Saturday, August 11, 2007

The floors waxed. The walls suede.

My domestic fantasies skew toward the old-money soignée. I long for afternoons of leisure, flipping through yachting magazines in casually rumpled chinos … swapping stories of European sojourns on a gabled veranda … savoring a life of noblesse oblige in a living room whose walls evoke the supple hand of brushed suede with rich, authentic character.

Which is why we’re painting our living room and sun room in two shades of Ralph Lauren Suede, which, as it turns out, is designed to evoke the supple hand of brushed suede with rich, authentic character. It says so right on the web site.

(The colors we’ve chosen are Arrow Wood and Faun’s Leap, whose names seem to evoke more of the calloused hand of murdered woodland creatures, but deconstructive nomenclature is not really the point of this post.)

Ralph Lauren Suede does indeed add supple texture and character to our walls, which is especially good because the developer who rehabbed our building wasn’t exactly a wizard with a level and a drywall knife. And the previous owners clearly hosted Amish rake fights and Civil War re-enactments in the arena that is now our living room. So Ralph Lauren’s sandy-textured, subtly variegated suede paint is very nicely hiding a world of bumps and dents and scratches and angles not found in any geometry textbook.

But holy christ on a low-salt cracker does it take forever to apply. The first coat was pretty easy – we simply had to roll the stuff up in random, messy patterns. And we are nothing if not random and messy. But the second coat involves hand-brushing the paint in an infinitely random pattern of overlapping X strokes that are supposed to dry into that “supple hand of brushed suede” effect that’s all over the Ralph Lauren marketing materials. Except when the X strokes dry, sometimes the edges of the strokes show up as hard, dark lines. But hiding the lines isn’t as simple as making a few more X strokes; you need 97 more X strokes or you can see where the new strokes don’t blend into the old strokes. All of which is about to give me a … um … heart attack.

And don’t get me started on that blue masking tape, which has decided to allow my white baseboard paint to ooze a little onto our beautifully refinished wood floors right in the places it’s designed—by name!—to be masking. But I’d like to think I’m a bit smarter than a roll of masking tape, so I’m using those magical stain markers to scribble over the oozy parts. And I’m finding this process works like a charm. Especially once I place couches and other large pieces of furniture against the walls.

In any case, we’re slowly completing the faux leather (does this paint count as pleather?) backdrop for my domestic fantasies. And as soon as I get a gabled veranda, a yachting lifestyle and some worldly friends, we should be all set. As long as nobody looks too closely at the floors in front of our baseboards.

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