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.

My Home Interior Paint Selection Tips

Basement Progress

With the basement drywall complete, the next logical step is painting of course.

I usually paint walls after we “move in” so to speak – after the flooring and trim is in. But in this case, if I paint now, I don’t have to mask anything off and don’t have to worry about drop cloths covering the flooring. Without the tile or trim installed, now is the time to make painting an easier chore. I am assuming though that I will have to touch up a few things after the trim is in but otherwise I going with the plan that this will save me some time and effort.

I took advantage of a 40% off sale at Sherwin Williams this weekend and picked up all of our paint and primer for the basement. Total cost, including a couple of sundry items, was around $400. My labor is free.

I thought the project would take a weekend, but here we are on day four, with at least one more day to go. The basement has over 2,000 square feet of paintable surfaces, not including the trim which will be painted white later when it’s installed.

It’s a relaxing project, and it makes me get some exercise so I don’t mind. I talk about colors and color selection later in this post.

Also exciting this week, I picked up all of our tile for the basement. It took two trips with our 4×6 trailer. 667 pieces of 6″ x 36″ porcelain tile total. It is amazing how much tile weighs when you have to move the boxes by hand. We lucked out in that each pallet of 252 pieces fit through the door of the enclosed trailer. The first load let me know that my trailer tires were pitifully under inflated. After unloading, I aired them up and returned for the second load. The excess boxes of 7 tiles apiece easy stacked in the back of the RAV4.

Now we just need to move all 95 boxes down to the basement from the garage. My back will be happy when this basement project is over.

Fingers crossed we can start laying tile in the next week or two.

My Paint Selection Tips For Your Home

As you may or may not know, we’ve chosen Sherwin Williams HGTV Global Spice palette as the general guide for our home decor. Nearly every wall color we’ve used is off of this palette. This has been our “Bible” so speak, but alarmingly Sherwin Williams dropped three colors and replaced them with three new ones.

Oh no! What the hell?!

It took me a while but I’ve come to terms with the new palette colors, which include a replacement for the Edamame (SW 7729) green that we painted the upstairs bathroom. Also Gallant Gold (SW 6391) is gone (we never used it), and Grandeur Plum (SW 6565) is of off the list (an awful for walls, purple color).

As a designer I like the idea that Sherwin Williams’ color experts have assembled a group of diverse colors that all work well with each other. This way I can spend my time painting, and being imaginative with which colors I want to use and how I want to use them.

We selected these colors from the Global Spice palette for the basement:

Cloudburst (SW 6487) for the bathroom (new blue color on the GS palette)

Loggia (SW 7506) which is a fantastic neutral tan, for the living area

Resort Tan (SW 7550), a dark mushroom color for my office (also used it in our living room upstairs)

Cavern Clay (SW 7701) for the storage cubby / play fort under the stairs (a deep earth tone that I’ve wanted to use for quite some time now)

I painted the entire basement with VOC free Harmony primer, and used top of the line VOC free Emerald paint for the walls in a satin finish

Wondering what to do color-wise for your next painting project? Here are my design tips:

