose favorite color is red, sometimes unexpected things happen. You're just grateful there wasn't an explosion and move on.

Almost every wall is a different color, with white ceilings. This is a huge departure from our previous philosophy of always painting walls off white. We thought the lighter the color, the bigger the rooms would look, but it's true that illusions can be created with color that just don't happen with all white. We knew the theory that dark colors recede, and white advances, but were reticent to try out darker colors in a situation where we would be stuck with our decisions for a long time. Color could come from art or textiles that could be changed. But it's easier to take risks with this house because the sheetrock is old and in pretty bad shape, and at some point will need to be removed, the walls insulated, and the electrical system modernized. Knowing that will probably happen someday has been helping us let go and get a little more wild with colors.

We finally found success with an "eco-friendly" product, Bioshield clay paint. It comes in a very limited assortment of colors, but the colors are good. Who needs all those options with the hundreds offered by regular paint companies? So many times you buy a paint color and it winds up looking terrible inside a house. It's kind of nice to have the choices narrowed down a bit by people who are knowledgeable about color and interiors. If you don't like the colors, you can mix them easily to come up with your own.

It doesn't seem quite as durable as regular paint, but it's easy to touch up. The durability is something that can only be assessed over the long term, and is admittedly an important factor, especially when you have a dog who likes to come inside and shake off after imitating a digiwolf. The matte finish of the clay gives the walls a rustic, adobe feel.

It is not cheap—about double the cost of regular paint. But material costs for painting are fairly inexpensive considering the effects that can be achieved, so it seems worth it overall. Also, if you have to stay at a hotel while painting with regular paint, there might even be a savings if you use the more expensive clay paint which doesn't smell bad, and can stay home, especially if you're the kind of person who likes to stay at fancy hotels and order lots of room service.

This has been renamed the Sunset Cabinet:

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