Goodbye to the Hell Room

Many years ago, in a bid to carve out a place for myself at 100 Prince Street, and to lay down some of my own aesthetic tracks, I painted one of our three bedrooms orange.

Or red. Or red-orange. Or orange-red.

Whatever the colour’s name, it was bright and brash and kind of disturbing. For a while the room was dubbed “the hell room” for the feeling it inspired.

Here’s what the Hell Room looked like a few days ago:

Photo of the upstairs room, walls painted very bright red-orange, with white cabinets, looking toward the street, when it was painted red.

After painting the room I acquired a smart IKEA lounger and a reading lamp. The plan was that I would retire to this peaceful oasis of calm and finally do all that reading I never seemed to be able to find time or space for.

That didn’t work out.

Orange-red-orange-hellscape turned out to not be a colour palette conducive to calm reflection. The IKEA chair was uncomfortable, and hit my reading-elbows in an uncomfortable way. The reading lamp, for reasons unknown, maintained a temperature of 500 degrees, and was most unappealing to be near.

And while all those things were true, ultimately the problem I was trying to solve—doing something to make myself feel more at home in this house—was a larger project needing broader solutions, not all of them related to paint and furniture.

This became moot a few years later when the room evolved to become a storage closet for our mountains of stuff, and then, a few years after that, when Catherine moved into the room during her cancer treatment. The red-orange-red that was supposed to calm me became a conversation starter and aesthetic irritant to all who encountered it.

Here’s what the room looks like this morning:

The same room, now painted white, with blue cupboards.

Don and Derek from Colonial Painters were in this week for a second round of painting—they painted the lower floor and the upstairs hallway this summer—and the result is a room transformed. 

Paint is powerful.


Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on November 11, 2022 - 14:05 Permalink

I think the original hell room was your dining room in Kingston.

vbj's picture
vbj on November 12, 2022 - 08:14 Permalink

Guessing it took several coats to calm the hell down.

paul's picture
paul on November 14, 2022 - 10:51 Permalink

It really is amazing how much different a new paint color feels and how easily it can affect your mood. The professionals do such a wonderful job and make it look so effortless. I love to paint, and having done a great deal of my own painting I can really appreciate the work they do.