Mama Doesn’t Like Ugly (Or How to Make a Table With Dipped Legs)

“Mama doesn’t like ugly,” I tell the dogs. We’re sitting on the bed, looking around my mess of a bedroom. Albus cocks his big Boxer head inquisitively as if to ask, “What is this ugly you speak of? Am I ugly?”

“You’re terribly handsome,” I say, petting him. Woodley gives me a haughty look as I’m petting her brother. “Well, I’M gorgeous,” her face seems to say. Somehow I know her arrogant demeanor belies an incredible insecurity, so I stroke her head and tell her how pretty she is. (They may only understand peanut butter treats and pats on the head, but I don’t really care. I’m convinced they’re smarter than all that.)

My bedroom redesign is entering month four and I’m at my wit’s end with it. I wish I hadn’t spent $500 plus on purple Anthropologie bedding last spring, and I’m hating my chocolate brown headboard. The colors aren’t coming together cohesively, and I’m starting to feel like I will lose square footage if I put another coat of paint on the walls.

There have been many iterations of the room along the way and most of them have left me frustrated… and so has my limited budget. I resolve to accept my limited means, trying to convince myself that poverty inspires creativity. I stare at the awkwardly large lamp sitting on the tiny telephone table I bought ten years ago. The lamp HAS to go. It’s not a bad lamp, per se, but it doesn’t work in the room any longer. The telephone table has good bones, but the chestnut finish isn’t working with the rest of the room. AT ALL.

The lamp isn’t bad. It just worked better with the safari theme I abandoned about three weeks ago.

Don’t get me started on the drapes, the mirror, or the aquarium…. Those items will have to wait. Today I’m tackling the table – and I’m buying a new lamp. After scouring the internet for a cheap lighting option, I give up and head to Home Goods in desperation.

Mercifully, the design gods are smiling on me. A lamp similar to the $200 lamp I could not afford from Home Decorators Collection is calling to me from the Home Goods shelf. “It’s official: God wants me to have a pretty bedroom,” I tell myself. (I am the master of rationalization in the face of a good deal.)

I walk across the street to the mall, cradling my new purchase like a baby. I find a new knob for the table at Anthropologie that is only $6.

$6? At Anthropologie? Sold!

The crystal knob mirrors the crystal balls on the base of the lamp… and the knob is shiny. (I love shiny.) I must have this knob.

I return home (only mildly panicking about my purchases), fueled with resolve to tackle the ugly-ish table. I decide to use the paint leftover from my turquoise wall, convinced it will unify the turquoise half of the room with the gray half. I remember I had pinned a dipped table on Pinterest a while back and this seems like the best way to give the table a facelift. For some reason I decide to use gold for the legs….

After my 14th trip to Home Depot in like four days, I return home with a tub of Martha’s gold paint and a level. (During this trip I discover it’s a terrible idea to wear pink to Home Depot, but that’s a story for another time.) The level is essential for the project, and it makes me feel like a legitimate contractor… or something.

I begin the rehab by sanding the varnish off of the table with my power sander. There is dust flying everywhere, and I am a happy panda. (Long story on the panda thing.)

Once the chestnut finish is gone, I put on a playlist featuring Gotye, and cover the table in turquoise paint. When the turquoise has dried, I use the level to make pencil marks around the legs. I then use the painter’s tape to tape off the area that I will paint gold. I double-check the tape lines, making sure they are level.

Now I’m on my stomach, painting the first coat of gold. I’m trying desperately to keep the dogs away, but they’re terribly interested in my project. Somehow, Woodley winds up with gold on her ears, and I notice Albus has a mysterious turquoise strip on his side. I’m not mad. They are now sporting badass warrior paint, and I can brush it out anyway….

While we’re waiting for the first coat of gold to dry, we take a long walk during which Albus makes new friends, and Woodley eats the neighbors’ grass like a ravenous goat.

After returning home, I decide the inside of the drawer should be gold as well. This way some of the gold will show around the edge of the drawer in some sort of subtle manner. It’s not a bad idea, and it actually turns out well.

After the paint has dried, I spray on a coat of water-based acrylic sealant on the table. After a full day of drying, the table is ready. I screw in the new knob, insert the drawer, and place the new lamp on top. The room isn’t done, but at least I’ve eradicated one more bit of ugly from the place.

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Nothing Nice to Say About Oil Based Paint (Or How to Know Your Walls Are Covered in It)

Painting Project.

Day 14.

Or so it feels. I think it’s actually only day one, but I’ve been inhaling a lot of fumes, so I’m not really required to remember what day it is anymore.

Today I attempt charcoal gray in the bathroom. While picking out the color at Home Depot, I received unsolicited feedback from an old guy about my color pairing. He saw me checking my shade of gray against a swatch of pink, and observed, “That’s a dark color, but I noticed you picked the right accent to accompany it.” I thanked him dismissively, hoping he’d bugger off, but no such luck.

