We are moving from our teeny apartment to a maison de ville (house in town) in a nearby very small village. Our new town is smaller than a ville, and bigger than a hameau (hamlet). Sweet. Now we will be located directly across the street from the only church in town and the mairie (town hall), both with loud bells that bong every hour and half hour. Not sweet.
Our house exterior is pink. We couldn’t do anything about that, but we could do something about the interior paint, so off we trudged to the bricolage (hardware store) to find some paint. Easier said than done!
It’s not that they don’t have paint here. It’s just that paint apparently has chunks of solid gold in it so it’s really expensive. And when I say expensive, I am not playing around. A 2.5 liter (about a gallon) container costs 55 euros. At today’s exchange rates, that’s about $75 friends! Highway robbery is what it is.
I can’t figure it out. Which came first? The fact that most French just live with white walls because the paint is too expensive? Or the paint is expensive because the French like white walls and there’s no market for colored paint? I see that all the French decor magazines feature painted walls. I see women wistfully wandering the paint aisle, probably wondering what life would be like if they could afford to paint more than a 2 square meter space of wall in a color other than white. So I think it’s the greedy paint companies bleeding us expats dry just because they can. Or not.
Another problem with the paint: it’s toooo thick. You put some on a roller and get about half a roll across the wall before it starts sticking like it’s got a glob of glue on it. Ridiculous. I guess since the paint industry in France doesn’t make much paint, they haven’t figured out the whole chemical formula to make it actually usable.
But if you have the desire to live in a room that isn’t painted bright white, or worse, formerly painted bright white and now a dirty, dusty, cobwebby white, fear not! I have figured out the dirty little secrets that the paint industry (or the bricolage industry) don’t want you to know. I have figured out how to paint an entire room for 10 euros. Yes. 10 euros. Once again, I prove that I am in fact, THE woman.
First, go to the end of the aisle in the bricolage, the aisle that has no color in it and lots of professional painter looking stuff in it, and find the giant 6 euro buckets of white wall paint. It might say “gros travaux” on it. BIG JOBS. Buy it in mat or satin, whatever your poison. The second step is an “A” or “B” option. Here they are, in order of least hassle to more hassle:
- Option A: If you have a good cleavage shirt and there’s a cute and/or gullible male employee nearby (probably not likely since (1) there are rarely people working and interested in helping you in a French bricolage store and (2) they are serious dudes who usually aren’t very gullible), convince him to sell you the tint (mixed by his machine) for about 10 liters of paint. Don’t let him know you’re buying the cheap stuff to put the tint into or he’ll tell you it’s not possible. Ask him to put the tint into some throw away plastic container.
- Option B: Wander over to the tint section and buy your own tinters to color the paint whatever color you want! Remember, the primary colors red, blue, and yellow can make anything. You may even be able to find ratios for your favorite Benjamin Moore colors on the Internet.
Last, when you’ve tinted your 6 euro paint, you need to thin that paint down. Even the cheap stuff is toooo thick. Add the water so you can actually roll the paint on and also so that the paint will go further. As in, one bucket for 3 rooms versus 1 bucket for 1/2 a room. Since you bought acrylic, water-based paint, putting water in the mix is no problem. You’ll figure out how much you need once you try it a few times. I mixed it right in the tray with my roller. That stuff went on like buttah!
So this post here is absolutely worth the price of joining my blog club. Which is free. So, you’re welcome fans! I hope once you paint your house a beautiful shade of not white, you will invite me over for a drink so I can enjoy my awesomeness with you.