DIY – Adventures in House Painting

More and more Turks are doing more and more DIY(do it yourself) projects.  I believe this phenomenon was a little slow to start here because labor in Turkey is rather inexpensive.  Materials, on the other hand, can sometimes be very expensive.  For example, if you want real wood, you should be prepared to sacrifice a couple of arms and a leg.  I recently realized that our crown moulding and ceiling medallions are made of styrofoam.  My mom has been wanting crown moulding for as long as I can remember.  I’m going to turn her on to this!

Crown Moulding

My husband and his family did quite a bit of work on our apartment before I moved in.  They wanted to make everything nice for me.  So sweet!  I have laminate floors in the office, freshly painted walls, new bathroom fixtures, and a modern kitchen.


Kitchen Before Renovation

The hubby and I have some DIY ,experience having done quite a few projects on our Philly home.  Among other things, we rebuilt a retaining wall and added stone facing.  Laid a tile kitchen floor and tiled a tub surround.  Matched up wood flooring to the older stuff and finished the living room.  We even put in a flagstone patio. 


Our Philadelphia Kichen

For me, DIY was nothing new.  My dad and brothers were DIYers long before there was DIY.  Definitely before DIY TV shows.  Maybe even before television itself.  I learned from them.  It seemed like fun to me.  For example, I was usually allowed to hold one end of a board while they sawed it in half.  What more fun could a kid have on a sunny summer afternoon!

I’ve been living in Turkey about 6 weeks now, so I decided to tackle a DIY project myself – painting the baseboards in the living room.  My husband had already refinished the wood floors (a story for another post).  The walls had been painted.  New light fixtures installed.  And we have been waiting for furniture to be delivered (yet another story).  So what better timing to finish the room?!

Living Room Light Fixture (I kept the medallion)

Realizing that things are different here, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I know there aren’t as many choices in paint color, but Mom raised me to be a high-gloss-bright-white-trim-and-baseboard kind of girl.

So I headed to the local boya (paint) store, a tiny little shop, but walking distance.  I didn’t need much, and it cost only 4TL for a small container – another bargain!  Unfortunately, it was a matte finish.  My husband was with me, so he asked about gloss on my behalf.  UGH!   High gloss only came in oil-based paint.  Oil paint looks lovely on the walls but is very difficult to use.  And you and I both know this is not good for the environment.  Although I don’t buy into the whole thing about children eating the chips of paint, it is outlawed in the U.S.   (All right, I know kids who would have eaten anything, but seriously, do we need to create laws to protect us from everything? – another story, another day.)

I walked home, white matte paint in hand, accepting that I would never be perfectly happy with it.  “It’s a rental apartment anyway.  And my Turkish family and friends probably wouldn’t understand why I decided to paint those baseboards.”  Turks match the baseboards to the floor.  Don’t know why.  Perhaps it has something to do with protecting the walls from the water when they clean the floors (yet another story.)


Flooring Project in Progress

We already had paint brushes at home.  So I shook up my little plastic container of water-based paint and dipped right in.  Ugh.  Two problems.  First, these were not the Purdy brushes that brother Billy had introduced to me.  These sucked.  They had a split in the middle of the brush, above the bristles, that caused the brush to hold onto way to much paint. 

Paint Brush

The second problem was the paint itself.  This paint looked, smelled, and went on like thick Elmer’s glue.  What the heck?  The first coat looked so bad that I thought anyone’s husband would surely kill me.  Luckily, mine doesn’t like to paint, so anything would probably be better to him than that original baseboard.  It finally occurred to me that perhaps I could just add water.  Maybe paint was different here.  After all, that container was about 2” low of paint when I opened it.  

 I knew the word for water was su.  “I will just check the directions on the back.”  Rats!  No directions.  There is literally nothing on this container that would indicate that I should mix it.  And as I write this, I am now wondering why there is a picture of a horse on the label?  Ewwwww.  Smells like glue.  Picture of a horse.  Double Ewwwww. 

White Matte Boya

Adding a second coat, I finished only one side of the room.  Frustrated, I quit and watched an episode of Desperate Housewives.  When my husband returned home, I asked him about the paint.  Yeah, he thinks I needed to add water.  He also reminded me that I had bought a better brush about a month ago, just in case.  I didn’t want to offend, so I didn’t ask about the horse.

New brush on the right

I am back at it again today.  The paint is going on much easier, although I did add too much water.  I also must admit that this paint is easy clean off of the brushes and off of my skin!  Of course, it’s not as easy as calling John “Bobby” Chobert and his boys to do the job for me.

R. Chobert & Sons, Philadelphia

Wish me luck (iyi şanslar – thanks Will!)  Or as the Turks would always say, kolay gelsin – may it come easy.  The Turks always have something nice to say.

7 thoughts on “DIY – Adventures in House Painting

Add yours

  1. I think the take home here after two blog entries is if something in Turkey costs more than 4 TL….you do not need it

  2. Yo T,

    Hi there! I thought that since I had subscribed I would be receiving notices when you added new info..anyways, so I came a looking and here’s all this new exciting news….I’m commentating here because I was on my back to the top of your web page. I read everything you threw down. Heck, if it keeps going like this I’ll be speaking Turkish and maybe German too. It’s fascinating the commonness between the two languages. The cake and stove episode had me going though. If it were me I probably would have went out and bought the cake ready made. My wife is an excellent baker and when she read that part she said “you have a strong heart”. She uses Cake Flour all the time “Swan” brand. Watch out for that stove we don’t want you being charged up…8-)

    Well T, as usual an excellent bevy of information and yes I can’t wait for more.

    What’s the possibility of those Architectural shots? 😎

    Take care and be safe.

    Ma’ Assalama


    1. Selam Artie,

      A couple people told me they subscribed, but I don’t see it on my end. You are not listed in the subscriptions I see. You should try it again to be sure. I will check to see if I can add you.

      Pics of architecture will come after I get a car. There’s not sooo much old stuff in walking distance. I take Turkish classes in August and will be doing a lot lf touring with the class. Should have great pics then.

      Keep on reading and hello to C!

  3. This stuff is great!! Keep it up. I even read the “glue, I mean horse parts to my husband Rich” who has no idea what the heck a blog is… I think you should put all this in a book eventually. Love you girl. Chips n ketchup rule!!!

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