House Painting

Good news: we got the house painted.

Best news: I didn’t have to do it.

We’ve been here seven years this year. To maintain this beautiful structure, skinned in western red cedar and cement board, it needs to be cleaned and painted every five or so years.

We called the man back who painted the house to review the state of the house and provide an estimate. The house exterior is in pretty good shape. It really needed to be cleaned though, as the clear coated cedar was showing signs of sun exposure as well as black spots from just being exposed to the air, rain and snow. The white trim was dirty. the only area that we didn’t think needed touch up were the charcoal colored sections of the house. Those looked pretty darn good.

It cost us $4,600 and took two weeks to complete the job. And it was worth every penny. The house looks brand new on the outside. And there was literally no way I would be able to have done it myself. Just the amount of time and effort required. The painters went up on the metal roof without scratching it. They knocked down all the wasp nests, cleaned out the old bird nests. They pressure washed the white porch columns. And they even stained all the decks and pressure washed the screen porch inside!

They did a fantastic job clear coating all of the cedar, it looks almost new. Overall I’m so happy and also happy I hired pros to do the work.

house painting 2019

The house was pressure washed and repainted. Here is the front porch and it looks phenomenal.

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Basement Update – Drywall

The basement has drywall! Happiness.

Once completed this will be our first finished basement as a family. In fact, the wife’s never really ever lived in a house with a finished basement. So getting the drywall installed is a big step towards that goal.

The space actually doesn’t look all that different, or at least not as different as I expected. It does look good though. You can get a feel for the large rooms down there. And as you look at the photos you can see how we left the sheet rock up about 8″ to mitigate against any potential future basement flooding. We’ll cover that gap with replaceable plywood baseboards that can be removed in event of water pooling in the basement as a result of sump pump issues.

I didn’t install the drywall myself, rather we contracted that out. It took about a week for one person to hang, tape, mud and sand. It installed with no problem onto our Superior Walls foundation, and the metal stud partitions I raised.

To a certain extent, installing sheet rock on the foundation walls, along with caulked baseboards, should insulate the basement even more, and make for a tighter envelop on our home. Maybe once the basement is complete, and I do a few other things (all LED light bulbs for example), I will have the house re-evaluated for energy efficiency and see if we’ve improved our HERS score.

Take a look at the photos and captions for more on the drywall.

Next up will be painting all the walls. We’re going to do this next because with the floor being bare cement, we won’t have to worry about paint spills. We can get at least a coat or two on the walls, then touch up later if necessary.

Speaking of the floors, we have tile on order from Lowe’s. We went with a distressed wood look porcelain tile, which is very trendy right now. The 6″ x 36″ tile is called ‘Sequoia Ballpark Tile’, and it is $2.99 a sq. ft. which is a bit pricey. In our search we did come across tiles that are upwards of $10 a sq. ft., so everything is relative. We like the look and will save some cash by installing it ourselves. We’ll cover all 948 square feet of the basement with the tile. This will give us a nice looking floor that will be impervious to any flooding or moisture in the basement. The distressed look, with brown, white and grey tones should be timeless aesthetically, and congruent with the style of the rest of our home.

It’s very exciting to well on our way to finally having a finished basement space for work and play. This will accomplish a major house goal for us. One that has been around for over fifteen years really.

Garden Sage

I took the weekend off from work to try and get some things done around the house. Saturday I finally grabbed the gallon of ‘Garden Sage’ colored paint from beneath my studio table and set out to paint our other son’s bedroom. The color is off of our Sherwin Williams / HGTV ‘Global Spice’ palette.  Garden Sage’ SW 7736 is a great neutral greenish color. We are huge fans of the color “sage”. We selected for our carpet throughout the second floor in this house, as well as our last house. Using the color on the walls of the bedroom makes for a really warm, soothing feel.

SW 7736 Garden Sage walls in the bedroom.

SW 7736 Garden Sage walls in the bedroom.

