Exploring Shades Of White Paint

August 22, 2011   //  Posted in: Office Space   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I sifted through a nice little collection of white paint chips last week as I prepared our guest room-turned-office for a new coat of paint. Did you know Pantone’s inspirational white collection rolls 68 swatches deep?

Where’s a girl to start when, in addition to those 68, every one of my go-to brands also provides dozens of “white” options?

I had to keep it easy, so I only came home with 7. All Behr so that I wouldn’t drive myself crazy comparing white to white to white across brands. Or moreso, so I wouldn’t drive Pete crazy, since he told me he didn’t care what type of white it was, as long as it was white. BAH.

White samples by Behr.

For two years, the walk-in-closet has been white. This, you know.

Before that, it was the previous owner’s nursery, complete with illustrated zoo animals and coordinating wallpaper. But when I decided to brighten it up, I chose a straight-out-of-the-can white, and a cheap can at that. Mr. Seconds for $6.99-a-gallon cheap. The room was home to shoes and clothes, not heavily trafficked, and not a haven for overnight guests, so I didn’t put too much into it.

Walk-in Closet: Before + After

The inexpensive color had begun to look a little dirty, or faded, or dull compared to the trim, which, while also straight-out-of-the-can white, was a more premium paint with a nice satin sheen that had held up supremely. Having painted the ceiling blue probably helped distract you from the wall state… it fooled me, anyways.

Although in the vein of being transparent, the blue was painted after the walls, and a little sloppily at that. I had been needing to touch up the upper edge for awhile. This I knew. And ignored.

Sloppy paint job. The blue cut-in wasn't done very well.

The white I finally landed on was a Behr color; Powdered Snow (or W-D-700 if you appreciate details like that). I had it mixed with a satin base, much like the rest of the paint in my house.

It’s the swatch shown at the top of the post on the right. Creamy, with no obvious tints.

I hadn’t wanted to sway too white-blue, or white-pink, or white-yellow, all of which were also in my swatch mix, so my options were pretty quickly narrowed down. The Powdered Snow was a white tied to the tan/almond/brown family, so it still had an air of warmth to it… sort of like a very soft ivory.

I assumed that painting white on white was going to be a challenge, as if I wouldn’t easily be able to see which areas I had already painted.

White on white. I was clearly wrong in thinking that it was going to be hard to do.

I was clearly wrong. My whites were considerably distinct in hue.

See what I was talking about when I said the walls seemed dingy?

I left these necklaces and hooks in place until I was right up beside them with the roller, and decided that I’d remove them entirely and patch the holes. Before I did, I snapped this shot. The contrast between the old and new paint was astonishing. Old, inexpensive paint clearly had blue-gray undertones compared to my new, freshly fallen Powdered Snow. Also, the old must have been a flat or eggshell finish; the satin coat is much brighter and reflecting than it’s predecessor.

Variance in the bright new white, and the old white.

Two coats of paint (including edging around the whole room a second time) did the job and completely covered up the old paint. I find with most light colored Behr paint that I usually need two coats, but wasn’t sure if that would be the case with “white”-on-“white”. It was. And for the record, if it’s dark paint, I plan on 3, even if I’m starting with a tinted primer.

Clean paint makes me feel like I just took a shower. All’s good, except now my previously nice trim looks like the ugly stepsister of the white paint chips.

Fresh paint. Clean walls are as satisfying as a cleansing shower.And, well, it’s bright and clean but obviously still a mess. The other guest room is also loaded with office materials waiting for a home, so I’ll be working hard on this over the next few weeks starting with the desk and chair.

Stay tuned for change.

P.S. Never whip around too quickly with a roller. I did just that and knocked into a new pair of suede boots. Most of the paint has come out with bar soap and water which I’m sure is totally not kosher with leather material manufacturers, but if anyone’s a miracle worker out there, please share your secrets.

P.P.S. Also, probably not a good idea to paint a room and leave most of your shoes including a new pair of black suede boots in the line of fire. Don’t be an idiot like me. Just move your shoes.

August Gardening Update

August 19, 2011   //  Posted in: Backyard, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

When my Dad gave me my annual batch of his homegrown tomato seedlings (and then so kindly planted them for me one weekend while he house-and-dog sat), it was made very clear that not only was I obligated to care for them, nurture them, and harvest them, but I was also charged with providing regular updates on their growth and health, god-forbid the precious grand-baby tomatoes hit a rough patch.

My parents don’t live nearby, after all. They were relying heavily on the occasional photo and visit to make sure I was holding up my end of the bargain. So, here you have it: Evidence of my green thumb.

Garden progress.

The extreme heat in late June and July did wonders for them. I watered daily, since it rarely rained, and they flourished. Despite having gone into the ground a month later than usual and not having the same incentive to grow vertically as in previous years (I still haven’t gotten around to installing a trellis, but it’s not too late yet), they’ve rocked out and appear to be on par with most other gardeners in the area. The cherry tomatoes stand easily foot above my head.

Cherry tomato rock stars.

Remember what they looked like in June?

Tomatoes, June.

Here they are today! (Also, not a bad before and after of the garage wall, which I painted not too long ago. There are some hot peppers and lime basil tucked in there too, all of which latched onto the earth and began to flourish wonderfully, but are mostly covered by the tomatoes.)

