Tag Archives: Craftsman exterior paint

The garage catches up

Last summer, you might recall, we painted the exterior of the house.  We ran out of summer before we could finish some of the details, like painting our garage (if an entire building can be considered a detail). So naturally, we waited until we were pressing up against rainy season 2017 to start this painting project. But, look at this little bitty garage! It’s only Model T size, so it can’t take long to throw a coat of paint on it, now, can it? Let’s see how many side projects can derail our progress.

100 year old garage with original carriage doors

Our Model T garage

1.  Power wash.

Washing is really just a starting point for any paint job, not a side project, but it takes time and effort, so it’s on this list. Bonus—it’s always fun to play with water when the weather’s hot. Eric attacked the alley side first, which was caked with years of dust.

Man pressure washes old garage

Playing with water on a hot day

Damaged shingle siding on pressure washed garage

After pressure washing. The corner shingles have been crunched, probably hit by the garbage truck.

2. Hack back the Japanese garden.

Meanwhile, things were out of control on the garden side of the garage. We needed to be able to throw a tarp over the plants to protect them from paint spray, but first we had to be able to get to the plants. We didn’t do much garden maintenance this summer, and it shows. I’ll use my tweaky back as my excuse, and—oh yeah—the un-Seattle-like hot weather. It’s no fun gardening in 90+ degree  sun. Yep, old war horse excuses trotted out one more time.

Overgrown small Japanese garden.

An overgrown mess.

Black and white cat meows as he lies in a garden.

Checkers says, “Don’t mess with my secret sleeping spot!”

Small, old garage waiting for paint

Garden side before paint

As I trimmed and weeded my way down the narrow garden path, I discovered that Digger O’Dell* (as my mom would have called Duke) had extended his excavation hobby to the Japanese garden, which I had feared was inevitable. I found a pit at the corner of the fence, and a trough all along the side of the garage foundation. Eighty-three-pound Duke, with his dig-or-be-damned determination, managed to wedge himself behind the spikey blue Atlas cedar and the bushy spirea, a tight fit even for a cat. Look what he did to my black mondo grass!

I’m trying to save some of it in water until I can replant.

3.  Install a drain pipe along the alley.

Eric plans to bury a drain pipe next to the garage to handle winter runoff from the alley. While digging the trench, he dug up hundreds of day lily bulbs, which we gave away to neighbors. I don’t know why he didn’t subcontract with Duke to do this work.

Looking down the alley side of the garage.

Looking down the alley side of the garage where the drain pipe will go.

Dug-up day lilies laying on a board

Day lilies, anyone?

4.  Renovate the greenhouse.

Then, there’s our little greenhouse, which was built 20 years ago from salvaged windows. It was desperate for attention. The window glazing was falling out, the shingle siding was rotting, and the fiberglass wiggle board roof was oxidized, brittle, and leaking. We couldn’t very well paint the garage without upgrading the greenhouse! That’s where this project really exploded: Eric is applying narrow T-1-11 plywood siding … nothing fancy, but it’ll keep the wasps and rain out. Also, it’s getting a new roof of UV-resistant polycarbonate panels, which we saw on the catio tour this summer. I’ll reglaze the windows and we’ll paint the greenhouse to match the house. This will be the old windows’ first experience with paint. They’re due.

Run-down greenhouse

Sad!

Greenhouse made of salvaged wood windows

Such potential!

Brittle fiberglass roof on greenhouse.

Crispy roof.

Greenhouse with blue tarp on roof.

Blue tarp. Yep, we’re those people.

Before he could begin installing the new greenhouse roof, Eric painted the garage gable, which would be inaccessible once the new roof went on. Our weather was still summer-hot.

Man stands on ladder in roofless greenhouse and paints a wall.

Painting the gable.

5. Straighten up the saggy garage door.

Yes, the garage leans a little. So will you when you are 104 years old. The left door, in particular, is sagging. (We don’t park in the garage. We use it as storage for … stuff.)

100 year old garage with original carriage doors that sag.

A little crooked, but cute as ever.

Eric filled screw holes and moved the top hinge on the left door back up to its original position so it could get a better bite. This helped raise the door a tiny bit, but not enough. Eric has other methods up his sleeve for later.

