Peppery Redux

We looked today…the right thing to do? Add a third coat of Peppery to the walls. So the little guy camps out for the fifth straight day, with his room in a state of flux.

I have the inside line on a discount on the paint so I’ll leverage that later today and hit the walls with a final coat when I get home from work.


Alright, tonight I finished applying coat number two of paint in the big little guy’s bedroom.  He, we, chose Peppery from our Sherwin Williams / HGTV Global Spice color palette.  It’s a dark orange / red color that required a grey primer coat and now two coats of color.  We’re going to let it dry and see if it’ll require a third coat.  The little guy just loves it and says it looks fine.  His anal retentive dad may have other thoughts and add a third coat, even though painting that little room is a royal pain in the ass.

The color is very similar to the red coffee alter we have in the kitchen.  It’s rather bold, but when you see it from the hall, it works perfectly with the Edamame in the boys’ bathroom, the sage green carpet and the hallway’s Loggia paint color.  Yes, it does darken the room which is a no no (according to this Consumer Reports snippet in the issue I got in the mail today).  colors-that-sell-houses It’s tough to paint this color but it really makes the room more “comfy” and obviously visually warm. One thought I had was that we chose the land because it was relatively open and expansive visually all around us.  The house really exploits the views and is one with the landscape.  But on the other hand once you’re inside the house, it could get unsettling if it’s too expansive.  Like living in a fish bowl, you’d never be at ease.  In my opinion, the warm dark colors help psychologically embrace the occupants (i.e. us) and make the house feel more like “home”.  The earthy colors (yes even peppery is earthy) help tie us to the land and the world around us. I don’t think the orange will “overstimulate” my kid.  He likes it so that’s a good first step.  Also I think it’ll stimulate his imagination, giving him a desire to explore his world and appreciate all of its unique qualities.  It’s an earthy orange that you’d find in the canyons of Utah, or the spices of a Moroccan bazaar. I suspect it’ll prove comforting on stormy summer nights or cold winter mornings as well.  It’ll be toned down once the bed, ebony furniture and wall decorations are in place.

Some info on the paint we used.  Everything is from Sherwin Williams.  For the latest round I bought top of the line, zero VOC, Emerald interior Acrylic Latex paint.  The product web page touts good coverage and no need for a primer, but even the Sherwin Williams computer said we needed a primer coat with the Peppery.  And like I said, two coats may not be enough.  It’s zero VOC so it won’t degrade the indoor air quality, and presumably there won’t be any ill effect on my kid’s lungs, or the rest of us for that matter.  I did notice a little odor, but I had the door shut to keep kids and cat out while I painted.  Once dry there wasn’t any offensive smell so all is good.  This paint should be easy to clean, which is critical for a boy’s room.

Ok, here are pics below.  I have two more rooms to paint….craft room and then bonus painting: my studio!

More painting

I started painting our oldest’s bed room yesterday. The Peppery color we chose required a primer coat so that’s really all I accomplished yesterday. I was going to finish today but was snookered into visiting relatives in Columbus. Maybe there will be time tonight to start laying down some orangish red paint.

The room is very difficult to paint or rather it’s very tedious. Being a cape cod style room with a dormer there are a lot of angles and little wall sections. I am becoming quite adept at cutting in the ceiling without having to tape. It’s definitely easier to have the painter do all this before one moves into the house but we wouldn’t have been able to choose a color back then. And I save a couple dollars on labor doing it myself.



Air Exchange Ventilator

Okay it doesn’t sound as sexy as “passive solar” or “LED light bulb” but today we’re going to talk about our home’s “air exchange ventilator”.  I had to clean it out yesterday so I took some pics.  What is it you ask?  Let me tell you.

