Jesus take the paintbrush

By Mir
June 23, 2008

This is the part of our story where the children have returned, and Otto has returned, and the cartoon bluebirds sing and all is well and easy and back to normal, hallelujah and amen!

Except that this is ME, so nothing is ever that easy. Of course. Really, that sort of tranquility would make me highly suspicious, anyway.

So have I ever told you the story about how I am a wee bit impatient when I get a bee in my bonnet about redecorating and home projects? It’s true! I can see that you are astonished! But yes, occasionally once the decision has been made to do something, I am not so good with the whole waiting thing. Why, I once rearranged all of the furniture in my living room single-handedly (including a sleeper sofa that weighed at least a thousand million pounds) because my husband told me he’d help me with it “later.” LATER is no good. I have an idea, I have a VISION, I need to ACT! You know, before the lethargy sets in.

Before Otto left for California he told me “not to worry” about the dining room—we could finish working on it when he got back. Nineteen years that man has known me, and he says something like that. As IF.

Naturally I made it my mission to finish the dining room before he returned. Because it would be a nice surprise, and also because I COULDN’T STAND TO LEAVE IT UNDONE. And Otto really did a tremendous amount of work with me before he left, too… we’d handled three layers of wallpaper and two layers of primer and troweled on two layers of Venetian plaster. Really, how hard could it possibly be for me to do the topcoat and then the portion of wall beneath the chair rail?

As anyone who’s been reading the last week already knows, that turned out to be rather a lot of work. BUT I DID IT. Because I love Otto! Also because I suffer from a strange strain of home improvement OCD. (Must… Finish… Room!)

The topcoat for the Venetian plaster, as it turns out, is ALSO supposed to be applied with a trowel. But in a VERY THIN layer. Let me tell you how applying a thin layer of topcoat over a textured wall works with a trowel: NOT AT ALL. So I grabbed a paintbrush and did a dry-brush technique to get the topcoat on, which is to say that I painted tiny little Xs—back and forth, back and forth—over an entire room until my wrist broke and my hand fell to the floor. I then had to tape a paint roller to the bloody stump of my wrist so that I could continue painting the lower part of the wall with Fairmont Hotel Impossible To Coat Evenly Hahaha Sucker Midnight Blue. That is dedication, right there.

Anyway, I got it DONE, is my point. And yesterday—after the kids were home, but before Otto got back—my sickness deepened a little and it occurred to me that I should really remove all of the tape before Otto returned, so that he could see how BEAUTIFUL the room looked.

Now, fortunately, I’m no dummy. I knew the tape needed to be CUT off, lest I rip large portions of the fresh wall paint off. So I set to work on a stepladder with a utility knife (always a good combination, a clumsy woman perched on a ladder with something sharp!), slicing and pulling, slicing and pulling. I was prepared to be UTTERLY WOWED by the room once the tape was down. Yes.

Well, I was… something… once I got the tape down. See, I made a few interesting discoveries:

First, that in a few places the tape had just plumb come up or buckled, and I’d slopped paint on the trim. Navy blue paint. On white trim. I’m sure that’ll be easy to cover, right? Ha. Hahaha. Ha. Hmph.

Second, that the previous owners/painters had slopped maroon on the trim, leaving me, now, with a navy wall and maroon-striped trim. Behold:

(See the bottom of the chair rail? Isn’t that attractive? But feel free to tell me how utterly WOWED you are by the plaster. One part paint, one part goopy plaster, fifteen parts a proprietary mix of curse words and tears, that.)

Third, that the plates to cover the light switches are so small that by not going RIGHT up to the metal, I have left an area that will not be covered when I put the plates back on:

(I could go back in and patch that little bit, or I could buy new switch plates. GUESS which one I’m opting for?) (Also, air bubbles much? I would care but I’m over it. Those were totally intentional! Light and airy, that’s me!)

To his credit, Otto walked in there and oohed and aahed and assured me that it all looks great. I think he might have suffered a bit of brain damage in California, or maybe he was afraid that I would cry if he didn’t say nice things.

So, yeah. It’s fabulous, really. Except that now I have to go back and sand and paint the crown molding, the chair rail, and all the trim. PLEASE KILL ME.

In other news—no doubt because I am so deeply pious when it comes to painting, and God wants to reward me—my daughter has returned from this last trip with a bad case of the Creeping Crud. Her elbows and the backs of her knees and some other spots on her legs and a part of her body I am probably no longer allowed to mention here on the blog, even to say that I used to love to pinch it, are covered in what looks like tiny warts. IT IS HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE. Also, it’s terribly itchy. So I have been slathering her in moisturizer and cortisone cream, but clearly she needs to be checked by a doctor.

