Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rachel vs The Wall

Brick paint job by Grandma. Sad to see it go!

I'm doing something so very NOT expat living in Rio de Janeiro style. Actually, it's not even middle class Carioca style. Hell, I don't think anyone does this here unless it's their job.

I'm going to sand and paint my wall all by myself. Not a big deal right? Well, Brazilians aren't really do it yourself type of people when it comes to home improvement. That is, unless they are in the field.

So why am I doing it? There's a number of reasons. For starters, paying some dudes to hang out and dirty my place is not fun. They lag, insist on techniques that don't necessarily need to be done, and generally fill the apartment with dust.

Me, I'm a minimalist when it comes to hard labor. Do I need to plaster? I don't necessarily think so. Do I need to sand the entire wall? I think I can get away with only hitting up the bad parts.

Please don't come knocking down my door to hire me!

I'm also hesitant to hire out because this entire painting issue is because of a bad job. The men who worked on our kitchen covered the wall in tiles before the cement had dried out. The water has to go somewhere so it came out in the hallway.  My wall caught a bad case of hasty worker eczema.

2 years later and I'm finally doing something about it. I decided this boiling hot day is perfect because I'm just a glutton for punishment. That and my maid is here so she can help me clean up afterward.

Wish me luck folks. Let's hope a little amateur elbow grease improves the condition as opposed to making it worse!


  1. Yay for doing it yourself! When I painted a room in my in-laws house in Brazil a few years back they were shocked: why would I choose to do it myself when I could pay someone to do it? (And they are not financially well off, yet, that is the mentality for anyone who CAN have that mentality.) Then, when friends moved from Brazil to the US they wrote this entire email about the horrors of IKEA... you have to find it, pick it up, put it together, ALL BY YOURSELF. I couldn't stop laughing. I love doing my own things. True, sometimes I want to throw the hammer at the wall and sit in a pile of sobs in the middle of the job, but in the end, I look at that slightly-off-kilter dresser or wall with that smudged area and I think, "Yes, I did this!"

  2. Oops, Entire BLOG, not email. :)

  3. agreed. Brazilians never DIY!! We have has 4 doors and a tone of door trim sitting in the "closet" which is an unfinished bathroom. Why aren't the doors up? Because husband thinks it would be impossible to do it ourselfs. it's a door, a srew, a chisel and a hinge! my dad loves to make fun of H for this (i think many Americans ENJOY doing work on their houses)my parents will visit for the firs time in Dec, maybe i'll actually get the doors up! the guy to hire wants R$90 per door! jesus. Good luck on the wall, your mom painted those bricks? looks like Harry Potter station :P

  4. All about Ikea?! I love Ikea! Even putting the stuff together!

    And yes, my Mom did do the bricks. They looked great...

    Ah well. Plaster is up! I did a questionable job that will require quite a bit of sanding. Oh well. That is a lot of money left in the bank and just a little bit of my time. :)

  5. Putting funiture together!!! fun. fun.

  6. i am used to the brazilian style...i think its easy to hire a professional

  7. My father was a carpenter-cabinet maker-do anything kind of guy/professional. I nkow he rolls over in his grave every time I hire a guy ro do the most basic carpentry/electrical work in our apartment. But hey -- I'm sorry. Not only are these two queers not going to get our hands dirty trying to do whatever -- but labor is so cheap here - why break a sweat when you can pay for the repair?

    But ---- you go grrrl!

  8. ...but your mother's improv brick painting is brilliant!

  9. Good for you! Isn't it interesting that an entire industry flourished in the U.S. the past decade based on the DIY concept (think Home Depot), yet here it's inconceivable? My husband, who basically did everything in all of our apartments from painting to hanging ceiling lamps to installing closet organizers, suddenly became the guy you couldn't hang a painting on a wall once we hit Brazilian soil.

  10. Excellent faux bricks. Walls are pretty easy. I actually love sanding and painting walls. I find it really relaxing. I can't wait til the summer when I'll be doing it again.

  11. It really is hard to do so much work in Brazil when you know you can get away with paying someone else to do it for you...and allow you free time to play...
    Everyone wins, the people you hire are happy with the opportunity and you have extra time on your hands... oh, I miss Brazil...
    I didn't know how to change a light bulb when we moved to the US, now Gil and I replaced the entire fencing around our house, we dug the holes for the poles, mixed cement, rented a truck from Lowe's, transported all the materials, we would never think of doing any of this back home... :)

  12. That is so cute! digging up postings!!! ahh.

    congrats to Rachel your awesome. I agree and you inspire me. I have tried to argue do it ourselves (or do it myself actually) with Ricardo and it never worked. Next time I don't want people hanging around taking forever, I am going to stick to my guns.

  13. The key is to not talk to your husband about it. I just went and bought the stuff and started. :)

  14. It's always easier to beg forgiveness than ask for permission...