As you should know our house is super tight.  So air doesn’t or shouldn’t get in or out easily if all the doors and windows are closed.  Like an exclusive club downtown, we have a bouncer that determines who gets into our club.  It most houses, maybe even yours, air molecules run willy nilly all over like they own the place.  They come and go as they please.  And air molecules, typically in the heat of summer or cold of winter, are really awful critters.  See they sit on their lazy asses outside all day and night, and when they get too hot or cold the come into your house.  Did you invite them in?  Well yes cause they provide you with “oxygen” but I’ll tell you what if it wasn’t for that you probably wouldn’t want them cause like I said they come and go all the time.  Which is fine, we all have relatives like that, but let’s say it’s winter (it is by the way).  Where it gets annoying is the air molecules do very little to warm themselves up.  Look outside, see them all out on your lawn?  Yeah a couple are overachievers letting the sun warm them up but if there’s no sun and the wind is blowing….they say “screw this” and head for your house.  They come in through the cracks in your doors, around your windows, your roof, hell they come through your bathroom vents.  Anywhere you have a hole in your house.  Once inside they sit on your couch, hang out in your pantry, they even snuggle up with you in bed.  And they are super cold.  Cold feet in the morning? It’s the cold ass air molecules, I told you so.

So you try like hell to appease them by cranking up the thermostat, figuring if it’s warm they’ll stop bothering you and your family.  But like any pest this only makes things worse.  See, they come in, you get them warmed up, they drink your beer and then leave basically.  And they tell ALL their friends.  Next thing you know your thermostat’s up to 72 degrees and the wife bitchin’ at you to fire up the wood stove.  Meanwhile all those air molecules are inviting their cousins from Alberta to come down to your place and get warmed up.  Next thing you know you’re essentially operating a welfare state for lazy air molecules.

I’ll be damned if I run a welfare operation for air molecules.  So what we’ve done is first off, made our house super tight.  Now it’s not as tight as it could be but it tighter than probably 95% of other homes out there.  In a perfect world it’d be 100% tight. But then we’d suffocate so as I look out at all the sad, cold air molecules kicking stones in my front drive, pouting cause I won’t let them in, I’m forced to acquiesce and let them in since after all they have the oxygen we so desperately need.  But before I let any of them in there are some ground rules…just like the bouncer at the door to a hot new club.

Outside a big pipe in the side of the house all the air molecules line up, smiles on their faces cause they know I have a warm couch, XBox and beer.  We let them in and they enter the air exchanger.  And they love it ’cause the first thing we do is warm up their little molecule bodies, clean them up and comb their hair.   Then it’s off to the inside of the house, sporting their little fur coats of warmth, leaving the coldness behind outside.  Oh joy, they are so happy you can almost hear them as they run all over the house.  And the furnace easily keeps everyone comfortable ’cause our guests came in warmed up to start with.

Well after a while, you know how it goes, they can’t stay for ever.  They’ve unloaded their oxygen, picked up some CO2 and other foreign air born whatnot….and they’re getting lazy again, except this time it’s on my couch, or my bed or worse yet the bathroom.  Well, “time to go little guys” and the ventilator sucks them all out of the house.  Oh, one thing though, we take their little fur coats before we kick the air molecules to the curb.  There is only so much heat in the world and we can’t afford to have air molecules running around outside with our hard-earned heat.  Wouldn’t look good with the neighbors, people would talk.  And we’re not running a charity here. So the little guys go through the big heat exchanging core again and reluctantly hand off their warm little coats to the new air molecules coming in.  Thus the “exchange” part.  We keep all the heat inside the house…sucking it out of the air leaving and giving it to the air coming in.

Then we dump the stale air molecule asses through a big pipe to the harsh realities of the outside world.  From there we’re more than happy to welcome them back in, but only if they pick up some oxygen first.

I try not to look out the back window lest I see all of the now freezing air molecules looking longingly through the glass into our home.

In the Summer it’s just the opposite, we cool them off before inviting them inside.

Our air exchange ventilator is an 8100 model from Aprilaire.  I just have to clean the filter’s every 6 months and the core every 12 months.  It was a super easy job that took about a half hour.  I just used a shop vac to clean the filters, core (use a brush attachment) and the cavities.  The filters should be oiled as well.  All the directions are right there on the core so there’s no confusion.  Here’s a snippet from their website explaining the advantages:

Is the air your family breathes as fresh and healthy as it can be? An Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is among the most efficient means of exchanging the air inside your home with fresh outdoor air. In winter months, the exclusive EnergyMax® Transfer Core uses the heat of indoor air to warm the incoming cold fresh air, recovering approximately 77% of the energy.

