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Custom Art for the Living Room

If you’ve been following along with the blog (if you haven’t then shame on you!) you’ve read about the The Living Room Plan, and The Living Room Becoming Livable. As its starting to take shape we we’re talking about what kind of art should go above the fireplace. The builder wired for the cable and TV to go there but we had decided to move the wiring to the adjacent family room which was much bigger.

We both really wanted something abstract and cool. I saw this painting on Joss and Main and we fell in love. With everything but the price and the verticalness of it.

Inspiration Painting

Inspiration Painting

It was just so cool all the random shades of color. But for over $100 plus shipping and no returns I wasn’t sure. And before I could decide how unsure I was the sale was over and it was gone forever. But how hard could it really be? I mean the painting isn’t really of anything so how can you mess it up? So I measured the space above the fireplace, headed to Joann with a 40% single item coupon and bought a huge canvas.

I set up a small folding table in the craft room and covered with some scrap paper to protect it, broke out a 2-inch paint brush and some .50 tubes of acrylic paint (most of which I had at home left over from high school – it doesn’t go bad right?) and got to work. Using the inspiration painting – propped up on the iPad – as a guide I started painting. The great thing about the abstractness of it was the ability to simply paint over areas if I didn’t like the way they looked. The bottom of my canvas has much more paint on it because of this, it was coming out to dark so several extra coats were added to get the effect I wanted. Due to less use of paint on the top you can see brush strokes where I went back and forth real quickly but I kind of like the way it looks.

here's the finished product

here’s the finished product

I actually like it better than the original inspiration. It looks much better in our space. I had to place it up on the mantle to admire it.
painting-2

The statue on the left of the painting we fell in love with while out running errands one day, It helped jump start the painting process and inspired the color choices. The vases were a gift from my Aunt’s who surprisingly had not seen either the statue or the painting, but they look like they were custom chosen for that spot.

actually hung!

actually hung!

We loved it so much we actually hung it, despite not having paint on the walls yet. Ignore those pillows they came with the sofa and were so over-sized for both the sofa and the chairs they will be finding another home. I’m thinking getting a new cover and going on the Guest Bed.

one more view with the fireplace lit

one more view with the fireplace lit

I think its the perfect compliment to the space! So now our living room list looks like this:

  • Find and purchase two chairs a-la inspiration room style
  • Find and purchase sofa a-la inspiration room style
  • Ground the space with an area rug
  • Decorate the top of the mantle
  • Paint the art masterpiece for above the fireplace
  • Find or make coordinating curtains
  • Hang curtains
  • Get an ottoman or coffee table to put in the center
  • Get end tables
  • Make pillows for the sofa and chairs
  • Pick a paint color that will work in both the kitchen and the living room
  • Paint the walls
  • Get a fabulous light fixture
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A Splash of Color

What color to paint the front door?  It’s such a big decision it sends the first impression that visitors and passerby’s see of your home.  It was such a big decision in fact that when the builder offered to paint the door for us before we closed we couldn’t come to a decision.  I even went so far as to PhotoShop different colors onto a picture of the house to help us decide.  In the end we decided to live with the house for a while and just had him paint it white.

white house with a white door - how ordinarily boring

white house with a white door – how ordinarily boring

close up

close up

After several months we finally came to the consensus that we wanted yellow. It’s such a happy color, how can you come home to a yellow door and not become instantly more upbeat? Now the only question was what kind of yellow?

This was our inspiration that I found our Pinterest.  We both loved it.  It’s from Beautiful MattersBlog

Inspiration Door

Inspiration Door

So we went to the paint store and looked at all the options of paint swatches and came to a decision.  I was slightly worried it may be on the bright side, but hey it’s only paint and the whole point is to get the door to “POP” right?

So I got to work cleaning the door with some mineral oil to get off any dirt and grime that was on it. (I read this is extremely important in order for the paint to adhere properly.) It turned out to be a LOT dirtier than I could have imagined.

look how dirty!

look how dirty!

Then I got ready to start painting – shook up the can to mix the paint properly and popped it open…

the first sign this might not go so well...

the first sign this might not go so well…

It looked awfully bright, but hey the inspo door is bright and you can’t always tell by what the color looks like in the can right? After all there is way more of it concentrated in a small little area and it always looks different once its dry. So I got to painting. Here’s the finished product:

close up

close up

far away

far away

My eyes! MY EYES!!! We couldn’t have possibly picked a color this bright! the swatch must have lied to us…

oh but we did pick it

oh but we did pick it

What were we thinking? I’ll tell you what I’m thinking now, I’m thinking I need a re-do. As its now the end of October and its getting too cold outside in New England I may have to wait until spring. It’s possibly it may grow on me in the next couple of months – stranger things have happened.

The bright yellow on bright white is just too much – the inspiration door is bright yellow on gray which helps tone it down… Rookie mistake!  We should have known better!

So what do you think is it too bright or just right? I’d love to hear your opinion!


