Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Money Pit- Painting

After we cleaned up from the aftermath of scraping our ceilings we began painting.

After scraping the ceilings, they all had to be primed before being painted.  
(Note:  You always have to prime something that has never been painted.  Since, the ceilings were scraped down to drywall or plaster, they were now raw and so it was though they had never been painted.)

We primed them with standard white primer.  Then I painted them with flat latex paint in Benjamin Moore's "Tapestry Beige" OC-32.  (But we got the paint mixed at Sherwin Williams, because it's cheaper).  

Tapestry Beige OC-32
(digital swatches do not give a true color)

I chose this color as opposed to standard white ceiling paint because I felt that it really gave the house a cozy- warm feeling.  After painting I realized the color had a little more pink in it than I would of liked but I think it worked out well.  It was on the same swatch card as my wall color, and I thought they complimented each other nicely.  

I toyed around with the idea of painting some or all of my ceilings accent colors.  But after priming the first ceiling I changed my mind.
I'm not a cussing woman...but painting ceilings is a B... and they drive me to cuss!  So I went with a neutral color that I don't plan on changing....EVER.

Practical Advice:  Cover all your floors with contractors paper before painting, especially when painting ceilings.  Also, wipe up all drops of paint on floor with a wet rag immediately!  I didn't take this seriously enough and nearly ruined our floors!!!

I'm a colorful person.  But my friends and family urged me to use restraint when choosing wall colors.  Our house is small, and so by the advice of my sister, Emily, I knew that I needed to paint all adjoining common areas the same color to make the space flow and feel bigger.  I decided to keep with the trend and paint all of our bedrooms the same color.  This is our first house, and we may grow out of it before too long, so I wanted to go as neutral as possible so we don't have to paint again before selling.  I went with Benjamin Moore's Coastal Fog 976.  I wanted a warm gray, and I have been happy with my selection.  It has so much more green in it than I realized from the swatch, but I don't mind it.
Coastal Fog 976

The trim in our house was stark white, as it is in most old houses.  I don't mind this look, and think it is very clean and refreshing.  However, I wanted to go with something a little more "fashion-foward".  I wanted to keep accenting the woodwork, because I think the craftsman style woodwork is such a charming part of 1930s houses.  My sister, Emily, advised me to consider going darker on my trim than my walls.  I had never heard of this, but once I started scouring the internet for decorating pictures, I was convinced I would love it.  Here's one picture in particular that inspired me to go for it.

(From Photo Stylist / Decorator Anne Turner Carrol's personal home)

I went through a rigorous, slightly obsessive swatch testing process.
Choosing paint colors is SO HARD!  It's hard to look at a color objectively when it is surrounded by the previous paint color.  It always looks a certain way compared to the surrounding color.  It is so hard to look at such a small swatch and imagine what it would look like in a whole room.
The swatches below were my two final choices.
The swatches painted on the walls are both Coastal Fog (my wall color selection), but I was deciding between the trim color on the left (Sandy Hook Gray) and the trim color on the right (Kingsport Gray).  Kingsport Gray is a color I saw and loved in a store as the wall color.  Sandy Hook Gray is one I found simply by flipping through the Benjamin Moore swatch book.  I was partial to Kingsport because I had seen and loved it in person.  Sandy Hook was a whim.  I was worried Sandy Hook wouldn't be enough contrast, because it seemed so close to my wall color (in fact, when they are wet they look exactly alike).  But I thought Kingsport would be too much contrast and might make our house look like a lodge.

It was down to the wire and I was on my way to buy paint and still didn't know.  My stomach was in knots about it...drama queen, I know.
Something in my gut told me to go with the color on the left, Benjamin Moore's Sandy Hook Gray HC 108.  So, when I got to the store, I just closed my eyes, bit my lip, and bought it.
Sandy Hook Gray HC 108
After painting our house with these colors, one take away that I learned is that a little bit of contrast goes a long way.  In just a test swatch, my wall color and trim color seemed almost the same.  When I painted the whole house the contrast was much more noticeable.  I love it, and I am so glad I didn't go with the darker trim color.

One day, in our dream house, Chris and I would love to have solid wood walnut stained doors all over the house.  Sigh.
When we were looking for houses, we looked at a house where every door was painted brown.  Not as fabulous as real wood stained doors, but a cheap way to lean towards that same look.  We tucked this idea away into our little noggins.  
Voila!  It came back to me and I realized the perfect way to incorporate the darker trim color option, Kingsport Gray!  It went so well with my color story, and so painting our doors this color was the perfect way to incorporate it without darkening up the house too much.
So our doors were painted Benjamin Moore's Kingsport Gray HC-86.

