Tag Archives: Valspar paint

Holiday paintathon

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


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


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


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


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

I just wanna paint!

Eric and I are fortunate to work for a company that takes a holiday break at the end of the year. We’ll have a glorious 16 consecutive days off, beginning Dec. 19. What will we do with that precious time? We’ll spend it at home, DIYing, of course!

Lately I’ve been thinking about painting the living room, dining room, foyer, and interior hall. It was summer of 2004 when I last tackled that job, and if I remember correctly, it took me four months to finish it. There’s seemingly miles of trim (and 108 four-in. square panes of glass), so I can hardly expect to finish it in two weeks … but if I’m diligent, I can get a great start. Maybe good enough so that when I sit in the living room, I’ll see only newly painted surfaces and all the work still-to-be-done will be blissfully out of sight, behind me.

For the past 12 years, the living area has been Valspar Oak Grove (not a current color), a golden-brown, very Craftsman-y shade. The trim is a rich, creamy ivory. The colors look something like this … on my computer, anyway.

Oak Grove is a cozy wall color that goes well with the dark reds and greens of our furniture. But when I saw how Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s Rehab Addict painted the Minnehaha House in the first season of her show, I got it in my mind to go with something lighter the next time around, and I feel that time has come. I don’t usually fall for trends, but this room has had me admiring pale warm grays with white trim ever since. If I’m going to go there, I hope the gray trend sticks around for a while.

Formal old-house living room painted gray with white trim

Rehab Addict Minnehaha House [Ariel Photography]

While others were trashing the malls on Black Friday, I was collecting paint samples for the audition process. By the time I pick one, I’ll be able to dump all the other samples in a can and get a free gallon of Mutt Greige.

For the trim I want to use the same Chef White that I have in the kitchen and bathroom. (In person, it reads a lot whiter than this online paint chip.) Finally, all the painted woodwork in the house will be the same color. (Only the bedrooms still have natural wood trim.)


By Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I had paint swatches on three living room walls. Well, now I was committed. I had to paint. See how that works? (The colors don’t look true in the photo. )

FOur gray paint samples above fireplace

Four shades of gray

But here’s the rub: I don’t think any of these warm gray shades are going to go well with my dining room wallpaper. Shortly after I painted last time, I put up this William Morris-like wallpaper above the plate rail … not to everyone’s taste, but I’ve always loved its acanthus ebullience. The colors tie together all the colors in my house. Fitting the paper around the door and window trim was a tough job, and I don’t want to take it down.

Acanthus wallpaper

Too bad if you don’t love this wallpaper!

I’ll see how it looks, but I’m pretty sure any color I pick will be too light and too gray to complement the wallpaper’s bronze background. That will leave me with four choices:

  1. Leave the paper even though it doesn’t go with the paint. This will eventually drive me nuts.
  2. Replace the paper with a real Bradbury and Bradbury William Morris Willow design. $$$$$
  3. Replace the paper with something historically appropriate, but less expensive.
  4. Remove the paper and paint the wall gray. Best to appeal to potential house buyers someday … blah.

I’ll figure it out later. In the meantime, I have a more pressing problem. Do you see it? Do you see that bulge in the wall’s surface, on the left?

Bumps and bulges in the wall surface

Bumps and gouges

That bubble is not stuck to the wall … and there are spots like that all over the living room. I can account for three layers of paint, but it’s far thicker than that. I believe my plaster walls are covered with a finish paper that was pasted over the finish coat of plaster. Decorative wallpaper or paint was applied on top of the finish paper. There’s only one way to tell. Here’s another big crack and bulge. The thick paper/paint layer is peeling away from the wall at the wood trim. Look closely and you can see the crack extending up to the picture molding to the left and another crack above the door trim.


We gingerly pulled off a piece. The finish coat of plaster came away with the paper and paint! That’s why it looked so thick. And that’s what I was afraid would happen. Now we know why the surface was cracked.

Finish coat of plaster pulled off to reveal brown coat

Right down to the brown coat

What you see above is the rough undercoat of the plaster, called the brown coat. Because it’s … brown. Sometimes animal hair was added to this brown coat for strength, but ours does not have animal hair.

I dissected the brittle plaster chunks as best I could: finish plaster, finish paper, and several coats of paint. The earliest paint seems to be a sick shade of pale green. The same color I turned when I realized the extent of the problem.

Chips of plaster, finish paper, and paint

What’s in this stuff?

Whatever shall I do? More choices:

  1. Pretend there is no problem and paint over it like I have twice before. Ha ha.
  2. Try to carefully peel the buckled areas off without disturbing the base coat of plaster or areas that have not separated. Then apply a new finish coat to match the level of nearby finished surfaces. Someday when it’s done, paint the wall gray. (Will gray still be in style by 2020?)
  3. When the going gets tough, hire a plasterer. $$$$

Of course, I know the answer. I have to keep my eyes on the prize. On a positive note, this condition exists only in the living room (I think), and the living room has only three walls, much of which are windows and fireplace. So I’m hoping the damage is fairly contained [weak laughter]. Stay tuned.

