Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home


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We Have Bought … TILE!

It’s finally happening.  After weeks, no, months of deliberations, several days of negotiations, and nearly $1k in price reductions (more on this little bit of awesome in a moment) the floor tile is on order.  Phew!

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And the best part is, that is NOT what we paid for it.  Holla!

Let me preface this post by saying that I don’t consider myself a professional at this (far from it!), but based on my experiences I feel I can offer a little advice on making large home improvement material/installation purchases.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned throughout this process (and, ok, from working for a mid-to-large sized general contractor/construction manager for the past 5 years):

1) Order Samples and Preview Them in Your Space.  I ordered a couple dozen tile samples directly from the manufacturers (they’re free!) and we narrowed down our favorites from those.  We looked at them in various lights over several days.  We placed them around the room and against different finishes and, one by one, removed tiles that weren’t working.

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Some were too dark, too light, too blue, too striped, too flecked…

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We tried not to look at the tile samples against the existing floor or the off-white counters during this process.  Since we plan to re-coat the counters and tile right over the existing  floor, it didn’t matter at all if the tile looked smashing or not against the faux-wood vinyl (spoiler alert: everything looks nicer than 60 year old faux-wood vinyl).  More on the counters in a later post — promise.

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We did, however, want to make sure that the tile we selected would not only bring out the golden tones in the cabinetry, but wouldn’t look blue next to the navy blue wall.

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I really liked the speckled tile (It’s called Salt and Pepper by Azrock, but I just think it’s a little too busy for our house.  I would LOVE it in someone else’s kitchen though!  If you have it, send me pictures!

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2) Shop Around.  For both materials and for installers.  We got quotes from big box stores and from small licensed contractors who own their own businesses.  I tired a couple local tile places but none them sold or installed VCT (more on why we’re set on VCT tiles here).  The quotes ranged nearly $1.5k from the lowest to the highest!  And hey, if you can save yourself over a grand with just a little more leg work? DO IT!

Once we decided on our favorite tile (Armstrong’s Atmosphere is the palest rectangular sample in the photos above) I looked around online for the best price.  Our go-to handyman (one of the licensed contractors I mentioned above) “has a guy” who could get it for $3.35/sf but was willing to let me purchase it myself if I wanted.  Floor City had it listed for $2.72/sf — the cheapest option I found online.  So color me shocked when Home Depot said they could special order it directly from Armstrong for only $2.27/sf.  And The Home Depot’s installation fee turned out to be half the price of our handyman (cat’s out of the bag — we’re going with The Home Depot for materials and installation).

Now, we could have gone for one of those square tiles seen above for only $0.79/sf (Armstrong’s Soft Warm Gray and Soft Cool Gray are both popular for MCM home renovations), but we really preferred the linear variations in the Striations line.  For us, if we’re going to drop a huge chunk of change on flooring we want to say that we really love it.  And we really love these tiles.  Plus, they’re green — our kitchen floor could be certified LEED Gold when all is done, which the CM/GC in me thinks is pretty cool!

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For more photos of the Striations line in action, take a look at the work Simas Floor and Design Company has done using the Striations like here.

3) Carefully Review Your Quotes:  I originally almost threw The Home Depot quote directly into the trash because it was way, way, way out of budget.   After taking a minute look at it, I realized why: they were charging obscene amounts of money to remove and reinstall the toilet ($175) and haul the appliances 6′ away to the garage ($135).  In addition, I caught an error they made in calculating the carry-in fee — they had charged the $1.50 fee per tile instead of per box (when I pointed that out we all had a good laugh at the mental image of a guy carrying 382 tiles into the house one by one — he’d probably earn that extra $564!).   Also, if we picked up the materials instead of having them delivered we could save another $85.  So, by taking a careful look at our highest quote I was able to turn it into our lowest quote by a landslide — we ended up deleting $959 from the original quote (although we tacked a bit more on by upgrading the tile later).  Which leads me to…

4) It Never Hurts to Ask.  Our handyman’s material costs per tile was the highest.  I asked if he could go back to his supplier and see if he could get a better price for us (the more subcontractors and suppliers you have to go through to get materials in your hot little hands the higher the mark-up you will see).  He agreed readily, but his supplier was firm on his price. No biggie — but it’s best to know for sure.