The sage walls go nicely with the sage carpet upstairs. Very warm, earthy and natural.

The sage walls go nicely with the sage carpet upstairs. Very warm, earthy and natural.

We’ve now used ten (10) colors off the ‘Global Spice‘ palette in our home. Each one is a knockout and in concert with each other it makes for a natural, visually warm, interesting yet calming experience.

Today I finally took a look at our Aprilaire 5000 Whole-House Electronic Air Cleaner. The little indicator on top has been flashing for a while, begging me to clean the unit inside. The  wife guided me through the maintenance directions she received quite a while ago from the HVAC guy. I guess life gets busy and we forget we have to take care of stuff. I opened the unit up and a few feathers fell out. I have no idea. I pulled out the filter core and it looks like there are about three main elements – 1) a expanded metal screen which was dusty, 2) super thin wires I’m not sure what they are for, but two were broken and all were dusty, and 3) a big fan fold filter which was filthy. Well I messed around with the whole ordeal, and the wife meticulously washed the metal screen, but other than that I’m not sure….I can order a new filter media thingy but you know what, realistically an HVAC guy should come out her and check to make sure the entire system is looking and working good. Also two of the thin wires are broke and I have no idea how those get fixed (or even what they do, other than they should be cleaned monthly).

The Aprilaire Model 5000 Whole House Electronic Air Cleaner opened up.

The Aprilaire Model 5000 Whole House Electronic Air Cleaner opened up.

The back side of the air cleaner.

The back side of the air cleaner.

Point is all this stuff requires maintenance that is nearly impossible for me to remember to do. We need to keep a calendar or something. Quite frankly my head isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be to do “normal” house stuff. I worry about where our next meal is going to come from, so doing mundane home maintenance and chores is the last thing I care about.

But with this weekend being my self imposed chance to do some chores, I set the air cleaner project back on the “to do” list and instead I did one other easy one: I cleaned the  Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). It’s a fairly simple chore; not sure when I did it last. You just unplug it, open it up, pull out two mesh screens and clean those. Then you pull out the diamond shaped filter out and vacuum that. I also vacuumed all the cavities inside the unit to get rid of spider webs and debris. Once the screens are dry, everything goes back together. It’s about a 15 minute job. Oh, for reference you’re supposed to spray some goo on the metal screens (and clean them every 6 months) but I am goo-less; will have to get some and spray it on at a later date.

Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) with the cover off. Core filter on left, intakes on the right.

Aprilaire Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) with the cover off. Core filter on left, intakes on the right.

That’s about it for this weekend. It was nice to get away from the computer and work and do stuff “normal” people do, again. Painting the bedroom was relatively relaxing and meditative. In a complex world, mundane tasks are king. Our son likes the color of his new room and hopefully it will be better for him compared to stark white walls. Now that his room is painted, I can only think of 2-3 rooms that need painting. I have one un-colored gallon that we bought on sale a while ago, so technically I can paint one of those rooms for “free”. We just need to pick a room and a color. Each room left is small so one gallon outta do it.

-Chris

Hovel

driveway-hovel

It’s four o’clock and I’m taking a break. Today has been mildly productive. It’s an unseasonably warm day so we took the opportunity to work on our bees a little bit. We opened up the hive and placed a couple of hive beetle traps inside for the winter. A while back we noticed a lone hive beetle scurrying about. Hopefully the traps, filled with cooking oil, will manage the beetles in the off-season. It was strange when we approached the hive because there were a ton of bees outside the hive flying in and out. I guess they figured it was a warm day so they should cram in as much work as possible, too. I even saw a few with the last remnants of pollen, taken from our otherwise drab, brown, lifeless fields.

