I’ve been painting my apartment, and I sincerely hope it’s the last time I ever have to do it. The past couple of weeks seem to have been a never-ending nightmare of plastic sheeting, duct tape and spilt paint. Not to mention cans of paint piled up in corners, and having to move two desks, the dining table and an exercise bike every time anyone came to the door.
I live in a small, very pretty, nicely proportioned attic apartment. With no storage space whatsoever. Which is unfortunate, as I am descended from a long line of packrats, and am also on a one-woman crusade to give stray furniture a loving home, and should by rights be living in a rambling mansion with a couple of outhouses and the odd very large barn. All of this is exacerbated by the fact that I am firmly convinced that I have a highly developed (if somewhat offbeat) aesthetic sense and a latent desire for minimalism.
After a couple of weeks of comical adventures including, but not limited to, falling off ladders into cans of paint (not to mention carrying 15 liters of the WRONG color up three flights of stairs), fun with electrical wires (you learn from your mistakes, right? Well, my daughter has learned that becoming an orphan is easier than you might think, and I’ve learned to turn the electricity off before sticking my fingers into sockets), and the Drill of Death (I outwitted it, and still have all my limbs and a trachea. I did try to be sensible and turn off the electricity first, seeing as I was drilling new holes for a wall light, until I remembered it was an electrical drill), it’s done. It’s beautiful. Actually, if you ignore the paint still clinging bravely to skirting boards and doorframes, it’s gorgeous. From every door and archway are views of smooth, icecream colored walls, unmarred by gaping holes and oddly-hung pictures (to cover up the gaping holes, of course).
The problem is that this is when my aesthetic sense kicks in. Previously, to gain entrance to my apartment, you unlocked the door, kicked an umbrella out of the way, put your keys down on a structure (unidentifiable, but clearly functioning as ironing pile, cat bed, bookcase, filing cabinet and a few other things) just inside the door, then squeezed past the ironic post modern coat rack/back up ironing pile, and threw your outer garments at some unindentifiable wall-hung structure in such a way that anyone attempting to get to another room would be find their head enveloped by clothing (I can’t help it, I crave excitement, and turning my home into an obstacle course is a relatively cheap and easy way to do it). Now, of course, I have a hall, and I’m addicted to it. Just inside the door are two very nice wrought-iron bookcases, which I seem to remember saving up for, choosing with great care, and transporting home with great and painful difficulty. Hanging from the opposite wall is another beautiful example of the ironworkers art. Apparently it’s a coat rack. The ironic post-modern etc. turned out to be the exercise bike. It all looks lovely. The problem is, of course, that hanging coats on the coat rack obscures its beauty, so it now sports my prettiest handbags. Which means there’s nowhere for the coats and the exercise bike.
Passing quickly along (unimpeded by obstacles, of course), it’s a similar story in all the other rooms. My desk looks so pretty with the laptop and the phone on it, why would I want to clutter it up with anything else? The dining table could now be conceivably used as a dining table, as the surface is visible to the naked eye. The bedrooms are quite obviously places to sleep, as opposed to looking like explosions in a clothes warehouse, with a bathroom cabinet or two dropped into the mix for good measure. All art work is carefully hung and spaced so that the color of the walls can be seen, as well as the art in question.
The kitchen… Ah. The kitchen. There are discarded pictures piled up in front of the radiator, but you can hardly see them because they are obscured from view by a large ornate planter (I have no outdoor space, or plants) holding the cat beds (oops, no – on closer inspection this turns out to be the clean laundry pile), the exercise bike, the clothes drier and about two hundred paintbrushes. Not to mention all the stuff that my daughter has hurled out of her room (I’m proud of her. I think she may have broken the packrat chain. Unfortunately I previously considered her room as ideal for all my surplus storage requirements). You can’t actually get into the food cupboard, but this doesn’t really matter, because the paint cost so much there’s no money for food anyway.