Last week I looked out my office window at a hillside covered in red and gold and green foliage. Just above the hill was a slice of silvery sky and scudding clouds. Above that hung a dense gray curtain, pushing to the east. This was an improvement over the buckets of rain that fell all morning. Such was October in the Pacific Northwest … our wettest on record.
Your question: Did we get the house painted? Yes, we did. Mostly. Enough for passers-by to convincingly say, “Look, they painted their house!” It still needs some touch-up. The attic dormer, the basement window casings, the garage, and the front porch floor will be painted next spring. The cedar shingles on the porches will be stained next spring. The chimney will be repointed and painted next spring. Let’s hope we have an early, dry spring.
I have accepted that I won’t find enough days over 50 degrees this fall to paint the three remaining screen doors, which I intended to paint under the cover of our front porch. But just to look at the house, you might think it’s done. I did get the front screen door finished, but it took forever to dry.
Considering the gloom of this November day, and all the identical days in the long-range forecast, the too-hot-to-paint days of summer seem far behind us. Eric thought he’d get this project done in a couple of months, but the prep work alone took longer than that. The painting itself was the “easy” part, he said, although setting up the ladder, climbing up, painting, climbing down, moving the ladder, and climbing up again doesn’t sound easy.
This is what our normally tidy deck looked like after weeks of painting. The dried paint buckets eventually filled with rainwater.
Eric made successive circuits around the house, painting first Subtle Taupe eaves, then the Falcon’s Aura siding, followed by the Subtle Taupe trim, and I followed behind with the Chocolate Cherry accent color. Eric taped a few windows for me, but soon saw it was a waste of time. “You’re on your own,” he told me.
Bruce Springsteen was born to run. Steppenwolf was born to be wild. Ray Charles was born to lose. And me? I was born to cut in. It is my one true talent. I can think of a lot of other talents that would be more interesting, not to mention more lucrative … but when you’re painting your house, the ability to paint a straight line is a handy trait. I can even do it ambidextrously, and believe me, I’m not ambidextrous at anything else.
I do cutting in, but I don’t do heights. Eric had to paint the attic windows, high on the back gable. I had the temerity to send him back up for a do-over. On some of these windows, I admit, a straight line was out of the question.
My parents would surely be proud that a five-year university fine arts degree produced a capable trim painter. I painted the mullions of one hundred ninety-eight 4 x 4-inch panes of glass. That’s a lot of cutting in. Painting the panes was a slow-moving, neck-craning, cramp-inducing meditation on what makes this house special.
Toward the end of 1983, I got a strong nesting urge to buy a house on my ridiculous shoe-string budget. As I perused the MLS book in a real estate office, I saw a picture of an old house with French doors flanked by high, small, multipaned windows, forming a bold T-shape. That house–I want to see that house.
And here I am, thirty-three years later, so I painted these panes with reverence, even though standing on a ladder for hours makes my body scream. Special thanks to Eric, for all the hours that he put in on this project over the summer, wrestling ladders and equipment by himself while I was at work.
This is my favorite photo of the whole “painful” process. I asked Eric to get a shot of Lacy supervising my technique from the windowsill inside, and he instructed me to hold the paint can in a specific spot.
But enough reminiscing—let’s get to those before-and-after pix!
We’ll start on the south side, which faces the neighboring house. This side’s trim was never painted in 1995 (tsk, tsk), and needed the most TLC.
Around the corner we go, to the east side, facing the backyard. The yellow bicycle is not flying by in a tornado; it’s a whirligig in our garden. Oh, that blue sky …
Next, the north side, which faces our side street. This is the most visible side of our house.
And finally, the west side, the front of our house. All of our time and energy went into painting … now I can see how our gardens suffered and overgrew.
What do you think? We’re really pleased with the new look, although I still wince at how “white” the Subtle Taupe reads (it’s especially white in photos). It’s not quite my original vision, but everyone seems to like it. It’s a pleasure to drive up and see our house in its fresh new coat. Maybe our favorite thing about it is that it’s done. Mostly.