- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2006

It doesn’t happen this way on HGTV. I’m standing in the middle of the bedroom shared by my two teenage daughters. In my hand is a paint roller that may, at any second, drip onto the beige-colored carpeting.

“Quick, get a rag,” I yell.

The paint at the base of the roller grows into an elongated droplet. Slowly, threateningly, it is pulled by gravity, thinning into a delicate drizzle that lands on my cupped hand.

At last, one of my daughters appears with a towel that from this moment on will reside in the ragbag rather than the bathroom closet from which it came. Disaster has been averted, but this is just the first coat. There’s still time to ruin the rug.

Painting the bedroom seemed like a great idea yesterday. Caught up in a home-improvement frenzy, my girls and I trekked confidently down the center aisle of our local Home Depot store, where rack after rack of index-card-size paint samples offered the promise of a perky new environment.

Katie and Betsy wanted a color that would scream from floor to ceiling, “Teenagers live here.” They chose lime green.

I never would have agreed to this shade except that they promised if I let them paint the room lime green, they would make their beds every morning and hang their clothes instead of dropping them all over the floor. (A woman can dream, can’t she?)

But that was yesterday, under the fluorescent lights of the “custom color center.”

Now, with the 60-watt bulbs in the fixture above my head shedding muted illumination across what previously was an unobjectionable wallscape (“boring” according to the girls), I’m thinking there was a reason I painted this room beige. At least it was calming.

Beige is not for teens — so say my daughters. They needed something bright, cheerful, young and cool. They need a strong color, a vibrant shade to go with their equally upbeat and colorful teenage lives.

It’s not as if lime green popped up out of nowhere. There’s a tiny bit of pale green in the quilts that will remain on their beds no matter how fervently my daughters beg for new ones to go with their hip new decor.

It’s not a lot of green, though. You have to hold the quilt up next to the wall to find the match, and even then, it’s a bit of a stretch.

Still, stretching was what this redecorating project was all about.

We got the idea to repaint while watching an episode of “Debbie Travis’ Face Lift” on HGTV. Debbie is the smart, sassy interior designer who specializes in faux paint finishes.

The “Face Lift” concept has Debbie conspiring with a spouse or friend of an unsuspecting homeowner who conveniently leaves town for a few days. Upon returning, the loved one discovers a completely renovated space, courtesy of Debbie and her tireless team of carpenters, painters and various other minions.

Among the offerings on HGTV, “Face Lift” is one of our favorites. This is partly because of Debbie’s creative designs, but also because Debbie is just plain likable. My girls like her because she’s the cool mom every teenager wishes her mother could be.

Debbie and her crew effortlessly remodel an entire home in less time than it takes me to choose between glossy and eggshell latex finishes. Throughout the show, Debbie picks her way through piles of paint cans and lumber, sawhorses and power tools, all the while narrating the swift and steady progress of her evolving vision.

Watching the show, we decided that if Debbie and her crew could successfully transform another “dated, dreary space,” so could we.

But nobody on “Face Lift” ever screams, “Get a rag.”

They don’t float paintbrushes in the paint tray (handle and all).

They don’t argue over who gets to use the good roller.

They never put the wall color on the ceiling.

And they never wonder aloud if they chose the ugliest color not found in nature.

Not to mention, they make it seem possible to complete a 10-by-10 foot space in less than a half-hour. Why is it Debbie’s crew can spend 40 minutes and three commercial breaks on the fun part — accessorizing?

Suffice it to say it took longer than a half-hour to get three coats of lime-green paint on the walls.

At the end of the day, however, it was indeed a lime-green room — a room my daughters love because it reflects their age and tastes, not mine.

That’s the part that made us stretch.

They took on a grown-up endeavor and stuck with it until the job was complete. They learned that taking care of a home is hard work. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV, and it wouldn’t be easy even if Debbie showed up and gave us a hand.

As for me, I stretched my capacity to give up my own vision of what my house should be in favor of some freedom of expression for two teenagers who wanted a room that felt like home.

Besides, the lime green in the bedroom isn’t nearly as big a stretch as the orange in the bathroom. I wonder if I can get Debbie to redecorate when my girls go off to college?

Columnist Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 18 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. Visit her Web site (www.marybeth hicks.com) or send e-mail to marybeth.hicks@comcast.net.

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