Cutting in Like a Pro

20150411_064059I’m still moving slowly, and working in the darkest, smallest area of the house was not fun on such a gorgeous weekend! Because this is a small area and I wanted to marry the upstairs and downstairs with the colors, I am using the downstairs trim color (lightest creamy white) and a mix that I made of the green (living room and library) and all the gray paints I have thus used (purply from the music room, and dark and light colonial in my guest room). Since this is my own creation, I needed to make very sure that I mixed enough to do the entire space.

I started painting the stairwell this weekend, and again refuse to use masking tape. With a very precise brush and steady hand, it’s always not necessary. In the stairwell, unfortunately, I had to switch from right to left hand to keep my line of vision clear, or paint downhill (not smart).

These illustrations aren’t very good because the lighting in the hallway is shadowed by the hand rail, and the color of the paint is the same saturation as the old color.

Start with a very sharp-edged angled brush like Construction Gear’s line of Purdy and Merit Pro brushes. Load the brush with paint halfway up the bristles and remove the paint from the right side of the brush if the long end of the brush angle is pointing away from you. This will leave paint on the side of the brush you are going to press against the wall. Position the brush a couple inches up and out from the point that your wall and trim meet, and press the brush against the wall to fan out the bristles and push the paint to the tips of the brush. Drag the brush down to the wall/trim junction and use that fanned-out brush to get as close to the edge as possible. Drag the brush smoothly towards yourself. Fill in this arc with the rest of the paint on the brush. Move forward on the wall about a foot and repeat. If you are left-handed, reverse the paint loading.

20150411_063954Use the brush to go over spots that will need more attention, due to imperfections in the wall, or to put another coat on any spackle you used to patch the wall.

You will most likely need to trim this out two or three times to get good coverage and remove brush streaks. When painting the main surface with the roller, get as close as you can without going over. This will also help with coverage and to remove brush streaks. Next week I will show you the finished paint job.

When I’m done with this area, I will have three more rooms to paint in this house, out of ten. I admit, I am very much looking forward to the end of painting, and if I ever paint again, I will never decide to paint the entire interior in a year. I am thinking of putting the house on a rotation of one room updated every year. That way, some (like the laundry room) will be done on a good weekend while others (like the living room) will take a month and new furniture.

Continuing in the Guest Room

20150131_164514This past weekend I finished the painting and removed the tape. Andy was at a quick hockey tournament with Lucy and then Grace had her Confirmation yesterday. It was a good weekend to work. I taped off the trim and did it first, then let it dry thoroughly and then taped to paint the walls. I used a fresh roller on the lighter grey to keep the color true.

I did not intend to paint the doors – I wanted to keep much of the wood – but when I looked at them from across the room, they seemed out of place. So I painted them. Here are some progress photos.

While our brushes do a great, precise job, I used frog tape because of the stark contrast in my paint choices. 20150214_164610

Among other things, my parents were Civil War buffs (War of Northern Aggression, if you ask Mo!). I didn’t want a shrine to my parents, because that just screams “creepy” to me. But as a nod to them, I tried to capture the feel of a boardinghouse in the 1800’s. I used the Confederate grey paint with a paler complement and kept the somewhat beaten plank wood floors. All the furniture is heavy and dark, yet still graceful.

I used my local Freecycle to get rid of a lovely but too-orangely-redone trestle table, a small flat screen TV, assorted clock parts, and finally the stair chair! I am pulling together my thoughts and the room as I finished painting.

I would have liked to have skipped painting the ceiling, but the more I look at it, the more the imperfections are screaming at me. So I will add a week and some extra money for some flat white paint, and at least go over the blemishes. I still have the floor, and a bit of moulding would be nice. I really do need a break. Until it’s done and livable, that’s not going to happen.

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Masking off Trim for Painting

20141224_112316With the holidays, I am falling a bit behind on the writing, as well as the remodel work.

I traveled to Boston over Christmas as part of a trip with Andy, Lucy, and Grace for a hockey tournament. We piled into one vehicle and stayed in a hotel room with two small beds. Every couple hours we stopped to stretch and grab quick sandwiches. The girls slept, fought, challenged us and each other with trivia and other rites of passage. Lucy drove part of the way in preparation for her driver’s test while I manned the music and Andy and Grace sat in the back making funny faces for selfies. We socialized, toured Harvard just for fun, spent time at a friend’s New England Coastal beach house, and cheered as Lucy’s team won the hockey tournament. Except for the sports, it’s the way I remember traveling as a kid. Andy will soon have Lucy in college and he’ll blink and it will be time to send Grace.

Before we left, I had a teeny bit of time to patch the stripped walls, sand and wipe them down, and mask off the wainscoting from the chair rail. I used our disposable mask respirators when I patched the walls. When you take them off after doing even the smallest amount of spackling, you know it was worth it from the mask’s outline left on your face. Like the other rooms, there will be some items that stay the same here. As I often do while I work, I think of my dad. I grew up in an extended family who believed that if you can’t pay cash for something, you don’t need it. Souvenirs from trips are not cheaply made, overpriced touristy things, but a newspaper or seashell.

20141224_123201When we were born, we were living in my grandparents’ duplex while my dad bought this house for a few hundred dollars. I mentioned before, I don’t believe it had running water, so no bathroom. No kitchen? I think there was a cold storage where the kitchen stands now. Both of my parents went to four-year colleges and got degrees in accounting. My mom quit her job in the city to be a stay-at-home. After a few years, my father chose to change his path from accountant to construction foreman. It paid less per hour, but gave him as much overtime as he could physically take. The day they were married he started planning for our college. I know it’s not feasible to pay cash for everything today. Because of turns of events in Andy’s life, he won’t be able to pay for his girls’ college in full and in cash. Not many people can. My dad did. I am not bragging about money because we had none. We never went out to eat and a pair of socks had to wait until August when we could get school clothes. My mom worked part time to get us fabric to make us prom gowns. My dad worked until exhaustion daily. He drove a red Ford pick-up truck (“Baby”) decades beyond its normal shiny life expectancy because to buy a new one would mean us getting derailed from college. I think that thing was 30 years old when he finally replaced it. We never knew why. We just saw the old, beat-up truck in the driveway he re-shaled with a shovel every year, instead of the new cars on paved drives so many of our classmates had.

20141224_123141Winters my dad was laid off from road work; because he had a reputation as a silent and hard worker, he was often invited to do day jobs for friends in the construction industry. He got a few extra dollars to put into the college funds, but the real boon of doing this was that he was invited to take anything from demolition projects. You have seen the parquet floor and the fireplace mantle beam from what were Pittsburgh-area landmarks. The thing I am saving from this room are the leaded glass doors with cut glass doorknobs that he built into one wall.

2014-12-30 14.25.57This weekend, before Boston, I removed the crystal knobs, taped the woodwork and painted it. I used our paintbrushes and gloves after carefully pressing on the old metal with the tape. I haven’t looked at what decorative glassware is behind the doors. I may put books there if my sister wants the glassware. I don’t think I am going to open the doors yet, but when I do, no matter what I put on the shelves, I am going to put my souvenir of Boston with Andy and the girls in there, too – a perfect sea shell from the day we all braved the December waters on the New England Coast.