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!


Installing Craftsman Window Trim (Finally)

A while back, we published a post about selecting douglas fir lumber from the odd lot section at our local lumber yard to use for window trim. That lumber sat for a while in the basement while we worked on other projects.

We (or should I say the husband) decided it was finally time to get to work on it. It went something like this: “The lamps, the pillows are nice and everything, but maybe you 3 could work on some projects that will get the house done.” He’s so practical (and right).

Just as a reminder, we had 9 windows without trim. The windows came from Loewen, a company from Canada. They make beautiful SDL (simulated divided light) windows – you can check out their website. One thing they do in their fir windows is mix a vertical grain (vg) fir with a less costly flat grain to make them more affordable. To save costs, that is what our plan entailed as well for the trim and we saved even more money by going to the odd lot section. We told ourselves that we would be ok with imperfections such as knots, and once everything was up, the knots did just become a natural part of the window.

Here is one example of window sans trim:

Windows for a Craftsman Style

Our craftsman trim design was pretty simple – Continue reading

Selecting Lumber from Odd-Lot

Our weekly work-day was not very pretty, but necessary. We went to the lumber yard to select lumber for our upstairs window trim.

Upstairs trim: done and not so done. One down and 10 to go!

Vertical Grain Douglas Fir

The interiors of most older houses in the Pacific Northwest were trimmed out with vertical and open grain Douglas Fir. The forests were aplenty with it in the early 1900s. The wood is soft, but beautiful – it ages to a deep orange over time. The fine parallel lines of the vertical grain (vg) are especially pretty. You can find even old growth vg fir at architectural salvage yards, sometimes it just takes some sanding (or planing) to reveal the great wood under layers of stain, varnish and/or paint. This time we needed a lot of stock, so we opted for new.

If you have extra time (and patience) you can save quite a bit of money by sorting through the “odd-lot” section at your local lumber yard. “Odd lot” is where they put the lumber that isn’t quite perfect for various reasons – warped, knots, roughly hewn, cracks, oozing sap. (Monica talked about this option in a previous post.) I have time, but no patience, so Monica and Mary Jean came along to supply that. Continue reading

Installing Door Trim

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Finished Trim, 5 Years Later!

The moral of this story is that you are a lot more likely to do those pesky projects that you’ve put-off when you have the help of your friends – plus it is way more fun. You tackle things you wouldn’t normally dare to do, learn lots in the process and have extra sets of hands.

The scoop: I think everyone would agree that after you go through a major remodel, the last thing that gets attention is the trim work. You are just tired tired tired. So finally after 2 3 5 years of putting it off, with the help/nudge of Monica and Mary Jean, we finally got around to installing the trim around the doorways on our 2nd floor addition.

Design:  The house is a 1911 Craftsman style. The trim on the first floor is very traditional for Seattle, the top horizontal piece is slightly thicker than the vertical sides, extends beyond the sides, and ends in a slight taper.

Craftsman Trim Styles

1st Floor Traditional Craftsman Trim

Our 2nd floor addition is a little more modern than the rest of the house. For a cohesive look, we decided to keep the general style of the 1st floor trim, except leave off the tapered overhang due to the fact there were already a lot of angles with roof/ceilings. We decided on 1″x4″ verticals and 5/4″x6″ for the horizontal header piece, with the horizontal piece extending 1″ beyond the verticals. These dimensions are a little smaller than the trim on the first floor, but thought it was acceptable to scale down for the second floor – the spaces are smaller, plus we could go with standard size lumber, which is less expensive.

Materials: We used re-claimed fir trim for most of the natural wood trim upstairs. But for this project (door trim), we needed a lot, and we were going to be painting it, so we decided the best route was to go with a manufactured product. Normally I wouldn’t go there because MDF (medium density fiber-board) seems fake and plastic-y and not very environmentally sound, but did a little research and found some moulding by Spero© that is LEED certified, does not contain urea-formaldehyde, and uses recycled content and wood that is harvested from sustainable sources. It paints up really nicely too. Dunn Lumber is a lumber yard here in Seattle that carries it.

Green Building Materials

Prep: We measured all the openings (11 doorways) and made a big list of verticals and horizontals. (Mary Jean did this part, she is very good about writing things down in an organized manner. Her charts look like a computer generated spreadsheet.)

How To Install Trim

After picking up the Spero© trim at our local lumber yard, we set up a little assembly line where Mary Jean and Monica measured and marked the pieces and I cut them on the chop saw. It went really quickly. Then we laid all the pieces horizontally in the basement and painted them. We used Daly’s C2 – 430, Potato Leek, which is a really nice off-white. The boards were pre-primed so painting went quickly too. It was way easier to paint them before they were installed – we didn’t have to be careful and there wasn’t much of a chance for drips. There will be some touching up required later after we fill the nail holes and caulk the joints.