Kingsport Gray HC-86

And so the basic paint color story for our house became...
 ceiling                                 walls
 trim                                    doors

Here's a sneak peek of just the colors...

Here's the before & after look at just our living room/dining room areas...

Okay, so remember before I said I was a colorful person?  Well, I had to get that out somewhere.  So, I decided to get a little creative with our three bedrooms.  Although my ceiling, wall color, trim color, and door color stayed the same, for each bedroom I chose an accent color for the trim just around the windows.  I figured this was a fun, creative way to use a little color, but it's super easy to go back and paint to match the rest of our trim one day when we sell.  I got my inspiration from the houses in the Southside and Crestwood areas of Birmingham, as well as from some of the houses we saw in Austin, TX.
Here are some inspirational pics...
I love the bold trim colors on these houses, especially around the windows.  This was my inspiration to paint the trim around my windows a bold color.

In my three rooms, I wanted some shade of blue, green, and red for the three rooms.  But anyone who's every picked paint knows it's not that simple.  I scoured my swatch book and tested tons of different colors.   I looked for colors that had gray undertones so that it would flow with my gray toned walls and trim.  I read a post from Colour Me Happy and hopefully I understood it correctly and realized I needed "dirty" colors, instead of "clean" colors.    After MUCH deliberation I settled on the following three colors:
                  knoxville gray HC160       pumice stone 1197            wethersfield moss HC110

Here's how it turned out...
(oops!  i forgot to take pictures before we moved in our furniture)

our bedroom...
guest bedroom...

Thanks for reading!  I hope you like it.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

what i learned wife-ing this week....

If a recipe calls for ground up sausage (i.e. breakfast casserole) the sausage in the form of a log or pattys.  Don't buy the links.  It's really hard to grind up and then the little linky- skins go everywhere.  yuk.

Cooktop magic works!  It really gets the burned on stuff off your glass cooktop!  It costs about $6 and you can get it at Lowes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Money Pit- Popcorn No More

Sorry for the digression from story about our house.  But now, I'm back and READY TO SPILL THE chronological order of course.  

There were many projects on the agenda for the first week of home ownership...and the time was ticking.  We had one week to fix up the house, make it livable, and move out of our apartment before our lease ran up.

Popcorn No-More

The ceilings of our wonderful new home....were, let's say, a little less than wonderful.  Although our house was built in 1938, at some point during the life of the house (most-likely in the 70s) someone decided to apply popcorn spray-on stippling to the ceiling.  This was in fashion during some of the 60s-70s-80s and was added in older houses to conceal irregularities in the ceiling due to foundation settling.  This treatment is no longer really in style, and it really darkens your ceilings and makes them appear lower.  Because my mother never sees a popcorn ceiling with out shuddering, it was ingrained in me that scraping these ceilings smooth would be the first order of business to giving the house a more updated look, while also restoring it to its original charm (slanted ceilings and all).  Luckily, Chris agreed and he was willing to exert the effort to make this happen.  Here are a few pics from this experiment along with a little how-to.

Popcorn Ceilings before..

First, we scraped off a sample of our ceiling to take to a lab to be tested for Asbestos.  Luckily, it did not contain asbestos.  Don't skip this step, if your ceilings contain Asbestos they are toxic and must be scraped by a professional.

Cover the floor with Contractor's paper.  
(optional, cover first with plastic disposable tarp)

Cover walls with plastic disposable tarp (cover outlets individually with plastic or painter's tape)  Tape around top edge of wall.

Get one of these suckers (gardening weed-killer-sprayer), be sure to get it clean and free of weed-killer then fill it with 1 part vinegar-10 parts water.  (Some sources say plain water will work fine, and home-depot also has a solution they sell).  Spray down the ceilings with a light mist (don't drench any spots because it will damage the ceiling).  Let the water set in for about 10-15 minutes (although I don't think we waited that long).

Set up a free-standing ladder.  Start scraping the texture off with shallow long strokes using a putty knife, or preferably a 12in painter's taping knife.  Be sure to wear goggles or you will have eyes full of dust.  You should also wear a mask, the dust is very fine, and you don't even realize how much you are breathing in.  We were coughing for weeks due to not wearing a mask for the first night of scraping.

