home repairs · house

Still here!

No, I haven’t disappeared – I’ve just been down the home improvement well again!  Sometimes I’m guilty of not wanting to post when I’m not sewing (there is going to be sewing in this project, of course, but I’m not there yet!)  We’ve finished the trim in the living room.  We are not done – oh no!  I’m pretty busy actually, as I’ve got a new, exciting job, and I’m also going to be going to graduate school soon.  More about that later, I promise, when I feel like I can share more.  In the meantime, let’s talk paint!

The trim was in terrible condition, and it took two coats of oil based primer (zinsser cover stain) and two of latex enamel to patch and cover to my satisfaction – this in addition to all the patches I made (between coats of primer) and acres of caulk (the room had none – explains our heating bills!)  It was worth it though – I love the bright trim, and I know it will look even better when the walls and doors are painted.  It looks kind of off in these photos, but that’s because I didn’t edge the top as I was painting the walls anyway.

Let’s talk color: it’s both my favorite bit, and also the most frustrating part of this room.  I painted it twice before settling on this color last time.  This time I’ve decided to ditch the red sofa and sell it on Craigslist, which gives me more options!  My remaining sofa is dark brown leather, but I’m not married to it (my husband might be though…)  I am planning to buy a chair or two in the future.  My other furniture is mostly going to be new to me, as I’ve developed a craigslist/ikea problem lately.  Hey – it’s cheap, and I enjoy making over old pieces!

Here is the main color I’m chosen: Cabana Green by Benjamin Moore

This photo doesn’t properly convey how great this color is.  It’s somewhere between a kelly green and turquoise (but closer to green!)  It’s fresh and springy and I love it.  It looked crazy on the card, but in the room it’s not bright at all.  The large (6’x9′) window in this room faces north, so the light tends to dim bright colors.  The two colors I’m showing above it are (left to right) Marilyn’s Dress and Abalone, both by Benjamin Moore (they make the best paint!)  I love the silver, which is a little darker than it appears but not much.  It’s bright and light without being overpowering.  It might trend slightly blue, which is good because it has to go with the blue fireplace.  The other shade (abalone) looks ok, but it goes a little lavender on the wall.  I am not a fan.  Here is the palette with Marilyn’s dress:

The navy is called “Old Navy,” also by Benjamin Moore.  It’s a very dark blue, but it doesn’t look black.  This palette is very preppy.  I would use coral and pink accents in my fabric – imagine a white and coral geometric rug!  My color inspiration is the Greenbriar Hotel, decorated by Dorothy Draper.  You really should go to the link and look at the photos!  It’s very 1940s, yes?  I will leave the really floral fabric out though… I ‘m not ready for that to come back.

The other possibility is to sub a warmer color (Benjamin Moore Cameo white, which is actually pale yellow,) for the silver:

Again with coral/pink/  I don’t think I like it quite as much, but it may work better in the room.  I’m waiting until after I paint the green to see.  Let me try to explain what I’m thinking:

1. Paint the long shared wall green.

This area is essentially a loft.  I like the idea of using three different shades to break up the space, as last time I painted it all the same color and didn’t like the effect.  It’s not a normal room, so why treat it like one?  This wall is shared from the living room to the hall to the laundry area.  There is no break, and it’s 27 feet long.   This is the first thing you see coming up the stairs, which is usually recommended for accenting.  I’m ignoring the rule to accent the fireplace, since you can’t see it if you aren’t actually in the living room area.  And whoa, remind me not to put the sofa back on that wall – the poor cat, she has an oil problem!  I’m planning to do this bit tomorrow.

2. Paint the entire living room area the lightest shade. 

This will lighten up the space.  While part of the loft (the hall area) gets little light, the living room actually gets tons, and looks really great reflecting any of these shades.   The dark blue isn’t bad here, but it does make the space a little dark, with nothing for all that light to reflect off of!   Both  look nice in the room, but I’m waiting to decide until I paint the green wall, which may affect the quality of the light.

3. Paint the wall on the opposite side of the stairs the darkest shade.  Stencil an allover damask or tile pattern on this wall only, with either a gloss version of the navy paint (looks like wallpaper!) or a sheer metallic paint.

