Ok, it’s official. My spackling has slipped over into the obsessive. It is all Geno the Plumber’s fault.
He came yesterday to give us a quote on getting a few things done. Important things like putting in a decent gas range, so we can cook without swearing loudly, and beating the ancient electric cooker currently there with a large blunt instrument. Also, moving the laundry so we have a spare bedroom. And putting in a tankless hot water heater. Not forgetting adding a gas spigot on the deck for the barbecue.
He was a nice chap, who happened to have done a sewer lateral inspection, and terrified us with tales of dodgy plumbing on one of the many houses we didn’t buy. He likes the one we did buy much better. We were chatting about remodeling in general, and my progress so far, when he exclaimed on how wonderful all the textured walls were in the house. And how they were so trendy again. And how lucky we were to have them.
Which got us onto the subject of cultural difference. Because in Australia, you only ever see textured wall finishes in houses where they are trying to hide really shoddy work, or a major structural defect. Nothing like covering a big scary crack, or bad building over with a whole pile of texture. Gone away. Then put it on the market really quickly, so some other sucker inherits the problem. So I look at textured walls with suspicion and distrust. In Australia I would never buy a house with textured walls. Ever.
Here, however, it is considered extremely cool. And people voluntarily texture their walls. Not because they are trying to hide anything, but because they like it. Weird, huh?
It was a significant conversation, because it not only inspired some cultural insights, it gave some clarity to an inner debate I have been having. The debate has been about the texture on the walls.
Because, prior to the conversation, textured walls made me really uneasy. I would stare at them and wish they weren’t there, but I also knew that the only way to get rid of them is to rip the drywall/gyprock out and replace it. Because otherwise I would be spackling for weeks, months, years. And no, I kept telling myself firmly, you CAN”T spackle all that texture away. That would be too crazy, even for you.
And our 50 cent budget is not going to stretch to new drywall. Not with all that plumbing to do.
The conversation with Geno made me feel ok about the more subtle texture we have on most of the walls. I can tolerate it now. Liking it? Well, that is maybe too much of a stretch just at the moment.
I say most, because there is one wall in particular that has really been bugging me. The side of the hall which used to have the mirror tile.
The other side of the hall has much more restrained texture, which I can now live with. Just. But this side is gnarly and just looks like bad plastering. Or the wall has some sort of nasty socially-unacceptable disease. It covers the hall wall, and spreads, virulently, under the lintel into the kitchen/dining space. Where it stops abruptly, before regular restrained texture is resumed.
I suspect the person responsible was the same guy who did the amazingly bad plastering job around the garage door. It has a similar hasty, thrown around look. I recognize his hand, now.
So the conclusion I came to, after the conversation with Geno, was that I can live with subtly textured walls, but only if there is some sense of unity. All the walls need to be textured the same way. Which is why I reached for the spackle, and skimmed the entire wall, the lintel, and above the lintel in the dining space.
It is more blended-looking now. Less like someone stood back and tossed plaster at the walls. I told you looking at photos of spackling was like playing ‘spot the difference’.
Ok, I can hear you thinking, she is right, she really has become obsessive about spackling. But this isn’t the crazy part. The crazy part is, I am trying to get it smooth enough so I can texture the wall to match the other walls.
Picture me in the hardware store, having my usual translation problem. I explain what I am trying to do in minute detail, because a lot of stuff is called completely different names here, and I am on totally unfamiliar territory with this whole texturing malarkey. Sure, says the hardware guy, what kind of texture do you want? There’s orange peel, knockdown, blah blah blah. I gaze at him blankly. I have no idea, I say. We don’t do wall texture in Australia.
So then I try to explain what the texture I am trying to match looks like. It is his turn to stare blankly. If I had known that wall texture was so complicated, I would have taken a photo, I say. Perhaps you have some pictures I can look at. He sighs, and takes me to the texture aisle, where I discover the texture I want is called knockdown.
It comes in a spray can. Really.
You spray it on, wait a couple of minutes for it to set, then wipe gently over with a scraper. This is what it looks like when you first spray it:
In this state, prior to wiping, it is called ‘Orange peel’. I am so relieved we don’t have this on our walls. It looks like a particularly bad case of hives. I’ll take knockdown over orange peel any day.
And here it is on the wall next to the garage door. I have been spraying and wiping all my spackling to blend it in with the existing walls, so they dont have smooth patches on them. Oh, the irony!
The hall wall will have to wait for its skim coat of spackle to dry before I can knockdown it.
In the meantime, as a sort of consolation prize for texturing all my beautiful smooth spackle, I started painting Nat and Lys’s rooms. So great to be painting at last.
The kids rooms are small, so I am deploying my standard small room trick. Painting an accent wall a darker color, makes the room look and feel bigger.
Nat wanted his favorite cobalt blue color. I first taped up the wall.
Then set to work.
I love painting. It takes so little time, relative to all the preparation work that goes before, and gives maximum effect. Luckily Nat and Lys’s rooms did not need any prep, as they had been painted white for the sale of the house.
His color is Benjamin Moore ‘Ol Blue Eyes.
Then I set to work on Lys’s room. There was a cupboard in the corner of her room which had one of those terrible folding sliding doors that never work properly on it.
I removed the door, and put it happily in the growing rubbish pile in the garage. Then I spackled the holes, removed the shelves and taped the back of the cupboard for painting.
Lys had originally wanted Benjamin Moore Citron on all her walls to match her Marimekko doona cover. But as this is a strong yellow-green, I suggested it might be a little too intense in a small room. So we settled on painting it in the back of this cupboard. I am not going to replace the door, so this will be like open shelving in her room.
She liked the idea of having a really dark wall ‘Like the night sky, so I can put stars on it’ for the wall behind her bed, so I suggested we use Benjamin Moore Abyss (which I was already planning to use elsewhere in the house). It is a fantastic dark purple/blue grey.I taped up the wall and set to work.
I just love that color. So rich, so dramatic, so intense. So un-beige. Fantastic.
It is such a fantastic feeling to have started the painting.
The second coats on the kids rooms will have to wait for Monday, though. I am taking Christmas Eve, and Christmas day off. I thought it was probably a good idea, really.
Today I also got the first layer of spackle on the bathroom, and the final layer on our bedroom wall. Our bedroom is now ready for painting.
I have one more working day before we go back to Australia for a 2 week break. Warmth, sun, catching up with the family. Lovely. So I will still have 3 or 4 days work when we get back to finish things up. I was hoping to have it all done before we left, but the level of spackling required after removing the wallpaper and wall tiles has set me back a few days.
Which is ok, because we have rent paid up until the end of January, so a few more days wont matter. It is so great to have the luxury of being able to do this before we move in.
And, if you celebrate it, have a great Christmas everyone.