How Does It Work?
In the summer, warm fresh air passes near outgoing conditioned air, cooling it down. At no time do the stale and fresh air streams mix, instead they pass each other separated by thin walls that allow only the air’s energy to transfer, cutting your heating and cooling bills. The heart of the ERV is the EnergyMax Transfer Core which uses enthalphic technology enabling the transfer of moisture as well as heat into and out of your home.

The Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) provides a comfortable, healthy, noise-free, and safe means of exchanging stale, polluted indoor air with fresh outdoor air in your entire home year round.

There are numerous benefits to installing an Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator in your home:

  • Installs as part of any central heating and cooling system
  • Provides a constant, controlled supply of fresh air to your home year round
  • Reduces excess indoor humidity levels
  • Reduces unhealthy indoor air pollutants such as formaldehyde, <ahref=”index.php?znfaction=iaqproblems&category=health&problemid=12″>volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radon, carbon dioxide, smoke, odors, dust, bacteria and viruses and more
  • Saves energy by effectively retaining and utilizing the energy value from your indoor air
  • Ventilates homes up to 3,600 sq. ft. in size”

Unless you like throwing money away, or you feel guilty and feel all air molecules in the world should have access to affordable heat coverage, you should seriously look into getting your house sealed up super tight and adding an air exchange ventilator.

LED Love

Today was a busy day and went by fast.  I was able to get into the studio to paint and frame some new artwork in the morning.  At lunch time I treated myself to a goodie.  I drove up to get everybody in the house some yummy Chipotle for lunch and stopped of at Home Depot for my goodie.  During my crappy week I needed a diversion, and in light of our last electricity bill, I decided to check out light bulbs some more.  Now keep in mind I can spend a half hour in the lighting aisle of Lowes or Home Depot, or easily down a few beers and surf the net looking at LED’s.  The variety is going up and the prices are going down.  The last time I was at the Depot I saw some Philips bulbs that caught my eye.

I find LED’s fascinating because their design goes beyond just commodity item like incandescents.  There’s a lot of technology in an LED bulb, and they also require cooling fins and lenses.  It’s like having an ipod or other high end electronic device in light bulb form.  Who woulda thought, light bulbs that require some real industrial design.  Maybe I can get a job designing light bulbs.  Would be cooler than it sounds. I’ve been looking at bulbs and in my opinion Philips has the nicest looking bulbs, across their entire lineup. The nicest looking bulb is from GE (click to see it). Their 60W equivalent A19 LED bulb is pure light bulb porn, with its sexy cooling fins and old school bulb shape.  It looks like some sort of alien bulb.  It’s really nice.

I had my sites on replacing some of the most used bulbs in our house, this would help save money in the long run, but also I was curious to get my hands on the latest LED technology out there.  One note, for our new house I’m skipping compact fluorescents altogether.  LED’s are better technology and their cost is coming down.  Eventually pretty much everything will be LED in the house so I don’t want to wait twelve years or longer for my CFL’s to burn out.  The two areas I identified that were prime for upgraded bulbs were the Dining Room and my studio. Both use 60W incandescent bulbs now.  My studio you can see the bulbs as their Barn Light Electric fixtures are just raw sockets like you see at….like you see at Chipotle actually.   So in the studio I’d actually want to factor in the aesthetic design of the bulbs…maybe use them as a stylish detail in additional to functional lighting.  Unfortunately I have six sockets in the studio so to save some money my sights turned to the Dining Room.  In there, you might remember, we have the cool pendants from Barn Light Electric that are made from repurposed acetylene tank heads.  With their port holes you can see the bulbs in there too, so bulb style has to be considered again but not to the extent that we have to in the studio.  The Dining Room pendants had one 60W incandescent bulb in each fixture.  The fixtures are dimmable, and we tend to dim them all the time so that’s important.

Home Depot carries Philips light bulbs so that’s where I focused my search.  They have a great set of search tools so I could quickly zero into the bulbs that would work for our application.  I quickly boiled it down to the GE A19 bulb and a 60 watt equivalent dimmable bulb from Philips.  The Philips won out because of it’s warmer 2700K color, 11W energy usage, higher lumen output at 830 lumens.  It was almost as sexy as the GE bulb….actually it’s understated sleekness is probably sexier in a subtle way. Finally the Philips cost about half as much so it was an all around winner. (You know life as you know it is basically washed up when you talk about light bulbs being sexy.)

