Rebuilding? Nothing but torture in 64 shades of yellow

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Enterprise columnist

ÒLook at the bright side,Ó they tell me. ÒYouÕll have all new carpets and paint!Ó Or, ÒEverything will be shiny and new!Ó Or, ÒYou can pick all new colors!Ó

Yay. No exclamation point. In fact, I need an upside-down exclamation point to represent my lack of enthusiasm about post-flood redecorating, and I donÕt mean in that happy way Spanish-speakers use them at the beginning of sentences to forewarn you that something exciting is about to be exclaimed, just in case you donÕt figure it out by the time you get to the end of the sentence. I mean it in the hangy-down, no chance of standing up, not now, not ever, not even with punctuational Viagra way.

Why the lack of enthusiasm over picking out new carpet, floor tiles, paint and countertops? Because I donÕt enjoy committing to things IÕll have to look at for longer than six months (present husbie/TCMITW excepted). ItÕs agonizing and stressful. How do I know if IÕll still like something next year? ThatÕs why I still donÕt have a tattoo. Too much commitment.

And if youÕre wondering why IÕm replacing countertops too, like É Just how high did the water rise when the toilet supply line burst???, itÕs because in order to repair the wall that had wicked up water into the insulation, they had to bust out my kitchen cabinets. Which meant busting out the tile top. Which, the renovation folks said, would be impossible to match and they werenÕt even going to try.

Did I balk? No. You reach a point, after all your stuff has been hauled away, and your house is being gutted down to the two-by-fours as workers slice into your walls and rip out drywall (wetwall is more like it), and yet more workers scrape the golden Italian tile that you adored off the concrete like stubborn pancakes on a non-stick griddle, that you just go into ÒWhateverÓ mode: Rip the counters up? Sure, whatever. Tear off the roof? Fine. Dynamite the driveway? Whatever. Go for it. Just donÕt blow up the cats.

In the midst of watching years of getting everything just-so in your home vanish before your eyes, the renovation team also expects immediate decisions on carpets, floors, tile and paint. I was warned from the get-go that homeowner indecision is the No. 1 thing that stalls a reconstruction project. Great. When it comes to decorating, indecision is my middle name.

HereÕs some of my decorating backstory:

A couple homes back, the real estate agent was showing me carpet samples. I kept telling him that I wanted periwinkle. He kept showing me cornflower. I tried and tried to articulate ÒperiwinkleÓ to him, yet her returned with a sample that was clearly lilac. Hopeless. This experience revealed to me that men only color with the eight-color box of crayons. They can see red, green and blue, but they canÕt see magenta. Or teal. Or cyan.

Women, on the other hand, color with the big, deluxe 64-crayon box. And those are just the shades of white. If you tell a woman you want sheets that are eggshell, not almond, sheÕll immediately know what you mean. A man? ItÕs all beige to them.

Even among my own gender, on that color sensitivity scale, IÕm at the hyper-sensitive end of the spectrum. A slight mismatch in color will drive me nuts. I canÕt not notice it. A professional painter once painted my living room in a color I chose from a paint chip that looked like delicate butter. Once on the walls, it was screaming lemon yellow. I asked the dude for peaceful Tuscany, and he gave me Ay Ay Ay, Viva Brazil! I cried every time I went in the room until my best friend took one look at it and said sheÕd be there the next day to help me repaint. Cost of screaming yellow paint job: $800. Getting rid of screaming yellow paint job: priceless.

Then there was the floor tile. It took me a year to finally choose one. I borrowed nearly every sample in the store, several times over, and held up every carpet sample next to the best one until I was satisfied, then repeated the process picking the carpets. Even though I was sure, it took me another six months to make a final decision, and during that time, IÕd visit the tile in the shop periodically to see if I still really liked it. IÕve married people with less forethought and contemplation.

Imagine how thrilled the flooring shop owners were when they learned that my tile was discontinued and IÕd have to start all over again, picking tile and carpet. I envision the owner running down the sidewalk shrieking as if her hair was on fire. Turns out, it wonÕt be such a painstaking process after all, because I donÕt have the luxury of visiting floor tiles and carpet samples for a year. The longer I take to pick things out, the longer it will take to move back home. ItÕs that simple, the contractor told me.

Funny how an incentive like that can kick your decisiveness gene up a notch. Or two. Or 20. I picked the carpet out in a half hour. IÕm still working on the countertops, granite this time, and of course I like the sample that the contractor doesnÕt carry. Stay tuned.

As for the tile, the local flooring shop owner knows me all to well, and also the type of tile I like. She just called to tell me that sheÕs having 34 brand new samples of golden tile delivered to the shop for me to look at. I just hope theyÕre Tuscan wheat golden and not butterscotch golden.

Ñ Follow Debra DeAngelo on Twitter. Links are posted at and Find DebraÕs columns online at, and

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