Archive for the ‘choosing paint colours’ Category

We can’t have friends to stay and we dont know when that will change. But I dream of having guests: People to cook for and with, friends whose presence justifies that extra drink that now just makes me feel guilty, and someone new with whom to play board games and cards.

This desire, along with a decision not to rent our place this year to vacationers, was ample motivation to spend a few days improving our guest room.

2019 guest room. Someone had to sleep against the wall.

This room – every room in fact – was freshly painted with a matte white when we bought the place in late 2007. So repainting was not an early priority. It has; however, become increasingly desirable over the last few years. And no excuse not to do it right now.

Benjamin Moore has a new, extra durable paint called Scuffex. It’s not outrageously expensive either. I chose a pearl finish as the room is a bit dark and would benefit from a reflective lift. As for colour, as usual I went with my gut, quickly singling out a pale grey white called White Wisp. It isn’t a warm colour, which is what one craves just now, but the cottage is principally a summer spot, so I had to put myself in summer thinking mode.

The paint went on beautifully, and floor, ceiling, 5 panel door and window trim were all given 2 coats of gloss in BM Cloud White.

We replaced a cheap ikea ceiling fixture with a lovely nickel fixture that we wrote out of our sales contract when we sold up in Port Moody. I was so glad to find a perfect place for it. We also replaced the non- functioning dimmer switch.

We reoriented the bed so there is (some) room on both sides, then edited and rehung wall decor. We also painted up some found “free” shelves with trim paint and installed them at about 2 metres from the floor, to add a splash of interest and some high storage to an otherwise bare-by-necessity wall.

A shippy light fixture and some free, high shelves are favourite touches.

I washed the duvet and mattress pad, replaced all the pillows and polished the floor.

As usual, there are a few things holding me back from declaring the job fully complete. We are hoping to refinish an old piece of furniture to double as desk and dresser for this tiny room. And the baseboard heater needs to be replaced.

But in general, I am happy everytime I walk by the room and can’t wait to welcome our first guests of 2021. Whenever that becomes possible.

Meanwhile, we use this as Break Out space for our individual activities: puzzles and crafts for me, and music and gaming sessions via Zoom for my partner.

A more inviting space, just waiting for friends.

There was about a litre of the grey white paint left, so after a few days rest, I washed, taped and painted the small hallway outside the guest room.

I followed on with the trim and other doors off this hallway. Now I can’t stop. My room next, then the livingroom and eventually, a complete redo of the bathroom.

The hallway before it got a fresh coat of paint.
In progress. Lighting is not optimal, but this photo shows the soft grey shade of BM White Wisp as I started to paint the hallway.

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I set out this summer to redo the exterior paint on the cottage. It was a bit of a challenge finding chunks of time between rental guests when it was also warm and dry enough to get to it.  And then there was the scraping. I estimate I spent 5 hours prepping for every one hour of painting.


the trim was pretty bad too


Prepping before painting

As a result, I got slightly less than half the cottage painted, but gosh it looks nice! And it is the important half – the front half. It was also the hard half, since the front takes all the sun, and there are lots of windows with finicky trim, and posts and whatnot.

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So satisfying once it is done

The trim is a BM colour called Mannequin Cream. The cottage itself use to be BM Duxbury Grey, which has a hint of green in it.  I love the colour, but here in the rain forest, paint already has a tendency to take on a green tinge, both reflected and from algae. The driveway shed was a different, slightly mauve grey of unknown origins, and it was this shade that I had colour-matched for the cottage paint. On the advice of a house painter acquaintance, I went with a premium Behr paint from Home Depot

Next summer I should be able to get the job finished. There will be much less prepping, but more ladder work, which I do not love. Meanwhile, I’m fired up to do more painting, and will start with the front hall of my home, which needs an all-over redo.

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Our buffed-up master bath is grey and white. Very soothing, but requiring a few pops of colour. These two different wine crates came from the garages of friends in the neighbourhood. One became a wall shelf for a few items too tall for the vanity drawers. The other is now a stool – style table for accessories beside the tall tub.

From the canvas over the tub I choose red ochre as an accent colour for this small project.

I used craft store acrylic paint, and only put on two coats as I wanted these items to look a bit rough. Once dry,  I sprayed them with some varnish to protect the paint.  The cloth in the back of the wall shelf is a place mat from a sale table at Pier 1 and can be changed out easily when I find something I like better. Cottager cut some molding for the rough front edge, and I filled the joints and gave the frame a coat of BM Cloud White. These small practical additions make me feel that I have put something of myself into the project.




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Snuck away from my responsibilities for some of the fresh air and quiet of the cottage.
Messed around in the garden and got some of the railings stained in between spring squalls
Two teenage girls walked up and down the road today playing their violins. I love stuff like that.