  1. Pick A Palette – All paint suppliers have cards of colors that work well together. Pick what you like and go with it. We like earthy palettes because they seem more natural. But if historical or Mediterranean is your thing, go for it. Get something with a few colors from multiple color families – i.e. greens, browns, tans, reds, blues, etc.
  2. Try Monochrome or Tones – Often you can get paint chips on a card with 2-5 other colors that are various shades of the same color. Pick one color off of the card to be your main color, then select a color two shades darker or lighter to use as a compliment. In our last house we chose four colors off of the same card, and painted our kitchen, dinette, family room and fireplace alcove in the order the colors were on the card, lightest to darkest. It created a wonderful color changing graduation across a huge open space. The changing light throughout the day and evening made for a subtle yet interesting effect.
  3. Use Earth Tones Instead of Beige Everywhere – I feel strongly that every room should be a different color, even if the changes are subtle. There is an infinite palette of really nice earth tones that can be used instead of painting everything white, off-white or beige. Infuse subtle yellows, browns, rust reds, sage and plum into your color scheme. Earth tones are natural, inspired by nature and never go out of style
  4. Include Unexpected Touches – Highlight your home color scheme by painting a room or even just a wall with a bold color from your palette. Bathrooms or small bedrooms are a great opportunity for a fun color (or even wall paper) to create some interest in the home. In large rooms I love to paint one wall a contrasting color, or a different tone of color. The front wall of our home is a subtle yellow tone, that is found nowhere else and travels across three other rooms, each painted their own complimentary color
  5. Paint A Few Ceilings – There is no reason all of your ceilings should be white. Hopefully you have a “knockdown” texture on your ceiling or better yet, have no texture on your ceiling and then paint it. That yellow color on the front wall of our home? It carry’s over onto the kitchen ceiling to define that space in an otherwise open floor plan. In the bathroom downstairs, the ceiling and walls are all an earthy blue color. Painted ceilings help cocoon you and make you feel at home
  6. Consistent Trim – I happen to prefer the pure line that wide, simple profile white trim brings to the story of your home color scheme. It helps separate color spaces; floor and wall. And it’s universal – goes with everything. For an earthier look, try an off-white or medium toned trim color. But  I feel like the whole house should use one trim color and go with it. Don’t mix and match trim colors. It’ll just look disjointed.
  7. Don’t Use Purple – Actually I feel like you should be able to use whatever color you like, but I just don’t like bright purples (or other bright colors) for walls; other than the occasional unexpected touch. I prefer a neutral, earthy look and feel for the walls. Then add in pops of color with your furniture and accessories. Earth tones give you a huge array of decor possibilities. A color like purple means you’ll be stuck neutralizing it with boring tan furniture, instead of the other way around. I’d rather the background, which is what the walls are, is more subtle. Then the items in the room can be where the interest is at. Save the purple, bright blues, retina burning reds or acid greens for your couch, accessories or pillows.
  8. Go Dark – Don’t be afraid to paint an entryway, family room or other space a dark color. Colors like SW Plum Brown (SW6273) , Sable (SW 6083) , and Sealskin (SW 7675) are great colors for transitional spaces. Our basement is actually a few darker colors. You’d think that would be counterintuitive, but dark colors embrace you and can make wide monotonous spaces smaller. The darkness can be offset with white ceilings, and lighter furniture and accessories. The only down side is that you’ll likely need 2-3 coats of paint to get the look you want.

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.

Sharing My Art – Day #3

Day #3 of this artist chain mail challenge

“Post three of your works for five days and nominate another person to do the same.”

The Stripe Paintings – what happens when you sit in front of the TV tracing out 1/4″ lines on a blank canvas, and then cover it all up with acrylic paint? These awesome stripe paintings of course. I’m not sure what got me started doing these but I’d never seen anything like them before. Oftentimes people think they are tape, wood or old magazines but alas they’re just paint. That being said, I’d love to experiment with creating wood and paper versions someday. Since I started making them I have seen wood versions on Etsy and Pinterest, so there’s something there.

These are probably my favorite paintings to do because I never know what they’ll look like until they are done. I limit myself to certain colors and use a palette knife to apply the paint. They are very textural. Often times there will be a painting underneath them that never got to see the light of day. Stripe paintings are a good, therapeutic way to cover up bad art.

They have not found much success commercially, but I think they’re awesome. Here are three of my favorites.

#1 – “Stripe #5″ – 2013 48″ x 72” (This huge painting lives in our foyer. It’s likely my favorite piece I’ve ever done)
#2 – “Strip #6″ – March 2014 36″ x 36” (Sits in storage in my studio. Another favorite of mine)
#3 – “Rainforest” – May 2009 ~16″ x ~20″ (one of my earliest stripe paintings)

Stripe #5

Stripe #5

Stripes #6

Stripes #6



Sharing My Art – Day #2

Day #2 of this artist chain mail challenge

“Post three of your works for five days and nominate another person to do the same.”

