Note: Our heads are still spinning from the terrible tragedy in Connecticut on Friday. We’re sending lots of love to everyone up there and holding Clara close. Our friend Roo, who has three small children and only lives a few towns away from Sandy Hook wrote a post about how we can help, so for anyone looking for ways to make a small difference, here’s that link.
Some brick-painting happened in the sunroom…
Which we don’t think will surprise/sadden nearly anyone on the interweb since we heard so many war cries of “paint that brick!” after sharing our last sunroom post…
We even got a bunch of more passionate and detailed pleas like: “I’m never one for painting brick but that’s such a weird shape that’s cut off at the top and doesn’t look good from the living room at all… so paint that brick!”
This used to be the view from the couch that I stared at every. single. night. for the last 2+ years, so… I was ready.
So after considering everything from whitewashing it to distressing it (which would make it more of an accent then just letting it fall back and blend in) it was time to PAINT! THAT! BRICK! Feel free to shout that a la Ty Pennington’s MOVE! THAT! BUS!
As predicted, it looks a lot better from the living room now. Whew.
Oh and this view demonstrates why we didn’t feel like drywalling over the brick in the sunroom to hide it, since:
- that’s a lot of work/dust (plus it wouldn’t match up perfectly with the drywalled lip above it anyway)
- there’s still painted brick in the adjoined living room anyway
- we actually love the texture of painted brick, which we had on two walls of our first house’s den
Holy cow, check out the dollhouse in the two pictures above. Not a thing has moved in the almost-a-week between this paint job and that last picture. But the floor mat near the slider along with Clara’s Uglydoll are nowhere to be seen. Better remind Clara that the dollhouse is still there (and it’s a better toy than moving the floor mat around, haha). She’s been pretty into playing in the sunroom now that it’s not full of hazards and old furniture anymore, so maybe that has been taking the focus away from her “furniture rearranging skills” (aka: the dresser-and-bed-switching/throwing/hiding Olympics that her dollhouse provides).
Oh and we got a few questions about why we didn’t just clad the whole wall in wood or make some sort of rustic accent on the triangle above the brick, but the major thing that we’re trying to downplay about this room are all the crazy angles. See how the ceiling slopes waaaay to the right on that wall?
Well if you turn around it slopes to the left. So yes, it’s basically a spaceship of a room with a diagonal peak in the ceiling that slopes from corner to corner. As in it looks like someone glued an angular and modern room onto a flat little brick house. So we want to downplay those zany angles and help everything flow so it feels like it belongs here with the rest of the house. Which is why a nice blanket of gray paint over all the walls and ceilings was the name of the game.
For all of you visual folks, this is what it would look like (per some bad photoshop) if we had accented it somehow – with wood, brick, etc. See how it would emphasize that weird slope? Which would totally fit into a super modern house with other slopes and lofted rooms (like Gloria and Jay’s house on Modern Family), but we just didn’t think it would go with the rest of our non-slanty-or-futuristic house.
grease paint was the word. And in some insane gift from the home improvement gods, it only took two coats (brick suuuuucks up paint, so we thought it would take four, which is our usual experience with it). We didn’t use any sort of primer – since we didn’t back when we painted the brick in our den and that worked out for us – and as usual I wielded the brush (for getting into all of those cracks – yeah, there were about a million).
My name is Sherry and I paint cracks by the dozen. Meanwhile John rolled using a nappy roller, which helps to coat textured surfaces more than a super smooth one does.
We actually got nearly the whole thing done during a Clara nap, so you can go ahead and file this under “Christmas miracle.” And my hope for anyone else who is painting brick is that it’s as quick and painless as this job was. Even all that crack painting could have been muuuuch worse (painting every crack twice beats painting every crack four times, if you know what I mean).
Here’s what they looked like before I got to them with the brush, but after John rolled. They were sneaky little buggers.
And just for fun, here’s what Burger does while we work away in the background (don’t mind my inside-out-sleepwear-as-painting-clothes). #hubbahubba
The good news is that the nice even coverage that we eventually accomplished made a huge difference. Now when you’re in the room it feels more cohesive and a lot less chopped up. And we think adding some nice art to that wall will further take the focus away from any difference between drywall and painted brick (our first house’s den had two walls of paneling and two walls of brick, but once it was all painted with furniture and art and curtains it was barely noticeable).
Just to save you some scrolling, here’s the full after of that wall again. It’s definitely a lot of gray, but we’re just getting started…
And here’s what it looked like before.
Why didn’t we do this sooner? Over two years of staring at a weird U-shaped brick blob in the next room is two years too long.
