Tag Archives: gray walls and white trim

While you were watching the Super Bowl …

Is it un-American to ignore the Super Bowl? To be sure, I was a mere 12 feet away from the TV. I could hear it, but I ignored it for the most part. I ate my requisite portion of buffalo wings, but—OMG—I forgot to make the guacamole. What excuse do I have for such atrocious behavior on our national holy-day? I was painting.

Painting supplies covering fireplace hearth

I have not seen the hearth in weeks

After a two-week gap in progress, I finally had a day to splash some gray on the first wall! Along with that, of course, came plenty of white trim.

But first, a little cleaning was necessary. We’ve all had the experience of moving a large piece of furniture and recoiling in disgust at the detritus that was living beneath. I won’t gross you out with what I found when we moved the kleiderschrank. (You’re welcome.) Except for this piece:

dirty and corroded penny

Really?

It’s a penny. I didn’t keep it. This project is costing me $0.01 more than I thought.

I cut in the wall edges on Super Bowl Eve, working without a net, as usual. (As I’ve mentioned, I don’t normally tape, and I’m too lazy to fuss with a drop cloth). I forgot to take pictures. Because I painted the crown molding trim before I began ripping away the loose finish plaster, the edge of the molding showed rough old paint in places, and the white paint didn’t quite reach the edge. Poor planning on my part, but fixable with a bit of extra work. I love extra work.

I schmeared joint compound into the resulting gap and touched up both white and gray paint after it dried. Much better!

Joint compound fills crevice

Joint compound to the rescue again

The wall color (Sherwin Williams Jogging Path, which I had color-matched in Valspar Signature formula) covered the former brown paint beautifully. A second coat was necessary only to fill the holidays. This is the first time I’ve used an eggshell finish, and I’m happy with the results. Previously, I’d always used flat to downplay the irregularities in the old plaster walls. I like the eggshell effect. During the day it gives off a subtle shimmer, but at night it’s soft and velvety.

Second coat of gray paint going on lighter than first coat

Beginning the second coat. It dried a lot darker.

I wasn’t so cavalier about painting the base molding, however, because I need to be able to slop on the paint when it’s at floor level. Applying tape is annoying, but I don’t have a steady hand when working down that low. When Lacy bumped my arm, I wish I’d taped the top of the baseboard, too.

White paint smudge on gray paint

Thanks, Lacy.

TA DA–I have ONE wall painted! How do I describe this color? It’s a warm gray, yet it has greenish undertones. It shade-shifts dramatically in the light, from top to bottom and from corner to corner, which I love. In the light of day it looks much cooler, but at night it’s very warm and soft. I don’t know how this looks on your monitor, but think of lichen.

Gray wall with white trim

One down!

Now we can reassemble the kleiderschrank and reclaim some floor space in the library. Rose-kitty will be happy to have her private balcony back.

I have a ton of work to do to get the next wall ready for paint. I can’t wait until the entire living room/dining room/foyer are lit up with this new scheme. For now, I find myself wandering into the living room just to admire “the wall.” I’m lichen it. (Sorry, couldn’t stop myself.)

Bonus feature

Introducing Crosby!

Tuxedo kitten sitting on Oriental rug

Yes, we’ve adopted another kid! One evening just before Christmas, we came home to find a 6-month-old tuxedo kitten running around near our back door. He was terrified and wailing piteously, looking for shelter from the driving rain and 34° weather. I called to him, and he came right over—obviously he had been someone’s pet. I picked him up and carried him inside. He was soaking wet and shivering. After being toweled off and sitting with Checkers for a few minutes, he began confidently exploring the house.

For about five seconds we thought about taking him to the Humane Society, because he’d be adopted in a heartbeat. Instead, we bought him a collar and ID tag and had him neutered. We had to name him after someone with a big moustache, so we picked David Crosby (even though David’s moustache droops down, and our Crosby uses moustache wax to turn his up.)

Tuxedo kitten with big white moustache

I don’t know whose cat Crosby started out to be, but he has in-and-out privileges now, and he has chosen us. He’s living the dream—he loves his new mom and dad and kitty friends, and he adores Duke. He definitely keeps us entertained with his zany kitten antics and his two speeds: trouble and cuddle.

How do they find us? They just keep coming! The answer to your question is  … eight.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

Taking it from the top

Eric and I have been on our holiday break, and after a few days of lying around watching football, we started making progress on our respective projects (he’s cleaning his basement shop, and I’m painting the living room). Last week we went to Lowe’s and bought plaster-patching supplies and paint for ceiling, walls, and trim. No excuses now!

Three gallons of paint, drop cloth, and plaster patching supplies

Merry Christmas to me

I thought it best to start with something easy so as not to shock my system. Something that I knew wouldn’t be a problem—the ceiling. All I wanted to do there was apply a little joint compound to smooth out some cracks. The plaster isn’t coming away from ceiling, thank goodness. I’ve done this in our bedroom with good results. I don’t expect it to look perfect—it’s 103-year-old plaster, after all, not drywall.

