On Paper


Weekly adjustments to your home or office environment.

For many of us, changing our ambient coloration is a big deal. We remove our furniture and décor before we re-paint or re-carpet. It’s such a hassle and inconvenience that we rarely undertake this project. We apply masking tape and toss around drop cloths. This type of behavior is restrictive and labor intensive.

We may go for years or a lifetime without a redecoration of our personal space. Yet, we certainly would not consider wearing the same clothes daily.

Perhaps you imagine a room make over as expensive and time consuming. Throw that old concept out the window.

In the time you spend watching a single episode of American Idol, you can transform your living room; and you can watch your favorite addiction while you do so, too.

But it will be expensive you say? Not so.

Too much trouble moving your furniture? Certainly not. Leave things where they are. There is no need to budge a single object or spread a drop cloth. Leave them where they are. The key is not in pushing things around.

It is all about applying fresh paint. I recommend establishing a rhythm, changing the wall colors once a week. Pick a favorite night and call it something festive, such as “Holy Roller Party-Time”. My personal favorite night to paint is Wednesday, known to some as “Hump Day”. Hump Day Night means dinner is early and cleaned up quickly so not a moment is wasted. The main event is anticipated, rather than dreaded. It becomes the focal point of the entire week.

Let’s get started on your exciting new interior! There is no need to buy expensive, washable, latex paint. You won’t have it on your wall long enough for it to get dingy.

Start by being flexible and not stuck with any particular color scheme. This will allow you to select from whatever mis-mixed color your local paint monger has on special. There is always a good supply of funky colors at the store. Don’t be surprised to pick up a gallon of muskmelon color latex for the price of a real muskmelon. But be careful not to be too obviously pleased at the value pricing you receive. Try to complain a little or the paint store manager may watch for you to enter in future weeks and bump up the price.

Don’t be fussy about the color and everything will be fine. Remember that the current color already on your walls will influence whatever you paint over it. The hue below has that affect. Therefore, your basic color theme will change, but still retain an underlying echo of the former wall color. Think of it as a bad cough replaced by an occasional throat clearing. It’s different, but the same.
The following over painting, which you apply a week later, will reduce the throat clearing to a whisper, then a vague murmur.

Each time you apply a fresh layer, you may elect to allow the edge of the previous layer to remain in evidence.

Between paint coats one may add a new item of wall décor, not necessarily replacing an existing object. This automatically creates a new border for the added wall feature. It is possible one may remove a framed picture. If so, why not just paint over that object rather than taking it off the wall. A painted-out object on the wall makes a dramatic statement, one of deletion. Deletion carries more impact than omission, doesn’t it?

Such a mysterious statement can be a real attention getter as well as a focal point.

“Say, didn’t you have a photograph of your sister on this wall?” Or, “Where’s that picture of grandma?” Or, honey, “Is it time to sign the divorce papers?”

Because your repainting is a continuing project, there is no set end point or goal. It is evolving and evolving and evolving.

Also, don’t be concerned with splattering paint on your carpet, floor, tables, chairs, or clothing. Let each drip or run contribute to the overall painting or texture of your room. Every stray speck of latex should be celebrated.

Another nicety of this manner of redecoration is that you can work at your own pace. Make it a hobby, something to do after the dinner dishes are dried and put into the cupboards. If you run low on paint, thin with H2O. If you have leftover paint, you may wish to consider unifying two rooms with the same color. Your kitchen may be a reasonable place to start.

Maybe you have many gallons of the same hue left over. In that case, you should contemplate more extreme measures, such as painting your car and driveway. My friend John did this and has received countless comments.

Notes: Paintbrush versus roller. Roller versus wet rag. Wet rag versus the fling and smear method. Which to choose, which to use?

The rag and bare hand come to mind as most economical. The rag you can throw away or wash when you finish with it. Paint covered hands require washing. I’d go with the rags for pure simplicity.

The more traditional painting tools, paintbrush and roller are efficient for laying down paint in an expected manner. We are conditioned to assume these tools must be washed, otherwise they become dry and worthless. On the contrary-a dry paintbrush or roller can impart character to a painted wall. But neither roller nor brush requires a choice between washing and drying. Wrap them in a plastic bag and put them into the freezer. No need to wash. Don’t fret about sharp corners or painting to the edge of a frame or sofa. Close enough is good enough. Better to accent an object with a halo rather than not.

Aside from the obvious watering down of the paint, one can take a number of actions, such as just stopping, buying more paint, faking a mixture to approximate the hue you have just exhausted, or maybe going to the expense of having a matching paint mixed, or maybe mismatched. Perhaps it is good enough to invest in a keyhole saw and simply amputate the unpainted section-or hot glue a fresh hunk of drywall over the area. Listen, it’s your room-make your own mind up. Above all, have fun and listen to the hidden Paint Muse, who is lurking in your head. She’ll tell you what to paint next and how to slap on the color. Follow her lead. She is rarely wrong.

Personally, I like the idea my muse offered about painting on glass. Kandinsky did it. Why stop at the window frame? It makes the space more intimate and increases security despite increasing the need for artificial light or fire.

Speaking of fire. Imagine how romantic for you and a special someone to paint your living room by candlelight. Fire is also a last resort for a painted room gone beyond recovery/retrieval.

Sandy Kinnee
October 31, 2007

SandykOn Paper