Deck Railings Before

Satisfying to spend time outside

And make the cottage look nice too

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When we first bought the cottage, I was determined to paint every interior wall.
Then I started to like the white-white walls and white-white trim.

Over the winter, we’ve done a mini make-over of the kitchen – with a few finishing touches yet to come. We replaced the dishwasher, stove and baseboard heater.

And it became clear that it was a good time to paint. So would it be white-white or white on white?We opted for white on white. Aside from the simple happiness a really fresh coat of paint can bring – I like it.

Didn’t go looking for Linen White as recommended by the Cottage Decor guru. Simple reason – we had a half a gallon of BM Elmira White. In some lights and angles the difference is very subtle – just enough to make the white trim pop.

At night, under artificial light, (and in this “after” picture) it is a bit more distinct. For a kitchen, I would say its pretty perfect.

Won’t be long until we feel the urge to give the main room and halls a paint job too. Probably next winter or spring. When we do, I will likely go about 50% lighter still, to get a really subtle white on white effect in these areas that will still harmonize with the kitchen and make all that white trim pop.

So here it is before…


And here it is after – with a new piece of countertop and some backsplash tile still to come….

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

White on White cottage paint job in the kitchen

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Finally the days are longer and warmer and, like every spring, we were itching to start some projects.  Since the weekend was  forecast to be dry, we decided to prioritize the deck, which is really bleached but still in good condition. Our last attempt to stain and protect the deck did not go very well – See “The Tomato Soup Deck.”

Four years have passed since I said I wouldn’t use the Thompson’s Water Seal treatment again, and having failed to find another product we liked, we reversed course and bought an ‘advanced formula’ Thompson product which did not require the deck to be bone-dry. We even chose the same cedar colour, for want of better options, since putting a transparent seal on the bleached wood wasn’t going to improve its looks enough to satisfy us.

Thompsons 'advanced' formula on the bleached deck

Back then, I read that power-washing would cause the wood to ‘bloom’ and was not advised. So I scrubbed the deck by hand.

This time, Cottager just got the power washer out.

Back then, we really didn’t get the product into the spaces between the slats.

This time we taped paint brushes to broom sticks and got much better coverage in those spaces.

Cottager with a brush taped to a broom handle

And while the product recommends you don’t use a roller – without explaining why…

We did it with a roller anyway.

Either the product has improved or we have. We shook it really, really well and it went on evenly and looks and feels great!

Nicely stained and preserved for another few years.

It didn’t take all weekend either. We also had time to: trim hedges, do some garden clean up, barbecue steaks, see a movie, walk into the village along the beach, have a weiner and marshmallow roast on the beach, fly the Angry Birds kite a recent visitor left behind for us, and have the neighbours over.  Love these longer, warmer days.

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This old vanity stool has been hanging around our place for years now – a legacy item from my mother-in-law that didn’t seem to hold much promise. Cottager was able to reach way back in his memory to describe – in detail – the pattern on the fabric that’s under this blue velvet. Yes, this has already been remodeled once. Why not again? 

Could this sad old thing have a place at the cottage?

Finally a vision for where it might go coincided with a few rainy hours to make it happen.  I sanded it down, brushed on a coat of primer and then a second coat using the dregs of a can of Benjamin Moore Tealight Green, used in our closet-to-alcove make-over.  A small remnant of an English floral fabric containing a perfect match for this green completed the update.

Yep, this will be useful.

Since I most often spend just a night or two at the cottage, I generally just live out of an overnight bag left on the floor. From now on, my bag will be up off the floor and much easier to get into when resting on this stool. This re-furbished item can also quickly be moved into the living room to act as a foot rest during winter movie nights.

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Coming from me, these words may make you roar with laughter.

I’m the one who has been agonizing over colour choices for the main room of our cottage  for what?…a year now?

And because we still weren’t quite ready to do that paint job (March, I think) I could afford the luxury of mulling it over from time to time.

But over the holiday break, Cottager started a kamikaze-style project – at our city home – to summon a home office out of …nothing really. It has been a bit of a ride, watching the walls go up, choking on drywall and filler dust, the agony of glass brick and mortar installation  – all I could do was stand back and watch, offer signficant constructive criticism, and trust his vision.

This weekend we hit the paint stage. I grabbed my holster of benjamin moore colours, sorted 30 or so strips out of the horde, and quickly decided which one was my favourite. Then I showed them to Cottager, asked him to pick out his favourites, and when his finger landed on the one I’d chosen, we had a winner:  Nantucket Grey (which is actually quite green, fyi.)

Got it, used it. Love it.  It was just that simple. 

I’ve resolved not to give the cottage paint any more thought. Cottager and I have agreed, in principal, on how we would like it to look. When the day arrives that we are really ready to paint, we’ll do the same thing:  Pick 20 or 30 possibilities out of our holster of swatches, narrow it down to two we like, then leap into action.  It is only paint, right? 