First, I practiced by carefully spreading Nutella on my breakfast waffle. Then I got to work. This is what I was trying to disguise:

Cracks run across a plastered ceiling

The view from my chair. See the cracks?

Nothing beats scooping into a pail of fresh, fluffy joint compound. It didn’t take long to coat all the cracks. And, from the ladder I had a great view of the Seahawks game on TV.

Richard Sherman on the TV, with Christmas tree

Go Hawks!!

I let the joint compound dry overnight. The next day I sanded, and despite laying out a drop cloth, I created plenty of mess. Even our tree looked flocked. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to think I won’t have to clean absolutely everything by the time this project is done … I momentarily deluded myself.

Spackle dust on Christmas tree branch and floor

Let it snow!

Ceiling cracks patched and sanded

Patched and sanded cracks

With the cracks smoothed over, I was ready to paint the perimeter of the ceiling. Normally, I have a steady hand for cutting in, and I don’t tape. This time, knowing I’d be reaching at uncomfortable angles, I decided to tape the woodwork. All we had on hand was a roll of yellow Frog Tape for delicate surfaces, which drove me nuts by drooping almost as soon as I put it up. Peeved, I gave up until I had a regular roll of painter’s tape (scant improvement).

Yellow painter's tape at ceiling

Initial attempt at taping

But then, somehow, progress stalled. Day after day, I got up thinking “Today I will paint the ceiling,” but I didn’t. We kept finding other things to do. I’ll blame Christmas. Or perhaps we really just needed a break to relax, goof around, and not worry about schedules. Days ticked by. Did I really think that I was going to paint the whole freakin’ living room, dining room, and foyer during holiday break? I guess I really am delusional.

We declared our second week of break a “work week.” We’d get up by the crack of eight, and right after biscotti and espresso followed by breakfast, spend all day toiling away at our projects … with appropriately scheduled Starbucks runs, of course.

Roadblock: From the step ladder, I couldn’t reach the ceiling above the fireplace because the hearth was in the way. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten up there when I last painted 12 years ago. Maybe I was taller?

Step ladder next to raised hearth

Can’t reach the ceiling because of the hearth

Eric brought the big hinged aluminum ladder in from the garage, but the behemoth still wouldn’t allow me to get close enough. What’s a project without a tool-buying opportunity? Hello, Lowe’s … one can never have too many aluminum ladders! Our new one weighs a mere 23 pounds, so why did it feel like 100 pounds as I dragged it around the room?

Aluminum ladder set up next to Chritmas tree

Does this look fun? No.

By the way, whose #$@#* idea was it to put up a Christmas tree during my painting project? (The window trim looks like it’s already been painted here. I wish! It’s just the light.)

Boxer dog sleeping on couch with aluminum ladders set up for painting in living room

Visions of sugarplums dance in Duke’s head despite the chaos

Two days later (one week after I started), I had finally double-coated the ceiling. It soaked up paint like an old, dry sponge—nearly a gallon just for the living room. The ceiling looks smoother and, best of all, clean … but painting a ceiling is a little like buying tires: necessary, but not sexy. I keep looking up to see if it is visibly smoother (it is), and that it no longer looks nicotine yellow (it doesn’t), although no one has smoked in here on my watch. Paint ceiling—check!

Ceiling painted pale gray

Smoother and cleaner!

For my next trick, I used the shop vac to suck the dust, cobwebs, and dried spiders (oh yeah!) out of the crevice between the box beam and the crown molding. When people say that old houses are hard to keep clean, this is what they’re talking about.

Spiders and webs in a crevice between ceiling trim

One word: Ick.

The next morning I began painting the box beam and crown molding Chef White. I’ve never had white trim, and I hope we’ll like it. I don’t know why we wouldn’t … it’s classic, and I like the photos I see of white trim. It just looks so … different! It will brighten the interior tremendously.

By evening I had painted only halfway around the room. Up and down the ladder, reposition. Up, down, reposition.  Crane my neck trying to see through my damned bifocals. This is when the enormity of the project hit me, and I remembered why it took me four months to finish painting 12 years ago—and that was without plaster repair. All the trim takes for-ev-er. If that wasn’t daunting enough, the next realization was that I have to paint it all not once, but twice. One coat of white looked like primer—yuck. Why, oh why did I ever start? The place could’ve stayed the same color and I could be doing something else for the first half of 2016! (Don’t worry, I’ll find other projects to blog about. I won’t bore you with six months of whiny painting posts.)

When I got the second coat of white on the trim, it started to look really nice. Then, of course, I couldn’t resist painting a big test patch of Jogging Path on an undamaged section of wall. This photo, taken with my phone, closely captures the true color of the wall, and it shows the subtle difference between white trim and Summer Gray ceiling (in person, it’s even more subtle). To get an idea of the true wall color, think “lichen.”

Test patch of gray on wall; white trim and pale gray ceiling

Preview

We’re still debating if this is the right color. I think it is … but I have a lot of up-down-reposition ahead of me before we need to commit.

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it