The Order I Paint Walls, Ceiling, & Trim and the Refreshed Master Bedroom

When I first moved into Berrybrier, the Master Bedroom was one of the nicest looking rooms in the house. Thus, I filled it with all the junk I wanted out of other spaces (think unopened moving boxes) and largely ignored it.

You guys, this room, my room at Berrybrier, the “Master Bedroom” looked absolutely horrendous for over a year and 4 months. Yup, it took me over a year of doing all the other 20 million projects at Berrybrier, before I thought, “You know what would help you relax and feel more at home in this house? If you actually fixed up your bedroom so you enjoyed being in there.” If I could go back in time, I would have fixed up my bedroom first.

It seems silly to do such a non-priority space first, but realistically, all this room needed was a couple coats of paint. With a little help, I could have had this room completed in a long weekend, creating a small haven for myself amidst the utter chaos that reigned in this house for so long and wore on my body and soul. I really would have enjoyed that and have made a mental note for myself on the next place I decide to go crazy on.

But let’s get back to my bedroom. You remember when I bought the house and it looked like this in here? The bathroom was brown and yellow and fifty shades of gross. The room was better, painted in the last 10 years, but needed cleaning.

But then I fixed it up the bathroom! A full gut renovation later and that tiny bathroom now glows! It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. When I shared the photos from that final picture a couple people commented on the sneak peek of the bedroom as well!

That’s right, ya’ll! We’re going green! Dark green. It’s time to make this bedroom a whole lot more fab. See how sad it is below? This shot is the first thing you see when you walk into the room. There was even a white sticker on the floor. You, know, as one sees on a frequent basis…

The periwinkle blue and brick red wall paint with white trim felt very Federalist and New Americana to me. Which isn’t really my thing. I wanted to get that totally changed up and get some privacy curtains up on the windows so my neighbors wouldn’t see me changing. I also wanted curtains to hide the just ever so slightly off center window.

The room is a decent size and even though there is a chimney stack housed in one corner, the room has numerous furniture layout possibilities. This is the door to get into the room, which yes someone decided to make smaller at one point and just cut off 3″ on the hinge side and rehung it. Questionable! But, still, it’s a beautiful, stained, solid wood, 5 panel door. I’m not trading that for anything!

This is the far corner of the room. The outlet placement was excellent for putting a bed on that wall and the vent on the floor is an intake air vent.

When I first bought Berrybrier, this room was on the bottom of the list of renovations, so it became the dumping ground for all my junk. I’d bought a bed for $25 off craigslist when I bought the house and threw it on bedrisers so I could fit some under-bed storage containers below. It was a lewk. And not a good one!

I bought all my bedding from West Elm way back in 2015 and still love it so much. When I first moved it, though, I kept half of it in storage and just threw the main pieces I’d pulled out of boxes first on the bed. I knew that whatever I did with this room, though, the floral duvet comforter would help dictate it. The bed, however, had to go. It was uncomfortable, old IKEA, I think? And it had been modified with random parts of other beds over the years.

After I’d settled into the house a bit more, I did try to dress up this set up a bit more and hung some art. But that didn’t really do much. Especially once I started swatching colors on the wall. I knew I wanted something dark and dynamic. A terracotta-y red, perhaps?

I ended up throwing a whole lot of colors on the wall. Oh, and guess what? I left the walls swatched like this for 8 months before actually painting this room. I’m super classy!

I was debating a charcoal wall and sampled two of those colors, one a bit warmer than the other. Then I looked at three different terracottas before realizing that my floors were so orange it would clash with them. Okay, cool colors. Which cool colors do I actually like? GREEN!!!

I only swatched two greens, because the second I realized the room should be green, I knew I wanted to continue the green trim color (Benjamin Moore 1498 Forest Floor) from the bathroom and kitchen into here too. The walls and trim could all be the same color, exactly like I did in the bathroom, but that felt repetitive and boring. So what about a very subtle contrast between the dark green trim and walls?