Here are the colors we’ve chosen—ceiling, walls, and trim. What do you think?

Why does every old-house project have to turn into a huge @#$#$% production?? [Sob] … I just wanna paint!!

Green ginkgo leaf with 1913 - 2013 below it

Preserved in amber


Facebook post

This is how Eric responded to my last blog post on Facebook.  Well … I wasn’t in the room during most of the sanding effort (although I remember well how much fun it was to sand the living and dining room). Every now and then I’d pop my head in to check out his progress and offer helpful suggestions (“Hey, looks great. Want to go get a Starbucks?”) If he wants to read about his hours of sanding, I suggested he write a guest post. I’m still waiting.

The floor looks terrific … ready for stain. But I’ve been focused on the walls.

After all the paper was gone, we were left with walls that looked, well … 100 years old. They’d been gouged and patched (poorly) and abused. Add to  that, plastering is not a perfect art. Looking closely, I noticed many small trowel marks that all angled from upper right to lower left. (The plasterer was right-handed.) I think it’s kind of cool that the marks of his craft are still visible on my walls, making me wonder, a century later, who this person was.

I grabbed my tub of plaster patch and worked my way around the room, skimming over all the areas where the paint had pulled away with the wallpaper, evening out old lumpy patches, sealing cracks, and filling gouges. Yes, I even filled some of the plasterer’s marks, although plenty are left. I did a reasonable job of disguising the big crater where I pulled that chunk of plaster off the wall. Quite the work of art, by the time I was done!

green walls with white plaster patches

The next day, after everything was thoroughly dry, I sanded the entire wall surface with the mouse sander. Although this sander has a dust catcher, it did little good with ultrafine plaster dust. The green powder covered everything and swirled in the air like the Oklahoma Dustbowl. Yes, I wore a mask. This is not my bra. It’s a used mask next to a new mask.

used and new dust masks

After all the dust settled (literally), I blew my nose and vacuumed the walls and floor, then I mopped the walls with a damp sponge mop.

As an old boss of mine used to say, “It’s not good, but it’s better.” The low spots were higher and the high spots were lower. In fact, this room hadn’t been so smooth and clean in decades—maybe ever.

Finally, I was ready to paint! It was late in the afternoon, but I still had time to paint one wall for a color preview … only to find that I had no paint rollers. Life can be so cruel!

While I was smoothing things over in the main room, Eric was in the closet making a mess. When he removed some wood pieces that had supported a closet pole and a shelf, some of the plaster came with—a large enough chunk that he would have to replace it with drywall. Not a big deal. But when he carved out a neater shape to fill, a hairline crack grew clear to the end of the wall … and the plaster surrounding it wasn’t attached to anything. The damage went from this …

small plaster damage

To this …

closet wall plaster removed

We have recently learned about keys—those globs of plaster that ooze out between the strips of lath. That’s the base coat of plaster pushing through the lath and getting a good grip. When the plaster fingers, or keys, break off, the plaster is no longer attached to the wall. You then have a choice of removing the plaster and replacing it with drywall, or going through a whole bunch of rigmarole trying to glue it and screw it back into place. We’re not into rigmarole.

In the meantime, we (well … I) got excited about our chosen rug and could put off the purchase no longer. We started to wonder if we really needed the 8 x 10 size. By the time we put the furniture in the room, the floor space effectively will be reduced, and we want some wood to show around the border of the rug. We put tape marks on the floor where the rug will go and discovered that the 5 x 8 version is the one we want … and the one we rushed out to buy, coming home with it sticking out the car’s sunroof. We won’t unroll it until the floor is finished, but it feels good to have another piece of the puzzle at the ready. And I was not sad to pay less for the smaller size.

new rug still rolled up

Where was I? Oh yeah, the paint. We (well … I) decided to go with the Light Amber. This Valspar Signature paint-and-primer is nice and thick, like painting with yogurt. The real breakthrough came when Eric offered to tape the trim for me. I don’t tape much when I paint because I can cut in a clean, straight line (and I hate prep work), but these bumpy walls required trim taping. I have found the secret to effortless painting: Have someone else tape the job for you! (Thanks, hon!)

I knew painting a lighter color over pea green would take two coats, regardless of the paint+primer claim. (I always use two coats, anyway.) I liked the sample, but I was concerned the color would come out more yeller than amber. I didn’t want yeller. A lot of green showed through that first coat, and we stood back, tilting our heads and reserving judgment.

The second coat made all the difference, and soon the room was looking as I’d envisioned. I had to do some of the painting at night with the dim single-bulb overhead light and one work light. The incandescent lamps turned the color yeller, but it’s easy to buy color-correct LED lighting these days. Which reminds me, I have to pick out a new ceiling fixture.

It’s hard to accurately capture the color in photographs. The second one is truer. What do you think?

finished gold paint color

finished paint looking toward closet

I’m particularly pleased with the color during the day, with natural light pouring in from the windows. I pop in every morning and afternoon to admire its golden glow. It’s bright, it’s neutral, it compliments the woodwork, and it feels right in our old house. Okay, walls are done—next, we hit the floor!



