Thursday, April 14, 2011
The Paint Factory
For months now I have carried a stack of ripped out pages from Maisons de Campagne magazine and color samples from The Little Green paint company trying to fine tune the perfect shade to paint each of the rooms in the house, including variations of the chosen hue for trim, moldings, built-ins and doors.
"This time, I'm really going to do it right," I think to myself as I pour through even more examples of the perfect French country decor. I have purchased and painted samples on the walls of every gradation of "gris suede" and similar grey/blues that Arlette suggested as well as the creamier, french linen whites and offwhites that are so fresh and inviting. I've contemplated if I should try a lime, ochre, or tea-stain technique that I have read about on various websites and decorating books. And Hank and I have discussed (and argued un peu) on whether the texture of Venicien plaster would work best in the hallway and warrant the additional time it would take to apply.
To me, this is truly going to be the most rewarding part of the renovation because it will have such an instant effect and best of all, paint is cheap. Except of course in France. I'm not sure why, and I really ought to look this up, but most of the local DIY stores charge about 50 euros for 2.5 litres (about 1/2 a gallon). With todays exchange rate, that's just under $150 a gallon! And seeing that we're going to need beaucoup gallons, but do not have beaucoup d'argent ($$), I've been researching online and asking the locals where they buy their paint.
Most people recommend Brico Depot or Leroy Merlin in Bordeaux and we have bought some paint at Brico that was more in the 30 euros per 1/2 gallon range. Better, but still not great. Then, we heard about a little place outside of Bergerac called The Paint Factory.
"You can get about 5 gallons for 50 euros," said a British expat we recently met. Now, that's what I'm talking about and I then proceeded to take about 3 weeks just to find the damn place. First time we tried to go by memory off just her verbal description; the second attempt, I actually printed directions from mappy.com which were mainly effective in getting us lost (again) causing each of us to blame the other as we drove in circles (literally) around each and every round-about in Bergerac. But of course, the third time was the charm with Caleigh by my side giving me directions and voila, I finally found the bloody Paint Factory.
I swear that the sun rays appeared to shoot down through the clouds and I heard angels sing, I was so flippin' happy. As we walked into the warehouse, I could see hundreds, probably thousands of huge containers of beautiful paint. Since the only sales guy was helping someone else, Caleigh and I proceeded to look around and try to locate the color samples so I can match my inch-thick paperclipped magazine pictures to them. Only problem was, there wasn't a sample chart anywhere and the only thing remotely close to one was a large 6' x 4' board with 8 colors on it. This surely couldn't be it. There was so much paint in this place.
By this time I'm wondering if there was possibly a different, special, "french" method of selecting paint that I'm not privvy too yet. Maybe they are just super hi-tech and the samples were on the computer? And then, part of me started feeling a bit awkward as more and more professional painter types had walked into the store and I contemplated just going back to Bricomarche and speak to the nice bilingual sales person and pay the 50 euros for 1/2 gallon. But hell, we were here and I just couldn't leave now without attempting to buy some paint. Once the sales guy was finished with the previous customer, he walked up and asked if he could help us. My brain, obviously wiped out from making a dentist, an orthodontist AND a Prefecture's appointment earlier in the day in French went completely blank and I turned bright red and barely managed to sputter out that I was looking for paint samples. Caleigh jumped in and saved me and after seeing how embarrassed I was, the nice, and I should add, attractive salesman, kindly steered me into his office and away from some of the now smirking customers. He then explained that they did not have color samples other than the 8 shown on the picket fence example which included peche (peach), abricot (apricot) and vert d'eau (pastel type green that I'm almost sure the previous owners bought here to paint the hallway).
"You're kidding," I thought but did not say to him. "Oh, okay...then I'll take one 2.5 liters of satin Ivorie please," needing to buy something after all this effort and knowing that we could probably use it somewhere in the house for trim.
And so that's where we're at. My mom arrives later today and thank God she's great with color and can help me with translating the shade closest to the ones in my pictures when we go to Brico Depot next week to hopefully finally buy some paint.