Boxing, part 1 ~ by Sam

If you’ve known me for some time, you might know I like boxes.  I mean, not like cats and small children like boxes ~ although, lets be honest, large boxes made really great playhouses, and trains, and rocket ships, and…well…so, maybe a little bit like small children like boxes, but, for the purposes of this narrative, let’s assume I mean decorative boxes.  You know, the kind you might use for storage, but that don’t necessarily look like just your average storage boxes.  I like fancy hat boxes, and boxes that are made to look like books and treasure chests.  I like boxes covered with beautiful papers and fabrics ~ I’ve even covered some of my own.  I like cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, metal boxes, even plastic crates and baskets, in a pinch, but fancy boxes are my favourite.  And, although you might not know it if you dropped by right now and saw the half-painted Little Free Library on my parlour floor, the empty boxes and baskets, the unfolded laundry on the chaise, the books that need to be put away, I really like it when everything is put away neatly in its place.  It’s one of the reasons I really like boxes.  You can put things in them, and ~ look at that! ~ all of the sudden, instead of a bunch of clutter, you have this attractively ordered space.  I like it that way.  I like knowing where my stuff is, so I can find it, and I like it to look nice, too.

So.  Well, there was this one area of the house in which we had really been struggling with the whole “neatness” and “order” thing.  A place for everything?  Are you kidding me?  Nah.  Just…stick it over there…somewhere.  I guess.  We’ll figure it out later.

Sometimes, I think that’s a little bit how we moved in.  Things were moving along swimmingly, but then there was a family emergency, and Shane had to leave town, so we moved a bunch of stuff over very quickly, with the help of his parents, who were in town.  Then, the kids and I finished moving the rest of the stuff over from the old house, but I never felt like we got things quite settled here.  I still don’t.  It’s been more than 5 1/2 years since we moved.

In that time, time has marched on, and children have grown.  When we moved, we set the toy shelf that used to be in the bedroom that the two youngest kids shared at the old house in the hallway outside of the bedrooms they would have (and not share) at the new house. It seemed to make sense at the time.  The shelves contained stuff that belonged to both of them, as well as some stuff that was used by all three kids (like books, costumes, and matchbox cars, for instance).  Over time, however, more and more of the stuff on the shelf fell into disuse.  The kids just grew up.  They still loved and had fond memories of some of those things, but, you know, they weren’t leaping around the house in tiny tutus battling each other with rubber swords.  They need bigger tutus now.  I’m kidding.  They hardly ever wear tutus now.  As far as I know.

Anyway, there was a bunch of stuff just sitting there on the shelf, not being used very often, and taking up a lot of space.  We also had other stuff that just didn’t seem to have any place to go.  Stuff like shoes and hats and jackets.  Backpacks.  A trumpet.  Bags.  Just, you know, a lot of stuff.  So I started thinking, you know, what the kids could use outside there rooms might be something to store the stuff they actually use.  I knew, however that, like me, my kids are sentimental.  Over many moves, and in years since the last move, we had already weeded through toys, and what was left on that shelf really was the cream of the crop.  This is stuff we want to have around for days when little ones come to play.  It’s the cool stuff.  The keepers.  The question remained, with no useable attic space to speak of (it’s basically a crawlspace full of insulation and ductwork), and very little available space in the garage, where were we going to keep all this stuff?

What stuff?  Oh.  THIS stuff.  And, while we’re at it, can we do something about this colour, because I vowed when I moved in to banish this colour from the house, and this, Justice’s bathroom and the laundry room are the last holdouts (trust me, it’s worse in real life).

I chose the above photos because I think they highlight the stellar organization.  Not pictured: socks, shoes, backpacks, trumpet & music bag…

Well, it took some planning, and a couple of coats of Behr Marquee flat ceiling paint in pure white, and a couple of coats of Behr Premium Plus Paint & Primer interior semi-gloss in Vintage Coral to fix the colour problem.