Tile Paintings – These abstract pieces are inspired by the geometry of rural landscapes, as well as simple floor or wall tiles you’d find in your home. Each section is painted individually with a brush and it’s always fun to see how they turn out when they’re complete. Sometimes the strokes seem to cross over from one section another adding another layer of interest. As will all my paintings, I try to keep your eye moving, and also make them interesting when viewed up close as well as from afar.

#1 – “Tiles” – June 2008 15″ x 30″ (I still have this one)
#2 – “Seven” – June 2008 22″ x 28″ (this one lives in a box in my studio too)
#3 – “Tile Painting #1″ – July 2010 16″ x 20” (one of a series of 9 tile paintings)






Tile Painting #1

Tile Painting #1

Day #267

Today was a very special day for us and our land. Today we had the honor of being day #267.


Ever since we moved in, actually ever since we first walked the land, we knew it was a special place. There is just something about the land, trees, meadows, light, sounds….it all has a magical effect on the senses. As artists we’ve appreciated how incredible a place it is. And I’ve always wanted to capture and share that somehow. I try with my photos and writing, but beyond that I always thought it’d be great to share with others, even complete strangers.

Rewind back to earlier this year, I stumbled upon a project that a local artist was working on. Her name is Michelle Darvis and she is a painter. Her and her husband embarked upon a year-long journey to document 2014 with a plein air painting every day. The project, appropriately called ‘A Year In Plein Air‘ is fairly self-explanatory. They travel the state and Michelle paints a new painting every day.

I had seen her work online and heard about it through a local gallery. Right away I had the idea that it’d be cool to have her paint our land. But as with anything I got busy and the thought fell by the wayside. Well, as far as ideas go, this one stuck in me and germinated. Finally this month I decided, “why not” and I sent Michelle an email asking if she could paint out at our place, and in a way include us in on her unique project.

Much to my delight, this wonderful artist who I had never met, said she’d be more than happy to do it. I shared the blog and all its beautiful photos to help entice her.

Today was the day that she came out. We took a quick tour of the land, a tour that included me getting a honey bee stuck in my hair – which was fairly alarming for me. We visited all four meadows, and of course the bee hives. In the end she settled on the east meadow, setting her easel up in the driveway. This is an incredible spot, that most people miss when driving in because they are distracted by the view of the house from that same vantage point. It’s my favorite meadow and certainly the most photogenic.

As the sun dipped low along the tree line, Michelle happily painted. We snuck over a few times to watch and converse, all whilst she converted a blank 8×10 canvas into a flood of colorful brush strokes. In the end, the boys were able to contribute a stroke each to the work, personalizing it even further.

Our meadow is now immortalized in her painting. A painting that along with 364 others will be part of an incredible art show that will travel the country in 2015.

For me everything about the experience was wonderful, and memorable. A mundane Wednesday turned into the most extraordinary of days. In short time our home has a knack for providing the incredible. Now my…our beloved meadow will be immortalized in that painting, but also it is part of a fascinating project, the aforementioned road show, even an upcoming book.

World class plein air painters in America are few and far between. A project like this helps Michelle take that next step, and it’s an incredible honor to be a part of it. (Yes, we had to pay for the painting in case you’re wondering.)

Beyond that though, it means so much to me. To see the feelings I have when I look at our land, transferred in oil on canvas. To be able to share the beauty I see with others, for them to appreciate as well. For me it’s magic. And I’m sure it is for our family as well.

Hopefully the boys will look fondly upon the painting for decades to come. Hopefully Michelle is successful in all her endeavors.

And for me, well I got a tiny little dream come true.


visit Michelle’s website at

“A Year In Plein Air” should be touring in 2015 and keep an eye out for her book as well.

Note: Many of the pieces that are part of the ‘A Year In Plein Air‘ project are still for sale! So consider taking the opportunity to own a small piece of painting history. Now may be your only chance. Contact her today.

(P.S. I left the door open in case she wants to come back and paint the bee hives, so that might entice one of you to buy a piece for yourself – especially if you’re a fan of our blog)



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.  🙂