A lot of things I've learned in life have come from experience but most of the really important things I've learned have come from watching the people I love get around to things before me and then having to deal with the challenges and realities that follow.
In this circumstance it was my friend Riot and her fella, The Viking, building a house.
The amount of fiddling and decision-making and revising and miscommunication and setbacks and faffing about and hold-ups and casual thoughts about murder-suicide that came up during this process has been fascinating.
And more than a little daunting.
This could all be filed under 'things you were anticipating but didn't really comprehend the importance/extent of'.
One thing I completely knocked all our socks off was how much the interior painting would have cost.
The quotes they were given ran between $12,000 and $16,000+.
Factor in the cost of equipment, of running a business, man hours, paint, travel and that still suggests that painters wake up every morning on silk sheets, have some caviar on bread that has been baked in house by their personal servants and then shower in a bathroom appointed with gold and marble.
Yes, the house is of decent size but it isn't a palace, the rooms are not infinite!
So, of course Riot and The Viking decided that professional painting could go to blazes and that they'd bloody do it themselves!
House painting is one of those 'not really difficult but people are worried about futzing it up or don't have enough time to do it themselves' tasks that have spawned an industry that I'm guessing has run away with itself a bit.
Painting an established house means having to be careful of the moulding, carpet/tiling/flooring and furniture.
Painting in a house that has just been finished and hasn't had any of the carpeting or tiling put down is muuuuuuch easier.
Especially as the builders had done something wrong a little earlier and as an apology had gotten all the ceilings sealed and painted for no extra cost, so yippee! No paint dropping in our eyes as we tried to Michelangelo* the ceiling.
Riot and The Viking declared this weekend to be Painting Weekend, tempted us in with the offer of food and their eternal gratitude.
Considering their regular level of hospitality is pretty friggin' impressive I wasn't going to pass up on a lifetime warranty and also it just sounded like fun.
Picking out clothes ratty enough to paint in was easy enough sadly** and for the most part it was a time-consuming doddle.
They'd bought good quality paint, rollers, brushes and trays, worded us up on how to do this right and set us loose on the house.
The one bit that is annoying and fiddly is 'cutting in' and 'not futzing up the architraves, skirting boards and moulding'.
You'd think that rollers would be able to paint a nice straight line up to the edge of anything that has an edge but the dang things get a bit wishy washy on the edges and don't push down as hard.
The thing they do do is have little fuzzy bits at the end which will trail paint across the underside edge of the moulding that does not need to be painted!
There was a little bit of furtive wiping of surfaces with clean cloths and/or bits of our clothing as we went along but we got it done.
All the communal areas and most of the rooms were getting painted the same shade of lighty beige-y whatever - one of those colours that you can't really describe because... pale - which made the whole process easier for the volunteer army.
The two rooms that were getting fancy different colours were Riot's art room (which was getting a strong aqua colour) and their theatre room (which was getting a deep rich red because they're both mad for Twin Peaks and figure you can pull that shit off in a room that is devoted to having the lights off for most of the time you're in it).
The two fancy rooms were being done at a later date by Riot and The Viking so there was no paint segregation or hardcore roller/brush washing to be done, just a lot of repetitive movements and yelling song lyrics and insults at each other.
By the end of the second day we'd gotten all the coats done in all the parts of the house we were allowed at and could collapse in a 'why did I have to spend so much of my weekend going up and down ladders***' pile.
I think at the end of the process the lessons I learned are as follows:
- 90-95% of painting is easy as, it's the last 5% that screws you up and has you reaching for the phone book****.
- Even when you're being careful you will get paint in your hair.
- The bits you worry will be obviously imperfect you won't even be able to find a few minutes later. The bits that stand out as needing work will be areas you thought were doing fine until you caught sight of them out of the corner of your eye.
- Riot and The Viking are way less OCD than I am.
- You are never too old to enjoy wearing overalls.
*It's a verb now, deal with it!
**Note to self, time to throw out some more clothes...
***As an official shorty, standing 5'1" (155 cm) I needed the ladder more than some others!
****Or more likely your computer or smartphone because progress!