I kept running into green paint on the garage. The house would have turned green in the 1940s or 50s when the asbestos siding was applied (as did the house next door, which remained green into the mid-90s), because the asbestos tiles were originally green. The garage didn’t get the asbestos siding treatment and has always been sided in the original shingles.

Garage door hinge replaced in original postion

Underneath–green?

How did we do?

We’re still working on it! We’re not finished (with anything), but we’ve made lots of progress, and the autumn rain has held off—so far—no guarantees about tomorrow. Here are some before-and-afters.

Painting the garage doors was my project. It seemed to take forever, and it’s still not quite finished. The center strip needs replacing.

100 year old garage with original carriage doors that sag.

Before

Repainted 1913 garage.

After

The greenhouse roof. Nearly finished, but it still needs blocking between the rafters, trimming, and a gutter.

Brittle fiberglass roof on greenhouse.

Before.

Greenhouse with new polycarbonate roof

After. The new roof even makes the sun shine!

Greenhouse siding. Since the “after” shot, I’ve primed and pre-painted the siding panels, and they’re ready to be installed. Next will be trim and reglazing those windows. We haven’t started the door end yet.

Before.

Boxer lies in front of greenhouse under renovation.

Much has been done since this shot, but Duke looks too cute not to include it!

The garden side of the garage. Both the garden and the garage look better. I really like how the plants look against the new color.

Small, old garage waiting for paint

Before

1913 garage with new paint

After

I got on a roll and weeded and trimmed up the whole garden.

The alley side of the garage. So much better!

100 year old garage with original carriage doors

Before.

Newly painted 1913 garage

After.

Wait—what’s that, just past the greenhouse? My next post, that’s what! Stay tuned …

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
*Digger O’Dell was the “friendly undertaker” in the 1940s radio show, The Life of Riley.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

Just in time for fall, another screen door

“Little and often make much.”

So says a Chinese fortune paper that I keep on my desk at work. This summer, I have done as little as I can, as often as possible, and I can’t figure out why I haven’t accomplished much! Maybe my pace will pick up once our scorching-hot summer is over.

One of my summer projects was to paint the back screen door, which still matched the previous color scheme. How hard can that be?

Half the summer slipped by before I laid the door out for rejuvenation in my side-porch paint lab. I had barely gotten busy sanding its grubby surface when I noticed that the glue joint above the handle had separated. We decided that the old door had come to the end of its useful life. Time for a fresh start.

At Lowe’s we chose a new pine screen door in the same style as the old one. This time, though, Eric wanted to install a real dog door instead of cutting a flap of screen fabric. We need to keep the fur kids in, yet still ventilate the house. Additionally, he wanted to upgrade the standard screen fabric to pet screen, which is a strong, coarser, vinyl-coated polyester mesh that resists claws. (I highly recommend it.)

Now—watch as a seemingly simple project (paint a freakin’ door!) balloons into a whole summer’s worth of mini projects!

On our old door, the screen was attached with a spline in a groove, making the screen impossible to removable without ruining it. The new door features a routered channel that holds a metal frame, into which the screen and spline is inserted. The whole framework and screen can be removed for painting the door, then reinstalled with screws. Eric says this system has been around for a long time … but what do I know? I was just glad I wouldn’t have to tape the screens when I painted. I hate taping!

Wood screen door without the screen

The door with the metal frame and screen removed.

In his basement shop, Eric customized the door to hold a large dog door, the same kind we have in the back door. He filled the space above the dog door with wood. (In the photos below, the wood door is laying on a plywood surface, making it hard to see details.)

He also had to buy new, larger metal framing for the screen, because the frame that came with the door was too small to accept the heavier pet screen fabric. The larger frame required routering a wider channel in the door. All that gluing, screwing, and tattooing took longer than I’d hoped, but finally our new, custom door made its way back upstairs to the paint lab.

My turn. Notice, I seldom paint alone. If Eric took a long time to customize the door, I probably took just as long to finish painting. I could only do one coat per day, and I didn’t paint every day.

