Thursday, 22 August 2013

On Painting

When I was 17 I got my first retail job at a paint & decorating store.  I didn't realize how much I'd love it.  I bought my first paintbrush then and learned to use it from some of the wizened painters.  I have since used that brush on every room I have painted.

My First Paintbrush

When I was 27 Andy and I moved to our condo when we were still engaged.  We were renting at first and didn't want to paint.  We made the place home in other ways.  The colors are nice (classy looking tan, different tan, red dining room, more different tan-- it all goes very well with our wood floors) but I found we were constantly checking out brighter and brighter light bulbs. Picture us in the hardware store:

"Only 75000 lumens!?  How will I read a book in that dim light!? I can hardly see to find a shirt in the morning!"

Duh.  The paint is too dark.  So we picked out a white color.  It will look clean and open and our artwork will stand out.  We're going to paint the whole place this color:

Behr's Gallery White

I set out to paint the easiest spaces to tackle because I have precious few hours where O is at daycare and I still have the day-to-day stuff to accomplish.  Here is how to pick the easiest-to-paint room:

The easiest space to paint is not necessarily the smallest (ie bathroom)

Consider the following:

  1. How much furniture is up against the wall?
  2. How many things are mounted on the wall? (ie what do you need to take down and then put back again?)
  3. How many door/window openings are there?
  4. How many corners are there?
  5. Is there a logical place to start and stop?
These questions will help you weigh out how tricky the paint job will be.

Here are some other shortcuts I like to use when I can:
  1. Paint everything the same color, if not with the exact same paint.  No kidding, ceiling, walls, trim.  When you can paint everything the same, you don't have to be as picky with where the paint goes.  
  2. The flatter your paint is (not glossy), the more imperfections it hides.  Invest in a decent can of paint which will still provide some durability.
  3. Skip the painters' tape and learn to use a brush.  I like results like RIGHT NOW and taping for hours does not deliver for me.
  4. Have some baby wipes handy for splatters, drops, whatever.  A drop of latex paint can be picked off when dry, but a smear can't as easily.  It's best to wipe it up straight away, and baby wipes do the job so easily.
I went with painting the hallway.  Lots of impact, no furniture against the walls and a not-too-big space for me to tackle first.  I finished the second coat this morning.  

It looks and feels like we just took all the blackout curtains off all of the windows.  White paint is underrated.

Have any painting tips/tricks that you'd like to share?  I still have every other room in my place to do!


  1. Well, this is fun. I have always loved that "paint expert" is part of your identity. I am curious, do you feel that going with a light and bright colour can still be as effective as white? For example, yellows and lighter greens? I agree that you need brightness to feel and enhance the light in your space, but I am also a colour junkie (which we all know). There are some areas in the house that I am considering repainting and it is nice to have your perspective. Bon courage!

    1. Jenn, in a word: yes. I have never been one to shy away from colour (in fact, I view this switch to white as a bold colour move). I find that the crisper the colour, the more brightness it will add to the space, whereas muddier colours add warmth. I think your house is beautifully decorated, so I know your colour choices will be inviting and uplifting!! When choosing a colour, just keep in mind that it will end up being a bit more itself when you do a whole room. A crisp green will be a bit more green when you have it on all the walls, for example. And in the end, it's just paint! (though I don't envy painting those slats in your house...) Oh! Another tidbit: a lighter color tends to cover better than medium & dark colors. It probably took 3 or 4 coats to get my dining room red, but I'll still only need 2 to make it white.