Tune in towards the end of the month for before and after pictures of the home  office Cottager magic’d out of thin air. We still have flooring and molding to do, but it already looks terrific.

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After living with our all-white walls and trim for nearly a year now, I think I have a much better idea of how to proceed. When I first called out for advice, I had only photos of empty or near-empty rooms. Every idea I received was exciting to contemplate -especially the really bold suggestions like celery green.

But over the summer, almost every person that walked through the door commented on how expansive and fresh the white was. Some even remarked that they really should take some of their own rooms back to white – that’s how well white suits this little cottage!  

With five large windows and two french doors opening off the main rooms, the white walls pleasantly meld outdoor space with indoors. In bright, warm weather the room is a cool, clean haven and on cold, wet days the warm wood floors, fireplace and some soft lighting are more than enough to make it cozy. I have to conclude that this space is meant to be white. Or more precisely, two whites!

So I went back to thinking about style guru Mary Emmerling’s advice for white on white paint. She talks about mixing – 50/50 – Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White and Linen White to get the perfect white paint. Or she suggests using both; putting the Decorator’s White on the walls and doing the trim with Linen White. Now I am just unimaginative enough to think that this must be a misprint: Surely the darker tone goes on the walls and the trim takes the ultra white?

Next I dug out my BM colour wheels. These make a great gift by the way. They come in a tidy holder with a shoulder strap and have been endlessly useful. Until today, that is, when I found no Linen White at all. There is a Natural Linen and there is a Linen Sand but each of these came down pretty firmly in the beige camp. At my local BM supplier, they typed Linen White into their computer and came up with a pre-2000 colour numbered 912.  Then they dug around in a dusty shoebox and presented me with a chip numbered 912. Ah-ha!  This is a white. Quite a pretty white. A soft, slightly yellowy-white that looks good with Decorator White. Is this what you were talking about Mary?  

Below is a detail of the room as it is today. It is, and will likely always be, a work in progress, but the colour scheme comes down to blue and white.  What do YOU think of Mary’s idea to do the trim – which in this case would include moldings, French doors, lots of multi-light wooden window casements, rough vertical and horizontal support beams, the fireplace and a chimney in the kitchen – in the darker of the two whites?  Am I the only one that finds this a bit counter-intuitive?

Keats View Fireplace

Keats View Fireplace

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Considering that it is a tiny part of a tiny cottage, we have invested a lot of time in the hallway between the bedrooms. A previous owner had removed drywall and framed very shallow (4 inch) raw shelves right into the studs along one wall, then built a frame around it, and installed very heavy wood sliding doors. Ugly, impractical and awkward.

So way back in February, Cottager tore this monstrosity apart and repaired the drywall.

Removing an awkward cupboard

Removing an awkward cupboard

 He then shopped salvage for a 5 panel door for the gaping storage room, and spent hours sanding and repainting it. Even installing the door proved a challenge, since the moldings around the door were akimbo and had to be removed and straightened.

Salvaged door needed a lot of work

Salvaged door needed a lot of work

Then it was my turn.

I was sure that a Leksvik (Ikea) hat rack would be just the ticket for this area. At 48 inches long and 9 deep, it would just (or just about) fit and would give us 16 hooks and four cubbies for seasonal items; scarves and toques in winter, hats and sunglasses in summer. Rattan baskets on top would provide additional storage for unsightly miscellaneous items one likes to keep close at hand. Best of all it would all be out of sight from the main living areas of the house.

But I didn’t want to spend 99$ (plus tax) and exhaust all of Cottager’s good will on the assembly of a new hat rack, and they must be popular, because it took 4 months of intermittent searching on Craigslist to find a used one.

It all came together this weekend. With a few modifications (both to hat rack and door moldings) we managed to MAKE that hat rack fit. One piece of molding is still missing – needs attention from scroll saw.

An ugly plastic light shade was replaced with a hand-crafted shade made of rice paper and bamboo leaves and featuring one green paper frog. This came from one of my favourite shops – The Craft Connection – In Nelson B.C.  A wood-framed and partitioned mirror handed down from Cottager’s much-missed mom really lights up the space. 

The new hallway

The new hallway

 On Sunday morning I started filling gaps between the walls and ceiling. There is a lot of filling to be done but I am highly motivated because the next step could be painting!  Yes, of course the paint normally comes first, but I bear the psychological scars of bad paint choices from my past.  Now that we have essentially finished furnishing the whole cottage and its personality has emerged, I feel more confident about choosing the right colour. I am operating on the belief that the  minor inconvenience of taking down pictures, moving furniture and taping around a hat rack are nothing compared to the risk I would have run by choosing paint first and assembling furnishings later.

Hand-crafted rice paper light shade

Hand-crafted rice paper light shade

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