It’s home improvement time at our house.
We hired a painter that our neighbor recommended.
When I met him, he said, “I am Steve. I am painter.”
I liked him immediately. He wasn’t a wishy-washy painter. He had opinions and ideas.
“Where are you from?” I asked him.
“Where you think?” He asked.
“Somewhere in Eastern Europe,” I guessed.
“I from Hungary. You know, Hungary in Europe. My English not so good but I work on it.”
While meticulously painting the white trim in our family room and kitchen, he said pointing to our amateur paint job on the walls, “Laurie, you come here. Look at this.” He shakes his head like I’m a child that disappointed him. “Ugly. This ugly. I can fix trim, but not this. I do a good job, but can’t fix ugly.”
I know our lines aren’t perfect, but we thought we’d done a decent paint job. In fact, we have a good painting system. I do the trim. Doug does the walls and ceilings. We make a good painting team.
Or so we thought.
I smile at Painter Steve’s bluntness even though I’m mildly offended.
The man has no filter, and I understand that when learning a new language, we have to get to the point. Nuances and subtleties come later.
For Steve, he think; he say.
When I showed him the paint color I’d chosen for the living room and dining room, he again looked at me like a scolding parent.
“Come. Look.” He held up my paint chip in different parts of the room and under different kinds of light. “Too dark. You will hate. But, it your house, your paint, your money, so I do what you want, but it be ugly.”
I defer to his professional judgment because on his first day, he said, “In my country, I go to school three years to be painter. I learn color — everything about color. I take tests; work, study hard to be painter.”
Then, he whispers, “In America, Mexicans come to me with paintbrush in hand and say, ‘I am painter.’ I say, ‘No, you not painter!’ Everybody in America think they painters. No. In my country, they not painters!”
In addition to new paint, we are refinishing our floors. We chose a dark stain color, and when Steve saw it, he was aghast.
He gave me that intense, reproving stare, and shook his head slowly, saying, “No. No. No.”
“Is it too dark?” I asked, already knowing his opinion.
“Yes, too dark. You will hate. It show every speck dust. It ugly.”
When the flooring man tried to tell me how beautiful it would look, Steve stepped behind him to be out of his sight and continued to shake his head, “No!”
I told Steve I had no choice. The stair treads had already been made. The floors needed to match the treads. It would cost too much money to start over.
“Fine. Your house, your floors, your money. But, you will hate. It will look like dark funeral home.” Then, he went back to his painting, while still shaking his head back and forth – “No,” he kept muttering.
Maybe the floors will be too dark. Maybe we really will hate them. I only know we liked the look in the many Houzz and Pinterest pictures I saved. We liked the sample in the showroom. I asked my decorator friends for their opinions, and they thought the dark floors would look gorgeous.
I admit I was warned about the dust showing, but that was after we placed the order.
I hope Painter Steve is wrong, and that I don’t “hate.”
This is the time to remember Dr. Spock’s parenting advice and to apply it to my decorating decisions, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
Like Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.”
I will trust my hunches, and, as opinionated Steve said, it’s my house, my money, and my floor.
I will trust my hunches.