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Condo Before and After Shots

Since the condo is officially on the rental market and after all the talk the last few weeks of all the work that we’ve been doing to the condo I thought it was about time to show you some before and afters.  Since I’m new to this blog thing and didn’t get before shots (in my defense most of the work started pre-blog) I tracked down the original MLS photos from when Ken bought the condo back in late 2009.

Some rooms are more drastically changed than others, personally I think it looks much more updated in person than the pictures convey… but maybe I’m biased.

I actually like the original exterior shot better...

I actually like the original exterior shot better…

So maybe not the best photo to start with since the previous agent took a better exterior shot… but it’s a condo there is only so much we can do to the outside… Moving the agents car before taking the photo so it’s not in the lower corner should have been one of the things done.

I'm not sure you can tell in this picture but there used to be nasty wallpaper

I’m not sure you can tell in this picture but there used to be nasty wallpaper

In addition to removing the wallpaper and painting the walls, the weird wood window valance was also removed (Ken literally just grabbed on and pulled it off), as was that old corner TV. We stopped short of de-almondizing the kitchen.  We completely realize this badly needs to be done.  But we’re renting and that’s a huge expense… so almond EVERYTHING is.

Another room from the kitchen facing the living room

Another room from the kitchen facing the living room

It’s easier to see the nasty 80’s fabulous wallpaper that used to be in there from this angle.  Also, is that a corded phone?!  We don’t even own one of those.

dining room

Right off the kitchen is the dining room which got a fresh coat of paint, more modern curtains, white trim and a brushed nickel chandelier in place of that old brass one.  (extra points if you can spot Chloe’s photo bomb)

living room

living room

This room’s biggest problem was the furniture layout, it didn’t make any sense, we also removed those wall mirrors, replaced the carpet painted the walls, and the trim (that wood piece didn’t get done before the photo shoot… the TV was too heavy)

master bedroom

In addition to saying adios to the toothpaste green color in favor of a dark cool grey, we also painted the trim white and replaced the carpeting.

second bedroom

second bedroom

One of the bigger projects, in addition to patching all the walls (we mainly used this as a gym and some weights may have collided with the wall), painting the walls a more neutral color, and painting all the trim; Ken also made this awesome built in desk in one of the two closets.

upstairs bathroom

upstairs bathroom

Another de-wallpapering project.  The previous owner LOVED their wallpaper! This room got a coat of a cool light gray, white trim new doors and just to the left of this shot used to be a brass shower sliding door.  (Eww it even had frosted glass)  That was removed in favor of a bowed out shower curtain rod and modern white, and gray curtain.  I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of the new shower but I have an old one just to give you nightmares…

AHHHHHH!!!!

AHHHHHH!!!!

Here’s some bonus photos I don’t have before’s of:

upstairs hall.  Hello pretty white trim!

upstairs hall. Hello pretty white trim!

downstairs hall, the white trim and new doors look fabulous if you ask me

downstairs hall, the white trim and new doors look fabulous if you ask me

another de-wallpapering project

another de-wallpapering project

I have mixed feelings about the half bath. Granted this is a terrible photo.  We picked this paint color out two years ago and just got around to putting it up.  Now neither of us like it… it may be safe to say we hate it (which is odd because as you know orange is my favorite color).  I’m pretty sure if it went up when we first bought it I may have liked it.  Hopefully whoever rents it likes it better than we do.

So what do you think?  Two months of hard work, better before or after?


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Painting the Stair Trim

This is sort of an addendum to the post on the trim in the condo Read That Post Here since the stairs we a much bigger undertaking than the nice straight trim over tile and hardwood… It warranted it’s own post.

The first thing to do in order to prep for the job was to make sure it was adequately taped – top and bottom.  The top is easy enough, its nice and straight although on an angle.  It’s the bottom on the carpet that is the challenge.  Here’s the nifty little trick on how to move the carpet out of the way:

Use a paint scraper to push the tape down into the gap between the trim and carpet

Use a paint scraper to push the tape down into the gap between the trim and carpet

You’ll notice I am using masking tape… DO NOT USE MASKING TAPE! Learn from my mistake and pay the extra money for painters tape. There is a reason painters tape is more expensive, because paint doesn’t stick to it! Ingenious I know. As you can probably tell the masking tape was a pain and a half to remove and took a good chunk of the paint with it.  I have learned my lesson.

All taped up and ready to paint!

All taped up and ready to paint!

Once its fully taped you just get to painting it making sure to push the brush down into the grove you taped down to paint as close to the carpet as possible. I started on the right side of the stairs, and since I’m right handed it went pretty nice and smooth and I was starting to think maybe this project wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought…

First coat on the right side

First coat on the right side

At this point I was feeling pretty good about myself and jumped right into the left side. It was every bit the nightmare I anticipated this project to be. Right handed people are just not meant to paint the left side of stairs, it’s like cruel and unusual punishment. I probably should have started at the top and worked my way down, rather than working up then the angle would have been slightly better.