So I called the doctor first this morning, and they told me to “bring her right in.” At which point I had to say that actually, haha, even though she might have some contagious sort of ebola or something, I had taken her to Vacation Bible School and she’d be done at noon, so could we come this afternoon, instead?

Maybe Jesus will heal her while she’s there. You know, between the singing and snack time, maybe. Because Jesus LOVES the little children, even when they are covered in creeping crud, and even when their mothers suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Painting Disorder.


  1. Carolie

    The wall is lovely. You are amazing.

  2. Jennifer

    Maybe she’s allergic to plaster. (Ow! Hey, did you just throw a paintbrush at me?!)

  3. Erin

    I have to say, Mir, that when I look at those pictures (the point of which was to point out some flaws) all I noticed was how awesome it looks! Honestly! It looks really great!

    Also, this morning I had a dream in which you invited me to your house to show me the new paint job. You must have done a good job describing the colors here on WCS, because now that I’ve seen them–they’re exactly like they were in my dream.

    It’s probably creepy that I’m dreaming about your dining room wall treatments, huh?

  4. Brian

    The wall, at least those portions in the picture look great. We just bought our first house and I painted several rooms. What I came realize is that when you are working up close, you notice the little details or flaws that bother you and eat at you. But you have step back and look at the totality of the room. When you do that, the little flaws aren’t so bad. Guests to your house probably won’t even notice the air bubbles…you only notice them becuase you know they are there and where they are.

  5. Leandra

    That wall? Looks fantastic!! You guys (okay, mostly you!) did an awesome job. How much would I have to pay you to get you to do my house? Is there enough money in the world?

  6. Ani

    Hey there

    Exorcise the evil demons…invite a few people over for dinner. And they will fall over fawning over your (no joke here) awesome job. It looks great. But to you, who know the intimate deatils, it will never look quite “right”.

    Believe me, if the rest of the room looks anything like those pics, you just upped your home value by thousands. It looks awesome.

  7. jen

    Use a foam brush, the kind you get at craft stores (like, 15 for a dollar…) and use that to touch up the white-over-navy. With a steady hand it works like a charm.
    But the room looks fantastic!

  8. themuttprincess

    The colors look great together. You will have it to your liking in no time.

    And then someone will scuff the wall…..

  9. Astrogirl426

    Ok, we want to see pics of the whole room, floor and all!

    The walls look awesome! One option is, instead of getting new switch plates, to just paint the pieces of wall around the light switch, so although they won’t have the texture, they’ll have the same color, and it’ll be so close to the swtichplate that you won’t notice (can you tell I’m lazy, as well as cheap? Yeh.).

    Good luck with the last bit – it always seems like the last mile is the longest, doesn’t it?

  10. Aimee

    The room looks lovely — at least the little snippet you showed us. I love the colors. And once you’ve bought bigger switch plates and touched up those few areas, it’ll be great! Anybody who comes over to your house and notices tiny little bubbles in the artfully-applied plaster needs to stop bothering you and GET A LIFE.

  11. kris

    And I second jen’s comment – just take a foam brush and some white Kilz (or if you have white paint, super – I’m just saying that Kilz is probably close enough and after a project like this you probably have some lying around) and cover the maroon and navy. No need to go more OCD than necessary…

  12. RuthWells

    The 15 parts of cursing is what really makes the plaster shine, in my opinion.

    (I once decided to rag paint an attic room — walls AND ceiling — with dormer windows and slanted ceilings. With brand-new, raw drywall. And oil-based glazes. One primer coat, 2 base color coats, and top coat ragged by hand, inch by tiny inch. Never again with the painting. That is all.)

  13. Walking In My Sleep

    There’s a saying – “Good ’nuff!” I’ve come to embrace it and it’s one I intone often as I get older. You done good!

  14. StephLove

    I had to really look to see the splatters on the trim. Probably no-one is going to be staring that hard at it. Good work!

    I hope C’s skin is better soon!

  15. Marissa

    It looks AMAZING!! I had the same crown molding problem in my new house. The ceiling (and walls) in the dining room were dark red with white crown molding and the same fun in sky blue in the living room. Touching up with white is way more than good enough!! After painting the ceilings with 8 coats of white and the walls in the living room with taupe (4 coats)

  16. Karen

    It does look beautiful. A little Kilz and some of the same trim paint could save you a whole lot of time. I really love the plaster

  17. Em

    You need to step back. Really. And I say this with love and I say it from experience. You’ve been looking at your work so closely (literally, with your nose right up there against the wall, right?). There is no such thing as perfection. I think the wall looks professional and really, really nice. I see that little teensy tinsey dot on the chair rail but only because you showed a picture with it right there pointed out. I would say a couple of Q-tips dipped in Killz and paint should take care of that (please tell me you weren’t going to sand down the whole chair rail for that?).

