Sitting-room saga reveals painting addict's true colors

Color swatches display the various hues from which Sheila Hagar is attempting to choose.

Color swatches display the various hues from which Sheila Hagar is attempting to choose. Photo by Sheila Hagar.


I have to paint.

This can’t come as a surprise to most of you. I confess this addiction in print and name colors in my sleep. If a cure only existed, I could have another 600 hours or so in my lifetime to do other things. And that’s just thus far.

This time, the monster rose as it often does. I was nesting on the sofa while Camo Man watched some idiots logging in swamp water on Netflix. My eyes wandered — maybe the tall vase would go there better than here; perhaps the curly sticks in the giant glass cylinder had outlived that one trend.

Mostly I love our family living space. Bright blues, rich yellows, big greens, a few dashes of chili pepper and merlot blend with soothing browns and creams. It feels like I’m hanging out in a Monet painting, minus the gentle blurring of impressionism.

Something is not quite right, I thought, staring out from my couch cocoon. The whole area needed more ... happiness.

And that was it, this tiny seed of evil I involuntarily planted that would rapidly grow tendrils of discontent.

Suddenly the warm cinnamon of my sitting room — separated from the living room by a mere illusion of an arch — no longer appeared cozy. In a flash of black magic, it became frumpy and dated rust, a ’70s throwback to macrame plant hangers and avocado appliances. And how could I stand living with the darker splotches of the touched-up spots?

Readers, I fought it. It’s winter, I reasoned. I have to get through Christmas. It’s damp and cold — no windows can be left open, no warm air will aid drying.

That tamped things down for, oh, about 10 days. Until I wandered over to the next block from work — JUST TO LOOK — to Gary’s Paint and Decorating. That blew the lid off any pretense of wellness I had constructed. Those paint chips are absolute crack for anyone with this disease, and in the next few days I had scoured every rack in town. I pulled out those colorful slices of paint manna in a frenzy of what can only be described as bliss.

Not to mention the Sherwin-Williams paint deck I keep hidden, brought forth in times of extreme desire.

Buttery yellows were calling my name. This kind of warmth on the walls would dispel any zombie hoards and winter blues, I decided. My house had already welcomed butterscotch into the fold, with pillows, vases and various other gimcracks.

I love it. I would swim in butterscotch if I could. Marry it. This year, anyway.

Unfortunately, this craving I suffer from is not easily appeased. As I stared at dozens of paint chips taped up, it dawned on me this color on walls would present some issues. I have enough accent pieces that would match up, leaving me with a room shooting back in time to those awful years of home “interior decorating” parties.

Remember? The ornate wall sconces, twined with silk flowers that matched the colors in the painting of the giant-eyed deer in the softly lit forest. The frame, enormous and very, very gold, could kill anyone unlucky enough to be standing under it when that nail finally gave up holding the weight.

Candles matched ribbons, ribbons matched fake flora, fake flora matched scrolly lettering in a print that screams “THIS HOUSE IS BLESSED.”

Because that’s how that happens, you hang up the gewgaw and voilà! Blessed!

Sorry — that was quite the tangent, right?

You know what else happens when you gather samples of yellow colors? Eventually you go deep enough to wander into orange territory, which I would never, ever consider for a sitting room. But I cannot deny there were a few oranges hanging onto the bottom of yellow ladders.

Along came Camo Man, pointing to one named “Candied Yam” that floated next to “Honey Toast.” No. “That’s orange, Honey,” I said, playing Captain Obvious.

See, addiction is a tricky thing. It lies all the time. I thought I just needed new, happy paint to fill up my home’s soul. The very second my brain drank in that bit of orange, however, it changed course.

“Sheila,” it whispered, “orange could work. It goes with the turquoise, the yellows, that raspberry. Orange is not boring, it laughs at boring.”

I know what you are thinking. I had cinnamon, how different is orange? I’ll tell you. We are talking shades named tangy-rumba-festive-juicy-carrot-citrus-startling orange. We are looking at the oranges found in Play-Doh and at the circus.

Orange is work, my friends. It’s tinted-primer-and-multiple-coats-of-paint work. One doesn’t so much adopt orange as become its slave.

I called my Realtor friend, sure she would tell me that a vivid room is a marketing no-no. Not that we plan on selling the home place soon, but it could happen in another decade or so.

Au contraire. “Oh,” my friend said, “I would not tell someone to not do that if that fits your personality.” If the rest of the house embraces bright colors, there’s no reason to squelch your inner crayon. The problem is when someone creates a room that’s bright while the rest of the house is neutral, she added.

Not much neutral here, not with a kitchen so lime it could be juiced. Not with a green-apple area rug under a coffee table that’s “Lagoon” blue and sporting a bright green vine growing red leaves.

Hence I’ve been staring at oranges for days, weeding out the school-bus and mac-and-cheese samples. Waiting for enough sunshine to make paint chips come alive.

I’m holding onto the faintest of hope this fire in my head will dissipate, especially as yard season draws nigh. Serious outdoor time, though, is weeks out ... the only real solution is to call every paint store in town and ask to be put on the “Do not sell to” list.

Being on the “Do not adopt to” list at the animal shelter is the only wall standing between me and too many kittens, after all. That’s working like it should. But, maybe, if I get new kitty, I won’t feel a need to paint?

Nah. I’ll just end up with open paint cans and little orange paw prints leading all over the house and up the curtains.

Send help.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at 509-526-8322 or Hagar can be reached at 509-526-8322 or


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