The first signs of progress

If you’ve seen or spoken or followed us on facebook in the past 6 months, you’ll know that Matt and I are in the middle of a project to finish the basement in our house.  We bought the house last year, and what really sold it for us was the large unfinished daylight basement.  So much potential! It’s our first major project and you’ll be seeing much more about it here (like how we hired a great contractor, before and after photos, and so on).

Instead of going over everything that we’ve done and had done since earlier this spring, I’d like to show you the laundry room paint job and some inspiration for it.  Ombre stripes (gradient from light to dark) have been popular in fashion and home decor for a couple of years now.  Honestly, I kind of feel a little late to the party on this one, but I still like it.


Monday and Tuesday this week, I painted the laundry area in a coral ombre stripe.  This room is essentially three-walled, open to the hallway that leads to the main basement area that will become our living/family room.  Originally, the laundry hookups were in the framed-out bathroom, but we found that space too valuable to lose to large laundry machines.  Before we moved in, we had a plumber flip the hookups around to a little-used utility area just off the garage and the 4th bedroom.  This will work much better for our needs, be convenient to the garage (when we install a utility sink) and add a pop of warm color down the hall to our cool coastal living room.

Laundry Room

For the walls, I used four colors from the Martha Stewart Living collection at Home Depot.  There are so many paint brands with so many colors it is overwhelming.  Early on in our decorating this house, I decided to limit my options to the Martha paints so it’s much easier to choose colors.  We never really need exact hues, so there are enough options in this paint palette to keep us happy.

The specific palette above came about because I wanted to learn how to play the piano. So of course, I then bought an Art Deco piano on Craigslist for $125 (it needed work, didn’t have pedals, and didn’t come with a bench), with the intention of fixing it up and painting it pink.  I’ll have to post more about that (because there’s a lot of work to be done), but to make a long story short, I couldn’t find the perfect pink paint, so I chose the perfect coral paint – Peony.  I then just grabbed all of the warm red paint swatches and played around with their order until I found the most pleasing, and had Matt approve it.  I also visually color-matched them to the Sunset ombre throw blanket I’d recently bought at West Elm, and it confirmed that I’d made the right choices.

Painting a room in stripes is surprisingly easy, especially if you don’t make yourself crazy getting everything perfect.  You just have to measure your wall from top to bottom, and divide by the number of stripes you want.  Our walls, from subfloor to ceiling joists is 106″.  We’re going to have 5.5″ baseboards and 3.5″ crown moulding.  I started off by going around the room and measuring out 25″ sections, but soon gave up and ended up using our wall level as a guide.  It is 24″ long, so I picked one of my marks and went around the walls drawing a pencil line level around the room.  Then I turned the level on its end and lined it up with the pencil line to find 24″ above that, then went around the room again to make the next line.  I did that once more, then double checked that everything was level (I was about half an inch off at one point, so corrected that), then taped off the top section below its bottom line, and the 3rd section above its top and below its bottom lines.

laundry 1

I then painted the top section in Nasturtium and the 3rd section in Bergamot.  The actual Martha Stewart paint has been discontinued from Home Depot, but you can get the colors exclusively in Glidden paint.  I opted for Glidden Duo in eggshell finish.  I’ve found it to be a really durable finish for most walls, and because it is a paint/primer in one, it covers very well.  I only had to paint one coat and do a bit of touch up and my walls were covered.  I peeled away the tape before the paint was fully dry, and found that the tape I’d used (Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape with Edge Lock) had pulled away several sections of paint, primer, and drywall paper.  I touched up where I could, but knew I’d be touching up a lot the next day.

laundry 3

Tuesday morning, I set about doing the next step – sealing the new tape edges for crisp lines.  This is a trick I picked up when working for the exhibits department at the EMP|SFM museum a few years ago.  When you’re painting a color that will be right next to another color, when you tape off the original color, you should seal the tape by painting along the tape edge with the original color.  Let it dry, then paint your new color over the top.  When you peel the paint away, you’ll find that only the original color has seeped under the tape, then dried to form a seal that the new color can’t penetrate.  It makes for perfect, crisp lines.

laundry 2

In my case, it worked, after painting the final sections, but when I removed the tape, some areas were lifted off and either primer or cardboard was revealed.  I touched up around the room as best I could and called it a day.

laundry 4

Overall, I am pleased with how it has turned out.  It has shown me, though, that it’s hard to be satisfied when doing DIY projects.  As soon as I finished, I started planning the ceiling finishing, the mouldings and trim, and brainstorming the best way to get more light in the room. There’s currently just a one-bulb boob light in the center of the ceiling, hence the cheapo IKEA floor lamp.  Our new cork flooring will go in soon, probably early July, and then I can start obsessing about the trim (throughout the house it’s Martha Stewart’s Picket Fence white) but only after I finish painting the door to the 4th bedroom (Martha Stewart’s Francesca, a warm black-brown). Matt suggested that we should put in a window when possible, and I’m already dreaming about a stainless steel utility sink from a restaurant supply store and some DIY drying racks and pegboards for cleaning supplies.

It’s always another project…

The start of something

The start of something can be either explosive and joyous, like a birth or a wedding or a race.  It can also be subtle, tentative, wavering like waking up on a weekend morning, or when the first leaves of spring appear.  It is our aim to make this starting point of our blog something in between the two extremes for us, like when you hear an amazing song for the first time and it just clicks in your head, like “oh, that’s what’s been missing!”

This space will be filled with photos and updates on our ongoing house projects, other smaller projects, current inspiration, documentation of weekend trips and longer vacations, and frankly whatever we feel like putting into the world.  We’ve felt the urge to share with you, our friends and family, exactly what keeps us so busy all the time.  We’ve also felt the need for some kind of accountability and motivation to keep our projects moving.

Hopefully this place can be a source of joy, humor, inspiration, and comfort for anyone who visits.

Love, Ginger and Matt