    I did the same thing with the face plate area. I totally vote for bigger faceplates.

    So for what its worth, I think you did an amazing job! The kind of job that deserves a chocolate reward.

  18. All Adither

    Crown molding sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, perhaps. Why don’t you just rip it down and start over.

  19. Sharon

    Your wall looks beautiful. Buy oversized switch plates, a couple dollars each and one of God’s gifts to home renovators. Then enjoy the results of all the work you’ve done!

  20. Jamie AZ

    The walls look beautiful, Mir! I second the idea of Kilz and new paint rather than sanding the trim – ick! Hope Chickie’s crud goes away quickly and painlessly.

  21. tammy

    I would tell you that you should just leave it be and that nobody will notice it but you, but I just spent the better part of a weekend painting trimlines with an artist’s watercolor brush, so who am I kidding.

    Embrace the painting OCD, says me. :D

  22. First Rough Draft

    I love the new paint, and I can so relate to your impatience. I can’t wait to see the new room in its entirety!

  23. Megan

    Is luffly. Also Otto might be just the kind of super fantastic person to actually do the touch-up stuff himself? You know, since you did the easy stuff like the seventy-leven million coats of plaster and paint.

  24. Mother of Two

    Mir –

    Love the walls. You and Otto did an absolutely awesome job on the texture. The paint looks wonderful. I completely understand your problem with the chair rail… I am the same way… It needs to be right… I get it.
    I would try kilz first, if that doesn’t work, I would buy new Crown molding when I went to buy the new face plates…

    Good luck at the drs office this afternoon!

  25. The Other Lori

    Well done! That plaster is awe inspiring. If I were eating a delicious meal in your gorgeous dining room, I would be so amazed by the plaster that I wouldn’t notice the itty bitty little flaws. But you’d point them out, wouldn’t you? I know, I know. It’s a curse that I too live with.

    Hi, my name is Lori and I have home improvement OCD.

    Everyone now…”Hi Lori”…

  26. Cele

    I love what you’ve done with the room. Could you please send me some of your OCD? Because I’m stuck in Redo Lethargy.

    I hope Chickie feels better very soon.

  27. Sheryl

    Dude, that trim looks FINE. We need a picture of the whole room, not a 2mm mistake. Also, your title cracked me up.

  28. Headless Mom

    Is home improvement OCD transmittable? Because we really need some around here, in a big bad way.

  29. Jan

    Why is it that we do-it-ourselfers are apt … nay, COMPELLED to point out every flaw in our work to impressed onlookers? Stop the madness, I say. Your work looks lovely.

    Also, RE : Before Otto left for California he told me “not to worry” about the dining room—we could finish working on it when he got back. Nineteen years that man has known me, and he says something like that. As IF.

    Has it occurred to you that perhaps Otto knows you exactly that well? I’m just sayin’.

  30. Sheila

    You would HATE my house. Five years ago, seven months pregnant, I decided to paint the bathroom. A lovely reddish-burgundy. After ripping off the tape, I noticed spots of slop-over on the white ceiling. Too exhausted to continue, not to mention too fat to get up on a ladder again, I vowed to get at those spots after the baby was born.

    My baby will be in kindergarten in a few months, and the ceiling is STILL dappled with burgundy.

    All of that is to say: your chair rail? Looks fine to me. And are you available for a freelance touch-up job in Wisconsin? Because there’s some work to be done in the kids’ rooms, too…

  31. Shalee

    Thank you for reminding me how much I can live with the white walls in my new house. You saved me time, money and brain cells, thankyouverymuch.

    But if you’re anything like me, you’d better fix that miniscule spot or else it will bug the living daylights out of you until you’ve finally had enough and you fix it only to move out of your house a few months later. You might as well enjoy it the way you want it while you’re living there.

  32. Valerie

    Could you possibly come up here sometime soon when The Boyfriend isn’t working and just stand around motivating me and the lazy oafs who live here to finish up at least one of the umpteen million projects we have going on?

  33. ikate

    This is exactly why I hire this shit out.

    It also helps that I do not have the decorating OCD gene. I can (and am currently) live with a half-done project for months…at least long enough for me to save the money to hire someone to finish it!!

  34. Sue @ My Party of 6

    WOW! I think you should go into the faux finishing/Venetian plastering business. If you ever get tired of the buckets of money you are making from blogging. It is GORGEOUS!

    And I hope the crud is gone soon. Texturizing should only be on walls, not on children!

  35. elizabeth

    Inhale, Exhale. The wall looks nice. Leave it alone. WHAT are you doing taking digital pictures of microscopic-nothing-mc-nothingness-that-is-not-wrong with the chair rail?

