Slow progress…and my messy life.

When I was a toddler, I was notorious for making messes.  I was the baby whose highchair sat on a plastic drop cloth.  On spaghetti night (my favorite!) I ate dinner in little more than a diaper, and I was taken straight from the highchair to the tub.  I would have spaghetti in places my parents wouldn’t have thought possible, including in my hair.

Since then, things have gotten better, but, if I’m being completely honest, I never grew out of the mess making.  I rarely eat without dropping food on myself.  I can’t cook without creating chaos in the kitchen.  I am positively incapable of doing barn chores without turning myself into an absolute hot mess (and “hot” is probably wildly inaccurate).

So you guys can maybe imagine how painting turns out for me.

Two days ago at a restaurant:
“You have a mark on your face…?”
“Oh…I know.”

Yesterday at work:
“So what color are you painting your cabinets?”
*I search over my arms for a second, find a relatively large swath of paint, and point.*
“That color.”

So far, I have sacrificed two shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of jeans to the painting gods.  I have found paint in my hair, but only once so far.  I have also gotten paint on the floor, the countertops, a mirror, and the walls.  (As well as on various limbs I  can’t seem to scrub hard enough.)

But…so far…I am digging the new cabinet color.  When I finish, which is a while off with my schedule, I will show all of you, but in the meantime, if I happen to cross your mind and you wonder what I’m up to, there’s a really good chance it’s painting…


DIY: Renovating the kitchen

So, as you all know, we have been undertaking massive renovations on not one, but three houses.  Right now, the most important to me is the main house at the farm.  It isn’t terribly functional yet, and it is the one we’re planning to live in.  As such, we’ve kept busy with constant projects.

The thing is, there is a bizarre-o event that takes place when your house is updated: Suddenly, the rooms you thought were fine, the one you thought you could deal with, start to look shabby.  In my case, that room is the kitchen.

Originally, we thought we would use some of the equity in our Heights house, once it sold, to re-do the kitchen.  Later, when realizing the inherent troubles that come with attempting to heat such a large house with propane, it became obvious that the reasonable thing to do would be to use the money to put in geothermal heating.  Given that gutting and reconstructing a new kitchen will probably cost us our arms, legs, and firstborn child, I decided to deal with the kitchen as-is.  It became the “one day” project.  One day, when we have less debt and fewer projects that HAVE to be done, I will get a new kitchen.  I have no issue with that, but the more we updated around the kitchen, the more dated and out of place the kitchen started to look.

In addition, it isn’t terribly functional for my purposes.  The oven works, but is quite small.  The stovetop has one working burner.

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That’s when the crazy voice inside of my head–let’s call her my Inner DIYer (ala Mother Hen’s Inner Comedienne )or Di–began to follow me into the kitchen.  Every time I crossed the kitchen threshold, she was there.

I’m pretty sure I first met my Inner DIYer when I was seven, and she convinced me to cut my own bangs.  That turned out about as well as you might imagine.  Since then, she has gotten me into a lot of trouble…

“You know what would be nice in here???”

“What?” I mumbled, paying very little attention to her and sorting through likely the millionth llama halter that I probably don’t need.  (Hopefully I will check “donate extra llama halters” off of my list eventually, but at the moment, it’s just one more thing I need to do.)

I have to be honest, it’s dangerous to let Di talk to much.  She has big ideas that will quickly unleash chaos.

“A coffee bar.”


“But why???  All you would need is a small island, and like, a few other things, but it wouldn’t be that hard…probably.”

“Because you’re pointing to the washer/dryer…”

“Oh yeah.  Those would have to move, which, by the way, is totally cool because you don’t want house guests to see your dirty underwear on the way to the sunroom ANYWAY!  Besides, think about how bad your barn clothes smell!  Do you really want that in your KITCHEN!  Your food is here.”

I glanced up.  She had a point.  I mean, who wants dirty underwear in their kitchen…and my barn clothes are pretty bad…and Jeremiah’s shoeing clothes are way worse.  Gross…

Di grinned.  She is excellent at reading the room and always knows when to push an issue.

“Know what else?  If you knocked down the wall in front of the washer/dryer, you could put in a breakfast nook.”

“What about the coffee bar?”

She shrugged.  “It will probably still fit.  Or you can just put it in the sunroom.  You’ll be repainting, right?”

“This room?  No.”

“Because you’re in love with the orange and blue floral wallpaper?”