We pin the door back against the house when it’s not in use because there’s only a top step to stand on—no landing and no place to get out of the way of an outward-opening door. When it’s pinned back, the inside of the door is visible from the street, so I painted it the trim color to help it blend with the trim around the back porch window. Initially I thought to paint it the gray-green siding color, but people only see the top of the door from the street, and the pale taupe looks better from the inside when the door’s closed.

At last, the door was cured and ready to be fitted out with the new screen and pet door. Eric did the work on the kitchen floor.

Finally—ready to install! But wait—let’s do some additional fiddling around. When Eric removed the old door, we found that the hinges had been screwed into a piece of shim inside the door jamb. No wonder it never fit right. Eric cut a new trim piece for the door jamb, and I, of course, painted it. Now we could proceed with measuring and jiggling it around until it fit just so, at the right height and depth … are we done yet? No!

To make the door fit flush with the exterior door frame, Eric added some clever bumpers. Can you tell what these are really for? (Hint: They are not rubber baby buggy bumpers.) If you can’t figure it out, go lift up your toilet seat …

Rubber bumper used to dampen screen door slam.

The door always closes quietly.

Door with hook and eye fastener

Interior hardware

Boxer stands before pet door

Duke quivers with excitement as Eric encourages him to try his new door.

View of plants outside screen door

The leafy view from inside.

Boxer peers under wooden gate

What people see from the sidewalk. Go ahead–stick your foot under the gate!

We started this easy project on July 7. We hung the screen door on August 28 … our normal, do-little-often pace. (But we’ve had a hot, fun summer!) Duke is still figuring out how to heft his hind legs through the new door, which is a higher step than the other door. Some of the cats are confused that the screen panel isn’t the way in anymore. Eric and I are on to our next project. We’ll all figure it out …

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

The big paint reveal!

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.

Office window view of houses on autumn hillside

A view to the southeast

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.

a tabby and a tuxedo cat curled up on a patio cushion

Crosby keeps an eye on daddy high on the ladder, while Tara frowns at Duke, who’s cavorting on the deck.

This is what our normally tidy deck looked like after weeks of painting. The dried paint buckets eventually filled with rainwater.

Messy deck and patio table

Chaos

Plastic pots with green paint

How many do you need?

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.

Step ladder behind rhododenron bushes with partially painted window frames

Getting the ladder behind the rhodies was hard.

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.

Roughly applied glazing compound

An example of how not to apply glazing compound.

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.

reflection in window with cat eyes visible

Supervisor cat mirage

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.

Side of bungalow before painting

South side before

Side of bungalow after painting

South side after

Chipped paint on window casing

As bad as it gets

Bungalow window casing after paint

MUCH better!

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 …

Back of bungalow before paint

East side before

Back of bungalow during paint

East side with siding painted

Back of bungalow after paint

East side complete

Next, the north side, which faces our side street. This is the most visible side of our house.

North side of bungalow before paint

North side before

Norht side of bungalow after paint

North side after

Large dining room window before paint

Dining room windows before

Large dining room window after paint

Dining room windows after

Open porch before paint

Side porch before (with paint samples!)

Open porch after paint

Side porch after

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.

Front of bungalow before paint

West side before

Front side of bungalow after apint

West side after

Bungalow front porch entry after apint

West side entry after

Outlines of old house numbers on porch

One of three sets of old house numbers we removed … been there a while

Bungalow front porch after paint

Front porch detail–and new copper house numbers

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.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

Preppin’

The pace has been a little different at the bungalow this summer. Eric has been working hard to prep the house for painting during the week, while I, of course, bring the bacon home from the cube farm. By the time the weekend rolls around, we both want a break. It’s summer after all, and we in the damp, gray Pacific Northwest cherish our summers, which traditionally begin on July 5th and sometimes, if we’re lucky, blaze gloriously into early October.

Who can blame us for packing in all the summer activities we can? It’s time for art fairs, ferry rides, farmers markets, architectural tours, dinner with a view. You may have noticed that I’ve slacked off on blog posts. No apologies! I’ve also, um, slacked off on my living room replastering project. What can I say? By the time I get home from work in the evening, plastering doesn’t sound appealing… and come the weekend, I want to play outdoors. And I don’t mean hunting crabgrass, either! Our crabgrass is alive and well!