Installing: After waiting for the trim pieces to dry, we hauled them from the basement. Because there was so much trim to install we used a nail gun with an air compressor to attach it. It was very handy, one of us held a piece in position and another used the nail gun. If you don’t have a nail gun (or for smaller projects) just use a hammer, finish nails and a nail setting tool.

DIY Installing Craftsman Trim

It took us a couple workdays to get this project done, but considering we put it off for 5 years, it actually didn’t take any time at all! Next we will need to caulk the gaps between the trim and the wall, and fill/sand/prime/paint the nail holes. Hopefully it won’t be another 5 years before that happens! Will keep you posted.

The final results:

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Hallway Trim – Before and After

DIY Craftsman Closet Trim

Bedroom Trim – Before and After

Door Trims Meet

Bedroom Trim – After

DIY Craftsman Door Trim

Hallway Trim – Before and After

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Funky Fix for Salvaged Bookcase

We got an old salvaged bookshelf from ReStore a couple years ago. It was missing (or never had) a finished end panel. Thinking that it would either a.) be a really long time before we would make a nice paneled trim piece for it, or b.) it didn’t deserve a nice paneled trim piece, I decided to clad it in an old sign (picked up for $1 at ReStore).

What we did:

I wanted to mock up the design so we measured the panel and made a cropping template with paper. Positioned the paper template on top of the sign to get an idea of best cropping.

Marked and cut the sign with a circular saw, with straight edge, clamped to a table. I don’t have a picture of this, but it is the same idea as what we did in a previous project.

Sanded the edges with fine sandpaper to finish off the edges.

Pre-drilled the nail holes in the plywood sign, because it was thin and we were nailing so close to the edge. Nailed it into place. Could have used screws, but liked the look of the nails better.

All done, good enough for now – maybe someday I’ll get around to putting something more refined on there, but then again, probably not!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.

Bathtub Trim Panel

The project: Designing, building and installing a trim panel on a bathtub.


Materials: Salvaged wood from our demo/remodel. Dave, my patient and salvage-obsessed husband, saved the old wood (house built in 1911) and ran it through a planer to clean it up, so we could re-use it for the trim.

Design: I wanted wide horizontal planks (with small gaps in between each) for the face panel but didn’t know how the corner transition would work where the bathtub trim met the baseboard trim. Mary, Monica and I mocked up a couple of rough options to see what would look best.

hmmm, better 1 or 2?

In Version 1 the bottom board of the tub panel aligns with the baseboard trim, the middle board is the same height as the bottom and the top board is the leftover height. Version 2 has all three boards of equal height so the bottom board doesn’t align with the baseboard trim. After all that…we decided to align the bottom board with the baseboard. I have an alignment fetish. The top two boards are equal height, but slightly shorter than the bottom one. Better 1 or 2? I say neither. I like 3. ; )

Prepping: Next was getting the wood ready. After cutting each board to the correct widths/height (Dave helped us cut it, table saws are scary), we sanded, applied wood conditioner, sanded, applied wood finish, sanded, applied second coat of wood finish, sanded, applied third coat of wood finish, then buffed with steel wool. All this wood finishing talk may leave you either a) bored to death, or b) wanting more detailed information. For those of you in the “b” group, we’ll post some detailed info in the next couple days.

Building: We laid the three boards face down on the floor, putting ¼” strips of wood between each to create equal spaces between each board. We attached (by pre-drilling and screwing) 2 small vertical strips of wood to the back side to connect and hold the boards together (below left).

We made the entire 3 board panel longer than necessary so that we could make a single cut through all three boards after it was assembled. We clamped a straight edge to the panel and cut (carefully) a straight line with a skill saw (above right). After a couple rounds of fitting, trimming, fitting, trimming again… it fit!

Installing: First we painted the existing concrete board face panel black in case you’d be able to see through the gaps in the boards.

The 3 board panel needed to be removable for future access to bathtub plumbing. After considering some attaching options, we thought it would easiest to have a “french cleat”, which we made from some leftover scrap trim wood (did I mention Dave likes to save wood?).

I really wanted to make certain the wood panel fit firmly in place on the wall, aligning with the floor and would not wiggle. That required very precise positioning of the bottom/wall and the top/wood panel cleats. There are probably more professional ways to figure this out, but what worked was to mount the bottom cleat to the wall first. Then, we slid the top cleat in position onto the attached wall cleat (above right). We then ran a line of hot glue on the top cleat and then (quickly) positioned the wood panel, pressing firmly. The top cleat was then stuck to the wood panel in the perfect position and we just lifted the panel up and off the wall. Next we pre-drilled holes and used screws to permanently attach the top cleat to the wood panel. We then installed it by simply hanging it in place. All done!

See more of Heidi’s artwork at Old Stuff. New Stories.