“Because it would require me to REMOVE the orange and blue floral wallpaper.”

“But just think of how good it would look.  I mean, I wasn’t going to say anything, but this room looks ridiculous next to the new dining room.”

I glanced around.  She had a point.

“And it’s dated.”

Also true, but holy cow, whining much?

“And really, I mean, I know it looks small now, but this is a big space.”

I looked around, confused.   “It really isn’t.”

“No, you’re looking at it all wrong.  You have to sort of wipe the slate clean in your head.  Just, like, mentally remove all of the cabinets and appliances…and the washer/dryer.”

It took a moment, but once I did that, I realized she was right.

“So,” she continued, “if you take out this island with the cooktop,” (she slid a finger across it like it was going to infect her with unimaginative design or something) “which only one burner works anyway, and  you took out the cabinet where the stove sits and replace it with a standard oven, you can maximize floor space and open the floor plan.  It will look way bigger.”

“If we take out the island, we’ll have to replace the floor.”


“And that’s expensive and time consuming.”

“Well…yes.  BUT, you could wait on the floor.  Put a rug down in the meantime.  You don’t even like the current floor so who cares.”

“That’s true…but really it’s the cabinets…”


“I mean, if I could only change one thing…”


“I would change them.”

“I knew it!”

“But it would be WAY too expensive.”

She scrunched up her nose and looked around.

“We’ll paint them.”

“Oh god…”

“Yeah, I saw it on Pinterest.  Can totally be done.  And it’s going to look great.”

She grinned.

“But first, the we’re going to take down the wallpaper.”



So, we’ve been tearing down wallpaper (big thanks to my friend Vicky who helped me remove almost all of it), sanding cabinets and prepping for paint, both on the walls and the cabinets.  And we’re discussing tearing out the island, putting in a few new appliances, a new backsplash…

Maybe a breakfast nook…

This is the room I wasn’t going to touch.



The Seven Emotional Stages of Painting

The end is drawing nigh.  And by the end I think I mean the beginning, or possibly the middle.

(Is it apparent yet that I almost never have any real idea what I’m talking about?)

For the past week or so, we’ve been cleaning and painting in preparation for actually moving into the farm.  Now, we don’t have the whole house yet, as the previous occupants are storing some of their belongings at the ranch until they can have them moved (their new home is still under construction), but we do have most of the upstairs at our disposal, and, given that just the upstairs of the new house is more than twice the size of my present home, I think we can manage.

My goals before moving are as follows:
1. Finished Bedroom.
2. Clean and Functional Kitchen.
3. Clean and Functional Bathroom.
4. Clean Sunroom.

I have attempted a cursory cleaning of the whole upstairs, but the living room, for example, won’t really be cleanable until the window is replaced.  (We’re thinking the contractor will be getting back with us today on that…)  Plus, at the moment, it’s where we’re putting all of the other furniture as we clean other rooms.

Anyway, about a week or so ago, I undertook the project of painting our new master bedroom.  It’s 300+ square feet all on its own, so it was no small task.  If I’m being honest, I’ve had the primary paint color for over a month.  It’s just one of those projects that I really didn’t even want to start.

The master bedroom before.
The master bedroom before.
Lots of natural light
Lots of natural light
Down the hall out of the bedroom.
Down the hall out of the bedroom.

The above pictures were taken several months ago.  I think it goes without saying that there is a ton of potential in the room.  For one, it’s huge!  There is a ton of natural light.  It takes up the entire end of the house.  It also needed a lot of updating.  The carpet, original to the house I think, had to go.  The previous occupants left the furniture you see in the photo for us to keep if we wished.  The walls, white throughout the house except where there is wallpaper, needed an update.

So, last week, I started updating it.

I should tell you, once upon a time, I enjoyed painting.  My experience thereof was mostly a room here and there in my parents’ house or a room or two helping out a friend.  Then, Jeremiah and I bought our first home.  It’s only 800 or so square feet, but we basically painted every single room.  That was only three and a half years ago.

I don’t like painting so much anymore…  But over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that painting is an emotional process, as well as a physical one.  It’s almost cyclical, really.  Somewhere between the first coat of “Beach” on that first wall and the last coat of high gloss white on the crown molding, I’ve come to realize that there are definite stages of painting.

