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Painting It: “627” Bathroom

Some persons are so creative, that it flows into every area of their lives. Even to the most unchangeable things. Where nothing could be done to improve it. Or, so it may seem to you, or I.

 

In one quiet week-end, one of these creatives turned what was once a small, service station bathroom into a comedic conversation piece. And, a great place to hide!

 

Room: Utility bathroom.

Overall dimensions: 8 ft. length by 6 ft. wide by 8 ft. height.

Features: Solid knotty pine paneled wall (30-inches length); 26-inch sink vanity cubicle, built-in corner shower stall, lavatory cubicle, knotty pine paneling built-in wall.

Basic construction: Concrete block walls, and shower stall walls, poured concrete floor, drywall ceiling.

Post-construction upgrade: Pink and White, alternate set, 3-inch tiles glazed ceramic over: vanity wall, shower stall walls (inside/outside) and entry, also room’s floor; pink and white, alternate set, frosted ceramic mini-tiles on shower stall floor. Knotty pine paneled wall (8-ft length): built-in lounge seat (36-inches), 2-30 inch one-half closets, overhead blanket cupboard.

 

PREP WORK

 

1. Removed all door knobs and movable fixtures.

2. Gently washed all knotty pine paneled areas, baseboard, built-in mirror frame; also entry door.

3. Once dried, sanded above surfaces with No. 220 sandpaper.

4. Thoroughly dusted all surfaces with clean, soft cloths.

 

SURFACE APPLICATIONS

 

5. Brushed and rolled thin coat of red semi-gloss interior enamel (Gliddens) on all knotty pine surfaces.

6. Once dried, lightly sanded wall surfaces and door. Re-dusted all areas with clean, soft cloths.

7. Glued over twenty, 6-inch by 8-inch black and white newsprints of British ZIGGY cartoons on paneled walls and door interior.

8. Areas were left to dry.

9. Carefully brushed thin coat of clear gloss varnish, slightly tinted with same red paint coloring used in thin first coat application.

 

SOME POPULAR, AFFORDABLE DECORATING OPTIONS FOR AN OLD BATHROOM

 

1. Stenciling – Graphic shapes, large letters, silhouettes, on the ugliest wall.

TIP: First, lightly sand with No. 220 sandpaper. Then, brush on a fresh coat of paint. Examples: white, off-white, or white ivory interior latex. (Or acrylic latex).

2. Sponge random pattern onto that same painted wall and baseboard.

TIP: Add 1-2 drops of acrylic paint – a favorite color – to one-half gallon of the white base paint.

3. Do the reverse: First paint the entire wall, or half wall, with the tinted paint.

TIP: Then, mark one horizontal line one-half distance between floor and ceiling. Mark a second horizontal line 3-4 inches below that line. Use BLUE masking tape to tape along each line, with one edge of tape on line, other outside of stripe area.

4. Create your own vertical half-wall/board effect.

TO-DO TIP: Use yardstick, or metal tape measure to mark space, horizontally, into 4-to-6 inch vertical “wood” planks.

 

The Homeowner’s True Story…

 

January, 1972— Thirty-five stranded semi-truck drivers enjoyed the cozy and clean accommodations of that colorful bathroom. For nearly three days, they huddled together inside the concrete block house under major reconstruction and expansion.

 

The truckers drank hot, black coffee and ate thinned down, home-made chili or chicken-noodle soup from small Styrofoam cups. They made quick, long-distance calls home, to let their families know they were okay. They leaned against bare wall joists, and dozed off. Totally exhausted, and feeling unsettled.

 

Every hour or so, the truckers bundled back up and braved the miserable weather to check on their diesel-powered rigs. Kept running –in place on U. S. Highway 30 – to prevent the engines from freezing up.

 

Northwest Indiana was a living nightmare for those, and thousands of other, long-haul truckers. The massive ice storm and subzero temperatures had paralyzed the area. Closing all major north and south traffic: I-65, seven miles to the west, and I-149 to the east. Nothing was moving!

 

For over fifteen years after their unplanned visit, semi-drivers whizzed and roared by on U. S. 30. Saying “HI” with their loud TOOT! TOOT! TOOT! They filled the property’s mailbox with cards and notes. They told their own extended stories of the adventure in 1972. Ones they shared with their families and friends.

 

More than one-half of the truckers joked about the little red “cartoon” bathroom. They recalled their favorite cartoons. And, they told the homeowners: “Keep that bathroom just the way it is…Don’t touch it.”

 

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Family friendships are the best! Especially when made, or rekindled, unexpectedly – and/or when especially needed.

