Friday, January 31, 2014

Lessons learned

So I've learned some lessons along the way (other than the obvious "double any timeline you envision for a project" that we've learned so far). Allow me to share them with you, so you can learn from my mistakes!

I learned some lessons the hard way in the course of the updating I showed in the last post. First lesson: priming.

I suppose I would have learned this lesson when I painted my mom's childhood bedroom set, and learned about the importance of primer when I had to strip off the paint, prime and re-paint. But that was a few years ago, and how quickly one forgets! So when it came to painting the various types of paneling we had going on, I didn't really do my research, but thought I was doing good by buying some "bonding primer". You know, so it'll bond to everything, and the paint will bond to it. Makes sense, right? So I began...

One coat in, I realized that the knots in the wood paneling were seeping through the primer. So I re-coated 2 more times in a test spot (photo below), and the knots were STILL seeping through. Bummer.

So my cost saving measures were all for naught, and off to Lowe's I went to pick up the $40 gallon of BIN primer. Well this did the trick, but being the most expensive gallon of anything I have ever purchased I didn't want to use it to coat all the walls, so I reserved it for my trouble areas, and still used the whole gallon when all was said and done! Check out this beauty below, you could tell where there were things that had been hanging on the walls and the tobacco smoke didn't discolor the walls behind them. Even after a few months we still had yellow goo seeping out of the door trim in the bathroom after hot showers. Gross.

After 2-3 coats of primer the rooms were looking so bright & fresh!

Oh, and have I ever shown you our popcorn ceiling, complete with sparkle finish?? As fun as that was, she had to get primed & painted as well. Sorry, sparkles!

These took 2-3 coats of primer also, which became difficult when you're painting white over white, I was never sure what I had covered and what I hadn't. The glitter was also not so well "adhered" to the ceiling, so after hours of rolling paint overhead I was covered in glitter and paint-covered-glitter for quite some time.

For the ceilings, I went with the Valspar interior flat ceiling paint that goes on purple and dries white. I thought this would make it easier to see where I had already painted, which it did. But it also dried fairly quickly, so if I wasn't mindful of where I had painted already I still got lost. I think I did at least 2 coats of this in all rooms (2 upstairs rooms & the bathroom).

At the top of the stairs where I removed the shelves, we had some gaps leftover at the base and corners. So I added some base from scraps we had removed elsewhere in the house, and you can see in the center all the gaps that remained. So I added some some corner trim to cover the gap between the wallpapered paneling and the side walls, and caulked the nail holes and trim gaps. I also had to do this in all the rooms I painted (amazing how painting some walls white makes gaps all that much more noticeable).

I think I went through at least a dozen tubes of caulking in the process. And having never caulked anything before, I wasted a lot as well. And may have gotten some on my pants...

However, once all that priming and caulking was done, I got to do the fun part and finally put some color on the walls! Surprise, surprise, I made some mistakes in this process as well!

I had already selected the paint colors for the small bedroom and the bathroom, but I still needed a color for the cabinets in the bathroom as well as the walls in the "living room". I had used Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone in my last house (and loved it) but I thought I should try something new this time around. So I chose two different taupy colors, and bought a gallon of each (I'm still learning how much paint is required for various projects, in retrospect I could have bought less paint for some of these projects. Live and learn, right?). I got one coat of each on their respective surfaces, and they looked... off. I kept detecting green undertones in both, which were really evident in the bathroom against the pale aqua walls. I immediately assume this is an error on the part of the Lowe's employee who mixed my paint, but I go grab my paint chips to compare anyway. Lo and behold, perfect match!

What went wrong? Well, being that I don't always have an abundance of light in which to work and choose paint samples, I had laid out my paint chips in the light from the window downstairs when making my selections. So any green undertones were washed out by the sunlight.

Not sure if the slight green tones are apparent on the two right paint colors, but they were very apparent on my walls. I felt SO stupid. I went to school for this! For seven years! I should know better than to make such a rookie mistake. Out the paint chips came again, and this time I decided to just stick with my tried and true Taupe Tone, and use the same for the living room walls as well as the bathroom cabinets.

You can see here how much green was in the original paint, as opposed to the Taupe Tone which I was applying over top. Muuuuuch better.

In case anyone is wondering how we go about picking a paint color, allow me to elaborate. Typically I get an idea in my head of what general color I'm leaning toward. Once that happens I pull out my paint chips. That's right, all of them.

I then proceed to pull out EVERY chip in the color I'm interested in, like so:

In this particular instance I was picking exterior door colors. With all similar colors laid out together it's easy to quickly weed though to a few strong contenders, because it becomes apparent which ones are too green, too blue, too yellow, too pale, etc.  Then you just pick your favorite from the leftovers. However, I'm still learning that finess for picking the right color the first time (thankfully John and Sherry from YHL have some helpful suggestions that I plan to heed in the future).

