Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

Some people like surprises. Others don't. I'm one of the latter. I prefer to know what's coming rather than be caught unaware. For my 50th birthday, a girlfriend organized a surprise party. I thought it was just the two of us going out for Mexican food until she left our table and poked her head around the corner of the adjoining banquet room. I knew instantly that I'd be getting my picture taken in a sombrero.

I sure hope Rick likes surprises. You'd think that after more than 10 years together, I'd know. Doesn't really matter because it's too late now.

When Rick and I viewed the home that we would own - the one we live in now - it was a work in progress. We made an offer before the house went on the market and wanted to buy it immediately and complete the work ourselves.

For some reason known only to the sellers, they insisted on painting the interior, installing carpet and putting some final personal touches on the house. While we waited anxiously to close escrow and move out of the rental from hell (no offense, Norma), the sellers employed a handyman to paint every interior wall pink. The Walmart paint can is labeled Sand, but it's definitely pink sand.

Repainting the interior has been a "must do" for the last two years.

When we remodeled the guest bath we used a paint I read about in Sunset

Magazine. It's environmentally friendly and manufactured by a small

Portland company owned by two women. We chose the color Leaf, a sort of

khaki green, and were delighted with the results. It went on well, had

no odor and we always get compliments on the color.

When we re-sided our home last summer, we used the same brand of paint

for the exterior. Ocean is the color we chose, with Cloud trim and a

Canyon front door.

Since our first painting project I've worked with Kim the customer

service rep. I've emailed her before and after photos and Kim even

sent me a Christmas card. I've asked Kim about finishes and quantities,

but when my questions involve color recommendations she consults with

her expert, Puji.

When we were about to buy living room paint, Puji was out of town but

Kim tracked her down. Rick and I had agreed on Grain for the walls and

Stone for the trim. Here's the message Kim sent when I asked her


"Ok, I was able to get ahold of Puji! She said she loves your choices,

the Grain is a 'really warm backdrop' and the Stone adds

'sophistication.' She also said you can add an accent of Clay to spice

things up."

We followed Puji's advice and purchased the three colors last fall with the goal of painting before Christmas.

The holidays came and went. Rick insisted he would get the painting

done while I was at work. January came and went too. So when Rick left

Saturday for Portland, I immediately called a painter friend. Monday

morning a crew of two moved the piano, took Mom's antique mirror off

the wall and threw down the drop cloths. By 3:30 the living and dining

area were awash in Grain, Stone and Clay. Puji was right. The Clay

makes all the difference.

Rick is due home this afternoon. When he walks into the living room,

he's in for a big surprise! There are three possible scenarios: 1)

he'll love it and be so grateful for Puji's insight into good color

choices and my considerate Valentine's Day gift; 2) he'll be upset that

I hired out work he was sincerely looking forward to doing himself and

intended to start the minute he returned from Portland; 3) he won't

even notice (don't laugh!).