    Step away from the paint brush!

    I know! Every time you eat in the dining room, just fix a martini. We’ll call it the Martini Room. Maybe if you fix a martini, you can blur your vision enough, that you’ll never notice the supposed maroon on the perfectly fine chair rail!

  36. Flea

    We’re too much alike in this. Don’t ever tell me you’ll help me with something later, because it will be DONE by later. Every night for five years, in our last house, my husband would climb into bed, look at the ceiling and ask if I was ever going to touch up the edges where I forgot to tape. What a mess. Or the cement floors I spent six months staining but didn’t seal.

    Your post title made me think of this video:

  37. Burgh Baby

    If anybody looks at that trim closely enough to notice the little bit of red, they truly deserve a good swift kick in the head. I’m betting a normal photo, not focusing on your OCD obsessions, will look just dandy. Actually, not dandy. PERFECT.

  38. Jessica

    I had a sleeper sofa that weighed a million pounds. I was so happy to see that thing go!

  39. jules

    you know.. in the dark… or without your glasses.. or after a bit of imbibbing.. you won’t even see those things..

    ..also, a little bit of white out goes a long way :D

    OCD-R-US I’m with ya

  40. Procrastamom

    My SIL painted her kitchen (I think) with her eyes closed and also without the use of any tape. So badly glooped are the baseboards and windowsills and light fixtures and (yes!) the switch covers that she didn’t remove before painting, that I actually experience physical pain every time I walk into her kitchen (gah! I just want to grab the first professional painter I meet on the street and tell him to FIX IT! FIX IT QUICK!). She, of course, thinks she did an absolutely fabulous job and can’t stop crowing to everyone who will listen about the wonderful colours she picked out for her kitchen walls. I just have to smile and nod and croak out a “great job SIL!” at various points in the conversation.

    It took me a lot longer than others to even pick out the mistake on your chairail. So tiny is it in comparison.

  41. jennielynn

    Oh my heck! That looks so amazing!

    Sorry about Chickie-poo. Hope it’s not contagious ebola and she gets healed at VBS.

  42. elizabeth

    the wall looks FAB-U-LISS! just a bit of touch up if the microscopic blips bother you that much. but nobody will notice unless you point it out. promise.

    nothing worse than creeping crud. I hope Chickadee is better soon.

  43. Lindsay

    Best title ever. Loved it.

  44. Jan in Norman OK

    Keep the lights off and dine by candlelight (shades of Hyacinth Bucket!). Then no one will notice the tiny imperfections.

  45. Mike Golch

    Mir,Good work on the room! I keep your daughter in my prayers. Big time hugs from me and God’s blessing headed your way!

  46. SoMo

    Absolutely lovely. I think this is what my husband was going for when we redid our dining room. And when I say we, I mean painters and tile layers.

    Anyway, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out and you are suddenly looking for work. You can take a little drive over to New Orleans and do our dining room, air bubbles and all. Don’t worry we can pay and when I say pay, I mean all the liquor and Big Ass Beers you can drink. ;)

  47. crazyjane

    oh no, it sounds like chickie could have molluscum!
    my 3 all had this. and my neighbors 2. it is crazy contagious and really ugly, but basically harmless. my experience with it has been that it will last for ages but then one day she will wake up and it will be gone. like magic.
    also, the wall looks great. i need some home improvement ocd, myself.

  48. mommytherobot

    the wall looks great! and i know what you mean once i get something in my head it needs to be DONE pronto or it will never get done at all. this is why i can concoct an entire cake, several menus in one entire day. then i fall down and sleep for days. I WISH!
    nice job w the walls!

  49. tori

    It looks great! We need a full wall photo though to properly see how awesome it looks!

  50. Inzaburbs

    I had the same thing happen with the chair rail in my dining room (which I have been painting since April…). Not because my paint dripped but because the previous owner had not used any tape.
    My whole house is like that, with uneven paint lines up to all the molding. Nobody else seems to notice, but it bugs the hell out of me and I am determined to get rid of it, bit by bit. So I taped, correctly, and once I have finished the actual painting (probably around December), I plan to do exactly what people are suggesting – a touch up.
    Please please don’t try sanding and repainting the whole chair rail – truly, a touch up will look great.
    I love your colors by the way.

  51. Wendy in MD

    Your walls look terrific. No one will notice those imperfections. But if you really want to eliminate the red/white/blue strip effect, don’t sand.

    I had a similar issue with previous-homeowner-applied-paint on a chair rail. I used a watercolor paint brush from the kids’ art bucket and used it to paint on thin stripes of primer and paint that matched the chair rail. MUCH easier than sanding! :-)

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