With our summer schedule set to impending chaos, getting our new house in order has been a priority for us since we moved in mid-January. That said, life always gets in the way of the best of plans, and two months into our residence here, we’re not even half done. Not even close. It doesn’t help that I’ve spent the past three weeks out of the country.
Anyway, one room that we have mostly gotten into order is the future nursery, which we’re calling the ocean room. We have enough marine-related knickknacks and art that we’ve collected over the years to make a loose theme in there that we think the baby will like (our other two bedrooms will be the desert room and the forest room, respectively, though we haven’t gotten there yet). Here’s what the ocean room looked like when we moved in: a nice bright, sunny, YELLOW room. There was even yellow on the ceiling (because the previous owners were terrible painters).
First I needed to patch all the weird holes they’d left in the walls – this wall was covered with weird plastic screws so I have no idea what was there before.
I also removed this mirror that was bolted to the door, as it was warped and totally unflattering.
Then I used painter’s tape all over the place. I know how to paint a room without it but when you’re tired and you have other helpers who are perhaps not as adept as you, it’s handy.
And here’s where paying a little more for a certain brand will stand you in good stead. I use Frog Tape, which is wayyyyy better than the generic green painter’s tape.
Clearly nobody painted under that mirror for a while:
It took several coats of primer and trim paint to restore it to some sense of normalcy:
The inside of the closet also needed a good priming. I left it with the tinted primer for now, because anything is an improvement over the insane purple that was in there before.
And then my lovely big brother Krystopf came over to help me paint! After accepting his offer I learned he’d never actually painted anything before, which complicated things, but it was nice to have an extra pair of hands as the Pie was occupied with other household projects at the time.
The first coat of primer (and Krystopf’s painting skills) did little to hide the yellow from view, despite me using a tinted primer instead of plain white.
Finally ready to start cutting in with our blue paint – it’s called “Seashore” which seemed appropriate.
Coat two, trim, and ceiling done and finally we can put some stuff back in. I still need a mattress for the twin bed (where I will be sleeping) and a few other things, but we have some fun projects lined up for this room, so stay tuned!
I still had a huge amount of old beeswax sitting around, leftover from way back when we made teacup candles. Just blue, though. Three shades of blue.
I also had a 24″ x 24″ piece of hardboard that I bought back when I had a different sort of idea for the tree branch coat racks.
We can’t waste these things, right? Well, here’s what the Pie and I came up with together, and I don’t think I would have been able to do this solo. This was our initial plan. A beeswax painting of an ocean scene, a fishing boat attached to a fishing net.
Some hemp string will stand in for rope, and this onion bag will be our net.
But first we had to prep our “canvas”. I took the board outside and sprayed it with Gesso.
Then we needed to prep our supplies. We took the three colours of wax, ripped up the sheets, and jammed them into 3 large canning jars.
Then we plopped them in our canner.
Of course, being full of wax sheets, they floated and tipped over and some of them got some water inside them (which will actually be important later on). So we had to wedge them in place with other jars filled with water and a round wire rack on top.
We brought the water to a simmer and slowly the wax began to melt. As it opened up more space in the jars, we tore up more wax and dropped it in.
And while we were working on that, we also laid out our work area with lots of newspaper. And I mean several overlapping layers.
Finally we were ready to pour some wax. We wrapped dish towels around the jars to protect our hands.
The initial pour was a little nerve-wracking because we didn’t know what we were doing.
The second one was a bit better, and we started trying to move the wax around a bit before it hardened.
Eventually we ended up with a solid layer covering all the white stuff.
We didn’t end up liking the texture we’d put into the wax with our hands, but we did discover two interesting side effects. We discovered that when we poured the wax at the same time we got these cool marble patterns.
And remember that water that got into the wax? Well it showed up again when we were at the bottom of the jars, and resulted in these neat bubbles.
We decided to do a second layer of wax, now that we kind of had an idea about how this was supposed to go. While we waited for it to melt, I laid out where I thought our fishing net and line would go. It was easy to warm up the wax with a hairdryer and then simply press the net into place.
