Tuesday, 29 November 2022

The importance of a tightly drafted brief



I am just about ready to tell you the sorry tale of my garden bench. I dug out a couple of old photos so that you could get an idea of what it looked like Before. The wood was past its best, but the ends were lovely and smooth with a sort of blue-black look to them.

I wanted to repair it, rather than buy a new one, even though a new one would have been cheaper than buying new wood and new fixings. It's a bog standard cheap bench and quite old, but I hate throwing things away so I got the necessary stuff.

I couldn't remove the old bolts, which were rusted, so I asked the local community repair shop to do it. I gave them the bench and the wood and the new bolts and they assured me it would be no trouble at all to fit the new wood.

I bumped into one or two of the chaps out and about and they hinted that a lovely job was being made of it. The wood would be treated! It would all be magnificent. 

They were also doing up bikes for Ukrainian refugees because they are all in all good eggs, so I waited patiently for weeks, looking forward to having a functional bench again. It was a bit of a treat to be honest, splashing out on the wood. I could picture how nice it would be.

Then the call came. It was done! I could go and get it! 

I rounded up some strong boys and off we went. There was excitement at the shop, they'd gone all out they told me. Not just wood treatment, but they'd given it a coat of paint was well! 

Oh, I said, how nice. Inside I was thinking, paint??? I tried to imagine what colour they had gone for. I guessed green. And I was right. It was indeed green. THICK BRIGHT GREEN GLOSS. WITH ORANGE VARNISH. Oh horror of horrors. 

I was almost lost for words. The lovely smooth patina-ed ends all choked up with hideous gloss paint. Thick, thick, thick gloss paint. It is never coming off, ever. And it will never fade. It might chip, but not to worry, THERE IS MORE UNDERNEATH.

They all looked pleased as punch to have gone above and beyond and delivered such a thing. It was carried out and placed in isolated splendour for me to appreciate it in all its perfection. The orange wood really stood out against the THICK BRIGHT GREEN. I couldn't imagine a more striking combination. 

I paid the money and organised the urchins to carry it off and spent at least two minutes thanking them nicely because I didn't want to hurt the feelings of the person who had had the brilliant idea of green paint and orange varnish and who had made sure I had such a magnificent surprise. But inside, inside I was screaming. 

So here it is, back home in the garden, where I can see it all day from where I work. To be fair, the wood has changed colour slightly, possibly even for the better. But the green paint, no siree, that is as fresh as the day it was painted back in the summer. It has taken me this long to speak about it. 

I suppose you want to see it. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Contrast it, if you will, with the other bench, which is blending in nicely and not shouting at all.


I suppose the trick will be to sit on the ghastly orange and green bench and look at the other bench. Although this doesn't solve the problem of me staring out of the window at it all the livelong day. Sigh. I know I am being overly dramatic, but what was supposed to be more of an eco-friendly solution has turned into a gloss paint nightmare. But it's fine. I am almost over it and I am certain that you will come up with a tasteful solution for me, such as covering it with a nice soft padded patchwork throw or rubbing yoghurt into it so that it ages back into beauty. You will come up with a tasteful solution, won't you?

28 comments:

  1. Oh my! I knew something had gone wrong, but I thought perhaps your bench had been demolished accidentally or given to the wrong person. I have to admit I did chuckle, but then I stifled the chuckle because I felt so badly for you, and such sympathy as I remembered the times when I myself have faced a similar situation where I’ve had to smile and say a polite thank you, when inside I was screaming no, no, no. Can you paint over the green? I always enjoy your writing. Jean/Winnipeg

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  2. I like it, it will be easy to find at any time of day or night especially when there's heavy fog. That paint job will last for years. I've heard that when decorating one should include something whimsical. You did it! 🙂
    Susan in Texas

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  3. Oh bless them, they obviously thought you would be thrilled! Sorry, I've just about stopped laughing! :O) Could you stain it in some way? Or maybe use some chemical paint stripper on all that gloss? Either that or embrace the green and call it Kermit! xx

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  4. Could you maybe move the "new" bench over where the old one is so that you would see the old one from your work place ? Or paint the metal black...

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  5. Yep I immediately thought of a throw. Gulp indeed. Curious how everyone’s definition of magnificent is so different. Don’t worry in our climate it will very soon be a muted grey again. Alternatively you could spray paint it gold for Christmas. You can’t say you haven’t got a cheery view. B x

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  6. Oh my goodness. It's definitely a good story though. x

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  7. Well. It is a thing to behold, alright, and I know its definitely not your style, nor reflects your ethos. And I can imagine the disappointment, when the anticipation had been building for ages - especially when the shock had to be camouflaged as rapt appreciation. Will from the Repair Shop would have had a whole different take on things. But chin up, us girls are made of stronger stuff.
    You did your very best to salvage something, instead of taking the easy route taken so often, of chucking out and buying new, even to the extent of spending more in the process, so good for you. In my book, that earns you definite Brownie points. But the well-intentioned, slightly-different-in-outlook lads who did it up for you, producing an item that will last for years, and laugh in the face of all the British weather can throw at it, they've earned their points too, and no doubt a bit of self esteem along the way. While we're totalling up points, I think that you enabled them to feel good, about a job well done, in their eyes at least, and have a sense of pride in their achievements. You swallowed your own horror, and said all the right things, to make sure they felt they'd fulfilled the brief, and enjoyed their next cup of tea with a bit of satisfaction to go with the biscuits. So extra well done you.
    If that little bench really does offend your eye, and upsets you every time you look at it, and think of what might have been, I'm sure somebody would appreciate a really durable seat in their garden, and there'd be extra feel good in donating it. But there's a bit of humour in all things, to be found if you look out for it, and have a quilt to hand when its in short supply. I don't think its going anywhere, and that it will bring a wry smile when you think of it in times to come.
    Mind you, maybe don't go back to the community place, either ! You've done your bit !

