Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Sneak Peek at the New House: 50 Shades of Gray

The day after we closed on the new house, we took off for a weeklong Chicago trip. We had an amazing time, but I was anxious to roll up my sleeves and start making the house ours. Before I could paint, I needed to spackle. If there's one thing I love more than over-taping Christmas presents, it's spackling cracks and holes in walls. There's just something so satisfying about glopping a bunch of pasty goo on the wall, then scraping and eventually sanding it down to perfection. And in a house built in 1917 — with plaster walls — there was plenty of spackling fun to be had.

We officially took possession on Friday, so I went over that afternoon with my spackle, paint and tools (when did painting supplies get so expensive??). I didn't get as far as I would have liked — there was a lot of spackling to do be done, people — but I did decided that while I was at it, I might as well paint the kitchen cabinets. Okay, I decided I had to paint the kitchen cabinets. Since I'd attempted this once before, in an apartment, I had some experience — enough to know that if I didn't take the time to sand and properly prime the wood, my beautiful paint job will chip.

So, Saturday morning, after another pricey trip to Lowe's, I went back to the new house and took down the cabinet doors, then sanded and primed them. While the primer was drying, I got to taping off the the living room (my least favorite activity involving tape), which I took from an interesting shade of buttery yellow to a very bright white — one that's technically a super-light gray. If you can't tell that it's anything other than white, don't worry, you're not alone. My husband agrees with you.

I don't know exactly what I was thinking with the stark walls — I usually detest plain white (er, very light gray) — but since this house feels like a fresh start, I wanted to have a bit of a blank canvas to work with. I'm sure I'll get bored with it soon enough and paint them some other shade of gray.

Like Adam Duritz, gray is my favorite color, so that's what I chose for the kitchen cabinets, too. On Sunday, while painting the inside of the cabinets that will be be open (sans doors), I discovered the difference between nice cabinets and shitty cabinets: nice cabinets are painted on the inside.


It should come as no surprise that such a revelation meant I needed to paint the inside of all of the upper cabinets. While I was at it, I figured I might as well paint the fireplace, which looked like it had been stripped of something and then never finished.

Coating the fireplace took every last drop of a quart of semi-gloss gray paint. I didn't think about how porous cement is, and I didn't prime it. Of course, as soon as I'd finished, I wished I'd used a darker gray, maybe something closer to the color of the cabinets. But I'll think on it, and if I want to change it, it will be a great weekend project for me. And maybe I'll go crazy and paint it turquoise or bright yellow. For now, though, it's a vast improvement.

Tonight, I plan to paint the dining room and kitchen walls (more shades of gray), and clean up the huge mess I've made of the place. We'd like to get completely moved in this weekend, so here's hoping I don't find anything else I have to turn gray before then.

NOTE: All of the "after" shots were taken at night. Well, the wee hours of the morning. But I'll take some better ones when I'm finished painting.

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  1. Hate to tell you this after the fact but if your walls are lathe and plaster spackle is probably a bad idea for cracks. The plaster is much more likely than sheetrock to expand and contract in heat and cold, particularly in MO where we get such big temperature shifts. Spackle on plaster cracks usually results in your cracks reappearing after a season change. There are flexier products out there that are more like caulk that would do a better job.

  2. Welp, I guess that means more projects down the road. Darn.... (Thanks, though. Good to know for the future.)

  3. The gray of the cabinets looks so, so chic! God I love your house. It is going to be so much fun to live through you in this experience!

  4. This is a nice little preview of what I have in store in a few weeks. The house is really cute! Love the built ins by the fireplace!