On coming home to a many-splendored house
Now that's loud.
I'd chosen a bright color or three or four to update my home, but Jeez Louise.
It's one thing when it's a small rectangle. But the whole room?
Be careful what you ask for, right?
Back in August, for those not familiar with this story, I had two big water incidents. There followed all manner of issues, delays, back and forths and fights, which finally resulted in my getting a crew here in mid-December, after living on the couch and then the basement.
Oh, and three months of early winter with no HVAC system either.
It's been a minute, but I am grateful for the roof and a fireplace. First world issues.
Then a small gift landed from my grandfather's will. Small, but big enough to help with a new roof and a few improvements. Lots of things we don't see coming, while in the meantime we worry ourselves to a frazzle.
Hand's up here.
I'd be under construction for weeks. No better time to ask: what else might I want to change?
A lot, apparently. Hey, my body's been under construction since 2018. Why not the house?
The water mitigation rebuild crew has been here for nine days, and so has my handyman, Palmer. He looks for all the world like an elongated, skinny Santa, replete with fluffy white beard.
He's also an extremely kind man whose company I thoroughly enjoy. Good thing, since he's here a lot and now he has a key.
Palmer has been busy around my house all summer. He installed some much-needed safety measures like the above banisters next to the slippery rocks that I clamber up and down to get my wood for the fireplace. Now, as the weather requires, his work goes indoors.
As luck would have it, there was a lull in his schedule right about the time the demand in mine took off. He bundled himself inside and got to work painting my walls.
I've lived with brown, latte brown, baby crap yellow and light yellow walls for three years, never bothering to ask whether or not I even liked the colors.
In fact, I genuinely dislike them. That's a start, isn't it? Why not make a change, since so many other things came apart at the edges this past year?
Most of what I own is still in boxes in the basement since July '22. What's a few more months? I've been camping in my house for a long time. Spring is right around the corner.
USAA's rebuild started with the bathroom, became the whole bedroom, which added the whole garage. Then I added much of the rest of house.
Long story short, the more I headed to Tommy's Paint Pot for more samples, the more I got bored with my first choice of calm, institutional colors. Reminded me too much of Army green and doctor's office.
Sage and soft neutrals. Nope. I don't want to fade into my walls. I wanna go out looking like a Jackson Pollock painting but with more style.
So kinda like with other areas of my life- yeah, you can see this coming- I decided WHY THE HELL NOT!
I started experimenting. This was what finally convinced me:
I decided to take the plunge on rich, saturated colors and see how they made me feel. A lot like my first skydives, in fact.
So while Palmer and I were doing that,
...the crew was busy doing this:
They tore out the garage ceiling insulation. That was an opportunity to fix the problem of the ice- cold garage in winter and the oven in summer. We doubled the insulation and found big leaks where both heat and cool where being let in right under my bed. Fixed 'em. That means lower bills year-round.
Well, thank you. As with my HVAC repair, much of what we are now fixing wouldn't have been found had we not torn a lot of things open. That's happened multiple times with my body, too. Bet you can relate.
One change after another, one improvement after the other. Palmer was busy painting my dining room, then the kitchen. Turns out that the kitchen tile contrast color matches the new walls. Who knew, right? The tile floor was just waiting for me to get the memo.
And the memo said SPLASH that color all over the damned place.
I've gone from that awful yellow to this Aegean Teal, which was Benjamin Moore's color of the year from 2021. I can see why- it's very soothing but so rich, not so in- your-face as my bedroom but very livable.
A terrific backdrop for art.
Nothing like anything I've ever lived in before.
Each wall Palmer painted invited us to consider what else needed changing. So we looked at the light fixtures which are heavy, orange and old. Every time they took a break, I had a chance to take in the changes and choose what walls came next.
Almost every time, I went mild at first then changed my mind to wild.
Not everywhere. Wild for me was changing from beige and brown in the first place, and then giving myself permission to surround myself with the colors I love.
You can see what's going to happen. From cushions to rugs to damned near everything, it's all getting a makeover. I'm sure I'll be changing bits and pieces for a year or more. This bulb, that vase, this throw rug.
Until we replaced the tile, didn't even know that the tile in my main bath was a rather bilious yellow. Here it is now:
All happening at precisely the right time, in the right way. I've written about this a lot but every so often there's a big shift and I can spot where I've been resisting.
My friend and I were talking this morning about the relationships we've released, which have ended, which we've invited out of our lives, and what that has meant.
How dropping a few things at the door of a transformation inevitably creates chaos, but chaos cracks open all kinds of new opportunities to see, be and evolve.
There's no guarantee that I'm going to love or even like what's next. But the chaotic nature of transformation allows for more change, creation, exploration.
Don't like the color? Repaint.
Until I came home last night after a long day on the road, dodging shopper traffic and traffic accidents, I hadn't received the visceral effect of what radical change feels like when you change the wall colors.
Every day the house is changing around me. It reminds me that the only real constant is change. The more comfortable I've gotten with the constant changes of these past few years, the easier this is to navigate.
Finally, there this. On Christmas Day I drive to Coos Bay to pay artist William Selden for his commissioned piece of my moon set photo from back in March.
Just for fun here it is again:
I'm anticipating both the drive and the visit with pleasure. Time near the coast, time with interesting people, and a gorgeous piece of art all promise a fine Christmas Day.
I hope your festivities are full of fun, warmth and family. I can't wait to see what 2024 will bring.
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