After the ceilings have been completely scraped, they have to be sanded with a pole sander to finish them off. 

Prepare yourself for a magnitude 7 mess...

Here are Chris and our friend, "Saint" Alex covered in dust on a beer break.  
Our friend, David, also elevated to "Sainthood" status in our home, was also there through-and-through for the scraping process, but I didn't get a picture of him.  So I thought, I'd include this picture of him when he was my last minute escort to a Halloween formal in college because Chris hates dressing up.  (I was an olympic speed skater, and he was....umm, a bunny?)

 Our ceilings aren't perfect after our rushed DIY job, but they are SO much better!  Our ceilings look so much taller, brighter, and cleaner.  I recommend this project, but you MUST do it before you move in.  Trying to do this with furniture in the house is NOT an option!!!

Smooth Ceilings...

HERE's a great resource for more detailed instructions for removing popcorn ceilings.
and HERE is another.  

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Friday, January 22, 2010


I'm writing this post from the Denver airport.  Exhausted!
Chris and I went skiing with our friends John and Elise.  John and Elise moved to Chicago in September and so it was great to spend a long weekend skiing and catching up with them.
We ski'd our little hearts out this week...okay, fine...Chris, John, and Elise ski'd their hearts out.  I held on for dear life.  Ya know, I just can't seem to get the hang of this skiing thing.  I've been three times now, and it seems every trip I start and finish the same.  I start out a little scared on the greens, butt-sliding down the icy blues ( should try it, it's like sledding).  Then I leave feeling "pretty good" on the blues.  But I can't seem to move past this chapter of my "ski-life".  Poor Chris, he loves to ski and I think he so wishes that I could keep up with him better.  But he is super patient and understanding with me and is great at helping me with my skills.  Maybe one day....

In other news, we did have nearly have a "rumble" at the hot tub which was swarmed by Fiji frat guys (and the dates) on their annual "skiji" weekend.  There were two hot tubs with a total of about 40 people between the two of them.  We sat "patiently" with our feet dipped in the shallow end of the indoor pool, cutting holes through their backs with our stares.  We thought a few of them were beginning to filter out....then Oh no, they just went to get a very large cooler to keep the party going.  When they propped open the door (breaking it off the hinges in the process) letting in 30 degree weather while we were pitifully waiting for the hot-tub in our nickers...that's when it got ugly.
You better believe it...we showed them.  We just got right up and left!  (......hey, we were a little out numbered.)  We out to dinner first then returned to the hot-tub after the party had re-located.  This became our nightly routine.

Anyway, here are the pics...

Don't we look serious...

The kung-foo long john kids...

Chris's sister just moved to Denver 3 weeks ago, so it was a great chance for us to see her after our ski weekend!

Airport.  Even though we were going different places, we coincidentally ended up on the same connecting flight.
Just when we thought we'd gotten ride of them!  (just kidding)

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Monday, January 11, 2010

My Stylist Hat

You see, I wear many hats.  It pulls me in many directions and often causes me to be very stressed.  Nonetheless, I love and appreciate all the opportunities I am given to experiment with different "careers".
There's the retail sales associate hat.  The dance teacher hat.  Annnnd....the photo stylist hat.
I probably won't have time to do a full blog entry this week because I'll be running around like mad, as I always do when I wear my stylist hat.
I freelance as a photo stylist for local magazines.  This means that when a magazine has a photo shoot (generally a fashion photo shoot) and they want to make it look "fabulous" (or so I like to like) they call me to put it all together.  This ranges from finding hair and makeup artists, scouting locations, finding/booking models, planning the schedule and mainly gathering props and putting together outfits that I borrow from various retailers for the photo shoots.  It's a lot of fun, but it's also a lot to manage because it all usually happens with quick turn-around on a tight schedule.
Anyway, I'm getting ready for a photo shoot on Wednesday (while slimly maintaining my retail job and heavily teaching dance) and then Chris and I will be off for an MLK weekend ski trip with friends!  So I'll be away from the blogging for a few days.  But I thought I'd leave you with a few pictures from my last photo shoot for the January 2010 bridal issue of PORTICO magazine.

Corey Nolen was the talented photographer and he was gracious enough to share a few images with me from the shoot.  Here are some of my favorites:

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