After the initial flurry of intense activity as we attempted to complete the main living spaces of the house (i.e. the family room, entryway, upstairs hallway, and girl’s rooms), major progress stalled out a bit.
I was able to get a few more rooms done – self-contained rooms that I knew I could finish quickly and easily (like the sunroom and upstairs bathroom). But the dining room and sitting room were staring me in the face every day. I knew we had to tackle them, but I also knew that they were HUGE projects that were going to take a long time – thanks to the wainscoting in the dining room and the built-ins in the sitting room, which each would need at least two coats of primer and three coats of trim.
Listing pics of the dining room and sitting room
I don’t know WHOSE idea it was or WHY we decided it was a good one, but for some unknown reason, we decided that we should start the dining room and finish it in time for Carys’s fourth birthday party on July 5. And we decided that about a week and a half in advance of the party.
What the hell is wrong with us?
That was a week and a half to sand an acre of wood trim/wainscoting, a week and a half to prime a crap ton of wood – twice, a week and a half to get three coats of trim paint up on all. that. wood. Not to mention a week and a half to paint the walls. And a week and a half to lay new floors. Oh. And that week and a half included a bachlorette party, a wedding and the 4th of July (in addition to her party). So three days of that week and a half had very limited time to work.
We are insane.
So I had to immediately started all the priming work like two seconds after making that poor decision. I didn't want to pull out the carpet right away since I was still working in the space and we were still eating in there, so I used a blade to cut a strip of carpet away from the walls, then pulled up the tack strips using a curved prybar (like this, I think?). Pulling up the entire track strip in one piece is pretty easy - just slip the prybar under the tackstrip by the first nail (the nails that are going down to the floor, not the ones that stick up to secure the carpet), use the hammer to hammer it in so it's really under there, and then press down to pop the nail and that section of tackstrip up. Then leave it and move onto the next nail. Repeat all the way down the tackstrip, and you should be able to get the entire thing off in once full piece. You can watch this video, where I got the technique, for more details.
It looked TERRIBLE. I was freaking out a little but I had to remind myself this was but the first step and that the end product would be worth it. I hoped. So onto the second coat I went.
For the primer, I used the same Zinsser 1-2-3 Bullseye Primer we used for the rest of the trim. Not because I think it's better than all other primers, but it's all we've used and it's worked well for us so far. So I recommend them for that reason, but not because we've done extensive primer testing with dozens of brands.
After the second coat of primer, I went around and caulked every. single. seam. And there were so many seams. (I wait until after the primer, because the dark lines where the caulking is needed become much more apparent than they are before the primer.) Then we started the first, second, and third coats of trim paint. We used the same Sherwin Williams ProClassic trim paint that we used in the rest of the house. Again, it's all we've tried, but it's served us very well. It's self-leveling, so brush strokes even out into a smooth, glossy finish.
After the first (? I think) coat of trim paint
I had lots of help.
After the second coat of trim paint, I pulled up the rest of the carpet and swept/cleaned the plywood subfloor, and started to think about the wall color.
I was originally just going to do that room in the same Smoke Embers as the rest of the house, but kept seeing pins of people with these gorgeous, dark walls - and while I didn't like the brown color of the walls, I was really liking the tone of them, so I was thinking a nice dark gray. Then, when looking through paint sample pamphlets (surely I'm not the only one who picks up every single one I see?) I saw a light, almost minty green color called Sea Salt that I thought was really pretty, and then realized it might do the trick in tying the teal blue of the kitchen into the rest of the house - kind of act as a bridge between the teal and the Smoke Embers.
The one thing I've discovered about Sea Salt is that it's nearly impossible to photograph and get an accurate color. This was the swatch where I first saw it.
I convinced myself that was the color, went and bought a sample, and WHOMP WHOMP I didn't like it. OF COURSE I DIDN'T. It can never be the first choice, can it? Not in my world. Although on the sample sheet there was a good difference between Sea Salt and white, it was less obvious in person. I was worried it was too light as well. (Although as I type that, I remember having the same concerns about Smoke Embers, which I love now, so I probably would have loved this too).
