Wednesday, October 05, 2005

home sweet home

Creamy white, yellow-and-blue, a weird teal, black-and-silver, plain white, grey, sunshine yellow, the same damn creamy white colour I used again, green, and at least two coats of a hideous beige--think the old "flesh tone" crayons. This is only a partial list of the layers of paint I have scraped off my kitchen cupboard door. Only two and a half cupboard doors to go.

Why would I do such a thing? I am the Queen of the "so not worth it" reno project, but also there is significant debate about our kitchen decor. So far the only thing we have both expressed excitement about (aside from someday having a different kitchen) is the look of wooden kitchen cabinets. And we have them, somewhere under all of that paint, I'm sure of it. They might not be nice wood--in fact, they are almost definitely not nice wood. But they're the wood we have, dammit, and I'm determined to see it.

Getting to see the various looks that someone believed would be a good idea makes me wonder about the people who have lived in this apartment before us. I've thought about this before, for example when contemplating some former tenant's decision to spray paint all of the radiators silver. (If you're ever tempted to do this somewhere you're living, don't. Spare yourself the bad karma of curses from every subsequent renter.) I know that the colour choices we've made would not be to everyone's taste--all I have to do is say "our living room is slate gray with chili pepper red trim" and I can see the people I'm talking to blanch and reach for a mental paintbrush. Okay, we're all different. I challenge you, however, to explain to me what kind of thinking produces a combination of purple trim and walls the colour of real... live... pigs. In the bedroom. (As a side note, I would like to say that this pig colour is not nearly as rare as one would hope. Anyone who remembers House of Chicks, my former abode, will recall that it was the colour of the hallway and kitchen. It was also considered a good choice for the hospital counselling room at Civic in Peterborough, a decision which strikes me as especially dubious.) Who picked the scary-clown polka-dot wallpaper that Mr. Dave so painstakingly scraped off the bathroom walls? What state of despair resulted in the ashy robin's egg blue of the living room trim in its last incarnation?

In some places you're better able to understand--Sarah and I had the misfortune of actually meeting some of the surly inhabitants of House of Chicks before it became ours, all ours. They were a motley and overcrowded group of depressed Francophone flight attendants, and they had personalized the place with touches like the note taped to the underside of the toilet lid which read "Mens: please wipe your piss!" (I assume the French language version, also provided, was more grammatical.) When I opened my closet door, I was greeted with several cramped magic-marker lines of poetry. "It's Emile Nelligan," Meredith pleaded, "you can't paint over it!" My rebuttal, "it's an ode to misery on the inside of my closet door!" didn't have quite the impact I was going for, and the poem stayed. The whole place was kinda off, but so were the people living there, so at least it made sense. Also, we repainted very rapidly.

As I apply seemingly endless coats of stripper, I amuse myself by imagining the next people in this place saying to each other "Who bothered to stain this awful pine?" The work is worth it to me--we're not planning to move for at least a couple of years. Maybe, just maybe, I'll finish the kitchen by then.

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