Jul 25, 2010

New Paint = New Life

We here at the Prairie House love grey. Almost every room has a splash/wall/accent of grey. It highlights the teak trim and panelling well and instantly modernizes the original elements that seemed dated against the existing nicotine yellow colour. We had three desperate areas requiring painting left in the house: the kitchen (nicotine cream with wallpaper); the hallway (6 layers of wallpaper over flamingo pink and jail cell brown); and the upstairs bathroom (sage green - with pink fixtures - this one kills my soul). Alas, the bathroom cannot be tackled until the reno in the late summer?/fall?

Through a friend at Lily's preschool, we hired Janet from Janet's Painting. She's a one woman show originally from Newfoundland who prides herself on her meticulous painting and edging without tape or some kind of fancy instrument (says she was born with a surgeon's hand). She also leaves every job spotless and nary a drop of paint to clean up afterwards. And naturally, like many of the trades we have hired, an excellent storyteller. Word of mouth only so please contact me for information and I will happily pass along...

The hallway has been Jason's albatross. While we originally thought it would be a good idea to remove the layers of wallpaper it took him 5 whole months of scraping (didn't work), every recommended wallpaper remover in Calgary (nope), this cutty thing that put holes in wallpaper to allow water to soak through (ok but ssslllllooooowww), and finally a rented wallpaper remover (MESSY but effective) to remove the wallpaper. Then, during what I found out through first hand experience to be Calgary's monsoon season, he had to patch and sand, taping up every entryway with plastic, ET style. Try entertaining two kids for 6 hours when it's dumping rain, hail the size of golf balls, cracking fork lightening with a splash of tornado warnings. Good times.

After all said and done, every stage just made the hallway look worse. So we hired Janet to pretty 'er up.

I had originally selected a very light shade of grey called Intense White, (neither white nor intense) from Benjamin Moore*.
Design challenge #62 was to retain the original faux concrete block on the bottom half and make it look more modern. So I figured it best to paint out the entire wall in this light grey. Well, after Janet finished one coat on the entire hallway (and it's a big hallway), I didn't like it. The faux concrete block on the base looked too stark, too much like primer, and it appeared as though it was floating. So I was forced to do something I swore I would never do. Change my mind.

Hubby and I decided on a darker, creamy grey called Escarpment,also from BM, which has a touch of a purple undertone. Janet, while clearly not impressed, was very obliging.

This colour works well with the other greys in the house and really helped to ground the wall. Lily, who loves to just hang around and chat to contractors, told her that she thought it looked exactly the same as it was before. Janet told her not to tell her mom that. ha ha.

Anyways - here's the final results. While we used the same tones of colours (light on top, dark on the bottom), I am very happy with the end result. As a final touch, we will be adding a small wooden chair rail painted out in the same colour as the upper portion of the wall.

The hallway when we moved in. We kept the cute little door bell (originall)

The second type of wallpaper. The original owners just recovered this paper/paint stamped wallpaper over and over and over and over again. Paper wallpaper is NOT easy to remove. Rented wallpaper remover is the best option.

Here's the original wall colour - Carnation by Pittsburgh Paints. Imagine this wall, but covered in scrape marks, remnant bits of wallpaper and drips marks from wallpaper removal. Then imagine living with this for 5 MONTHS!!

AFTER - well not quite. But thought I'd show the wall before the base was painted out a darker grey (upstairs). The ceiling patterning is exquisite. Will show you in detail once I get my frickin' camera back.

As I mentioned, Janet also painted our kitchen, which looks absolutely divine. I would show you pictures but hubby is currently on a Shaw sponsored "event" at the Eagle Point Fishing Lodge, near Prince Rupert, BC and has the camera. He and a selected few took the private Shaw jet up there. I told him that a private jet wasn't the most eco friendly option. He told me to put a cork in it.

In lieu of some gorgeous shots of the 'After', here are the paint chips. As a reminder, we painted the walls in the Wickham Gray (Benjamin Moore) and the ceiling in a slightly lighter shade of Sea Crystal (Pratt & Lambert).

Coming up - The downstairs bathroom!!


*Paint chips from Colorcharts.org - which I find to be the most authentic colours for your computer. I use this website for historic colour analyses at my office.

Jul 5, 2010

Republic of Pink

I have a bit of a love-stuck relationship with my pink upstairs bathroom at the moment*. Sure, I'm proud that we've dug in our heels and kept the pink but stuck because there are certain design elements in the bathroom that I am not sure will translate well to a more modern audience.

El Pinko is nearly original. Cast iron tub (pink), tub faucet, pink splattered tile, toilet (pink again), wood vanity, mirror, lighting, hardware, trim and vent. As far as I can tell, the enamel pink sink and tap and cream vinyl floor were replaced.

Original toilet with 'stunning' wooden toilet seat. Wood + toilet seat = worst invention ever. Love the angled lines of the toilet base though. Note broken toilet lid and shelf over toilet that appears to be blocking any type of access into toilet bowl. Nothing beats needing a sledgehammer to fix a toilet.