Another example — and one that worked out to our benefit — was when I asked if The Home Depot could special order our preferred tile.  After all the re-working I did on their quote The Home Depot had the lowest price for installation, but had told me that they couldn’t order the Atmosphere tile that we really wanted.  We really didn’t want to settle on the tile (but were having a hard time with the thought of paying nearly twice as much for installation elsewhere) so I called their customer service department and simply asked again.  I told them I was ready for pay for materials and installation in full that day, but that I had my heart set on a product that wasn’t in their database.  It took some finagling (and a lot of perseverance on my part), but I finally found someone that took the time to call Armstrong directly and special order it for us.  AND they were able to get it for a shockingly low price!  Score!  (a special shout-out to Steve and Adrienne in the flooring department!!)

5) Know Before You Go.  Do your research — if you sound like you know what you’re talking about it’s less likely that people will take advantage of you.  I hate to say it, but especially if you’re female it will behoove you to do your homework.  You can still ask questions (and I certainly encourage you to do so!), but hopefully by the time you get to the order desk, the simple and straightforward questions you will already know the answers to.  The internet is a beautiful thing.  Use it.

6) Complete Any Hazardous Material Testing/Abatement.  This goes hand in hand with #5.  It will save you some cash in the long run to find out early — and by early I mean before the installers do — whether or not you have hazardous materials in the work area.  The Home Depot charges a hefty sum ($397 according to our quote) for having to encapsulate any lead paint they might uncover.  For less than ten bucks you can buy a lead paint test kit and slap a new coat of lead-free paint on yourself.  We’re pretty sure our tiles aren’t asbestos (the faux wood grain seems to have most folks thinking not), but given the era of the home it’s likely that the mastic (aka the adhesive) is chock full of the stuff. This is another reason why we’re planning to lay the new tile directly over the existing — as long as we don’t disturb it we’re fine, but if we wanted to remove the existing floor first we would have to hire a very expensive abatement crew to handle that portion of the work.  We’re lucky that for all intents and purposes our floor is in great shape.  The mastic is still holding up amazingly well and we have no areas that are lifting or are otherwise in rough shape.  If it weren’t for the aesthetic of the tile itself, we wouldn’t be doing this project at all!

7) Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Deal.   You may have already gathered this, but I love to barter.  If you feel more comfortable with a contractor that gave you a slightly higher quote, ask if he’d be willing to price match.  Let him know you want his business but that his price is keeping you from sealing the deal and see if he’d be willing to work out a compromise.  He’s not going to be offended — that’s how business works.  He’ll know that if he plays ball, even if he doesn’t win your job, that you’ll be more likely to call him up for your next project.  Also, paying in cash rather than financing the purchase may not always be feasible, but if you can swing it, you can save yourself interest fees and it can be a good bargaining chip.  Lastly, and perhaps above all else, if your mom offers to help shoulder some of the expense as a birthday gift (so long as you agree to splurge for the pretty tile that she likes) — let her. Mama knows best.   

Do you have any tips for scoring deals on home renovations?  Share ’em in the comments!

 

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A Room With a View

You may remember that when we moved into our home in August of last year we had a bit of a problem — the shrubbery had become so overgrown that we couldn’t see out any of the windows in the front of the house.

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You may also remember that Kirk tried to tackle this problem back in December, but then life and a whole lot of snow got in the way.  Below is how it’s remained for the last three months (well, minus the hedge trimmer laying in the mulch).  Yeah, it looked pretty dorky.  We were those neighbors.

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This weekend the temperatures peaked at nearly 70° (but don’t worry — we got more snow yesterday as you’ll soon see) so Kirk thought he’d give these shrubs another go.  We decided that the first hedge trimmed back in December was a touch too high still (if left as is, when the new leaves grow in they will be above the window sill) so he opted to cut the remaining hedges a bit shorter.  Then he went back and took another inch or two of the first one so they’re all the same height.

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Sometime amid all that snow we noticed that this guy (tree? bush? It’s the tall shrub seen in the first photo in this post) in front of the kitchen wasn’t doing so hot.  The entire bottom of the plant had withered away to nothing.

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When Kirk went to put it out of its misery, the poor thing split down the middle with barely a touch.  Kirk still needs to dig the stump out, but the front of the house is looking much better sans half-dead tree.

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Kirk’s pretty proud of his accomplishments.  I’m proud of him, too — he worked hard.   He also took a hedge trimmer to the holly bush.   And a rake apparently.

