Elizabeth is our house. On the outside, she’s kind of pinkish, with an orange roof that leaks, and windows in need of replacing. On the inside, she’s a cozy nest that we adore. When we moved in, however, we were confronted with wall upon wall of the most disconcerting beige I had ever seen. In no one’s conception could this beige be considered a neutral. It looked to me like someone had taken a brown paper lunch bag and vomited on it, then left it for dead in the rain.
In other words, I hated it. The Pie didn’t really care, but he’s a boy. Something had to be done. We had to paint. We had an agreement with our landlord that we could paint the apartment any colour we wanted, and if she didn’t like it, then we would simply have to repaint when we left. That is a good deal. We had to leave the hallway as it was, because the ceilings were too high for us to paint safely, but the rest of the place was fair game.
We went with ICI Dulux Inspirations Paint for its low odor (very few of the windows in this place open so we didn’t want to fume ourselves out of house and home).
Because I was spending a lot of my spare time in my office, this was the first room to be painted. I’ve always found green to be a good colour for productivity, so I went with “Kiwi Fun”:
I managed to only spill paint on the linoleum once, which was a high achievement on my part.
Cheers! was the name of the bright yellow I used in this tiny room. All our fixtures are 1960s green, and all our accessories have blue in them, so it seemed only appropriate to make a tiny dark room a cheery yellow.
This was the job from hell. This particular paint came out super thin and runny, and it took me SIX COATS to get it done, and that’s working with a tiny roller and sponge brush around all the fixtures. I had also decided to re-do the woodwork and trim in the bathroom because years of dampness had caused it all to crack and mildew. There’s nothing like scraping black mould out of crevices you didn’t know existed.
I had a really hard time getting the enamel to stick to the woodwork. I think even that too four coats or so. A smart thing I did was paint the ceiling with the same enamel, as well as the rusting out light fixture and the air vent.
Three lessons I learned from the bathroom experience: (1) don’t leave painter’s tape on any surface for longer than 5 days; (2) make sure the paint has fully cured before you stick stuff to it (even painter’s tape); and (3) sand the crap out of shiny surfaces before you paint them.
I had hung curtains in this room that we were very pleased with: vertical stripes of brown, taupe, turquoise and green (sounds weird, I know, but they’re quite nice). Having spent all that money on the curtain fabric ($250!) we wanted to paint the room to match them, as well as coordinate with our black bed and brown chests of drawers.
Bramble Tan was the one we went with. In the sunlight, it looks more like a warm, wet clay than anything else. It’s relaxing and inviting at the same time, and I love it to pieces. The consistency of the paint in this can was more like pudding than anything else, and we finished the room in a day with only two coats.
Living and Dining Rooms
Pie thought we should paint these rooms the same colour, so as to draw the eye to the magnificence of our kitchen, which we intended to paint a bright red. I wanted something plain because our furniture in these rooms is a jumble of everything, and a bold colour would only make the place look cluttered. In the end we went with Stowe White, an off-white that reminds me of cream. It makes our hung pictures really stand out and yet it’s not a sterile white – cozy is definitely a theme in our place.
These rooms we did about two weeks before we left town for our wedding, so they were a little rushed, it was hot, and we had many other things on our minds. Nevertheless, they turned out really well, and we made very few mistakes.
We went with Cranberry Zing, to match the red tiles in the floor, and to make the white and black fixtures really pop.
This room, I was determined, was going to be my pro job. I was going to do it right, just like my dad does, and not take any shortcuts.
We had a leak in our roof the previous fall, which had since been repaired, but it had left some damage on the ceiling and the wall above the stove. I took a wide, flat putty knife and used it to carefully lever away the damaged paint so I could assess the drywall underneath. While spotted with dried mould and water-stained, it was still pretty solid, and so I just patched over it with Drydex. I like this stuff because when it’s wet it’s bright pink, and you know it’s ready to sand and paint when it turns white. It also doesn’t smell and is easily washable.
I washed the walls down, then I sanded them, then I washed them again to remove the last particles. I taped everything up well and I worked wall by wall, so we could still use the kitchen while I was painting it. It took three coats. I didn’t spill anything, nothing broke, and it turned out really, really well.
I did this in January of 2010, while procrastinating on studying for my final comprehensive exam. This is why I had the time to get it right. I even managed to wait a week before putting all the stuff back up on the walls.
The one issue I had is one that had to do with my roller. For some reason I can’t explain, the roller this time left bubbles on the walls as it passed, and when they dried you could still see them. In certain spots it looks like I have sparkles on the walls. It’s not entirely unpleasing, but it is a little weird.
In any case, we are both in love with our ‘new’ kitchen and we spend a lot of time in there.
One thought on “Death to Beige – Painting Elizabeth, Summer 2009 and Winter 2010”
The kitchen looks beautiful! The last photo in particular gives it a sort of “this is what interior designers say a cozy kitchen should look like” feel. You do good work, as always 🙂