The Slow March Towards a Completed Room

Painting has always been a relaxing activity for me, but while trying to paint our guest room, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of urgency. With every room in the house in need of updating or work, I feel like I need to hurry up and get one area completely done.

The difference between the “before” and the “current” is enough to make me feel pretty good, but I don’t feel like this room is done by a long shot.

As I painted the room, I discovered things that need fixing. For example, the hardware on the windows that crank open needs to be replaced. The outlets and light switches are quite old and some have been painted over. I remember our home inspector saying painting over outlets is a big no-no.

The closet could use new hardware as well. The bifold doors don’t slide smoothly and there is something brown and furry all along the inside ledges of them. I’m debating cleaning them up or looking for more traditional closet doors, like the ones we had in the condo. The shelving that was in the closet is rickety and should probably be replaced.

I decided to use Benjamin Moore’s Aura eggshell paint in Maritime White on the walls and Benjamin Moore Regal Select Pearl in White Dove on the ceiling.  I saw some beautiful pictures of an entire house where a pearl finish was used on the ceilings. I decided to give it a try in this bedroom.

I love the effect of the pearl finish on the ceilings. They glow just a tiny bit and the room feels a tad taller.

 I found Regal Select, the best Benjamin Moore paint to come in a pearl finish, to be a really annoying paint. Aura is my gold standard, so I feel as though I’ve been spoiled with easy paint jobs. Regal Select is probably a fantastic paint compared to many standard paints, but there’s no comparing it to Aura. 

I’m definitely going to stick to Benjamin Moore’s Aura from now on. The decision I have to make is about the finish I’ll use on the ceilings. Traditionally, flat or matte paints are used on ceilings. Since we had the ceilings smoothed out just weeks ago, I don’t think there are many flaws to cover up, so using something with a tiny bit of sheen might be okay.


The Parade of Contractors Begins

The first week of home ownership was full of appointments with so many contractors. As I mentioned when I talked about our inspection, there was something wrong with almost every system in the house, from plumbing to HVAC to electricity. There were plenty of problems outside, too.

So while I would have loved to write about picking paint colors and going shopping for rugs, it was far more important to start chipping away at the issues found by our amazing home inspector, Robert Foster of Trebor Home Inspections.

Some of the not-so-exciting things we did:

1. Changed all the locks – This wasn’t in the inspection report, but re-keying the locks was a quick first task. The first locksmith I called, who has rave reviews online, never even returned my call. After a day, I called Browns Lock and Safe, who set an appointment right away. The locksmith who came over got three doors re-keyed in under an hour. Awesome.

2. Fixed outdated (and dangerous) parts of the electrical system – Our inspector found several safety issues with the electrical system at the house. There was a wire that was disconnected from something under the sink, but never cut off properly. I don’t know the right language to use there, but basically, there was a wire under there with just some electrical tape on the end. There was also some exposed wire behind the panel in the fuse box.

One of the more time consuming projects: none of the outlets in the kitchen and baths were GFCI outlets. Those are the outlets that have the “test” and “reset” buttons on them. Those reduce the chance of shock and our inspector said they are required around water these days.

Since we had electricians coming, we decided to throw in a few more projects, like switching out a light fixture and adding a whole-house surge suppressor. I read come conflicting reviews of whole-house surge suppressors, but Marc thought it was a good idea to add one since we’ve been having pretty serious storms each summer.

Electricians must be really busy right now. The one a colleague recommended didn’t return my phone call and the company I used when I lived in the condo was making appointments two weeks out when I called them. Since this was a safety thing, I decided to get some recommendations from friends and then cross reference the names with Angie’s List. We wound up calling Sentry Electric (which also runs a Mr. Electric franchise). It took them three hours to do all the projects I had! The wound up giving me a discount because I have an Angie’s List membership. I’m happy I spent $10 on that now!

3.  Smoke detectors – There were only two smoke detectors in the house when we got in and they both had dead batteries in them. That’s clearly a really, really bad thing.

4. Water heater issues – The water heater in the utility room needs to sit in a pan (not a big deal) and is lacking a device that regulates the pressure coming out of it. Our inspector told us that this is why almost all of our shower heads and tub fixtures aren’t attached to the wall anymore. You can wiggle almost every pipe and handle that’s coming out of the wall in a shower or tub in the house. This isn’t a safety issue and it’s not urgent, but we had a plumber in to measure for the pan and give us an estimate on the regulator.