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How’s this for a before and after?  Before…

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(the chair is there because I took this photo a few months ago when I took down the rusted mini blinds)

And after!  Let there be light!!   Actually, this is more of a “during” shot.  He got those straggly branches a bit later.  I think they were clipped branches that didn’t quite fall to the ground — I’m pretty sure that’s what the rake was for.  Anyway, it’s all nice and even now.

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Other than digging out the stump, the only other thing to do out there (we hope) is spray some preemptive weed killer, mulch, and lightly trim the orb-like shrub that you can seen to the right of the photo above and dead center in the photo below.  It’s getting a bit … furry… and is encroaching on the walkway to the front door.  Time to get all Edward Scissorhands on that fella!

And, yes, we recognize that it’s REALLY late in the season to be hedge trimming, but it is what it is.  Hopefully, the fact that we’re having such a long, cold winter will make pruning in late March a-okay this year — and we’ll try and be more on top of it next year. We didn’t cut off much new growth at all, so … fingers crossed!

As for how it looks from the street — this is how those shrubs were looking in July of last year.  Lush and green, but crazy tall.

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And here we are today.  We’ve had far too many months off single-digit temperatures for us to show of any new pretty green growth yet, but at least these plants are better scaled — if you can find them under all the snow!

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I wonder if we’ll get around to painting the exterior this summer?  That buttercup yellow is really not my favorite.  Ohhh… I should do a post on MCM exterior color palettes!  I already have so many ideas…

 


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Let’s Fire Up That Fireplace

Yup, now that spring is (finally!) right around the corner I finished painting the fireplace.  At least it will be pretty to look at through these long awaited warmer months.

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Another reason to be glad spring is near?   Pants are no longer a necessity.

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Painting the fireplace wall section (and those flanking it) has been more of a process than I originally thought.  In fact, I probably spent 8 hours painting it over 4 or 5 non-sequential nights.  One issue was simply the height of the wall and the fact that it required a ladder for me to reach the higher portions.  It seemed to take ages for me to scrounge up the motivation to walk to the garage and pull the ladder off the wall and carry it into the house.  When I finally did, I probably burned about 27 calories.  It was hard work.  Not really…I’m just incredibly lazy sometimes — which is why the wall looked like this for about a week.

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But at least I had finally pulled that metal sculpture off the wall, right?  Baby steps.  Also, pay no mind to the yellow-ish quality of these photos.  I did 90% of my painting at night after the kiddo went to sleep so most of my progress shots were taken in poor light.

Other than that, the two hiccups I faced were with regards to the brick.  First, brick isn’t the easiest surface in the world to paint.  You’ve got to get into all the nooks and crannies which takes time and that makes it harder to keep a wet edge (letting paint dry when you’re painting can result in clumping and streaking as later passes over a recently painted area can “pull” the paint and leave you with poor coverage).    Second, trying to keep a crisp line where the blue paint met with the white paint (over the brick which is imperfect by nature) led to a lot of back and forth with paint brushes dipped in both colors.  You can see my less than stellar attempts at a straight line below.

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You may remember that the fireplace inset and the brick section to the right had been painted a darker beige when we moved in — below you can actually see where the previous owners had painted around a large piece of furniture.  I had originally planned to repaint all the brick bright white (the lighter sections you see below are actually more of a cream color) but for the sake of time and ease, I decided to color match the cream paint that was already there — that way I would only have to paint half a brick section instead of three full ones (one to the left of the fireplace, one to the right and one in the dining room) not counting the blue brick.

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This room gets a ton of light thanks to all those windows so most of the time the cream color looks bright white anyway.  I simply took a painted-over outlet cover to The Home Depot and had them match the color and sheen (you can see it missing in the first photo in this post, I think it’s still sitting in the bottom of my purse).  I only bought a quart and I used that to paint the unpainted portion of the panel to the right of the fireplace.  It’s a good match no?  I tell ya, those mixologists at the paint desk at my HD really know their stuff.  It’s a tad brighter in this photo because my paint is still wet, but it dried perfectly and you can’t spot the difference between the old and the new paint at all.

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I snapped this photo just after I finished painting over the beige upside-down “U” shape on the section to the right of the fireplace.  Finally and nice, solid color!  The paint looks crazy bright blue in these photos — it actually has much more green in it.

