New House Paint on the Exterior

The biggest cosmetic change over the last two months is that we repaired and painted the exterior of the house. Here’s some of the painting-after photos (the color is deceptive – this is gray with a brown undertone):

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The house still had its original paint color of when we built it 18 years ago – a khaki green color. The trim around the windows was really suffering as well as two areas where squirrels had taken advantage of wood rot to gain access to the attic.

The house was WAYY overdue for a repair and paint job! In the photo below, the paint is still drying on the left (and why it looks uneven) while the painter repairs our chimney stack. Boy, I can’t believe he got it done in 12 hours with just one helper!

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We had discussed possible paint colors with a real estate agent years back and she had recommended gray.  The brick on our house is a red color (no orange-red) and had a gray/smoky black accent brick. As you can see from the photos we have a unique mortar – called “weeping mortar” – it is not a mistake and some people like it (like us) and some people don’t.

We went around to some neighborhoods that were a notch above ours and scoped out a bunch of houses with brick about the color of ours that had painted the wood gray. Definitely liked it! However, we preferred the darker grays, not the light colors.

One thing we did not like was the really light color trim around the windows and roof trim. The white trim with dark color would look better in a Cape Cod neighborhood and with a house with alot more wood showing. For example, this house has a large wood facade over the garage, so the two colors of paint work! I also love the shutters!

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However, this style just didn’t suit or house and we both thought it chopped up the line of the house too much. Our front house profile actually has far more brick than wood and could handle a darker color in order to make a statement.

Some people make out doing exterior house paint more complicated then it needs to be. Since we are reselling in three years, I just needed a nice neutral that showed off the brick of the house, and would be acceptable to a large number of shoppers. I didn’t need the exact right shade of gray out of 20 different test paints.

1.) Drive thru neighborhoods with similar styled houses and take note of paint colors. Take photos.

2.) I had collected paint colors through Pinterest and read various blog comments etc… that were attached to popular colors in the color family I planned on using.

3.) Get some test paint samples and put on the house. Make sure the test paint is put on in a big enough area you can see it from a distance. Look at it in different lights and keep it up for a few days. See what you think.

4.) If not happy, go back to the paint store. Painting a house is a huge undertaking and expensive. Better to invest in some more test quarts than tell the painter to stop in the middle of the job!

5.) Paint!

Going darker, which we ended up doing, was taking our paint a little out of the comfort zone of many of the houses in our neighborhood. About 80 percent or more still sporting the same light taupe colors the builder had put on over two decades ago! We felt it was worth the risk as more expensive houses had gone darker in tone, and we wanted to stand out but not too much.

Our Painter uses Sherwin Williams so we tried two shades on the front entrance (French Gray was the lighter) and we decided on the darker color, 7019 Gauntlet Gray (the painter chose a Satin finish which I LOVE!). With the needed repairs, this was a $2,000 job for a professional house painter (someone we saw do a house in our neighborhood and who really impressed us with the work they did).

before_after_house_exterior_paint_simply_rooms

I’ll get more photos once the sun comes back out. The brick color in the bottom before photo is more accurate. The top after photo was taken in really strong sunlight so the color is a bit off. New photos will be coming soon.

This is just the beginning of the house exterior redo – we plan on putting up shutters and doing a hardware accent on the garage, as well as new landscaping. However, after the big expenses we have had, I’m going back to smaller projects inside the house.

DIY Changing Solid Cabinet Doors to Glass Inserts

I found a great article here about the step-by-step process of converting solid cabinet doors to glass. We lucked out and our cabinet doors were panel doors. In the long run, this saved us some substantial money as we were able to change the look of our kitchen without paying a carpenter!

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Like I’ve written before always do a test door before proceeding with your actual cabinets. I had several cabinet doors I was removing for good (converting to open cabinetry) so it wasn’t a problem for me. However, if you don’t have a spare door, check out your local Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore where they sell odds and ends for home remodeling for dirt cheap prices.

Husband used a router but if you don’t have one, they are available for rental from tool shops. You can also find them used at tool consignment shops, on sale during Black Friday at Home Improvement stores, and off of Craigslist. They have great uses!

In the following photos, I marked important areas with a black Sharpie so you could better see what we were doing. Lime green lines are to show areas of interest.This work is done on the INSIDE of the cabinet door, not the face.

For this DIY experiment, we used the paint test door I made for the kitchen.  The areas marked with an X will be removed during this conversion.

When you look at the door edge you can see where the pieces have been fitted together to make the door. A panel cabinet door is not cut from one piece so it makes it easier to do this conversion.

Measuring this area tells you the depth to set your router blade.

Measuring off this side joint, you can figure the depth of the long cutting line from the edge of the inside of the cabinet door. We first measured the longest sides of the cabinet door, the short side, and lastly, the short side with the arch.