We had already made a trip to IKEA to purchase the coat/shoe rack/bench that we wanted to put in place of the old toy shelves.  Of course, we realized that taking down the shelves and replacing them with a coatrack would leave us with some major storage problems.  After some brainstorming ~ and let’s be honest, the storm had been brewing in my brain for years over this plan ~ I discussed my design plan with Shane, who went off to the hardware store to have the wood cut to make the shelves we wanted.  He primed and painted them, and, between coats, we kept searching online for shelf brackets we both liked…or at least one of us liked…or, you know, maybe that we didn’t hate.  I mean, could they, at least, not look like they should be shut inside a closet?  Hey…those are ni…Oh, I mean, could they at least not look like they should be shut inside a closet AND not cost a million dollars?  We finally found some that fit the bill at Lowe’s.  When we got there, they didn’t have the ones we’d chosen, but I think the ones we got are just as nice, at least.

It just so happens that Lowe’s is in the same shopping center as Michaels, so we stopped to see if they might have any boxes that might suit our needs. They did, you guys, and they were 80% off.  That’s, like, pennies on the dollar.  (Or like, a few dollars instead of $20, but still, quite the deal, and really, the only way we could possibly afford to do this.)

Look what a change we made:

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Lace-Stenciled Table & Chairs

Recently, Shane and I have been preparing for a big shindig here at the Homestead.  This July, we will be gathering friends and family in our backyard (and front yard, and house, and driveway, because our backyard isn’t very big) to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.  To that end, we have made a list of Things To Do Before The Big Day.  On the list are a number of projects, including “Paint Patio Table & Chairs.”  Now, when I say “Patio Table and Chairs,” I don’t mean what most people mean.  I mean the table and chairs that used to be our dining table and chairs before we had more kids and outgrew it, so we just moved it outdoors.  In all fairness, it has been painted at least twice before.  Nevertheless, it was in desperate need of a new paint job.  Don’t believe me?  Get a load of this:

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Fancy, eh?  I suppose one could argue that it goes with the rest of the yard, but we are working on that situation, too.  Besides, that’s rude.  One could also NOT say that, thank you.

Anyway, as you can see, it had seen better days, having been purchased when our oldest child (now 18) learned to climb up through the back of the folding chairs onto the folding picnic table we had been using as our dining set, and then relegated to the outdoors when our little family outgrew it.  You might also note that when we outgrew it, one kid was still in a kid chair.  Perhaps, one day, I will acquire another grown-up-sized chair.  Then again, we often host kid-sized guests, and we have plenty of grown-up sized chairs that do not match the set, so I am cool with this as it is.  Except that the paint job kind of sucked.  So, I started looking for ideas.  I wanted something fun, colourful, eye-catching.  I decided I did not want it all matchy-matchy, and that I would like to try my hand at stenciling something onto the table.  I thought maybe flowers, words, birds, a garden-theme… And then I saw furniture stenciled with lace.  I had seen this idea used to stencil other items, and I liked the look, so I did a little research, read up on how it was done, worried a lot about all of the ways in which I could possibly mess it up… and then I just got over it and bought some paint, some lace, and some repositionable adhesive.

If you want to try this, here is what you will need:

Tarp
Furniture to be painted
Mild Detergent & Water
Sandpaper
Spray paint (at least two colours)
Repositionable Adhesive (I used Aleene’s)
Lace

*Optional Items:
Clear Coat
Paper
Painter’s Tape/Masking Tape

The first thing I did was wash my furniture thoroughly but gently and dry it very well.  Now, a lot of people will probably advise against getting wood furniture wet, and they are right, I’m sure, but mine had been living outdoors for some time, so a) that ship had sailed, and b) it was super grimy.  I washed it using just a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid soap (you could use dish soap or any mild detergent) and water, rinsed it well, dried it thoroughly with a towel and then let it air dry for a while, just to be sure it was good and dry.  Because my furniture was…well…let’s say, “weathered,” some of the paint flaked off when I cleaned it.  After cleaning it, I lightly sanded it to make sure there was no lose paint or splintery wood.

Now, the wood was ready for painting.  I used spray paint for this whole project.  These are the colours I chose for the table:

And for the chairs:

So, in case you cannot read all of that, that’s:
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultracover Paint & Primer in Marigold, Real Orange and Aubergine for the table;
and Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultracover Paint & Primer in Green Apple & Aubergine, and Rust-Oleum Universal Paint & Primer in One in Robin’s Egg for the chairs.