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And yes, I paint while listening to the Twilight saga playing in the background.  I’m also in the midst of reading all the books for a second time.  Don’t judge.

The other details of this project involved the fireplace itself.  Last week I mentioned painting the brass fireplace insert matte black which immediately made a huge difference and helped the whole wall look more current. The other issue was with the grout. Previously, a light colored grout had been used to secure the hearth and the mantel in place.  Thus, once I painted the brick a deep blue, I was left with a white grout line between the black soapstone and the blue brick.  Below you can see this grout line on the mantel.  It was actually a much larger seam on the hearth–about the same width as the mortar lines between the brick–which you can see in the progress photos above.   Both seams looked pretty ridiculous, even from across the room.

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I tried a Sharpie on the seam shown above, but it made much to harsh a line and I thought it would look odd if I carried the blue paint over the grout, so instead I used the matte black paint I had used on the brass fireplace insert.  With the matte black paint I brushed it on with a 1/2″ brush and wiped most the paint back off with a paper towel to soften the edges.  Now it looks like back grout which is far less obvious.

So here we are today.  The walls are painted, the fireplace insert is less in-yer-face, and the blue is fun and impactful. I wish  I could get it to photograph true to color — it’s a bit more turquoise than it looks here.

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Fun tid-bit.  The day after I made the impulsive decision to paint this wall blue I stumbled on this picture:

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In person it is the exact same color!  Not that I needed the justification, but knowing that high-end stylists are on board with my Bermuda Blue brick wall makes me feel nice. :)

The last thing I’d like to do in this space is paint the beams and the window casings white.  They are currently painted a pale beige (somewhere between the other two colors the brick was originally painted).

One more before and after because you know I love those.

BEFORE:

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DURING:

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And AFTER:

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I Painted My Refrigerator

You know you’ve gone overboard with the painting when one of two things happen: 1)  Your not-yet-two-year-old asks if you can paint his crib green (No, Mommy will not); and 2) You paint your refrigerator.

Welcome to my little corner of crazy.

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Old photo, but it looks the same except for the wallpaper has been taken down and we revealed a haphazard coat of primer on those walls instead.  You can see the off-white fridge actually blends in really nicely with the bisque countertops and the beige brick wall.  Even the door is a nice shade of beige.  The fridge actually almost looks white because there is no true white in this room.

Ugh.  Enough with the beige!  This weekend I picked up a can of white gloss epoxy paint and went to town on the fridge.

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I knew our “bisque” refrigerator was going to stand out like a sore thumb once we got the new floors in and the countertops recoated white, but it’s not in our plans to replace it any time soon.  $14 seemed like a good gamble to see if I could give it a little refresher myself.

The paint went on super smooth although I did hit a couple of stumbling blocks.  First, I had to clean it.  Ew.  That thing was nasty.  In between stomach flips I was thinking I should abandon my efforts and spring for a new one after all.  Other people’s dirt is not one of my favorite things.  Ew.  Just… ew.

Ok, the second hurdle was all this chrome detail!

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And have you ever seen a fridge with a door within a door? It’s kind of handy when you’re just looking for the ketchup, but it was a whole second door to have to paint. And a bunch more chrome to have to avoid.

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The whole process was pretty simple so I won’t get into too much detail.  Per the instructions, after cleaning the outside of the fridge, I lightly sanded the whole thing and then wiped it down again.  On the can it said to use a low-nap roller on the sides and the front of the doors.  So I did.  It bubbled a bunch a first, but the bubbles quickly popped and evened out and now I swear you can’t even tell it’s been painted.   It’s nice and smooth to the touch and feels just like any other factory-finished refrigerator!

Here’s my bisque fridge with its first coat of white on the top of the right side.  It took two coats.  I know it’s not a striking difference, but sometimes it’s the little changes that carry the most impact.

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I used a short-handled 1″ angled brush to paint around the handles, the ice maker, and in all the nooks and crannies. This took 2 coats too.  I kept a paper towel on hand to wipe any stray paint that got onto the chrome, but the brush worked really well and it pretty much applied the paint right where I wanted it.

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The hardest part of this whole process was cleaning the paint from my brush when I was done.  Epoxy is not water based and it’s a bear to clean up.  I tossed the roller into the trash, but I had used a brand new brush and wasn’t willing to part with it.  10 minutes of hot water, soap, paint thinner, and a whole lot of elbow grease and we were golden.