I can’t wait to hang some art on the brick wall to make that off-center window fit right in. Sing it with me: “white frames, white frames, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” Thought you guys would like some Inner Circle on a Monday morning. No? How about some more bad photoshop then? And actually, I think we might work some wood frames/items into the mix too. Might be fun and eclectic.
But even without any frames, it’s a definite improvement just to have broken out some fresh paint. Basically blanketing this room in taupey-gray has done five things:
- it draws the eye out the windows to the pretty trees outside (the windows/view are definitely the stars of this room)
- it downplays all the crazy ceiling angles and the choppy-looking brick-cut-off conundrum by unifying everything
- it allows things like the colorful cushions on the daybed to stand out in a way that they couldn’t when they had to compete with the dark brick
- it makes the floor look a lot less yellowed and old (brings out the gray undertones instead of the yellow ones)
- it makes the white window trim and molding pop like crazy, so the room feels crisp and updated
Of course we still have a long way to go when it comes to the furniture arrangement. We’re just using things we already have in the meantime, but eventually I’m sure a lot of things will get moved/upgraded/painted/etc. And we still have to bring in a rug, art, and all that jazz. And don’t mind that sad wrinkly sheet on the daybed of those orange slabs of wood along each slider where it meets the floor. Let’s just say that a ton of things are just waiting to be “attended to.” But the middle makes no sense anyway! Haha. What did you guys do this weekend? Can you tell I’m all jittery and weird? We’re hosting Christmas dinner for the first time ever (for fifteen people – four of which are under the age of four!) so it should be a whole lotta crazy. As expected, I can’t wait. You know I love the crazy…
Psst- To see this little sunroom makeover from the beginning, click here to read about phase 1 (planning, furniture placement) and here for the details on phase 2 (painting the lofted room and ceiling).
Psssst- Speaking of paint, one of the most freeing things about writing our book was that it allowed us to chose paint colors that don’t necessarily have to fit right into our house, so we’re over here chatting about stretching our color comfort zone.
Why yes that was a Lionel Richie reference. You’re welcome.
It was time to get some paint up in this heezy. And by heezy, I mean sunroom… hence the furniture being all piled in the center.
But before we get to painting, let’s talk about the half-brick wall in this room – since you guys offered up lots of thoughts and suggestions in the last sunroom post. Some had suggested covering the drywalled portion in brick veneer or reclaimed wood.
Unfortunately the dry wall sits in front of the brick, so there’d be this weird lip between the real brick and the veneer/wood (so we’d prefer not to add anything up top to make it stick out further like an awkward above-the-window overbite). We’re actually leaning towards either trying to distress/fade the brick or straight up painting it (like the same brick that was already painted by the previous owners in our living room, especially since it already has some splatters on it from the previous paint job).
See how the last owners of this house had already painted the wall of brick in the living room (on the other side of the sunroom doors)? Since they’re both in the same sight line, we think painting that small u-shaped expanse of it in the sunroom may be the most cohesive solution – so the sunroom feels more connected to the rest of the house.
But before doing anything rash, we wanted to give the brick the benefit of the doubt – so we decided not to take any action on it yet. First we wanted to paint the rest of the old yellowy-cream colored walls in the room to see if that influenced our decision about the brick at all.
So we readied the rest of the room by moving out almost everything, which turned our living room into a temporary disaster zone. This shot below is for all of you who love the chaos of DIY. Oh yeah, it spreads to at least a few other rooms when you’re painting one…
Burger didn’t seem the mind the temporary influx of extra pillows to curl up on. This is his “excuse me dude with the camera, someone’s trying to nap here” face.
And thankfully Clara was on a play-date with my parents, so we could dive in and do as much as we could without worrying about her getting into paint or tripping over the massive pile o’ chaos on the living room while we painted.
But back to the sunroom. Painting is one of those projects we can practically do in our sleep by now… except for when it involves 12 foot ceilings. That was a new challenge for us. But we couldn’t live with those white ceilings and those yellowed old cream walls anymore (yes, they were two different colors) so we dove right in.
How? We just busted out our ladder and go to work.
Oh yeah, forgot to tell you the paint color. We went with our current favorite: Rockport Gray by Benjamin Moore (which is also in our bedroom, and is actually more of a warm brownish-gray than a cold cement gray). I’ll explain why we made that choice when we get to the after pictures, so just hang on for the time being. I realize it’s not much to look at when all you see so far is the edged corners…
Edging actually took a long time – even with us both doing it – since this room is basically all corners and windows. And if I do say so myself, I’m not half bad at it. Yep, there may be a new edging sheriff in town. Take that Deputy $herdog. Ok, I take that back. Sherry can pretty much lap me when it comes to edging. So she did all of the edging around all of the doors and windows except for the few windows up near the ceiling, which I tackled on the ladder.