To help protect the bees from harsh winter temperatures I cut up a 4×8 sheet of 2″ thick rigid insulation, forming a “box” that I will eventually place over the outside of the hive. I’m covering all six sides of the hive, and will leave a 3″ slit up front for the bees to get in and out. I used 2-1/2″ drywall screws to join the pieces of insulation.  I’m guessing that will be fine. Also I pounded in stakes every four feet, about ten feet away from the southwest corner of the hive to act as a wind break. The prevailing winds come from the southeast in that part of the north meadow, so I think this will help. Christine will span burlap from post to post before we get too much cold weather and snow. Once again, we’ll see how this worlds and adjust as necessary in the future. My theory is they are bees so they should be able to survive the winter without help. I also think that bee hives can probably be made differently or insulated better for year round protection. Why not employ passive solar techniques like the ones we use for our home. We bring the house up to temperature and the passive solar tactics keep the temperature there. I think it’s worth looking into for bee hives, at least from a design and experimentation perspective.  The example in nature I would think of would be an old rotted tree that bees naturally live in, with air spaces and plenty of insulating qualities; certainly better insulated than a wooden box.

While outside our son wasn’t having much luck “building a house” out of the lumber scraps in the driveway. So I begrudgingly grabbed my screw gun and the last of my outdoor screws (I’m an awful parent, my neurotic behavior makes me want to get my to do list done first so I can fully enjoy my family time – but my list will never be done so….cats n the cradle, blah, blah, blah). Putting my busy list aside, he and I worked together to construct a sad-looking hovel next to the driveway in about a half hour. We ran out of decent wood, and screws, but the end product looked good enough for a small boy with a big imagination. We even put a board on its side on a “window sill” to act as a place to rest a drink. It got me thinking, making a fort by just fasting random boards together assures that whatever you make has a home-made, eclectic quality that probably does wonders for the imagination, as opposed to planning everything out. I didn’t cut a single board or use any tool other than our hands, our eyes and the screw gun. We built it on the fly and I’m sure the results are all the better for it. I’m kind of thinking that when we go to do the “real” fort in the woods, next year hopefully, I may do something very similar. Maybe spend some more time on a solid framework but then after that just do whatever.  It gets the kids involved more with the design decisions, and makes quick work of the project, and the final product always will look like something you couldn’t have imagined.

Back inside, this afternoon, I finished clear coating the studio adjustable shelves. My advisor says I can probably start putting things away and not have to wait a full week for the poly to cure; just be careful to place items, not drag them. So maybe I’ll do that after I’m done writing.

I also started painting the last kitchen cabinet, the one above the coffee center. We’re painting it black. We shall see if we like it.

The wife has made huge progress whipping the house back into shape inside. And we also discussed the plates. I’m waffling so we’re going to go back out soon and see if we want to get something different. The new plates are too deep we feel. If we cooked like Martha Stewart every night making magazine quality food the plates would be perfect, but in reality serving tuna casserole on them would seem odd, even to us.  Something just as eclectic, just maybe a bit shallower.

So we are accomplishing things. And we are even finding it easy (and necessary) to say “time for a break” to ourselves, grabbing some random leftover supplies and making a fort (a shack is more like it) for a little boy to enjoy. As I always say, this is the “life” part of life. It’s tough to appreciate it at the time, at least for me, when there are things to do and bills to pay. Trust me, the irony that I might be making a shack not too dissimilar to the one I erected today for us to live in soon, was not lost on me as I passed each screw through wood. But we manage and keep plugging away. I’m fairly confident the boys are living a blessed, memorable childhood that very few in this, horrific at times, world get to have. Hopefully they will look back as adults with fondness for these times. Really that is all we can do as parents.

