The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Farrell-Calhoun Paints

These folks are great. I'm still in shock. I've become so accustom to Lowe's apathetic and marginally competent staff that receiving good service is enough to stop my heart.

Per King Streets Farm's advice, I tracked down the only three stores in the state that carry Zinsser's Watertight masonry primer. Zinsser's is the same company that produces the greatest water based primer I've ever used, Bulls Eye. Priming with Kiltz is about as effective as priming with piss compared to this stuff.

Of these three stores, two were in Little Rock and one was in Fayetteville. I scratched Fayetteville off my list since I don't want to drive four hours round trip for primer. I called Mystery Store X first.

Me: "Hello, do you carry Watertight, it's a concrete primer?"

Mr. X.: "Uhm, yeah. I think we do." Then, to someone in background, "Do we carry Watertight?" Muffled answer. "Yeah, we have it."

Me: "Can you tint it?"

Mr. X: "Uh, no. I'm pretty sure we can't."

Me: Bull shit. "Okay, thank you."

Since I trust another houseblogger more than most home improvement store clerks, I knew that the guy was wrong. And, if he didn't think they could tint it, I didn't want to even bother with trying to make them do it.

So I called Farrell-Calhoun and they provided me with a wealth of information. Yes, they could tint it. However, I should know that the tint may be a little lighter than the paint chip. Excellent.

Two days later, I finally make it down to store. I ask for 15 gallons of Watertight and slide my paint chip (from Lowe's) across the counter. "I'd like it tinted this color."

The bad news was they only had eight one-gallon cans of Watertight. The good news was they immediately found seven more at their North Little Rock store and told me they'd have them by Monday of next week.

They tried to mix a color to match the paint chip and tested their concoction on the first gallon. As I watched them tint the paint, I noticed that right under the "Zinsser's Watertight" and the logo the can's label read "TINTABLE." I couldn't help but wonder about Mystery Store X, dumbasses. Once the primer and tinting were mixed, they smeared a sample of it on an index card and blow-dried it. The colored darkened to a near perfect match as it dried.

Since I was pleased with the result, they tinted and mixed the rest of the Watertight and checked every can to make sure it matched the first batch. Then they gave me a five gallon paint bucket so I could blend the individual cans into a single batch of paint. By combining equal parts of the eight cans, I can neutralize any slight variation in tint from one can to the next. Nice.

They wrote the exact tint combination down on the index card and filed it. So, when the next batch is ready to tint, they will already have the exact formula. And, without asking, they took it all out to my car and loaded it in the trunk. I greatly appreciated this since I was on my lunch break and in a suit.

I've never received this kind of service from the Lowe's paint department. Ever. I just get teary eyed thinking about it. More people would do home improvement if everything was this easy.

I told them that I'd had a lot of trouble finding someone who carried Watertight and asked why that was.

"We don't have a lot of demand for it. It costs a few dollars more than other brands, so most people go with a cheaper option. We only sell about 20 gallons of it a year."

Aside from the fact that I've just bought a year's supply, I'm not sure what to make of this. If most people buy the cheapest stuff and not the best, it would explain a lot about the selection of products offered at the big-box stores, the tyranny of the low-brow taste (or general poverty of us home improvement types).

Anyhow, if I need anymore specialty paint supplies (or even non-specialty), I think I will be coming back to see these folks. Life's too short for shitty paint and piss-poor service.

Farrell-Calhoun Paints
401 South Bowman Road
Little Rock, AR 72211
(501) 224-2500

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Anonymous Diane said...

Hi. I've been a fan of the Devil Queen since last summer when my spouse & I ripped out the defunct chimney of our partially-rehabbed formerly Queen Anne cottage in Memphis. Anyway, the very first project we ever did on the house 4 years ago was painting (half) the exterior. We got our paint from Farrell-Calhoun and they were great, especially after I walked out with the wrong cans (long story), which they exchanged the next day. Except for some places where we "repaired" the clapboard (we had no idea what we were doing...) our paint is in great shape. (Other old houses on our block start peeling within 2-3 months of getting sprayed with watered down latex over old oil-based. We had spent a crazy amount of time on the prep work, too.)

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Jenne said...

Customer service can make all the difference. My brother in law in Colorado works at a paint store, and they provide the same services you described here. I was amazed the first time I went in there for paint and was actually HELPED.:) Totally different experience than when I go to the big stores in Omaha.

4:58 PM  
Blogger EGE said...

This is what Johnny meant when he said "any GOOD hardware store ought to be able to set you up." It bears repeating: We. Hate. Blowe's.

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear to went with the good stuff. I love everything Zinsser makes, it is always best in class and well worth the difference in price. On Another note, as an independent distributor (private paint store owner) we really pride ourselves on service. When Home Depot opened a location in my town (manhattan) it acutally helped to increase my business. They really make my store look good.

Yours Truly,

King Street Farm

9:31 AM  
Blogger John said...

King Street Farms,

Thank you again for the professional advice. You've saved me a fat wad of time and money. I just went and picked up another seven gallons of the stuff. That's hilarious about Home Depot increasing your business, that is great.

Thanks again!

The Devil Queen

10:42 AM  
Anonymous lisajo said...

I love Zinsser's shellac primer...BIN. Great stuff. I primed some cheap plastic kitchen cabnites in our guest house, top coated them in oil based semi gloss (I was a tired and true oil base fan...), and they look great. Even nine years later! Love the blog...good luck wiht everything. But go do some more paintings.

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I love paint stores and I wouldn't buy paint anywhere else. Sherwin Williams has always been the place I go, haven't tried Farrell-Calhoun yet, but may after reading of your experience.

Painting can be a relaxing and rewarding pastime if you have the proper equipment and materials. but it can be just the opposite when you don't.

6:51 AM  
Blogger John said...


More paintings? I don't mind if I do.



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