On a military base, most families live in dingy, plain homes. You can’t paint the walls. You’re not even supposed to hang anything- nail holes are pesky and even poster tape mars. The folks with serious rank (the ones who get saluted through the gate) live in veritable mansions. And they’re allowed to paint their homes.
When I was ten or eleven, I babysat for a high-ranking family. I remember being shocked, and totally spooked, by the enormity of the home. It was too big. It echoed and creaked, and I swore malevolent spirits swirled in all that space. But the nursery, with walls swathed in bold pinks and yellows, was the most shocking bit of the house. Seeing those walls shifted my perception of reality; I thought colorful rooms existed only in storybooks.
When I realized a home didn’t have to be bare, I became obsessed with the idea of someday living in a colorful space. I was never allowed to hang posters or pictures in my room, and I was always envious of my friends who added to and altered their wall collages with pictures torn from magazines and quotes pulled from books. I went to college determined to have a more decorative life.
Unfortunately, I have absolutely no mind or eye for interior decorating. My freshman year, I went crazy. I taped everything to my walls. Every single card my mom sent me, concert tickets, play stubs, particularly interesting candy wrappers, broken earrings. I even hung up a poster of the football team (which I really have no interest in) and refused to take it down even when they lost nearly every game…none of which I bothered to attend.
I reverted back to bare walls for a few years to make up for that tasteless hodge-podge, but I’ve been feeling like I need more pretty things to look at in my life. I don’t like spending money, not even on actual art, but I generally don’t like the cheap prints available in stores. So I decided to make my own wall art.
I found a frame for about a dollar at a thrift store. After promptly discarding the print, I headed to a hardware store to collect color cards. Colors are very exciting for me, but my aforementioned lack of interior decorating skills renders those paint chip cards worthless in terms of planning how to paint my home. I just cannot visualize how those few inches of color will look on an entire wall. But they’re great for craft projects and they’re completely free!
Home Depot lets you bring your dog shopping with you, which is a pretty savvy business model. Puppies = Patronage. But my favorite part of any hardware store is the smooth cement floor. I can never not dance on those. This became a tiny bit embarrassing when a friendly fellow came over and asked, “Do you need any help or are you good just jiving?” I took my color cards and bolted.
I cut the cards into even (I thought they were even at the time, anyway) squares and played with color arrangements. This project could have been much cleaner, but I chose to replace double-sided tape and patience with painter’s tape and somewhat sloppy efficiency. The frame I found was chipped and dull, so I gave it a few passes with some white spray paint.
This project is really simple, extremely inexpensive and just fun. I like fun things. I’m a raging perfectionist, so much as I love crafts… I’d usually rather pay a professional. I wrote a note to myself in one of the color squares. It was lovely…until the letters bled and, as I was pulling away, a huge splatter of ink fell all over one color. I couldn’t get all the ink up, but I decided to leave it. I’m trying to embrace a little more mess in my life, and I like to think in metaphors. I found a lot of mess and metaphor in this project.
That ink splatter was like the universe telling me that happiness is found in small messes, imperfections and flaws. I’m fairly certain I love it.