5. Roof and gutters – Aside from the electrical issues, this is probably the item that disturbs me the most. The roof on the house was installed in a sloppy way. There are parts of it where the “starter course” wasn’t done properly. That’s the area underneath where the shingles hang over the edge of the building. On top of that, our seller reconfigured the gutters, eliminating downspouts, which was causing erosion all around the property. Every time it rains, I freak out about this.

 Doesn’t this seem like a really, really bad idea?

We actually haven’t gotten the roof or gutter guys in yet, but that work should start soon.

During the parade of contractors, I started playing around with my paint fan decks, just for fun. A friend suggested I try Benjamin Moore’s ColorViewer to test out some colors. I uploaded a photo and started working.

I promptly gave up. I love a fun, digital tool but I had a really hard time getting the ColorViewer to work. I’m going to wind up just buying sample paint jars like I always have in the past.

I originally thought a gray color would look good with the pink quartz counters, but I’m thinking a taupe color is probably going to work much better.

More on that next time…

Weekend Makeover for the Bedroom

In preparing to post new pictures of our bedroom taken with that wide-angle lens I borrowed, I realized that I never shared a quick weekend project I did in the fall. I used to blog every thought and step of a project, but this last year has been hectic. Sometimes, decisions just have to be made and projects need to be completed.

I’ve been meaning to repaint the bedroom to make it more neutral for a while. Last fall, Marc was headed away for a few days on a business trip and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to get the painting done. Even before he was out the door, I was looking at my paint fan decks. I’m not usually a fan of beige paint and I had a lot of trouble narrowing the options down to a few that I liked.

I’ll post the details soon, but let’s just get to the eye candy, shall we?

Here’s the super before, from when I first moved in:

Here’s the middle phase, when the room was painted in Sherwin Williams’ Compatible Cream:

Here’s the after, with Benjamin Moore’s Maritime White on the walls:

I think the bed looks much better with the more neutral color on the walls. I don’t love the colors anymore and have been thinking of switching to blue and white linens, but haven’t made a final decision yet.
Using that wide-angle lens, I can finally give a little perspective on our layout. The bathroom is to the right in the little hallway. The dining room and kitchen were to my back, with the dining area and front door to my right and the kitchen to the left. You can see Baxter laying in the living room and Cookie Doe‘s antlers (with their Valentine’s Day flowers on them) peeking out from the wall.

What do you think?

Painted vanity reveal!

Remember this little vanity?  It was a cute, little thing, but needed a bit of help.

I removed the arms and unfinished wood block above the middle drawer and gave everything a scrub.  Then, I pulled off a few pieces of wood that had loosened up over time and used new nails to put them back into place.  The whole piece feels much more study now.

After a light sanding and two coats of primer, I went to the hardware store with Marc to see if there were any gray paints on the mis-tint rack.  On our way to the paint aisle, we ran into an old friend of Marc’s.  We chatted for a while and she asked what we were up to.  When I explained that I was looking for “oops” paint, her eyes lit up and she asked if I wanted the four gallons of paint that were in her trunk.  She had two creamy white colors, a minty green, and a beige.  I happily took them.

Once home, I mixed one of her creamy paints with Benjamin Moore’s Secret, the color I used when I painted my kitchen last year.

Pre granite counter tops

I used a few cups to mix test batches and eventually settled on a very light, but warm gray color.

Around this time, Anthropologie sent me a 15% off card for my birthday.  The staff probably thought I was nuts, but I used it on knobs.  While other people may fawn over the dresses or linens at Anthro, I love the hardware.  I decided the vanity, with its sad, dirty knobs, needed a feminine upgrade.

Enough is enough.  I know what you want…

A blue wall isn’t the best background, but I hope you get the idea.  Isn’t it a nice improvement?  Marc told me I need to sell it, but I want to keep it to use outside at the wedding.  What do you think?  Keep or sell?

Oh, I painted the arms and wood block and set them aside, just in case I DO sell it and someone wants to put a skirt on it.

Finding the perfect Hermes orange

Chelsey over at Fourth and Folded has a project in the works. I don’t know whether I heard about this via Twitter or her blog, Classically Modern Nest, but she’s painting a bookcase and wants the inside to be orange. The orange she wanted: the color of an Hermes box.

Now, had she actually wanted to use Hermes boxes, you all know I wouldn’t have been interested in the project. But who can argue with using such a cheerful color in a bookcase? Chelsey was hoping to find a suitable color from Benjamin Moore and being the paint nerd that I am and having a soft spot for Bostonians (having lived there myself for a while), I jumped at the chance to narrow down the options.