The top color is Benjamin Moore’s HC-112 Tate Olive and the lower color is Benjamin Moore 1490 Country Life which was on the same swatch card as the 1498 Forest Floor trim paint (which is on the trim below).

Can you guess what I picked? The top color! I loved the subtle contrast and the depth of tone. Plus it’s one of Benjamin Moore’s historical colors and that always feels kind of cool. I quickly went out and picked up a can of Natura Eggshell in Tate Olive.

Then I had to prep the room for work! I never remove all of the furniture in a room before painting, sure I move the light weight stuff, but for the most part, I just shove everything into the center of the room and throw big drop cloths over everything. Since I knew this would take several days, I left all my bedding on the bed too, so I’d have some place to sleep.

Before I could paint the room the room though, there were a whole lot of dings and repairs to take care of! This included a delightful ceiling patch that needed fixing; a result of the construction on the dormer. Oh yay.

First, I took out a scraper tool and used it to knock and scrape off any loose bits of plaster. This rough, textured ceiling coat is over the original lathe and plaster which I’d guess had a smooth finish like the walls. The textured ceiling is in every room in the house, but I have no idea why the texture was added! It’s rather annoying, sucks up a ton of paint, and shows every repair job super obviously. Once the loose plaster was off, the holes looked MUCH larger! Oh yay!

I threw up a layer of mud followed by a layer of pink to white spackle. I tried my best to match the texture of the ceiling, but it’s already been blatantly patched a few times, so I didn’t stress about trying to perfect it.

Once that was taken care of, all of the trim work needed sanding and cleaning. My sister Bronwyn took on that task, doing a quick sand on the gloss trim paint, so the new paint would stick better. A quick wipe down with TSP after sanding made sure there was no residue left behind. Things gotta look rougher before they can look better, right? Note: none of this trimwork is original to the house. It was all added in the last 20 years, and thus does not contain any lead.

I also used the drywall mud I already had out to fill in some uneveness on the walls and patch a small crack.

Then, because, no-prep-work-left-behind! I caulked all the seams of the crown which were gapping at the ceiling in places as the house had settled.

I wipe all my excess caulk with a sponge which ensures what’s left on the wall is only in the areas needed. This is a handy trick that works WAY better than a wet finger. I loathed caulking before I learned this trick. Now I only extremely dislike caulking, so it’s a huge improvement.

Finally, finally, after several days of prep work, it was time to paint! Woopee!!

The Order to Paint Walls, Trim, and Ceilings

  1. All Trimwork: including crown, baseboards, casings, decorative mouldings, etc. This allows you to no worry about getting the trim paint on other surfaces
  2. Walls: cut in your paint with a short handled brush, creating crisp edges against the straight lines created by the mouldings, then roll your main wall surface.
  3. Ceiling: cut in your ceiling around the trimwork, then slowly roll the main surface.

I began in the Master Bedroom with my usual down and dirty method of painting all the trim work first. I find it much easier to get a good coat of paint all over the trim — in and around all the curves, gaps, and edges — if I don’t have to worry about getting trim paint on anything else. It’s very easy to cut in a straight line against flat wood trim later, you see, but difficult to paint a curvy trim piece and get a straight line against the wall. Of course, this method results in a whole lot of crazy that looks like this picture below. BOY DO THOSE COLORS NOT GO TOGETHER!! Can you tell I began working on a ladder first?

Anyways, as I worked my way around the room cutting in all the trim, my trusty assistant and sister began rolling the first coat of paint on all the walls. We both like to use a W paint rolling pattern which helps to get coverage over every bit of wall – particularly if you have textured walls. These are flat thought, so it’s less essential.

Yes, this order of painting things meant the whole space looked like chaos, but the middle never makes any sense anyways.