I really wanted some robin’s egg blue (my favourite colour) in this project, and I coudln’t find exactly the right shade in the 2X Ultracover series, so I used the Universal line, instead.  I will say, the 2X line really does cover better, so, if you are doing a larger piece, you might want to buy more paint if you end up using the Universal.  I was okay with a sort of sheer, weathered look on some of the chairs, and I was going to be stenciling over my base coat and finishing it all with a clear coat to seal it, so I decided one can was enough for two chairs, but, if you want a more smooth, even look, you might need more if using that product.  I ended up using a whole can of orange, a whole can of green, a whole can of marigold a whole can of robin’s egg and about a can and a half of aubergine, I think.  It took a lot of paint.  In fact, I might have used a can and a half of orange, now that think of it, but my table was in REALLY BAD shape.  Your furniture might need a lighter coat of paint, if it’s in better shape.  You’ll note I used the Aubergine to tie all of the pieces together so it reads as a set, despite not being overly matchy.  More about that later.

Now, down to business.  The first thing I did was to pain the underside of my table, which was just going to be a plain, bright orange.  Nothing fancy ~ just turned the table upside down on a tarp and sprayed two nice, even coats of Real Orange.  Wow!  Is that ever bright!  Just what I wanted!IMG_0672

In the background, you can see that I had also started to spray the basecoat on some of my chairs.  At this point, I knew I was using orange and robin’s egg, my favourite colour combo, and I knew I would be adding aubergine overall.  The rest was yet to be decided, and I was off to the hardware store to try to make some decisions.  Luckily, I had my phone, and Shane doesn’t mind too much if I pester him about these things.

Originally, I was going to paint the whole table orange, but then I saw this lovely shande called “Marigold,” and, you know, Aubergine is a purple shade, and “Marigold,” being a yellow, would be a perfect complement for a purple…so, yeah, I totally got the Marigold.   Then, I came home, flipped over my table, and painted the top Marigold.  I was so tickled with it, I took another picture.IMG_0683

It’s totally cute, even just like that.  Already way cuter than it was way back at the beginning of this post, right?  Once that was dry (in a couple of days), it was time to start stenciling.

I was lucky enough to find a gorgeous piece of lace both on sale and on the end of the bolt, so I got a double discount ~ and I had a coupon, so it cost me so little that I didn’t even remember to write it down.  I am so sorry.  I did not keep track of costs for this project at all.  The size of the lace you need to buy will depend on the size of the piece of furniture you are painting.  Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.  It should be big enough to fit over the thing you want it to fit over.

When you get your lace home, you will want to lay it out on top of your piece of furniture and get a rough idea of how you want to position it, keeping in mind that you will want to place it with the smoother side down, against the furniture. The reason for this is that, if you place the rougher side against the furniture, you will leave more little gaps for your paint to leak through, and you want a nice tight seal between your stencil and your surface.  So, lay your lace out on your piece of furniture and decide how you want it to look.  I wanted mine to kind of hang over on some sides and not quite reach others, so the pretty border would be visible.  You can play around with it, reposition it until you think it looks good. (You should not be using any adhesive at this point.  Your furniture is painted and has dried for several days, and you are just setting a piece of fabric on it.) When you think it looks right, stand back and look at it from several angles to make sure you like it.  Maybe take a picture or two.  When you are sure you like it, cut your fabric to fit.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  I was lucky enough to have a nice big piece, so I had one large piece to use for the table and a smaller one to use for the chairs.

I am going to put a picture here of one of the chairs before I started painting it, because I think you need to see how lovely they were.  IMG_0436

As you can see, they have a very nice shape, but the paint is faded, chipped and peeling.  (in the background, you can see my sad, old rocking chair.  Don’t worry, it gets a makeover, too ~ more about that in another post.)

Okay.  Back to stenciling.  This is the repositionable adhesive I used.  IMG_0706
I looked at a lot of them, and this one seemed like it would work well.  After reading a lot about the process online, I decided to wait for at least a couple of days between painting the basecoat and trying to do the stencil, since it would mean sticking the stencil to the fresh paint with adhesive (even temporarily).  That did mean this project took a hefty chunk of time, but I think the result makes it worth it.