Chelsey had read that Racing Orange was a likely candidate. When I put the strip on which is appears next to an Hermes box, I didn’t think it was quite right. I thought the colors above it, Orange Parrot and Oriole, were better matches.

I moved to a different part of the Color Preview deck and found another strip with a few contenders. Electric Orange looked like the winner in this picture.

What do you think? What’s your favorite on the strips below?

Laundry room reveal

Listing all the items on my to-do list last week was just the motivation I needed to get the laundry closet patched and repainted.

I pulled out all of my leftover paint and used Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster (mixed by Benjamin Moore with that lovely Aura paint) on the ceiling and Benjamin Moore’s Smoke on the walls. I need to take a picture from far away so you can see the Smoke color on the dining room walls, then Benjamin Moore’s Secret on the kitchen walls, and then Smoke in the pantry beyond it. I think it looks pretty neat.

I probably could have gone a little lighter on the walls, but I didn’t want to mess with mixing paint. I had mixed the color that was on the pantry walls before and that’s why I couldn’t just paint over the patch I made.

I think I’m going to replace the ceiling light fixture so there’s a little more light being thrown around this tiny space. Maybe I need to add that to my list of things to do next weekend. I’m planning on painting the front walk-in closet and that could use a brighter light, too.

Fixing shortcuts

Do you ever take shortcuts when you’re doing a DIY project?

I have to admit that I took a huge one over the course of a few projects in the kitchen. I bet I’m not alone in what I did.

Yep. I never moved the fridge when I painted anything. The sides of the cabinets that faced the fridge stayed brown. The walls behind and to the side of the fridge stayed beige. When I painted the kitchen with Benjamin Moore Secret a few weeks ago, I shoved the roller as far as I could between the fridge and the walls, convincing myself that no one would notice. Unfortunately, there was one spot where one could see the old, beige paint. I decided that I could spend time steering people away from that spot every thing they came over or I could paint.

Out came the tape. Let me just say that I’m not yet fully convinced this Frog Tape stuff is the bees knees. I don’t really see it as far superior to the classic blue stuff.

Within about 20 minutes, I felt much better. No more nagging thoughts that the space behind the fridge was undone. Now I’m wondering if most people just don’t really have those nagging thoughts and leave those “can’t really see it” spaces unpainted. Do you?

I’ve got a Secret

I asked you for your opinions on three colors the other day and I quickly eliminated one color in light of my future plans for the kitchen. At some point in the next year, I hope to replace the laminate counters the builder put in my condo with either granite or quartz. I haven’t decided on the color I want to use next, but I’m pretty sure the base color will be black or white. The vinyl flooring will also be replaced with tile…I haven’t given any though to that purchase yet.

With those future changes in mind, I decided to use one of the two more grayed out colors on the walls. So, in the end, I was trying to decide between Benjamin Moore Cinders (top) and Benjamin Moore Secret.

After a marathon taping and painting session, the view from the front door is now this:

Next project: adding molding to the tops of the cabinets

The winner was Benjamin Moore’s Secret. I haven’t done much accessorizing in the kitchen and I’m not sure I’ll do all that much. However, I did pick up some $10 peonies from Whole Foods that look great against the new color.

That’s Baxter’s cookie jar

The color doesn’t look fantastic with the current countertops, but I’m thinking that this might be good motivation to settle on new ones.

I’m especially happy about how the color looks along side Benjamin Moore’s Smoke, which is the color I used in the dining and living rooms.

Whole Foods hydrangeas on the dining table…every $12 bunch I buy lasts at least 1 and sometimes 2 weeks!

I’m hoping to have the bar lowered when I get the counters done. It’s currently higher than my elbows! It’s so high that even using the tallest bar stools on the market don’t work. Light from the other rooms doesn’t really reach the kitchen in its current state, either.

What do you think? Aren’t those counters unfortunate?

What do you do when you’re bored?

The internet in my neighborhood went down on Friday night during a huge thunderstorm. I had planned on doing some work on the blog, but I obviously had to change plans.

What does a design blogger do when presented with a free afternoon? She paints.

As a tease, here are the three colors I considered for my kitchen. From top to bottom (and right to left), the colors are: Benjamin Moore Cloudy Sky, Benjamin Moore Secret, and Benjamin Moore Cinder. What’s your favorite?