May 3, 2011
When Dan and I bought our first house back in 2004, we entered into the world of Home Improvement. That first house had all sorts of fun projects, and some not-so-fun projects, but we loved the work (or at least I did!) Most of what we did was superficial- painting, mostly- but we also replaced all of the flooring throughout the house, updated the bathroom, redid almost the entire kitchen, replaced lighting fixtures, outlets… an endless list. I documented much of that list as we went along- lots of befores and afters!
We lived there for 5 years and by the time we moved out, we had redone just about everything, aside from tearing out walls. Most of it we tackled ourselves, with some help from our families, and brought in professionals for the more complicated stuff. But basically- we’re no stranger to house projects. And no stranger to Long, Drawn Out, Way More Involved Than You Ever Planned Projects.
So really, I should have KNOWN BETTER when I thought to myself back in January, ‘Oh! Painting our dining room! PFFFT. Two weekends, tops.’
FOUR. MONTHS. LATER. It’s finally done (mostly.*)
Now, full disclosure, I didn’t work on it every weekend- usually just one part of one weekend day here and there. We were busy a lot of weekends through January and February with family stuff, then we all got sick for a while. And we have 2 kids to deal with now, which we didn’t have when we were in our old house, so ANYTHING we do is going to take a bajillion times longer than it normally would. But seriously. SERIOUSLY. It’s a square room. Four walls. Paint. Some wood for a chair rail. DONE.
I picked red. I have always wanted a red dining room. I know it’s totally cliche now and everybody does red in their dining rooms. But I wanted to do it in our last house but it was all connected with the kitchen and I didn’t really want a red kitchen. But in this house! I could do it! It would be EPIC!
I knew red paint was a Big Deal and would make things more complicated. So I prepared myself for 3 or 4 (or 5!) coats of the stuff. (I skipped primer because I had heard from MANY people that even using tinted primer didn’t cut down on the number of coats of red paint needed.)
And that’s all it took to cover. Four coats of red paint. I finished the wall color, stopping at the chair rail height. Then we headed to the lumber yard and picked out some chair rail. My mom came over to watch the girls one Saturday while we measured and cut and measured and cut and leveled and nailed and caulked and primed and painted the chair rail and the wall underneath to match the other trim in the house.
It should have been done at that point.
The paint. THE RED PAINT. The color was absolutely perfect. The finish was awful. I have always used flat paint- I love the way it looks and I hate shiny walls. But this… this was terrible. As we were hanging the chair rail and working on the bottom portion of the wall, we realized that any time one of us touched the red part- even a LITTLE BIT- it left a white, chalky mark that wouldn’t come off. So essentially we had a wall that NOBODY COULD TOUCH EVER. Which is super fabulous when you have kids in the house. Obviously. And then in the midst of my back-and-forth touch ups/cutting in between the red wall and white chair rail (OMG STAB STAB), I realized that the red touch ups were COMPLETELY noticeable and the finish wasn’t matching up at all.
Basically, the paint was crap. It’s a very well-known brand and so many people love it, but every time I have used it, I have been unhappy. This time I chose it because I had to get this brand anyway to match the trim paint, so I figured, HOW BAD COULD IT BE? IT WILL BE FINE.
At the beginning of April- THREE MONTHS since we started- after lots of swear words (sorry, Mom) and questioning my 6+ years of painting experience, wondering if I somehow forgot how to paint?? We decided to get new paint. A different brand. More expensive, but at this point I was ready to give a kidney to just be DONE with this already, OMG. The new paint would be color matched, but we’d still have to paint it ALL over again because no way would it ever match up exactly. Plus we wanted to try a new finish- eggshell instead of flat, just to make sure that the walls can, you know, be BREATHED ON or EXPOSED TO AIR without getting marks on them.
My mom came over, bless her soul, and it took us one more day and two more coats of paint. A few more swear words from me (THAT FRACKING CHAIR RAIL SEAM WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME. GRUMBLE GRUMBLE.), but it was finished.
And it is finally, finally just how I pictured it.
I also made curtains! I had a very specific shade of yellow in mind, as well as a specific geometric-type pattern in mind. Nothing flowery or frilly. Couldn’t find curtains like that ANYWHERE. So I found some fabric, and I found a tutorial for no-sew curtains. Easiest project ever. I am clueless with fabric and sewing, so this was perfect. And I love love love my curtains. (Even if they are just TEENY bit shorter than I wanted, but I decided after everything was finished to raise up the curtain rods a little. I’m cool with it.)
*I mentioned up there that the room is MOSTLY finished, four months later. That’s because we have plans to build some shadowboxes for the wainscoting under the chair rail (similar to this) We actually did that before in our old house, so my fingers are crossed that it doesn’t become another neverending, nightmare project.
But, you know. DON’T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS.