Saturday, October 30, 2010

Painting the porch--take two

I got our paint retinted, and we put the second coat of paint on the porch today. 

To refresh your memory:


After one coat:

I don't know if anyone else can tell the difference, but we definitely like it better--and that's what matters.

At some later date, we'll paint the foundation with a similar but lighter color--probably the same color we first tried on the steps.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New York, New York

Now that we've completed the serious work on the master bathroom, it's time to get down to the fun details!  I hung our first piece of art this weekend:

I love having something hanging on that back wall--it makes the room look much more welcoming and less sterile.  But P and I can't make up our mind on the height.  Usually I hang things too high, and I may have overcorrected this time.  (The top of the frame is about level with my eyes.)  But I wanted it to be easily viewed from, ahem, a seated position.

I'm inclined to live with it.  After all, I'm so proud of myself for hanging it level--that's a real challenge with these Target frames!  P has suggested correcting by hanging a second picture over it.  I'm worried that one would be far too high.  What do you think?

Our "artwork" is actually a sheet of wrapping paper.  I bought it last year to wrap my wedding gift to P.  He's normally a gratuitous paper-tearer (I know!  Who saw that one coming, Mr. Meticulous?), but he took a liking to this piece, and wisely decided to save it.

Despite P's care in unwrapping the gift, the paper still is, well, used gift wrap--creases, tape, and all.  I'm claiming that it gives the piece character--makes it look like an actual map that's seen some use.  (Anyone buying that?)

Here's the amusing irony--P and I hate going to Manhattan.  It's just too overwhelming, too many people--we're small-town introverts at heart.  So why display the map?  Because the engineer in P loves it.  He's fascinated by all the infrastructure required to support modern life--particularly in a place as dense as Manhattan.  This map is nice in that it shows things most don't, including train lines and shipping docks.  P also feels some personal connection to all of this.  His father commuted to Manhattan daily, where he worked to keep the trains running.

At the risk of treading on, um, sensitive topics, I think this is the perfect piece of art for a bathroom.  Plenty of detail to keep the eye and mind while a person is in there alone.

We're going to be the biggest experts on the transportation system of Manhattan who never actually go there that you've ever seen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Painting the porch

A few months ago, I mentioned that our porch needed to be painted.  Let me remind you of why:

Right.  Sad peeling paint.  Plus the last painter chose to end the foundation paint color and begin the porch paint color in a really random spot.  Don't know what happened there....

I started by grabbing a painter's tool and scraping off the loosest of the paint.  Nothing crazy (or even thorough)--just the really loose stuff.  Which yielded this lovely porch:

And that's when project creep set in.  Wouldn't this look so much better if I took some concrete caulk to it?

It's just a little caulk, right?  And we've been carrying a tube around with us for over a year, through two moves!  (P bought it for a project we did on a house we used to rent, and then didn't need it.  But why we bother with the moving is another question...)

Neither of us had actually used concrete caulk before.  Fun fact--turns out it's gritty, but still acrylic--sort of like if caulk and mortar got together and had a baby.

The grit means that you can't wipe it as smooth as you can regular caulk.  Luckily I wasn't going for perfection, because I had taken my traditional "glop a lot everywhere and wipe off the excess approach."

The problem came when I started reading the directions.  I put the caulk on mid-afternoon Saturday (after scraping the paint, washing the porch down, and waiting for it to dry).  Turns out that, unlike the nice indoor caulk, this stuff needs 24 hours to dry.  Bummer.  Guess painting would have to wait until Sunday.

Then I read the paint can.  The paint suggested 8 hours between coats (not the 4 I'm accustomed to with interior paint).  Even worse, it needed to be applied at least 12 hours before rain or heavy dew.

Heavy dew is a nightly phenomenon for us.  As is, so heavy that the time I leave for work in the morning is determined by what time the fog lifts--I don't like to bike when visibility is low.  And that's the way it is every day.  The dew burns off between 9 and 10 AM, and falls around 8 PM.  Anyone doing the math here?  That's right, we never have a 12 hour window without heavy dew.  What's a girl to do?  Clearly, just ignore that part of the instructions.

So P and I popped out of bed on Sunday morning and raced out to put the first coat of paint on the porch--even before coffee and breakfast.  I never do anything before a nice leisurely breakfast.  He rolled and I cut, and we were done in no time flat.  P kept looking at the paint going on and saying, "Doesn't it look awfully light to you?"  And I kept saying, "Oh, you can't judge it until it dries."

Well, it dried.  Way too light.

I'm used to paint turning out to be a different color than I expected.  Usually what happens is I go, "Really?  I bought that?"  And I hold up the paint chip, and what do you know, I did buy that.  It just looks really different on a wall than in a 1-inch square sample.  But this isn't even close to the paint chip!

But we have some time to think about it, because here's the local forecast (as of Sunday morning):

I think I'm going to get the paint re-tinted for the second coat.  Same thing, just darker.  We'll see how it goes.  We'll then use this too-light color on the foundation, which we want to be lighter than the porch--you know, create a sense of architecture and all.