I’m lucky as well, because my time is my own. I read a great article in the Cleveland PD, via the NY Times (here) that alluded to the richness in owning your time. It’s worth a read. While my responsibility is greater than some musician living week to week (we actually live week to week, but I can’t play the guitar), I’m not stuck in some rat race with dreams of retiring someday to do what I love. I’m basically doing what I love now, and doing what I have to out of necessity to survive. I know I will never retire. It’s nothing I aspire to, and I know it will never happen. I will work until the very last day I take a breath. Not because I love work, it’s just that the traditional model that society created years ago isn’t really relevant to how we live now. I was fine playing the game, but then the game decided it didn’t need me so we adjust. We evolve. We design a new game. On any given day I can build a hovel, or goto the zoo, or work for 22 hours straight. I can write, read, paint, raise bees, run for dog catcher, or start any number of random companies if the mood strikes. Seriously, who do you know has that degree of freedom? Is it happiness and rainbows every day? Hell no. But that’s how it goes. And don’t get me wrong, we’re not destitute. It’s just less linear and predictable. Point is every day is a new adventure. So when I get to the end, and they’re figuring out which tree in the yard to cast my ashes around, the universe can rest assured I lived a rich, storied and colorful life. Which about all that can really be asked of any one of us.

Alright it’s 5 o’clock. Time for a beer – plus I’m going to jump the gun and start organizing and decorating my art studio. Exciting times indeed. At least for me.  🙂

Oh My God If I Have To Paint Another Thing…

If I have to paint a coat of anything on my studio shelves ever again I’m going to scream.  I’ve now “painted” the shelves and bookcases six times, or more accurately, six coats of liquid that dries to form a finish on the built ins. One coat of primer, two coats of paint and now three coats of polyurethane. I’m so tired of painting corners, I could use a good cry. I still have to finish the last two coats of poly on the adjustable shelves, and bench. But at least I’m done with all the built-ins. Now I just have to wait the prescribed “week” for the clear coat to set before I can move into my new shelves and get onto phase II of my studio decor project. Left on my “to-do” list include finishing the office trim and floor boards, and run through the entire studio with my touch up paint to clean up a few spots here and there.

Note, before I put the third coat of poly on the shelves today I attempted to “wet sand” then with an extra fine sandpaper block. Well I decided that was not the right course of action. The poly says it doesn’t require sanding, and all sanding did was cut through the paint wherever there was a high spot or bump in the surface, so now three shelves have white “specks” all over them where I sanded right through to the primer.  Also I hate using a foam brush for the poly. I was leaving black specs everywhere as the rough wood shelves tore up the brush. Next time, or I would recommend, a 2″ nylon artist’s brush.  Of course being an artist maybe that’s just because of what I’m used to using. I have to imagine it would be easier using the nylon brush though. Plus a brush can be washed out. The foam “brush” ends up in the trash and replaced with every subsequent coat.

The white specs are actually where I sanded right through to the primer when I attempted to wet sand before the final poly coat. For rough shelves like mine, skip the sanding part during the clear coat phase.

The white specs are actually where I sanded right through to the primer when I attempted to wet sand before the final poly coat. For rough shelves like mine, skip the sanding part during the clear coat phase.

Since I had the painting tools out today I also painted the insides of the kitchen cabinets. As you may recall we got new plates, which we may or may not keep, which meant that we had to do something with the open cabinets in the kitchen. The wife wasn’t digging the white interiors, the color of which would be fine if we ever had the aluminum framed, frosted panel doors that we were supposed to have on the cabinets. Once it became apparent we were are going to leave the cabinets open (until we can outright replace all the wall cabinets with new ones), we decided to paint the insides to knock off some of the contrast.  I went down to the basement and there was just enough Resort Tan color left over from painting the Family Room walls. I cracked open the can, whose contents smelled rather foul, and started painting the cabinet interiors. After the first one I figured I’d better sand them to make the paint stick better. Three coats later they are looking good. I’ll put polyurethane on the horizontal surfaces as well to keep plates and glasses from sticking. The one cabinet over the coffee bar will get a black interior; today I just painted the ones by the range.

The doorless kitchen cabinets before with their white interiors.

The doorless kitchen cabinets before with their white interiors.

 

The kitchen cabinets after, with Resort Tan interiors.

The kitchen cabinets after, with Resort Tan interiors.

