Hole in the bucket (once more with feeling)

Have I mentioned that I am slightly… er… underemployed at the moment? And how that’s just fine, because I haven’t had a slow period in over a decade, and it’s summer, and we are doing Fun Things and years and years of being completely mentally ill about money mean that I can slack for a little while and we won’t be in financial dire straits or anything? And it’s all good, no problems, what a lovely and much needed break, we just have to be a little more careful and it’s no problem?

Well. I have all this TIME on my hands, now. Time I don’t normally have. Wouldn’t a lull in work be the PERFECT time to paint my office finally? Plus Monkey was going to be away for a while and then Otto went off on a trip and it was just me and Chickadee and, yes, sure, Orange Is The New Black wasn’t going to watch itself, but we finished it in two days (it was the weekend! GIRLS’ WEEKEND with bonding and lesbian prisoners, DUH) and then the following Monday I picked up my special-order, made-from-unicorn-horn-and-fairy-dust paint, and it was time to get down to business. Surely this would be NOTHING like previous DIY projects of snowballing magnitude, right? Right!

Allow me to tell you in words how the pre-painting prep went: I discovered that I have a lot of crap in my office. A LOT OF CRAP. I had a weird giant shelf on the wall that ultimately had to be unbolted and then chiseled off, and I have a giant desk and a filing cabinet and endless bookshelves and a coat rack and and and AND. We emptied most of the office into the dining room, and moved the remaining few big things (desk, futon couch) into the center of the room. It was… not fun, but we got it done. Next up was spackling and sanding. Then I started taping trim while Chickadee removed outlet plates, and that’s when I realized two very important things.

1) There are entirely too many doors in my office. FIVE of them, to be exact. (No, my office isn’t all that big. But it’s a corner room. From here you can go to the garage, kitchen, or outside, plus I have a closet and a tiny bathroom.) Plus a window. Yes. Also I have baseboards and crown molding. For those keeping track at home, THAT IS A METRIC FUCKTON OF STUFF TO TAPE.

2) Because of alllllllllll this trim, this is when I discovered that the former owners of our house were lazy jerkfaces.

I would love to describe to you my unfolding shock and horror as I discovered all the ways in which the room was previously painted by people who are unaware that painter’s tape exists. But in this case, I think pictures are more apt. Understand that I was flabbergasted while I did the initial taping, but it wasn’t until the office was painted and I removed the tape that I got really pissed off, because it looked so nice except for… THAT.

Anyway, pictures! We started out super happy. Chickadee did most of the rolling, and none was so triumphant as that first few strokes bidding goodbye to the color I not-so-lovingly referred to as Baby Poop Brown.


(Go, Chickie, go! She was a HUGE help through this process, not just in terms of work, but for camaraderie. I highly recommend doing the bulk of your painting in the evening with your ADHD teen after her meds have worn off. The entertainment value is indescribable.) (Also!! Unsolicited plug: The paint is Ellen Kennon Oasis, and it is more expensive than regular paint, but 1) Ellen Kennon emailed me personally two years ago when I was trying to find this paint in town and AGAIN this time when I was figuring out what to do AND she was helpful and darling both times, and 2) the paint is gorgeous and worth every penny. Full spectrum paint varies in color depending on the lighting/time of day—this color goes from green to blue, depending—and it’s just plain cool. Highly recommend.)

Here’s where having a teenage daughter is a great influence: I made a Snapchat story about how NOT TO PAINT and that helped me to manage my rage while I removed the tape. And I saved it for you! Here you go:


[Note: I am aware that a couple of these close-ups show the baseboards to be disgusting, and in my defense, most of it was behind furniture and impossible to clean. Also, maybe I’m a little disgusting. ANYWAY it’s all freshly painted and snowy white, now, so relax.]

In conclusion: The former owners of the house not only loved ugly paint, they loved it all over everything.

Chickadee rolled and I did all the cut-ins with a brush. FIVE FREAKING DOORS, remember. The first day we got two coats of paint done and felt very productive. The second day I took the tape down, had rage, and started to formulate our plan of attack for the trim work. Basically Chickadee walked around and popped doors off hinges and painted them one at a time while I worked my way around the trim. I did the crown molding first, and then when I could no longer move my neck (fun!) I moved on to the baseboards. Then the five door frames. And the window. And I’m not gonna lie, by the time I got to the window, I no longer cared. I was no longer in love with my beautiful freshly-painted office, I just wanted to put down the paintbrush with my cramped, paintbrush-grasping hooks of hands and never paint again. I wanted my furniture back where it belonged and everything normal. I wanted to be DONE.