Bronwyn also rolled the tad bit of space between the picture rail moulding and the crown moulding. Then once those coats were dried, I went back and cut in a first coat of wall paint around all the painted trimwork. I use a short handled brush exclusively for all my cutting in and trim painting. I find it much easier to handle and it gives me much more control.

Now it was finally looking like I envisioned with the subtle contrasting greens creating a very traditional take on the modern monotone vibe! Yes, even at this point, one coat half done, I was in love with where this space was going. It was certainly going to be a bit darker, a bit more cave-like than before, but in a cozy, moody way that’s just perfect for a bedroom. I love to sleep and frequently stay up late and sleep in late, so a nice dark space is perfect for me!

After all the walls and trim were painted with two coats, I went and cut in the ceiling paint and rolled the ceiling, careful not to drip or splatter the walls. That was the last step before I could finally bring this room back together!

When day broke after the painting was complete, I had a huge smile on my face. The room was exactly the way I pictured it and the two-tone green looked excellent — by itself, but even better next to the orange-y doors and floors! I needed to reinstall the outlet covers and put the room back together, but for a few minutes I just stood here, so excited and happy by this transformation. It was a lot of prep work and the room took over a week to prep and paint, but now it was glorious!

These are slightly different angles, but you can see how different this room looks with paint! It’s darker, but more romantic and cozy. The cool periwinkle color before was slightly hospital-feeling, a decade after it had been first painted, and the room was ready for fresh paint. We all know that view behind the bathroom door has changed a lot too!

I had taken everything out of my room the day all the painting was complete, which is why this room is now suddenly empty. I wasn’t planning on bringing it back in either! I have slowly been gathering new pieces for this space — antiques I’ve found on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace — and now the room was painted, they could finally be installed in their new home! I hadn’t wanted to bring them in until this room was finally painted. This way, I got to have my own little mini-install and reveal day.

I can’t wait to show you what this space looks like, now that everything has been re-furnished! I’m working on the final touches, updating art, adding ambient lighting, and hunting for that last nightstand… It’s so close to being a completed space, ripe for a reveal!

What do you think of this take on the modern monotone concept? I see walls painted the same color as the trim all the time to make it feel more contemporary and moody. My version feels more traditional, which feels right for this 1909 house. I absolutely love it, though I know a lot of people think I’m completely crazy for painting all my white trim dark green! What would you do? Monotone? Tonal Monotone? Or Team White Trim? Let me know in the comments!

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One Room Challenge: Week Four – Installing and Painting Beadboard and Wooden Shelves

Once I had wrapped up the drywall in my bathroom and installed the tile the room was ready to take the next steps towards function! I knew that the drywall scraps and odd corners would be difficult to touch up, so I decided to switch gears and use beadboard to transform the space and make my Sharp Objects bathroom dreams come true. Beadboard was signifcantly less time consuming and less dusty than trying to tape and mud and repair all the drywall / lathe & plaster in the small space!

Those of you with eagle eyes will have noticed from last week’s post that I was able to start installing the beadboard around the time I finished the tile. Here’s that snipit picture showing the one back wall of beadboard up. Sometimes, you just can’t wait any longer, right?

I used simple MDF sheets of beadboard from Home Depot, because they were the least expensive and I wanted to keep costs down as much as possible since this space is “temporary.” If this bathroom was more of a long term space I would have used wood plywood panels or individual beadboard planks. But, since I plan on turning this room into a full bathroom (flipping the shower from the current main bathroom into this space), when I eventually turn the dormer into a bathroom, short term solutions work well.

The back wall of beadboard was the most difficult to install because it was extraordinarily difficult to get the piece into the room. It had to fit through the small door and then squeeze into the entire back wall space while not bending or snapping. After that it was just a matter of cutting the boards to size and chopping out holes for lighting and switches and then a whole lot of nail gunning! I did also have to remove the trim around the window which I’d then have to reinstall. Immediately after I finished this project using a borrowed nail gun and air compressor from my neighbor, I bought myself a battery powered nail gun when Home Depot was having a huge sale. The difference between the ease of use is phenomenal and I adore my new nail gun! Now I need another trim project…!

