Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Gallon of Paint: The Tire of the Home Improvement World

I drive an old car.  An OLD car.  It's a 1996 Chevy Cavalier.  It's purple.  It used to be my wife's.  And yet, even though it has all that going against it--even though it's probably one of the least "manly" cars you're likely to see on the road--I continue to drive it.  The reasons?  It's paid for and it continues to run.

That is, until a couple months ago.  See, a couple months ago, the front end started giving out.

Now, I should be clear and explain that I'm not a car guy.  So, what I mean when I say the "front end started giving out," is simply that the car started shaking violently whenever I exceeded 30mph.  In fact, it would shake so violently that the flabby skin under my arms--you know, where your muscles would be . . . if you had them--started jiggling and bouncing and flopping all over the place.  It got so bad that just feeling it bouncing started to make me motion sick.

After one excessively jiggly ride, I got out of the car, waited for the flabby skin to settle down, and then announced to anybody who was listening (my wife), that it was time for a new car "because this one's shot."

However, before I jumped into the process of buying a new vehicle--and partly because I knew of my limitations as a "car guy"--I brought my little purple car in to a repair shop so they could confirm my diagnosis of death.  Surprisingly, after about 15 minutes with the car, they informed me that I needed a new passenger-side front tire.  

Yeah.  Instead of the $4000 bill for replacing my front end, I needed a $67 tire.  

Well, naturally, I told them to go ahead with the work and I was shocked when I drove the car off the lot and my flabby underarm skin didn't jounce all over the place.  It was hard to believe that a $67 tire could make all that difference.  But it did.

And crazy as it sounds . . . a gallon of paint is just like that tire.  

See, many folks look at their homes and, if they're bored with it or if their feeling that some changes need to be made, most of them feel that the solution is to remodel.  They debate whether or not they should tear out a wall, put in new flooring, rip out their cabinets and replace them with new.  They toy around with the ideas of buying new furniture, new artwork, new window treatments all in the hopes of sprucing up their home and giving it a much-needed facelift.

However, what many folks don't realize is that a gallon of paint can often make all the difference in the world. 

Now, maybe that doesn't sound accurate to you, but it's the truth.  Painting a room in your home is rated by almost every home decorator and home fix-it guru as the best "bang-for-your-buck" project you can tackle.  And the reason is simple:  the color on our walls does more to influence the look and feel of a room than almost anything else.  

You want to make your furniture look new?  Then put a new backdrop behind it.  Change that taupe on your walls to a brighter color, a darker color, a lighter color.  Go with a green or a blue or a grey and watch how your couch or your chairs suddenly take on new life.

Sick of those old cabinets?  Well, rather than rip them out and replace them (easily a $10,000 project), why not repaint them?  Get rid of that old wood look and turn them white, or bisque or whatever color you can imagine.  Sure, it will take some work, but in the end, you can probably accomplish the project for under $200--much less than the cabinet re-do.

To get back to my car scenario:  I was convinced the only way to make a difference in the way my car felt, was to either drop $4000 on huge repairs or to buy a new car.  I was shocked to find out that something so small--a new tire--could make the car drive almost like new.  In the same way, don't let yourself be convinced that the only way to spruce up your home significantly is to tackle some hugely expensive remodel project.  A gallon of paint can go a long way's toward changing the look and feel and attitude of any room--and at a price you just can't beat.

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