Lay the lace carefully on your tarp with the smooth side up, taking great care to smooth any wrinkles.  It’s a really good idea not to do any of this on a windy day, by the way.  Spray painting on a windy day is an exercise in futility, and trying to keep your lace flat and prevent it from sticking to itself after it has been sprayed with adhesive (even if it is only temporary) will be frustrating, at best.  Follow the directions on your adhesive.  I found it useful to spray a light, even coat over the surface, then wait about one minute before positioning it on the furniture.  If it doesn’t go down exactly as you like, or, if your lace sticks to itself, DON’T PANIC.  Remember, your adhesive is repositionable.  Just calmly peel it up and reposition it.  It happened.  It freaked me out.  My table and I survived.   Here is a picture of my lace, all ready to be turned into a fabulous stencil. It does not yet know it holds the power to transform the drab into the fabulous. IMG_0707

And here is a picture of my lace as stencil ~ holy cow!  This is actually happening!!IMG_0708

Okay, so, now that you have actually placed your stencil on your table, you want to make extra sure to carefully smooth out any small wrinkles or bubbles.  This may involve lifting and repositioning small parts of your stencil if you are working with a large piece, such as a tabletop.  This is why the “repositionable” aspect of the adhesive comes in handy.  Well, this, and the fact that you don’t actually want the lace itself to be a permanent feature of your table.  You need to firmly press and smooth down every little bit of your stencil.  Any tiny piece your miss sticking to your furniture will not work as a stencil, so you need to be super carefully to stick it all down.  Or not.  I mean, it really depends how much of a stickler you are for detail, I guess.

Now that it is all stuck in place, you can start painting.  Again, I used spray paint, and I did several light coats. The wind was interfering with my spraypaint this day (remember what I said about wind?  I said it with far more expletives that day), but I had already stuck the stencil in place, so I decided to gently turn the table on its side, so the wind would work with me.  Then, I took this one very blurry picture, so I am afraid that is all you get.  Sorry.  There will be more stencil-painting-in-process pictures later.  IMG_0711I let it dry for a little while (but not completely) before I carefully lifted the stencil, and ~ voila! Stenciled lace tabletop!  IMG_0715

You guys, I was stunned.  Like completely stunned.  Like knock-me-over-with-a-feather stunned. I was sure I was going to be running to the hardware store for another can of paint to paint over the whole thing in a solid colour when this didn’t work ~ but…it worked!!  And, look, if I can do this, you can do it.

So then, I figured, well, I did the table, now I’ve got to do the chairs to match.  Sorta.  So I did.  Sorta.  I followed the same process, giving them each their basecoat: Two in Robin’s Egg, two in Green Apple:

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Then, I played around with my lace again:

Sometimes, I used paper and tape to mask parts I didn’t want aubergined:

I tried turning the lace in different directions:

And in the end, I decided, the one finishing touch the chairs needed to tie them in perfectly with the table was a little touch of Marigold or Real Orange, so that’s just what I gave them:IMG_0822

The last step I took might have been unnecessary, but a gentleman who assisted me in the paint department at Home Depot suggested that I consider finishing everything with 2 coats of this stuff:

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So I did.  My understanding is that the paint itself should be enough to protect the wood, but, after all my hard work, I would like this to last a long time, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add an extra clear coat or two on top.  It’s like insurance.

It took me a couple of weeks to complete this project, partially because we are a family and we were busy being a family and living our lives, and partially because all of the various coats needed to dry in between; but, in the end, we have this beautiful new patio set, and I absolutely love it.  IMG_0843

If you enjoyed this post, and you decide to try your hand at using lace to stencil your own furniture, please let me know how it worked out for you.  I would love to hear about your experience (and to see pictures).

~ Sam.

