Decorating Disasters

Sometimes, despite the best intentions, and the best laid plans, things go wrong. Horribly wrong. I thought I’d share a few of my little decorating mishaps with you, in the hopes that it may make you feel better the next time something doesn’t work out quite right for you. Then again, you may read this, laugh hysterically, and think, “what a moron!”Years ago (12, to be exact), I decided to paint my son’s room. The walls were a very rough textured, stucco-like finish, and it took forever to paint it. I’d chosen a nice orangish peach color, that was suitable for a boy. Of course, paint color looks different in the can (and on the wall before it dries), so I nonchalantly painted the entire room, and waited for the “true” color to show up. It never did. It ended up being the exact shade that was in the can, wet. Which is also the exact shade of pink that you see on the right side of your screen. My son was not happy! There was no way I was going to spend another entire day painting this room (I was pregnant with his sister at that time), so we decided that the best form of damage control was to basically lie through our teeth, and tell everyone that the room was supposed to by his new sister’s, but he decided to stay in it because it was the bigger of the two kid’s rooms. Next was the kitchen floor. Our house was old and decrepit, and the floor had two different kinds of linoleum on it. It was a huge kitchen, and installing new linoleum from a roll would leave an obvious seam, no matter which direction we ran the roll. I hate carpet in the kitchen (it gets icky too easily, and I’m not a neat cook in the first place), so that left wood laminate, tile, or vinyl squares. We were too broke to afford wood or tile, so vinyl it was. I chose a gorgeous gray marbled looking adhesive backed square, and did the whole kitchen in a few hours. Looked darn nice, too! Before too much longer, the house began to settle. I have no idea why it waited 60 years to start doing it, but it did. Within months, the squares were not only starting to buckle in areas, they were actually moving inches from their original location. I solved that problem quite stylishly by nailing the suckers down. We intended to cave in and put down kitchen carpet (the floors weren’t in good enough shape for anything else, by this point, unless we replaced the entire floor down to the joists and leveled the house). My next experiment in horror made us decide to just give up and buy a new house. The bathroom had paneling on the top, and some sort of slick white and gold patterned wallboard on the bottom. The paneling stuck out about an eighth of an inch further than the wallboard, which didn’t look too great in the first place. In the second place, the paneling was really dark, and made the small bathroom look even smaller. I did a quick fix by painting the entire room white, and putting up a molding to cover the overlap of the two materials. Looked darn nice, too! The house didn’t have central heat, so the bathroom was heated by an old (and now illegal) gas wall heater. Over time, the heat made the paneling dry out and split, and the moisture made the paint peel off of the slick wall board. The previous owners (or whoever had put up his nightmare wall treatment) had considerately nailed the paneling and wallboard directly to the studs, so to redo the walls would require a major sheetrocking job, unless we wanted to go with paneling or wallboard again. None of these options seemed particularly attractive, so I came up with the brilliant idea of texturing the walls with joint compound (the white, thick, stuff that’s used to smooth drywall joints).Now this technique will work. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me. I decided to do this at night, when everyone was asleep, to avoid traffic in and out of the bathroom while I was trying to work. I finished one wall (the largest, most noticeable one, of course), and it looked darn nice, too! I headed off to bed, and was awakened a few hours later by my husband laughing hysterically. I stumbled into the bathroom to see what was so funny, and discovered that heavy, thick, joint compound does not adhere well to slick paneling and wall board. An entire wall’s worth of “stucco” had slid slowly down the wall and pooled along the baseboard, where it was rapidly turning into concrete. I scooped up as much of the mess as I could, and went back to bed. Later, I did as much damage control as possible, by troweling on a very thin layer, working in small sections, and waiting for it to dry. I spent hours in there, carefully smoothing the stuff back up the wall if it started to slump downwards again. I completed one long wall, and one short wall, over a four day period, then I gave up. Shortly thereafter, we bought another house. Don’t worry, no other poor saps got stuck with the house from hell. It got destroyed by a tornado before we ever got to the point of putting it up for sale. I can’t say that I was terribly upset. It got what it deserved.