Endless Prep Work in the Kitchen

beforeandbetter

Our kitchen renovation seemed straightforward enough.

Step 1. Remove all the yuck.

Step 2. Paint all the things.

Step 3. Yay new kitchen!

But there’s this finicky little step between steps 1 and 2 that I may not have totally accounted for in my mental schedule of events (in which our kitchen has been long done by now because, you know, it’ll take like 4 days start to finish). That step is called PREP. And there is so much of it.

A quick word about this renovation: this is not really the kitchen we intend to have forever. It was probably installed in the 1950s, and was done using pretty cheap materials, even at the time. I think most potential buyers saw this space as a total gut-job (probably one of the several reasons the house sat vacant for 2+ years), but with all the other work that needs to be done in the house, there is just NO way we’re about to gut and replace an entire kitchen. Even though the kitchen looked terrible, the cabinets are solid wood and workable (not in great condition, and not nice cabinets to begin with, but there are lots of them!), the fridge is fine, etc. etc. All of that is good news, since I don’t want to rush designing and planning the layout and materials of whatever kitchen we end up installing here. We want to get at least a few more years out of the existing kitchen, and Max and I both feel like it’s top priority to have a space where it’s actually nice to prepare a meal and feel comfortable and clean——both for ourselves and guests. Especially when we’re in the midst of doing so much other work, I think having a nice kitchen will go a long way toward maintaining our sanity.

The point is, this kitchen is a very extended exercise in trying to do things on the mega-cheap without compromising quality and aesthetics (ideally, I’d like to spend $500-$1,000 total in here). We also want to get it done quickly so that we have more time to devote to other stuff (and, obviously, so we have a kitchen!), so we also need to strike a balance between doing things perfectly and 100% right and just doing things so they’re good enough to last as long as this kitchen realistically needs to. All of this is my way of explaining that seasoned renovators might be rolling their eyes and gasping in horror at some of the decisions I’ve made during the process, but just remember that this kitchen isn’t forever.

SO. ANYWAY. PREP. When we left off, I’d been busy patching all the walls and ceiling from where the drop ceiling had been attached (holes in the walls, holes in the ceiling, holes everywhere) and generally lamenting the state of everything. It felt like maybe it would only be a couple of days until I was happily painting the walls and feeling very satisfied and validated about all my hard work, but every time I turned around, it seemed like there was more craziness to un-do and conquer before paint could happen. I’ve painted a lot of rooms at this point in my life, and this one far surpasses any amount of work I’ve ever had to do to get a space prepped. That includes sanding all of the walls of my apartment hallway. Neva4get.

This was a dark time.

backsplashes

One thing that had been staring me in the face was the fancy contact-paper backsplashes. I won’t lie, I kind of like this cutesy poppy pattern, but the paper was in bad shape and generally dirty and gross and completely at odds with the plan for this room, so it had to go.

I might have saved a scrap of it for…whatever reason. This kitchen has turned my brain to mush.

Consider this a PSA: don’t put contact paper on your backsplashes. Don’t then leave it there for 50 years. This stuff was a NIGHTMARE to get off. It’s possible some kind of wallpaper remover would have helped, but it seemed like a really small area and wasn’t worth the hassle. We don’t have a steamer (heard very mixed things about their usefulness from a lot of different people, and now I’m crippled with indecision), but I did try to loosen some of it with my iron on the steam setting. This made zero difference.

The only thing to do was peel, in tiny pieces, forever. It became like a kind of sick game, where every time a scrap came loose larger than about the size of a child’s palm, I would rejoice and cackle in manic glee. I played this for hours, until the laughter became tears.

caulk

Next I turned my attention to the sink area. Remember that thing I mentioned about everything in our house being fixed with caulk, various types of tape, and metal wire?

Well. The sink area is a very good example. Check out how the sink is totally, like, being swallowed by the wall in the first picture. That’s all caulk. See the wall above the sink and to the right? ALSO ALL CAULK.

