DIY – What Was I Thinking?

As part of my mission to make our Peruvian house a home, a bedroom makeover was top of the list.  Here is why.

Clash of the Colors

Clash of the Colors

The duvet cover was ours, but the rest of the room was this hideous when we arrived (and the balcony doors had full-length, red and blue curtains too).  I couldn’t stand waking up in such a horrible space and when I returned to Peru in September, I resolved to have it redecorated by Christmas.  But I wasn’t sure how to start – when I was in the central market I would stop in curtain shops and look at fabrics but didn’t see anything I liked and wasn’t sure how to find more options.  As luck would have it, a departing Peruvian teacher friend, Jocelyn,  offered to sell me a gray curtain and sheers.  Because I also needed a shade, Jocelyn graciously offered to take me to the central market to buy the fabric and have the shade made.  And so it began…

One curtain replaced...

One curtain replaced…

We went to the market and Jocelyn took me to a particular shop on a fabric street.  One interesting thing about the central market (which after much confusion and discussion I determined is really just the main shopping district in Cajamarca) is that similar stores are clumped together – so the stores on one block all sell cookware, and the stores on another block all sell fabric, and on another block they all sell eyeglasses.  It was odd to us as we initially expected there to be a variety of wares on a block, but apparently that isn’t how it is done here.  It makes sense on the one hand because if you are looking for an item you can go to one street and look in all of the stores for it.  But it’s a huge hassle when you don’t know where that one street is!  So while I had found a street with curtain shops, they weren’t exactly the fabric shops I needed as those were on another street.  Jocelyn was amazing in action –  I had learned to barter with handicraft vendors and taxi drivers, but I had no idea that one could barter in a fabric store.  But barter Jocelyn did and we left with 5 meters of the same fabric as her curtain for $36.  Then we went to another shop around the corner where Jocelyn introduced me to Jhon who Jocelyn said would make my shade for a good price.  John said he would have the Roman shade ready by Tuesday and would come to my house to install it, all for $24 – sold! The last time I bought a Roman shade in the US it was 1/3 the size and cost over 3 times as much.

My excitement was short lived when I realized that I needed to paint the room before the shade was installed and  I had 4 days to do it.  Matt wisely wanted no part of this project and urged me to hire someone to paint the room.  But we were booked most of the weekend, so we wouldn’t be home to let someone in the house and supervise him.  Matt then suggested I move the delivery date of the shade to give me more time to hire someone.  But I was too excited to get the room renovated so I stubbornly forged ahead.

I went to buy the paint on Friday morning.  First stop was the hardware store around the corner from our house that has a large sign out front advertising paint.  After some confusion, despite the word for paint being “pintura” they say “latex” here, I was informed they had two colors: white and beige.  On to the next store down the block.  There the clerk gave me paint brochures and I picked out an okay color only to be told that they had two colors: green and white.  What the heck?  Wouldn’t it make sense to tell that to me before showing me the brochure and discussing the color I wanted?  At that point I gave up on buying from the mom and pop shops and caught a cab to the “big box” hardware store.  I quickly found a color I liked and the guy started mixing it – by hand with a 2×4!  It took about a half hour.  When I asked about a stir stick to mix the white paint I was also buying, he had no idea what I was talking about, which should have been obvious to me as he was using a 2×4 to mix the paint.   I rooted around my backyard and found a 1×1 stick that I used. Matt and I got a good laugh about how quaint this process was until I actually went to use the paint.  Obviously, that 2X4 had been frequently used as my paint had old dried paint pieces throughout it.  It was awful –  with every paint stroke I had to pick off the paint chips.  It definitely made me regret doing my own painting.  Of course, if something like that had happened in the US, I would have returned the paint, but 1) something like that wouldn’t happen in the US and 2) I didn’t see managing that conversation in Spanish.  Despite the setbacks and the need for 2 base coats, I managed to have the room painted by Tuesday.

An hour before Jhon was scheduled to arrive, he called and asked if he could come on Wednesday.  About an hour after the appointed time on Wednesday, I called Jhon and he assured me he would be there in 20 minutes.  Over an hour later he arrived and installed the shade.  It looked great, but by then I had realized that I needed a new curtain rod for the curtain that had started this project, so Jhon, Matt  and I discussed what we needed and Jhon said he would be back on Friday with a new curtain rod.  A no-show on Friday, Jhon said he would be over on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday morning I happened upon his shop while I was in the market, so I stopped in to see if he was coming over later.  He showed me the rod and then asked if I wanted the supports for it.  You think?  So that delayed the project until Tuesday.  You guessed it, Tuesday came and went and another call to Jhon confirmed that he would come on Wednesday.  Delays are the norm here, so it honestly didn’t bother me much when Jhon didn’t come when he said he would.  But then he did arrive and this is what he brought.

He seemed genuinely confused that I would want the curtain rod and supports to match.  He also neglected to put the knob on the end of the rod, but by this point I was so sick of waiting that I had Jhon install it and planned to deal with it later.  About a week later, we ordered a rug for the room from a department store, so that gave me the incentive to pull out the paint and finish the job.  The date for the rug delivery came and went and when we called we learned that our order was canceled.  Matt went to the store and then was told that the rug wasn’t available in Peru!  So I am considering the room done for now, even though we would still like a rug.  Lesson learned: next time I think DIY – don’t!

Almost Done

Almost Done

And if you are wondering about the bare bulb, I am not even going to try to find a light fixture here as most houses have bare bulbs throughout and I do not know whether there is a street in the market carries fixtures!

4 thoughts on “DIY – What Was I Thinking?

  1. This confirms my life-long suspicion of DIY. I couldn’t see much wrong with the original set-up, but agree its an improvement!…. ::-). (Eye improving, Peter)

    • Hello Peter! I saw on Matt’s FB that you had another surgery. I hope that was planned and not due to a complication. Are you going stir crazy with limited reading? When does Annie meet you in London?

      We leave tonight for the US and are very excited. We will be getting a good dose of winter as it has been frigid in Wisconsin and we are coming from temperate 70 degree weather! Our 3 1/2 weeks home are chock full with seeing people and then we visit some friends in Texas before heading to Buenos Aires. We are very looking forward to all parts of our trip.

      I hope your eye is healed according to plan. I wish you and Annie a very Merry Christmas!


      Sent from my iPhone


      • Hi Kerry, Have a great trip and wrap up warm. Annie arrives here on Monday (after 2 days flying!) I’m healing well. Enjoy your tango in BA, and I look forward to reading all about it. My fun has mostly comprised listening to radio in a dark room, but getting out and about now. Go well.

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