We will be clamping down a guide board. The Guide Board helps the router give a steady pass down a straight line. Measure the edge of the router to the edge of the other side of the blade, like so:

The Guide Board is measured at both ends to match the router edge to blade measurement and is clamped down.

The Guide Board was adjusted after we checked the router blade at the draw cut line. The router blade is sitting on the inside of the cut line and that is where it should be (click photo for a close up view).

VERY IMPORTANT!

The Router must be moved around the OUTSIDE of a rectangle (or circle) on a COUNTERCLOCKWISE movement.

The Router must be moved around the INSIDE of a rectangle (or circle) on a CLOCKWISE movement.

If you goof up that is okay – the above directions just make it easier for the router to cut.

The first pass of the router doesn’t make the cut we need so we go back for a second pass. This isn’t unusual during the first cut and you can always adjust the blade. We did the two longest sides first, the short side, and lastly the side with the arch. If you look closely at the second pic in this series (click on any photo for a close up) you can see how the panel is made up of fitted pieces:

The Guide Board is moved when we do the short ends.

All four sides of the inside of the panel are now cut.

The arch of the panel (on the inside of the door) also needs to be removed. You can do this with your router, by just scrubbing the bits out by running the router against the edges.

The inside of the panel lifts right out:

and the cabinet door becomes two pieces…

The doors were painted with chalk paint and went from orange oak stain to an off-white and distressed.

Glass was installed by Robinson Glass with 4 doors: 9″ x 21″ glass inserts with “seedy” (glass with a slight bubble pattern) at approximately $14.50 each panel ($54 total). If doing the glass installation yourself, remember to use a clear silicone caulk.

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Want to see more about cabinets? There’s more on the blog right here….

Tips on painting a ceiling

When remodeling a room you should plan on doing the work from the ceiling down when it comes to repairs, painting, installation etc… One major reason for this is painting a ceiling IS messy! Splatter WILL go everywhere.

Everything on the floor must be covered, remove what you can, and have a wet rag on hand to immediately clean up drips. Since I plan on replacing counters and painting the cabinets, I was only concerned about splatter hitting the ceramic floor. It’s the reason that builders, spray plaster on and paint before the flooring goes it. It makes the job go a lot faster and the risk of damaging anything is lessened.

Equipment

Roller, can opener, stir sticks, damp wiping rag for splatters, and lots and lots of dropclothes. If you step away from your job for a while, wrap the roller in a plastic bag so you can re-use. If you will be gone for over two hours, put the plastic wrapped roller in the fridge to slow down paint drying.

A paint roller handle that has an extension is necessary for doing ceilings. Without it your back will start to hurt.

I bought a paint roller screen which sits down into your 5 gallon bucket. This removes the need for a tray or pouring out paint into a tray so the job goes faster, it wastes less paint and the jobsite remains neater.

When planning the amount of paint you will need, if painting over fresh plaster (which we did) consider that you will use half again as much paint. For example, the ceiling would probably normally take a gallon and a half; I planned on using two gallons at least.

For the majority of the house, I used a simple white flat latex ceiling paint. That way I could extend the paint and anything left over could be used in any room. However, for this room I will be choosing a color.

Choosing a Color for Ceilings

When I used to watch Christopher Lowell’s show, he always recommended painting the ceiling of a room a color. I would pick two complimentary, but different colors and the ceiling was always too obvious. I mean your eyes would zero in on the ceiling and that wasn’t where I wanted the eyes to go. 

Martha Stewart also paints the ceiling of rooms a separate color then the walls. She does it in this matter: Room A has Color 1 on the walls, and Color 2 on the ceiling; then the adjoining room would have Color 2 on the walls and Color 3 on the ceiling and so on. This was profiled in one of her magazine articles yet, all of this seems overally complicated to me and means more colors you have to deal with in your design. More colors also means more paint left over and increased costs.

OTOH sometimes a white ceiling doesn’t do it for me, especially in a room which has a high ceiling. For example, in the powder room, I painted the ceiling a silver. It’s so high that the color is not oppressive which it would be in a lower ceiling room.

Because the kitchen has a high ceiling, has a lot of views while you sit in the breakfast nook to eat, and I will be installing white crown molding, I wanted to paint the ceiling a color other then white. Over the years of experimenting, I decided that what I would do is take the wall color (Rock) and use some of it to tint white flat ceiling paint. It would be substantially lighter in color then the wall, but would not be white, and the colors would automatically compliment each other.

Mixing Paint

To start with, I got two large, clean 5 gallon containers ($5 each at Lowes), two gallons of flat white ceiling paint (about $22 each), and I had a quart of Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 (Lowes) leftover. Rock is the color all the downstairs walls will be painted in order for the downstairs to appear bigger for sale purposes.