So, $14 and 3 hours later we have a white fridge!

…But now the rest of my kitchen looks really really beige in comparison.

Sigh.


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We’ve Gone Navy

Last week I mentioned that I’ve been working on painting the fireplace Behr’s Bermudan Blue and gave you a sneak peak at the other blue wall in the making in our kitchen.  The plan was to paint one accent wall in a deep navy.  I brought home a fistful of paint samples back from the Home Depot and, after a few weeks of deliberation, picked Behr’s Deep Royal.  On the swatch it appeared not too black, not too purple and very dark.   Well, turns out I should have shelled out the $2.39 for the little tester pot of it because what you see on the swatch is not necessarily what it will look like on the wall.

Need proof?  Brace yourselves…once I got the first coat on it was looking like this:

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Scary right?

I kept telling people that it would get darker with each of the 2-3 more coats that it needed, but really I think I was trying to convince myself.

It wasn’t working.

I was beginning to think I had made a huge mistake.  Every time I walked into the room my heart would start beating a little faster and I’d start to sweat.  After one near sleepless night (over paint, I know, I’m ridiculous) I decided that I wasn’t going to waste my time painting additional coats of the same heart-stopping color.  I needed help.

I took my gallon of paint back to Home Depot and looked again at their paint decks.  This time I picked up Berh’s Midnight Dream.  I didn’t want to waste the paint I already had (and had already paid for) so I took it up to the desk and asked them to try and re-tint my gallon to as close to Midnight Dream as possible.  The darker the better, I told them.

What they turned out was perfect. It’s actually about 10% darker than Midnight Dream (the mixologist — did I just make that up? —  told me that her first go turned out to be nearly an exact match once it dried, but that she’d already added more black to the can by that time).  Fine by me!  At least wasn’t blazing blue anymore.

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In fact, it was perfect.

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As soon as I brushed that first stroke of re-tinted paint onto the wall my qualms dissipated.  That was the color I was after.

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Can you hear my sigh of relief?  Below from left to right: the re-tinted Midnight Dream, Deep Royal, and the original walnut cabinetry that we love.

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Another progress shot.  It’s no longer the same colors as my little’s  patriot blue Crocs! Midnight Dream for the win!  Below you can see that the darker paint has been applied along the top of the wall above the windows and the brighter blue is still on the bottom and that vertical end piece.

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Side note: those frosted windows look into our laundry room.  I don’t really mind them — they’re actually a really neat rippled glass with a slight aqua tint — but I do wish you couldn’t see the backs of our washer and dryer (or all the crap that tends to pile on top of them). I think laundry units were shorter 60 years ago.  I wonder how it would look if I added something with an adhesive backing on the laundry room side to make them less transparent?? I could go with a standard white, or even a fun retro pattern if it could carry its own through the ripples in the glass (unlikely — I think it would get distorted).

But back to the paint, if it’s not already obvious, let me tell you: I am in LOVE with this color.  I mean, I find myself walking into the kitchen just to stare at it.

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I need to relocate our coffer maker…

It still needs one more coat to get full coverage, but this is as dark as it’s going to get. I think this shade really complements the cabinetry nicely and once we get some new flooring in here (soon!) the whole room will really come together.  I have plans for those new chairs to, but I’ll tell you about that another time…

Some of you may remember that we were toying with the idea of painting that front wall of windows navy as well, but ultimately we decided against it.  While I think it would really draw attention to all those windows above the counter by framing them in such a high contrast color, we would have to carry the paint down the wall behind the dining table. Having that much dark paint (two full walls) in such a small space seems really confining. Also, we really like the way those windows disappear when the sun is shining through them and that’s pretty much the design intent with this style of house anyway — blending the inside with the outside.

So, we’ve decided to stay true to that — one accent wall is enough and we’ll be painting the front wall a super pale shade of gray.

Here are a few shots from the past 7 months so you can see where were started.  This was taken during our initial walk-through prior to closing.

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We finally got rid of the wallpaper and the fuzzy yellow backing about 3 months in. We ditched the rusted mini-blinds a couple months after that and primed the walls right around then, too.

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And here we are today.

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We still need to paint the other three walls, recoat the countertops, and address the floor.  Slowly, but surely!


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Wood Trim: To Paint or Not to Paint?

