Archive for February, 2010


painting complete

February 28, 2010

Yesterday I went over to the condo and the painting had begun.  Chris and George had painted all of the edging around the baseboards and the crown molding, but hadn’t yet filled in the rest of the walls.  Here is how the conversation went:

“Chris, do you think it’s too dark?  Are these colors too dark?” I chose the Benjamin Moore color “sail cloth” for the walls, which can best be described as sort of a light gray taupe.

“No, it’s good.”

“Does that sail cloth color really match the sample?”

“Yes.  It’s good.  I like it.”

“It’s just…it’s dark, is it too dark?” Oh my god.

They’d also started painting the Meditation color above the bookshelves.  This is sort of an olive green color, and it looked really, really dark and muddy. Granted, it was only partly done.

“Chris, did I choose bad colors?  Are these colors going to work?”

“I like – it’ll be fine.”

This is how the conversation went when I came home to Paula:


“It can’t be, those were nice colors.”


“I’m sure it’s fine.”


“Um….oh dear….how is the meditation color?”


“I thought it was olive green.”


“It can’t be that bad…..”


So that was yesterday.  Today I bought a ceiling fan for the living room – Ohhhhh, allow me to digress….between comments here and comments on Facebook, it became clear, pretty quickly, that a ceiling fan was the way to go.  So ceiling fan it is!  ANYWAY, we had to bring the ceiling fan over to the apartment.  The conversation in the car went like this:

“You know, we don’t have to do this today.  Maybe it’s getting too dark.  We could go tomorrow.”

“The paint will be fine.”

“Tomorrow would be good.  There’ll be more light.  Let’s go tomorrow.”

“The paint will be fine.”

“Oh god.”

Flash forward ten minutes and it looked like this – PRETTY FANTASTIC.   Such a huge relief.  Paula played documentary photographer:

front door/hallway

hallway looking into dining room

corner of living room

other view of living room

meditation color, accent wall above bookshelves

another angle

and another angle

subway tile has been grouted, with exception of interior window tile

that shelf isn't really for toilet paper

border tile

left over tile spacers

travertine floor has gone in

bathroom color - Benjamin Moore "pale smoke" - success!

little hallway, the pink on the floor is the protective paper



moving along

February 26, 2010

No great news to report, as I’ve had my head in my work for a few days – though Paula and I did go over on Wednesday night and it looked great.  Still very much a working site, but exciting stuff going on.  The bathroom wall was fully tiled, though no grout yet and the travertine for the floor looked like it was going in next.  All walls had been primed and all the trim work sprayed with the white semi-gloss.  Chris called two nights ago from the counter at the paint store, so paint has been purchased, I’m anxious to see it up.  No other news to report yet, other than lots of lighting purchases going on – yesterday evening I finally found sconces and placed an order for two.  They won’t arrive for a couple of weeks though….now I’m wrestling with the Ceiling Fan Conundrum – I already placed one in the bedroom, should there be another one in the living room?

FYI: this is the ceiling fan in question:

Hampton Bay Stratford Ceiling Fan

A smaller version of this same fan is already in the bedroom.  The living room is a harder call, though.  Personally I don’t like ceiling fans much, but I know lots of people love them, and they are very helpful in summer for cooling things off and helpful in winter for pushing warm air downwards….and we actually have a ceiling fan in every room of the condo we live in….so I get it…I get it.  But not only do I not like them very much, they are also more expensive than a standard fixture.  I’m vaguely curious what most renters think – is a ceiling fan, or lack thereof, a deciding factor in renting a unit?

That’s it, over and out – back to my regular job for the rest of the day.  I’ll fixate on the Ceiling Fan Conundrum over the weekend.