Once all of the edging was done, Sherry did a second coat around all the doors and windows while I took to the pole. Wait, that sounded bad. I’ve actually never painted with a roller that’s attached to a pole before. Even when doing other ceilings (8ft ones, that is) I usually just stand on a stool. And I gotta say I was impressed with how relatively easy it was. Granted it did get tiring to hold your arms and neck up like that for so long, but it wasn’t terrible.
But the rod extending pole couldn’t help us get the area where the fan attached to the ceiling (where we needed to be more exact than a roller ever could be). And my ladder couldn’t get me high enough to edge that area by hand either. So that’s when Sherry and I whipped up this contraption. Yup, it’s a brush taped to a pole. We’re true professionals around here.
If you weren’t convinced of my edging prowess before, just check out this magic going on. That’s what we call painting with surgical precision. Although I realized I should’ve taken a detailed after shot of how awesome this actually turned out. Seriously, it worked like a charm, guys.
It took us two coats and a total of about seven hours across two days, so it certainly wasn’t our fastest paint job in the world – but we’re really happy with the results.
Trust us: despite the warm gray color, this room is far from gloomy. Light floods in (which is one of the reasons we knew we wouldn’t regret going with a darker tone in there) and even the tiled floors feel less yellow now that the walls aren’t the same creamy-bisque tone. Although we’re the first to admit that the room still has a looong way to go until it’s a functional, finished room (remember how the middle makes no sense?).
And if you’re wondering about the two blue stools having a hushed conversation in the corner together (stool meeting is now in session!), we’re just experimenting with some layout ideas. The stools are helping us picture maybe tucking a small cafe table in that corner, but we’re not married to anything yet. We’ll keep you posted!
Oh, and I promised I’d explain the rationale behind Rockport Gray a bit more so here we go:
- It really makes all the white trim in the room stand out, so it feels crisp in a way that the old yellowed cream walls didn’t (this paint choice did the same trim-crisping thing in our bedroom, which we loved about the color)
- The room has a pretty crazy ceiling (it slopes away from the house and up, like a rocket ship) so we thought a moodier and darker color might downplay the strange angles and make it all blend together more than it did with the previous white ceiling and creamy-yellow walls
- As we mentioned a few photos up, the tile floor feels a lot less monochromatic and yellowed since the walls are no longer the same exact tone (it felt like a beige box with an oddly shaped white top before)
- We also thought it’d tie in well with the living room’s Moonshine walls as well as the grellow walls of the kitchen (both of which you see from the sunroom – so whatever we chose had to go with both)
- In the spring, summer, and fall (aka, any other season than the bleak and bare one that we’re currently in) we want the greenery outside to be the star, so we thought picking a moody not-crazy-or-compete-y color would keep from overshadowing it
- The brownish-gray helps us camouflage that similarly colored heating/cooling unit a bit
We also thought the new wall color picked up the tone of the mortar too, just in case we decided to keep the brick as is.
And now that the room is painted, here’s where we stand on the brick: we’re not sold on leaving it as-is. It still feels really awkward to us since the top end of the drywall above it rests oddly on the window (like it’s squishing it or something). And since there’s already a whole wall of painted brick to the right of the slider (in the living room) it still feels awkwardly disjointed from the rest of the house in a way that a painted brick wall would not.
We did think about trying to gray-wash it a little first (with watered down paint, stain, or even by rubbing some cement on it) just to see if that helps to tone down the red – as demonstrated by my poor Photoshop attempt below…
…but that still feels like not-as-seamless-of-a-solution-as-painting-it like the brick in the adjoined living room. So that might be where we end up.
As always, we promise to keep you posted! Oh and speaking of future planning in here, we’re putting more thought into the window-seat-under-the-window-wall idea, so that should be exciting if we decide to go for it. You know we’ll share all the details as we creep along.
Oh and as much work as we still have to do in this room, I must say that this has definitely reconfirmed for me (once again) that painting a room is an awesome way to make it feel like it’s yours. Our sunroom suddenly doesn’t feel like a forgotten project-room stuck on the side of our house, it’s actually starting to feel like a place we can hang out on a lazy Sunday – which is exactly how we used the sunroom in our first house, so it has us all sorts of excited about the possibilities. What did you guys do this weekend? Was there any painting or planning? Any other pole-related projects going on?
Dudes, the deed has been done! After years (yes nearly two years!) of planning to upgrade every last old brass door knob in our entire house, we finally got ‘er done. Strike up the band! I can’t hear you. Can I at least get some cow bell?