Yeah. Not only had the edges of the sink been filled and covered and overflowed with years of very hard, very serious caulk, the walls had also been skim-coated with it. I suppose this is a semi-valid way to waterproof this area around the sink, so I respect the ingenuity. But that is just…not what caulk is for.

Since this area is also getting tiled, I had to do my best to remove all the caulk and level the surfaces.

There’s this episode of The X-Files in which Scully gets kidnapped by deranged small-townsfolk who worship a bulbous yellow-ish worm thing that needs a human host to survive. It burrows in a person’s back, along the upper vertebrae, and sort of incubates there for a while before killing the host and moving on. It’s all very gory and horrific.

This caulk was a lot like that. Big and bulbous and yellow and emerging from around the sink like a thick moldy worm thing. I was legitimately a little frightened of it. The amount of caulk removed from this area was bananas. It had actual weight when I put it all in a bag to throw it away. It was heavy.

Shudder. Horrors. Caulk horrors.

cuttinginfloor

In an attempt to feel better about things, I needed to get some paint on something. This seemed like as good a time as any to throw some primer on the floor. Since the original linoleum tiles pretty much popped up en masse, the plan is to just paint this plywood underlayment black. It won’t be the fanciest floor in the world, but I think the black paint will make the imperfections less noticeable, and a kitchen rug on top will keep it from seeming like our floor is made of sadness.

I’d LOVE to rip up this underlayment and expose the original pine plank subfloor, but that’s probably going to wait for the REAL kitchen renovation down the line. Aside from having to remove the radiator and base cabinets to make that happen, there’s a whole SECOND layer of linoleum and plywood underlayment under this plywood underlayment, and then we don’t really know what the subfloor is even going to look like when we get down to it. It could have rot (doesn’t look like it from the basement, but that’s the bottom side…) or tons of damage, or be hideous, or whatever, and we’re just not ready to deal with that whole process. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I have to refinish a floor OR cover it up with new flooring (and new underlayment…), both of which would suck more time and money from our lives that we don’t have.

priming

SO. I decided to paint the floor with Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-base primer, which is the same stuff I used in Max’s childhood bedroom. I like this line of primers generally, but the shellac stuff is AMAZING for blocking/sealing in all kinds of weird grossness, and it goes on super thin, dries EXTREMELY fast (like 15 minutes), and provides a good surface for paint to adhere to.

I prepped the floor basically just by sweeping and vacuuming it (use the wand to get into all the edges and corners, where dust and debris tend to accumulate), and then I painted it like I would anything else——cutting in around the edges, roller on the rest. I just used a regular old roller made for semi-smooth surfaces and it worked great. The paint is sort of self-leveling since it’s so thin, so it didn’t leave any roller texture once it dried.

I also decided to paint the hearth, since it was so little extra effort and it seemed like a good idea. Even though I cleaned it really well, it still probably had some wallpaper paste/grease remnants that might have messed up the regular paint adhesion and coverage.

floorafterpaint

Even though it’s just a coat of primer and the floor is going to be black, not white, painting this felt SO GOOD. It happened really fast and COMPLETELY changed the feeling of the room. All of a sudden, it felt like a blank canvas full of possibilities instead of a shoddy room full of gross shit and generally lousy vibes. We won’t paint the floor until after the walls and cabinets are painted (since I don’t want to paint the floor and then drip paint on my newly painted floor while painting the walls, you know?), but anyway. FINALLY! PAINT!

radiator1

After the floor was primed, I was feeling extra excited and paint-happy, so I decided to paint the radiator! This radiator was…so vile. Same dirty-custard yellow as the walls, covered in tons of grease and dirt and dust and grime. I spent a long time cleaning it,  starting with a flexible dryer vent brush (mine is like this, and it’s the best thing ever for cleaning old radiators!) and finishing with reaching my gloved hands as far into that spaces as they would fit to try to further clean it. The whole thing was very gross and enlightening and took about 2 hours.