When “The Best We Can” is Good Enough ~ by Sam

Yesterday, I found myself (again) lying around on the sofa with my foot propped up, and I happened to look around the house (again) and find myself feeling very discouraged ~ almost defeated, in fact.  The house was a mess.  It was dusty, furniture wasn’t where I wanted it to be, paperwork was piling up ~ mail I needed to sort through, finished homework for which we had not yet created a file, magazines, fundraising information ~ laundry needed to be folded, laundry needed to be washed, the rugs and the furniture all needed to be vacuumed, the hard floors all needed to be swept and mopped, the bathrooms needed to be cleaned and organized, so many half-finished (or not yet started) projects ~ painting, putting up shelves, hanging pictures…And here I sat, with my foot propped up on a stack of pillows, doing absolutely nothing.  Again.

Let me make one thing abundantly clear: Shane and the kids help a lot with the housework, even when I am not injured.  Its just…well, let’s face it: I’m the one who is home all the time.  I used to feel like I was somehow failing my kids if I did the lion’s share of the housework.  I want them to have life skills, to be responsible.  Nevertheless, if they are home for only a few hours each day ~ during which time they are required to complete homework assignments, practice their music, dance, lines for a play, etc. ~ well, it makes sense that, since I am here for many more hours each day, I can do a little more work around the house.  So, I have struggled to strike a balance.  The kids are expected to keep their rooms clean, clear their dishes, and pick up after themselves, and they do about as well as any kids, I think.  They also help with things like washing dishes, cleaning the litterbox, taking out the garbage, doing laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, dusting.  However, since school started, everyone has been exceedingly busy, and I really am the only one home.  The fact is, there are some jobs no one but me thinks to do. So those things tend to go undone.  And, most likely, no one but me notices.  But I do notice, and it bothers me.  As a result, I was feeling like a bit of a failure.  I mean, I know I can’t do much right now, but it was starting to feel like I am NEVER able to do much.  It seems there is always something that gets in the way of my ability to complete home improvement projects, or even just keep up with the housework.  I thought, “Geez.  Why is this so hard?  Other people manage to do this all the time, right?”

It’s true.  Other people do manage to keep up with the housework, and complete home improvement projects.  In fact, I have always managed to do those things fairly well.  So, what was the problem?  Because, really, it seemed like, since we moved in to the new house in mid-December of 2012, I just could not manage to keep up.  Was it because we were doing more projects than we had in the past?  Well, that might be part of it.  The thing was, it seemed like I had been doing so well.  We had painted at least 6 room, built shelves, done extensive work in the garden…I had helped with all of that.  I’d done some of it all by myself.  So…what was going on?  Why couldn’t I just manage to keep up?

Well, I got kind of frustrated, and sort of lost it here at the house all by myself yesterday.  Shane was work, kids were at school, and I was looking at everything that needed to be done.  I got up off the sofa, washed slipcovers, vacuumed all of the floors (rugs and hard floors alike), cleaned bathrooms, washed all of the mirrors, put away a bunch of the clutter… And then, when I was taping a plastic bag over my cast so I could bathe, it occurred to me.  I did some math, and, lo an behold, I found the answer:  For at least 6 of the past 18 months, I have been in a cast or brace of some sort that has dramatically limited my mobility and, therefor, my ability to complete even the most basic household tasks.  So, for the remaining 12 months, I have been in recovery mode.  I have spent some time recovering physically from my time in the cast ~ regaining strength and dexterity, so I could once again function at a relatively normal level ~ as well as time “recovering” simply in the sense of getting back in to my normal routine of household maintenance.  Or, perhaps more accurately, trying to establish a new routine, since I feel like I never really got in to the swing of things at the new house before that first injury, just 2 months after we moved.

So, now I get it.  Now, I won’t be quite so hard on myself.  I did pay for getting up and doing all of that stuff.  My foot swelled up to about twice its normal size, which is not at all comfortable in a cast.  And, so, today, here I sit, again on the sofa, with my foot propped up on a pillow mountain.  Today, however, scented candles are lit, the slipcovers are fresh, rugs and furniture are not covered with cat fur, and, if I felt like getting up and walking over to one, I could see my reflection in any mirror in the house.  Next time, I will try to pace myself, and not do it all in one day.  Next time, I will remember to let myself take the time I need to recover, and not feel guilty about it.  Will I still be frustrated by my lack of progress on those unfinished projects (like the 1/6 of that one room that is not yet painted!!!)?  Oh, you better believe I will.   But at least now I know WHY.  I can cut myself a little slack, just like I cut the kids a little slack because I know they are busy and doing the best the can.  Because that’s what it comes down to, really: I’m doing the best I can.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all we should expect from anyone?  I am always so eager to give others the benefit of the doubt.  Why not myself?

