Home improvement

Color me clueless

After nearly two decades of marriage, I think my wife has accepted the fact that I have the interior decorating skills of a shoebox.

We are looking to get new flooring in our downstairs. We currently have a mix of carpet, tile and hardwood, which all roughly looks the same to me.

We have tile in our kitchen, hardwood in the hallway, and carpet in the rest of the house. I probably would not know this if she had not pointed it out to me, as the only way I process floors is through my current shoe selection, and quite frankly, when I roll down for my morning coffee, all I’m feeling is the sweet, sweet comfort of my 10-year-old slippers that my wife begs me to let her replace every Christmas. (Answer: No. They’re national treasures.)

But I am a good soldier, and as we move on to this phase of home improvement, I have dutifully gone to the flooring places with my wife to “help” pick out the floor we will have.

At one point, my wife had a couple of samples and asked me what I thought. I pointed at one sample. “Do you think that’s darker than our kitchen floor?”

“Our kitchen floor is white. So yes,” she said with a sigh.

“No, our kitchen floor…”

“Is white,” she interrupted. Later observations confirmed our floor is, in fact, white, and so pretty much anything she picked out other than a white sample would, in fact, be darker.

For what it’s worth, I have never been very good with noticing nuances such as color or texture or whether things actually exist in my house. We bought our first house nearly 20 years ago. At one point during our tenure there (and I can’t even begin to fathom what started this conversation), I referenced that our house was gray. My wife looked at me as if I had said that our house was a giant mushroom. Our house, it turns out, was tan. Fine. But that really never registered with me, because those are details that clearly are more complex than what I can comprehend.

We (she) eventually settled on a couple of samples she liked. We brought them home with us and she began strategically placing them at different points in the house. We had conversations such as this, when she placed them next to kitchen cabinets:

ME: Looks great!

HER: Looks terrible. We’ll have to paint the kitchen cabinets.

ME: Well, yeah, except that.

We are now in the estimate stage, which I am actually very helpful at, because when someone comes in to measure our house, I can absolutely be there to let the person in and can also identify where the downstairs is.

We are also planning on painting some rooms, and my wife has pretty much taken that on by herself, and not just because I have the color sense of a coffee table. I have told her that, much like the floors, I will be happy to be at the house and open the door for painters giving estimates, and also feel quite confident I can point out which walls we plan to paint (assuming my wife reminds me a few times).

In my defense, my wife knows that this is a limited skill of mine, and also not one that really ranks high on the caring scale in my world. I really don’t have much of an opinion on what colors our walls are or what kind of flooring we have. It REALLY matters to my wife, and I yield those decisions to her. She knew what she was getting into when she married me. For example, when we picked out our china prior to our wedding, she asked me for input. I told her that I really didn’t care, as plates were simply a functional device to hold my food. Ultimately, she offered this deal: She would narrow down the choices to three patterns, and I would cast my vote. As we stood in the store, the three plates before me, you might as well have put three different size Chinet disposable plates in front of me. Because all of them seemed plenty capable of hosting a turkey sandwich. I pointed at one, hesitantly. She gave a slight turn of the head and squinted her eyes. I moved my finger to another one. A quick nod down. “I like this one!” I said. “Hey, me, too!” she said. And those plates still do a bang-up job of holding our dinner.

I’m glad we’re doing some of the renovations in the house, and I know it will look stellar when we are done. I am most pleased that my wife is happy about getting to put her expert interior design skills to work. And that I am getting to put my expert skills of opening a door and pointing out where our downstairs is.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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