Painting: living and dining rooms

livingroom0718-9196I’ve been in this house for over ten years.  It’s easy to remember how long exactly because we moved in a month before my oldest was born.  So, to be exact I’ve been here for 11 years and 7 months.

That also gives me an exact time frame for things like the last time the living room was painted or how old the washer and dryer are.  Last summer the house started feeling dinge one day. The feeling seemed to come on overnight. One more mark on the wall was one too many! The vents decided to spew out all of the black dust they had accumulated in one blow.  And I’m telling you, all of this happened in one night while I was sleeping. Then it hit me, 10 years had actually passed since the house was officially painted so maybe it really wasn’t overnight.

Touch ups were a semi-annual must with two small children. However, aside from the little handprints, white walls reveal aging more than most.  Sparkling white turns into dove white and then to almond and then to other things that in the morning light become very obvious nothing is fresh and sparkling. So I painted.

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I painted myself.  I must admit that I love the process of painting. I’m detail oriented and paint with obvious intelligence. Ie, sometimes a wall seam is not as straight as it should be but you have to paint to create the illusion of a straight seam.  Paint can hide a lot of construction mistakes, something that architect William Krisel  freely admitted about my home and it’s neighborhood, Corbin Palms. It was his first tract house project back in 1950 and so he learned through making errors (the way the best do) but I still live with the little ooops.

I don’t mind the ooops, I love the ooops but there hasn’t been a painter I hired who doesn’t give unsolicited opinions on how the home should be redone because of all the little ooops.  The last one told me I should take out the triangular windows that run along the ceiling and put in standard windows at eye level!  One of those gifys with the shocked face would be perfect here because words can’t express the level of disgust and shock on my face.  I wanted to take the brush right out of his hands and literally kick him out of my house because he doesn’t deserve to clean the toilets of any Mid Century home let alone paint it’s walls.   It scares me to hire people like that because even though they are just painting they don’t get the value of the details. I worry they’ll ruin details I’ve painstakingly reestablished.

I painted the dining room, living room, entry and bedroom hallways.  I predicted it would take me a week. It took me a month!  Granted I don’t just paint. I’m counting the removal of books and furniture, cleaning, mending (always something to fix) and then the replacing of everything.  In my case I redesigned the bookcase layout and edited down books and magazines I no longer wanted.

Except for the lifting of 5 gallon paint cans and the cleaning of brushes I really enjoy the process of painting. It is my zen.  The repetitive action, plus the thinking through the little problems does something to my brain. I also listen to podcasts, books on Audible and Ted Talks.  The combination of physical action plus listening to a story or learning something new makes my brain feel good. I can’t explain it. Plus, I feel the time I put in makes my home better, I learn many things and it is for the benefit of my family. In other words, it’s time well spent.  I feel a sense of accomplishment on many levels.

The house felt sparkling clean and white again.  The black streaks coming from the AC vents were gone. The multiple finger and hand prints on all the walls were wiped away and the brown corners from the cat and dog rubbing up against them were white again.  The house feels bigger without all those little dings.

The “big” house projects have started to take on a systematic routine with the girls and me.  My youngest always attempts to help. She’s seven, so I value her interest and try to let her experience the process and at the very least teach her something about home maintenance.  However, it slows me down and the zen component vanishes. Letting your child take a roller to the walls always brings some level of anxiety, a lot in my case, but how else are they to learn how to do this?  I’m trying to think back to how my dad did it with me.  I have no idea.

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My oldest, who is 11 now, contributes by taking over the cooking of all the meals while I’m in the thick of the project.  Eating out could be easier but I am not a fan of fast food and I like her contribution and sense of responsibility. I feel both girls are learning that we live together as a community, each one helping out the other.  It’s not just me taking care of it all. Nor does it just affect me.  A nicer home affects them and the play dates they have over.  This is life. This is the reality of family.

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Ok. Now for the details of the project:  I’ve been using Behr paints with no VOC for a while now. This is what I used for the living/dining and hallways.

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Recently I’ve learned that I should be using eggshell instead of flat.  The house is 1700sq feet. We use every inch of it, walls get dirty and eggshell is easier to wipe down than a flat paint.  But to be honest I love the look of absolute flat. Not a glimmer of sheen is my thing.

I am happy how the house looks. The paint job brought on the purchase of a couch but I’ll leave that story for another day.

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