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Bedroom Trim Painting

DIY, House By April 18, 2016 No Comments

Now that I’m not painting as a career anymore, I really enjoy the chances I get at home to get back into it. You may think I’m crazy, as I always hear people moan and groan whenever they have to tackle a painting project. I really do love it though. Painting caps off projects nicely, since it’s usually one of the last things to get done, and it’s when you finally start to see all the hard work paying off. This refresh of the bedroom was no different, and I found myself having a ball during the whole process!

Spraying trim in the bedroom

As Lindsey mentioned before, there are a couple of things with this bedroom project we’d have done differently if we were gonna do it all over again (which some crazy, perfectionist part of me is actually tempted to do). The big thing we’d do differently is choose to use an oil-based primer on the trim. In my previous life as a painter, I used exclusively Sherwin Williams and came to have a lot of faith in their products. However, I was always working in new construction, which is a really different application than a 100 year-old craftsman with original woodwork. We opted for Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose and Pro Classic for our primer and finish coats, respectively. Right at the start, the finish looked just great. The bright white contrasted well with both of the blues we chose for the walls, and the finish coat has a really durable, clean look. My gripe, though, is with my choice to use latex primer. And I feel a bit like a newbie, but I totally should have known better.

Yellowing trim on the closet door

See how the trim around the door is a brighter white? Consequence of not using an oil-based primer to seal the yellow woodwork stains away.

That’s some pretty yellow woodwork we were dealing with. Even though I applied a couple of good coats of primer, plus a contractor grade finish coat, as Lindsey mentioned before we’re having that yellow start to bleed through. The end result isn’t mortifying, it’s just not nearly as cool as it was right when it was all fresh. These days, it’s more looking like an off-white than bright white. Passable, but like I said, the perfectionist in me wants to go back and do it all over again using this as a primer. Problem solved, seriously. The stain blocking capability of oil based primer just can’t be matched by a latex product. I recently used that oil-based primer to cover some reeeeaaaaally bad nicotine stains on the walls and ceilings of a lifetime smoker’s house. In one coat it blocked all of the stains perfectly, and that house just sold, with the new buyer none the wiser that a smoker had ever lived there! I know, it sucks to clean up oil-based paint and it smells awful, especially when you spray it, but no joke this oil primer woulda saved me the embarrassment of admitting that I (the professional dingus painter) opted for the cheaper, easier option and ended up with less-than-stellar results. Lesson learned & ego taken down a peg. Onward!

Spraying paint – you can dooooo it!

One big thing to keep in mind when you’re spraying walls or trim with paint is good masking. These spray tips atomize the paint so small that it ends up on errything if you’re not careful. Cover the floor with a thick, durable rosin paper (taped neatly against the edge of the baseboard) and cover the glass on windows with tape & plastic. If you’re only painting a section of the house, find a doorway that you can close off tightly with masking tape & plastic to keep dust from floating all throughout the house. If you do leave any furniture in the room (like we did), make sure it’s covered tightly with plastic and that the plastic is taped down tight to the paper you covered the floor with.

Bed and floor all masked tight for spraying

Like Lindsey mentioned, we used an airless sprayer that I’d borrowed from my boss to get the trim painted. I have the benefit of having sprayed hundreds of gallons of paint back in that previous life, so for me it was a matter of muscle memory to get a glassy finish on the trim. For the ambitious DIY-er, it might be a slight challenge, but it’s still absolutely doable to use a sprayer if you’re a newbie. There are plenty of tips and video tutorials out there that show how to operate the sprayer and apply product. Plus, considering how much better sprayed trim looks vs. brushed, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. You will have to sacrifice a little bit of paint in the interest of practicing and getting a feel for the gun, but it’s still worth it for the look in the end. When you’re using an airless sprayer as a rookie, just remember two things: 1) When in doubt, go thin. You can always come back again with another thin coat to finish coverage, and two thin coats is better than one thick one that runs in spots. 2) Always have your arm in motion when the trigger is pulled on the gun.

We used a Graco pump and gun, with a fine finish tip. Everything you’d need should be relatively easily able to come by for rent at your local Sherwin Williams or equipment rental shop, though I would recommend purchasing a brand new spray tip for the gun, even if the rental joint offers you one. If not operated at the correct pressure and properly cared for/stored, the tiny hole that’s machined into the tip can get blown out too big, which can lead to wasted product and runs in the paint if you’re not familiar with the process. No one wants that. I’ve always used Graco spray tips as well, and a fresh 410 or 412 tip (fine finish variety, specifically for trim) will give you the best control possible. More on what the numbers mean here if you’re curious, I won’t bore you.

