It started with a patch of mold. That’s it—just a nasty surprise when we moved the living room sofa. Nothing a squirt of Dettol Mould and Mildew remover, a roll of paper towels and a bit of elbow grease couldn’t handle. But a few weeks later, I found myself straining to pull a wardrobe across the bedroom floor, while my wife struggled to push it, so we could paint behind it.
“We need to cover this area with mould resistant paint,” my wife said, using the British spelling of mold, even in her speech.
It was a reasonable, and unquestionably necessary, suggestion.
But here’s the thing: the mold appeared on an outside-facing wall. The bedrooms also have outside-facing walls, and blooms had been found there, as well. So, now we were painting the living room walls, as well as the main bedroom wall.
A quick bit of research revealed that such paint is meant to be an undercoat, which led to the notion that we should simply paint the living room and the bedroom, after applying mold-protection.
And since we’re painting the rooms, my wife added, we should paint the trim, as well. And all the inside doors. And the kitchen ceiling.
This was when, against my better judgment, I began adding to the list. If we do all that, I reasoned, we should replace all the manky door handles, and the hallway would look odd being the only room left in the original color, so we needed to paint that, as well. (We had renovated the bathroom as soon as we moved in, and the kitchen was re-fitted a year later; we can’t do anything with the second bedroom because that’s where the meth lab is.)
To do this, all we needed was permission from the Landlord, (which he rather reluctantly gave; I think he was afraid we might paint it cerise) nearly a dozen cans of various types of paint, a collection of brushes, rollers and pans, lots and lots of rags and the moving of all our stuff from one room to another.
It was this last bit that took the most time and effort and provided the maximum amount of inconvenience and body aches. If I had walked into this flat when it was empty, I could have painted the whole thing—including the meth lab—in a few days. As it was, it took two weeks.
Living in a flat as small as ours means you have to play large-scale Tetris when you do something like this. We moved all the stuff from the living room into the hallway and dining area, painted, then put it back the next day and moved all the stuff in the dining area and hallway into the living room…
You get the idea.
When it came time to do the bedroom, however, we realized we couldn’t move the stuff. It was too large and too heavy, so we had to dismantle the bed and stack it in the hall, then convince the wardrobe to move into the center of the room so we could cover it with a drop-cloth.
This left us with no place to sleep that night. The paint needed to dry and there was no empty space big enough to accommodate the bed, so we pulled out the sofa-sleeper. This is something we bought long ago that we thought would be a good idea to have in case of an emergency. This counted as one, so we made up the temporary bed and settled in for a well-deserved slumber.
I’ll only say this about that piece of convertible furniture: if I ever make an enemy—someone I truly cannot stand, someone I wish all manner of evil upon—I will invite him over and let him sleep on that sofa-bed.
And so, in the morning, feeling refreshed and energetic, we moved everything back into the bedroom. It took all day.
When the painting was, at last, complete, I tackled the kitchen ceiling. It’s strange. The ceiling had been in need of painting since we had the kitchen done, and I kept putting it off because it seemed like too much work. But after painting the rest of the flat, I did the ceiling as an afterthought.
Since then, I have managed to get all the pictures back on the walls, replace the door handles, peel up all the tape, and get the place looking like it did before we started, but with a fresh coat of paint and, hopefully, a barrier for the next onslaught of mold.
We now live in a flat that has—since we moved in—been completely renovated (except for the meth lab) at our own expense and effort. And, although it is gratifying to see a job well done, there’s still nothing like two weeks of hard labor to make you feel twenty years older.
Next year, when we have the carpets replaced, I’m paying someone else to do it.