Tomatoes, August.

Miscellaneous interjection: You know that Cody likes being in the spotlight. He’s usually garbling in Dog-ese, like I pointed out in a photo of him howling a few weeks ago when I brought this big plant home.

No surprise, he photo-bombed my tomato shoot and I snapped his super-cute pre-howl nose wrinkle that’s his sure tell of emotion:

The very hard to photograph, infamous, nose wrinkle.And on to the expected howl.It’s a quiet howl, by the way. More like a moody, chatty grumble. I’m fairly sure the neighbors aren’t bothered by it. He’s not the loud dog of the neighborhood.

Anyways, where was I? Wednesday marked the first harvest. A nice plum variety, they would have been delish on my salad for dinner if they hadn’t had some strange infection on the bottom. What causes this? They weren’t resting on the ground or anything.

Tomato butt rot.

I’ve been referring to it kindly as “tomato butt rot”.

Tomato butt rot.I’m reasonably confident that this is an isolated incident. Hopefully the whole plant isn’t infested.

On the other side of the yard, other veggies are also thriving. In June, I dropped a few seeds in a cleared garden bed to see what would happen. Cautiously, I did label each section of seed so I could see what would grow:

Mini-garden.Unfortunately, the sharpie marker washed away during the next rainstorm, so all I know is that I have scallions on one end, and pumpkins on the other. But there’s lots happening in the middle. I believe that’s a member of the squash family crawling it’s way out across the yard.

The squash family is rocking out.Despite having a few critters finding and making lunch out of my blossoms, they’re doing pretty well. (Seriously, is it yellow squash? Zucchini? Help a girl out… her labels washed-away.)

Blossoms. Soon to be loaded with veggies.Somewhere under all of those plants are peas and string beans struggling to get sunlight. I did happily eat 4 beans before photographing the last one.

Beans. Good.

The zinnias, nasturtiums, and black-eyed susans are also finally beginning to add some color to my open shelves and kitchen table. I love the yellows and orange accents, you know. You can tell, because the frames on these open shelves were painted with my favorite very inexpensive paint.

Small bouquets.

Last year, my zinnias stood as tall as me in my front yard, and bloomed into November; this year they’re in the backyard and a little squattier, but gradually increasing in flower production.

So, how does your garden grow?


Tested: How To Paint Behind A Radiator

August 18, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Entryway, Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

Those pesky radiators really make it hard to do a thorough paint job.

At least, that’s what I convinced myself when I moved into my house and painted every room floor to ceiling, except for those irritating tight spots behind the radiators. You know which ones I’m talkin’ about.

Sneaky, sneaky unpainted wall.The ones no standard paint roller or brush will wedge into, without being totally obvious that you forced a large, drippy, paint-covered object in there.

Unpainted wall, peering at me every time I walk by.

Installed extremely close to the wall, cast iron radiators take quite a bit of time to drain and remove for the convenience of painting without obstacle. And if you’ve ever been patient enough to drain one, you probably already know that you need to hire a small army to help you move it. And then you and the army bond over the next two days laying on the couch watching DIY Network because you all threw your backs out or dropped it on your foot.

My experience, at least.

But I was furiously determined to come up with an easier way to paint behind the radiators. My inspiration came to me when I was painting the entryway radiator that glossy, glossy gray last month. Actually, what happened is that a piece of plastic wrap got stuck to the paint (dried paint, thankfully), and it occurred to me that if I wrapped the whole backside of the radiator with the same plastic wrap, it would probably stick well enough to serve as a handy paint barrier.

And it worked.

Plastic wrapping the radiator.I started from the bottom, coating the back of the radiator horizontally with long pieces of the wrap until the whole possibly-effected area was covered adequately, like hot dog rolls at the beach. And a messy paint job is just about as devastating as sandy rolls, so don’t act like I’m crazy.

Enclosed radiator, ready for painting.Because I’m in the process of patching the stairwell from having removed the colorful gallery, I had gone and bought a new gallon of Burnished Bronze by Behr and was raring to crack it open. I used one of the smaller 6.5″ paint rollers that’s better for fitting in small spaces (as well as usually getting a finer paint finish), and went to town.

Painted behind the radiator, successfully.

The application process went really well. And moreover, it wasn’t messy. The roller was a perfect fit into the narrow space, and while the plastic wrap got some paint on it, the radiator itself was totally guarded. The most nerve-wracking part of the whole job was whether or not the mixologist at Home Depot could match my previous can of Burnished Bronze exactly. In this, and the previous photo, the wall is still a little sticky, so you can see the variance in the wet paint spots versus the dry. The dog did not seem as unnerved. He was patiently waiting a birthday beach walk (he turned the big 0-3).

Painted behind the radiator, successfully. And bored the dog.Happily, it dried perfectly, which based on everything my Mom has bought me, that never happens.

Perfect paint match.

And I’m finally through with staring at that white paint that had been peeking out at me.

I didn’t actually Google to find this idea, just tried it out for myself. Without bothering to look now, after the fact, does anyone else have any good tips that I should know before doing the next 3 radiators in the house?