It takes 3 coats to get the right amount of coverage to actually look nice, so this was weekend two weeks in a row. 🙂

I think it was worth it, it makes the walls stand out so much more and looks clean and modern.  What do you think:

White stair trim

White stair trim


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Spray Painting the Vent Covers

In the never ending work that is being done to get the condo ready for the rental market on that list came up what to do with the vent covers.  We could either replace the wonderful almond colored vent covers with white ones for $10-$12 a piece :-0 for a total of over $100 for the entire place.  OR spray paint the almond ones white for $6.

How to Spay Paint Vent Covers | Hicks House

Given that option it seemed like a good idea to at least I try to spray paint before throwing another $100+ dollars into the place.  Hey if it doesn’t work, we’re only out $6 and if it does hello savings.

So we bought two cans of this:

White Spray Paint

White Spray Paint

Then Ken got to work cleaning them with a wire brush to make sure they were smooth and there wasn’t any weird things that would show through the paint.

scrubbing the vent with a wire brush

scrubbing the vent with a wire brush

Then we rigged another one of our handy dandy wire drying racks so all sides could be painted without having to flip them over.

hanging the vents from the garage ceiling

hanging the vents from the garage ceiling

Spray away!

Spray away!

Can you see what a nasty color they were? Eeewwwwww See that handle attachment on top of the spray can, that is your best friend if you’re going to tackle a spray paint project. It will seriously save your trigger finger from feeling like it’s going to fall off.

Here is what it looked like freshly sprayed:

fresh coat of white

fresh coat of white

And here it is installed! (Yes you are getting a sneak peak at some white trim too)

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Doesn’t it look brand new?! Not bad for $6 huh? It makes me want to spray paint MORE things. I have already practiced on an old cabinet Ken got to hang in the garage and hold his tool accessories. I also have my eye on an old wooden dresser that the previous condo owners left in the attic. I think with a fresh coat of spray paint and some new knobs it could be the perfect addition to the guest room!


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The Easiest Way to Paint Doors

During our “Operation Rent the Condo”  one of the things on the list to make the place as pretty as possible was to replace all the old flat panel wood grain doors with white 6-paneled doors.  I originally thought this was going to be such an easy project – I mean they sell the doors already white and pre-drilled so all you have to do is hang them right? WRONG

The Best and Easiest Way to Paint Doors | Hicks House

For starters because our condo was built in the early 1980s, or just because of the way it was built each doorway is not identical to each other.  If you are buying pre-drilled doors this is a big problem as they will not line up.  So we bought the ones that were not yet drilled – which although cheaper required a lot more labor from Ken to get them ready.

Measure each door, mark where the hinges go, where the knob goes, router out the hinge holes drill the knob hole.  It was a big production.  However it happened pre-blog so there are no photos of all that.

Perhaps the most helpful of tips though is how we painted the doors (yes you still have to paint them – even though they look white they are just primed).  I thought the idea was ingenious, and even though Ken said he didn’t come up with it on his own I’m giving him credit anyway :-).

Step 1 –  Drill 2 screws into the bottom unfinished part of the door and one screw into the top unfinished part of the door only about 1/4 to 1/2 way.  You are going to use the screws to balance the door on sawhorses so no surface of the door is actually touching the sawhorse.

Top of the door with one screw

Top of the door with one screw

Bottom of the door with two screws

Bottom of the door with two screws

See how the door is balancing on the screws?  This is important, you’ll see why in a minute.  Don’t worry about the little holes this will create as once the door is hung you won’t be able to see the top or bottom edges.

Step 2 – Paint the door.  We used Beher Ultra Premium Ultra Pure White Trim and Door paint in Eggshell and rolled all the flat parts of the door then did the panel cut outs with a brush making sure to get the corners real good.

Step 3 – Flip it!  That’s right you don’t need to wait for it to dry because the door isn’t touching anything!  Here’s how:  On the end of the door that has two screws, pick up one screw in each hand just enough so the side with one screw doesn’t lift off the saw horse.

Pick up the two screws

Pick up the two screws

See how the door is balanced on the one screw?

See how the door is balanced on the one screw?

Flip it 180° so the unpainted side is pointed up and then rest the two screws back on the sawhorse.  You can know pain the other side while the first side dries.  I know, my mind was blown as well.  My husband is a genius.

Three doors set up all at once.

Three doors set up all at once.

We had more than 6 doors to do and only room to do three at a time, so we also came up with a neat way of drying them in order to free-up the sawhorses.  Again the screws came in handy.  Ken tied a wire around the top screw then we stood them up on the bottom two screws and tied them to some sort of pipe hanging from the ceiling of the garage.  (This made me nervous but I was assured it was OK and nothing bad happened)

Drying station

Drying station

If you’ve ever tried to paint doors by resting it on the sawhorse or worse not taking it off the hinges, this method will change your life. (for the few times in your life you have to paint doors anyway)