A Simple Coat of Paint

A $30 can of paint is a really a can of infinite possibilities. When you choose a color it can be any of a thousand beautiful options with exotic names that seem to have little relevance to their actual shade. Since our budget has never been huge, I learned early on that you can soothe your wife’s desire for change all for the cost of a gallon or two of paint. Better she change out the wall color than me!

“Old Reliable” – my tired, well-worn brush testifies that I’ve painted every wall in our house at least once. It also decries its hatred of wallpaper.

The walls of hell are covered in wallpaper because it is an invention and tool of Satan, himself. Just behind infidelity, I am sure wallpaper is the number two reason for divorce in our country. Yes, wallpaper is the irreconcilable difference. In our starter home, our master bath had thirteen foot walls so crooked they looked like they were constructed by a crew of drunk chimpanzees. My lovely wife chose wallpaper for it. I blame this on inexperience not maliciousness – but do you know what style she chose? Wide, vertical, stripes! So dopey me gets the supplies and spends days pasting, fuming, and screaming (I’ll not quote myself here). I am surprised I didn’t do permanent damage to myself or my marriage. There came a moment in the struggle to hang a particularly long piece when I made this supplication to God:

“God, I pray you would either let me hang this piece of wallpaper or strike me dead right now.”

I don’t think I actually cared which option he chose.

I eventually got that piece up, but that bathroom always looked like the entrance to a carnival funhouse. After hanging and removing three rooms of wallpaper in our current home, I finally put my foot down and said, “enough!” I made a deal with my wife. If she mentions a desire for wallpaper again, I’ll just pack my bags to go with the understanding that she is finished with me.

Her terms were simple, I had to agree to paint when she wanted a change. That’s fair. I’ve got a steady hand and my skill has grown over the years to where I don’t need tape anymore. I painted one bedroom this summer and then she decided the deep red of the dining room needed to change. No problem! After all, it’s just $30 and whammo! – a whole new look. Old reliable and I got to work.

The one & only known photo of Old Reliable


With wide openings and windows, there is actually fairly little wall surface in the room. So it transformed from unfashionable red to a modern, light something (to be honest, I’m not sure if it is gray, green, or blue) over a weekend. That’s when things spiraled out of control.

“We really need new curtains.”

“I found a new light fixture, can you hang that?”

“That mirror looks too formal now, We need to paint it.”

“Those seat cushions don’t match anymore.”


Wait, what?

I’m just the paint guy… Seat cushions? I felt my cheapness rebelling. What happened to the $30 change?



The next weekend found me back on the ladder while she decided how low the light fixture should hang. As I looked at her from behind the chain I was holding, I thought she looked kinda cute standing there with her head tilted, trying to judge the ideal height. The cost of redecorating might have gone above my threshold this time, but hey, at least she didn’t mention wallpaper.



Photo credit to my paint store: Howard’s True Value Hardware


6 thoughts on “A Simple Coat of Paint

  1. i totally get this and my wallpaper removal turned into such a long project that it became zen after a while. zen or i was losing my mind –

  2. Yes Carolyn said she was painting the bedroom while I was out of town. Came back to part of the wall painted. Ignored it and a week later. Hey help me paint the bedroom. She held the rags.

    Love you Mark

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