Around a month ago I was washing the exterior windows of our house. As I worked I noticed that some of the siding was discolored, some of the trim beginning to flake. It didn’t look awful, but the wear was apparent. Later that evening the husband and I were sitting on the patio and I wondered aloud if we should consider painting the house. I wasn’t thinking this summer as the schedule is rather full. The husband starting talking about the possibility of painting this summer and doing it all ourselves.
We have a 2300 sf house. It’s really too big for two people. When we married the husband owned a little 1950’s ranch home on the other side of town. I moved in, decorated, made it home and we lived there for a little over a year. Then, we decided to “casually” look at houses. We were “just looking around.” Lesson: never “just look around.” Because you will find and fall in love with a home. That’s what happened to us. When I walked through the door of our now-home I immediately knew where I would put the Christmas tree. Bad news. My real-estate agent friend, who was showing us the home, said she knew we were in trouble because it was the first home I viewed with barely saying a word.
We still love the house. And the property. But, we’d like (down the road) a smaller home, a little more sunlight (our home has beautifully large, custom-sized window that let in great light, so you don’t realize that the property is relatively shaded until you live here for a while).
Anyways, the house is big. It’s also a tri-level and the high exterior part is, well, high. We discussed those facts as we sat on the patio. I believe we were sipping wine. Seems like some of the best ideas come from sitting on a patio on a warm summer evening sipping wine. The husband suggested painting one side of the house each year. Which sounded like it might have merit (though I’d prefer not to paint every summer), until I mentioned that I’d like to change the color. It would look goofy to have different color depending upon what side of the house you were looking at, so that idea was cast aside (painting a side a year, not changing the color).
We also recalled painting the exterior of our first home (the little 50’s ranch). That house was only 1100 square feet but we spent the bulk of a summer painting (and cursing). Now, we also had to do a lot of prep (and scraping of too many layers of paint to count). But, it was not fun. I repeat…..not…..fun.
After a while the husband said, “Maybe we should just get some bids.” Music to my ears. Truly. I may have heard music.
Or, maybe that was just the wine.
We agreed that we do not want to spend our nights and weekends painting. Life is short. And, we don’t know how we would get to the high parts of the house. And did you get the part about not wanting to spend our nights and weekends painting? When the husband suggested getting bids I did a little happy dance in my head.
So, we did. Two bids, both from painters referred to us by people that we know. We selected the cheaper of the two (of course). Then, the real challenge: choosing paint. Choosing paint is serious business. This is our entire house. You can’t take it back. You can’t re-do (well, you can, but that’s not a reasonable option).
One of the painters had left a big paint fan to assist us in the color selection process. I was dazzled.
So many colors to choose from. Thousands. Every color of the rainbow and every permutation of that color. And then some. I knew I wanted green. There are a lot of greens to choose from.
The house, before it was painted, was a pleasant light grey. The trim was a darker grey and the accent even darker (another reason we liked the idea of someone else painting it. If we were doing it ourselves no way would we have done one color trim and another color accent). I knew that I wanted something that blended well with the natural environment (unlike the brick red house that sits behind ours. We can’t see it in the summer, but when the leaves fall off the trees I swear that house moves across our property line and presents its brick red self for my viewing pleasure). Not brown. Not grey. Definitely not blue or yellow. And just say no to pink or purple.
The husband headed to the paint store for samples: Liveable Green, Grassland, Ancient Marble… Five or six of them. When my parents were visiting I painting big strips of each color on the back of the house. We sat on the patio (drinking wine) and watched the paint dry and discussed. The front runner, Softened Green, was quickly identified.
Then, trim. The trim was a struggle. Light or dark? Green or brown or white? We cast aside the idea of white because the window casings are white and it all would have blended together. At first I thought something in the khaki family, but I really wasn’t sure. So, I stopped by the paint store for assistance. Specialty paint store…paint is their business. I explained to the nice young man that I needed some help choosing trim colors. The nice young man apologetically explained that he didn’t know anything about color, that he just mixed paint.
I was on my own.
I brought home three or four samples of khaki-esque colors. They all flopped. I returned to the paint fan and began studying the darker tones on the strip that the base color was on. Back to the paint store. Three or four more samples, these green. And, yes, I am aware that the price of paint samples begins to add up when one buys so many.
Back home I pretty quickly identified a dark green for the accent, Secret Garden. I struggled with the trim, but finally settled on Artichoke. I felt good about the base color, fairly good about the accent, stomach churningly uncertain about the trim.
Notice how the conversation has turned from “we” (meaning the husband and I) to “I”. The husband’s opinion was definitely sought in the whole paint selection process. And he would come out and nod his head when I would say, “I don’t really like this one…it’s too yellow. And this one is too…” But, shades…well, shades don’t really exist (or maybe they simply don’t matter) to him. Green is green. There is no blue-green, grey-green, yellow-green. It’s green. I think he got to the point where he just wanted me to quit agonizing (and buying paint samples) and make up my mind.
A few days after sending our paint selection to the painter we came home to find the house power washed. The day after that, the windows were covered with plastic, the drain pipes removed and the gutters covered with paper. It’s eery, and a bit claustrophobic, to be in a house that has all of the windows covered in plastic. On the third day the base color was done. It was pretty! I wish I had taken pictures of the painting stages, but I didn’t think about it, so you just get the finished product.
On the fourth day it rained a bit, so they didn’t come out. I was trying not to hyperventilate. I remained anxious about the trim. Then it was the weekend, and I had to wait until Monday. On Monday the trim was painted. Artichoke was a good choice! I breathed a sigh of relief. It looked really good. Tuesday they applied Secret Garden to the accent. It looks amazing!! Not just good…amazing! Like, “Why didn’t we paint this house green years ago,” amazing.
See for yourself. This is before:
This is after:
The only question that remains: what, exactly, am I to do with all of these paint samples?