Tested: How To Paint Behind A Radiator

August 18, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Entryway, Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  10 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?


I’ve Got The Blues

August 17, 2011   //  Posted in: Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

Not emotionally, just in a painty way. A case of blue paint happies, if you want to classify the feelin’ I’m oozing after finishing my latest fixer-upper project.

We spent a lot of time working in the sunroom on our lappers over the weekend. It was rainy, and we had the still unscreened windows wide open to enjoy the breeze, and I stared at the ceiling a lot in thought, and it wasn’t before long that I decided I was ready to paint ceilings again. It had nothing to do with what I was working on, but seemed like a good distraction. It was so white in there.

A sunny, very white sunroom.

Ceilings are kind of a paint-in-the-ass (pun intended, although only after it was an accidental typo). Aside from painting the sunroom floor (and then stenciling on scalloped polka dots), the room has been mostly untouched. It’s a storage area for old Bombay Company tables that never really were my taste, but were purchased inexpensively several years ago and I haven’t been able to sell (even dirt cheap) on Craigslist.

I had a bit of a bee situation last summer where the buggers were making a home in the open roof and birthing themselves into the sunroom through an existing hole in the ceiling (my guess is that there was a light or fan up there once upon a time). In any case, the bees had rendered the room buzzy, and obnoxious to use. I combatted the issue in a very I-don’t-actually-want-to-admit-I-have-a-problem kind of way opting to block their entry with a piece of tin foil. Really, I should have sprayed up in there or organized an exit strategy for the beasts, but I was being passive.

A sunny, very white sunroom. With a not-so-hidden tin foil hole covering up a key bee access point.

In any case, they didn’t return this year (maybe having new siding installed sealed up a few weak points in the exterior). Or maybe they marched in another direction because one of their buddies got wedged between the foil and the ceiling in a desperate attempt to break on through (to the other side). And for anyone else who has this song by The Doors in their head for the balance of the post… you’re welcome. Dead bug alert.

See the crispy little guy who got trapped? Poor thing. He's been up there for a year.What I’m getting at, is that I decided that a flat blue paint would be a nice accent for the otherwise plain room. And come to find, I still had half a gallon of it left in the basement from when I painted the third bedroom a.k.a. my walk-in closet (which I recently pronounced as my soon-to-be my office).

The leftovers I’m referring to are Benjamin Moore’s Gossamer Blue, which is just a little darker than most blue ceilings I’ve gawked slack-jawed at. It’s also a little grayer too, which I like a lot. Enough to stand out and be noticeable, subtle enough to not compete with anything else in the space.

I cut into the top perimeter of the ceiling with an artists paintbrush rather than any painters brush that I had on hand; reason being: bead board. The stuff’s tricky, finicky, and needs a bit of TLC to make sure the paint gets in the nooks and crannies between each panel, so as you might imagine, prepping the edge took a few hours, but the first coat went on pretty effortlessly. At least on the flatter surfaces.

First coat of blue.

I used the same roller that I had bought and used when I painted the garage; a thicker nap, it is ideal for getting into the varied depths of materials like cinderblock and stucco, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to use it on the beadboard. It really did seem to help – more than any other roller would have, I’m sure, but I still knew that I’d need to do a second coat and hand paint a little more to make sure the paint was getting into each board crease properly.

Of course, at one point during the project I had to remove that horrid tin foil from the ceiling. Happy to report that the temporary seal wasn’t littered with dead bees… just a few came tumbling down. I was expecting the worst.

A second of paint coat was necessary, and the ceiling was looking much smoother and more consistently blue after it had dried.

Coat #2 of Gossamer Blue on the sunroom ceiling.Gray, or blue? Blue or gray? In different lights, it twists around on itself a little bit, probably mirroring the sky itself the same way the lake water does.

Sleek blue sunroom ceiling.

Time for other room accents. Like those curtains I was so excited about over the winter. Maybe real-not-garage sale furniture.

And a ceiling light to fix up that odd hole.


A Construction Work-pad: Modern Mexican Housing

August 16, 2011   //  Posted in: Other Pads, Work-pads   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

We did one unplanned and unexpected thing when we were in Mexico last week that was so great that it deserved it’s own post.

The Grand Bahia Principe resort has been in the process of expanding inland to serve as a private golf club and homestead to some of the most wonderfully designed new-construction homes I’ve ever had the opportunity to see in person.

While it’s hard to scale exactly how large this private residence area of the resort is based solely on the map, we can attest to it’s massiveness. It also helps to show you how large the resort itself is (it was sort of 3-in-1!). The whole area above the 307 highway is the residential and golf property that’s still in the development phases, but is really beginning to take form and take on the presence this map would lead you to believe.

Architecture and art maniacs we are, so we spent an afternoon slowly driving our rental Dodge Attitude through the uninhabited streets of the Bahia Principe residences observing the golf course (which was fully open and usable by visitors for a small fortune) and the construction-in-progress on each street and courtyard.