Today, I will rest.  And maybe I will throw in one load of laundry.  And then, I will rest.  And then, maybe I will clear up the clutter on the sideboard.  And then, I will rest.  And it will be okay.

It’s curtains for you, Cat! ~ by Sam

We have cats.  Three cats, to be precise.  We didn’t mean to have three cats, but they found us, , and now we are their pet people.  If you don’t have cats, this probably sounds insane to you, but, trust me, we are their pets, and not the other way around.

With cats, come litterboxes.  Ours have always shared one, and, in that regard, we are lucky.  If they each insisted on having a private litterbox, there would be litterboxes all over the house.  Luckily, we are able to confine it to a single, small space.  Now, the problem is no one really wants to hang out around a litterbox, so it’s nice to be able to hide it away somewhere.  A littlerbox being what it is, the bathroom seems like a logical place for it, but we have always had small bathrooms, so we have had to be creative.  There’s not a lot of free floor space in our bathroom, so we got creative and sacrificed the cabinet under the sink.  At first, we just removed the doors, and tried to hang a curtain there, but that wasn’t working so well.  There was litter all over the floor in front of the sink all the time, even though we swept it up all the time.  So, we decided to put the doors on again, and Shane cut a hole out on the side of the cabinet.  He even went to the trouble to echo the shape of the detail on the cabinet doors.  It gave the cats easy access and confined litter spillover to a smaller area off to the side.  That was…okay.  I mean, it was a great improvement over having the litterbox just sitting out in the middle of the room.  However, with litterboxes come…well…odors.  We all try to be pretty good about keeping it scooped and changing the litter regularly, but, you know, it’s a litterbox.  Having it tucked away helps minimize the odor, but I had really aways planned to hang a curtain over the opening, not only to contain the inevitable stench, but to hide it away from view and to give them a little more privacy, too.  (Cats actually do like their privacy.)  In fact, we already had a curtain.  The last house had a convenient little cubby that was perfect for the littlerbox and supplies (liners, scoop, litter, etc.), and I had made a little curtain to hang across it.  That space was one of the few perfect things about that tiny house, in fact.

Anyway, I had the curtain, made from a cute piece of cat-themed fabric I had found in a remnant bin, I had the litterbox tucked away where it belongs, all I needed was a curtain rod and a little time to install it and hem the curtain to the appropriate size.  This morning, I did it.

Here’s how it has looked since Shane cut the doorway:

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(You can see that I didn’t think to take a picture until I had already started to install the curtain rod.)

Here’s how it looks now:

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And here is a detail shot of the fabric:Image

 

Someday, I would like to add a small shelf right above the curtain rod.  I think it would help us organize and de-clutter our counter space (remember, we lost all that under sink storage when we sacrificed it in order to give the litterbox a place of its own), and I am hopeful that it might actually help contain some of that inevitable odor, as well.  For now, this will work.

 

There’s a Party Goin’ on Right Here… ~ by Sam

In the past week or so, we have continued to plug away on the “Party Room.”  We liked the colour we had chosen for most of the room (Behr’s “Hallowed Hush,” Satin Finish), but we thought it might be nice to have a different colour on the wall leading in to the front of the house.  This is such a big room, I thought it could use a lot of colour.  In addition, we have the room sort of loosely divided into areas for daily use, but then we tend to sort of re-arrange furniture, push the table back against the wall, and open it up a bit more when we have parties, so we wanted the colours to a) define each area, and b) create a harmonious look for the room as a whole.