So for about $25 apiece I replaced the three Dining Room bulbs.  They look great, the light looks great and they dim nicely.  They use a fraction of the electricity compared to the bulbs they replace and should each save $135 over their 22 year lifespan.  Crazy to think my boys will both have graduated college by time I have to replace these light bulbs.  The bulbs have a six year warranty.

Folding Sweaters

So as I attempted to fold my sweater in our fancy new closet, after a long day of work, I got to thinking….what jobs could I not do (and which ones would be kinda cool).  When life gives you lemons, why not make pretend lemonade.  So without hesitation….here’s 5 jobs I couldn’t do and 5 “dream’ jobs.  Heck, might be fun to think what would be on your list.

5 Nightmare Jobs:

1) Work at the Gap.  Or any clothing store for that matter.  I can handle the register.  Set up displays.  Ogle scantily clad female patrons and tell them “Yes that dress makes you look super thin, sweety“.  Alas what I can not do is fold clothes.  I tried three times to fold my sweater so it’d look nice on the new closet shelf, all organized and tidy.  It looked like I stuffed the cat and shoe horned it beneath my t-shirts.  I can hammer and paint, do things that most men can’t…but I will never, ever be able to fold clothing.

sweater abuse, documented for the authorities

sweater abuse, documented for the authorities

2) Drywaller.  I’m sure with time I’d get decent at it.  And the fancy new materials they have like dustless mud and integrated taped corners make the job super weekend warrior friendly.  But man, I just lack the patience to even remotely endure, let alone like drywalling.  I’ll leave it to the experts.

3) Electrician.  Electricity freaks me out.  I have the uncanny knack of screwing something up…skipping a step or mis-interpreting something.  If it’s a painting I paint over it.  If it’s rough framing I can always redo it or reinforce it.  I can turn a wrench on the suspension of my Jeep all day long.  With electrical I’m just flat out scared or spooked by it all.  Even if the chance of death is remote, like with low voltage stuff…I just don’t get it.  Heck my four year old fixed his broken Nerf gun by fixing a loose wire.  Me?  I’ll stick to non-electrical endeavors.

4) Doctor.  Really cause I can’t stand blood and whatnot (plus my hands are far from surgical steady).  When I gut a deer I have about 7 minutes and 32 seconds to get the deed mostly done before I start overthinking about it and what I had for lunch.  I’ve smashed my finger and cut myself numerous times and I will freely admit, every time I do it, I go crying like a 12 year old girl to my wife so she can patch me up.  I have a remarkably high threshold for pain.  I have a remarkably low threshold for exposed bone, blood and guts.

5) Anything sports related (save maybe golf, or skiing at one time).  I’ve literally tried everything over my 39 years.  From baseball (zero batting average), to cross country (quit after a week), to football (endless running around a track during practice), to bowling (miracle if I break 100).  You name it, I suck at it.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sports and I’ve even been ridiculed for being “too competitive”.  I just lack coordination.  Let’s just be happy that the family is not depending on me to provide based on my athletic prowess.

5 Dream Jobs:

1) Pro Golfer.  Okay, okay if you’ve played with me you know this isn’t even remotely possible.  I’m lucky to break 100 for 18 holes.  But that’s beside the point.  Golf is a really great game and it requires imagination, skill, discipline and its rules are generally congruent with life’s rules.  I don’t care how old you are or what your demographic is.  Go learn to play golf.  If I was younger and independently wealthy, I’d play every day.  Who know’s if I played that much maybe I’d be halfway decent.

2) Offroad guide.  I don’t know how you’d make a living doing it but I think it’d be cool as heck to camp out, wear cool outdoor-sy clothing and spend entire days guiding offroad trucks across trails.  I don’t even know if this is a job but I do know if it is, whoever is doing it is really happy going to work everyday.

3) Restore Cars.  Since we got cable tv all I do is watch car restoration shows and home improvement shows.  I’ve done some work on the Jeep and someday I will restore it when my boys are old enough to help.  It looks like it’d be a really enjoyable job; finding old cars, fixing ’em up and selling ’em off or restoring them for clients.  Plus I’m a car guy so what would be cooler then hanging around living examples of automotive history.

