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Holiday paintathon

January 10, 2017

What did I do on my holiday break?

A week before Christmas I was determined to sand the repaired fireplace wall. So I did, except for the part blocked by the TV cabinet, which I couldn’t move because of the Christmas tree. My mouse sander is supposed to collect dust, but this stuff was so fine that no filter could contain it. Clouds of the stuff enveloped the living and dining rooms and piled up on the mantel.

Sanding dust on the mantel.

This. All over.

Woman in dust mask.

So much fun.

I realized with dismay that I posted about creating sanding dust in the living room exactly one year ago, and I’m still working on this crazy project. Maybe it’s time to pick up the pace a little?

My holiday break consisted of 17 blissful days of pretend retirement, during which I was sure I could knock out the dining room paint job. The dining room consists of mostly trim: wood paneling up to 5 feet, topped by dentil molding and a plate rail. Box beams crisscross the ceiling, the east wall is dominated by a built-in buffet, and the north wall features a window seat below 13 feet of windows with those dreaded-but-charming 4-inch panes. That’s a lot of trim to paint white. What could go wrong?

Stepladder and work lights for painting project

In real life it was only slightly less dim.

Nothing went wrong … if you don’t count the fact that I’m growing old and my clothes are going out of style and I’m still nowhere near done. (The truth is, my clothes have never been in style.) The plaster-and-paintathon seems to have no discernable end.

To refresh your memory because it’s been so long since I written about the living room color scheme, I’m painting the wood trim Valspar Chef White, and the plaster walls (whenever I finish repairing them) Valspar Jogging Path, a Sherwin-Williams color. In the dining room, the beams are wood, so they’re white, and the ceiling itself is plaster, so it’s gray.

Gray wall with white trim

The new color scheme in the living room.

As usual, I started at the top, with one corner of the coffered ceiling.  Eric and I wondered, which part is the coffer? Is it the beam, or the cavity? I looked it up so you don’t have to. The coffer is the recessed portion between the beams. Like a coffin.

Progress was painstakingly slow because of the careful cutting in where the colors meet. Painting above my head in imperfect light made that really difficult, and my bifocals are a curse when I paint. I have to scrunch up my face like Popeye to pull a focus. It’s not perfect—don’t look too close!—but it looks pretty darn good.

Coffers before and after new paint

Coffers before and after

I find painting with white a little boring. I’m not really a white walls person … but as I got going, I realized just how much the white was brightening up this room. It looked shockingly, glaringly white at first, but it’s growing on me. I may be entering my white period. For instance, when we went to Office Depot to buy Eric a new desk chair, I fell in love with a sleek and sumptuous white leather number that seemed custom made for my backside. I resisted … although I still imagine it at my desk.

After completing the south row of coffers, I attacked the wall paneling. This went faster, but I still had to deal with fussy dentil molding and a plate railing. What makes painting seem so never-ending is that when I’ve covered one wall, I have to go back to the beginning and apply the second coat. Yeah, yeah, I know … I’m whining.

I had good company, though. If Duke could not lie directly under the ladder, he figured out how to lie exactly where I would move the ladder next. He’s very intuitive that way. Shiny black Crosby helped me paint the library door.

A black cat and a boxer lie on a tarp beneath a stepladder

My safety spotters, Crosby and Duke

Black cat with white paint on his side

What??

Old houses are made of edges and ledges, and they can collect a disgusting amount of dirt, especially with a houseful of pets (I’m not above blaming them). I ask you, how can something splatter as high as a nine-foot ceiling? Have you ever seen a jowly dog shake its head in slow motion? That’s how. Scrubbing and painting definitely freshen up the place.

Paneling and plate rail painted white

The corner’s done, but not the post or door trim. Can you see the difference?

As soon as the southwest corner was complete, I polished up the treadmill and moved it back in place, sans coats and purses this time. I don’t relish having a treadmill feature in my dining room, but it’s a small house and I don’t have anywhere else to put it.

Treadmill in dining room corner

Treadmill corner

Tada! One wall complete! The oil paintings are by San Francisco artist Donny Hahn.

Craftsman dining room with white trim

Bad lighting, but imagine all the trim you see is white.

It’s now sadly obvious to me that the wallpaper has to go, even though it looks not-too-bad in the photo. Its bronze background is just too dark and heavy for the light gray and white scheme. I haven’t decided whether to simply paint those walls gray or to find some more appropriate wallpaper and face that daunting task again. The area above the plate rail is a perfect place for wallpaper, but if I choose to simply paint, there’s plenty of architectural detail to keep the room from being boring.

After a quick online search, I picked these wallpapers as contenders if I want that experience again. They’re subtly colored, classic, and they’d look great in the space. I like the acanthus because it’s so subtle and textural, and I like the ogee because it has a more modern vibe while still being retro. What do you think? How do you think potential buyers would react to them? (We eventually will sell this house and build our retirement dream home.)