We had already painted the bar corner of the room a beautiful, rich purple (“Pharoah Purple” Semi-gloss), and we had settled on a blue-greenish tone for the rest of the room.  Hallowed Hush was a little bluer than we thought we would go, originally, so we decided to use that one big wall that leads in to the breezeway that we like to call the “library” on one side and the kitchen on the other to introduce a little more green to the room.  Now, we have a large doorway in to the breezeway and, ultimately, the parlour, and then a large pass-though window in to the kitchen on that wall.  So, it is a large wall, but it is broken up.  Bear in mind that the doorway looks out to a soft yellow wall, and the pass-through looks out to the bright red kitchen.  We wanted a colour that would nicely frame each of those colours, while tying in well with the blue and purple in the party room.

After poring over colour choices online and at the hardware store, we had narrowed it down.  I LOVED a very dark, green with a bit of blue in it, called “Billard Table,” again, by Behr.  Shane LOVED a lighter, greener Behr shade called (coincidentally) “Billiard Room.”  So, we pored over more colours, and found one that seemed to fall right between them, being a tad lighter than “Billiard Table” and a tad darker than “Billiard Room,” another Behr colour, called “Greensleeves.”  It also is bluer, which I thought would be nice, to tie in with the blue walls.  (Shane pointed out that the whole idea was to get more green in to the room, and he was right, of course, but the truth is I really like blue.  A lot.)

At some point in here, Kaia suggested we paint each strip of paneling a different colour, in rainbow order.  Hallie suggested we do the strips framing the doorways in the darker colour, and the rest of the wall in the lighter green or the blue that was on the other walls.  Somebody said we should just do the whole wall in stripes.  I wish I could remember who that was.  No one will own it, and it was such a brilliant idea.  Maybe it came from Kaia’s rainbow stripe idea and Hallie’s two-tone idea.  At any rate, we got to thinking.  We decided the best course of action would be to get samples of the three paints we wanted to try, and put them on the wall to compare.  Then, we got to thinking, maybe we could use them all.  At first, it was just a light/dark stripe idea, but then we found that medium tone, and we decided to do a sort of tonal stripe.  We would go from dark to light and back again, with our three colours.  Then, we would live with it for a while and make our decision: keep the 3-tone stripe, buy the paint and do the whole wall that way; or pick one of the three colours and go from there.

First, Shane taped out and painted the darkest colour:Image

Next, we painted the lightest colour, so those two could dry before we taped up the edges to paint the medium shade between them:Image

Then, we painted in the medium shade:Image

Finally, we went in and finished painting the adjacent wall and touched up all of the little skips:
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Now, we are living with it for a while, before we make our final decision, but we all pretty much love it.  As you can see, we are still trying to work out the perfect arrangement for the furniture, and, knowing me, we always will be.  This is a wonderful, large room, but with rather an odd layout, and not one single unbroken wall, so it is a bit of a challenge to arrange.  The colours, however, make a huge difference in making it feel like home.

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We have done a lot of painting in the past year, and we have learned a few things.  My advice, if you are going to paint your home would be:

*Try out your colours online (check the paint company’s website for virtual room designer programs).
*Look at lots of paint chips ~ bring them home and look at them in your home, because the lighting in your room will change how the paint looks (unless your home is lit just like a hardware store.  In that case, it will probably look pretty much the same).
*Get samples and try the colour(s) on your wall before committing.  Put the colour on the wall and live with it for a while before you go back and buy the whole gallon (or two).
*Tape, dropcloth, protect your surfaces.
*Use the right tools.  Be sure to get the brushes, pads or rollers for the texture surface you are painting.  This makes a HUGE difference.
*Clean paint brushes and tools right away.
*Keep all of your paint chips in a file, so, if you ever have to touch up a wall, you will be able to find the perfect colour.  Even if a company discontinues a colour, many stores will “colour match” if you bring them the paint chip.
*Don’t be afraid of colour.  Worse case scenario, you hate it and have to paint over it (but, if you follow the steps above, at least you’ll just have to paint over a small portion).  Paint your home for YOU.  Unless you are staging a house for sale, paint it the way you want it, and don’t worry about what anyone who doesn’t live there thinks of your choices.  If soft neutrals throughout make you feel peaceful, relaxed and completely at home, go for it!  If, on the other hand, the idea of walking in to a bright orange and pink living room every day makes you feel happy, energized and great to be home, go for it!  It’s about you (and the other people who live there, of course).