Just so long as I get it done on Saturday, this time.  Sunday is Halloween, and there aren't enough "Wet Paint" signs on God's green earth to keep candy-crazed children off of our porch then.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bits and Pieces

P and I have spent the last few weekends working on little niggling projects.  Tying up loose ends of projects, like caulking the nailholes in baseboard molding.  And doing the kinds of projects that seemed too small to really warrant our attention before.

We're getting a little cranky at each other, because we both feel like we should be moving ahead on much larger, more significant projects--but can't agree on what those are, how to proceed, or in what order. 

That said, we're also really glad we stepped back and took some time to deal with these little things.  They don't make for very dramatic blog posts, but they make an enormous difference in how the house feels to us. 

We have three small, linen-type closets in the house--one in the hall, and one in each bathroom.  We had taken down the shelving in each of these months ago, and it was finally time to put up some replacement shelves, so we could actually put some things away in the closets.

I wanted to go with the wire shelves that you hang on the tracks, so that I could easily adjust the shelf spacing whenever my storage needs changed.  P hung those in the master bath closet for me:

We were unimpressed, though, by the shelving.  It's fine for holding lighter items like toilet paper, but we weren't sure how it would stand up to lots of heavy paint cans. 

So plan B: use the tracks and brackets in the hall and hall bath closets, but put plywood shelving on the brackets (instead of wire). 

Plan B didn't last long: when P started knocking around our closets, looking for the studs, he decided they were in inconvenient places for hanging the track.  So Plan C: back to the old "nail a board into the side of the closet, and support a shelf on it" style of shelving.  Ironically, this is what we had before I made Paul take all the support boards out of the closets back in, oh, May or something.  Oops.

All this thinking about closets got me thinking about closet doors.  Which we took off in April for the floor refinishing, and never put back up.  So I slapped some white paint on the doors, got some new knobs, and up they went!  It's funny--I actually don't particularly like having doors on the closets, at least from a practical perspective.  It's a lot easier to put an armload of things into the closet without having to fumble for a doorknob.  But they make the house look so, well, finished!  It's a nice feeling.

At least for a few weeks, before we start knocking down walls.  ;-)

While I was on a roll with the doors, I also painted and put a new knob on the guest room door.  Much better than before, right?

The one dilemma here was what to do with the master bathroom closet door.  It still smelled faintly of that old-lady smell that began the whole bathroom gutting project in the first place.  It was a "put your nose right on the door and inhale deeply and think about it" kind of faint smell, but we were concerned that once the closet was closed up again, the smell would magnify and permeate.  But all the doors and trim in that part of the house are stained wood, so I feared that painting this one with Kilz would start a cascade of painting everything else to match. 

So P scuff sanded it and threw a coat of polycrylic on it.  I was skeptical, but I have to say, it turned out well!

You can see that the finish has been sanded away if you really look at the edges and corners--but it's the inside of a closet, and really, it doesn't bother me.  Important part: no more smell!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cheap fix

The lighting situation in the master bathroom is bad.  It's going to need some serious updating.  Later.  (I'll tell you all about it another day....)

We'll fix it, like, once we have some ideas or something.

The one element that was fine was the ceiling light/exhaust fan.  Except for the fact that like most fans these days, the housing is made out of plastic.  And after 20 years, white plastic turns yellow.

So I wasn't thrilled with the yellow fixture, but didn't want to go through the time or money to replace something that was otherwise okay.  We replaced the exhaust fan in the other bathroom, and it turned out to be surprisingly difficult and time-consuming.  So not again.

I've read all about the magic properties of spray paint all over the blogosphere, but hadn't tried it for myself yet.

I picked up a can of silver Rustoleum paint at Home Depot--paying $2 extra for the indoor/outdoor variety, so it could stand up to a humid bathroom environment--and man, everything I had read about the magic of this stuff is so true.

I neglected to take a "before" picture, since this was during the era of "the camera is lost in the mess on the kitchen table."  But you can use your imagination, right?

P put the fan back up this morning, and I'm pretty darn pleased:

I think spray paint is going to be a serious player around these parts from now on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Magic bathroom!

Sorry for the lack of updates--I misplaced my camera.  On the kitchen table.  Yeah, the housekeeping around here definitely leaves something to be desired.

I went back home the first weekend in October for my grandmother's 80th birthday.  Great fun!  But that's not really on topic here.  What matters is that I went by myself, and left P at home.  And he painted the bathroom!

This shouldn't have really come as a surprise, since he asked me at least three times before I left, "Where's the paint?  What paint are we using?"  But I'm usually the painter around here--he's great with a roller, but has little patience for cutting in.  And the bathroom required a lot of cutting in: two door frames, mirror, light fixtures, vanity, tub, etc.  Bedrooms are really a piece of cake, aren't they?

But P rose to the occasion, and I came home to a lovely room!  Here it is as of a few days ago:

(P installed the quarter round bridging the gap between the tub and the floor since this was taken.  And the wall color is Benjamin Moore's Horizon, in case anyone is interested.)

Just a few finishing details left now:  I need to install all new outlets and light switches, a little bit of touch up paint on the molding corners, and putting the exhaust fan cover back on.

Then on to the fun parts: artwork!  A new bath mat!  And I'm seriously toying with the extravagance of new towels.  We've always gone frugal and used hand-me downs.  The idea of getting new ones in matching colors (and that complement the paint!) is pretty novel.