Trimming Tupplur Blinds is Tough

Well, it’s been April of 2009 since I last posted anything.  It’s now nearly February of 2010.  Apparently self-discipline and stick-to-it-ed-ness are not my best qualities.  My couch is still covered in plastic in the middle of the front room, and that front room is the only one that has been painted so far.  SLOW is how I would describe my process.  I mean, the multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of Arthouse is coming along faster than my little apartment.  RIDICULOUS.  But instead of wallowing in my progress-less muck, I’ll list off what I HAVE done over the past 9 months instead of work on my place:

1. Went to Park City, spent a lot of time in a hot tub, made a chocolate raspberry kerflutti (sp?) and did a little bit of hiking

2. Went to Nantucket in the summer, and again over Christmas

3. Met my new baby niece Lucy

4. Went to Galveston

5. Biked from Brooklyn to Chelsea and back again

6. Went to Dallas (not that fun)

7. Went to Houston (fun)

8. Went to Miami (really fun)

9. Got pneumonia (but not Legionnaire’s)

After all of that, last weekend I somehow managed to find the time to hang three blinds and some artwork.  Hanging three blinds might have taken me over four hours.  Thanks IKEA.  Trimming your Tupplur black-out shades is not as easy as it sounds.  Hacksawing through metal makes the white shades dirty.  Kind of gross.  I don’t recommend it.

Also, it kind of sucks to be the person who notices when things are imperfect, crooked, dirty, etc….but also the kind of person who lacks the patience, tools and skills to make things perfect.  It’s a cruel fate the universe has given me.

Hopefully sometime sooner than nine months from now, I’ll have some more pictures up, and way more progress will have been made.  The beautiful orange wool area rug I got at the Crate and Barrel outlet for SIXTY DOLLARS!!!!! is dying to take its rightful place in my home.  Soon.

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So I haven’t been painting…but I did go see Emergency Response Studio

Here’s the thing: I’m headed to Houston this weekend for a dear friend’s wedding, where I will see some more dear friends who live far away.  So of course, this past weekend had to be devoted to acquiring fancy new shoes, as well as attire for the urban cowboy-themed rehearsal dinner.  And that meant that the living room / soon-to-be bedroom has suffered.  The trim still needs one more coat of glossy.  I also kind of need to wait for another pay check (monthly pay days are rough) until I can shop for fabric and make a headboard.  In the meantime I’ve been drooling over Marimekko.

And because I really don’t have much to update as far as the apartment goes, I thought I’d give a little plug to a really great Arthouse / Fusebox Festival / testperformancetest / Long Center co-sponsored public art project that will be in Austin for the next 10 days: Paul Villinski’s Emergency Response Studio,  originally created for Prospect.1 in New Orleans.  I won’t explain it in full detail (click the link for extensive information), but see below for pictures I took today.  Seriously, you have to see the trailer in person to really appreciate how beautiful – and simply functional – it is.  Having heard stories from a friend whose family is still living in a FEMA trailer post-Ike, I know they are cramped, dark and fairly miserable.  This is the exact opposite.  So really, if you are in Austin and reading this (that means you, my five friends who read this), head over to the Long Center sometime over the next week or so and visit it.  DO IT.





Paul Villinski (left) training volunteer docents under the geodesic dome skylight.  Paul described the project (and his practice in general) as “an exercise in what is possible.”

dsc01395a page from the Emergency Response Studio guest book

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Actual Paint on the Walls

It’s Monday morning – drinking coffee, eating yogurt and granola and catching up on some Fresh Air episodes.  (I have today off – “Spring Holiday”)  Currently listening to Mike and Mel White interview.

Saturday was spent applying actual paint to the walls.  Behr’s Ultra White Flat Enamel.  I thought about going with “Polar Bear” or “Popcorn,” but the line was long at the paint counter so I took a tip from a friend and just went off the shelf.  First I had to tape off all the trim.  There are three windows, 1 doorway, 2 actual doors, baseboards and ceiling trim in this little room. That’s a lot of blue tape.  I got one full coat up on Saturday, unfortunately, it needed two.  (I probably should have done two coats of primer, but I was sick of primer.  And the paint smells better than Killz).

The room after one coat:

dsc01338Saturday’s music = Grande Solid Gold Oldies.  I heard this little gem, which I’d never heard before – Sandy Posey’s Single Girl. Nothing like the lyric “I gotta make my own way, there’s rent I gotta pay / I need a night-time love to get me through the day,” to make this single girl feel GREAT about staying up late on a Saturday painting her apartment, by herself.

On Easter Sunday the second coat was put up, with barely any paint to spare.  So lesson learned, definitely two coats of primer in the next room.  Primer is cheaper than paint.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist – not that I do things perfectly, but I notice when things aren’t perfect.  There are still a few spots that could use a touch-up.  I’m trying to remember that once curtains are up and furniture is arranged, the imperfections will not stand out.  And speaking of imperfect, the walls themselves are a mess.  They are not made of drywall, but fake-wood paneling that has been painted god knows how many times.  They are also seriously warped.  Makes it very difficult to paint evenly with a roller.  Also makes my imagination go wild thinking about crazy, and scary, substances that could be growing under there.  I mean, one of the walls bows out so much it is as if it is pregnant.  Mold, enormous Texas roaches and extraterrestrial fetuses are all options.

No work was done Sunday night thanks to a DELICIOUS and decadent Easter dinner courtesy of Anne.  I couldn’t stop staring at her painted ceilings.  I’m trying to ignore the fact that my asbestos-tiled ceiling no longer looks white next to the white walls.