I poured both of the two gallons of white together, and hand stirred. Then I added the Rock color gradually. Stirring and testing the color on the walls. Depending on how picky you are with this you may want to make a bigger patch area and let dry before proceeding with adding more color to your white base. If you get it too dark, it’s very hard to get it lighter again while it’s easier to keep darkening the white. For my purposes, I wasn’t that picky so used about a quart of Rock to two gallons of white.

TIP! ~ If you were mixing more then two gallons I suggest you get a paint mixer attachment for your drill to ensure thorough mixing.

Then I pour out about half into the second bucket, hand stir again, and then pour back to the original. Mixing paint in this manner should be done if you will be using more then one gallon of the same paint color in a room. For example, the family room will take three gallons of paint – I will mix all of them together to ensure the color is even throughout the painting process.

TIP! ~ Even if the paint is bought from the same store, at the same time, with the same product color and brand, slight variation can exist between cans. This variation will be blatantly obvious when applied to the walls or ceiling. Mixing the cans will ensure you don’t end up with streaks.

If using a custom mix, always, ALWAYS have enough paint on hand to finish the job. If you run out of a custom mix in painting a large flat area such as a ceiling you have no where you can conceal a break and change in paint. For example, when painting walls, you can switch to a new gallon of the same color at a corner but that isn’t true of a ceiling. And expecting a color match to be accurate on a custom mix is simply not going to happen.

While the job isn’t quite finished, and it’s hard to take a photo showing the proper color on the ceiling here is a bit of how the colors are working out. Between the ceiling and wall will be crown molding painted the same white as the door trim. This was another reason I wanted a color on the ceiling – the white between the two will have a sharper definition.

The Devil is in the Details

This week was working on catch up on many little projects…

We continue to replace all the upstairs door hardware with the new oil rubbed, brass doorknobs that I found at Restore (Habitat for Humanity) for such great prices. Upstairs alone that’s a total of 16 doors!

Each door has gotten an update of white enamel paint as well as the door frames. While time consuming, it’s so much easier to paint them when off the door frame.

BTW I’ve painted trim with latex and will never do so again. It looks okay until you try to clean it, then it starts to rub and peel off. Go with enamel for doors and trim. Also, go with one color (hated Trading Spaces and Clean House when they paint the trim some off color like dark purple!). One color makes the room and overall floor plan look bigger. It also cuts down on needing additional cans of paint in multi-colors (no half quarts left).

This time around all the doors and trim are getting Lowes, Valspar Ultra Premium High Gloss, White Enamel. This is not a tinted color so is $29 a gallon. I picked it because the bright white practically pokes your eyeballs out! I’m tired of these off-white colors which look dirty 20 minutes after you apply it.

I would personally plan on repainting trim about every three years in a house with children and pets; about every five with adults only. For hall walls, plan on the same if not more often. It’s why we put these corner wall protectors up -the corners get bashed up by kids and moving furniture.

I’m also touching up the trim around the doorways as some of the wall paint got onto them. It will make them look crisp and really sharp! Professional painters can do this with a sash brush and no tape. I’m not so good so mark out with painters tape and use a 1″ brush for where the moulding meets wall. For trim moulding around the door I use a 4″ foam cabinet door roller, and a foam brush to get the moulding’s edge.

I’ve also found a few spots where paint didn’t get onto the wall as well as it should. This always seems to be a problem because our walls are not smooth but textured with knockdown plaster. As the daylight changes throughout the day, I sometimes find a different spot so, as I find it, I have marked it with painters tape so I can go back and touch up.

This week the ceiling fixtures in closets and halls (7 in total) will be removed and the light rings spraypainted an oil rubbed bronze color to match the door hardware. It’s really amazing how much the home already looks newer with these few changes.

Another change we will be doing is replacing some of the light switches. The switches to the door that leads to the attic were really dirty – probably from carrying boxes in and out of the attic. I didn’t feel they could be scrubbed clean because they deal with electricity (water+electricity) so we just replaced them at 88 cents each.

Here you can see the new switches (left and right) next to the old (middle switch) – Quite a difference! This middle switch is going to become a dimmer so hence why it isn’t replaced yet.

TIP! Check all the electricity in your house (i.e. switches, outlets, fans,  phone, etc…) and make sure they work before putting the house on the market; a good inspection will find these problems and it may put doubt in your buyers’ mind about the quality of the home.

For example, we found the downstairs ceiling fan light wasn’t working- in taking it apart turns out the kids must have flung a marble up into the electrical box! Since we don’t use that light I had never noticed. Also, the phone outlet next to the bed needs to be replaced as it is not working either.

All these are small changes but it’s going to take a full week to get them wrapped up.