Let’s talk a little about wood trim shall we?  There are die hard wood lovers out there, I know.  Wave a paint brush in their face and they will likely attack.  I love wood, I do, but I also tend to see its limitations (or maybe sometimes just my own limitations).  For example — brace yourselves, wood lovers — I have been known to paint a vintage wood piece.  I’ve painted wood for a multitude of reasons, but nine times out of ten it’s simply because it’s the only for me to salvage a piece.

Take for example, the vintage mid-century desk I bought last summer.  It had been beat up, knocked down, and stomped on.  Even though the wood veneer was high quality it was chipping and peeling.  A true restorer would be able to painstakingly remove and replace failing veneer, but alas, a true restorer I am not.  So I painted.  And you know what?  I love it!

But what about wood moldings?  The current trend is to paint it all white, but there are purists out there that prefer it au naturale.  The baseboards, ceiling beams, and window frames in our house have all been painted white (ok, a sallow, yellowed cousin of white).  This is an older photo of our living room taken before we got the new sectional, but the only one I have on hand with the curtains open showing off the window casings.

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The only wood window frames we have in the entire house are in the great room.  All other windows are vinyl replacements set in slim, white-painted aluminum casings.  I should also mention that the 3 sliding glass doors are painted steel — not wood.

I’ve received some questions on the blog about my intention to repaint them bright white.  Personally, I love the look.  I think it’s crisp and provides a great backdrop for pops of color elsewhere.  Case in point:

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So, why not strip them and let the wood shine?  You have to admit, wood left in or restored to its natural state IS gorgeous.

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One downside of stripping our wood trim that we already have a lot of wood going on in this room.  As you can see below, on one side of the space we have the enormous wood paneled wall and on the other we have several large pieces of mid to dark-toned wood furniture.

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Would stripping the beams and window frames be too much?  What if we just stripped the beams?

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I actually love this look — the main issue I have with this is that our beams continue beyond the windows to the outside … where they are painted white.  Like this…see?

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The whole idea of the glass wall is to create a seamless transition between inside and outside, therefore, having our beams change color at the point of the window would not only look pretty silly (in my opinion), but it would be going against the intent of the architect/builder’s design.  In addition, depending on the type of wood (and I have no idea what our beams are constructed of) it can be impractical to have natural wood exposed on the exterior. That said, I have seen a neighbor do a faux wood treatment to make this beams look stripped.  It looked great, but it sounds like a lot of work to me.

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Or what if we painted the beams a contrasting color?  I’ve actually seen a lot of our neighbors sporting this look.  This black is a little dramatic for me, but I could maybe get on board with the moody grey.

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(Note, these are not our neighbors.  Also note, I would LOVE to add wood planks to our ceilings like in these homes some day!)

The fact is, we have a lot of options here and slapping a coat of white paint on them seems like the easiest and most non-committal solution at this point.  I mean, if we decide to strip them later what’s one more layer of paint, right?

As always, click photos for source. Cheerio!


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Snowballing

As the snow continues to fall on the east coast (Umm…hello? It’s March and it was 8 degrees outside this morning) we’ve been busy on the home front.

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Snowballing progress as I like to call it.  You know what I mean… you knock one item off your to-do list and it suddenly seems to draw all eyes to something else that needs attention.  The snowball effect.

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Case it point, I started painting the focal wall of the fire place last weekend.  As soon as I got one coat of paint on it, the brass fireplace insert was suddenly 400% brassier than it was an hour before.

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Elmo agreed.

So naturally, I capped my Bermudan Blue paint and ran to Home Depot for a small pot of high heat black paint–the kind you’d use to give your charcoal grill a refresher.  I finished it up after dark, but it looks much better right?

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Pay no mind to the gray toddler-head-smash-stopper on the hearth, it’s a necessary evil.  Our little guy is also why we opted to paint the insert instead of just taking it out.  Eventually we would like to remove it, but more than that, we’d prefer not have a ash covered two-year-old running amuck so that will need to wait a bit.

And don’t worry, eventually I’ll finish painting this wall … I’m just easily sidetracked. This little painting project sparked another in the adjacent room and before I knew it, we had two partially painted blue walls.

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But as you can see that, too, snowballed with new challenges of its own.  I am pleased to say that no, we do not have patriot blue walls in our kitchen anymore–although there was a heart-palpitating 24 hour period when we did.

But that, my friends, is a tale for another time.

 

EDIT: Want to see how the blue brick wall turned out?  See it here!