OHHH, I almost forgot….I nixed the wallpaper, we are painting instead.  (Wallpaper Haters! I heard from you, but calm down! It would have been beautiful, I promise.)  Sadly, I’ll paper something else.  Time, money and the depressing voice of reason won out.  Very sad!


update: nope, no central air conditioning.  But there are such things as standing fans, window fans and window a/c units.  But does a ceiling fan, or lack thereof, make any difference when you consider wanting to buy or rent something?


tile begins

February 24, 2010

Not much to report yet – tiling has begun, but right now it looks as odd as all tile does before it looks the way it’s supposed to – no grout yet and the wall is full of those little spacer things.  The floor isn’t in yet, but the subway tile is now half way down – and there’s a new worker on the job named Joseph, so it was nice to meet him.  He and Chris are tiling together.  Here’s a sneak peek –

no grout yet, but it will be white

temporary boards to help line the tile up

quick shot of the medicine cabinet

Coming up in the next week – the painting and remainder of tile going in, and hopefully the lighting fixtures as well.  I’m having a hard time deciding on the living room light and the dining room light and wall sconces.  Other than that all light fixtures have been purchased and are currently stacked in one of the closets, awaiting installation.  Did have a hiccup with the light over the medicine cabinet.  Bought a gorgeous one and it hangs too low – the bottom of the light hits the top of the medicine cabinet.  Back to the drawing board on that.


more about the paint

February 22, 2010

8am, we went back to the condo.  Chris was already there.  This weekend he broke out the industrial paint sprayer and got busy.  Things are taking shape.

Bookshelf shelves....getting sprayed.

Bye bye yellow living room - you were kind of cheerful but you look better with white primer

All doors are currently in bedroom, out of the way

All baseboards and crown moldings have been sprayed white semi-gloss

At the conclusion of our 8am visit I made a final decision on the paint colors.

  • All closet interiors: a white of contractor’s choice.
  • Bathroom: Benjamin Moore “Pale Smoke”.
  • All other walls: Benjamin Moore “Sail Cloth.” This is actually an exterior color, so it will need to be mixed with interior paint.  I never would have picked it normally, except a man we know recently painted his entire apartment this color in preparation for putting it on the market and it turned out beautifully.  Very neutral and clean.

Re: the “pale smoke” – this wasn’t one of the colors we carefully painted on the walls yesterday.  I had high hopes for Benjamin Moore’s “crystalline” but wow, girlfriend, you are green green minty green and you might be kind of pretty, but it’s hard to tell and I’m not taking that risk. So after a cup of coffee and some time with Chris’ paint deck I threw a dart at “pale smoke.” (I sent an email to P once I’d made up my mind: “Pale Smoke – a new color! I just chose it! Flying by the seat of my pants! Way to take a risk! Never seen it before!”)

NOW….there’s one other major decision to make and I’m really wrestling with it, because this is an apartment for rental and I don’t want to get ridiculous about the budget, and yada yada yada, everyone has personal tastes, I know….but what I really want to do is put wallpaper above the bookshelves in the dining room.  Just a splash of visual something as you walk in the front door.  Every time I look at it I think “wallpaper.” I’ve never wallpapered anything and I have no idea how much it costs, though I need only a tiny amount.  I’m going to take a trip to Thybony one evening this week and look through some sample books.  Of course, the way my luck is running I’ll find the perfect print and it will turn out to be back ordered, or on a 6-week delivery schedule or who knows what else, but pretty much the overall theme of this renovation has pretty much been “we can certainly get that for you but NOT RIGHT NOW.”

I am thinking creatively and positively however, and we took careful measurements:

This is how the pro's do it.



February 21, 2010

Time to choose paint.  Lots of paint chips:

After a lot of thinking, the current decision is to go with Benjamin Moore’s “sail cloth” on 80% of the walls (kitchen, dining room, living room, back hallway and bedroom), a slightly darker version (BM’s “hush” or possibly “meditation”) in the hallway, and a color in the bathroom.  Currently thinking of using BM’s “crystalline” but it might be too green.  I’ve had a hard time finding the right shade of pale blue-green.  I want it to look classic.  I don’t want it to look like toothpaste.  Here’s a computer generated swatch of 2 of those colors:

sail cloth


We went over and did test patches of color late this afternoon.