After the beadboard was nailed up to the walls, I was ready to attack the baseboards. I used the same 8″ flat stock for baseboards that I’d used in my main bathroom, but skipped the decorative trim piece on top. I had over purchased my baseboards originally and was able to use scraps for the whole space! Then it was time to add the finishing touch of quarter round (which ironically, I’d skipped in the main bathroom). This was also scrap pieces left over from the kitchen (which I promise to finish and show you soon!). So yay! Free baseboards!

Before the quarter round was added, the rough edge of the bathroom tile was obviously apparent and it looked pretty terrible. But when I was calculating how much tile I had and laying out the space, I realized as long as I installed quarter round the edge would be hidden and I could get away with my minimal amount of free tile.

Once it was installed, the edge was completely hidden and it looked great! You can see below how the quarter round on the right has all been nailed in, hiding the edge and the left side of the quarter round is lifted, not nailed in yet. It was a TIGHT fit to get the tile to work in the space with clean finished edges, and I’ll admit, it’s not perfect, but it’s a million times better than the space before!

After the baseboards were complete, it was time to address the ceiling as well. The beadboard edge didn’t align perfectly with the not-level ceilings (old house problems!) and so I needed something to hide that edge and create a finished look. I picked up some simple crown moulding from my favorite wood store here in Portland, Woodcrafters. I picked up one 16′ length which gave me just enough to finish off the space. But then, I miscut a piece and rather than try to feather in two pieces along such a short length of ceiling, I bought another 8′ length and cut it to size. It was under $60 for all that crown and now I have a bunch leftover, but I do curse that mistake!

I’d never cut crown moulding before and spent some time googling to figure out how to do it. I found a handy guide that explained all these angles the chop saw needed to be at in order to make angled cuts to the crown when lying flat on the saw. The measurements were insane! 31.6°?! How?! I took a cheat sheet I found out to my saw, determined to somehow make it work, and discovered that my saw handily marked and locked to the crazy angles. Perfect! With that guide, and one miscut, I was able to get the crown up and finish off the ceiling! The corners of the room still had the same gap that that was now hidden by crown at the ceiling, but I had a plan for that too.

Before I could address those corners, I had something else to tackle. I knew that my little Master Bathroom needed to pack in storage while still looking good, but for a while I wasn’t sure the best way to achieve this. After searching around for inspiration, I found this image which I shared when I kicked off this project. I loved how the simple wooden brackets supported the shelves. It looked elegant, old-world, and inexpensive, a wonderful, and rare, combination!

I set out to create something similar in my space. I found these incredibly inexpensive brackets from Home Depot for under $4 each. I calculated I could fit 4 shelves in my space and bought 8 brackets. I bought another 16 foot length of 8″ flatstock (having exhausted my reserves on the baseboards) and carefully cut four boards to the length of my bathroom back wall. I then measured out the distance between my shelves (settling for 14″) and marked up my wall with bracket locations. The brackets slipped over screws drilled into the wall. That was supposed to secure them, but they still tilted and moved a bit. I added a few 2″ nails with the nail gun to further secure them to the wall, just in case! Then all that was needed was slipping the shelves on top. I left a 1/4″ gap behind the shelves so they’d extend into the room just a tad more (and allow me to place deeper items on top of them) and then nailed them into the shelf brackets and side walls with the nail gun. Suddenly it felt like the room had character!

I needed to address the corners of the room still though. I bought corner pieces that were intended to trim out outside corners, but flipped them around to use on my inside corners. I’m a rebel! See how big and ugly that gap in the corner between the panels of beadboard looks? Yuck.

I cut a corner piece to length and nailed it into the corner. Instantly, it looked way more finished and – strangely – more historical. I was just glad to not have a gap!

