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Painting

Design Tip for the Week: Painting Stair Risers

This is an oldie but a goodie. If you are lucky enough to have stained wood risers – I applaud you!  Don’t ever paint them! As for the rest of us  – we know that there is not enough Magic Eraser in the world to remove those scuffs…

 

If you’re fed up and thinking about painting your risers, do so and know that it’s still a bit of a trendy choice but once that is quickly becoming accepted into the mainstream. Choose a dark color (it does not have to be black) to hide the marks. Make sure to pick a paint designed for wood (different from wall paint) and a finish like satin that allows you to wipe off dirt. You’ll want to give your risers a good cleaning and a nice sanding before applying the paint. Then you’ll need to decide if you want to keep your stringers the same color as your trim (white as in picture two below) or paint them to match your risers (black as in photo three). Paint one or two first, stand back and see if you like the look. If you don’t, you can always go back to your original color.

 

You can even add a decal if you’d like, but make sure it’s dark enough to hide the dirt, and also select one that doesn’t make you dizzy going up and down the stairs:

Dark trim and light walls

One of the things I most wanted to do when I got around to renovating my home was to paint the millwork. It was white when we bought the home. I love beautiful, super white millwork. But my small 100 year old south Oak Park home with crumbling plaster walls and bad lighting didn’t call for lux high gloss white trim. But! Now that my walls and ceilings are super smooth drywall and I have lovely new light fixtures I can really play up my wall and trim colors, and one way to do that is to paint the millwork darker than the walls.

Here’s a picture of the original bedroom closet:

Here is the same closet door with painted trim (note: walls not painted yet but I also did flip the door, so it now opens to the wall – that was a huge pet peeve of mine!):

My inspiration for this came from my awesome design savvy friend Jess. At 9 months pregnant she bought a home and had to have it renovated inside a month before they had to move in. One of the quick decisions she had to make was what color to paint the millwork. She took a gamble and painted it dark and it looks amazing:

Gone are the days of boring white trim I hope. I have embraced the idea of literally painting outside of the box.  I hope my clients will let me be a bit more adventurous in the future and choose dark colors for their trim. I believe it is to become a new classic.

How to Hire A Painter

I never understand why people say “it’s just paint”, or “painting is easy”, that “you can just change it” or that “paint is cheap”, etc etc. People who say that must not have gone through the process of choosing colors, hiring painters, having your home covered in tarps and smelling like weird plastic for a week. True, painting is cheaper than moving, but it’s not inexpensive either. A good paint job takes time to accomplish and should last at least ten years, and if you are going to go through the above mentioned process, you want to be happy with the final result. The best way to achieve this? Educate yourself a bit on the painting process, determine what results you want to see, and learn how to communicate your needs effectively so that you and your painter are on the same page from day one.

How do you find a painter for starters? Ask for recommendations from people that you know and trust. Ask them what was the best thing and worse thing about the experience, and what they would have done differently had they the chance. Once you’ve narrowed down potential painters then set up individual walk throughs. The walk through is going to be the most important part of the process. Take time to do a thorough walk through. Trust me. This is where the communication comes into play and sets the tone for the whole process going forward.

Start with your walls. Are your walls drywall or plaster? If plaster, how much repair do they need? Do you want the painter to simply fill in cracks, or do you want him/her to smooth your walls so much that they look brand new? A level five drywall finish is when your walls look perfect. Do you need your plaster walls to look like drywall? Or do you want your plaster to retain some character? Decide what you’ll be happy with, and the quote you receive from the painter will reflect this.

Next, move on to millwork. Millwork refers to baseboards, crown, door casings, window trim, bead board, chair rail, any detail on your walls. Painting millwork is time consuming and therefore can add a lot to a painter’s quote. Sometimes it’s necessary to paint to get a finished look. Decide with your painter what millwork, if any, that you want painted.

You also need to discuss doors. A painter may paint your crown and baseboards but do not assume he/she is including doors. If they are in good shape, you may not need them painted. But if your millwork is getting painted, will your doors match? Will your painters paint both sides? And what about your closets? You need to specify if you want the inside of your closets painted. Most painters will not assume to paint the inside of closets unless asked.

Now on to ceilings. Ceilings that are in good shape and do not have signs of cracks or water damage don’t necessarily have to be painted. But if there is damage to them, will the painter fix it? If you have stucco or popcorn ceilings, will the painter paint them so that they look seamless with the rest of the ceiling?

Do you have kitchen or bathroom cabinets that you want to see painted? Cabinets, like millwork, require a different types of paint from wall paint. Make sure you understand the product that your painter is going to use on your cabinets, as well as the process to prepping and painting cabinets.