Otto came home very late one night when we were almost done. The next morning, as we were finishing up, I waited for him to shower us with praise for having done such an amazing job. Right now everything is painted and beautiful except for the door leading out to the porch—we’re having a heat wave and I’m not going to pop the door and paint it until it cools off, some. (We were considering doing it last night, but at 11:00 pm it was still 86 degrees. No thanks!)

“Whaddaya think??” I asked, the standing in the (beautiful! oasis-y!) shambles of my office in my pajamas that morning. “Isn’t it AMAZING?”

“It looks great,” he said, nodding and looking around. “But…” his eyes flicked up from the floor to meet mine, because 26 years of knowing a person prepares you for saying things that might make the other person want to kill you. “… now that the walls look so great… and you’ve got most of the furniture out of here… do you want me to replace the floor?”

To my credit, I didn’t stab him. And that’s because I’m a wonderful person, NOT because there was nothing handy with which to do it, because we still had an assortment of tools sitting out. I sputtered and stammered something about MESS and MONEY and I WANT TO BE DONE and Otto nodded and patted my arm and was also unsurprised when twenty minutes later I asked him if he would come with me to the store to look at flooring. He didn’t even mind when I muttered something about how this was all his fault.


That’s the sample of what I picked. It’s a “distressed maple” (“I’m really stressed out about life!”) Pergo. Hey, it’s going to look amazing. If it’s ever done.

[He’s right. He’s always right about this stuff. The carpet in here is old and gross and the dogs are making it grosser, despite my best efforts and my trusty Hoover SpinVac carpet cleaner thingie. It’s just… I was trying to do something CHEAP and NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL but best laid plans and rabbit holes and all of that.]


  1. Kate

    That is REALLY beautiful flooring.

    I just moved and the previous residents had the worst — THE WORST — paint colors PLUS the paint was so poorly applied (all of the issues you had, plus like weirdly inconsistent coverage) and just getting two rooms painted made such a huge difference. I hope you will show us some before and after shots!

  2. Jean

    ALL such projects snowball. It’s a rule. And it does no good to remind oneself of that and estimate up in terms of time, money, and effort. In fact, it’s counterproductive to do so, because regardless of how much one estimates up, the actual project will always exceed the estimate.

    But–well done, and you’ll love it when it’s all done and back together. Instead of working surrounded by a background irritant, you’ll be surrounded by an aesthetically-pleasing warm glow of virtue and pride.

  3. Diane

    I confess, I do not tape. But I am an expert at cutting in and clean as I go.

    That color is gorgeous – full spectrum paint rocks. The whole office is fresh and beautiful, just the right backdrop for pretty Mir!

    • Mir

      I didn’t tape to do the trim, just bought a couple of new brushes and worked verrrrry slooooowwwwwwly. But I hope I have to do that again approximately never.

  4. JennyA

    Just reading this I could feel my hands start to curl into the dreaded Trim Paint Claw. But that paint looks beautiful and once everything is finished you will feel so virtuous and you’ll forget about The Claw at some point, until, having forgotten about The Claw, you will embark on another “how bad can it be” “quick update”. Or so I’ve heard. On the up side, I no longer tape things, because my Claw is a Professional now.

  5. meghann

    Like my dad says, it’s not a true home project unless you’ve been to Lowe’s at least three times.

    It reminds me of the time that replacing a bathroom sink faucet turned into the faucet, all the pipes, the vanity, and retiling the bathroom floor.

  6. Jenn

    This scares me for my bedroom rehab project which, shockingly, keeps getting postponed. It started with patch-staining the floor and has now been extended to fresh paint on the walls, fixing the badly puttied molding, and revamping the closet storage. And this is going to be done before we replace the windows in that room but I can’t wait any longer. The floor is driving me crazy. And I also do not tape. And I’m not an expert at cutting and cleaning as I go. But I pick lovely colors so maybe that helps.

  7. Brenda

    I helped a friend paint the living room of her new house. I was meticulous in painting the ceiling line, because that was not taped. METICULOUS. Because it is just UNACCEPTABLE to have paint smeared on the trim like that. Why bother painting if you’re not going to do it right? Love the new color, though! :)

  8. My Kids Mom

    Yes, I get it: nine doors and a bay window in my kitchen, plus crown molding= get it done and let’s pretend it looks better than it does and I will PAY someone next time.

  9. Otto

    Now, about the walls and floors in our bedroom … and my boss thinks I should go to Kazahkstan for two weeks …


    • Michele

      Otto, will you take my teenager with you to Kazakhstan ? You are so fabulous with moody teens and all. Both my girls were adopted from Kazakhstan and would like to visit but I, er, never want to go there again. Oh and have I mentioned what great taste you have in wives? She’s so pretty.

  10. Jill W.

    I hope you will post pics of the finished product.