4) Gentleman Farmer.  This one I might actually do in my free time.  I really want to run a micro farm, with veggies, bees, animals and whatnot.  Don’t ask me why, probably just some misguided romantic notion or maybe some deep seeded need to commune with the land.  Regardless I think it’d be neat and I already have a cool hat….so no sense it just sitting on the shelf all Summer.

5) Whatever job lets you go through abandoned stuff.  I don’t know…maybe it’s the voyeur in me but I love looking at and going through old buildings.  Imagining who lived or worked there.  I just think it’s really cool.  Especially cause they don’t make a lot of the buildings like they used to.  I can stare at photos of abandoned buildings online for hours.  Just really cool stuff.  Then of course I feel dirty and need to get back to my brand new house and take a shower.  But hey the escapism is fun for a little while.

Ok that’s my list off the top of my head.  What’s your list?  If you don’t have one make one. Who knows maybe you’ll decide now’s the time to go for it.


Painting Day

[Note this post was supposed to publish Sunday but a glitch forced it to post today, my apologies – the mgmt.]

Saturday was “Painting Day” in our house.  I had grand visions of getting most of the painting done in one day.  Turns out by time we got the family room done at 6pm I said “no more” and we ended up taking Sunday off.  What we did get done though was two coats of “Resort Tan” from our Global Spice color palette on our Dining Room and Family Room walls.

We really like the earthy color as it warms the room up and spiritually ties us to the earth outside.  It’s really dark though and we got used to the white walls from a luminance standpoint.  Bad for the environment ’cause we have to turn more lights on, but wow it really made the room look “grown up” and designerly.  I wouldn’t change it.  Another added bonus is the stone on the fireplace really pops now color wise.  It was like the white walls de-saturated the colors.  Now one can really see the oranges, yellows, greys and browns in the stone and the combination is brilliantly cohesive.  The white trim really pops too, adding shadow and dimension to the 10″ thick window surrounds that was missing before.

Now that the room is painted we really need some fresh furnishings but that will have to wait.  What I will do though is paint a few pieces of art for the walls.  Probably I’ll paint them with lighter colors to brighten things up a little.  Overall it’s a great intimate space.  No we don’t have a ton of space and the dark color makes it feel “closer” in some ways, but we live most of our waking hours in this space.  It’s great for family time and if we have a couple or two over they should feel right at home themselves

Here are some pics, more painting in the subsequent weekends.

Really Cool Stuff

I find life to be incredibly predictable.

Or rather maybe I have an innate, or uncanny, ability to pretty much know how a story is going to end before I’m even done eating the popcorn. Given any set of circumstances I’ve found through a little reflection, deduction, a sprinkle of logic and my own imagination virtually nothing surprises me. I’ll clue you in on what might be one of my secrets. When you navigate through life, realize a vast majority of who and what you encounter lacks imagination. And where imagination is devoid, predictability sets up shop.

So here I find myself, not surprisingly (at least to me), at one of life’s presumably wondrous cross roads. Before you get the wrong idea, no worries….I’m a (theoretically) rich, (definitely past) middle aged Caucasian guy from flyover country…I’m essentially societal navel lint in terms of what anyone would or should be concerned about. My role in life is to wake up, go to work, take it like a man, come home, sleep, repeat.

Except sometimes they make the middle bits go away.

So instead of sharing my next home improvement adventure with you, for a while I’ll be pondering “now what“, making a game plan, and executing said game plan….worst case scenario this was a fun adventure and we’ll unload the joint, ceiling fans and all.

I’ll figure something out.

I have to figure something out.

One thing’s for certain in regards to the house, we’re going to crank up this ship and see what she’s got. I wish I had loaded up with LED lights to keep the electric bill down, but beyond that….I think we’re good for a while. Since I won’t be doing any more improvements for the foreseeable future I’ll start delving into the utility bills and share how much we’re using for electric and gas. There are a few things we’ll being doing that we already have supplies for, namely painting a few more rooms and I have to finish my office area. And organizing things is a necessity year round regardless of circumstances. Once Spring comes we’ll go full tilt in the garden.

Who knows, maybe I’ll start writing those books I wanted to write or hell, anyone need help building a sustainable house? Apparently I might have some time on my hands.

