Monday, May 7, 2007

House in Progress: My Bathroom Looks Like Ass

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?


Anonymous said...

Good lessons to learn. So are you going to live with it for a while?

Anonymous said...

I like your fishbutt bathroom.

Making it Lovely said...

I don't think your bathroom is that bad. I'd go with the same color you used, just much more pale. Then bring in lots of burgundy. Towels, trim around the shade, art, tissue box, soap dish, etc. It would look a lot better (and you won't focus so much on the fleshy pink tile).

D'Andrea said...

Is that burgendy or dark brown trim? I'd be tempted to go dark on the walls, real dark. A rich chocolate. For such a small space I like a bit of drama. Perhaps a bigger mirror in a pewter, like the vents and then go soft pink/peach on the windows and towels. Can't see the light, what if it were to match the mirror and make sure its not to bright. Would make for a warm cacoon feeling. Is the ventelation decent in there because then you can go flat paint or any other low lustre paint and that would hide all the uneveness. Don't try and match the pink/peach, enhance it. Good luck!

D'Andrea said...

Hey- just saw that drk brown tree paper you bought- that might work! I know wallpaper in bathrooms a no-no but maybe you could coat it with something... call me crazy!

Anonymous said...

Did your contractor have experience using Benjamin Moore paints? Most "reasonable" painting contractors use other brands.
I have found it best to ask the Benjamin Moore dealer for some references when looking for a painter.

I have used the Aura Paint twice now and can tell you there is no better low VOC paint on the market. Sorry you had the results you did.

Anonymous said...

well if you went and took that paint back you could have been credited, you probably got a bad batch, in general Aura is great stuff. Sorry for your bad experience with it,,,,a BM employee

Anonymous said...

i also think you must have gotten a bad batch. when we used this paint, our experience was the exact opposite.

Anonymous said...

sounds like you got a terrible batch of Aura. I used it this summer (I am a total amateur at painting) and found it awesome.
It was thicker than any paint I have ever used. didn't drip even once, covered in 2 coats with no streaks. beautiful gloss. doesn't scratch off at all.

had to cut in corners/edges first and NOT go back over what I just painted or it will streak.

Sucks that you had such a bad experience. :-(


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