So I followed the advice of some well-meaning folks on Apartment Therapy and had our bathroom painted yesterday. In the process I learned a few important life lessons (all of which are totally cliched yet undeniably true, and all of which I probably should've taken to heart years ago -- but I guess it took some real-life, kicked-in-the-gut experience to finally accept them):
* You get what you pay for. (And its obvious corollary: If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.) Nick and I are perfectly capable of painting (and have done so many, many times). We're just sick to death of it. Plus, the lath-and-plaster in our circa-1939 bathroom was so riddled with cracks that we thought we needed to call in a pro to properly deal with them. Based on a good recommendation, we hired someone whose bid seemed exceedingly reasonable for the amount of work we knew would be required. Turns out that for all her talk of scraping out the cracks and re-mudding over them, all the painter actually did was sand down the joint compound I'd inexpertly slapped all over the walls and ceiling months ago, which did nothing to repair or really even disguise the cracks. She also got paint splatters and drips all over the tile and trim. (Granted, this was not entirely her fault, since Benjamin Moore's new eco-friendly "Aura" line is not the thick-and-yummy pudding-like paint it's cracked up to be. In the painters' own words, it's one step up from water.)
* Check references -- and listen to what they say. I felt like I'd done my due diligence: Asked people to suggest good painters, then asked for references from a painter who'd come highly recommended -- and dutifully called each of them. A few raved about her. But a few expressed dissatisfaction with the thoroughness of her prep work and cautioned us to be really clear with her about what we expected. I heard them but did not listen. Since we were hiring a painter almost exclusively for the prep work, I should have.
* Pay attention to your gut. As I wrote in my original AT post asking for color suggestions, I HATE the sickly salmon color of our field tile, and definitely did not want to match it. Still, I was ultimately swayed by the seemingly logical argument that repeating the tile color on the walls would actually make it recede and the burgundy trim pop. Note: It most definitely does not.
* When you've made your final color choice, go one shade lighter. A color on four walls will always look darker and more overwhelming than it does on a tiny two-inch paint chip. Corollary: Always paint a large test patch and live with it for a few days before you commit. I've written both pieces of advice more times than I can count, and yet I failed to heed them. Duh.
* Some things fall out of favor for a reason. I'm referring, of course, to the aforementioned paint color, a dubious hue that I suppose would have been called "Nude" or "Blush" (with all the cultural insensitivity those terms carry with them) back in the day. I'm going to go out on a limb here and propose that Benjamin Moore just go ahead and discontinue "Careless Whispers" (1214). It is the color of nausea. (In retrospect, that dingy white, above, wasn't so bad, eh?)
* It's just paint. Admit failure. Cry. Move on. After all, tomorrow is another day -- and that's when we'll regroup and repaint in some less monstrous hue. (As for what that might be, I still have no clue.)
Any suggestions? Anyone? Anyone?