Once it was prepped, I taped some cardboard onto the wall behind it. Since the room still needs paint on the walls and the floor, I didn’t care so much about getting off-spray on anything in the surrounding area. However, it’s going to be basically impossible to paint fully behind the radiator (the space between the back of the radiator and the drywall is only about 1/2″!), so I didn’t want to get a bunch of paint back there that I wouldn’t be able to cover up.

highheatpaint

I chose this high-heat glossy spray paint in black for the radiator. Because who doesn’t love a black radiator?

The folks at the hardware store assured me that any type of spray paint would probably be fine for a radiator, but I wanted to play it safe with the high-heat. Rust-oleum actually makes a radiator enamel specifically for this, but it wasn’t at the hardware store and I figured it was probably more or less the same stuff.

radiatorpainting

The actual painting part went really fast. I did about 3 light coats to fully cover it, and used 2 cans of spray paint. I know it would have been better to remove the radiator, power-wash the whole thing, paint it in a well-ventilated space with access to all sides (or better yet, sand-blast and powder coat it!), but all of that would have been way too much time and way too much effort for this. This solution only cost me some scrap cardboard and about $12 in spray paint.

radiatorpainted

I need to take better pictures when the room starts to come together (this one is terrible, apologies!!), but the radiator looks soooooooo gooooooood. It’s like super beautiful and jet black and shiny and amazing. Once everything around it doesn’t look so crappy, it’s going to be great. Trust.

beforeandprogress

I don’t have a picture from this angle after the radiator got painted, but you can imagine. Getting there…

p.s.—I did a little interview thingy over at West Elm’s blog, Front&Main! In case you want to read me blather on about thrifting and being cheap and Brooklyn and stuff, you can find it here

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72 Comments

  1. It’s on it’s way! How are you boys dealing with the heatwave? I assume the place doesn’t have AC…

    • We got a window unit for our bedroom right when it started getting hot, then FINALLY got a portable unit for the kitchen a few days ago. It was hot and miserable for a long time, which was really stupid. I was dying, basically…that’s how I dealt with it!

  2. You are an inspiration!

    I kind of loved that contact paper, too. I think you should look for a new roll on eBay and incorporate a bit into your design.

  3. I love this house already because it is guaranteed to have the best before’s and after’s the blog has ever seen. I love the floors of sadness idea, lol. Paint for now will work out fine and tackle something crazier later. It’s amazing what paint can do to make a room feel clean.

  4. “The only thing to do was peel, in tiny pieces, forever. It became like a kind of sick game, where every time a scrap came loose larger than about the size of a child’s palm, I would rejoice and cackle in manic glee. I played this for hours, until the laughter became tears.”

    you are the best.

  5. i love that you’re doing a KITCHEN on a real budget (even if it’s not the “forever” kitchen). this means there’ll be tons of budget friendly ideas and whatnot. and since I just signed a lease on my new apartment i’m all about budget friendly ideas that look good but are functional. you already have me looking back at the pics i’ve taken of my new place crossing my fingers that there are radiators! so far, i’ve counted two…one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. that’s enough for me…adding black spray paint to my list of things to buy.

  6. Ugh, prep work is the WORST. It takes bloody forever and is so unsatisfying. I put it up there with painting white paint onto white walls.

    You’re making me regret painting our radiators white. That black radiator is so hot!

  7. I’m loving your colors with the black and white. It’s my favorite. I can’t remember what you said you were going to do with the cabinets but sanding off that 50′s gloss and staining them a nice natural wood tone would look so good with all your black and white. Any plans for the fridge? I saw an old fridge painted with chalkboard paint once and it looked so good with that chalky black mixed in with the other shiny blacks and whites in the kitchen. You’re doing such a great job. Everything is really starting to come together. I look forward to all of your posts!

    P.S. I took your advice on Rehab Addicts. LOVE.

  8. So glad you saved a scrap of that contact paper. Years and years ago, I was removing some ashy gray paneling and gold-veined mirror tiles from a bedroom, thinking, “who cares what’s behind it, it couldn’t be worse!” when I found that underneath was an entire wall of contact paper, white background, with black and pink cartoon drawings of poodles having a cocktail party! It was awesomely hideous, and I have regretted forever not saving a scrap of that hilariously bad contact paper!