I know, three colors, but hear me out!  This wall is odd because, again, it’s an addition, added when they worked on the third floor and changed the stairs.  It’s not a full wall, and it’s shorter than the others.  As for the stencil… well, I’m just in the mood to do one, and that wall has always looked awfully bare to me.    And it would make a change from all the plain walls.   I can’t place a console table here like I want (too narrow) so this would be a way to make it less dull.

The stairs will have white spindles with the corner pieces black or dark brown.  The hand rail will also be black or dark brown.  The stairs, by the way, were the reason for starting this whole project, as they are an addition made of at least three different types of wood.

This is the part that it’s hard to understand.  Let me try: here is the view with my back to the big window you see above:

That window is 2 feet from the neighbor’s house and looks directly in.  I bet they’re enjoying watching my renovations!  I must remember to make a new shade…  Yes, there is usually a door there (to hide those stairs – we need to drywall where the plumbing access is!)    It’s an odd place for a door, and the wall itself is even shorter than the stair railing (look, at least two kinds of wood!)  I was considering leaving this natural, but the mismatch bothers me – the new wood (closer in this photo) is poor quality and orange.  At any rate, I doubt it was originally natural, as it appears all the trim/doors up here were painted.  There was originally a wall (making another bedroom) where the closer rail is today.

Seriously, I don’t know what they were thinking.  Admittedly, it’s why we bought the house, as it makes it possible to live upstairs and keep my business downstairs in the actual living room.  But it’s as though they read a textbook on how to destroy value.  “I know – let’s take the house from a respectable three bedrooms down to two!” “Cool!  Then let’s strip all the woodwork for no reason other than because we can, but fail to ever put any sort of protective finish on the exposed wood.  Then let it rot for 20 years in the sun!” “Great! And then let’s start renovating the third floor and quit after installing the expensive cooling systems and windows, but before installing walls, so we can’t claim the square footage when we sell!”

It’s good for us though.  This house showed horribly, sat on the market for a year, and finally sold to us for 1/4 less than they wanted.  We added walls and gained 400 square feet and another bedroom.  But when we saw it?  Depressing and scary.  Full of wallpaper and weird heavy curtains and with seriously questionable paint colors for an owner who claimed to be an artist.  Here is the living room from that tour:

Yes, that’s stained pink.  It was also painted bright yellow on the other side of that railing, also stained.  Just for your eyes,  I cut out the 500 pound box valance over that window.  You can see it looming, like it wants to crush you (and it tried when we took it down!)  But don’t worry,when it seemed like we might not buy they helpfully painted it hospital green.  Yes.  And painted all the ceilings without a dropcloth.  Yes.  But I do think you can see in this photo how nice the fireplace looks with the lighter color, so let’s focus on that!  Not that mark in the floor – seriously, how do you burn a floor with a gas fireplace?  Were they roasting marshmellows?

I kid though.  I love this house.  It’s more than we should have been able to afford, so I thank the previous owners for their questionable choices!

Now, tomorrow I’m going to paint that wall.  I reserve to right to change my mind on this entire scheme and paint the whole thing green, but I don’t think so.  And besides, it’s only paint – if you aren’t carefully restoring trim it doesn’t take three weeks, I promise!

I’ll try not to disappear again, even if I am returning only to natter over choices for the curtains I’m going to sew (minus the 500 pound valance, which is currently in the back yard weighing down a tarp trying to kill the poor planting choices of the old owners.  Seriously, never plant lemon balm or mint.  You will regret it forever.  Our entire lawn is now made of herbs, and it smells like a mojito when you mow.)  Currently it’s too hot to be in my sewing room anyway – we’ve had record highs, and we need our air conditioner serviced up there.  I am not motivated to sew when it’s ninety and I have to iron!