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Thanks, everyone, for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

John’s On-Its-Way-Out Hotel

John’s 200-room hotel was down and out in every way that you could think of.

 

1. Structurally, the buildings were old, and deteriorated.

2. Essential amenities – eg. in guest rooms, eating areas, pools – were obsolete, damaged beyond repair, and compromised by mold, mildew and water leakage.

3. In the last year, staff had been cut to one-half, or less.

4. Management was top heavy.

5. Budget had been cut to 40 percent.

6. Guest occupancy ran at 40 percent, or lower.

7. The hotel property set now on a state highway, because the “U. S. Highway” designation had been moved to the new bypass two years ago.

 

Still, it held on. “I don’t think we an make it much longer,” John e-mailed. “Word has it, but management won’t tell us anything yet, that the doors will be closed by Christmas.”

 

John had three years to go to qualify for full Social Security benefits, and Medicare. Where would a 62-year old painter be able to find work? Even part-time?

 

So, John did the unthinkable. The unauthorized.

 

Every afternoon, he worked “off-the-clock” in guest rooms.

 

One-by-one, he repaired bathroom plumbing. He replaced ceramic tiles in complementary colors. He laid not no-skid mats in the bathtubs.

 

He camouflaged beat up headboard walls, by repainting them. He sponge-cleaned draperies to remove mold and mildew buildup in hidden areas. He cut fresh lemons, and stuck one or two sections inside every window air conditioner unit.

 

How could John afford the supplies that he used? Where did he get them?

 

1. He cut out all drive-through cups of coffee, snacks, fast food, and dinners out. And smoking.

2. He qualified for the local bus services. Over 60, the half-price fare. Four days a week, he left his car in the driveway at home.

3. From Home Depot, Lowes and paint stores, he purchased rejected/returned gallons of paint. Trying to stick close to very light colors, that he could tint.

4. He let people in church know that he needed used paint brushes, rollers and covers, sea sponges, etc. All in good condition. Also, partially full tubes and containers of caulking, putty, fillers, etc.

5. He talked the director of the area “Habitat for Humanity” into giving – or selling cheap – cans of primer, paint, varnish, sealer, polyurethane, etc. left over from home building projects.

6. He did what it took to get the supplies needed to fix up all of the guest rooms.

 

His efforts helped. Other staff members – eg. housekeeping and engineering – noticed. They started to stay longer, and make little improvements here and there.

 

1. A part-time housekeeper, from Trinidad, grew plants. On the transit bus, she carried pots of young foliage. After her shift, she planted them. Then, she helped the groundskeeper weed, prune and revive neglected plants, shrubs, flowerbeds, and shorter trees.

2. A kitchen worker stayed late frequently. He thoroughly cleaned, scoured and reorganized the main kitchen.

3. Two food court workers stayed on two slow days. They cleaned and reorganized the food court displays, countertops, cooking and warming areas, etc.

4. A maintenance worker helped John cut new carpet remnants into 12-inch by 12-inch squares. Then,  they laid them in the entry ways of over fifty guest rooms.

5. A laundry room attendant, that once worked in New York City’s garment district, borrowed a portable sewing machine. He re-stitched and re-hemmed over 100 quilted bedspreads, and 50 coverlets.

6. A super-store manager, located over 80 miles away, shipped boxes of slightly used bath linens, returned by customers.

 

In the end, the hotel made it through June of 2014. The owners gave a two-week notice to all staff members, including in the front offices. Here’s how the hotel staff said their good-byes.

 

* June 16 to 20. Staff was allowed to take furniture, lamps, paintings, and mirrors. They could also take linens, window treatments, fixtures, tools, supplies, kitchen and cooking utensils, china and serving pieces, table services for 8, etc.

 

* June 23 and 24. Staff helped the drivers of charity trucks load up remaining larger items in good condition: beds, sofas, chairs, desks, tables, mirrors, etc.

 

* June 25 and 26. Staff hauled all remaining pieces to two large dumpsters on the property.

 

* June 28. The staff returned and enjoyed a carry-in dinner around the (drained) pool.

 

* June 30. The utilities were shut off.

 

* June 30. The hotel’s general manager and an owner locked the doors from the outside. A security company padlocked the chain-linked fencing and gates erected to keep out intruders.

 

 

JOHN HAS NO REGRETS.

“I could have gotten into trouble. But, I never thought of it. I just tried to fix the place up… I wanted to give our hotel one last chance.”

 

 

What would you do to try to give your hotel another chance?

 

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Kudos to John! How’s life back with your family in the Antilles?

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Thanks, everyone, for your support and input. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved

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