  9. I love your plan for the floor and the whole kitchen. I ended up going down to pine subfloor in my kitchen after removing like 4 layers of linoleum & adhesive and a million staples. I decided on grey because my other black floors showed too much dog hair. But painting the subfloor sounds like a much better solution for the time being. Can’t wait to see the progress. Its inspiring.

  10. I love how you’re basically a manic Cinderella doing nonstop improvements. Love your writing!

  11. I can just imagine this “I would rejoice and cackle in manic glee” when a slightly bigger piece would come off. Can totally relate! I would be cackling as well!

    Do you listen to music while you work? That place looks so silent!

    :)

  12. ‘There’s this episode of The X-Files in which Scully gets kidnapped by deranged small-townsfolk who worship a bulbous yellow-ish worm thing that needs a human host to survive.’

    YOU WRITE THE BEST POSTS EVER.

  13. I have a blouse like that contact paper, ha ha

  14. Wow, looks like the kitchen is really going in the white direction!

  15. Not sure what’s up with feedly but this post is not showing up on mine. Anyone else having this prob? I found your latest post on instagram.

    • I’ve heard that from a couple people now…seems to be a problem with feedly. I’ve been using bloglovin’ and it seems very reliable.

      • It’s on Feedly for me, but I am reading it on 7/31/13 and it says “six days ago” as the date.

  16. Great post! Have you heard of this? http://karapaslaydesigns.blogspot.com/2012/07/diy-ardex-concrete-countertops.html I think concert counters would go great with the rest of your plans. And super cheap.

  17. That kitchen is so lucky to have you!

  18. If you’re planning to remove all of the wallpaper in that house a steamer may save your sanity. Maybe a rental?

  19. ridiculously excited about following this transformation.
    yay! thanks SO much for sharing. love it all.
    jo

  20. I’m so excited to see the changes AND to have new posts every week or so. Yay Daniel! I do wonder was Max, Mekko and Linus were doing all this time though.

  21. make a little magnet for the fridge out of your contact paper scrap! convo piece.

  22. Admittedly, I get hasty with prep work and it totally shows in the end result. You are doing right by being meticulous! And that shiny black radiator? Awesome. Loved your West Elm piece.

  23. that profile at the west elm blog is really sweet! love it – good luck with the kitchen, you are a brave brave man to take on that caulk :)

  24. Hey! Totally unrelated, but are you participating in the West Elm Olioboard contest thingie? I found out about it when I read the interview you did the other day. If I ever get an email that says “Manhattan_Nest has voted for your board” I will probably faint!

  25. This has become inordinately exciting; I almost started cheering when I saw the primer on that filthy stove wall. Radiators kind of freak me out because I don’t have much experience with them (West coast), but I do like the black paint, looks great.

  26. Wow, such an improvement! I’ve been sitting around watching x files on hulu since I can’t bring myself to do anything in this heat, and I just watched that one the other day! Quick question, I’ve been afraid to spray paint my old radiators because I’m afraid that no matter how much cardboard and old newspaper I use to mask things off, I’m going to wind up with little speckles of paint everywhere. Was that a problem? Maybe the heat resistant paint is less likely to do that? Maybe I should have done that before we painted anything else in the house, huh. oh well

    • Yeah, it’s definitely best to do when you don’t have to worry about overspray on surrounding surfaces, but if you used a few plastic tarps and were careful, I think it’s be ok! The particles that kind of drift further away from where you’re painting don’t seem to adhere when they dry, so I was able to clean that stuff up with a swiffer. That said, I painted a radiator in my apartment with Rustoleum oil enamel with a brush and it looks great. It dries really hard and smooth–no brush strokes!

  27. I’m really enjoying watching your progress. The primer on the floor makes such a difference! Question: how tacky is that primer? Will you end up tracking dirt and general shoe-crud into it before you get the walls painted?