Yup, we removed 19 knobs with the intent of oil-rubbed bronzing (aka: ORBing) those babies. First we tried this method with a few exterior knobs, handles, and even a doorknocker a while back, just to see how they would hold up before doing the whole shebang (and I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t really have energy for the whole shebang up front). Baby steps.
We figured that since those exterior knobs/handles/knockers still look great after a year and a half of being exposed to the elements (remember we did an update on them here?), that bodes well for all 18 (yes 18!) of the interior knobs that we finally got around to removing and ORBing. But we’re so happy with the results! Totally worth the trouble.
Here are the steps we followed:
- we removed all 18 knobs with a screwdriver, being careful to keep them paired up (we didn’t want to forget what went with what when we had to reinstall them)
- using super high grit paper (400) we sanded every last knob to rough them up so the paint would stick (if you see small scratches don’t worry, they’ll be covered with paint- but you definitely want to use high grit paper because low grit can leave deep/big scratches that show through)
- then I wiped down each knob with liquid deglosser (we like Crown’s Next Liquid Deglosser since it’s low-VOC) and laid them all out on a piece of cardboard (with them facing up, not lying on their sides – which sometimes meant piercing through the cardboard with their back parts to make them stand up).
- I used Universal All-Surface Spray Paint (by Rostoleum) in the oil-rubbed bronze finish. This has a built-in primer and sticks extremely well to things – especially metal – so if you’re contemplating using another brand, you might need to spring for a separate primer to apply first if it’s not already included.
- When it came to how I sprayed, I just misted everything from all angles. To avoid nasty drips and runny paint, doing several light coats with about 10 minutes of drying time between them was the charm. Mine were so thin it took five coats and I kept the can moving around the whole time – like you’d mist your mane with Aqua-Net. I also squatted on the ground from all sides to be sure I got all of the exposed parts of the knob completely covered.
- We let everything dry for a full 48 hours before reinstalling them (didn’t want to mark up the finish while wrestling them back into place). After 12 hours outside on a nice day (you don’t want to spray when it’s too cold – check the can for temperature guidelines) we brought them inside to the sunroom so they could continue curing for the rest of the time since it gets too cold outside at night for the paint to dry properly outside.
When it comes to a time breakdown, it took about thirty minutes to remove all the knobs, about two hours to sand and degloss them all, and about an hour to spray paint them. Then after 48 hours of drying time we reinstalled them in all in about half an hour. So the total time spent for what look like new ORB doors = 3 hours and 30 minutes (plus a few passive days of drying time).
And it only took one can of spray paint (actually less than that, since we were using an already-open leftover can). So that’s a lot cheaper than the $185 (!!!) we would have spent at Home Depot buying the exact same knobs in their oil-rubbed bronze finish. Our verdict: so happy with them. Wish we did this about two years sooner. Seriously it wasn’t even that big of a project (in our heads we kept putting it off because messing with every door in the house feels intimidating, but honestly you just remove a few screws, note which ones go together, and they’re all back in a few days later).
Oh and here’s an installation tip for ya: we found that using some painter’s tape while re-installng them kept us from scratching the newly applied finish (then just remove the tape when you’re done and it’s all good).
As for our door hinges, many of them already look ORBed (they’re old and darkened and not bright and shiny brass like the knobs were) or are painted over in white like the door from the previous owners, so we don’t have bright brass hinges clashing with the dark knobs or anything. But if you do you could probably switch them out for a few bucks per door. ORBed doorknobs are muuuch more expensive to buy than hinges or door plates, which is the good news (so I probably wouldn’t attempt to spray paint hinges like the doorknobs, since I’d worry all that grinding over time would make the paint peel and scrape off).
And as for the latch strike plates, a few of those already look ORBed like the hinges (just from darkening over time, which for some reason didn’t seem to happen to the shiiiiny brass knobs themselves) but a few were still brassy and bright, like this one:
…so we picked four of them up from Home Depot for $5 total (they’re a whole lot cheaper than knobs!). Our reasoning for buying new ones to replace any super brassy ones that stood out instead of spray painting them ORB as well, was because the latch bangs against them a lot, so we thought they might scratch over time (whereas the knobs themselves don’t grind against anything else that’s metal, which must by why they hold up so well – even when they’re outside).
So there it is. A “dude get on that already” project that has been in the making for a long arse time. Feels pretty good to check that off! And just as I suspected, every single room/closet that we put them back on looked a little posher and less “ew, eighties brass”-ish than it did before. Hooray for small upgrades that make your whole house feel a little more crisp, new, and loved. What have you guys been checking off your to-do list? Does it involve paint? Sandpaper? A whole lotta procrastination beforehand?