The Stages of Painting

Stage One: Optimism (AKA – Wall Number One)

I started on this wall...
I started on this wall…

During Stage One of painting, everything is coming up sunshine and roses.  It is during that stage that you congratulate yourself.  Paint that had been in a pail is going on the wall.  It’s a step in the right direction.  You are doing it!  You’re awesome.  Go you!  Not only are you being productive, but you have excellent taste.  Not just anyone can pick a good paint color.  (We’ve all been to those houses where someone else’s “sunny yellow” looks more like “dehydrated urine”…you know what I’m talking about.)  But you?  You picked “Beach” grey from a myriad of other greys.  And “Beach” grey, it appears, is probably the best grey in the history of ever.

Stage Two: Boredom

Stage Two moves past the initial self-congratulatory stage and into tedium.  You’re bored.  Also, you’re pretty sure gnomes have come in the night and have slapped white paint up where you had painted grey.  Beach grey, to be exact.  Though, now that you’re looking at it, you’re not sure it’s quite so “beachy.”  How do they come up with those names, anyway?  And seriously with the gnomes…you are sure you had more done.  And what was wrong with white, anyway?  Other than the vaguely clinical feel it had…you can totally deal with institutional white for the rest of your life, right?  Right?

Stage Three: Reinforcements

This is the one where every girl on the planet (or maybe just me) starts to consider calling in the cavalry…


And he comes over, and he slaps a second coat of paint up way faster than should have been humanly possible.  As you look around, you briefly revert to Stage One.  Wow – look at that; two whole coats!  Looks pretty good if you do say so yourself.  Totally Beachy!  You are a master of paint choosing!  And it wasn’t THAT bad.

You are practically done.  Except for that bump out wall, and all the trim, and the baseboards, and the crown molding.

You start to look around at all the detail work, and the optimism vanishes again.

Stage Four: Doubt

You may never finish this.  Between the detail work and the gnomes, this will probably never get done.  It is with a sigh that you choose your second color.  Your “accent” color.  You pick something with a coffee name.  MMMMM…coffee.  You totally need coffee. Coffee would probably make everything better.

You briefly wonder if you picked the color solely because you’re tired and need coffee.  It doesn’t really matter though, because you will NEVER, EVER finish.

For some reason, I decided this needed to be a different color.
For some reason, I decided this needed to be a different color.
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The ceiling fan changed. That is one of the things the boy was working on while I painted.

Stage Five: Insanity

The coffee color looks pretty darn great.  You realize that it would look fantastic on the baseboards!  And the trim!  And who cares if it’s a super dark color with no room for error?  You’ve totally got this!

Stage five doesn’t last very long.  You move almost immediately into stage six.  Regret.

Stage Six: Regret (AKA Trimming and Weeping)

During this stage, you get to be exceedingly good with tape, but not quite good enough.  You paint the baseboards and trim with two coats of an absurdly dark color (what were you thinking?) and then manically correct tiny imperfections with a craft brush roughly the size of your pinkie nail.  Why?  Well, because the crappy paint lines in your current bedroom have been bugging you for almost three years.  And you won’t have it again!  (This stage mimics insanity quite nicely…)

Stage Six: Rage!

Note the newly painted baseboards.
Note the newly painted baseboards.

The trim is nearly finished.  Then the unthinkable happens.  All is takes is one poorly applied piece of tape above the window frame.  That line is crap, and you flip your lid over a paint line that follows a poorly applied piece of tape (the one and only piece of tape stuck down by your poor, unfortunate husband).  It’s on the last freaking piece of trim before the crown molding!  You are very lucky that no one else is there because at this point you would probably be institutionalized.  You are especially lucky that your husband is no where to be found, because the rage that is burning within your soul is completely unreasonable.  You need a moment to quell it…and to fix that freaking paint line.

You call it a day because painting is no reason to turn into the Hulk.

Stage Seven: Acceptance and Relief

You are now a pro.  The tape below the crown molding is almost perfect, and it has been applied as one consecutive piece.  You slap it up in minutes.  And even your husband, who you are no longer unreasonably furious with (luckily that passed quickly and internally) is impressed.  Two coats of high gloss white go up without much issue.  And, amazingly, you are done.

Seriously.  You are done.  It is finished.  You thought this moment would never come, especially with the gnomes.  But it’s here.

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And it is magnificent.

But, if you’re honest, you feel very little satisfaction.  Just relief.  You are so relieved that you don’t even mind that you got white paint on your favorite Doctor Who t-shirt.

One room down, all of the rest to go…