Friday, May 28, 2010

With a little help from our friends (part II)

A few weeks ago, my parents came for a long weekend. They made it very clear that they expected to work on the house during their visit, and I was expected to have a job list prepared for them.

Initially, I had planned for them to paint the walls of our front bedroom. I had completed painting the trim and had settled on a color for the walls, until P and I began having second thoughts about exactly what we would use that room for. (More on that later.) P thought I should just pick a color and we would figure out the room's purpose later. But I refused to move forward on a color until I knew what furniture was going into the room and what mood I wanted it to evoke--I guess it's a woman thing.

The gridlock on the front bedroom turned out to be fortunate, because I ended up assigning my parents a much larger project, which better suited the number of hours and hands we had available, and allowed me to squeeze every last bit of labor possible out of our guests: painting the dining room and kitchen. 

Both rooms were wood panelled (except one wall of the kitchen, which was wallpapered).  Not our thing, and it made the rooms appear darker than they were.  The kitchen already has a moderate lighting deficiency (two small east windows, both of which are shaded by our carport), so we want to maximize every bit of lighting we have.  Finally, the yellowish vinyl floor kitchen floor, combined with the paneling, wood cabinetry, and yellow-toned faux butcher-block laminate countertop and backsplash, made for an overwhelmingly yellow room.  We'll eventually replace the countertops, backsplash, and flooring, but for the time being, we needed a paint color that would tone down the yellow nature of the kitchen.

Here's what we were starting with:

We decided to paint the two rooms the same color in order to tie the spaces together.  My mom and I had been consulting by email, phone, and mailed paint chips, and thought that a light gray would brighten the spaces up and minimize the yellow cast.  I was overwhelmed by the number of gray paint swatches I liked, so made a semi-arbitrary decision to limit the field to Benjamin Moore's Historic Colors line.  I had been browsing the internet for pictures of paint colors I liked, and had asked my mother what paints she had used in the past, and was repeatedly frustrated when a color I liked was no longer in the company's catalog.  The historic colors don't change, so I'll be able to easily pick up a new gallon of paint anytime I need to touch something up.

From the Historic Colors line, we selected the Wickham Gray and Stonington Gray to test.  I followed my usually procedure and painted swatches on various walls with different lighting conditions. These two grays, more than any other color we've tested, are amazingly changeable depending on light and setting. The Wickham ranges from a light blue to a light taupe, while the Stonington swings from a light gray to a mid-range charcoal to a medium lavender. Fun!  We liked them both, but settled on the Wickham (the lighter one, on the left).  (I just want it on the record, after the bedroom paint debacle that you haven't even heard the half of yet, that we are usually capable of choosing a paint color!)    

I had planned to prime all of the wood paneling before painting, but had just put the samples directly on the paneling when testing the colors.  The paint was adhering and hiding so well, that I decided we'd just skip the priming, and paint two coats directly on the paneling.  We were using Behr's Paint and Primer in One, eggshell finish.  Skipping the primer was a good choice: even though the Behr paint promises that you'll only need one coat, I've found that that one coat needs to be thick and perfectly applied, even over primer, in order to look good.  By just putting on two topcoats, the project cost a little more (maybe up to $15 extra), but we didn't have to be nearly as exacting in our application of the paint, and things went much faster.  We also were able to use just one coat of paint in a few areas that are difficult both to reach and see.

It was wonderful to have helpers on this particular project: there was a lot of trim to paint, and a lot of careful cutting in by hand around the newly painted trim.  I discovered that my mother is really good at doing this kind of precision painting work, and is putting all of my painting in the rest of the house to shame.

And my parents are hard workers--they wore us out!  It was a lot of hard work, but a really gratifying project: two and a half days later, when it was time for them to head back home, the project was done, and the rooms were completely transformed.  P keeps saying that it doesn't even look like the same house.  He was skeptical of the painted paneling idea, but we both love the way it's turned out.

Here's a group picture just before my parents left, in front of our newly painted wall:

And a few more stunning after pics:

With the crisp white trim and the light blue-gray walls (especially on paneling, which does a nice bead-board imitation), we've discovered that we have inadvertently created a nice beach-cottage vibe.  We're good with that, and might stick with it for other parts of the house--so long as that doesn't mean we have to decorate with starfish and corals.


Young Wife said...

Wow! What a transformation!

Jolie said...

Looks much better painted! I love the beach cottage vibe, too!