Column: Not as easy as it looked on television

What was I thinking? It seemed like such a great project to tackle on Memorial Day Weekend. Three days was enough time to transform my kitchen from dark, dated and dingy to fresh and bright! All I needed was some paint, right? I mean, that’s how it happens on those do-it-yourself television shows geared toward people who watch programs about doing things instead of getting up and doing them.

What I forgot is that when people tackle do-it-yourself projects on television they are paid to make it look easy, which obviously was the case with the program that got me off the couch.

The perky little TV lady looked around a kitchen and decided to update the space. But she didn’t want to spend a fortune on new cabinets. “I know! We’ll paint them,” she said, and it was just that stinkin’ simple. In an hour-long program that covered the span of a two-day weekend, the magic happened and the end result was a kitchen facelift so spectacular that the homeowners and the perky lady got teary over how great everything looked.

As I wiped away my tears, I looked around and thought, “Hmmmm, my kitchen needs a face-lift, too.”

My husband hates it when I go “Hmmmm.“ And he wasn’t in favor of the idea, not because he didn’t agree that we needed a face-lift; it’s just that he spends a lot of his time finishing up projects that I start then lose interest in about the time I hit the half-way mark.

I assured him that I would get it all done this time, and by myself, too!

“You don’t have to do anything, except stay out of my way,“ I promised. “Just step back, mister, and watch me go. I am woman, hear me roar!”

He said, “Yeah, right.” (But you have to understand, he’s heard me roar before.)

The wood was dark and I decided that I wanted to go white. A real switch.

Are you sure? my husband asked. “White is very … white.”

A woman who roars knows what she wants and I wanted white. Crisp, clean, bedazzling white. I nixed eggshell, ivory, off-white, ecru — all shades of non-commitment that I might have chosen when I was younger. But I have crossed the invisible “when I am old I shall wear purple” line and, to me, those faux colors indicate a character flaw.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that too much stark white could trigger a migraine on a sunny morning but I’m getting ahead of my story.

First we had to remove the cupboard doors, a step I hadn’t counted on because I didn’t remember the perky lady doing that.

Perhaps that was when I dozed. In any event, they had to come down because my husband said “that’s the way you do it,” even after I argued that I could “do it” a lot faster without major de-construction.

Apparently there are rules.

Together we removed 15 cupboard doors. He became my project partner after watching me use my favorite multi-purpose tool — a butter knife — to remove the screws. That kind of stuff drives him crazy.

We placed the 15 doors on a flat surface in the workshop so that I could clean them, then sand them, then prime them, then paint them (all necessary steps as explained in tedious detail by my project partner).

How strange it was to stare at exposed cabinets but it was only temporary. Over the next two days, I’d get the doors painted and the outsides of the cupboards painted (make that cleaned, sanded, primed then painted) and by the end of the Memorial Day Weekend I’d have a brand new kitchen.

That was Memorial Day Weekend, 2010.

Turns out that reality television had little in common with real-life reality. It didn’t account for the fact that it takes a lot of coats of white to cover dark wood. And on television, they don’t show what happens when the white cupboard doors go back up and the wife says, “Ouch, that’s way too white. Maybe we should tone it down a little.” Or when a very sick bird (who had recently eaten raspberries) got into the workshop and deposited “You want purple? I’ll give you purple!” splats across the front of 15 newly-repainted doors, or that it would take me months, through trial and error, to decide what kind of hardware I wanted.

In addition, do-it-yourself programs don’t factor in the time spent traveling or snow birding or sitting on the couch watching bathroom make-over programs, so it took us longer than I’d planned. But earlier this week, we nailed up the last piece of trim and admired the finished project.

It may have taken a little longer than I’d planned, almost two years, but I do love my new kitchen. It’s so crisp and bright and (toned-down) white. The only bad thing is that it kind of makes the kitchen floor drab and dingy. Hmmmm.