July 23, 2013

Painting the baby room

As I mentioned in my last post, we painted the baby room. We chose to do it over the long Independence Day weekend because we knew that the prep and the painting would take a couple of days. But first, we had to choose a paint color.

After much discussion, we settled on a potential color scheme for the baby room: gray, white, yellow, and turquoise. Yep, we are having a girl, and there is not a hint of pink in sight! Let's just say neither of us is a fan of pink. We knew that the white color would show up in the furniture, as we planned to get a white crib and a white daybed (the baby room will also function as a guest room). We decided that yellow and turquoise would make great accent colors, and we could bring those colors to the room in a rug, pillows, bedding, lamps, etc. And we thought that a well-chosen gray color would create a serene environment for the baby, and it would make a great neutral background for the bright accent colors.

Finding the right shade of gray turned out to be more challenging than we originally anticipated. As a first step, we went to Home Depot and picked up dozens of swatches. We brought them home and taped them up around the room. Immediately, we realized that the shades of gray we had in mind originally were going to be too dark (of course, they looked lighter in the store). The next thing we discovered was that every gray swatch we considered changed its undertones dramatically in different lighting. Like a chameleon, a swatch would appear to have silver or blue undertones (something we were aiming for) during the day, but the artificial lighting at night would bring out the tans and the browns that we didn't know existed in those grays.

We scrapped all of the Home Depot grays (mostly Behr, some Glidden), and picked up about ten color chips of Benjamin Moore grays. What a difference that made! First of all, the swatches appeared a lot more consistent in their undertones throughout the day (at least on paper). And more importantly, we found about five gray colors that we liked. So suddenly we went from having no appealing options to five awesome swatches! It was a good problem to have.

We ended up choosing a Benjamin Moore gray that was appropriately called Sweet Innocence (and no, we didn't choose it based on the name). It is a light gray color that appears to have a hint of blue undertones. As we found out after we painted, the blue undertones are less subtle in real life than on paper, and there are also some lavender undertones that come out in certain lighting.

Online calculators told me that we would need about 1.6 gallons for two coats of paint in this room, so we bought two gallons in the Natura eggshell finish. The awesome thing about BM's Natura is that it is zero-VOC, which means it doesn't stink! I didn't really believe that the paint wouldn't stink at all, but it really didn't. It wasn't until we got two full coats on that I could detect a subtle paint smell, and that is saying a lot with my bloodhound pregnancy nose. We also bought a gallon of Natura off-the-shelf white in semi-gloss for the trim, which we intend to use throughout the house.

Before we could paint, we had to do some prep work. As you may recall from our house tour, this room has baseboard trim, as well as trim around the windows and the french doors. It also had the most annoying and tiny folding closet door, which we removed because it was causing a lot of grief (we plan to hang a curtain instead of the door down the road). What is not obvious from those photos is that we have a combination of drywall and plasterboard walls, and the plasterboard is in a pretty beat-up condition. It has a lot of bumps, small and large, and there were also holes in the wall left from previous owners.

As our first prep step, we decided to spackle the holes and attempt to smooth the walls by sanding and filling in the bumps. We had some limited success with smoothing down the walls, but in the process, our orange walls ended up looking like they had chicken pox. We also used wood filler to fill in holes in the trim around the windows. Oh, and that weekend was the beginning of the heat wave, and we have no air conditioning, thus the fan.

Prepping the room
We also removed all the switch plates and outlet covers. The prep work took most of the day (there was a LOT of sanding to do). Not only did we have to spackle and sand, but we also had to clean up all the dust afterward. At that point, I was wishing we had a shop vac because doing it with our regular vacuum cleaner took forever. We also followed up with some wet cloths to make sure there was no sanding dust left on the surfaces. My in-laws came to help with prep, and later with painting, which is why we were able to pull this off in only a couple of days. Before painting, I put a plastic tarp on the floor and taped off the floor and the heating baseboard. We chose not to tape off the rest of the trim because my mother-in-law has a very steady hand and could cut in without tape (a skill I have only begun to develop).

Ready to paint!
The next day, we painted. I have to say that when that first stroke of gray covered the orange on the wall, it was the most satisfying feeling in the world. And not only because we were covering up the color we disliked with a color of our own choosing, but also because it really hit me then that we are homeowners. We can actually choose our own colors! How liberating! But also just the process of taking the paint brush to a surface - I feel like I could do that forever.

So we painted the walls gray and the trim white (we got everything except for the crown molding, the french doors, and the interior of the closet). In this photo from our house tour, you could see that above the closet, we actually have extra storage, and we chose to paint those two small doors the same gray so that they would blend into the room better.

And here is what the room looks like now:

Painted baby room
The word that people use most often to describe this color when they see the painted room is "serene", and I think that's exactly the perfect way to describe it. The room is obviously not yet set up for the baby, and it won't be for some time because in the beginning the baby will sleep in our room. Some of our furniture that we haven't yet figure out a place for is temporarily stored here. For now, I set up my office in this room, and it's a great feeling to work in there because it is now my favorite space in the house.

As for the cost breakdown, we had to buy a lot because we had almost no paint supplies, so we spent quite a bit of money. I should mention that this paint required no primer, despite the fact that we had to paint over bright orange. And we also used just over a gallon of the gray paint, so two gallons was definitely an overkill, but I am hoping to use this paint elsewhere in the house. We ended up spending about $275 for paint and supplies, which included:
  • 3 gallons of Benjamin Moore Natura paint (2 gray, 1 white) at $53 per gallon
  • all the paint supplies, such as rollers, brushes, Frog Tape (totally worth the money, it worked much better than the regular blue painters tape to protect our floors), trays, sanding supplies, and drop cloths
We will be able to reuse a lot of the more expensive supplies (such as the angled brushes, which were quite costly because we splurged on good quality brushes) for when we paint our next room (the living room and the hallway are next in line), so I am hoping that our next painting adventure will be more affordable.

July 8, 2013

27 to 29 weeks - Hello, third trimester!

I've officially entered the third trimester of this pregnancy, which means we are in the home stretch now! (And woefully unprepared! We have yet to buy most baby items...)

I have to say that I understand now why the second trimester is called the "honeymoon trimester". I didn't blog much about it and that's because it was mostly comfortable and blissfully uneventful. There were times when I would forget that I was pregnant, that's how normal I felt.

Third trimester has been pretty good so far as well, but I am noticing some differences. My belly is growing larger every day, and it is beginning to interfere with some daily activities, like sleeping, getting (rolling) out of bed, reaching for plates in the upper kitchen cabinets. These are all minor details, though, and in general I'm feeling pretty good!

Here I am at 27 weeks:

27 weeks

This photo was taken in the future baby room, and as you can tell from the swatches, we are planning to paint over the orange walls (which look innocuously peach in this photo, but trust me, they are bright orange). But check out how much that baby bump has grown since my last photo at 19 weeks!

*Spoiler alert!* We already painted the baby room, and it wasn't with any of the swatches you see in the photo above!

July 7, 2013

On breakfast, elsewhere

The lovely Amanda, of Poppies and Ice-cream, asked me to contribute to her breakfast club series, and so I happily sent along a recipe that includes some of my favorite foods: tomatoes, bacon, and eggs. :) Check it out here.