I have been at the bungalow for over a month now and I have yet to really make the place mine. There was a bed there when I arrived, a long table and two chairs for eating, a desk, and then some basic couch and lounge chairs for guests to sit on, but nothing was added by me. I just plopped down and made myself feel comfy with the spartan conditions.
To be honest, I didn't know that I wanted to make any changes. If things work I tend to leave them be and my feeling was that the place was so big that I really didn't have the money to add much to it so why go down that path? Just get some books, throw the bag with my clothes into the closet and enjoy it.
Then I saw how another volunteer had changed his room and I understood the importance of getting things the way you might like them to be. I spoke to a second volunteer and she said that since she is living here for two years she might as well enjoy the space she does have by making it her home. Points that slowly found a fertile part of my brain to grow in, to sprout tiny little shoots and find some sunshine.
With that, I have almost finished painting a closet.
It sounds so weird but then I figured it sounded exactly like me that I had to post on the subject. My money from Peace Corps is still sitting in the bank and I am more than frugal with how I spend my money so I figured a paint job in the bedroom was something that I could afford to do without too much investment; but I hate to waste money. So my plan has been to start very small and see if it is something that I want to do or if it is a job that would be better done by others who I could pay for their troubles.
One bucket of latex paint which was a light but bright color on the color swatch that the shop displayed, one traditional paint brush, and one roller brush later and I was off to the house for an experiment. There is a hallway closet to my bedroom that is maybe six-and-a-half feet tall but somewhat wide and deep where I store my laundry items. I cleared those things out, swept the walls (scrubbing the walls of my bedroom with soapy water won't happen so I figured it wouldn't do in the closet either), and got the brush loaded with extra-thick beige/orange paint. The first thing I noticed was that the color reminded me of my own skin tone which brought back a memory I have of painting a mural in my high school – a giant set of eyes staring at you like Big Brother. The second thing I noticed was that the paint brush was super cheap and bristles were coming out all over the place. The wall resembled a woman's leg after a very dull blade missed many leg hairs. Not what I had in mind. But after 30 minutes one side of the closet was done.
I took great care to go around the corners and making sure I didn't splatter paint as I don't want to do that in my bedroom or any other room I paint. It dried much lighter than I had expected it to be and that was still all right. The color was bright and it lightened up the closet nicely. The next day I painted the other three walls and the door jam and a second coat on the first wall I had painted the day before.
What strikes me as silly is that I walk by that closet and feel a pretty decent sense of pride. I actually stop and admire the space. It is a closet and no one will ever see it, but it is my handiwork and my choice to paint the walls and that is what I believe makes me enjoy it. So after the second coat goes up, I will prepare my bedroom by sweeping those walls (the spiders will not be amused by this one bit) and getting the furniture away from the areas where I will paint first. If all goes well I will have some before and after pictures to show here of what a little effort and pride can achieve.
Who knows, maybe I will do more to make my house a home. Re-tile the living room maybe. Maybe not.