Thinking back, I can remember growing up drawing cars, houses and all kinds of other weird stuff…heck, I don’t think too many ten-year-old’s were drawing waterproof electric razors that dispensed shaving gel (I swear to god if you steal that idea I’ll come after you like a rabid ferret at an Easter egg roll). I’d toil away at the kitchen counter filling reams of paper with little pencil drawings. Anyway, as a kid, all I wanted to do was really cool stuff: like draw things, play, laugh, learn, and love. And so I did really cool stuff. And other people thought I was doing really cool stuff. Hell, I made kids…how could that not be incredibly cool stuff. And doing this house was “really cool stuff”….like really f-ing cool stuff. And I helped others do really cool stuff.

And then one day someone said “we don’t want you doing really cool stuff for us anymore“.


But that’s all I really know how to do.

So I guess I just gotta find someone out there that needs really cool stuff.

Compass Rose

Quiet week on the home front.  Tomorrow is painting day so expect to hopefully see some photos tomorrow and find out how that went.  The only thing I really did house wise this week was mounting the compass rose art work on the downstairs landing.  One unique note, it actually is oriented properly so if you ever get lost in the house you’ll know which way West is for instance.  Elsewhere I also mudded and sanded the studio wall a little more.  We have two bonus gallons of paint since we changed our minds on one of the colors so we’ll use those in my office and studio.  And I sold the Nest thermostat on eBay for $185, recouping most of what I paid for it.

I actually found a stud smack dab in the center of the wall so mounting was a breeze, just a washer and one of my handy dandy star drive screws.

We are super busy working on the art front as well….applying to shows, working on art and whatnot. I don’t really relax anymore.  I think that ability was a casualty of building the house, regular work and trying to do the art thing.  But during the 3 minutes of rest I sneaked in after work (and before dinner)…as I lay there trying not to lose my mind with the boys pushed trucks, yelling up and down the hallway, I realized turning this place into a home instead of a house is a multi-pronged approach.  The paint and some nice arty touches are going to definitely help, but the laughs and yells of playing little boys are absorbed by these walls around me. And while you can’t see them, or hear them (unless thing one and two are here when you’re here) they are there adding warmth, history and a sense of place to what was virtually lifeless, even just a year ago.  Long after we’re gone, and they’re gone I honestly believe that if you were to walk these halls, with their faded walls and dusty corners….close your eyes…open your mind…this house will let you hear them again.

I’m pissing away a ton of hours and money, maybe fool heartily but it’ll be nice and a lot more relaxing.  Realistically I want to get this paint on the walls to warm the place up a bit. Then I MUST get my storage designed and built (by yours truly) in my studio.  On the art front the new website is up and running nicely (so I don’t have to worry ’bout that).  My office area is almost done (I can get organized). I may actually be able to enjoy February, working on art, start relaxing and get back to chasing these kids around.  Who knows maybe I’ll add my own laugh or two to these not so old walls. A lot of people will say I don’t have to do it all at once, but for me I kinda do.  Call my therapist if you need an explanation.  Meanwhile I’ll keep plugging away, getting “to do” list monkeys off my back.  We lived in limbo for ten years in the old house, not decorating or having a lot of projects waiting in the wings.  We loved that house but frankly I kinda want to get over these projects and start enjoying it.  And Spring will be here before we know it; with that will be outdoor projects (hint: she wants to raise bees, I want a fully functioning, self-sustaining, micro farm).

Life is brutally finite, I see no viable reason to wait, leave things unsaid or put off much of anything.  Each day is a treasure…a gem.  Every moment worth savoring.   Will I get burnt out? I doubt it. The last two years have built up my tolerance and strength, like a weight lifter in a gym.  And the wife has been a huge help, keeping everyone grounded as a mom and teammate. Will I go broke?  Most definitely but like a good friend of mine said, you’ll always be broke when you have a family but one way or another you find a way and things work out…even if it’s month to month at times.  Will it be worth it? I think so.  The process is therapeutic.  I’ve learned a lot.  Made mistakes.  Did one or two things right.  There are a couple of people who still talk to me so not all is lost.

Fundamentally we’re headed in some direction; we’re sailing at the very least.  Short term I definitely know (painting tomorrow for example).  Long term who the hell knows….do any of us really know.  Ultimately how much control do we really have.  Life happens. Getting lost makes it worth living.

Worst case scenario, I can always walk downstairs and I’ll know which way West is.

That’s a start.