"just for fun" triangle project
I recently told a friend that I wanted to paint a triangle pattern on the cabinet doors in my living room. Because they were big and blank and white, which says to me: put a triangle on it.
He said, "oh...just for fun?"
And that made me pause. For a solid week.
Because sucking up hours of precious studio time on a "fun" DIY home project didn't sound fun at all. I knew it would be difficult and frustrating and time-consuming. And ultimately it was going to be a big risk, because the final product might end up looking really bad, which would mean I'd have to paint the doors white all over again. And that would make me feel like a complete failure every time I sat on my couch and looked at all that big mocking whiteness.
So really, what choice did I have? I had to do it.
Once I started taping off the triangles, I knew my instincts were right: this was not going to be fun. Just check out the grumpy look on my face. And don't say that I'm smiling on the inside, because I'm not. My insides are just as grumpy as my outsides.
In fact, my first attempt was a complete disaster. The black paint was a cheap Benjamin Moore latex that bled under the tape because it was too thin and had some kind of blue tinted stain in it that smudged everywhere. It was a total mess.
Things turned around when I tried an expensive paint by Fine Paints of Europe. This paint changed my life. Well, it at least changed my urge to hurl the paint at the wall and decimate the cabinet doors with a sledge hammer. The paint was a perfect consistency and left sharp, clean lines when I pulled up the tape. Totally worth the $50 per quart (yep, you read that price right).
For the first door I taped and painted each triangle separately and randomly, just going with what intuitively looked right. It took a gazillion hours and million feet of tape (only a slight exaggeration).
For the second door I wised up and taped every other row of triangles. This added some order to the madness and also used less tape. But on the downside, I couldn't see the overall image as well, so I had very little idea how it would look once the tape was removed. It was a drum-roll kind of reveal.
Before I leave you to attempt this kind of obsessive, jab-your-eyes-out, intensely frustrating DIY project of your own, I have one other piece of advice: ABANDON THE PLAN.
Because it will trip you up and get you stuck.
I had started with the plan: lots of grey, white and black triangles in a geometric pattern that I had drawn on graph-paper – all the triangles exactly where I wanted them.
But the amount of time I spent trying to get the painted image to line up with the drawn image – counting little graph-paper squares and then measuring exactly where the triangles were supposed to be painted according to the little graph-paper squares – can never be returned to me. Hours forever lost.
But when I followed my instincts and put triangles where I felt like they should go, everything fell into place and the pattern emerged on its own.
And I think the pattern is even better than the original plan. Doesn't it look great?
I would even venture to say there were moments when it was almost fun.
Like when it was finished.
That was fun.