home repairs · house

Send help… I’m fallen down the decorating well

Yes, it has happened again.  It’s summer, so it must be time for me to take on some sort of ridiculous home improvement project!  My living room needs help.  It’s in a loft area, and doesn’t really function well.  In addition, it’s a victim of bad rennovations past: the woodwork is half old and half new, with the new being cheap stained pine.  The old isn’t much better – as in many victorian homes, my house originally had painted woodwork in the family areas (upstairs) and nice stained woodwork in the public rooms (downstairs).  The people who lived here before us didn’t apparently know about that, because they stripped the upstairs trim to match downstairs.  It isn’t nice – it’s mismatched and knotty.  It’s full of dings and dents.  It doesn’t match the new trim in style or color, and it doesn’t match the downstairs wood at all.   I’ve decided to bring the house back to its original state and paint the second floor trim.  It’s taken me a long time to make that decision because I come from a long line of carpenters, and it’s practically written into my DNA to not paint over nice wood!  (Keyword there: nice).  My father, a professional in old home restoration, agrees with my assessment.  To be clear, I would never touch the woodwork downstairs, and I’m not painting the nice wooden mantels we have upstairs.  I am painting the windows because they basically are down to bare wood.  They need to be replaced, but we can’t afford that right now, so I’m trying to stave off deterioration.

Painting the trim and doors will be a lot of work, but I love painting and doing house projects.  I’m going to use the opportunity to repaint all the rooms upstairs (they get heavy use, and I’m ready for a change anyway!)  At the same time, I want to redecorate one room at a time.  I’m starting with the living room!

I’m trying to choose a color scheme.  We have a red sofa, which I can’t change (I am not mentally ready for making slipcovers!) and a dark brown leather sofa.  I’m thinking of red and turquoise accents with neutral gray or taupe walls.  Here are some mockups I made:

Wall color: Benjamin Moore “Sweet Innocence”

This a pale silvery gray.  It’s the lightest color I’m considering.  This room does not get a ton of light under the best of circumstances, so it’s best to either go light to brighten or go dark to try for a cozy look.  I’ve had dark for 4 years, and I’m feeling like a lighter shade might be best.

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore “Weimeraner”

This is the color we used in the living room at our old house (to go with the red sofa.)  I’m not an enormous fan of beige, but this has a nice warmth.   It’s possible that with the dark brown sofa this may be too much brown – I want to avoid a heavy feel.

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore “Pewter”

Medium gray.  An option if #1 is too light.

The pillow and curtains are both colorized in the photo.  I plan to make new curtains and pillows (yes, home dec sewing – I hate it, but it must get done!)  It’s not necessary for every wall here to match – the room itself is a loft overlooking the stairwell.  It’s hard to explain, but it’s basically a big open space, with doors leading off to all the other rooms on the second floor.  There is also a blue fireplace, which will tie in with the color scheme:

Here it is with the pale silver paint.  Don’t worry, I am not painting any part of the mantle – only the surrounding baseboards, which are a notably different type of wood.

Once that’s done, I have a few more projects in the space.  We do not currently have a rug – the old one died and I never replaced it.  The floors need to be covered – check out this fireplace accident:

They need to be refinished, but I’m not ready yet (I’m doing the stairs first, later this summer).  I got some great inspiration online, and I’m going to try painting a flat woven rug from ikea:

Source: I heart organizing

Pretty, right?  It won’t be soft, but that’s ok – I don’t care about soft, I just want to cover the floors!

I also need a new media center.  Right now we have our tv, 2 video game systems, my husband’s server, and our Roku all shoved into a wheeled birchwood cart.  It’s not pretty:

Yes, this is embarrassing.  

I’m going to move the whole thing out of the corner to be right across from the sofa.  As for the stand?  It’s going away.  I want to turn an old dresser into an entertainment center.  My inspiration:

Source: Addicted 2 decorating

I’m pretty handy in general, and I’ve done plenty of refinishing (real refinishing, not painting, so this should be easier).

I also need to do something about the light fixtures:

Ugly fans

I’m not a ceiling fan hater, but I hate this one (there are actually two in this room because it’s so large.)  My husband loves them, so I don’t know what to do about them yet.  I’ve thought of painting them (great tutorial here) but quite frankly I’m not sure they are worth saving.  I might keep this one (the better of the two) and update the paint, but replace the other with a nice fixture.  These, from Dimples and Tangles,  look great:

Finally, I’m making light blocking liners for the window, and new, more solid curtains.  I want to be able to shut all the lights out to watch tv – right now it’s impossible in the daytime!

So… whew, that’s a lot of work.  I do like to take on projects in the summertime!  My husband helps, but this sort of project is mostly my thing.  I work at home, so I have time to get through lots of projects.  We cleared the room today – my piano waiting room now has two extra sofas in it for awhile!