How much can I say about painting? I’ll just tell you that by tomorrow I’ll have completed two walls (one being the opening to the living room, which is mostly air) and five coffers. (I wrote that yesterday and I haven’t painted a stroke.) Next, I’m on to the buffet wall, and finally, the windows. Wish me luck … and perseverance.

To wrap up our break, Eric and I went out on New Year’s Eve to enjoy dinner and some Latin jazz. After two weeks of not wearing makeup,  I was reminded again of how much a fresh coat of paint can improve old things.

Now for the important stuff!

Cat stories! Our feral tabby friends, Dash, Dot, and Ditto Morse are three and a half years old, and they still hang out around our house. They are frequent, almost nightly, visitors at our back door, where they expect a good meal of kibble and Fancy Feast. Dash and Dot often nap in the heated kitty shelters on our front porch. Ditto is the most nocturnal; I usually visit with her around 10:30 p.m. Ditto loves for me to pet her and invites it eagerly, lifting her head to meet my hand and getting all excited and wiggly. Dash allows me to stroke his back only when he’s eating. Dot is the shy one; I can’t touch her. They’re adorable.

Three tabby cats in the mudroom

The Morses: Dash, Ditto (eating), and Dot

We treated our house cats to their very first cat tree. Sweet Tara (below) was the first to try it out, and she had the best time! So far, Tara, Crosby, Peggy Sue, and Chex think it’s great. Ginger, Lacy, Rose, and Fred think it’s beneath their dignity.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

 

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From → Living Room

16 Comments
  1. Angela permalink

    WoooW!!! I admire you! Thats really a piece of work and its looking great! About the wallpaper, definitely the acanthus! It will look lovely there!

    • Thanks, Angela! We are leaning toward the acanthus, too. That is, IF I want to get involved in wallpaper again.

  2. You are a rock star when it comes to painting and all the detail work that goes with a project like yours. It’s looking so good. I love the pets…they do know how to stay close, even if it means you have to step around them and nudge them out of the way when you move the ladder. It’s that kind of devotion that makes having a cat or dog (or both) the best kind of furry family member. 🙂
    Karen

    • I totally agree, Karen. Duke plays the same game with me when I vacuum. I literally have to bump him with the vac to get him to move. I miss your posts!

  3. Tom & Judy Huppert permalink

    I envy your stamina and tenacity. I would have hired someone to do it a long time ago, but then I can’t paint straight line with a ruler. lol I think you should go with the ogee to have a little contrast with the architectural details. Of course the kitties are the best pictures. Was wondering if Dash and Ditto are twins. From the picture it appears they have the same white markings. Love your posts, please keep them coming.

    • I am too cheap to hire someone! Dash, Dot, and Ditto are siblings. Dash and Dot have white trim and Ditto is all tabby. A friend named them the Morses–get it?

  4. curt permalink

    Go D’Arcy, go! You know I love tedious things! Watching is even better than doing! I like both of your wallpaper choices – but I’m a paint kinda guy. Whatever you choose – it will look great. Happy renovating in 2017!

    • Thanks for the pep talk, Curt! Tedious is exactly the word I was looking for. I’m going to paint tonight. Really, I am!!

  5. Barbara H. permalink

    Oh my, this is the never ending paint job. All that detail and edging – I can hardly make myself paint a plain flat door any more. You are doing great. It’s not just the painting – you’ve had so much repair and prep work that it kind of boggles the mind. And now wallpaper – you have my sympathy!

  6. I vote Ogee, but just painting it would be just fine, considering ALL the work for the wallpaper. I love you in your mask! Perfectly illustrates your … misery? I am enjoying your successes vicariously, and your pictures underline how much fun I am missing 🙂 That is because you write so funny!!

    • Why live vicariously? Don’t you want to come over and help?? I have lots of brushes! 🙂

  7. Don’t worry about buyers. Just do what you love. There will always be people that love it and others that hate it. Both of the wallpapers are nice. Your animals are so adorable – all of them!

    • I try to think about resale, but I always come back to the fact that it’s OUR house and we get to do what WE want! As you said, you can’t please ’em all, so we’ll please ourselves. And the critters, of course!

  8. Either wallpaper is appropriate and totally saleable. At first I thought I would like the acanthus better but with your white woodwork I’d go with the ogee — it’s not as “safe”. Your ceiling paint job is stellar. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

    • I started leaning toward the ogee, too, but I can’t get a sample and I think the pattern is bigger than I imagined (25 in. repeat?). Also, it’s “embossed.” Nope. Darn it!

      • I agree, 25″ repeat won’t do above the high rail. Too bad. Jo

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