Okay, break’s over. I have some gnarly before-and-durings for you (no afters, yet). A house does not get to be 103 years old without experiencing some decrepitude. Years of deferred maintenance cause spots and wrinkles, as surely as years without sunscreen cause spots and wrinkles on us. These photos are tantamount to a confession.

Eric started the prep work on the south side of our house, which bakes in the summer sun and soaks in the winter rain. I may have mentioned that whoever painted the trim back in 1995 never got around to trimming out the south side. That person should be thrashed!

In her defense, I recall our 2007 trip to New England, when we visited the Olson house in Cushing, Maine, inspiration for many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings (most famously, Christina’s World). We were free to crawl all over its shabby, faded austerity—a religious experience for me. It made me think: If this house can stand on this windswept hill since the late 1700s with, apparently, no paint, then … what, me worry? But, I digress. That’s a topic for another travel blog.

It is with humility that I reveal to you … our bungalow’s south side. This is my bedroom closet window. (Craftsman houses often have windows in their tiny closets so that one might air out one’s few clothes.) The upper pane is cracked. The checked and peeling brown paint has a tenuous grip on the oversprayed trim boards. The window glazing is mottled but still there. That’s more than some windows can say. Eric used a combination of scraper, power washer, and heat gun to get all the paint off that would come off.

Here’s the south foyer window. Same condition. No hate mail, please.

Are you tired of looking at these depressing photos? I am. I’m sure you get the idea. But wait, there’s more!

Some places are going to be hard to paint, like this oddly shaped cubbyhole formed by a shed roof under the gable over the south foyer window, where pigeons like to roost. In the spring we can hear the chicks peeping and the adults cooing. Eric used the power washer to blast out the remnants of nest and lots of pigeon poop. Yes, he wore a face shield. Then he covered the area with net to keep the birds out. The net will be neatly attached to permanently deter the birds after we paint. Our bird-watching cats will be disappointed. (They do not catch pigeons.)

Small shed roof protects a window under a gable

A complicated construction

Pigeon poop is not the only hazardous waste Eric encountered. On the porch roof he discovered a disgusting pile of what we think was raccoon poop, loaded with cherry pits. You know what happens when you eat too many cherries … that raccoon must have had a bad bellyache.

A pile of raccoon poop on the roof

Yuck

Back to the window frames … After Eric removed as much old paint as possible, all window frames got one or two coats of Zinsser Peel Stop, a treatment that soaks into punky, dry wood and dries hard as rock, at the same time bonding any remaining paint to the wood. Then, a coat of Kilz Klear, a primer that goes on translucent white and dries clear (I mean, klear), like Elmer’s Glue. The new paint won’t dare to come off.

Cans of Zinsser Peel Stop and Kilz Klear

Zinsser Peel Stop and Kilz Klear

In contrast to the south side, this is our east-facing attic stairwell window. Looks much better, right? But up close, its paint is also checked and brittle, not to mention filthy from pollution.

The most dramatic weather damage is on the parts you can’t see from the ground—the knee braces, for instance. What would your knees look like if they’d been propping up the eaves day in, day out, for 103 years? This is not a log on the beach. It’s the top of one of the knee braces.

Shockingly bad!

Shockingly bad!

You might be surprised to learn that rotten wood like this can be salvaged with good old Bondo. Yes, the same stuff used at body shops. Eric tells me it’s rather tricky to mix the two-part goop, race to the top of the ladder, and schmear it on while it’s still malleable. Bondo is a lot stronger than wood. Real restorers would replace all of these parts with new wood, of course … but we’re not doing that. Our goal is to stabilize the existing wood, paint it, and move on.

Gable roof with three knee braces

Tired old knees

In all, Eric replaced eight window panes and reglazed several more. Both of our bathroom windows had cracked panes, so we took the opportunity to replace the clear glass (which we had covered with patterned adhesive privacy film) with new, obscure glass. Wow, what a difference in the bathroom—almost too bright. I can see my own spots and wrinkles too well.