I cut the rest of the corner pieces to length, carefully measuring between each shelf and lined them up. I figured it was easier to do this now after I’d installed the shelves than to try to notch out the shelves around the corner pieces if I’d installed them first. (I’d also nailed the window trim back up!)

Once I’d cut all my lengths, I simply nailed the pieces into the corner, easy, peasy.

After all the trimwork was installed, it was time to get caulk-happy. SO MUCH CAULK. I caulked all the edges of the shelves, filled in all the nail holes, caulked the window trim, caulked the crown, caulked the baseboards. SO MUCH CAULKING. But, damn, it was looking good in here!

So good, in fact, it was time to prime! Wooopeee! I covered my newly tiled floors with rosin paper and slapped Zinsser’s No-VOC primer over everything. When it was done, you guys, I almost second guessed myself. Should I leave this room white?! It was simple… clean and maybe even historically accurate?

But no, in the end I decided to go with my original design plan and pick up some pink paint. Afterall, this was a tiny bathroom, where if not here should I have some fun?! White paint with black and white floors would be boring, I told myself. But still… it was looking pretty good!

The pink I chose for the space was Benjamin Moore’s Pink Beach, which is the perfect pale shade of calamine lotion. It’s not too pink, nor is it fleshy. It’s simply excellent. At night, compared with the white primer, the pink is a barely noticeable hue. I picked up a can of Benjamin Moore’s Natura in Satin which is my preferred paint and sheen. The Natura brand is no-VOC, no-formaldehyde, and uses special no-VOC pigments as well. There is no off gassing smell and the light color paint is thick and easily applied.

Once the first coat was complete, the space really started to come together though! I couldn’t get enough of the color! It did feel old-world. Historical and somehow more beautiful than I expected. It really was the perfect shade of pink, definitely not too pink, subtle and muted enough to feel truly old. Basically the opposite of the bold, coral I’d chosen for the exterior of the house!

With one coat complete that night, I was ready to attach the second coat the next morning and finish off any patchy pink areas. Because of the beadboard and all the trimwork and because it was such a tiny room, I ended up forgoing a roller and brushing out the entire space! I even painted the ceiling by hand in the same shade (it’s such a tiny space, no sense in breaking up the color). The shelving looked great and the entire space felt like an old 1900s pantry, just like my inspiration! Of course, I’d be filling those shelves with linens and bathroom needs rather than dry goods, but the feeling was conveyed so beautifully!

I got ready to do the second coat the next morning and ohmygod I just couldn’t fall more in love. In the morning light, the room glowed pink, like something out of a movie. The light is incredibly flattering and made my skin look amazing and I felt like Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz!

The window allows just the right amount of light into the space and boy was I astounded by the beauty of this little room. It’s so hard to believe this little space looked like this not that long ago! It was so dark and dingy!

Now it’s light, bright, and glowing! It feels intentional, like it was always this way! And most importantly, it feels like it belongs to this 1909 house. The space speaks to the character of the old house and I just adore it. The color looks good with the old, stained wood doors and I can’t wait to pull up that rosin paper and see how it looks with the black and white tile floor!

Boy am I pumped to get the plumbing fixtures in here and style out those shelves! Designers love open shelving!

Have you ever transformed a small space? What were your small space storage solution spaces? Could you live with only open shelving as your primary linen / bathroom storage? Would you ever paint your bathroom pink? Let me know what you think of how this little room is coming along in the comments below!

I’m chugging away on my little One Room Challenge. Be sure to check out the other projects too.

Painting the Stairway and Updating Electrical & HVAC

The stairway at Berrybrier has gone through some pretty dramatic changes in the last year. When I first bought the house, this area was dark lit by only a single bulb on a pull chain at the top of the stairs and a small square window squeezed in at the bottom of the stair. That little window had never even been trimmed out and a screen sat next to it waiting to be installed. The stair railing was almost black covered in god knows what and the light fixture wasn’t centered on anything.

