Taking it one brush stroke at a time - The Buffalo News
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Taking it one brush stroke at a time

After what feels like half a century, we finally finished stripping the kitchen wallpaper and painting the walls.

Of course, every home project requires a last-minute wrinkle, and this one was no exception. For months and months, I had a large piece of paper hanging on the wall on which I had painted a sample of the color. It’s a very light gray. We liked it in the morning. We liked it in the evening. We liked it when the patio awning was up and when the patio awning was down. We liked it winter, spring, summer and fall.

We also liked the idea of getting this project done. But just before the painting was to begin, a friend of our daughter’s was sitting on the stool at the breakfast counter, eating.

“We’re painting our kitchen this color. Do you like it?” I asked her, pointing at the large sample.

“Yes. Is it light blue?” she responded.

Light blue? Light blue?

“No, it’s not light blue. It’s light GRAY!” I snapped back.

I understand that there may indeed be some blue in there and that color changes with the lighting, the season and the time of day. And people see colors differently, including our daughter’s friend.

If she sees it as light blue, so be it. I just won’t feed her anymore.

Something else happens when you paint a room. When it’s done – in our case the light gray walls and white trim – you look around and start thinking that the whole interior needs repainting. The foyer! The living room!

The same thing happened after I stripped the wallpaper in our daughter’s bedroom and my husband painted the room. The walls in the bedroom next to it looked dingy to me. So did the upstairs hall.

But home maintenance is an ongoing process, and a house is never completely “done” – or perfect. In our case, it’s far from it.

It’s not just paint projects, either. There always seems to be a door that sticks, a knob that wiggles, a faucet that drips if you don’t turn it off a certain way.

Whenever I think about our own house challenges, I am reminded of something I read years ago about how daunting and difficult it is to finish the last 10 percent of any home-improvement project.

It’s so true, isn’t it?

“The simple explanation is that broad strokes go faster than finishing touches, but there are also psychological factors,” wrote David Owen in “Around the House: Reflections on Life Under a Roof” (Villard, 1998).

Consider this: “Driving the final nail is difficult. Once it’s in, there’s nothing left to do but step back in judgment. As long as something remains undone, there’s a chance that the next step, whatever it is, will pull everything together, creating a masterpiece,” he added.

In our case, I’ll just be glad when the dog leash hook is rehung by the back door, two small shelves installed and framed artwork put up on the walls. And, hopefully, when everyone agrees the walls really are light gray.

Light blue? Really?

email: smartin@buffnews.com

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