    Getting everything patched, fixed and washed before you even get to pick up a paintbrush is tedium defined, but: worth it.

  28. Daniel, not only are you good at writing, but you put your posts together so well – good photos, good advice, GREAT progress!

    I love the black radiator!

    Just thinking again about the upstairs, near the banister . . . do you think there could be a window behind that closet in the hall?

    • The closet actually has a small access door to the attic crawlspace above the big living room! I guess it’s possible that there was a window there originally, but no signs of it now. The closet might have been put in when the living room was built if it isn’t totally original to the house.

  29. Ugh. The nitty gritty reality of prep. I know it well. You’re doing a great and careful job which will pay off over the long haul. I love the black radiator. Looks awesome. Of course I love your writing, too.

  30. ugh. radiators…. I’m in 1930′s building with a huge radiator connected to a long only pick in the LR, one on the kitchen and one in the BR. I’m alternately thankful and sad that they are the original silver – never been painted. Our kitchen radiator has actually disconnected from its pipe (long story) and we’ve never bothered to get the super in to fix it because of the sheer hassle involved – the floor underneath is rotted, the hated linoleum tiles are cracked and broken and curling at the edges, etc etc etc. I would love to gut my kitchen and start over, but…rental!

    I continue to be utterly and completely jealous.

  31. What kind of coffee do you drink to keep you going like that — and in this heat??!!
    I’m addicted to your posts and have a friend whose house was like yours hooked as well We’re sure your house must have been “done” by the same man who owned hers.
    And I have to thank you because your amazing activity is goading/shaming/encouraging me to finally tackle things that have been left undone for far too long…bedroom radiator, this means you!

  32. I have loved reading your blog since the beginning. Really like all the unique and creative problem-solving plus the fact that we get to see inside your head with your awesome writing.

    I admit, I the first photos of the interiors made me so anxious I had to come back to the post later to finish! But you are making some legit progress. And now, I’m not as worried anymore that the whole house will just rear it’s nasty head up and swallow you both. It still might, based on your descriptions of all its macabre mysteries, but I’m not as anxious about it anymore, haha.

  33. I know I am a bad person for laughing at your traumatic experience, but this post was the best thing I’ve read today. Glad you’re able to have such a good sense of humor about the whole process. So excited to see things as they progress!

  34. Why would someone paint their walls dinge?(I’m talkin’ about you picture #8). They obviously gave up hope on this dear house. That is what the two of you are bringing to this massive undertaking: hope. I so look forward to seeing the transformation continue and wish you all the best.

  35. Hey there! It’s so amazing, that feeling you get when it’s finally time to paint and how it totally transforms the space in so little time. I love to paint.

    Also, I work at ACE, yep yep and on August 3rd we’re having a free paint day. You get a quart of eggshell Clark and Kensington, your choice of tint (and yes we can tint it to any Benny Moore, Farrrow & Ball etc color of your choice, although some of the non ACE white shades colors don’t formulate in quart size, or you can just get the Ultra White). So bring a bunch of people, come early, and grab enough for at least one room, or a ceiling, or closets!

    • That’s great to know about! I actually used Clark + Kensington for the first time in this kitchen, and I loved it! Full post coming soon, but yeah–it’s great paint!

  36. Have you seen Jenny Komenda’s re-do of her laundry room on Little Green Notebook? Looks like she had fugly laminate countertops (like you! no offense), and she is going to post a tutorial (hopefully soon) on how she turned them into concrete countertops. It just looked like a really nice solution for a yucky problem.

    • Yes, I just looked at it! I’ve seen that tutorial a couple times and it looks really great! I considered doing it for my kitchen, but thought that the countertops needed to be wood, just to bring some warmth back into the room. Definitely something to keep in mind, though!