He proceeded to ignore all of my non-subtle cues that absolutely screamed “go away” and followed me around instead. I finally managed to shake him in the Martha Stewart glitter section while he was telling me in not-so-flattering language what he thought of the woman. (I need to move. My neighborhood is full of weirdos.)

After the mildly irritating encounter, I return home and begin taping off every light switch, door frame, baseboard and cabinet.

My bathroom looks like it has been prepped for the zombie apocalypse, with plastic Hazmat-like sheets taped to my shower and toilet.

My shower is ready to repel zombies.

Beware, zombies. 

My dog periodically comes by to inspect my progress.


Carry on, lady. I’m going to go back to licking my balls.

Dear Lord, for a tiny room there are a lot of things to tape off! Of course I run out of blue tape before completing this endeavor. It is now 10 pm. (I never want to see blue painter’s tape again.)

I decide to watch Iron Eagle for the 443rd time instead. I will return to this fresh hell tomorrow.

Day Two of the Bathroom Project.

The taping is complete. I am finally ready to paint.

The matte finish half of my bathroom goes off without a hitch, and I’m ready to tackle the shower area with semi-gloss. (My bathroom has a door separating the sink area from the toilet and the tub.)

I wash the paint roller, brush, edge brush, and 42 other accessories in preparation for the semi-gloss paint. The existing walls are shiny, and I assume they were painted with semi-gloss water-based paint.

Who wouldn’t assume such a thing?

Oil-based paint is illegal in California after all….

I begin applying the paint, and it’s ugly. Streaky and ugly.

Um, what?

I assume there’s probably too much water in the brushes from having been recently rinsed. Some parts of the wall look better than others, but mostly it just looks like hell in here. Plastic-covered, streaky, zombie hell.

I have now closed the bathroom door, enclosing myself in this tiny tomb of a room so that I can paint around the doorframe. Running the ceiling fan also necessitates running the heat lamp. It’s hot in here. Hot and nasty. I hate painting. I hate Behr. I hate Benjamin Moore. I hate life.

I am probably high.

I don’t hear the dogs, which generally means they’re sleeping or they’re causing trouble… the silent kind of trouble. That’s always the worst kind. It usually involves opening my pantry and eating an entire bag of coconut… a Betsey Johnson dress from my walk-in…

So long sequined hem.

So long sequined hem.

Or a defenseless bear…

So long, my friend. Albus is sorry about your face.

Farewell, old friend. Albus is sorry about your face.

I emerge from my fume-filled tomb to check on the dogs. They’re sleeping on the couch like angels. (I am definitely high. And clearly hallucinating.)

At this point it occurs to me that perhaps my bathroom had originally been painted with an oil-based paint.

I decide to consult Google.

Lo and behold, yes, my bathroom is showing all signs of having originally been painted with an oil-based paint.

This peeling situation was my first clue.

This peeling situation was my first clue.

Fuck. Me.

eHow tells me I’m going to have to sand my walls to rectify the situation. I should mention this means not only sanding the new coat of paint I’ve added but the original coat as well. Double fuck.

I start sanding. 1/10 of the way through, I have grit raining down all over me.

Sanding? Is not sexy.

Sanding? Is not sexy.

I’m thinking I should invest in a belt sander. I’m sweating, swearing, and sanding — all in equal measure. I decide there is nothing good about oil-based paint.

Nothing. At. All.

I keep telling myself this is a good arm work out….

Hour 92 of sanding. (Well, not really, but it feels like it.) I was joking earlier about the belt sander, but now I’m looking at power sanders on the Home Depot website.

They’re only $29.97?!?

If I don’t finish this job by the time I have to leave for my friend Nicole’s birthday party, I’m totally buying a sander tomorrow.


I do not finish sanding before leaving for Nicole’s party.

I head out for the dinner where I end up sitting next to my dear friend Ryan, an attorney specializing in product liability and class action lawsuits. As I regale everyone with my harrowing tale of sanding, he informs me I should be wearing a mask.

Something about lead and asbestos in older buildings…

(I tune him out and go back to my anecdote.) You should probably look into masks before you sand anything, though. He probably had a point. (Ryan always has a point.)

Day Three of the Bathroom Painting Project.

I do end up buying a Ryobi power sander the next day, and I am now the happiest person alive.

I LOVE my new toy!

I finish the vile sanding so much faster this way and finally set about re-painting my ceiling and walls. Many, many hours later, I am done.

Life is much better now.

And you know what? The weirdo from Home Depot was right. I did pick the right color of gray.

And you know what? The weirdo from Home Depot was right. I did pick the right color of gray.