Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Love Spray Paint

My new job continues to provide opportunities for learning.  This week I've learned that as you get closer to the move-in date for your new office, the potential for frustrating cockups to occur increases exponentially. 

Example 1:  There is a small closet in our suite.  It backs up to the reception area.  We don't need it and would rather have the extra space in the lobby, so we asked our broker to include removing the closet wall as part of making the office ready.  At least that's what my boss told me.  But the broker apparently didn't pass that information on to property management, who didn't put it in the lease, or the contractor, who didn't include it in his bid along with new paint and carpet.  We've spent the last two days trying to figure out if we're keeping the wall, losing the wall, paying to remove the wall....  The final tally:  The wall stays, and our broker is an idiot.  I think.

Example 2:  I've been told to obtain a high-speed internet connection for the office, and our IT guy will use it to set up our network, e-mail, and internet phones.  I've talked to six different internet service providers, and all six have given me different (and conflicting) information about exactly what it will take to get the information superhighway running through my office.  And none of the six has told me anything that gibes with what my IT guy has told me I need.  Normally I'm quite fond of geek-types, but they're testing my love this week.  I'm just about ready to dig out one of those ancient AOL CDs they used to mail out by the millions in the 1990s and get myself a 56K dial-up connection.

I could give a half-dozen additional examples (like the vendor who put "South" instead of "North" on a work order and sent the service rep to Wilmer, Texas instead of my building; or the fact that my first paycheck didn't show up on time).  But you get the picture.  I'm not really complaining; this is what happens when you're a start-up, and these cockups are exactly the type of thing I was hired to deal with (well, maybe not the paycheck part - don't worry, it showed up in due course).  I thought I might be bored working from home for the first few weeks, and that definitely hasn't happened.  It's all good.

But that isn't what I'm writing about today.  I'm writing about a new project.  Regular readers know about me and projects; we have a strained relationship at best.  But I started one today that I think is going to turn out beautifully, and it's directly related to my new job.

Right now my office is an empty shell; the last time I saw it, it didn't even have carpet (although it did have an extra wall that apparently isn't going anywhere...).  I've been working feverishly to furnish it, let's say, on a budget.  It's one of those budgets where the answer to the question "How much can I spend?" is "How little can you spend?"  So I've been haunting local used-furniture places (which fortunately are plentiful in my part of town) and resale stores (ditto).  I've found some really awesome deals on desks and the like.  Yes, I'm being paid to shop.  This makes the frustrations infinitely easier to handle, believe me.

So far my coup de grace has been finding two nice upholstered chairs and a side table for the reception area for 40 bucks.  Total.  Actually, 45 bucks, because I bought a can of spray paint for the table, which had kind of a funky finish and some scratches that needed to be sanded out. This afternoon I took a break from dealing with walls and internet connections and applied a couple of coats of high-gloss brown paint to the table.  And it turned out fabulous, just gorgeous.  It looks way more expensive than the $20 I spent on it.

Well, I had half a can of spray paint left, and I didn't feel like taking on any more job-related FUBARS at the moment.  My eye fell on my kitchen chairs.  We've had these chairs for at least 15 years, and they're good quality but really beat up.  The white paint shows every grimy fingerprint and jelly spill, and the Siamese cat has made it her mission in life to ritually destroy the wicker seats.  Here's what they look like:

The wicker damage is hard to see, but Precocious Daughter refuses to sit on these chairs untill she drapes a blanket over the seat.

Inspiration struck, as it often will when the alternative is continuing to beat your head against whatever brick wall is in front of you at the moment.  I removed the wicker seat, cut a piece of two-inch foam (from a previous project I don't really want to discuss here) to size, and stapled on a piece of cool upholstery fabric from my mighty fabric stash.  Then I cleaned the grime off the chair frame and spray-painted it with my trusty can of high-gloss Kona Brown.  I replaced the chair seat, and voila:

From tired country kitchen to modern dining room chic, just like that.  I don't know if the difference is as stunning in the pictures as it is in person, but I am so tickled with how this turned out.  I'm going to do the other three chairs and have an entirely new look for my table.  And all it took was a can of spray paint, some supplies I already had laying around the house, and a feeling that if I didn't find some way to work out my frustrations I was going to go Mel Gibson on someone pretty soon.

Moral of the story:  When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  And when life hands you a can of spray paint, find something (other than the wall in my alley, thank you very much) to paint.

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