  37. It never ceases to amaze me what a coat of paint can do. It’s like waving a wand of renovation magic. I am at the (almost) end of completely redoing a mid-century modern ranch (I have been saying that for 2 years now, but I swear, it’s now really almost finished). We had horrible, cheap, pink and tan striped wallpaper in the living room and bathroom. matching. (oh if only that were the only horrible thing the previous owners had inflicted on that poor house). anyway, a steamer was useless. but after maniacally peeling tiny square inch pieces off the wall for 2 days, i discovered that hot, soapy water liberally applied to the wall and allowed to soak in for a minute or two made the scraping actually productive. not sure if it would work for contact paper or if you have any other wallpaper but worth a shot.

    also, if you need a good laugh/cry, this Tom Hanks/Money pit clip always put things in perspective for me:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CJ9EDtZ2p8

  38. I love what you’ve done so far & I love that you aren’t making the gutting of the kitchen the very first project. As you said, the cabinets may not be the highest quality, but it’s incredibly important to live in the space for a while & determine what changes you want to make. Plus, let’s be honest, you don’t need the most amazingly fancy kitchen to be happy, you need a functional kitchen! Keep the posts coming–I can’t wait to see more!

    BTW–I really dig the temp floor. I explored this option for the bedroom addition that we renovated last year. We landed on hardwood when we found the right deal, but I think I could have been just as happy with the plywood.

  39. Wow, I loved to read about your apartment before, but now I’m even more excited…I know you’re probably busy with actually doing the renovation but I wish you could post about it like every few hours, since I just can’t wait to see how it turns out…:)

    Best of luck, you two are adorable & very brave…

  40. You are very very brave. This is a huge labour of love but I am sure to you are more than capable. I have been constantly amazed by your transformation of both your apartments on a shoestring. Wish you every success. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  41. Amazing the difference a good clean and some paint will make! And that horrible brickwork paper gone and the ceiling down – the room looks like it can breathe again. Deepest sympathy about the caulk monster… been there, done something like that myself… But you’re making great progress – our downstairs kitchen took more than 3 years to reach a similar stage!

    The evil things people will do to innocent houses never fail to astound me!

  42. Wooden kitchen counters gets my vote. I bet if you scout around and put out the word some beautiful reclaimable material might show up. What sealer-finish method would you use?

  43. Love the progress so far! The black radiator looks perfect!

  44. I love seeing everything you have done. I dream of doing a reno but your posts really bring the light the reality of all the work! I want to do a reno in a movie, basically, dusting off the priceless antiques left behind and maybe painting a wall or two.

    Is that a Hoyrup/Nymolle plate I spy next to the caulk monster sink? I’ve collected that stuff for years and not seen that piece.

  45. Why does this episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJNoTsTcpUQ remind me of your project? ;-))) They also uncover a hidden stairrailing, excavate antique wallpaper and fight with many things like you do. Maybe you can get additional motivation from their end result, although you are – THANK GOODNESS – not going Goergian. ;-)))

  46. Looks awesome! It’s crazy (like literally kind of drives us insane) how much time it takes to prep just to paint. But that first coat, even if it’s just primer, makes such a difference. We’re in the process of turning a former firehouse garage into a photography studio. We basically painted EVERYTHING white and it made such a difference!! http://afirepoleinthediningroom.com/2013/05/15/painting-the-studio-finally/

    I can’t wait to see your dramatic “afters”!

  47. Progress! Well done, lads. Also, thanks for reminding me to go back to your radiator tutorial, I have a radiator that a previous tenant tried to paint purple… It’s terrible!

  48. I may be in the minority but I think those cabinets will look great once everything else is done. And probably after a paint job and new countertops. The door style I love, the hardware needs to be gone but I think you will be happy with your outcome.

    • I also like the cabinets. I think they will look great in a black and white room.

  49. Daniel,

    I totally understand doing a “for now” kitchen. I’ve been living with a slap and dash kitchen for four years. The Domus needed everything and kitchen just wasn’t in the budget so I’ve been piecing it together for years now. A bit here, a bit there. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it functions like a dream and is pleasant enough. Sometimes, budget means compromises and creativity. Oh, and by the way, your house needs a name. All reno houses need a name. Yours needs one, stat.