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  8. Oh dear, how disappointing. I wouldn't try to do anything to it but I'm sure that the colours will fade over the coming months and by next summer it will hopefully be less eye-catching. xx

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  9. Oh dear. Oh dear me. I really don't know what to say? If the orange stain mutes itself down a bit with time and weather, perhaps the jolly green won't be quite so confronting? *she says, desperately wracking her brain for something positive to say*. You do tell a wonderful story though....xo

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  10. Freecycle? Bench swap? I have to admit (full of shame), that I laughed out loud when I saw the bench, the build up to it was quite something. As is the bench. Bless those good people at the repair shop, I am sure they were really chuffed with the result. Taste is a matter of frequent disagreement. Happy December when it comes (far too soon) xx

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  11. Just look at it as a bit of boho glam. Grow ivy on it . Thread twinkle lights through it. Sit many garden gnomes on it while saying to yourself “this too shall pass”

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  12. Oh my. I'd probably just try to sell it to recoup my costs and buy a new, less garish bench. I also like the maximalist idea of putting lights on it! Or use it as a plant stand?

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  13. I read through your post, thinking "it can't possibly be that bad", and then the picture. Well. Holy moly. Maybe don't look at it when you have a hangover?
    Still, what you have now is a focal point for the garden so you wont lose your bearings on a foggy day, a story to tell at parties and a bench that will see you through to the end of days...possibly with that paint still pristine!

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  14. Oh dear, what a shame - especially as they went to so much effort and were so pleased. I couldn’t live with it I’m afraid - couldn’t wait til it weathered (years and years!). I’d sell it and buy one from a vintage / antique type place. Good story though!

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  15. Oh....OH.....so sorry but I have laughed so hard I almost choked. Goodness, what to say??? It's unique! Goodness me....xxx

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  16. i am sorry for your distress over the magnificent orange and green bench ,but I also laughed so hard there were tears , I wish i could think of something to help , sun glasses maybe

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  17. I'm so sorry. I would definitely freecycle and replace.

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  18. As others have commented I'd go for trying to paint over the green paint with black - maybe trying it out on the back first - and apply some woodstain to the orange wood.

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  19. Have you thought of getting the bird table spruced up?
    Weeping with laughter emoji. Thank you.

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  20. I'm afraid my solution isn't very eco-friendly but I would leave it out over the winter and then next spring/summer strip the varnish and the paint with the appropriate chemical strippers, chisel, wire brush etc following the manufacturers' recommendations (having spent the winter watching lots of YouTube videos!). You'll then have to re-varnish and re-paint it but at least you get to choose the colours!

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  21. Although I understand it is not your aesthetic, I would like to offer that does look bright and new, very much like it must have years ago. My daughter and I both think it looks lovely in your garden (but it may be because we are used to Mediterranean and not British taste?) I really enjoy muted colors myself, but honestly think in many ways it compliments and brightens your garden more than the dull, weathered one(s). I would think of it in terms of unwanted/ forced change from your comfort zone? (I have experienced that type of push while mixing texture and color in an Ottoman-theme I've got going at my place- Persian rugs and wood with different patterns, it's not very matchy, but ends up being gorgeous). Look at Topkapi palace for an idea of what I mean. Take care and brava for refurbishing rather than buying.

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  22. Oops - have had a similar experience with exterior lights ordered that a mate proudly presented having painted them white...on its own, I like the bright bench but can see how it does stand out...could take them the other one...

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  23. It is not beautiful, but it was done with love and not a lot is done with love these days. If you really want to fix it easily, simply sand down the bright green bits and repaint them with a matte black or dark gray. The orange varnish will fade and eventually look lovely. But...my house is terra cotta (orange) and I live where we have pink flamingos and green and purple parrots.

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  24. My palm went over my mouth and and eyes bulged when I saw the photo!! Oh dear, there is no accounting for taste. You are gonna have to swap it with someone who thinks their dirty old patina bench is scruffy. Do you have any neat freak friends or neighbours??

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  25. I have the same bench (before refurbishing) and have struggled to find wood that would fit as well as originally. Oh my, that is ghastly; it is frustrating when people make assumptions that they feel sure will be to your benefit, but at least it is still a place to sit. Much sympathy!
    Karen

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  26. Do you have any lighthouses in your area that could use it? The sight of it could safely guide ships to shore. Barring that you could dismantle it and spray the iron matte black (maybe even a subdued aubergine) ...slap some grey paint on the wood slats and give them a light sanding to shabby it up a bit.

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  27. Could you sand down the green and paint with Hammerstein in a blue-black? That would tone it down possibly.

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  28. Hammerite for goodness’ sake!

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