Sunday, August 4, 2013

Home Improvements

This summer I have been militant about reducing clutter in this house (the guy at the Goodwill drop off station recognizes me because I bring in donations so frequently), fixing things that are broken, and trying to make myself actually feel at home here.  I don't feel that I have made nearly enough progress on any of these fronts, and that is distressing.  I really don't know why I cannot feel at home in this house, or in St. Louis in general, but here is a look at the changes I have made so far:

When we moved in, the dining room was red, which I think was a very popular decorating scheme in the early 2000's.  I actually really like the color red, but it seemed a bit dramatic to me, and when combined with the green of the adjacent kitchen, it made me feel like this house was in perpetual winter.

IMG 1915

IMG 1916


I took it upon myself to get rid of the blood-red shade of the dining room, and I can honestly say that painting over red is something I hope I never again have to do in my lifetime.

It started when I dropped Will off at daycare and then went to Home Depot, where I had them mix up another 2 gallons of "Sandstone"-- the color of the living room and the hallway up the stairs.  (The previous owners were nice enough to leave behind some 27 used buckets of paint, which actually isn't such a nice thing after all, since we are the ones who now have to deal with them).

With my newly purchased paint supplies in hand, I went home to begin the epic task of painting the living room.

First, I put on a coat of primer.  The red looked absolutely no different.  So I put on a second coat of primer (easing the ladder around the room in what seemed like a monumentally slow process).

At last, there was some progress:

IMG 1918

** Yes, I left some stuff on the wall.  I tried to unscrew them, but the screws wouldn't budge.  I think they super-glued these things on.


By this time, it was 5pm and time to go pick up Will from daycare, and I had not even started on the real, actual color.

Rob went to pick Will up while I kept painting.  Luckily the color went on very smoothly, much easier than the primer.

IMG 1919

I had hoped that one coat of Sandstone would be enough, but it was not even close.  At 8pm, I started the next coat, and it was after midnight before I finally got it finished and everything cleaned up.

IMG 1920

I don't have the best picture of the finished product, but I like the Sandstone color much better than the red.  It makes the room seem bigger, for one.  And it gives it a more comfortable, less garish feel.  

The next thing I started on was Will's room.  When we moved in, it was pink and green.  It was a long time before I finally had a chance to deal with it.  One weekend day I painted over the pink part with white, thinking that would match the baseboards and doorways.  Not so, because even though these things looked white, they were not actually white!  The baseboards, chair rails, doors, and a few random walls in this house are painted with an "off white" that does not match any of the 27 gallons of paint that the previous owners left behind.  Not "Country Dairy," not "English Countryside,"  I tried them both.  This was hugely frustrating, and for two years, Will's room looked mismatched and kind of like an orphanage.

This summer, I decided to paint his room dark brown below the chair rail, and tan (actually, the same Sandstone as downstairs) above it.

IMG 1921


Part of the way through: brown below the chair rail, still white above

IMG 1924



This photo doesn't show the tan very well, but here is the finished product:

IMG 2161

I also moved out his changing table and we did some furniture rearrangement to come up with a dresser for him:

IMG 2160

I don't really like this cube storage thing, but Will can easily reach and open/close the fabric doors, so he can pick out his own clothes (which is very important to him right now).

Then I moved on to our room.

I started by deciding to paint our dressers white.  We got these at Lowe's in Urbana over 12 years ago, and had left them as is (unpainted pine, I think) ever since.  Not so much because we loved the unpainted pine.  But because no one disliked it enough to take the initiative to skip a weekend long run for this and do something about it.

This was the summer I finally could not stand the dressers anymore, and all I can say is that my grandmother would be proud.  Painting furniture white was kind of her thing.

Here are some photos of the process:


IMG 1994



IMG 2008


William helped, shirtless:

IMG 1997



IMG 2158

IMG 2157

IMG 2162

I had every intention of painting our room as well this summer, but I have kind of lost steam.  It was really hard for me to paint the rooms I've already done, not like Oh this is annoying, but I think I actually have arthritis in my right hand and I was in a lot of pain for several days after each of these painting episodes.  A friend pointed out that it would be much easier if I got a longer handled roller, so at least then I wouldn't have to drag the ladder around the room for multiple coats of paint.  This is probably true.  Never having painted a room before, I did not realize that there were things that could make this easier for me-- I didn't even look at other types of rollers because I knew we had one at home and figured I would just use that.

If I were to paint our bedroom it would be either "Lagoon" or "Tropical Tide":

IMG 1967

*Note: this is Will's hand, not mine.

Unfortunately, these shades really clash with the only artwork I have in the room (see the above photo that includes paintings from Ometepe).  So at the moment, I am just continuing to live with the gray, sad looking room.  It's a little better with the white furniture and white bedspread, but still seems kind of industrial.  

There are a lot of other home improvements I have on my list, but it feels really good to have these done.  And mainly, it feels really, really good to have less clutter.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the house can stay nice and neat after I go back to work full time in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

AWESOME WORK!!! love the sandstone walls!! and WILLIAM's Brown and another color Brown walls!!!! I actually LIKE your bedroom walls the color they are, and with everything WHITE in there , I think it is very REFRESHING looking!!! the NEXT owners can PAINT it whatever THEY want !!!>:) You can help me de -clutter anytime you want...... where does STUFF come from??? must multiply , when I'm not looking !!!:(~ sit back and enjoy the freshly painted rooms now!!! Luv you , mama

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Richard C. Lambert said...

This summer I have been militant about reducing clutter in this house (the guy at the Goodwill drop off station recognizes me because I bring in donations so frequently), fixing things that are broken, and trying to make myself actually feel at home here. I don't feel that I have made nearly enough progress on any of these fronts, and that is distressing. lawrence

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I love this DIY project! It’s very easy and there is a lot of opportunity to be creative

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Congratulations! You did a really good job. You have a tidy room now. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

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Good job! I actually like your bedroom walls the color they are, and with white color in there, so bright and clean.

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The house looks 10x times better now, good job ! Beautiful house really!

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