The great stripes fiasco

So, two of Anil’s living room walls are covered in brick that has been painted white. The third wall was painted off white and the fourth was painted maroon.

Walls before:

Shown above are the two brick walls, painted white. We tried initially to strip the brick but it does not appear to be happening anytime soon.
The third wall was painted an off-white color. It's shown here next to the brick wall.
The fourth wall was painted a maroon color.

Behind the living room is a nook that Anil had painted orange:

All of the other walls in the hallway near the nook were painted the off-white color, almost a yellowish shade.

None of these walls were bad, but they lacked a “look” and they lacked consistency. So, we painted them. We decided on a charcoal gray / almost black color for the formerly red wall, and on stripes for the third wall. The background of the stripes wall would be white instead of the off-white that the wall originally was. Here are the new walls after round 1:

Then we made a very important decision to hire someone to do the stripes. We found a painter named Josh who advertised that he could paint stripes, checkerboard patterns, pretty much anything. Sold! We called him in and discussed what we wanted. He offered to paint a second coat over the gray wall, fix the trim on any existing paint, to do the stripes, and to paint the back hallway white. All for $175. A great deal, we thought.

He showed up on Sunday to do the work and all was well. We discussed a plan that meant starting by painting around the grate in the ceiling, then figuring out how to do the rest of the wall. I thought Josh would tape off the wall and then we’d talk before any paint was done, but he just went for it and painted the first two stripes.

Okaaaaay. Well, good thing we liked it. He helped us to measure out a plan for the rest of the stripes, which are indicated below by the swatches of paint on the right side of the wall. There were to be a combination of white, gray and red stripes.

He left for lunch and all was well. Anil and I looked at the wall and were very happy with the plan. Then Josh came back and painted the first red stripe. It looked terrible. Was very crooked and edgy. Josh said it was due to the wall not being straight. So, we revised the plan based on what Josh said and the fact that the first two stripes were already on the wall. It involved making the stripes thicker so that it did not appear they were crooked. Thicker stripes are easier, of course, because that means fewer of them.

He left for the day with the wall looking like this:

He wanted to paint the bottom section (currently white) completely red. I did not want to do this, as I wanted the wall to be mostly gray and white with just a small amount of red. That huge red stripe at the top was already about twice the amount of red I even wanted on the wall at all. So I certainly didn’t want another huge chunk of red. I wasn’t understanding why he was being so pushy about the red, but Anil figured it out: it would be quicker to paint a whole strip of red instead of to break it up, and Josh clearly wanted to go home. That was the piece I hadn’t picked up on. So we sent him home and figured on Monday he’d come back refreshed and ready to work. We also wanted him to paint one white stripe in that big chunk of gray – it was just too much gray in one piece.

Except, Monday came and Josh was two hours late. And he only showed up after we called and texted him several times. He painted the bottom section as we’d asked, but not happily and pretty sloppily, if you ask me. Here’s what the wall looked like when he left for lunch.

As you see, the wall is a mess. And the gray wall is now an even bigger mess than the sloppy trim job we’d done. But Josh assured he would clean it up. If you look closely at the red stripe at the bottom, the tape is messy and edgy. I was concerned how that would look once the tape came up.

I should also mention we paid him the first $100 right before he left for lunch because he had to buy more supplies. And he practically skipped out of there he was so happy to have that money. Anil asked me if I thought we’d ever see him again, and I said yes, of course we would. Josh was probably just so happy to get the money because he probably really needed it. Plus, he’d left his ladder and also all of his paint brushes.

So, I was surprised and Anil was not when 3 pm came and Josh wasn’t back (that’s the time he said he’d be back.) 4 pm, no sign. 5 pm, and we’re calling and texting him. Finally around 5:30 pm and Josh texts us 2.5 hours late to let us know that his daughter was sick so he would not be back until the morning.

Anil suggested we paint a coat ourselves in order to not hold the process up any longer. We couldn’t really organize the space until the walls were done. I convinced him to hold off, not wanting to mess anything up and have Josh upset and/or try to charge us extra if we made a mistake.

Tuesday morning came and went, with no Josh. He said he’d be there at 11. Finally at 12:30 I went for a run, tired of waiting. He finally returned Anil’s text hours later to say his daughter was still sick. Ok, his daughter being sick is obviously unpredictable and not a big deal, but how about some communication, Josh?

Finally on Tuesday evening I painted another coat. We could not do any more decorating until the paint was finished, and we were tired of working around drop cloths and paint cans and everything else. Anil finally got ahold of Josh (by demanding a partial refund), and it was at that point that Josh chose to tell him that he thinks he undercharged for the project and so he didn’t think it was worth it.

Uhm, what? Josh was the one that quoted the project! If he wasn’t being paid enough, that was his fault. And if it turned out to be a bigger project than he originally thought, then he should have come to us and let us know he was going to need more money. Anil pointed this out to him and Josh seemed to feel pretty sheepish at that point. 

The only reason we ever saw the guy again is because he needed to come get his ladder and brushes. I called him and told him if he’d come clean up the mess on the wall he’d left and if he’d do the last white stripe, we could call it even with the $100. I’d fix the gray wall and do all the other walls.

He agreed and I spent all of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning putting more coats on the wall and starting the side wall.

I painted stripes on the side wall and painted the closet white (it was off-white.)

Painting something white from off-white almost seemed like a waste of time at first, until I actually started painting. It really modernized the look. You can really tell a difference when it’s partway done:

Here’s what the formerly orange nook looks like, partially done (there was still a dark gray strip to be done on that tiny wall):

Unfortunately, even with staying up until after midnight on Tuesday and getting up at 6:30 am on Wednesday to paint, it wasn’t enough coats. When Josh showed up (late again), we still needed more. So my hands were tied – I had to let him leave the painters tape on the wall when he left, knowing that there would likely be a mess for me to fix on Thursday.

And sure enough, there was a mess:

Notice the jagged red lines? And the pencil and pen marks all over the white? That’s what our lovely “professional” painter Josh left me on Thursday when I took the painter’s tape off. And I’m no expert on fixing paint jobs, but I spent hours trying to smooth out the edges and get rid of the excess marks and clean up the trim work.

But, for better or worse, by Thursday night I was done. And it’s far from perfect, especially because Josh apparently doesn’t know how to clean up his own trim mess or accomodate for stripes on a wall that is not perfect. Anil’s brother-in-law said the floor is slanted, but it would have been an easy fix to measure and accomodate for it within the first stripe.

But, perfect or no, once you add a TV to the wall and supplement with furniture around it, it’s much less noticable. Anil’s dad suggested a strip of white molding on the wall closest to the brick to fix the bad edges Josh left us with, and that may be what we end up doing when I g0 back to finish the work.

(I would show you a photo, but you’ll just have to wait until the big reveal of the whole room! So, I’ll stop dragging it out after today … Coming next week – the big reveal!)