Exterior Paint – Design Ideas

Every time the sun comes out on these short Seattle days I start dreaming up exterior projects – Paint! Garden! Fence! Paint Again! – If you find yourself brainstorming in circles like I am, here’s a bit of exterior paint inspiration from four of my favorites:

A few random thoughts on exterior paint design:

  • A flat sheen is usually preferred
  • Three colors is a nice balance. Be thoughtful if you add a fourth color, you don’t want to get too fussy.
  • If you choose to paint the door a contrasting color, consider carrying that color into the garden with pots, outdoor furniture/cushions or plants. It’s a nice, subtle effect.
  • Breaking up/dividing large areas of siding with horizontal trim or different siding materials can allow for a more interesting finished look.
  • Think about how your plants will look with the new color.
  • Take a close look before you tear off old siding and trim! Some of that material is beautiful – tight grain, large dimensions/profiles, much of it is unavailable these days. If you do decide to demo, your local reclaimed building materials store may LOVE to have it, lead paint and all.
  • Spend the money and time for samples of your paint! Mock up your ideas on a wall that receives good light – You’ll be glad you did.

Are you ready to get started?? Here’s a nice overview of the process from one of my favorite local paint stores, Daly’s and a few tips from DIY projects – a list of handy tools, two favorite painting hacks, and stripping and painting old trim.

Paint on!


Hallway Color Makeover

At one time, I thought having red in the hallway would add life and spark. The palette from a stir stick view seemed to be a good choice.


Lesson Learned: If there isn’t natural light available you’ll need a lighter color than you might think. In fact, less color just might be better. That doesn’t mean you should never choose rich bold colors. It’s all about the light. Continue reading

Hallway Makeover

The hallway, right off my kitchen, leads both to my back door/porch and down to my unfinished but functional basement. It has been creepy and ugly in that hallway forever.

I used to just shut that door and pretend the hallway didn’t exist. But, my washer and dryer are downstairs! I had to open that door. Heidi and I have referred to it as “the murder’s hallway” since I moved into my house many years ago.

I also realized I was missing out on the beautiful natural light that streams into my kitchen when I leave that door open. So, I called in the girls and we made a plan!

The challenge: Improve it easily and inexpensively and use only what I already had on hand? Steep requirements, but we were up for the challenge. Continue reading

Kitchen Chairs Update

My kitchen table and chairs were a thing of the past. I purchased them long ago and remember thinking they were fine for the time being. I certainly didn’t realize I’d still have the same table and chairs 20 years later. Durable, yes! Lovely? Not so much and never were.

To be fair, both were functionally adequate. The main features I didn’t like were the color, shape, style and finish. Those are pretty tough features to overcome…essentially everything. But, why not give it a try? It really couldn’t get much worse.

We brainstormed an approach knowing that the goal was to reduce the cringe factor as I entered my kitchen. We broke it down and made a plan to tackle the elements that we could influence starting with the easiest – painting the chairs and the table legs.

AFTER and BEFORE. Painted table leg in the middle.

Below is how we got it done.

Step 1.  We lightly sanded all the surfaces of the chairs and legs with 150 grit sandpaper. Then used tacky cloth to remove all sanding dust before priming.

Step 2.  I used a quality latex primer that I had on hand from another painting project. I somehow deleted the photos of this so use your imagination – white flat finish chairs and legs drying in my basement. The chairs already looked better with just the primer.

Step 3.  Next I applied two coats of Benjamin Moore (Aura) “Split Pea” (2146-30) semi-gloss paint to the chairs. Heidi had some left over Pratt and Lambert “Field Gray”, matte finish paint for the table legs. I didn’t need much so I decided to use that.

I’m feeling pretty good about the chairs. We’ll let you know how the table goes! Stay tuned!

What can go wrong? Catching the running drips was a constant challenge. I did the best I could and decided to be ok with a few minor drips here and there. I knew I could touch up sand, prime, and spot paint if the drips really bothered me.

Paint your Kitty – I mean your Grills

Finished Grill With Cat

 Here is our cat, Blue, wistfully remembering her days of playing in the heater vents.  She wouldn’t stay out of the photo, though I kept pushing her away, so here you go!

This is a very simple project, and worth doing – if you have grills that look like mine did.

Old Grill

Modern Masters Paint

What you will need:

  • 220 grit sandpaper (maybe 1/2 sheet per grill, max)
  • A mask, because you take good care of your lungs.
  • Be sure to fit the paper mask to your face!  Bend and fit the tiny metal nose tab close to the bridge of your nose, if this is the type you have.
  • Spray paint, if using, that will adhere to metal, your color. (very common)
  • A finish paint for your grill, again that adheres to metal.  I bought paint by “Modern Masters”, available locally in Seattle at Daly’s Paint and Decorating, Metallic Paint Collection, ME190 “Statuary Bronze”, semi-opaque.  It was the closest color to an “antique bronze or oil rubbed bronze” finish that I could find.  It has a bit of golden color fleck that doesn’t show in the photo.  I try hard to keep all my finish hardware of the same color in a room- for example the lights, doorknobs, hinges, pulls, grills, doorstops, hooks etc.  It’s water based, btw, my strong preference!
  • A place to paint, drop cloth- or how about a big pizza box, opened up to catch the overspray…

What to do:

  1. Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.  I’m sure that mine have lead paint as they’re original to the 1926 house and had multiple layers of paint.  I DID NOT sand them smooth, both due to not wanting to breathe lead dust and I had a hunch that the defects wouldn’t show that well- which they don’t.  Who inspects your heater grills anyway (besides the cat)?
  2. I spray painted the metal flap behind the grill with a dark brown spray paint that would adhere to metal (check the label).  This was to save costs.  It is a bit of a different color than the Metallic paint of the face of the grill, but that’s fine.
  3. Brush the finish paint on the face of the grill (the grill part).  It might take 2 coats if it doesn’t cover well.  You could also spray paint, however it is more difficult to use as it is prone to drips.  I get best results if I spray lightly 2-3 times, letting it completely dry between coats.  If you do get drips: let it dry completely, then sand smooth, and re-paint that area.
  4.  Paint your screw heads, or other pieces that will show.
  5. Mark your paint jar “grills”, or add to your list of paints used in your home, so that you can later touch up the inevitable scratch!