interior paint: white to…white

Thankfully, our house was in pretty good condition when we bought it. Though it was built over 45 years ago, it was not really a so-called “fixer upper.” And the inspector sang its praises after he did a lengthy walk-through. Strangely, however, the walls were in far from perfect shape. Of course they had lots of holes from all the gorgeous art hung by the previous owners (all original), and the usual dings, but the walls were also kind of streaky. See the strange vertical streaks in the corner?


Additionally, the wooden slats of the ceiling in the living room were stained and splotchy. They almost looked greasy. Besides, every nail had a dark halo around it. Not sure if you can see this in this photo?

ceiling stains

We learned that this is probably because, when the ceiling was painted from its natural wood color, it might not have been primed, and the nails might not have been galvanized.

None of this was that a big of a deal, but since the rest of the place was so tight, these imperfections stood out. We’ve been looking at these grungy walls for two years, trying to ignore them, and finally decided to get it done: the living room, the kitchen, and the front hall.

Sure, we probably could have tackled this ourselves, especially the walls, and we had the DIY vs. Hire-it-out debate just about every day for those two years, but in the end we were intimidated by the ceiling. Though I have painted a few walls in my day, I’ve never painted a ceiling. I’ve heard that they’re a pain, literally. I imagined getting whiplash, dislocated shoulders, and permanent hand cramps. Besides, I presume these graduated wooden slats are not a job for a roller, but a good old fashioned brush.

So we decided to hire some local professionals, Europe Painting, out of New City, NY. These are the same painters who painted the exterior of our house when we first moved in and we were happy with their work. (Unlike this project, which is white-to-white, that was a major color change. A post on that transformation to come…)

Though they were going to put tarps over our big furniture, we moved all of our knick knacks, art, and miscellany into Rob’s studio. With the dining room chairs in there, doesn’t it look like some kind of weird waiting room or group therapy set-up?

stuff in studio

We hoped the plants wouldn’t be too traumatized by the temporary relocation. Though we knew they’d get lots of light in there, and they assured us they’d be okay, their tone did sound distinctly put-out, as in, no, no we’ll be fine, sigh:

Plants in studio

And just to prove that we’re that Rob’s not afraid of a little paint, he re-painted the walls of this whole studio himself last year. This converted garage has an 18 foot ceiling, so the ladder he had to use put me in a perpetual panic. Fortunately, he was able to use a roller for this job, he didn’t fall off the ladder too many times, and the final result was beautiful.

We actually planned for the paint job of our main living space to be done while we were out of town two weeks ago, in Cape Cod with Rob’s parents. (Thanks for the great trip!) This was to avoid the hassle and the fumes, even though we had it done with low VOC paint. My mother served as our eyes and ears. Her reports from headquarters were very positive, so we were dying to see it when we got back.

And we. are. thrilled. They did an extremely professional job and much better than we could have done. The place looks COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: very crisp and bright. Okay okay… though we think the transformation is remarkable, it’s quite possible that no one in our lives would probably even notice. Hopefully the change is somewhat discernible in these after-shots?

Look, Ma, no streaks!:

No streaks

No more blotchy stains or nail halos…just smoooooth:

ceiling painted

Look how nicely they sealed up the spaces between the white brick of our fireplace and the wooden slats. (For more on our white brick extreme makeover, visit this recent post.) I don’t think we could have done this, wow:

ceiling and white brick

And this wall, with what we call our “secret door” (no knob, no handle, you just push it in a bit to open it), used to be all kinds of scuffed up with big smudges all over it. Now it does justice to the Robert Walden pen on paper drawing we got last year. (To see more of his work, visit his website here.):

Robert Walden pen and ink drawing

Voila: white to white. This reconfirms what I already suspected: that a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Any guilt we had about not DIYing this project has pretty much dissolved. [Well, it did dissolve, then flared up again during this week’s Plumbingate 2012]. We still have a bathroom, guest bedroom, and office to DIY, which I think we will tackle within the next few months. We might even get crazy and break away from white in the laundry room: I’m thinking Kermit green…just thinking about it makes my heart race.

Happy Home Improvement Month – have you hugged your house today?

What projects are you DIYing or hiring out this summer?

17 replies

  1. Woah! You guys have quuuuite the stylish house over there – have you been holding out on us? ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks great! I would need to ban spaghetti sauce forever if I had that much white in our house, which would make Josh very sad. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Enjoy your fresh pretty paint!

    • Thanks Suzanne! FYI spaghetti is in fully force over here, and we have the “proof” “residuals” “evidence” ๐Ÿ™‚ Tide stain sticks are very helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I think I am going to permanently open the studio as a minimalist therapy center for quirky plants and mid-century dinning chairs – the plants have such great character as therapy patients.

  3. It looks fantastic — so crisp and clean! (Although I can’t help but think how long it would take to get covered in grubby handprints chez moi.)

    Your “group therapy” photo made me laugh. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Wow, that’s blinding! Please take that as a compliment.. it’s beautiful, clean and “just like a virgin”… like it’s painted white for the first time. The power of paint, indeed!
    I have to also add that you are SO SMART for hiring someone. We have tongue and groove ceilings through the whole house and I stupidly painted all of them. Worst decision EVER! Back breaking, time sucking. I need to learn from you Obi Wan!
    Add a coffee pot to that studio pic and the group therapy is ON! The chairs and plants seem to be getting along fine… it looks like they’re working it out! Ha Ha!

    • Goode Day Stacey! Ha! One coffee pot, coming up, but it should be really old school, like the one in our church basement back in the 70’s..

      Yup, we heart the white – but we do actually have color all around the house, I swear!

      Is what we have called “tongue and groove” from what you can see in the pic? I wasn’t sure what to call it…Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think y’all need change yer attitude ’bout paintin’. It’s all in the way y’perceeeve it. Why, this here past Saturdee when I had to whitewash that picket fence in front o’ my aunt’s place I had me such a time that them neighborhood was boys a’ linin’ up, near fightin’ one another, just for a chance to have a turn o’ the brush. Come Saturdee evenin’, I was chargin’ ’em. Think there on that fer a spell.

  6. Painted the front of the house today(well, Patrick did)and if was a process. Had to stain it first and that was done some time ago(do what you can). A/C goes in the MBR tomorrow:-)) Deck needs to be bleached. And so much more…luckily we have it all in perspective having just come from a neighbors BBQ. All things in due time. LL hehe

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