Once clear coated, the shelves will have to sit for a week too, to cure and be able to resist sticking to items placed upon them. Whoever thought that was a good idea has never been to an OCD designer’s house where everything is strewn about by one’s family – waiting to be put away when the time is right. My nerves are already shot as it is. I’m fairly certain looking at glasses and dishes randomly scattered across the kitchen counters for a week will drive me unbelievably insane.

And the new plates are just sitting there as well, waiting for an executive decision from the boss. I’m sure they will sit unused well past the point where we can return them anyway. Making a decision on life’s simple little choices is not to be taken lightly in our household. I will trip over half-opened boxes in the hallway and gingerly work around unused plates for the next eight months. There is a special circle in heaven (or hell?) for my wife and I because we saved a couple unsuspecting, otherwise high potential, members of society from accidentally being subjected to either of us for eternity, or at least what seems like an eternity. We took one for the team by marrying each other. Some mornings I think to myself “Maybe today I won’t push the pillow away” when I wake up with her trying to smother me to death. Fingers crossed for tomorrow. Then I won’t have to drive the plates back to the mall. Or put two more coats on the shelves.

Here are the new plates. We're not allowed to use them until we decide we like them.  That will be in 2056. Until then they will sit here. And their boxes will sit in the foyer.

Here are the new plates. We’re not allowed to use them until we decide we like them. That will be in 2056. Until then they will sit here. And their boxes will sit in the foyer.

 

Our kitty makes a rare daytime appearance outside my office today.

Our kitty makes a rare daytime appearance outside my office today.

 

 

Studio Day 8 – Painting Shelves

Today was my day set aside to put two coats of SW 6124 Cardboard on all the new shelves / bookcases in my art studio. I woke up at 4am and proceeded to stare at the ceiling until 6:30am this morning. I don’t really sleep anymore or at least not in any sort of pattern that is suitable for human consumption. I scampered into my studio and taped off all the shelving units where they met the freshly painted walls.

I was leery of the “cardboard” color because the first coat went on looking like something our baby’s would leave in their diapers after eating something that didn’t agree with their digestive systems.  Luckily the color lost some of its yellow when it dried, saving my shelves from looking like baby poop for eternity. The color looks nice, in a tone on tone way, compared to the walls. Also name “cardboard” is a nice art studio nod to what my first job out of school, I designed temporary corrugated (i.e. cardboard) displays.

I finished up at 10pm, with a few hour break in the middle to go dinnerware shopping with the family. I did two coats total and used just over a gallon. I still have to paint the shelves and bench but for now it’s done.  And certainly done enough to let it dry then clear coat the horizontal surfaces.  Clear coating will keep items from sticking to the shelves as water based interior based paint never really “dries”. We could have used oil based paint but then the fumes would have been awful. For the record oil based would be more durable as well, but I’d rather trade durability for not having chemicals off gassing into my home. Personal preference.

As for dinnerware, we finally bought our first set of plates in the last 13 years.  The old one that cost like a buck a piece at IKEA were just downright old, scratched up and even moldy, eek!  The time had come to buy “grown-up” plates.  We got them from Pottery Barn and they’re pretty neat. I should take a photo for you. The wife put them in our open cabinets in the kitchen. The plate sticks out so it’s a good thing we never got doors for our cabinets; if we had doors the plates wouldn’t fit. Now that open cabinets are all the rage, the plan is to have me paint the insides of the cabinets “Resort Tan” to match the family room / Kitchen wall. The white plates should “pop” off of the mushroom colored backdrop.   Another painting chore added to my list.

Well it’s late and I’m tired. Here are tonight’s pics.

Other shelves painted.

Other shelves painted.

Today's artsy mug shot.

Today’s artsy mug shot.

Bookcase painted. By the way the wall paint peeled off when I took the tape off on the one side so I'll have to touch some things up.

Bookcase painted. By the way the wall paint peeled off when I took the tape off on the one side so I’ll have to touch some things up.

I cut down this cheap brush I got at Sherwin Williams. The stick part was way too long and annoyed the bejesus out of me.