Now on to paint. There are many different types of paint out there and you need to educate yourself a bit on the types of paint because there can be big differences in cost. The most basic level of paint offers the minimum of coverage (called hide) and is generally used for commercial purposes, like landlords needing to repaint after a tenant leaves. Paint companies offer products up from here and they can range in coverage and VOCs (volatile organic compound) and specialty, such as moisture resistant paint, primer and paint in one, etc. You must specify with your painter which type paint you want to use because painters will usually buy the paint for you and include it in the overall cost. I don’t want to be alarmist here but I’ve heard of painters charging a client for a higher level product and then purchasing a cheaper paint and pocketing the difference. And the difference in cost can be significant. Imagine paying up front for ten gallons of paint at $50 a can but your painter then uses your deposit to buy $25 gallon paint and hopes you don’t notice the difference. To avoid this scenario, tell them you want to see the cans, and tell them that you want the cans left at your home when the job is done. Don’t assume they will – I have heard stories of painters taking cans purchased by one homeowner and using them on another job, all the while charging the second homeowner for the same can of paint!

Once your colors and the type of paint you want to use are chosen then you need to specify what sheen you want on your walls and millwork. Flat? Matte? Eggshell? Pearl?Satin? If you are not sure, pick up a sheen chart at your local paint store. You know how your home is used, not the painter. If you have lots of kids in high traffic areas, put a sheen on the wall that can be easily wiped off. If you hate the wet look on trim, make sure to tell your painter you want a more matte finish.

Compare quotes. You should get at least three detailed quotes from the painters and compare them, apples to apples, on what is to be painted and which product and whether paint and materials (drop cloths, brushes, etc) are included.

When will they work? 9-5? Do you want them in your home on the weekends? At night? Early in the morning? Specify when you want them in your home. Ask them how long the project will take. Will they call you if they can’t come that day?

Specify low VOC or no VOC paints if you want them. Most paints are low VOC these days, but not all, so make sure you are on the same page. Primers have VOCs in them, so make sure you know how much odor the primer will give off.

Educating yourself on the painting process will insure that you are 100% happy with the finished product. And believe me. Once the job is done, you’ll be happy you won’t have to repeat it for a long time.

Dining room makeover

I have a wonderful photographer that takes professional photos of all my work. But sometimes I can’t wait. So I apologize for the iphone 6 pics. I am sure AJ is cringing somewhere.

I was hired to decorate a dining room for a young family of four. They had not done anything to the space since moving in, but now that they were more settled they were ready to make some changes.  The dining room was originally painted in a moss green with white baseboards and window trim (no crown). It was a basic rectangle shape with one large window on the east side and it is open to both the kitchen and living room.

dr before

The clients wanted a family friendly dining room but also one that had some drama and sophistication to it. They wanted it to feel like its own room, not just a pass through to the kitchen or living room. I had my task set before me and got to work.

The existing table and chairs would stay but everything else could go. Though there wasn’t much more to go – just a baker’s rack in one corner, a small storage cabinet along the west wall, and a builder’s special light center ceiling fixture.

dr before 2 dr before 4

The room needed more storage. My clients have lots of dishes and cookware and already the kitchen was chock full. So along that long black wall I designed wall to wall cabinetry with glass door uppers –  to help keep the room feeling closed in –  and base cabinets with doors and a few custom pullouts. We got all the wants – glass doors, lots of shelving, under mount lighting, pullouts, wine fridge, the right color of white paint – for a fraction of the cost of true custom because we went with a plywood cabinetry company that does stock and semi custom cabinets. It was a bit tricky to wrap the end cabinet around the bump out (seen from the left): it had to be narrow to line up with the rest of the cabinets but it turned out to be a perfect closet for hanging aprons and such.

dr after 3 dr after4

The countertop is quartz and the space between the uppers and lowers is actually a very thin back board painted the same cream color as the cabinets, to keep the look of the builtins consistent. The clients are adding crown molding at a later date so we left the top of the cabinetry with a simple cornice piece that could be replicated in the future crown.

Next I took the clients out of their comfort zone a bit and suggested that we paint the walls a rich, saturated navy (if you’ve read my blogs you know I love navy dining rooms). The blue plays up the orange tones in the floor and table and chairs, and also looks great against the cream trim. The quartz countertop actually has some blue veining in it too.

dr after 5

We needed to balance both sides of the room by making the window appear as large as the cabinets so I chose a bold Osborne and Little fabric with blues, reds, and golds in a beautiful large oriental pattern. The drapery panels are a width and a half each, and I hung them close to ceiling (leaving room for the crown) and about a half inch from the floor. Once AJ posts the photos of the windows with his fancy camera you’ll really see how the drapes make the room. I added crystal ball finials on the rod to echo the crystal pulls on the cabinets.

drapery closeup

dr after2

Lastly I knew the client loved capiz so I found a chandelier that was actually rectangular in shape rather than the more known round pendant style. It fits perfectly over the shape of their table and helps soften the space.

capiz chan

The room is really starting to come together and the client is very happy, which means the world to me.

Favorite color of the week: Hale Navy

Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy HC-154 is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I have used it in dining rooms and on accent furniture. It’s a beautiful blue, so rich and saturated. It works well with bright reds, bright whites, golds, lime greens, and orange. Here are some images of Hale Navy from the web:

benjamin-moore-hale-navy-washstand-carrera-marble-herringbone-floor

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stephaniekraussendesigns.com_

 

Favorite Color of the Week: White

Most designers have a favorite paint line they like to use, and mine is Benjamin Moore. Out of their hundreds of white hues, here are some of my favorites:

OC-117 Simply-White image

Simply white OC-117. I love this color because it doesn’t break blue or green, meaning the undertone is a pretty pure white. I use it for millwork and for ceilings. It goes with everything.