Yesterday, after our spate of too-hot-and-windy-to-paint weather ended, Eric and I applied two coats of “haint blue” paint (Valspar “Gossamer Sky”) to the front porch ceiling. Here’s a teaser for my next post: Woo-hoo—it’s time for COLOR!

Porch ceiling with robin's egg blue paint

The painting begins!

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

Auditions

Big changes are afoot at the bungalow this summer: Eric got caught in a round of layoffs at the company where we both work. (So far, I’m still employed.) While not in our plan, this is not a bad thing. He parted with a few months severance pay, and after 60 days hiatus (required by law), he potentially could return as a contractor.  He’ll officially retire at the end of the year. We say he’s “pretired.” Me? I’m just tired.

Having the summer off with pay sounds like heaven to me … but Eric is saddled with a mile-long honey-do list, his penance for being home and hanging out with Duke and the cats while I continue to toil at the cube farm. You know, little stuff like muck out the attic, build a new fence, paint the house. Yes, folks, it’s time … long past time. The house was last painted back in 1995, best I can remember, and that paint job never was quite finished on the south side, which faces our neighbor. That fact doesn’t sufficiently bother me because I never see our house from that side … out of sight, out of mind—I’m such a lazy bum.

Painting any house is a big job, but painting an old house with intricate trim and peeling paint, weather-beaten wood and petrified glazing is truly daunting. I’ll be giving you a play-by-play description over the summer as things progress.

First, of course, comes a ton of not-so-fun prep work—the key to success if you can force yourself through it—which you must. Yes, I will be helping. You know that painting is my thing. I’ll be painting most of the trim because it’s all brushwork. The body of the house, which, regrettably, is covered in asbestos shingles (along with much of the neighborhood, since some convincing salesman came through in the 1950s) will be sprayed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We can’t paint without picking our new colors, and that’s where the auditions come in. The house is currently a light taupe called Tooley Fog (is that a great color name, or what?) with white trim and spruce-green accent on the window mullions and doors.

Gray Craftsman bungalow with many landscape plantings

Our current color scheme. Pretty tame.

I’ve long been imagining the house painted a darker, more traditionally Craftsman scheme of dusty olive, with paler olive trim and burnt red accent. Time for paint auditions!

Eric and I have a routine that we go through every time we pick paint. I’ll pick a color, and Eric will claim, “It’s too dark.” Every. Single. Time. So this time, I picked out the Valspar paint chip cards and, instead of going for the darkest shades, I chose the middle ones, Mossy Aura and Wild Hawk. I moved two cards to the left in the same row and picked lighter shades for the trim, Oatlands Subtle Taupe (which was also a contender for living room paint), and Oatbran. For the red accent, I chose Jekyll Club Cherokee Rust, which reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature red.

Although the two schemes look almost identical and not quite true to life on my monitor, here they are.

I fell in love with Mossy Aura the moment I applied it. It’s, well … mossy. A great backdrop for plants, and very Craftsman. Subtle Taupe is its perfect trim color: light and slightly green-tinted, but with lots more character than white. I eliminated the Wild Hawk/Oatbran combo, although good colors, as too brown. (When I bought the house in 1983 it was vanilla with mud brown trim. Yech! I want to stay away from brown.)

But the Cherokee Rust—oh dear! It screamed – and completely overpowered the moss and taupe. No, no, no!

gray-green paint with red trim

Yikes! Too red!

Back to Lowe’s for a do-over, not so orangey this time … a little darker. How about Olympic’s Brick Dust?

Gray-green paint with red trim

Still not quite right, but closer.

Still too intense. Where was I going wrong? I shuffled my paint chips and even thought about abandoning the red accent and going to a dark teal, which would be beautiful … but it didn’t look like the picture I’ve had in my head for so long, and I didn’t know how it would look with the red porch floor (which could be repainted) and the fireplace chimney.

Paint chips arranged on a table top.

What to do, what to do …

Time for some field research. Eric, Duke, and I drove up to Seattle’s Ravenna district, a bungalow neighborhood where our house would be worth three times as much as it is in Auburn. (Especially now, when Seattle real estate prices are going through the roof … the median price for a house is $666,000. Alas, Auburn prices lag far behind.) Sigh …

As usual, click to enlarge.

