Paint Me a New Picture.


I've jokingly said for years that I have less square footage in my house than I did ten years ago because I've painted so many times. Fact is, I'm amazed that people don't paint more often. It's the cheapest and easiest way to change the look of your environment, not to mention a clean slate for all of the fingerprints, paw marks and slip ups of every day living. I have every respect for professional painters and have happily procured a few in my day to speed up a project, but honestly with a little patience and the right tools, it's a very forgiving and gratifying project for anyone to tackle.

As much as I will try and cover some of the basic how to's for painting, Google has changed our world on up to the minute, ease of a button tutorials for almost anything and anybody. So, as to stick with my mantra of WHY, keeping it simple with a few good tips from a hard working guy with a true mental catalog of experience and embellishing with the more esoteric reasons as to the motivation and outcome is probably more my goal.

I don't use oil based paints. I no longer see the need. Latex only. Water based latex has come such a long way in the last few decades. It is every bit as durable, behaves beautifully on the brush, roller and sprayer and the clean up requires simple soap and water. I prefer showering off my mistakes with Dove in lieu of mineral spirits or gasoline pre-wash and smelling like a pit crew with 1st degree rash burn at the 500. Unless you are painting a car, refreshing the look of your personal factory or powder coating some moving parts..............LATEX!

Take the $30+/hr that you would be paying a pro (plus paint and travel) and buy good tools and products.

Do I truly need to explain this further? Ladies: Good makeup and well made applicators = stunning results. Guys: Higher octane and appropriate tires gets better gas mileage. You are going to pay for it on one end or the other, so spend a little extra up front for the outcome you desire. The little extra money will save you much more in time and frustration.

Use paint and primer in one. If you are paying less than $40-45 for a gallon of paint, you will probably be painting the same area twice. Spend the extra and do it right the first time. Don't be afraid to go to a true paint store and ask questions. Your local home improvement store can be great, but the product and knowledge you get at Sherwin Williams or Porter Paints is worth the "free" price of admission. Don't be afraid of their expertise, they aren't' afraid of your novice questions. Using a specialty store also opens your eyes to options and a mailing list that will reap coupons and periodic sales that can cut the cost of your project in half. Think like a pro, and expect professional results.

As in paint, use good brushes and rollers. The information on the packaging is a pretty good common sense place to start., If six nylon brushes come in one pack for $4.99, then maybe use those for throw away touch ups and craft projects, but a good natural bristle brush in the appropriate size will save you hundreds in Anacin and if properly cleaned and cared for will last for years and multiple projects. Once again, would you use a nylon brush to apply your eye shadow, or a quality natural bristle? You could look like a clown and your home a circus tent. There's a reason a Mercedes costs more than a Yugo.

I don't use masking tape. This is something that you may not feel comfortable with, but I have a number of reasons WHY. First and foremost, I simply can't find a product that doesn't bleed under. The time that I spend taping, adhering and making sure I have all of the corners perfect, is triple what it just takes me to patiently cut in all of the lines, windows, moldings and corners. There are projects that tape is great for. I also think that masking gives most painters free hand in over painting and being sloppy. It takes less time overall and creates better results in just using good brushes, being appropriately patient and paying attention to what you are doing. If you can paint your nails, you can cut in around a window. If you can trim a hedge, you can get a clean line along the ceiling. If you over paint, take a clean damp rag and quickly wipe it away. If it leaves a "stain", wait till later to assess the true damage and, with the paint left over from the previous trim project" just touch it up with a small throw away brush. It's going to happen. Don't sweat the small stuff and over shadow the big picture. If you are too sloppy and impatient to cut in a straight line with a little practice, the floors don't stand a chance, so your life is probably a representation of this at the moment and save this project for your more mature self, and enjoy your frat house for a while longer.

Buy a color wheel from a paint store. They run about $10-14, and save you endless trips to the store for color chips. It will pay for itself it's first use and you will consider it your "go to" for decades to come.

Painting isn't just for moving in, it's equally important for moving out. It's amazing how a clean coat of paint eases the mind of a potential buyer. Fact is most people have a very pedestrian and emotional brain when looking for a new home. If they don't like the color, they shut down. If the property is dirty or looks uncared for , they back away. In this case covering the entire interior in a nice fresh, neutral shade can save you thousands in days on the market and even add bucks to your bottom line profit. In reality it is no more of a difficult fix for the new owner than for you, so you might as well reap the benefits, and sell faster. This one is not a question........just do it. I have staged many houses and besides the brand new builds, I don't believe there has been a single property that part of the process hasn't included some much needed deferred maintenance painting or covering some poor or dated color choices.