    I clicked on the Ellen Kinnon link and was surprised to find she is located in St. Francisville, LA, not too far from where I live. I’ll have to check that out next time I am over that way.

  11. Ann Garniss

    That sucks, but it could be worse. The previous owners could have loved terrible colour, been lackadaisical about cutting in and cleaning up, and also been deeply into textures. I sanded the master and the bathroom (which had been done in tinted, oil based plaster), but there’s not enough sandpaper in the world to actually smooth it out. Eventually we’ll have to re-drywall.

    Talk about a project getting out of hand.

  12. Flea

    You would hate me. Hate. I paint the way your previous owners did. My husband refuses to go into my office because of it. I like your new flooring sample. :)

  13. Lisa Mahoney

    That floor is going to be GORGEOUS!!

  14. Genevieve

    The paint color is gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous just from this little sample, where we can’t even see how it changes with the light.
    And that flooring will look so beautiful with it, and hold up better with the dogs etc. Love our Pergo-type flooring.

    So when it’s done, you will be so happy with it all!

  15. Chris G

    So proud of you and Chickadee for working together and getting it done. When you get the flooring done ( leave it to Otto for his honesty) and your furniture all moved in, you will be so inspired to create and have a beautiful peaceful place to work. You deserve the beautiful space. I think its nice that it was a group project. I am looking forward to pictures. The work itself is exhausting and time consuming but after we see it all together it feels so good. That said enjoy!!!!

  16. Michelle

    Now you see if it were me? I’d be tackling this sort of project as a way to procrastinate doing something else. . .like writing my senior thesis or something equally important. Also, we always suffer from project creep but once it’s all finished we just walk on air for a very long time enjoying how fresh, beautiful and uniquely ours the space is.

    I have miles of trim to paint and I’m hoping to get to it this summer but this week I’m procrastinating with the weeds at my mother-in-laws house and cleaning up the deck that needs re-sealing.

  17. Michelle

    Gaah, hit reply before I was finished. Your new color is lovely and I’m so glad you and chickadee had some manic fun doing your project together.

    Your dirt doesn’t bother me a bit, what would bother me is if I was the next owner and you’d painted over all that dirt like the previous owner of our house did. Oy!

  18. JMH

    And now I am reminded why I save my $$ to pay someone else to paint for me…GAH I hate painting!!!

  19. Lucinda

    I didn’t know you bought my old house. lol I admit I’m a lousy and impatient painter. I could have done that kind of job (I HAVE done that quality work) and I would have left it because I was bored and there was something shiny and no one else is interested in helping me fix it. So yeah. Someone will be screaming the same thing about my house someday. But I also didn’t use baby poop brown. So there’s that.

    Once your office is finished I’m sure you’ll love it all the more because you know it was done correctly this time.

  20. HG

    Love the flooring! Love the idea of the paint — will have to seek out.

  21. Jeanie

    I had no idea all that prep work should be done. The few times I’ve had rooms painted, no one did anything except tape stuff off. Sigh. What a lot of work you and Chickie did! I’m super impressed. I can’t paint worth spit, so I’m in awe of you two.

  22. Elizabeth

    What do you bet Otto asks about new office furniture next? You can purge files in all your free time.

  23. kellyg

    We had the company we hired to finish the basement do the wall painting as well. I was absolutely dumbfounded when I saw they had painted the tops of the floor trim (wannabe baseboards) the wall color. Very expertly done with no drips onto the face of the trim. But…. But….. I still have no words.

  24. Daisy

    You could leave a note in your will addressed to the people who will live in this house in the next generation. “I worked hard to paint this room! You will like it! You must like it!”

  25. liz

    I think the next owners of this house will hate me, because EVEN THOUGH I TAPED, my molding looks like that. Also, splotches on the ceiling.

  26. Andrea

    The crazy paint job reminded me of the previous owners in my last house. They had some hideous paint and wallpaper in the master bedroom but everything looked fresh and new. I figured, OK, easy paint job. Until I moved in and closed the two closet doors….they had only painted the insides of the doors which they left open during open house and walk-throughs looking all fresh and pretty. Who neglects to paint the side of the doors that face into the room?

    Turns out, the whole house had little almost done projects–one strange piece of trim in the dining room that needed expert mitering, small add-on cabinet in the kitchen whose counter top never got attached to the wall, back deck that had one mysterious white patch over the rails that never got painted porch green. The whole house was like that.

    Next house I bought was from a retired couple. Figured they’d be doing things the right way. Turns out the wife had to keep the grout in the kitchen floor clean with a toothbrush.

    Moral(s) of the story-never buy a house from someone that works construction…like the cobbler whose own children go barefoot, they never finish their own projects, and never buy a house from someone that has time to clean floors with a toothbrush.

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