From what we could tell, only half of the roadways have been completed and opened to the traffic at this point, and along those roads there were many handmade signs signifying where treed lots has been purchased by eager homebuilders, but only about a half-dozen properties stood in completed state. It was kind of amazing to see a future huge residential area in such early phases of development. The only true signs of ready-for-action growth were the electrical boxes at the end of each future driveway acknowledging where one future lot ended and the next began.

Roadway, check. Electrical run, check. Uncleared tropical lots, check.

A few in-progress homes peeked our interest initially, with roadside signage informing us that the new home could be ours (ours!) for a mere $799,000. Not the kind of money I had in my fanny pack but still didn’t seem exorbitant considering we were, you know, in an private compound on the Caribbean Sea. And no, I wasn’t really wearing a fanny pack.

Warning: This signage will make you ready to drop your life savings on a new house in Mexico.

You had us at modern, open floorplan, ocean view terrace, and solar-powered pool, Bahia Principe.

A few shells of homes stood works in progress (that we undoubtly wanted to explore tresspass-style but did not), simple structures made of concrete but undeniably attractive with modern form and style oozing from it’s pretty, pretty tropical lot. Who wouldn’t want a coconut tree in their backyard? And how interesting that throughout the whole resort, some large trees were preserved, even if they were in the way of sidewalks like this one.

The shell of a home-in-progress.

Once we got to a part of the compound where completed homes were popping up every half mile or so, we got camera happy. Colorado homeowners, Mexican homeowners, Californian homeowners, all thoroughly enjoying this quiet-but-soon-to-be-raging community in it’s infancy.

Really, we went ga-ga. Drooling down the closed windows of our air conditioned car, and snapping shots of every property and raving about the architecture.

One of the first we saw blew us away. This completed (and inhabited) home had an attractive open-air garage that blended in so nicely to the overall design that you wouldn’t have thought twice about it actually meant for vehicle functionality.

Beautiful, functional home with a sleek garage overhang.

And how about that front entryway? In addition to the wooden door, the attention to detail in design of the wooden accents above the door made our jaws drop. (Hello, contractors. Please come make my home look like this. I will give you rainbow cupcakes and coffee.)

An entryway that just makes me... happy.

The driveways were amazing in their own right. No snow, no ice, no heavy traffic = really nice, level driveways that heavily incorporate and allow retention of the pretty lush grasses of the area. This simple paver driveway was really sleek, complementing the house wonderfully. And so seemingly easy to manufacture, may I add:

Pretty home with a simple paver driveway option.

The x-molded concrete blocks used in this next grid driveway have always been highly desireable to me, although I’m not sure how well they would endure NY weather. In this design, the entire driveway looped up into a covered valet spot and while durable and driveable, it still helped to achieve that whole my-driveway-doesn’t-take-up-my-whole-front-yard effect. Essentially, a sick, mowable driveway. Nice.

Driveway or grassy yard?

When we came across this home for sale, we couldn’t resist getting out of the Attitude to see the property up close.

Pete in front of our future Mexico beach house.

How fantastic is this heavy, unidentifiable-to-a-poor-wood-identifier doorway? I swooned. And hugged it.

You had me at modern hardwood entryway.

Truthfully, with only two bedrooms and a small living space, it seemed tight and snug for anything long term. But we liked the overall design and openness of it a lot. Pete investigated the backyard and deck access while I ooed-and-ahhed photographing through the long, vertical front window panes.

Hi Pete. Maybe we should stop snooping.

The pool in the backyard was small – just enough room for a close-knit party or for a few people to dip in for an evening cool-down, but the outdoor living area that extended from the back of the house into the backyard was lush and beautiful.

Tiny pool, but happy outdoor living space.

Pete oozed over the double balconies from the upstairs rooms and looked over the pool in the backyard, while I studied the design of the pergolas built into the construction. I probably would have hugged them like the front door if they were within reach of my sweaty swollen fingers. Ooh, I want them, I want them.

Balconies, pergolas, hardwood happiness.

We didn’t get the pricing on the property, but definitely spent time admiring how well designed the structure was in entirety. Who wouldn’t want this? Bonus: I look right at home, don’t I?

Making myself at home.The last one we really liked was this monstrousity. Aside from the consistent modern architecture, the front walkway made of black stone was really stunning. I bet it looks wonderful when it’s rainy and shiny. Plus, great ground cover. I wonder if I can achieve anything like that with my myrtle.

Well-designed home, with a pretty black stone walkway.And how about the landscaping? The lush, mexican jungles led us to find and photograph some beautiful plants, some of which I recognized as species being sold as houseplants at Home Depot. Smile.

The color of this ground cover was lovely, even if it wasn’t blooming like I believe it does when it peaks.

Green, blue, purple ground cover.

And P.S. what are these – tiny coconuts in development? Smaller than acorns.

Are those baby coconuts?