When selling your house, always stick with neutrals. Also think in tertiary colors. This is a color that is not strictly primary, which can tend to look too specific or juvenile. It will tend to lean more toward the color next too it on an ordinary color wheel. For instance, not just red, but red/orange. Even better yet, blue/green with a heavy undertone of brown or gray. It's easier on the eyes, blends with the most other colors and makes people less nervous..

This goes for the exterior as well. There's no better way to update the look of a house than a fresh coat of paint. It may seem like a daunting task, but like Grandpa said, "How do you eat an elephant?..........one bite at a time". You don't have to do it all in one day. Make it a project for an entire summer. Break it down into sections. Divide and conquer. To do great things, one must DO!

Get your butt off of the couch and DO something. You will be surprised what a new look will do for your attitude and a job well done will do for your self worth. The clean updated look to your home won't hurt the value of your house either. When in doubt, shades of black or white. Black always grounds a look and white always looks fresh and crisp. If you can't decide, gray always looks contemporary and sophisticated. Grays can have blue/black cool undertones or warm brown components. Be aware how that plays with the other tones and hues in your scheme. Keep in mind, gray always covers beautifully, generally in one coat when using a good quality paint. Gray is experiencing a ressurgence at the moment, but the right "tertiary" gray never truly goes out of style. This is one of many reasons to "gray it up".

For me, interior paining is less daunting than exterior. Interiors can be tackled in any season, with minimal equipment and if you want to change the color of a guest bedroom, you don't have to commit to doing the entire house. I've discussed the interior of this house on many occasions, but this is a true discussion about the exterior.

When we first moved into this house in '71, the front of the house was red and yellow alternating brick on the lower half and vertical redwood on the top. The entire remaining 3 sides were covered in good old white metal siding.

I can't find a full frontal of the house to show how the brick pattern started to go crazy and ruin my Dad's sense of symmetry, but it wasn't long that the brick was painted all white as well as a fresh coat on the siding, the concrete block garage and tool shed. All of the trim remained redwood until about my sophomore year in college. Sometime in the middle of the "yuppie" decade, about '85, Mom and her then partner Don covered the deteriorating redwood and entire garage and tool shed in a fabricated metal and painted an industrial gray/blue, again everything else remaining crisp white.

This is where I began the next phase of this house's life.

First the roof needed to be replaced. After much clean up and some minor changes in the roof lines for practicality and lighting, I chose a new dimensional shingle in shades of grays, black, and tans called "Storm" that luckily seemed to work well with the existing bluish gray paint color and still gave me clues and direction for a whole new look of more subtle, sophisticated and contemporary tertiary shades of warmer brown hued grays, taupes, and black.

I had to keep focus and open mind as stone was added to the front and for chimney repair as it added yet one more element of texture and color for cues to consider in paint colors.

I never really liked the bluish tint to the gray, so I decided to take it to a warmer taupe color that pulled from not only the roof but the stone as well. I painted the brick a very dark espresso brown to help ground the bottom of the house and bring in a substantial base color from both the roof and the stone veneers. The "collar" needed to match the "cuffs".

The addition of the gazebo and deck were stained a slightly lighter shade, with the front painted to match the house for continuity and balance.

The last step was to choose the color for the trim. . A fresh coat of paint does wonders for older windows doors and the remaining trim pulls the look together. I could have stayed with fresh, crisp white, but I knew that I wanted to update all of the storm doors and entries with black. Not a shiny cheap looking noir, but an upscale flat deep rich charcoal with a nice brown undertone to compliment the natural stone that still played off of the black in the roof. We started with the doors and I liked it so much decided to take a leap and see what it looked like on the windows. It was a winner, and the rest fell into place. The garage and tool shed were painted to match and besides a few accent updates to the barn, the exterior is finished.

Just a little extra hint for your outside space. Use artwork for special occasions to help bring your inside to your seasonal spaces. You can change it to suit the mood your are trying to create.

If you want to change your home, change your mood, and honestly change your perspective, PICK UP A BRUSH. You don't have anything to lose but some time and an irrational fear of failure. Paint can be changed with a little effort, and mistakes can be covered in a matter of seconds. It's good old "work therapy" and nobody ever regretted a job well done. It may not be a master self portrait, but it will be a picture of pride and accomplishment.