At the top of the stairs was a small crawl door to the eaves of the house which were used primarily for storage. A small trimmed out box in front of the crawl space door contained the ducting which provided heating to both bedrooms.

That hidden crawl space was painfully hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The low height (only 54″H on the taller side of the space) meant you were crouching or crawling when in there and never really comfortable. There were plywood panels over the ceiling joists (there used to be more, but the roofers removed them when they put on the dormer for some reason) which provided the floor space. There was also junk from the former owners randomly scattered throughout the space. And yes, those of you with eagle eyes have spotted that my floor joists are only 2x6s. It’s one of those things that just might be getting in the way of my future bathtub.

When I first toured the house before buying it I knew this space between the two bedrooms was very valuable. The house was screaming for a dormer addition that could hold a medium sized bathroom. This would not only add a ton of value to the house, but also provide endless convenience to those two upstairs bedrooms. People sleeping upstairs would no longer have to creep downstairs at night to use the bathroom or get a glass of water; they’d have access to it just a few feet away! This would also help ensure everyone always had access to a toilet in the house and no more fighting over who got first shower! I have big dreams, you guys!

Building a Dormer Addition

One of the first tasks when I moved into Berrybrier was a big one I hired out: installing a new roof. Berrybrier needed new sheathing and new shingles desperately! When I was working with the contractor on that project he was just as excited about building a dormer as I was!

I put together drawings at work showing the addition and got my permit at one of Portland super handy Homeowner’s Nights at the planning office. I had never done exterior elevations and structural plans before so it was a bit of a challenge but the staff at the planning office were super friendly and helpful. I went one evening for a consultation before returning the next Homeowners Night to apply for the actual permit. That first time I sat with an engineer for an hour reviewing my plans and discussing how to make things work for my house and my future goals. Although I applied for the permit use of the dormer as an unfinished storage space, all the planners immediately knew there’d be a bathroom in this space after glancing at the plans!

Once the permit had been granted, my roofer got straight to work and before I knew it the dormer was built and once the house was painted a cute coral color, it was like the dormer had been part of the exterior all along.

I do just really love my pink house.

Updating Electrical & Adding A Remote Switch

When my electricians came to rework the electrical at my house they installed one of the best changes to the stairwell: light switches!

I also had them center the light fixture box in here so it looked more normal in the new space at the top of the stairs. It was a bit of a journey to get there as they accidentally put the box in a random location and had to come back and put another hole in my ceiling. Which meant I now had two holes to patch in my ceiling. Oh joy!

Now there was a light fixture at the top of the stairs and a light switch at the bottom. The one at the bottom of the stairs is a remote switch which saved the hassle of opening up the walls to wire a three way switch and works in exactly the same way. It’s super convenient now!

Painting the Stairwell

The walls at the top of the stairs had been newly built to a higher proportion to allow a full height door into the new dormer. The texture on the rest of the walls of the stairwell was impossible to match. I patched the places I could, tried mixing sand with my paint, but there really wasn’t a great solution here. Long term, I’ll probably have this whole space professionally skimcoated to a flat finish like is used throughout the rest of the house, but for now this is kinda as good as it gets.

In February 2018 things were getting busy around here as I finished up the bathroom and began working on the kitchen floors. My Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Mike came to visit Portland and asked if there was anything they could do to help around Berrybrier. Ummm free and willing labor? Yes, please!!

Bronwyn picked up some paint and we set them up with all the tools to paint the upper back bedroom and stairwell. I headed to work and when I came home that evening they were putting the final touches on the second coat of paint! I selected Benjamin Moore’s Brushed Aluminum 1485 for the walls after much debate. You can see the colors sampled all over the walls in the floor refinishing post from a couple weeks ago! Brushed Aluminum was the color in the middle. The top option was too grey and the bottom too dark.

I wanted a light taupey color that wasn’t grey or beige or greige! I swatched three colors before landing here. I love the color in the stairwell now since it hits the perfect hue I was hoping for!