Entry-with-White-Dove-OC-17 OC-17

White Dove OC-17: this one is also pretty neutral. You can pair it with just about any wall color.

cloud white image OC-130

Cloud white OC-130: This is a warm white, meaning it has a red undertone. So be careful when using it with green hues because it could start to read a little pink. But I love it with warm neutrals and dark colors.

Tuttle Residence PM-1

Super white PM-1: When I’m looking for a really crisp, bright white, I’ll use super white on my millwork.

As always, paint a test swatch in your area before selecting!

Blog: Favorite Color of the Week- Galaxy

Galaxy is a lovely, saturated plum color from Benjamin Moore. I love it because it works so well with some many different colors: grays, blues, greens, yellow, beige. I live in a pale gray home and I have it on my front steps and fence. Here are some examples from the web on how to use Galaxy around your home:

front door

It’s a great color for a front door because it looks so rich and inviting. It’s paired here with beige siding and white trim.

kitchenHere it’s used on cabinets to anchor and give warmth to the stark white countertops and backsplash. It works so well with the wall color because the green picks up on the red undertone in Galaxy.

dining room

Yellow and purples are a classic combination. Here it makes this small dining room seem so majestic.

You can also pair it with similar plum hues for a sophisticated, monochromatic look.

Yay purple!

 

Psst! Your Undertone Is Showing

As I written about before, picking the right color is tricky. The color you see in the paint store or in your home on that 3×5 piece of paper and ink rendering you are holding up will not look like the same color on your walls. Or even the same color on your walls hours apart. The color you love in your friend’s home probably will not look the same in your house. Unless you live on the exact same side of the street with the exact same amount of north/south/east/west facing light, shade, furnishings, and artificial light. And if you do, don’t call me. That’s just freaky.

See where I’m going here? Picking paint is a tricky, tricky thing. Even for designers. The reason we get it right more often than not is because we know the rules about color and light. But don’t hate us if it even takes us a few tries. We eventually get there, but there is a lot that goes into it.

I won’t go into how light affects color – I’ll save that for a future post. (Besides, weren’t you listening that day to your eighth grade science teacher? You never knew that one day the knowledge would help you paint your condo, did you? ) Today I want to talk about something that comes up all the time in my work: why a seemingly innocent color like gray can go ape sh** all over your walls and end up looking yellow. Or blue. Or green. Anything but a nice, simple gray.

As Meghan Trainor says, it’s all about that base.

Or more specifically mass tones and (base) undertones. The mass tone is the color you are immediately drawn to, be it gray, blue, green, red etc; it’s the first color you see when you pull that swatch from the deck. But every color has an undertone too. Undertones are subtle, “hidden” layers underneath the color you initially picked. You need to discover what the undertones are in your color because they will 100% affect how your color looks overall. Most paint mishaps  – about 90%  I’d say – happen because you didn’t pay attention to the undertone. For example, that gray in your friend’s house that you love: with her beautiful medium toned woodwork, it looks amazing. Paired with your white trim, it looked blue. What your experiencing is the power of the undertone when placed next to different colors. Remember complimentary colors in that science class? (I’ve mentioned science twice in this post. I know half of you have officially stopped reading.) How if you put colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel next to each other they intensify their colors? (Think red and green at Christmastime). Well, that’s what an undertone does. You may not even know that you had green in your gray but put it next to your warm mid tone wood and wham! You now have a lovely moss tint to your walls.

So how do you detect an undertone if you can’t see it, especially in a tough color like a gray? The easiest way is to do what I just explained above: place the gray swatch color next to another color, such as red, orange or yellow. The complementary color – the undertone – will become more vibrant. In the red example, a green undertone will come through. Here are the complimentary colors:

complementary

 

It may take a few tries to get it right, so before you paint, always practice. Paint a little swatch on your wall and make sure that it’s surrounded by white, so it doesn’t pick up any other undertones. And you still can’t get the color right, then it’s time to look at your lighting. But that’s for another post.

Update on the Grove remodel

The remodel is almost complete! Even without the furniture in the transformation looks amazing. Fun project!

Recent project: removing wall paneling

I recently decorated a mid century style living room that had an open floor plan. One wall in the room was  completely paneled, including a built in cabinet. Removing the wall paneling was the best thing I did to bring the entire space together. Once the drywall was up and painted, I moved the dining table from a small area off to the side to the more open space behind the sofa. I defined the area as a dining room by centering a fixture above the table and anchoring the table and chairs with an area rug. Having the walls all the same material and color made the room feel more cohesive and helped the stone fireplace stand out more. The paneled cabinet will be removed at a future date, so painting it the same color as the wall helped to deflect  – rather than emphasize –  the panels until they are finally gone for good.