I noticed three things:

  1. We have the most heavily landscaped and planted yard in our neighborhood. It kind of sticks out compared to our horticulturally challenged neighbors, and we get lots of compliments. But almost everyone in Seattle has plantings like this—and more so. Many front yards have no grass at all. Parking strips aren’t grass, but gardens. Flowers are bursting out everywhere, spilling through fences and onto the sidewalks. It’s gorgeous.
  2. No one in Ravenna says, “It’s too dark.” They are not afraid to paint their houses deep shades of gray, olive, teal, even dusky purple (the nearby University of Washington’s colors are purple and gold).
  3. Lots of people use the very type of red accent that I was trying to find, only it’s more brownish and rusty. In combination with other colors, it reads as almost red. Got it! Back to Lowe’s!

This time, I got a sample of the darker olive shade, Falcon’s Plume, with Filoli Carriage House (which in person looks a little like guacamole) for trim and Chocolate Cherry for accent. (I wish I could get a job as color namer instead of a technical writer.) The darker, richer field and trim shades finally held their own against the rusty red. Success! Even Eric had to admit that darker worked. We had our color scheme!

Or did we? As I slept that night, colors swirled in my head, shifting hues and intensities. In the morning, I knew I had to try the Chocolate Cherry with the Mossy Aura combo. Bingo, it worked! Now we had two equally successful color schemes, one of medium intensity and one deeper. Which to pick?

We had agreed to go dark, but my heart was still with Mossy Aura. Our neighbors Art and Mari wandered by, and we stood on the sidewalk and pondered. We realized that the darker Falcon’s Plume was almost the same color as our dark green roof. Too much of the same value. The house needs the contrast of a medium green under the dark roof. Mossy Aura it is! Woo-hoo—we have a winner!

Open-air Craftsman porch with French doors to house

I see you!

Or do we? I came across this photo.

Mossy green house with darker trim

Ooh–ooh!!

This house is painted a green similar to our Mossy Aura, but the trim is darker, and a little bluer. If you look closely, you can see reddish brown knee braces. I like how those colors echo what I like to do with plants: play shades of moss against shades of blue-green. Hmm … maybe we’re not done, after all.

After sleeping on it, I decided that although I love this combination, I can’t picture our porch railings painted blue-green. I may try the Filoli Carriage House (guacamole) with Mossy Aura, though.

In between paint tests I’ve consulted numerous websites and some of my own books (Powell and Svendsen’s Bungalow Details: Exterior, while it doesn’t specifically address paint, has inspirational photos). Along the way I’ve picked up a few tips. The older I get, the more I learn how many well-intentioned mistakes I’ve made.

  • Don’t paint the trim white! Many people do to make it pop, but it’s not Craftsman. My bad.
  • If you have some shingle trim, as we do on our porches, stain it a natural color or at least a slightly different color than the field. We’ll definitely do this to our two shingled porches.
  • Paint the eaves the trim color, not the field color. Oops … our eaves are Tooley Fog.
  • Leave your masonry natural! Too late … our fireplace has been painted for decades.

So, is my mind finally made up? Don’t worry, Eric has lots of trim to scrape and windows to repair, which means I have plenty of time to audition all of my color whims before we commit.  What do you think of our current fave? Is Auburn ready for some real Seattle Craftsman colors? Stay tuned!

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

 

 

The never-ending list, 2015 version

With a new year comes the opportunity to get organized and be productive. (Is anything preventing us from doing this at any time of year? No … but it’s traditional to think about it now.) So what does her 102nd year hold for our bungalow? And how far will we get in the next 12 months? It didn’t take me long to come up with this list.