Surface tension

I’ll bet the question burning in your mind is: Did we get our kitchen done for Thanksgiving?


I really wanted the new flooring installed before Thanksgiving. Dropping the turkey on a spanking new, CLEAN floor would be so much better than watching it skid across our century-old, gross linoleum. (Hey, I’ve never dropped a turkey, but there’s always a first time!) But, procrastinators that we are, we ordered our flooring too late to schedule it before turkey day. Seems everyone else wanted their new floor before Thanksgiving, too.

In the interim, Eric’s task is to get doors on the cabinets, and mine is to finish the apparently endless painting, which is not going as quickly as I’d hoped. Are you shocked? Of course not. I’ve run into a number of minor challenges.

Challenge 1: Painting is lots easier when you can actually reach the surfaces that you intend to tape and paint. The back of our dining room’s built-in buffet bumps out into our kitchen, making it awkward to reach the 9-foot ceiling. The fridge and range sit against this bump-out, and must be moved into the center of the room so I can get the step ladder as near as possible to the wall.

buffet bumps out into kitchen

Fortunately, the room is large enough to accommodate this, but it’s kind of weird to have a kitchen island that consists of a stove and fridge. Duke is confounded: He used to be the kitchen island.

boxer lying on kitchen floor

Challenge 2: Most of the kitchen and breakfast room has taken its umpteenth coat of paint readily, but I’ve had to do a little plaster repair in places. Same thing on this last stretch. Next to the dining room door, the ancient wallpaper (beneath many coats of paint) volunteered to remove itself, so I had to peel it back to a stable point, then patch the wall to something resembling smoothness.

wall with spakle spots

That’s when I started having trouble: The exposed paper that refused to come off bubbled and disintegrated once it was dampened with paint. I know, I know … you real renovators (you know who you are … furthermore, I know who you are) are saying, “You idiot! If you’d gutted the kitchen first, you could have installed new drywall and wouldn’t be messing with patching plaster and painting over wallpaper!” But here’s the thing: I don’t really mind that the walls aren’t perfect. They wear their ripples and patches like an old person wears their wrinkles—they have been earned. This might sound wacky, but I imagine that all the history and events and family conversations this house has seen have soaked into the walls and become part of the fabric of the house. I also think that when we open up a wall, the studs blink their eyes at the light of day and take a deep breath of fresh air after having been cooped up in fusty darkness for 100 years. Perhaps I was fed too much Disney as a child. That’s just the way my mind works.

Challenge 3: The ceiling corner to the left above the sink sustained damaged in an earthquake several years ago. Recently, when our electrician worked on the ceiling fixtures, we realized the original plaster ceiling is covered in drywall. The force of the earthquake sheared apart the paint and the paper cover of the drywall.

torn drywall at ceiling

This was easy to patch. I’ve become fond of Dap DryDex spackle compound, which goes on Barbie pink and dries white. Very easy to work with.

patched drywall

To reach the ceiling, I had to stand on the counter, which made me nervous because I didn’t know if I might crack the Caesarstone if I stepped on a portion that wasn’t adequately braced. Probably unlikely, but when you’ve just shelled out a pretty penny for something beautiful, you tend to be overprotective. Eric laid a piece of our good old plywood countertop on it for extra protection.

Challenge 4: How to transition the surfaces in that corner, which houses our furnace chimney. I suppose the original 1913 stove had a pipe that vented into that chimney. Then at some point, the chimney was sheathed in plywood. When Eric removed the funky old white plastic tiles that used to encircle our kitchen, he discovered the plywood didn’t go all the way down to the countertop. The plastic tiles were stuck on the bricks with plaster, which crumbled away. We briefly thought about removing all the plywood and exposing the brick, but that would necessitate wire brushing and creating another dustbowl … and I’ve had it with dust. Eric had to remove a portion of the plywood and we found the bricks weren’t particularly attractive, anyway, discolored with age and heat.

chimney brick exposed

We decided to continue the bead board and trim at the same height as the buffet all the way over to the sink wall. Eric applied concrete patch to even out the brick surface to which he adhered the bead board (this is as far as we got—we’ll finish trimming it out and painting it this weekend).

chimney with concrete patch

bead board covering chimney

A subway tile backsplash will come up to the windowsill. I’m concerned about the rocky-road mastic on either side of the window (left over from the plastic tiles), but Eric thinks it can be sanded and spackled smooth. Great—more dust! Bring it on!

I have to admit to one more challenge: I’m not as young as I used to be. Still young compared to rocks and sea turtles, yes, but leaning from a ladder and contorting my back and neck to peer through the right spot in my bifocals makes painting less fun than it used to be.

I am happy to report that with the exception of that last section of bead board, the painting is DONE! Well … except for more work on cabinets … and the door and window trim …

All paint by Valspar. Ceiling: Summer Gray; Walls: Jekyll Clubhouse Yellow; Bead board: Chef White.

walls are painted

Here’s s sneak peek at my next post. No tension in this scene! Is there ANY hope for our dining room?

dining room filled with kitchen stuff