Sunday, October 5, 2014

Back to the Blue House

      These photos take us back to late January/early Feb. 2014.  One of our first projects was to clear out the kitchen.  I'd really like to know who painted the interior of this house, because they showed absolutely zero sign of imagination.  Once the color was chosen it went on the walls AND ceiling. No trim accents, no baseboard accents, just a monochromatic nightmare of blue/green, which was now incredibly grimy and peeling in many places.  All of the cupboards had to go since they were very shallow, and we needed to reconfigure the cabinets so the fridge would fit.  First, we decided to attack the floor. I'm sorry but 1970's faux brick linoleum just isn't our style so we began peeling it up.  The cheap fake brick came up like butter. Long, satisfying strips peeled up effortlessly, only to expose another layer of what we guessed to be early 1960's linoleum.  This stuff had a little more grit to it when it came to peeling it up off the floor. We used all kinds of chisel tools to coax and cajole it into loosening. Once we had a good section removed it came to light that their was a third layer of even older linoleum, maybe even the first kind ever manufactured, lurking at the bottom. The last layer was fixed into place by a thick layer of a tar like substance.  It didn't want to budge. I imagined the1940's linoleum salesman telling the housewife who picked out the pattern, "Ma'am, once you put this stuff down nothing is going to get it off that floor!"  Eventually, we got some of it up, with plenty of grunting and cursing and below all of that ugly fake flooring was a delightfully unscathed hardwood floor.

"Who would cover this up?" we both mused.  It was perfect, well except for the large chunks of tar that refused to be plied from it.  We sweated and chipped at small sections, slowly gaining ground, but then Jonathan had an idea.  He ran to Home Depot and returned with a hand planer, which ended up being the perfect foil for our tenacious tar issue.  It was not a pretty job and it was painstakingly slow, but Jonathan was determined to get the hardwood floor back to its original condition.

About the same time that we were fighting with the kitchen floor we took on the first of the green rooms.  Armed with a ten gallon bucket of primer we set out abolish the green.  It took two solid coats to get that green to say "uncle".  That evil, nuclear green that glowed thru the first coat of primer and still had a faint presence behind the second coat. "Don't worry," Jonathan assured me. "The color paint will cover it."  
After taping off all of the chair rails, baseboards, doors, vertical accents, windows, ceiling and the fireplace I could almost sympathize with the former painter and their choice to say the hell with it and paint the whole damn thing one color. However, once the first coat of Killim Beige was on the walls, the transformation was jaw dropping.  The house suddenly had a touch of class.  Almost a museum quality to it.  I'm not going to lie, this was basically the first time I felt any excitement over what we were doing at this place. All of the other jobs required a lot of lifting, moving, scraping, etc. and after they were done the place still looked like an unappealing interior nightmare.  But the paint? The change was incredible!  Wow, I was falling in love now.  This room is meant to be an office/guest room and it's so bright and sunny for most of the day.  The beige is a soothing, neutral shade that is so the polar opposite of the original color.  I think the house actually sighed when we finished painting this room.  I love hanging out on the love seat (which pulls out to a bed when needed) with a good book.  This room holds a special place for me because it showed me that we hadn't made a mistake, but instead we had bought a piece of American history that we were in charge of restoring. We did make a mistake on our first attempt to re-finish the floor. After sanding it down with a rented belt sander, we applied a coat of stain that we were sure was "the one".  After letting it dry overnight, it was a very disappointing unveiling as we both felt like it was too red, like a redwood deck kind of red.  We decided to move onto another project and just leave the floor for the time being. I know you're not supposed to do that, but we'll get to it at some point and now that it's dulled I don't hate it quite as much.  

The projects haven't slowed down, though we've gone through some lulls when we've just gotten too sick of painting to pick up a brush for a week, or two.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to continue blogging until I'm up to date with where we are now.  I never imagined that I'd enjoy doing this kind of work so much, but it's been a very fun process. One of the more fun parts is having people over who saw it when we first bought it.  Most of them can't believe the difference and frankly, it is kind of mind blowing what a little paint, elbow grease and tenacity can do.   On another note, I was thinking of a name for the blog, since I'm not really Musing in Millbrook these days. How about "The Blue House Blog", or "Blogging from the Blue House"?