Spraying the closet with primer

Once I had the sprayer all set up and had gotten a good solid coat of primer on, we let it dry fully (overnight). Once dry, we used some medium grit sanding blocks to gently sand the primed trim smooth. I say gently because if you have fresh primer over top of old, stained woodwork and you sand aggressively, you’re apt to burn right through the primer and expose the stained trim again, thereby defeating the purpose of priming that spot. This is especially prone to happen on edges & corners. All it really takes is a few gentle but firm swipes with a sanding block (check it with your bare hand for smoothness after you swipe it with the block a few times) to get your primed trim super smooth again.

After we sanded, we caulked every crack in the woodwork we could find (more pro tips on this process later – can’t share them all in one post!). Once the caulking had dried fully overnight, or whatever the tube said the dry time was, we switched over to the Pro Classic for finish coat. While I’m definitely unhappy with the performance of the latex primer we used, I’m super happy with how the Pro Classic looks. We opted for a semi-gloss to help the trim stand out a bit against the lower sheen walls, and semi-gloss also gives you a surface that you can clean more easily when you need to.

Using an airless sprayer can be a bit intimidating, but don’t let it stop you from trying. With all the tutorial resources out there, plus the comment section juuuuust down below (let us know if you’ve ever tried using one! ;), you have everything you need to tackle a job and have it look great. Now that spring is finally upon us, we’re gonna be pulling the sprayer out of storage soon and painting the exterior of our house, so stay tuned for that!


Move In Weekend

House, Outdoor By March 28, 2016 No Comments


Move In Helper Donna

Thanks for the help with the hostas, Donna (Lindsey’s mom)!

We left off here when we wearily walked through the door of our new house after the exhausting process of buying a foreclosure. Exhausting, yet rewarding nonetheless. We mentioned a few of our first impressions of the place here, and now it’s time to talk about how silly and crazy our goals really were for that first weekend. First, remember we had all of our possessions sitting either in a truck owned by my work (which had to be used the next day) or in the garage of our previous apartment. Lindsey’s parents were around and willing/eager to help, but that was only four of us, and considering this list below, you’re totally forgiven if you laugh your ass off at what we thought we could get done…

Move In Weekend Goals:

  1. Remove carpet from bedroom, make it a livable space
  2. Remove carpet from living room, ditto above
  3. Clean up the back yard, overgrown with 7-foot weeds in some places
  4. Get new appliances installed (Fridge, stove, washer/dryer)
  5. Remove upper kitchen cabinets
  6. Remove kitchen tile backsplash
  7. Paint upper kitchen cabinets in the garage
  8. Reinstall cabinets 6 or 9″ lower, as they were initially installed with giants in mind (Lindsey is 5′ 2″)
  9. Move ALL OF OUR STUFF in, and find a place to put it that didn’t interfere with any of the aforementioned
  10. Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace cover to cover

Ok, so #10 is obviously a joke, but still. Cute idea with the kitchen cabinets and backsplash, right? As you’ll see later on, the cabinets alone took us four or five days when we finally got around to that project, so silly us. But can you blame us for wanting to take care of that? Those things are sooooo high up, like a full 30″ or more above the countertop.

Move In Weekend Kitchen Goals

Anyway, just about all the rest of the stuff on the list we managed to accomplish. The yard ended up being a crazy amount of work – weeds tend to reign supreme after a year of not being tended at all. Our neighbors have some vines on their fence that had slowly crept across the lot, grown into cracks in the cement, and worked their way into the walk-out exit of our basement. All told, that weekend we ended up filling 58 30-gallon lawn bags from Home Depot. NBD. Also, a friggin’ fountain in the back yard? In Minnesota? Nope. We tore that mosquito breeding ground out as fast as possible, and we were delighted to find a giant wasp nest underneath. We were glad it was only 35 degrees outside and the things were…hibernating? Do wasps do that? Whatever. Bye fountain!

Move In Weekend Back Yard

Overgrown Vines

Back inside, the carpet came up easily enough, although the living room pad was held down with double-sided adhesive strips, as opposed to staples (BOO!). Head lamp scraping/sanding took up plenty of time in the next week, and we eventually gave up and left the rest of the tape to come off down the road with a big drum sander when we refinished the floors. 🙂 And in the bedroom, even though our West Elm bedding from the previous post is greatly preferred, we at least got the bedroom to a spot where it’d be livable for the near term while all the rest of the dust settled!