I cut down this cheap brush I got at Sherwin Williams. The stick part was way too long and annoyed the bejesus out of me.

Shelves with two coats of Carboard paint.

Shelves with two coats of Carboard paint.

 

Studio Day 7-ish….Painting The Walls

After three days of working the wife’s weekend art show, Monday and Tuesday found me with no active projects to work on. Despite being destitute and borderline broke, I made the executive decision to take the opportunity to get my studio whipped back into shape this week. I rationalize it this way, once my studio is presentable to the world, I can use it for hosting work meetings and clients.   If that’s not rationale enough for you, I did sell a painting on Monday so that helps pay the bills during my few days “off” this week.

Yesterday I “cut-in” the edges of the walls in my office space, using Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat.  In the afternoon we ran out to the Sherwin Williams store to take advantage of a 40% off sale they were having; picking up some green paint for one of the kids’ bedrooms, and I bought some masking tape since I was without any by mid day. I’m not sure what else I accomplished yesterday….it doesn’t seem like much but I guess that was it. I did write-up some meeting notes, so not all was painting, I did do some work….oh and I delivered that painting, and even treated the family to Zoup for dinner (yummy lobster bisque).

Cutting in the corners, then roll on the paint.

Cutting in the corners, then roll on the paint.

I woke up and got to painting by 7am this morning. My goal was to get the entire office and studio painted so I could begin the shelves on Wednesday.  And I accomplished my goal.  My studio is the largest room in the house, and with all the bookcases / shelves there are a lot of corners to tape off. I used about one and a half gallons of Emerald satin paint to cover all the walls.  Oh, by the way, I checked with the helpful folks at my local Sherwin Williams store and the Emerald paint is in fact zero-VOC paint so we’re good on that front.

The shelves are primed and the trim is taped, ready for the wall color to be applied.

The shelves are primed and the trim is taped, ready for the wall color to be applied.

 

Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat in the can, ready for our walls.

Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat in the can, ready for our walls.

 

Coffee break while painting. The sun came out in between snow flakes.

Coffee break while painting. The sun came out in between snow flakes.

 

The shelves are strong enough to hold my weight.

The shelves are strong enough to hold my weight.

We really like the color. It visually warmed up the space quite a bit and it’s not too dark. I know most artist studios are white but I’ve never been one to follow the “rules“. I want my studio to be homey and comfortable. I also love that it is off our palette that we’re using for the interior of the house. It looks very similar to the hallway and kitchen colors but is different enough to add a whole new dimension to the interior space of the house. When looking through the open office pocket door the studio now beckons with a degree of mystery or discovery that was not present when the walls were just plain white. And as I look from my office to the front hall, all the colors layer upon each other and remind me of being out in the “real world” so to speak, with various textures, hues and visual geometry. There isn’t anything designer-ly about the composition, rather I find it to work because it evokes such natural feelings. The sense of being home because we are human beings and home to us is the earth. It’s in our soul. The color scheme, and dimension of details such as the deep windows, brings that marriage of man and earth.  I guess you have to live with it to understand.  However you describe it, it works most definitely. I don’t think I would ever change any of the colors we’ve painted the walls; at least not in the main living spaces. The more I live with the palette the more it becomes woven into me. And it is only reinforced when I go outside to see the natural world around the house.

The wheat color looks great and really warmed up the studio visually.

The wheat color looks great and really warmed up the studio visually.

I have a lot of great ideas for my studio space and will share those…lighting, furniture, decor… in subsequent installments.  For now the walls are done. Bookcases get painted tomorrow. I enlisted the wife to use a razor blade to get the paint off the cabinet trim where is seeped through, due to my crappy taping job.  She has the patience for that kind of work, I most certainly do not.

What colors inspire you? What do you think of how the studio is shaping up? What room do you want to makeover in your house?  Let’s get more interactive here….share your thoughts and comments. 🙂

-Chris