Sunday, April 8, 2012

Five shades of blue: a happy ending

When we last saw my farmhouse, Ruben, Chuey, and I had just climbed down off our ladders, after spending two solid days painting stripes.

Then I decided I couldn't live with the stripes.

Then I decided the stripes were Dr. Seussian, and they made me laugh.

Then I stewed.

Then I decided to completely jump the shark, bought a can of no-VOC, non-toxic, non-caustic paint stripper, and  stripped all the old paint and pickled stain off the wall, so I could hand lacquer and hand wax the entire 12 foot high, 144 square foot room (plus stairwell!!) and restore all the wood panelled walls back to a glowing, brilliant, natural redwood.  Luckily for my marriage, it took an entire $16 can to strip one square foot of wall, and my husband got home before I could do any real damage.  The conversation went like this:

R: Look, darling, I found this brilliant wood stripper.  It's totally non-toxic! It smells a bit but not very bad and none of it ever goes in the drain, so you don't contaminate the water supply.  You have to leave it on for three hours but the paint just slides right off! And then you dispose of it as solid waste.  Brilliant!  Who knew?

N: ummm, ok.  Cool.

R: No, come here, look what it did to our wall!

N: Our wall?  You stripped our wall?

R: Just this patch here - doesn't it look gorgeous?

N: Ok, but you stripped our wall?

R: Yes, I'm thinking about...

N: No.

R: No?

N: No.  Under no circumstances are you going to strip these walls. You are going to paint these walls. Because we are not insane.

R: But it would look so..

N: No.  Because we are not insane.

R: but...

N: No.

Then I thought about what Clive said about needing furniture, and tried to figure out how and where that could work in the entryway.  So I found this brilliant website that lets you lay out your entire house and move furniture around, and you can adjust the dimensions of rooms and furniture down to the centimeter. So I spent an entire evening planning my house and moving furniture, and stayed up till 1 am.  It doesn't let you play with color, which is a shame, really.  But now I have a map of where all the sofas and chairs and bookshelves and table lamps are in my entire house, just in case it comes in handy someday.  Because why wouldn't it??

So  then I spent the *next* evening here, playing with color combinations, but every time I tried to upload a photo of my actual house, something somewhere in the universe went kabloom and it spat me back out. So I was back to stewing, and also my imagination.

Then I called in a midnight order for paint on a whim. Then I called Chuey, and this time Luis because Luis is an electrician and I had lights to hardware in, in a very very tricky space.  And we got my buddy/housing contractor Rob to lend us yet more ladders.

And then my lovely mom took my children out of town for the weekend, so that N and I could continue where Chuey and Luis and I left off.

This whole wall had to be unpainted Buckland Blue (aka Victor's slate), and repainted Marlboro Blue (aka Victor's light blue).  And all remaining unpainted walls - including up the stairs and into the upstairs hall - had to be Marlboro.  With ice blue ceilings and Marscapone trim.

The boys "helped" where ever they were let, before being dragged away by their grandmother.


 Hand painting straight lines between trim and wood panelling 12 feet in the air behind hanging lights is a tricky proposition.  Ditto between marscapone beams and ice blue ceiling panels.

 The finished paint:
  In this picture, my fish still needs rehanging, there's door trim missing, and no furniture.  But the paint makes me mighty happy.

Georgette Heyer. Because  I had earned some fluff reading.

built in bookshelf, curing.

Stairway Window
Two walls are staying Dr. Seussian, because they still make me laugh.  Buckland Blue and Mozart Blue.  Both doors in this wall are waiting for refinished doorframes.

Marlboro blue compared to the dining room's green and playroom's cream.  Two newly refinished redwood doorframes.

Because Clive said I needed furniture.

It's actually a great spot for reading.
Or curling up and thinking about life.

At some point that week, I told N I needed a table, so he went downstairs and whipped me one together out of bits of a wine barrel.  Useful guy.  This sort-of makes up for vetoing my restore-walls-to-wood campaign.

Those were three very long days.  But it was done in time for Easter, which, as I had 30-something people coming over for brunch, was all I really cared about.

That and the color, of course.  Not pickled wood. Not sunshine yellow.   Not terracotta. Not pumpkin. Not Glacier Blue.  Not primer white. Not (apparently, thanks Nathan) Restored Redwood.  Not Buckland blue. Not Buckland blue with Mozart blue stripes.

Marlboro.  Who knew?


  1. Good for Nathan. Truthfully, it needed saying, but i think he was a brave man! (-;

    Well, I think it looks great At last it's a part of the house for you all to enjoy, and not something that just irritates as you pass through. For what it's worth, I balk a bit at the stripes, though if they make you laugh, then that's a good enough reason to keep them. My feeling is that any decorations on a wall, be they stripes, spots, flowers or wildlife... and here speaks the man who painted nearly 400 blackbirds on his sitting-room walls... really have to work to earn a place. Looking at the photographs, I prefer the plain blue. I like the shadows defining the verticals, rather than the two shades.

    It's been a long haul, but you've cracked it. Well done to all concerned. The hall has been rescued! You've done it!

  2. Thank you!! I think I really have, it makes me so happy!

    Nathan has lived with my "brilliant" ideas for more than a decade. He's also a quick thinker and has learned the art of knowing, in under 2 seconds, when to get sucked in and when to shut me down. Does Peter do that, or have you universal free reign?

    Your 400 blackbirds are amazing, for instance. Did Peter hold the paint pot, or suggest a cup of tea, instead?

    I've been thinking about those stripes. I'm going to keep them. But they also need to be a bit subtler, and thus somewhat obscured. We have a rather enormous number of framed family portraits I might cluster on one or the other stripey wall. I know the standard approach is to put family portraits on the main stairwell wall (the back one, in this case). But I don't want 'em there. I don't know what I want there yet, but not photos. But these portraits of mine - they're all in redwood-toned wood frames, and they're all black and white, and include lots of venerable ancestors,and other very interesting looking people. There's no grouped "here's our family" portraits or anything. I could also purchase - over the years - several of my grandfather's photographs, and scatter them in and amongst the family photos, creating a gallery of interesting people and architecture, in black and white.

    I shall chew on that idea awhile, and see if it sticks.

    1. Nathan's two-second-pause-for-thought sounds like a good barometer when it comes to the 'Mmmm... could work' versus the 'Nope, she's over the edge here'! If Peter has such a barometer then I don't know about it. In fact, to some degree it's me that has Nathan's facility, and Peter who's more likely to come up with the crazed and time-consuming notion. However, unlike Nathan, I seem to have no power of veto, and if I think the notion hazardous, I have to proceed with caution to prevent a head on collision between us. With regard to the birds, I recall us both being on board with it, though I asked for and got no help. He may have made a pot of tea or two! Tee hee!

      Like the idea of the black and white images. But yes, I'd tone down the stripes, or there will be to much by way of verticals. The edges of the frames will give you lots of those.