Sweet little original chrome taps by Mueller. Company no longer exists. Plumbateria in Calgary carries a good selection of discontinued or hard to find plumbing parts. Unfortunately no Mueller parts from that era. Ebay is the next best option.

Cute little chrome soap holder and good closeup of original pink/white tiles surrounding the bathtub.

Original vent. We had this same style vent re-chromed for the downstairs bathroom. It looks amazing. Maybe when we finally get a sink downstairs sometime in the next 10 years I'll be able to post pictures of it.

We've been boggled by the faux marble laminate counter. When we first moved in, it was covered in blue Mac Tac. I know, I know. Who would be that mean to a counter? After removing we found an intact, but quite water damaged original cream? white? laminate counter. There's a portion that extends over the toilet and it appeared that should anything go wrong with the toilet, that we'd have to smash out the counter (see first picture). Lucky for us, the toilet chain broke 5 minutes after our first summer guests arrived for us to test it out** Awesome.

With hammer in hand, Jason reluctantly headed up to the bathroom to conduct his first unplanned demo while I huddled in the kitchen. He came down a few minutes later with the over-the-toilet section in his hand and a smile on his face. Turns out this section just slides out. Clever non?

So our big dilemma? Do we replace with laminate to preserve the original material and design of the counter or replace with a material that will glam up the pink? Glamming it up means losing the portion over the toilet. Bottom line with the bathroom is to ensure its 'survival' after we sell. Prior to this fun discovery, we were going to replace the counter with a local recycled glass counter from Crystal Crete, based out of Red Deer - 100% local and green. I keep flip flopping between them and laminate.

This bathroom will have the highest level of restoration in our house. Here's the plan as it stands:

  • Repaint cast iron tub (pink)
  • Restore chrome tub taps
  • Retain soap and toilet paper holders
  • Chrome vent
  • Retain wood vanity - to be reclad with birch veneer and new chrome handles from Rejuvenation (dish cabinet knob with star back)
  • Refinish mirrored cupboard and replace cracked/degraded mirrors with new
  • Retain lighting
  • Refinish door and retain chrome door handle
  • Repaint toilet (pink)
  • Replace completely rusted out sink with repainted replica
  • Paint walls and original trim

  • Replace cream vinyl floor with white oval stone tile floor (it's so fabulous)
  • New sink tap
  • Counter????? Help!

We recently completed the refinishing of the bathtub. It had actually dulled to a peachy colour and was pretty dinged up. We used Granor Bath Renovations, based in Calgary. Grant Sayles, the owner, is excellent. He's been in the business for a long time, stands by his work and has some juicy stories about people's obsessions with their fixtures in Calgary. Make sure you're home when he's working - hours of entertainment. Grant also provided us with a re-finished toilet lid and a 50's pink toilet seat from his collection. The toilet seat doesn't match completely but is good enough until we can do this: Beamis Color Direct Toilet Seats For the whole shebang, including repainted tub, toilet lid, repainted exact Crane sink to replace rusted sink (from Restore), it cost us $800. Grant guarantees his work for 5 years and has already come back to buff out the tub at no charge. In the end, much cheaper than demo'ing and buying a new tub and far gentler on the earth.

For those who are interested, Grant apparently has a pretty good collection of fixtures at his house. Best to contact him to see if he has what you are looking for in stock. And always keep in mind that if you find a fixture you really like at the local new and used and it's burgundy or lavender, that he can likely repaint to match your bathroom.

Here's a play by play of the re-finishing which took about 6 hours total:

A layer of acid is smeared on the bath to remove the paint. Also good to clear clogs in the drain...

A base coat and sealer is sprayed onto the bath

The bath is sprayed in this pretty pink and left to dry for 3 days. We should have planned for this as we had no shower at the time. Anyone for a dip in the kitchen sink?

Before: Dull, peachy and pocky (also for those lead fearing folk, apparently you can tell if lead is leaching in a bath by how dull the colour of the bath is. Which is why we had re-finishing as top on the list)

After: Shiny, happy, and pink! This was after the bath was buffed out a couple of weeks ago. The bath now always looks this good. Well, as good as pink can look...

Next on the list for this bathroom is to fix up this vanity (recladding in birch veneer), doing away with the cracked and rotting laminate counter, replacing the now gushing sink and pipes with the repainted version (this will happen in the next couple of days) and replacing damaged mirrors with new. I will be painting the room some shade of grey (naturally). Floor will follow probably later this year.

Current state of the vanity. Note wood under laminate showing.

Toilet with it's 'new' toilet seat that doesn't quite match but is leagues better than the wooden one. See the fancy tupperware container catching the leak? So classy.


*Apart from the fact that every single fixture is currently leaking/dripping/gushing at this moment (and our plumber's in Edmonton - thank god for tupperware).

** The downstairs toilet had just been re-installed the day before after 4 months with only 1 bathroom.