    You’re doing a great job and keep it up. But, as a long time renovator, please please please take time out and get out and enjoy your new neighborhood, even if it’s only once a week. Burnout is real and can take a toll on yourself and your relationship.

    There’s something immensely satisfying about bringing an old dame back to glory and giving her a face life. I really believe houses can have souls (I’m just not sure people do though, how batshitwacky is that?). The love and life I have found in the renovation has far exceeded my hopes and dreams for it. I’ve never been happier in my life and feel like I have a bone deep commitment to this place, space, community in a way I’ve never experienced in life. Some of it was luck, some of it was friendship support, and lots of it was blood, sweat, tears, and cursing a lot.

    I love watching and reading your progress. Please ask advise and you have a lot of collective knowledge out here that can be invaluable.

  50. It’s amazing how a can (or three) of spraypaint can completely transform something! I’ve been doing some quick updates with spraypaint in my house as well: light fixtures, vents for the floors, doorknobs, picture frames, etc. You name it, I’ve sprayed it!

  51. Love the freshness and renewal that clean paint can bring; looking forward to more posts.

  52. if you don’t post again soon, I’m going to have to kill you.

  53. Daniel, I walked by Mjölk today and they had everything cleared out of the window and a paper sign taped up. I literally stopped in dismay before seeing that they’re just doing some sort of install & will be open tomorrow. Here’s the thing: I’ve never even been in the store. I was thinking “oh no! Daniel and Anna will be sad!” You have an outpost in my brain.

  54. The worst part of DIY and home decorating! the prep work we have done up a couple of total fixer uppers where every room needed stripped back and redone and the prep work was just depressing! The end result was worth it though

  55. sorry- that was a bit harsh that comment I just made about having to kill you, and I realize it could be misinterpreted. It’s just that I am surprised at the level of interest your new project generates in me- I literally check online to see your progress every day- I really like your aesthetic, your work ethic, and you sure have an engaging writing style. So I’m following your blog with fascination- probably it would be good to funnel some of my enthusiasm into my own home projects…

  56. I’m not sure you’re going to be happy with primer on the kitchen floor, because it’s by nature “grabby” and will get dirty quickly. I had this problem when painting the outdoor side of window frames – I left one in primer-only state for a couple weeks, and it got visibly dirty compared to the (also white) painted ones. I had to wash it down before painting it. So, you may want to go ahead and slap down paint on the floor, even if it’s what you have around as opposed to the “real” color/paint brand you’re planning on.

    Also – what made you decide on spray paint for the radiator instead of the Rustoleum oil enamel you used in the apartment? Because it is so close to the wall? They both turned out great – I grew up with everyone hiding radiators as much as possible, and I like the approach of making them interesting and clean household objects.

    • Thanks! I decided to spray paint the radiator mostly because the sections of this radiator are REALLY close together, so it would have been impossible to get a brush very far beyond just the outermost surfaces. The spray allowed me to paint a lot more surface area, making it appear as though the whole is black, despite that the non-visible parts haven’t been painted.

  57. I remember making a mistake with radiator color in my first home, which had a similar steam system to yours… a former coal furnace… except it burned fuel oil. There was one bathroom in the house… a very small one on the second floor that had you sitting inches from the radiator… enough said! Anyway, I thought it would be aesthetically pleasing (read “look cool”) to paint the radiator black. Well, the BTU output from this tiny radiator was so intense that I ended up repainting it white to make the room useable. After that I selectively repainted radiators black or white based on my heating experience in each room. Since most of the radiators were under covers, the color change was not noticeable, but the temperature difference sure was!

  58. You probably know this already, but they make very tiny sponge paint rollers on long stems to paint behind radiators. They’re called Mini Long Handled Rollers or something like that. I used one to paint behind all of my radiators, and you really can get all the way in, if you can go from both sides.

    I love your blog–best of luck with the house!

  59. “Floor of sadness”. Too good.

    This makes me really need to paint something. Or go to IKEA.

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