Changing paint color mid-stream

Usually I’m pretty good at picking paint but this time I goofed. I originally planned on using Lowes’ Waverly Tawny Green WV36007 on the master bathroom walls. I’ve been very pleased with Waverly’s Nordic Blue WV37007 (changes colors in different lights and isn’t so “baby” blue but a little cooler) but this green just didn’t do it for me.

Probably this would be fine in a baby room or somewhere you wanted to go soft and pastel-y but I wanted a strong, green-gray in the master bathroom and after a week of living with a test patch, I gave it the thumbs down.

Instead I’ve gone with Sherwin Williams SW Escape Gray #6185 (this is in their HGTV line) and I LOVE IT!  This is a dark gray-green color which makes the moulding really pop out and brings out the gray tone in the mosiac tile we had picked for the backsplash.

The weekend was spent painting – painting walls, trim, doors and more. I’ve got some more touchups to do but here are some rough photos too share; the photos were taken with a flash at night. See the before paint photos here… BTW the wall paint doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling as we are putting in crown moulding.

Because the room has a lot of natural light and white moulding/doors, this darker color works. I don’t know that I would put it in a bathroom with no windows though.

The point is if a color isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to ditch it. You’ll regret painting an entire room and then saying yuck so if your test area isn’t wowing you, re-group and go with another color. Paint is generally the cheapest thing you will do in a room so feel free to change it.

Project: Secretary Desk ~ country to classic

A few years into our marriage, I had redone the secretary desk that was from my parents home. Originally, it had been stained a dark color by my dad in the 1970’s. In the late 1980’s, I redid it in colors of green and orange. Now, I’m ready for a new incarnation.

before

After doing a lot of looking online at various photos of different colored hutches, I decided to go wtih black. If you want a piece in a traditional color choose black, white/cream, or gray. These are the “neutrals” of painted furniture and will last a long time and work with a wide variety of decorating styles.

drawers repaired with Bondo (pink)

Since this piece doesn’t have a protective topcoat, I just cleaned any dust and grime off with a slighty damp cloth. I don’t want the pine knots to show this time so spray-primed knot areas with B-I-N (an oil based spray primer) to prevent bleed through.

spray primer to cover pine knots

I painted the entire unit with one coat of gray primer (Valspar Latex Enamel Undercoat) I had on hand. I mostly used a 4″  foam roller to apply the primer; a brush was used to work primer into the curves and recesses.

After it dried overnight, the first coat of color, Black Onyx (Glidden, Home Depot), was applied with a 4″ foam roller. The first coat should be thin. There were a total of 3 coats and between the 2nd and 3rd I did one light sanding by hand with a 220 sanding block. This was enough because the surface was very smooth already.

Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A was used to color the hutch interior and desk area of the Secretary. This was leftover from the bathroom project.

I removed the old backing to the hutch area and replaced it with fabric (Hancocks upholstery fabric, two yards on sale for $15). Replacing the backing is an easy fix, especially if it is warped, damage or obviously stained or peeling. I personally like a hutch or shelf unit backing that is a contrast to the main body of the furniture.

Nowadays, stencils or wallpaper are trendy for the back decoration.  Stencils do best on large flat areas such as drawer fronts, table tops, or the sides of a hutch or dresser. Stencils were in, then out, and now seem to be coming back in.  JMO but stencils went out due to overuse and people using multi-colors (i.e. think grapes with green leaves and purple fruit) so keep it simple.

A very dry 4″ foam roller was brushed over the stencil to achieve the effect. The damask stencil is from Michaels, though Hobby Lobby had a similar, but larger pattern.

The only tricky thing about stencils is lining them up and making sure they are truly centered. You’ll need to use a ruler and painters tape to mark out the alignment.

Use a tacky adhesive to get them to stay put during the process and make sure you press any curlicues or cut edges down carefully as they often pop back up when the paint is applied, making a smear. When using an adhesive be aware that it will pick up any dust and dirt, so put a piece of tape on the end and hang it to the side (not the floor!) with paint side out to keep it clean.

Distressing: I considered it, but decided not to with this piece. It’s not a high quality piece and the drawer fronts are thin boards of pine that would be easily damaged by a heavy hand.

After stenciling, I let it dry overnight before I gave the entire piece two coats of wipe-on, water based poly (fine for dark colors but not for white/light). This works fine as this piece is not a table (wipe on poly is not durable enough for table tops JMO). Later, I’ll put on some clear wax, which gives a nice soft glow

NOTE! An oil based poly cannot be used on top of latex paint; it will also yellow over time.

Hardware: The drawer knobs are from Hobby Lobby; the lower drawers were the original just spraypainted light gray (Ace Premium Enamel spraypaint).

Still thinking on what I’ll put in it – simple white pottery, some silver, and books or …. With the busier backing I don’t want to put in a lot of patterned pieces on the shelves. It also has door fronts that I’m still working on which will be with an open grillwork of some sort.