1.  Finish the kitchen! We don’t have far to go, but it will have to wait until summer and dry weather. I want to strip the three kitchen doors (back, attic, and basement), and that’s an outdoor job. Eric has also talked about taking the windows apart and cleaning the balance mechanisms, which means the kitchen would be wide open. Again, a task for warm weather. Painting the doors and window trim is on me, but messing with the balances is Eric’s domain. I don’t want to be to blame for ruining our windows! How confident am I that this project will be completed? 100%!

single-hung window rope

2.  Finish the side porch. All we need is a pile more lumber and a good stretch of that elusive dry weather. It’ll come.  The actual construction is Eric’s task, but I’ll be pitching in with sanding and painting. I can’t wait to see this porch completed because it’s going to be AWESOME!! Right now the porch is looking rather forlorn, wet, and forgotten. The cats are the only ones who use it. Confidence rating: 100%.

unfinished side porch

3.  Redesign the triangle garden. I’ve been dissatisfied with this garden for a couple of years, but I didn’t have the energy last spring to redo it. It’s way overgrown and looks its worst at this dismal time of year. I’m eager to get out there and at least clean it out, but every weekend day seems to cold or too wet, or we’re busy watching Seahawks football. I waste the best weather stuck in an office with no windows. Next month, winter turns the corner (as far as I’m concerned) with the Northwest Flower and Garden Show, which is sure to get my sap flowing again. Confidence rating: 100%. IF my back holds out.

overgrown triangle-shaped garden

4.  Rebuild the backyard fence. Eric reminded me to add this project. The six-foot fence along the alley and south lot line is only standing up from habit. Doesn’t it have great patina? I want to salvage the fence boards. The ones that aren’t rotten. When I pressed Eric about his confidence factor, he said, “I don’t have a choice.” Twice. Of course, Duke will help him. Confidence rating: 100%.

fence with backlit Nishiki willow

5.  Finish the attic. You didn’t even know we were working on the attic, did you? Little by little, Eric’s been working on this project, but he hasn’t done anything up there since last spring, when outdoor chores took over. Our goal is to turn the attic into an art studio/lounge/storage area. There’s a ton of work to be done up there, and I doubt we’ll finish it this year. But, I hope we make some good progress. I’ll take you up there in a future post. Not now … you’re not wearing the proper shoes. (You’re dying to see what’s up there, aren’t you?) Confidence rating: 25%.

attic stairs

6.  Repaint the living room, dining room, foyer, and interior hall. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll get around to this, but it’s been on my mind and should be done soon. I painted the present color, Valspar Oak Grove with cream trim, in 2003. I’ve always liked it, but now I’d like to go with something lighter. I’ve been seeing a lot of pretty light grays with ivory trim, but that won’t go with my dining room wallpaper, which I love and sweated bullets to hang 15 years ago. I’ll be damned if I take it down! I dunno … I suppose I could find another Craftsman-y pattern and do it again. Or I could paint another lighter tan color that would complement the paper. We’ll see where this goes. Confidence rating: 10%.

oak brown living room wall color

7.  Paint the exterior. OMG, this will be the big one! Eric and I are debating just how much of this mammoth task we want to take on versus hire out. I don’t want to say we’re getting too old to do it ourselves, but it’s so time consuming. An old house like this, with all its trim and windows, will take a ton of prep work, and the gables are a long ways up. If we could take the summer off, maybe we could get it done … nah, probably not! Maybe we are too old for this stuff. Our house’s dirty little secret (one of them … well, not so little nor secret) is that when my ex and I painted it in 1994, we, um … never got around to painting the trim on the south side, or the high barge board on the rear gable. I spend, like, zero time on the south side of the house, so it wasn’t until our recent plumbing misadventure that I reacquainted myself with just how wretchedly BAD things look from our neighbor’s point of view.  It’s long past time to make that right. We have a new paint scheme in mind, but we have yet to test it on the house. Waiting for drier weather … again. Confidence rating: 50%. If we don’t finish (e.g., leave the south side unpainted?), I’m pretty sure we’ll at least make a start on prep work. We have to.

gable with peeling paint

8.  Finally, there’s the project that lurks behind this door. Can you guess what I’m about to tackle next? Confidence rating: 100%.

wood door to ?

Yes, there’s a lot on our plate for 2015. I know better than to think we’ll get all of this done (although, wouldn’t that be nice!). A lot of it depends on decent weather, for which we Northwesterners wait impatiently all winter and spring. We like to say that summer begins on the fifth of July, and sometimes that’s not an exaggeration. I hope we have some sun breaks long before then!

Meanwhile, the project behind the door is waiting for me right now.

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