I pulled out the eight million other swatches I've collected and got samples of Swanky Gray, Sea Salt at 120% (thinking I might like it more if it was a bit more intense), and Smoke Embers at 120%. Below is the Swanky Gray, the Sea Salt 120, the Smoke Embers 120, and the regular Sea Salt.
Compared to the other colors, Swanky Gray was very purple. I honestly think that without other colors to compare it to, it would be gray, but in context the purple twinge was very apparent. I decided to go safe and do Smoke Embers at 120. Until Chris was literally in line at the paint store and I texted him, "STOP. DO NOT PASS GO. CHANGING TO SEA SALT AT 150%." I decided that if I went the safe color, I knew I'd like it well enough, and I'd probably never change it, and it'd stay boring. But if I went the more bold color, I was pretty likely to update it later if I hated it, and who knows? I might love it. Since 120% wasn't that much more intense or darker than the color at just 100%, I went ahead and jumped right to 150%. I had no idea what it'd look like. I actually called Saint Danny, the Patron Saint of Getting Projects Done Quickly, to ask him to come paint the walls since I still had at least one more coat of trim to do and had to get the floors started, and we had something big going on every day until her party. The morning he came I finished the last coat on the wainscoting with just minutes to spare. He came as I was leaving for a bachlorette party, so I didn't see the final product until I got home late that evening - and I LOVED it. I was totally and completely enamored with it (and it tied into the teal just like I'd hoped).
The next morning (Friday), I got the pad underlayment laid out and stapled down, and sorted the flooring our by size and color so we could ensure a good mix of each throughout the floor. We had decided on Rapid-Loc engineered wood in Mocha Birch - a nice dark color that was handscraped and pre-distressed, so hopefully scratches and dings won't show up as much, and was floating, so it didn't require glue or nails. When we were looking at wood options, we took a key and scissors and beat the hell out of the sample pieces to try to get a brand/type that wouldn't show damage too much. After we decided we liked this one, we bought a box of it and laid it out in the entryway where it would get used daily. The girls rode scooters and trikes over it, we moved furniture over it, we walked on it daily, and dropped things on it. It held up beautifully, so we pulled the trigger on it for the rest of the house.
It was actually really easy to lay out and click together. The hardest part was probably deciding on the layout and making the actual cuts (which I'm 90% sure we could have done, except we didn't have the right tools, and Danny went much faster than we would have). We also had to research which way to lay the boards - we went with the opposite direction that the joists of the house run, so that the joists and the floorboards will be expanding/contracting in different directions as the temperatures and humidity levels change. Actually laying them out and clicking them together went very quickly. Danny and I worked together on it for a few hours, and then we had to leave for Chris's sister's wedding, so we didn't see the final product until we got home late at night.
And we completely swooned when we walked in the door. It was beautiful. Classy and elegant and timeless and crisp and modern all at once. All that was left was adding the quarter round (and painting and caulking it) and we could call it DONE.
Well, except for the new light. And rug. And decor. But I'm saying DONE anyways because it feels good to call it done.
And with that, we have JUST ONE MORE ROOM TO DO ON THE FIRST FLOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY CRAP!!! MAKING PROGRESS AND GOING PLACES!!!!!!!!!!!!! We might get this shit done yet.
P. S. A couple people asked for cost breakdowns of these projects. I didn't keep very careful track, but this is an estimate for the 12'x14', 168 square foot room:
1 gallon of trim paint - $60
1 gallon of wall paint - $60
1 gallon of primer (already owned) - $0
Painting supplies, including brushes, trays, tape, etc. (already owned) - $0
Flooring; normally $77 a box, on sale for around $55, x 7 boxes - $385
Pad underlayment; $25 a roll x2 rolls - $50