The roller handle died so we rolled the paint on with just our hands and the foam round paint applicators.  Very messy!  We were losing the daylight and the only lights in the place are 60 watt working lights, so tomorrow morning at 8am we’re going back round to look at these colors in the daylight.


special walnut

February 21, 2010

Special Walnut is lovelyyyyyyy.  We went over yesterday and I was fairly nervous.  But no nerves needed.  Special walnut did the job.  The floors aren’t finished yet, but they’ve had their stain, and now Chris says he has to do some step, and then lay down some other step, and then the final step is finishing the floors with either a satin or semi-gloss finish.  George said, “satin, go with satin, absolutely.” I asked Chris what he thought, he says both look nice.  Then he said, “Melissa uses semi-gloss.” Melissa is our interior decorator friend, and she works on high end jobs, and Chris is the only contractor she uses, so he knows these things.  (Hi, Melissa.) In fact, before I started this project I called her and asked if I could use Chris and his crew, as I didn’t know what she had in the works and though I don’t think Emily Post devoted a chapter to it, I’m fairly sure friends don’t poach other friends contractors for a month long job unless said contractor has some free time coming up.

So anyway – back to the floors.  Here’s a sneak peek.  Thank you Minwax.

sneak peek, not done yet, floors not quite this orange, that's the flash

Chris also proudly showed us how the bookcases are coming along.  He should be proud.

shelves not in yet...

Chris pointed out where he added strips of wood at the ends of shelves to hide the interior plywood and then gently rounded the edges for a polished look.

...they had their edges sanded.

Chris also noted that he built them high on purpose – he measured to make sure that the sconces would be exactly in the middle, between the top of the bookcase and the bottom of the crown molding.   At one point I stepped well back until I was practically in the kitchen and took a good look – “Chris, is the top of the bookshelf slightly un-level?” Chris pulled out the level, the big industrial contractor level that is two feet long and showed me that the bookshelves were completely level.  “It’s the floor that’s slightly not level.”  Phew.  I think the guys are spreading a leveling compound before they tile the kitchen floor, so that problem should go away.

P with (very dusty!) Chris

On a different note, we’re enjoying Kona coffee this morning – thanks, parents who go to Hawaii, you rock.

Sunday morning coffee


sanding, staining

February 18, 2010

What on earth was that freak out about?  Sorry ’bout that.  I got some sleep last night and now I’m all, Cadigan, calm down.  Jeeeeeze.  It’s fine…..relax.  It’s all good.

This morning I had to make a final decision about the stain color for the floors and it’s really just as well that I had to make the decision on the fly, because if I’d had my way there would have been 75 test patches on the floor and we all would have had to talk about the relative merits of Stain A over Stain B pretty much ad nauseum and there probably would have been voting and at some point I would have just thrown up my hands and picked one, and this way I just cut straight to the please for the love of god pick one part and I did it all with just one small freak out and a shot of gin, so lesson learned.

Paula and I went over and met George at 8:30 this morning.

Paula and coffee

We stared at this for a little while:


I started doing my crazy talk about maybe it would all be perfect if George mixed in 3 parts Minwax Provincial to 1 part Minwax English Chestnut, and would that be the desired warmth in the tone without adding too much red to the floors, and could we all just talk about this for a little while?  But not for too long because I have a conference call at 9:15, ok, yeah, thanks!  But no seriously, what do you think?  George was very kind, but it was very clear that he was just happy to go with whatever the client wanted but the issue here is that the client pretty much only knows that she wants it to look good, actually more than good, like maybe the best floor ever, but really in the end will settle for it just looking nice and not sticking out and please just let it be ok, see the problem?  Maybe if we just did the test patches in the dining room.  The dining room gets more light.  So we all trouped into the dining room and stared at the samples.  Here:

And then I clearly woke up and came to my senses and just said, oh screw it – let’s just go with Special Walnut.  We didn’t have a test patch of it, but the little wood chippy thing in the deck looks nice and it appears to be slightly darker than Provincial and maybe has a hint of red in it, screw the English Chestnut, for god’s sake woman, why on earth do you need to go mixing stains?  I don’t know which of the samples above it is, but maybe Special Walnut is the second one, so we’re going to go with that.  Maybe it’s the top one, that’s ok too.   Paula was all, good choice! and George was all, whatever makes you happy! And I was all, can I go home now?

But first I took some pictures.  Welcome to the jungle, I promise I’ll vacuum before I rent it out:

view into dining room

Dining room near window

the built-in bookshelves have begun

the living room


edge of the bedroom/George

Still Life with Paper Towel, 2010

Floor Sander, today is YOUR DAY