Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting: Advice that didn't work for me

A while ago I posted about my plans to decorate my studio.  No, I haven't done it yet.  Sadly, it's close to the bottom of the list of priorities right now.  When I did that post though, I received a lot of sound advice and helpful tips from those who had been there before me.  I appreciated all the advice.  For example, using primer to cover up old dark colours or other faults is a universally good plan.  Also, using good quality brushes and/or rollers is another top tip.  But I digress...let's start with where the painting was going to occur.

Remember this room from my blog post about turning a desk into a chicken nesting box?
Well, that room is our "home office" and it was one of the most disgusting rooms I have ever had the displeasure of cleaning out.  The clutter was incredible - the dust on the bookshelves was literally measurable...and the chaos of books turned out to be mostly obsolete catalogues for tractor parts, wine making supplies, and phone books, back into the 1970s.  Definite hoarder material!
And the stench....oh my word, the stench.  You see, the former owner allowed his dog in the room, and his dog apparently chose the carpet as a potty area, and I don't think it was really ever cleaned.  When I finally got all the stuff off the floor and shelves, I ripped out the ugly brown carpet.  It was (a couple of months after the dog in question had moved out) still very damp, and the underside was so severely stained with yellow, it was like a bad art project.  Utterly disgusting.  After the carpet was removed, and the stinking, moldy, horrible underlay, the room began to smell much better, but there it sat....waiting for the next phase...which was removing the filthy, stained floor tiles underneath the disgusting carpet and underlay.
They were so filthy that the dirt was literally ground into them.  They were nailed through a layer of masonite and into the subfloor.  I used a crowbar and removed them all.  It took days of really hard work, but then the room finally started to look like something one could use.

After that, I washed all the walls, which were a mess of dust, dirt, and spider webs that might have been old enough to be in a museum somewhere.  I also washed the nasty reddish stained baseboards and odd ceiling decor in the same colour, and then began to consider what to do in terms of decorating.  One reason this room is a higher priority is that we will be putting bookshelves in there.  Between us we have loads and loads of books - boxes upon boxes of them.  All these boxes have been sitting around for months now, because there is nowhere to put books.  Fixing up the office will allow the books to have their place so that the boxes can be put away, thus giving me more room to do other projects.  Yay!

Soooooo, we decided that the reddish baseboard and ceiling decor would have to stay for now, because changing all that would be another big project, and other things were higher priority.  Instead, we would paint it a lovely deep hunter green.  Since it was a trim colour, I went with a bold dark green that made me think of forests and lush foliage.  As you can see, some of the walls have this odd wood horizontal paneling thing going on, only to about chair-rail height.

For the rest of the room, I thought a bright an energetic green would be the ticket.  We put up little colour cards and hemmed and hawed for days.  Here's where that questionable advice comes in to the picture.

One thing that I heard from a great many people on the blog, on Facebook, and from in-person conversations, was the advice about choosing the colour you want, and then going a shade (or two!) lighter.  I'm telling you....if you're anything like me....nod, smile nicely, and slowly back away from that piece of advice.  That's MY advice, which will prevent you from having to re-paint with the colour you originally wanted, or something even bolder!

That's all well and good - but how would you know if you are "anything like me" and whether you ought to back away from that advice?  Here's a few things about me that you may or may not know.  Perhaps they'll help you figure out if that piece of advice is designed for you or not:

1.  I am an introvert.  No, that does not mean that I'm anti-social.  What it does mean in the psychological sense is that I am energized, or "recharged" by being alone, whereas spending time around other people tends to drain my energy.  Any number of personality tests and career-aptitude tests I've done over time have shown me to be a classic introvert.  It doesn't mean I don't have friends or don't like people - it's just that I need my alone-time to recharge my internal energy battery.  Extroverts, on the other hand, actually gain energy from being around other people, and find that being alone can be draining or exhausting for them.

2.  Colour in my clothing has a significant influence on my mood.  When I was young, my mother would encourage me to lay out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed.  I used to find this quite difficult, but didn't quite know why when I was young.  As I got older, I realized that the mood I was in the night before wasn't usually the same as my morning mood, and that the clothes I was wearing, notably their colours, either fit my mood, or not.  If they didn't fit my mood, I simply wasn't comfortable in them, and I often didn't put on what I'd laid out the night before because it didn't feel right.  I have items of clothing that I love, but there are some days I can't wear them because they don't "feel right."  That's just me.

3.  Room and space colour has a huge influence on my mood.  I think this ties in to being an introvert as I outlined in my first point.  When I want to feel energized, it is much more difficult to do so in a white or pastel coloured room than in a brightly coloured room.  Pale walls remind me of places I'd rather not be when I want to be energized, such as classrooms or hospitals or bland institutional-style buildings.  When I was in my teens, my parents allowed me to paint one wall of my room a gorgeous bright green, and I had a diagonal white stripe the full length of the wall, about a foot wide.  I loved that look!  It was a bit crazy but it made me feel good.  I didn't really think about why at the time, but now I know it was the colour and the quirkiness of the stripe.

