Painting yourself into a corner

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

My wife used to paint everything.

It was not unusual for me to come home from work to find my garage littered with spray paint cans and giant splotches of black paint on the garage floor or in the yard where she had been working on some piece of wicker, metal bed frame, lamp shade, the dog, etc.

It’s been that way throughout our nearly 20-year marriage. Her obsession predated Home & Garden Television, so I can’t blame it on “Design on a Dime” or “Designer’s Challenge,” which she watches all the time.


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I can, however, blame HGTV for Cathy taking her obsession to the next level n wanting to paint walls and fixtures in our home.

We bought a home in Suffolk we didn’t really want, but it was in 2003 at the height of the housing boom when houses were staying on the market about 20 minutes. We had sold our home and were on the verge of living on the street when we got lucky and found one that was at least remotely what we wanted. Our real estate agent found out about it and we were able to see it and offer full price the morning it went on the market and got it.

While we liked the location and the contemporary design, there were several things about it that were not appealing. It was too dark inside; I’ve seen closets in new homes larger than our kitchen; and worst of all, it was blue. Someone had taken this beautiful cedar shingle and painted it blue. It’s like something a vengeful wife or husband would do while their spouse was away on business. It was hideous.

Those were the things Cathy didn’t like. As long as it has a sofa and a TV, I could be happy in a cave. What I didn’t like was the gravel driveway and what looked to me like three or four mulch beds that must have encompassed half-an-acre. I’m not exaggerating. Sunday I sprayed seven gallons of Round-Up and will have to do that at least two more times before summer is out. Round-Up is up there with electricity and food on our household budget.

I guess Cathy figured some paint would make things tolerable and the yard work would likely kill me so she could collect life insurance, so we bought the house.

First on her list was painting the kitchen cabinet doors. They looked too country, in her opinion, out of place with the rest of the house. She had seen Candace Olson use paints with texture. She chose green and went to it. I came home from work that evening and found her face down on the floor exhausted and crying because of what she had done to them. I tried my best to stay positive, but it was like looking at a burn victim or leper and trying not to make a face. They looked like someone had vomited on them and we just left it there to dry.

Daily for the past two years those kitchen cabinet doors have haunted Cathy. She has not painted anything since and the kids and I have learned never to speak of it. But after intensive therapy and lots of medication, she feels ready to tackle the other big project n painting the house.

Even though we’ve hired a professional to do it, it’s not something I’ve been looking forward to because Cathy still has to choose the color. We narrowed it down to two that are basically the same, just a shade apart. Work is supposed to begin today. Cathy spent the entire weekend with samples of each, painting one shingle one color and the next one the other. She’s changed her mind half-a-dozen times since Saturday and is still undecided. We drove around the neighborhood looking at houses similar in color, seeing how it goes with their roof, trim and front door.

She’s a wreck, convinced we’re headed for another cabinet fiasco.

I tried to help by saying that whatever we pick will be an improvement, but I’m not really buying it either. If I’ve learned one thing it’s that whatever can go wrong, usually does and I’m not taking any chances. I’ve already called her doctor and asked her to up the dosage.

You know, after she reads this, I wouldn’t be surprised if I came home to a purple house. But that’s OK, as long as he leaves the sofa.

Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald. Reach him at 934-9611 or at