Once my Aunt and Uncle finished painting the walls it was up to me to paint the stair risers and trimwork. They kindly had prepped the trim for me, priming everything with my favorite no-VOC primer. The risers were easy. I knew I wanted them to be black and picked up a can of Benjamin Moore’s blackest true black which is called “Black” HC-190. I was planning on painting my kitchen cabinets the same color, so I splurged on the gallon rather than going for the smaller quart.

I started at the top of the stairs and worked my way down, painting each riser as I went. It was a quick and efficient process.

They were heavily textured risers from layers of old paint. I kinda love the look of it. It speaks to the history of the home? It’s like that glimpse of green I see near some of the upstairs baseboards that lets me know the floors were once all painted a dark minty-green: just a hint of the past!

The risers took just two quick coats and were finished quickly in an evening. The risers may have have been quick, but oh boy, did it take me forever to decide on a trim color.

The stairwell was kind of like a test room for the whole house. It was one of the first areas to be painted and those colors were going to wrap into the kitchen, living room, and possibly the dining room too. Which meant some decisions were easy and some exhaustingly difficult. Now I could have just painted the trim white and called it a day. But I didn’t want to do that. See white trim is great for other people, but I’m just not a white trim person. Subtle colored trim? Yes? Bold trim? Yes!! I’m also a designer which means I like to take risks and push things further than many people might feel comfortable doing. There is, however, something completely different about working on your own house rather than someone else’s. At work, it takes me all of 30 minutes to pick a whole house worth of paints for a client. I might have a contractor sample two colors in one or two spaces and then pick the better one in a 5 minute discussion.

BUT OH MY GOD I FINALLY UNDERSTAND PEOPLE!! The indecision is REAL. It took me MONTHS of pulling colors, searching paints, staring at swatches, debating color options, etc etc etc, before I could finally just pick the color. I swatched two light green colors on the trim to see how they’d look with the wall paint. The bottom one was too light, but the top one was maybe, okay?

And in the end, it wasn’t even me who picked the trim color. I didn’t go for any of the colors I swatched. My friend and co-worker Kalie – who was my champion throughout much of this renovation journey, cheering me on, settling my internal debates, reassuring me that I was going to survive, and listening to my endless chatter on all things house related – suggested I use the same dark green paint color from my bathroom for the trim throughout the rest of the house. Hmmmm…. now that idea had traction.

I adore the green paint color in the bathroom off the kitchen. It’s just absolutely perfect and the right amount of saturated with just a hint of grey undertone enough to make it feel sophisticated, but not safe or boring. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Forest Floor 1498. It would look amazing on the v-groove paneled wainscot I was planning for the kitchen and it would definitely be a statement.

I decided to go for it and set about one evening painting the trim in stairwell. It went surprisingly well until half way through the first coat I reached down to the paint can to re-wet my brush and my phone tumbled out of my pocket, yanking out my headphones from my ears, and landing in the wet can of paint! Ahhhh!!!! I watched in shock for a few seconds as my phone slowly sank into the paint, before my brain turned back on and I quickly dove my arm into the can of paint and pulled out my phone, now covered in a thick coat of green!

The only thing I could do was wipe off the paint with my paint brush. Benjamin Moore paint is THICK! When that was done I was able to get a damp rag and clean off the rest of the paint. I put some paper towel over my charger and stick it in and removed it a few times and the phone is still working fine today, so whew! Though paint definitely clogged up my speakers, so those are very muffled now.

Back to painting the hallway though. Two nights of work and and it was complete! Or… as complete as a stairwell that’s missing a door and needs some other work done can be! But hey, a million times better than the original look is still a million times better. Right? Yes! Logic. I mean, the cats certainly were in to it.

I love how the light pours in from the new window in the dormer to light the upper landing! The taupe tones of Brushed Aluminum really help to bounce the light around too.