For instance, the color they painted their front door is Benjamin Moore' Blue Lake, an ever-so-slightly-grayer shade of the color I chose, Valspar's Sea Exposure. Granted, I have never seen their door in person, but it looks so lovely and peaceful on their blog, and while I love my colorful doors, I do occasionally wish they were just a wee bit less bold.

Forgive the iPhone photo, but see the difference? So subtle...

I'm certainly not going to go out and buy a whole new gallon of paint and re-paint all my doors, so our doors just have a little more punch to them. (again, forgive the iPhone photo)

Come spring I plan to paint the garage door and shutters black to spruce up the curb appeal even more. We keep getting compliments on how nice the house looks from people who drive by, but we really haven't touched the exterior at all. Once I do some updates I'll at least feel deserving of the compliments!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How we're living now

I've been meaning to do this post for a year now, but never managed to make the time. Story of my life, right?

When we bought the house and knew we were going to be living in it while renovating the first floor. And while the upstairs was technically fine for temporary purposes when we bought it, I felt strongly that it needed a bit of a face-lift for the time being, and I'm so glad I did. I didn't want it to feel like we were living in someone else's space, you know? It cost us a few hundred dollars and countless hours of priming and painting, but honestly, it's made all the difference in the world! Even though the entire downstairs looks like a disaster zone, we have our spaces to retreat to that feel like ours. I really think it's been the one thing keeping us sane through this whole adventure, and that's priceless.

Let's look back at what we started with... Starting downstairs, here is what the bathroom looked like when we bought the house:

And here's what it looks like now!

In here everything got a fresh coat of paint, in addition to removal of the shower doors. Adding a curved shower curtain rod really made that tiny tub tolerable for the time being. 24" isn't wide enough for anyone to shower, I don't care how little you are! We also put down a new stick-on vinyl floor when we replaced the toilet, so that was a nice little face-lift too. It feels like an all-new space!

I made the decision not to replace the doors on the upper portion of the cabinet so we have easy access to pantry items (since we don't have any kitchen cabinets we are using this as our kitchen storage for the time being) and I added the Ikea shelves for storing my hair & makeup products.

I still need to paint the medicine cabinet (Ryan built a surround for it to enclose the open space between the cabinet and light that was originally there), and we just got a new door to install once Ryan finishes framing out the wall. And this one will even swing the right way, what a novel concept!

The stairs haven't had as much progress, but we removed the bifold door & the carpet, and I recently stripped and sanded down the treads. The next step will be to spackle the risers & strings and paint them white. I think the contrast of the "reclaimed" treads will look nice with the bright white trim, and the color of the treads will play nicely off the color of the hardwoods we'll be installing.

Here is a before & during of the stripping & sanding process. There were many trials & tribulations involved in removing the multiple layers of paint (including but not limited to use of toxic stripping liquids & a heat gun, used separately). The upper-most tread in the bottom photo is closest to the "finished" look I was able to achieve on all stairs. The other treads still had icky brown paint to be removed. Boy was that process a pain!

Then we had this built-in shelving at the top of the stairs. I tore out the shelving , added trim at the floor and corners and we hung our coat rack there for the time being, as well as the framed silhouette of Ryan's boxer.

As you can see we have temporary "doors" in the form of sheets hung in the doors in a feeble attempt to keep construction dust out of the 2nd story spaces. They're not very efficient, but they're better than nothing.

If you go right from the landing, this is the larger bedroom, which we're using as our living room for the time being. Here are the changes in that room:

Big difference, right? It's such a calming space now, it's a perfect escape from the chaos downstairs.

Off this room is the big storage closet. No changes in here other than, you know, storing stuff. Totes on the left, and shelves on the right. I never realized we had so much stuff!

If you go back to the landing and go to the left, this is currently our bedroom.

This room is on the back of the house and doesn't get much light, so I thought I would try to brighten it up with a sunny color. It's my first time ever painting a room yellow, and so far I still like it. When we move the living room downstairs, this room will be the guest room and we'll move our bedroom into the bigger room. I have an idea what direction I want for this room, it's just a matter of pulling the pieces together slowly, but it will get there in time.

As you can see we replaced the carpets in both rooms upstairs, with what was originally the downstairs carpet. We re-used it up here since it was in fairly decent condition, and was only a temporary solution for the upstairs anyhow. They work for now, but I would like to sand and finish the hardwoods up here at some point.

Through the bedroom is the attic space above the kitchen & dining room. The only changes in here are one missing chimney and more junk being stored, but someday this will be a lovely master bedroom!

So folks, that's how we're living now! It isn't much, but it's ours, and I wouldn't change a thing. I'm loving every minute of this little adventure we've embarked upon. :)

walls: Valspar Sparkling Lake; cabinets: Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone; trim: Valspar Ultra White
Large Bedroom:
walls: Sherwin Williams Taupe Tone; trim: Valspar Ultra White
Small Bedroom:
walls: Behr Caribbean Sunrise; accent wall: Behr Charismatic; jewlery display: Valspar Tropical Oasis; trim: Valspar Ultra White