Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A coat of paint covers a multitude of sins

1 Peter 4: 8 says
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

This weekend I did some painting of a bathroom and closet that desperately needed it. The above photo was from the closet... a hideous blue that hadn't been painted since the 50's or 60's probably. Anyway, I got thinking about how a fresh coat of paint is like love to a house... it covers a multitude of offenses.

I have done my fair share of renovations over the years. I may not be Martha Stewart, but I'm getting there. My husband jokingly calls me Martha sometimes and I call him Norm (from This Old House). Our first house was a Victorian from about the 1840's and needed a complete renovation inside and out... and we did it all ourselves. Here is a before picture of the outside (well actually mid-renovation):

and this is after...
Not bad if I do say so myself. The house is about 3500 sq. feet, which is quite a good amount of surface area. Unfortunately I'd have to go digging through boxes of photos to find the 'before' pictures of the inside, as they didn't exactly make the cut into my photo albums, but picture the entire thing done in 60's/70's floral wallpaper - mostly in hues of pinks. I'll just tell you right now, it was not a pretty sight. Here are a few of the inside though after the renovations. With the kitchen, we completely gutted it and put in all new appliances and cabinets. The floors were covered in a horrible laminate tile, and when we took it up, we found these great wood floors that we then sanded and stained.

When we pulled up a greenish 60's carpet in the living room, we found this amazing Axminster carpet underneath, so we decorated to match the hues of the carpet.

This is a shot of the living room into the dining room and with the study past that. This was at Christmas apparently... with the stocking hung by the chimney with care ;)
We used mostly neutral colors, except for the kitchen (which I like to be bright and sunny) and a bathroom, which I painted red. A small space and the color red = getting high on paint fumes, as I learned it can take 3 coats in order to get the correct color of red.

Besides this renovation, we also bought a 4 family house a few years back and renovated that completely (about 6,000 sq. ft). What a crazy adventure that was, especially as I was in the midst of grad school! Fortunately, we were able to flip it before the market turned sour.

Then, about a year ago we moved to an amazing house that looks a bit like an Italian villa:
and although it is wonderful, it did need a little bit of work. The first major thing was the kitchen. The cabinets had been painted in the 90's and were a teal green color and the orange/yellow tile floors went back to the 60's in my estimation. It was not a pretty color combo and very dark.

We brought in some interior decorators to see how much it would be to re-do it and they were throwing around numbers like $80 - 100,000! Well, the DIY'ers that we are said no to that and we did it ourself:

When I decorate, I like to save pictures of the things that I am attracted to. I found that I was really drawn to the white kitchens that I saw, so we decided to paint the cabinets white (Sherwin Williams, navajo white). In order to paint cabinets, be aware that you really need to sand them and clean the surface well.

I was also really drawn to travertine natural stone, so we got the chiseled edge Pietra Art travertine from Florida Tile in 'picaso'. We had it professionally installed, since we didn't want to mess with that.. but this whole renovation ended up costing around $10,000, as we decided to put in a new soapstone counter top and sink as well, which I love! Considering that kitchen renovations are one of the best places to see a high return, I think we did pretty well! Here is the finished kitchen. I found a great little butcher block island at an antique store, and we hung some peppers and garlic knots for the 'Italian' villa effect. The wall color is Sherwin Williams 'blonde'.

So here are some things I've learned during my DIY years:

* Always write down your paint colors and brand or keep the can if you are able.. you will almost always need it again to do a touch up or repair a hole at some point or another.

* All whites are NOT created equal. There are almost an infinite shade of whites. You can't just think, 'oh I'll touch up that window sill with some white'. We learned this the hard way by not writing down our paint colors when we first were married. We touched up a bunch of places that we thought were the same white.. but found out later when it dried that it was a different white and it looked much worse than it not being touched up at all. So I've learned to go with one brand and type of white and use it everywhere. It gives consistency and you don't have to write down where each color 'white' is painted.

* Buy good quality paint. I can't emphasize this enough. The one-coat kinds work wonders and will save a lot of time!

* You will almost always have to do multiple coats when painting white over a darker paint.

* Darker colors such as reds will sometimes need THREE coats of paint. It looks beautiful.. but be aware it takes longer.

* Preparation is key! Clean surfaces well, so you don't get dust in your brush or roller.

* Always use a drop cloth, no matter now careful you are. I once painted my bedroom (when I was still under my parents roof) and after I was done, I accidentally knocked over the paint can onto the rug! (It needed to be replaced anyway :P )

* Doing it yourself is always a learning experience. Have fun with it. Do a little grafitti before you paint; draw hearts on the wall; get a little paint in your hair; and be proud of the love you've given to your home.

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