Tip #154: Spread a little cheer.
This morning, the muscles on the underside of my forearms are aching. They’re tender from overuse this weekend, being put to work on tiny apartment improvements that didn’t really need to be made, but that could be made and that make our humble space move a percentage or two closer to perfect. (I’d say we’re hovering somewhere around 35% in this space, but who’s counting?)
Renters, as many of you know, occupy a tricky space. The urge to make a change gets complicated by the dueling dilemmas of not wanting to pour too many resources into something that you don’t own yourself and not wanting to cross the line of making too many unsanctioned improvements. So, mismatched doorknobs or switch plates remain untouched, but a prominent light fixture gets swapped or a steam pipe gets repainted. A can of white paint gets opened.
A few weeks ago I finished Christina Baker Klein’s A Piece of the World. (Recommended and just right for summertime.) In a particularly heart rending scene, children buy a gallon of bright blue paint and proceed to paint anything within sight the cheery shade in an effort to wrench their mother from what the reader must assume is postpartum depression. Decades later, the marks of these efforts are still apparent in the old house on the hill—random old chairs and tables all painted in the same shade of cerulean.
It reminded me from a passage in my own book, if I may be so bold, about the particular brand of magic that for me is found in a can of white paint. Of course the point is, whatever your color, use it. Perhaps it’s a burst of blue that you desperately need. Maybe it’s a subtle gray or a defiant yellow. For me, it’s white, which feels bright and refreshing.
When I finished repainting the inside of our closet nearly two years ago, three-quarters of a gallon of paint remained. It’s been sitting up in the storage nook above our closet, alongside the chandelier and light fixtures we replaced when we moved in.
This weekend, we cracked it open and started our own cheer-making project. There are little ones underfoot and only so many hours in which they’re sleeping or otherwise able to be occupied outside of the apartment, and so we’ve started repainting the place slowly. A wall here, a wall there; a shelf and a tool box and a kid’s sized table get a makeover. All of it an effort to feeling a little more at home and to make sure those improvement muscles get flexed.
For the curious: We’re using Benjamin Moore’s Natura Paint in Simply White. It’s lovely and just what these extraordinary pockmarked and scuffed and otherwise filthy walls needed. Ditto that shelf.
If you feel like I’ve talked about this all before, I have. Magic, I tell you. More about white paint here, too.
Tiny apartment survival tips #1 -153, right this way.