You can see above that there are still some… less that beautiful things that need some attention though: the ducting.

Rerouting the HVAC

It wasn’t just paint that needed to be worked on up here either. Remember that box that was on the wall by the old crawl space door before the dormer was added? Well it contained the ducting for the space. Just a MINOR detail neither I or our contractor bothered to think about before demo.

Well it had to be changed for obvious reasons. Bronwyn was in the front bedroom and still needed a heat source and I wanted to be able to walk into my future upstairs bathroom without tripping over ducting and falling on my face. I pulled an HVAC permit online and got ready.

To prepare for a project like this (one where I have absolutely no idea what I’m actually doing) I followed a series of important steps. Step One: spend a vast amount of time sitting on the floor of the Home Depot ducting aisle and googling videos of HVAC work and diagrams of ducting. It’s a great use of data. Not! Step Two is to buy supplies to complete the ducting in two different ways in two different sizes of duct diameter. Step Three: repeat steps one and two until you’ve spent countless hours and at least $500 on supplies at Home Depot. Step Four: stare at the problem for a least 20 minutes. If you don’t blink first, your project will resolve itself, right? Step Five: go next door and find your neighbor, make them weigh in on the best way to about fixing your ducting issue. Step Six: ignore your neighbor’s advice, what do contractor’s know anyways? Step Seven: procrastinate. Step Eight: suck it up and try something.

Once I finally completed step eight, I put on my big girl panties and demoed the T, leaving just the duct coming up vertically from the floor.

I needed to connect the ducting that came up in the wall between my first floor bedroom and my closet to the front bedroom vent and then to connect the duct coming out of the second level floor to the back bedroom vent. The roofers / dormer builders had cut a hole at the top of the wall of my closet to allow access to the vent I needed to connect over to the front bedroom and it looked great. Just kidding! It looked terrrrrrible. Here is a very close up picture I took lying upside down in the closet hanging out like a crazy person half balanced on ladder.

I then used this 12 foot of insulated 4″ flexible ducting to connect the ducting in the the wall of my closet on the floor below, span over the width of the closet underneath the ceiling, and come up through a hole between the ceiling joists to connect in the wall to the vent of the front bedroom.

Ya’ll, I used so much ducting tape, it’s not even funny. And I stapled things and caulked and I realllly hope it was effective.

I then used a couple of these 6″ duct elbows to connect the duct that was coming out of the floor already to the back bedroom. I secured evvverything with a butt-ton of silver foil ducting tape and then went and returned about $450 worth of HVAC ducting to Home Depot from the 49 trips I made in a desperation.

It all worked out in the end, but I still need to get around to patching the baseboards and covering up the rest of it. For now, at least this is providing heat though!

And now…

that’s where things stand today! Not completely done, but not completely a mess either. There’s still a ton on my list for this space though:

  • Add a stair railing back in
  • Find an awesome vintage wood door with three raised panels below a half-lite. Paint and install said door.
  • Trim out door.
  • Build-in small linen cabinet / bookshelf in space to right of door over ducting.
  • Figure out transition to bathroom (see steps above) and patch-in flooring.

Once that’s all done, the space will be complete! Well, until I do a true gut reno on the kitchen and open the stairs up to it, at least. For now, though, this half completed space is working out pretty well and has been doing just fine for the last year!

I love this transformation so much. It’s one of those things that got done before so many of the other big things around the house and really set the tone for the whole design. This little stairwell guinea pig really did me right!

I just can’t believe this dormer wasn’t always here, either. It just feels right. And thank god, because at this stage of the renovation so many things were not feeling this way! That dormer is a mess, so excuse the insanity and just imagine black subway tile wainscoting and moody merlot paint, okay?

One thing I’m stuck on is art for this space! What am I supposed to put on the walls?

I almost never go upstairs so I don’t want it to be too personal, but also don’t want to leave it blank! Give me some ideas in the comments below!