Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 8, 2008

Windjammer and Pale Daffodil

I envy people brave enough to use mandarin red paint on their dining room walls or deep blue in their living rooms. I've always been a "safe" person when it comes to home decorating. When I decide to paint, I usually choose a neutral tone so I don't have to worry about finding furniture and accessories to match.

So when youngest daughter Katie decided that she wanted to paint her room blue on one wall and yellow on the other three, I had to squelch my desire to question her decision.

I also wondered about her timing. She decided mid-July would be perfect - right when we were expecting my California aunt and uncle and our former German exchange student Nadja and her boyfriend Tim to arrive and smack-dab in the middle of sister Gaila's summer stay in Manhattan.

But while I knew it wasn't the most opportune time for a big home project, I also knew that Katie had been wanting to re-do her room for a couple of years.

"If you do this," I told her, "it has to be done in one week. I don't want a half-done room and a bunch of paint supplies sitting around. And you'll have to do most of the work because I have other things to do."

She promised me she would get the work done quickly and I promised myself I wouldn't complain.

So off we went to get paint and supplies.

We stopped at several stores to get paint-chip samples. I was amazed at the choices. Even for someone choosing from my "safe" neutral palette, the number of colors was staggering. Just in off-whites, there was Sand Dollar White, Kansas Grain, Cotton Tail, Honeysuckle White, Lightweight Beige, June Vision, Frost, Clam Chowder and on and on. So I began to worry how Katie would fare selecting her blue and yellow.

But she quickly decided on just a few she thought would work. She wanted me, her grandmother, big sister Mariya, Aunt Gaila and cousins Gabriela and Larisa to vote on the blue and yellow we liked best. But when a consensus was not forthcoming, she selected "Windjammer" blue and "Pale Daffodil" yellow.

I thought the yellow was fine, but I wasn't so sure about the blue. It was a bolder color than I ever would have chosen. But true to my promise, my lips stayed zipped.

We moved her books, knick-knacks, CDs, photos and most of her furniture into Mariya's old room. We didn't want to disassemble her large computer desk so we pushed it into the middle of the room and covered it with an old sheet. Then we took posters and stick-on stars off the walls. Gaila, Gabriela and Larisa helped.

Katie and Larisa then set about painstakingly putting blue painter's tape around the window, door and closet frames. They "spackled" nail holes and rough spots on the walls and, after the repairs dried, carefully sanded them smooth. Then they wiped down the walls, vacuumed the floor and covered it with plastic.

With the room at last ready for painting, the two started on the blue wall.

"Wow, is that ever bright," I thought, as they ran the rollers across the previously neutral wall. But again thinking of my promise, the only suggestion I gave was to make sure they were careful in the corners. Fortunately I had to go to work, as I was mighty tempted to give other advice.

Later in the day, I received a frantic call. Katie was stressed. She was afraid the wall would look uneven. I explained that until all parts were completely dry, it was normal to look streaked.

When I returned later that day, I peeked into the room. It looked fine.

"Hmm, it sort of reminds me of the ocean," I mused. I told Katie I liked it.

The next day, Larisa had to run some errands with her Mom so Katie painted the three yellow walls by herself. When it came time for the second coat, however, she wondered if I might be able to help. I told her I would. We listened to Katie's "A Walk to Remember" sound track and other favorite music as we worked.

"It looks a bit like 'Sesame Street,'" Katie declared after the second coat of yellow had dried.

I laughed. Her room, indeed, did look quite bright. The blue painters' tape matched the blue of the one wall perfectly.

But once we peeled the tape off, moved out the painting supplies and put furniture back in place, her room still looked bright, but not so Sesame Street-ish. And the twin-sized blue and yellow quilt my Grandma Ethel made for me that I put at the foot of Katie's bed tied the room's two colors together beautifully.

Suddenly I was inspired. I wanted to paint other rooms in the house. Maybe I could use the leftover Pale Daffodil in our bathroom. Or maybe I would paint our bedroom a nice green. But what green to choose? Water Sprout? Celery Bunch? Celery Sprig? Scotland Road? Mystical Sea? Cucumber Crush? Corn Husk Green? Egyptian Nile?

Then it struck me. I should do the sensible thing. It had been hard enough watching Katie go through all those steps. I certainly didn't need to go through them myself. So I just went and lay down until that inspired feeling had safely passed.

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