From chaos, home becomes sanctuary

Never in almost 30 years of marriage had we rested our weary heads in a room of our own design.

We were fed up with the worn, full-size mattress that forced us to sleep at the its edge in order to sleep with any stability at all. We had inherited our none-too-beautiful furniture when my parents revamped their bedroom well over a quarter-century ago. The walls were tired and needed painting.

We wanted a sanctuary.

At the furniture store, two strong guys kindly carried heavy mirrors around so we could compare the one I looked at (modest, conservative) to the one my husband, Ralf, preferred (massive, gilded in golden metal).

"I can't believe it," I said, looking at the bedroom furniture we hoped to buy, at the mirror and back at the furniture again. "You're right."

Ralf just smiled.

Folks at the home improvement stores helped us choose paint (who knew white came in so many shades?) and advised us on adding texture.

Ralf wanted to mix in a pinch of sparkly glitter.

"Are you sure?" I asked doubtfully.

"It will look great," he promised.

There were many surprises during the project. (There always are.)

We could not have imagined the blue that emerged on the baseboards when we sanded.

I had no idea that rolling a mixture of paint and texture and sparkle on the walls could unleash a veritable hailstorm of clumpy paint balls.

And no one told me that even with an extendable roller, I would still have to climb up a stepladder to paint the ceiling.

"Wow," Ralf said, watching me. "You really are short."

We made more trips to the home improvement stores than we ever imagined necessary. (One always does.)

"We're going to need a second coat on those windows," Ralf said. Then, some hours later: "We're going to need a third coat on those windows."

Folks were always helpful and sometimes interesting to boot. We asked one nice gentleman how to hang our mirror. Conversation about (literal) nuts and bolts became pleasant, informative stories about his past life working for the FBI.

Fitting new moldings was a trial, of course. There is no such thing as a right angle in this old house.

The continual misplacement of tools and fixtures was another challenge.

But the really nasty business was sleeping on air mattresses and finding our way through a maze of furniture and boxes of clothing.

A week later, I can tell you that muscles are still claiming my attention that I didn't know I had before this project began.

But now we wake in the morning to bright, white, textured walls. The glitter is subtle and charming: Tiny silver stars embedded in our walls. We look around happily at the dark furniture of our own choosing and matching moldings against snowy walls.

It's a sanctuary, all right. Finally.