The original plan was to make the fishing boat out of origami and then just press it into the warm wax, but we changed our minds and decided on an aluminum boat — because many of them are made out of aluminum in reality. Fortunately we had a few tin cans in the recycling and a nice pair of tin snips.
We elevated one side of the canvas so that the wax would flow in the same direction. Gren helped.
Then we poured, using lighter wax up where the sky would be and darker wax in the deeper part of the ocean. We poured some over the net as well to make it look partially submerged.
A close-up of the marbling and bubbles in the boat’s “wake.” Those bubbles are full of water, not air, so we needed to pop them and dry out the water.
While the wax was still warm, we cut it away from the stuff that spilled over the edges of the canvas using a sharp knife and a hairdryer to keep the wax pliable.
Then I heated up a section of the wax and pressed in our little aluminum boat.
The finished piece.
We will be spraying it with a sealant to protect it from scratches (there is already a corgi foot print at the top of it) and then we will mail it home in time for Christmas!
My parents bought the house they live in now about twelve years ago, and the house is about twenty years old now. In fact, it’s the first new construction house my parents have ever owned. So new, in fact, that when we all moved in back in 1997, it wasn’t quite finished yet. Like it didn’t have a back porch. That sort of thing. It also used to be a rooming house, so there were some weird things going on. The room that is my dad’s office was designed to be a laundry room, and when they bought the house it was actually being used as a kitchen. As it was pretty low-priority in the scheme of everything else that goes on in my parents’ busy lives, it remained in more or less its original state.
This is the before shot, when my dad and I were clearing out all the furniture and stuff.
You can see the artful sponge painting that outlines where the laundry sink used to be. And the place where the faucets come up and out of the wall.
This dryer outlet and vent also needed to go. As did the b-awful linoleum. I hate linoleum.
So out came the mouldings and the overhead lighting.
After checking to make sure the fuse was dead, out came the dryer/stove outlet.
Make sure you check it more than once before you start cutting wires.
This rubbish bin was filled and emptied many times before the job was done.
The vent will get cut flush to the wall and filled with expanding spray insulation.
The faucet pipes were capped and sealed with solder and the plastic frame removed.
We will put a piece of gyp-rock over top and patch that sucker, same with the one on the floor.
Just screw it in place, using shims as a backing, and trim off the excess. Fill the holes with Durabond-90 or other crack filler and you’re good to go.
All the other holes and cracks got filled as well.
There were plenty.
Now for that ugly awful floor. This was my especial project and it took me FOREVER.
Whoever put the lino down GLUED it, which is not something you normally do. And they didn’t just lay down lines or dots of glue. No. It was like they took the can of glue and spilled in on the floor. But not all over the floor. This part came up super easy, so we thought it would be more of the same.
I spent about seven hours with a pair of gloves and a putty knife peeling up the rest of it.
And let’s not forget all the glue that stayed on the floor.
Which my dad spent three days scraping off.
It was a sticky business.
Back to the walls. On with the primer. Note you can still see the terrible, terrible sponge painting shining through. Took a couple of coats of paint to get that hidden.
Next the crown mouldings went on and were lined up.
Nailed and glued in place.
You can use wood filler to artistically cover the spots in the corners where it doesn’t quite line up.
And to cover your nail marks as well.
Now for the floor, which we replaced with a nice floating bamboo one with interlocking pieces.
You can see the grooves here.
Make sure to measure out everything ahead of time. It helps to label your pieces and to draw yourself a little map.
You will need to cut pieces to fit the vagaries of your room.
Dad glued down the first section.
Make sure to follow the instructions on your glue. This little grooved applicator enables the glue to spread under pressure.
You want to make sure your pieces are super snug together, so a rubber mallet is very handy.
We noticed that the glued section was making cracking and popping noises, so the next sections were nailed in place as well, with the nails going through those little grooves I just showed you. It cracked the grooves but kept the things on the floor, so there you go.
The moulding on the floor will cover up that wee gap there.
Then you paint. Again. Always a good time.
See? This is after it got a nice shiny coat of enamel.
You can scrape up your spills by covering a scraping razor with a piece of cloth, and then you won’t scratch the floor.
This is mid-cleanup.
And after everything was moved back in again. What a difference!
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.