Pulling Carpet In The Bedroom

Temporary bedroom setup


Welcome to High Five House!

House By January 23, 2016 No Comments

Hi everyone! We purchased our first home in Northeast Minneapolis back in November of 2013, and have been documenting our progress on it ever since. Now that this blog is up and we have a landing place for our thoughts and images, we thought it made sense to start by sharing the story of how we ended up here in the first place. As this is our first post, you may find yourself asking “Who are these people anyway?” We’re still trying to figure that out ourselves, but what we know so far can be read here.

We’d been house hunting for about two months when we first saw this foreclosure pop up on our real estate app. It looked pretty rough around the edges, but really promising so we scheduled a showing the next day. We were both instantly sold on it, wrote an offer the day after the showing and began mentally moving in soon after. Sadly, national bank chains aren’t exactly quick to respond, and days turned to weeks without a word on whether our offer had been accepted. Thankfully our realtor put up with us asking countless times if he’d heard anything new, each time with the same answer of “No.” Finally after two months of no news, we got the best kind – our offer was accepted! A rushed inspection period followed, during which time we found loads of problems resulting from the house sitting vacant for over a year. We negotiated the price down with the bank to allow for the major issues to get fixed, and simultaneously made arrangements with our landlord to move out at the end of the month. Everything was lining up nicely until three days before the closing date, when we got a call from our realtor to notify us that the bank wasn’t ready to close.

With our new closing set for ten days after the original, we were temporarily homeless. We have some really great friends who offered us the spare bedroom in their basement, and we gladly accepted (Thanks, Nick & Angie Hoople!).  We left half of our stuff in a box truck borrowed from my work outside Nick & Angie’s house, and the other half in the garage of the duplex we’d just moved out of. Not really ideal, but what could we do? We made the best of it by having a great week with the Hooples, cooking meals for each other, and pretending like we were in college again. Before we knew it the next (and final) closing date had arrived!

We arrived at the title company’s office for our 8:00 am closing on a Friday, and the bank’s representatives didn’t show (which we learned was pretty normal). However, it meant that after handing over our down payment check and effectively signing a 30-year lease, we still weren’t officially homeowners. We were…peeved. The title company assured us that they’d fax the documents over to the bank and that as soon as the bank had signed them, we could get the keys and start moving in. We left the title company’s office with the key code to the lock box after promising to not go in until we heard the papers were signed. In the meantime, we went back to our hosts’ house and got ready to reload the truck so we’d be ready to move right when we got the word.

Conveniently, right as I was getting the truck ready to go, the cable that supported the lift gate broke and the whole thing crashed to the street, nearly crushing my feet under 300 pounds of steel. We called my boss, who brought our company’s other truck to the rescue, and right when he arrived, our dog Taco decided to make a daring escape into the neighborhood. So there we were, two trucks parked end to end in the street, broken lift gate on the ground, and all three of us diving to the ground to snatch up Taco across a city block of front yards. Anyone who happened to be watching out their window was likely playing this as a soundtrack to the whole thing. Ten minutes of fast-motion Benny Hill zaniness later and Taco was safe inside the house again, and thank goodness too, cause she’s REALLY cute.


That head tilt: OMG <3 <3!

Anyway, after the chase we were all incredibly tired, but we still had to move everything from one truck to another so we could have a functional lift gate. In the process of shuffling everything to the second truck, Lindsey caught the buckle of a falling ratchet strap to the head, saw stars, and she somehow kept on going after what had already been a very stressful day. She would later require an ER visit for some dizzy spells as a result of the head bump, but maybe that story’s better for another day.

After we got the second truck loaded and all our stuff secured again, the stars finally aligned. Lindsey’s parents, who were coming to help us move, were about to arrive and we finally got the call that we could get into the house. A short drive later and we were breathing quasi-tearful sighs of relief, hugging Lindsey’s parents, and walking in the front door of our new house!

What followed that day and in the coming weeks/months/years will be documented with love hereafter. Our first home purchase was plenty bumpy, but we’re here now, and we’ve survived this far. We can’t wait to share our progress and learn new things both from the process and any readers who care to share their experiences with us. Thanks for joining us!

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