So, to recap, for me...bright colour induces energy, positive feelings and general happiness.  Pale colours and white induce quiet reflection, a more somber mood, and do not energize me.  This, in a nutshell, is why I do not recommend the "one/two shades lighter" advice in paint colours.  I should have known this, because I've made the mistake before, but darn it all, I listened to the advice again (oops) and now I'm repainting.

For the office in question, I chose a shade of green that was lighter than what I really wanted, by at least one shade.  It is a nice green, but it's not even close to what I needed for that room.  Frankly, I found it to be insipid and boring - too pale and too weak.  I could tell very quickly that it was the wrong choice, and Richard agreed.  Too pale.  Ugh.  (excuse the mess -- there's nowhere to put anything around here, so I just have to move stuff around as I paint.  It's annoying, but it's the way it is for now.)

Back to the drawing board, and new little paint colour chips were stuck up on the wall and the hemming and hawing was once again in progress.
Finally, we decided on a lovely, deep and rich caramel colour.  I didn't go two, or even one, shade lighter.  And here it is...

Not a pale colour, but not a dark and dismal colour either.  It's warm and comforting.  It's like a sweet, toffee-flavoured hug.  I love it.  It makes the room feel warm and welcoming.  I've only done one wall and bits of another wall so far, but already, I'm happier when I go into that room.   Around here, that's a first!

We also had planned on leaving the wood trim around the doors and windows as is, but on closer inspection, the wood trim had a lot of nasty wood-filler repair jobs and other damage and/or icky bits.

We decided to paint it in the dark green trim colour.  We also chose a shade called "Toffee Crunch" for the ceiling.  I just did a little bit of it to see how it would look, and I like it very much.  A couple of coats will be needed all around, but it's really going to be lovely.

So, my advice to you is, choose the colours you like, and go for it!  If colour has a strong effect on you, and you are using it to change the feel of a room, don't be shy.  Go bold!  Go bright!  Go colourful!  You'll be much happier that you did, and you won't have to paint twice.

I'll do another post when the painting is complete so you can see how it all looks.  For now, I'm just reveling in the feeling of having made a choice that feels right.


Spinners End Farm said...

I love it! Reminds me of those last rays of warm sun going down in a piney woods. Toffee works for me too...

Mimi Foxmorton said...

I'm soooo sorry that your dream has turned to this but, wow, a junque addicts dream!

Loving the heat floor grate. Awesome!

One step at a time, luv.........

Michelle said...

The problem is when the colors you love and your husband's (in my case) preferences are oceans apart! He wanted all white walls; I wanted some bold color. We compromised with pastels I like; they are sure better than WHITE.

Flartus said...

Thanks for sparing us the sight of that disgusting carpet! Ugh.

I do like those colors together. It'll be nice to have one room looking finished and just how you want it. (A shame about the state of the wood trim; it looked nice from a distance.)

Pricilla said...

I'm with you there. You would love my yurt - cherry red kitchen, silver/blue grey living/dining area, yellow hallway and bedroom, raspberry bathroom and limey avocado craft/computer room.

I love my bright colors and I don't give a fly what anyone else thinks.

You go for it. You buy what you like. You are the one that lives there. Surround yourself with color

IsobelleGoLightly said...

That looks really pretty, Dear Claire! One of my lady's nearby friends likes dark, bold colors too. She has a room about that lovely caramel golden color and it's gorgeous. Her living room is dark blue and her kitchen is a deep red. Hmmm. This makes me want to decorate my boudoir. Tee hee.

fullfreezer said...

Loving the caramel color. That green reminds me of old guacamole for some reason. My mom thought I was crazy when I wanted black countertops in my kitchen with dark green under the chair rail and yellow above but I love it.
Things are coming along there. Keep at it. I know how frustrating it is to live in a construction zone and have to keep moving things around. Good luck.

Marigold said...

The color is lovely. Sort of reminds me of, what else, Peanuts!

Anonymous said...

I do like the way it's looking. I love the dark green trim with it.


Lisa said...

Lovely colour. I hear it every day, at least half a dozen times a day.

"Choose a lighter colour because it's not going to be that colour, it's going to be darker."

It's not going to be darker than the chip, if it is they mixed it wrong. It should be identical to the chip.

On a big surface it intensifies the colour making it appear darker. But it's not.

There, that's your free paint expert advice for today. lol

Nancy K. said...

Love, LOVE, LOVE your choice of colors!

Stace said...

Ooooo...I LOVE that color!!!! I am an introvert as well, and I never really thought about why I love bold colors on my walls...what you said makes total sense. I painted my entry way a burnt orange...I love it...but not a color anyone in my family would have chosen. Great painting btw...I can't paint neatly to save my life...and it always ends up on the bottom of my feet no matter what I do :/.

Lin said...

I'm with ya--why go pale when you can always repaint?? People are always so afraid of color--it drives me crazy!! Have fun! Paint with vibrant colors. You can always repaint, right??!

I love the color you chose!

Millie said...

Claire~I've given you and Lucky Nickel an award. You'll have to stop by and pick it up.

DonkeyBuster said...

A. Love the paint job & it's so true, go w/what you want, forget the advice.

B. Please tell me you still have those tractor manuals. There's actually a market for that stuff... farmer's are the original recyclers, upcyclers, repurposers, use-it-far-beyond-it's-out-daters... somebody out there is looking for that manual...