Life’s too short to paint a louver.
I came to that conclusion last weekend. As I laboured over the louver shutter with sandpaper, my mind recalled the phrase, coined over 30 years ago by British writer Shirley Conran on publishing her book ‘Superwoman’, that ‘life’s too short to stuff a mushroom’.
I’d been attempting to scrape, undercoat and apply two coats of top-coat gloss to louvered doors leading out onto a balcony. I did them two years ago, but already their paint has flaked off from the constant blast of sun and rain they get in their elevated position. I can just about paint regular doors and frames (27 in all on my house’s exterior), but the one and only louver I possess is another matter.
Malta’s spring, all to brief, sees most householders, and cafe and kiosk owners too, in a mad race against time to do repairs before the heat dries paint on the brush in an instant. It’s tough finding enough time between winter’s last throes of dampness and summer’s searing heat to get these D.I.Y jobs done. Inevitably, spring comes and goes and I get perhaps one door painted. Meeting the louver biannually has made me pause for thought and reason out why I am happily giving up on painting this year…
Peeling, neglected paintwork in sun-bleached muted colours is an archetypal feature of the Mediterranean and no stranger to Malta. Visitors here fall into two camps when the see the poor paintwork: either they think it endearing, and worthy of picture postcard shots (Judging by our Flickr stream, faded doors and shutters are a popular photo subject); or they are astonished we don’t care for our houses more.
They are both right: I don’t care because it is darn hard work painting against the odds. Now, as a local, and no longer taking holiday snaps, I must remind myself how quaint the peeling veneer once seemed to me. It is the stuff of a thousand coffee table books on Mediterranean style, homes and life. But I am lucky enough now to live here and have the real thing to admire!
Photo: Courtesy of Gege Gatt
Andy Towler says
I love the Shirley Conran quote and plan to use it at least once a day.
Maybe it’s a British thing, but the first thing I did when I bought my old Maltese house was to strip, sand and varnish all the doors and windows visible from the street, and repaint all the ironwork on the balconies and in front of the lower windows.
I think peeling, fading paint on properties can be quaint and certainly makes for nice photos, but I found that when it was my own property, a desire for quaint was quickly replaced by a desire to protect my investment…