Today the trim and doors get a second coat of Killz and a first coat of Hi-Gloss Ultra White.  Haven’t decided on music yet.  Yesterday was my iTunes on shuffle.  Grande should pay me to make them a music station.  I can’t be the only one that likes a combo of Dr. Hook, R. Kelly, Panda Bear, Charlie Pride, Sleater-Kinney, Curtis Mayfield and Styx, can I?

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Blue and Orange

I’ve taken a few nights off of the painting to hang out with friends.  But in the meantime, by popular demand, here is a picture of the Sterling Allen drawing referenced earlier.  I’d never seen a drawing of his on this blue paper before, and I love it.  And the subject matter makes me giggle every time I look at it.  So thanks Sterling, and sorry for the unprofessional, poorly cropped photo.

Sterling Allen

That blue paper and this Eileen Maxson photograph (which I need to frame) are the inspirations for my color palette – blues, turqoises and oranges.  (another apology to Eileen for the quality of the photograph of her photograph)

Eileen Maxson

Luckily, I have lots of stuff that already fits into the color scheme.  Like these orange coasters, these glasses, and lots of California pottery.



I have got to start taking better photos.  Photography was my minor, after all.

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Night Three: Grande Hits of the 70s

Well, the actual paint roller, and not just the paint brush, came out today.  I’m still not done priming though.  Why can’t primer be paint?

The evening began by picking up a ladder from the previously-mentioned Chad, so that I can reach the top part of the walls and the molding.  I’ve got 1o foot ceilings in here, and I’m not ten feet tall.  That meant I got some Chad and baby Claire hang out time, which was great.  That baby’s in her smiley stage.  And Julie came home with flowers for Chad because he was accepted into this Design Within Reach exhibition on May 3rd!  Chad makes great bent wood lamps, among lots of other great things.  Yay Chad!

Anyway, I picked up the ladder, brought it home (lucky I have an old school Volvo wagon) and promptly got to work. But first I turned on the TV “radio” to tonight’s choice – Hits of the 70s.  Best songs of the night:  Clean Up Woman, Betty Wright; Taking It to the Streets, The Doobies; Just When I Needed You Most, Anne Murray and Bad Time, Grand Funk Railroad.  Had no idea that was not a Jayhawks original.  Grande TV radio taught me something new again!

Most of the priming is done, but not all.  And I didn’t actually get up on the ladder yet.  I don’t enjoy ladders.  No problem with heights in general, but no love for ladders.

Here’s Angus helping out, and also a shot where you can see the partially primed walls.  The unprimed door in the shot is now primed.

dsc01298 dsc01301

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Finally, A Paint Brush Was Used

Well, today I got home from work and promptly started priming.  Got most of the trim done, including windows, some of the front door (which is a mess) and some of the walls.  I only worked for two hours.  Once I finished up the first pour of paint in the paint tray, I decided to call it quits.  Time to sit down and fully enjoy a glass of wine.  I’m drinking white today and it kept getting warm ’cause I was working so intently I’d forget to take a sip.  That’s how hardcore I am.

I definitely decided to forgo stripping the trim.  I might try that step once I get to the kitchen cabinets (which will be orange) and the bathroom trim, which is a real disaster.  But for now, I’m priming right over all that crap.  I must say, it’s pretty exciting to see white on the walls.  Looking cleaner already.

As a side note, it’s difficult to paint with a 60-plus lb. dog in the house.  I don’t have a fenced yard, so when I’m inside, Angus is inside.  And when I’m home he wants to be with me.  And as I mentioned previously, he sheds like no other dog I’ve ever met.  He ever so sweetly tried to make himself as small as possible and promptly curled up against a newly painted baseboard.  Aye aye aye.

Anyway, here are before pictures. (No in progress pictures yet, it’s not that exciting).


This is the front room, currently the living room.  I should have fixed that couch cushion before taking this picture.  The old radio you see is soon to go bye-bye.  I love it, but it takes up a lot of room and won’t really fit into the new scheme.  Plus, it technically belongs to an old boyfriend, who keeps saying he’ll come and get it but doesn’t.  I think you get an idea of the putty color.  If you look closely you can see Angus lying on the front porch.

dsc01281To the right, is the wall directly opposite the front door.  The east wall, if you will.  That bookcase also belongs to the fore-mentioned boyfriend and will be going away.  It’s already been moved to the garage.  On the wall is an AMAZING Sterling Allen drawing which I snagged at a silent auction at Okay Mountain.  It was very competitive bidding, and by far the most I’ve ever spent on art.  But I love it.  And I love buying friends’ artwork.  Also pictured is a great bent wood chair, that has some slight veneer damage, but it’s in the parts you can’t see.  Got it for $8.00 at Thrift Town. Or maybe Thrift World? Or Thrift Land?  One of those shops on Stassney.  That door leads to a closet that I haven’t opened in a very long time.  I’m a bit afraid to.


This is the wall, opposite the couch, which would make it the north wall.  A very disorganized bookcase, which will eventually be primed and painted, I think.  Gotta find a better place for my Frankenstein of a stereo, and all those records.  I won’t get rid of them though.  I love those records.  That tv is never used, because the good cable is in the back room.  The tv will be going to Goodwill soon too.  A garage sale is more than I can cope with. Some of those books and those old VHS tapes are going too.  You’ll also notice the hardwoods are in VERY rough shape.  This would be because they were stained by my landlady, but not sealed or varnished properly.  And as I mentioned before, I have a 60 plus pound dog.

Here’s a picture of him, just for fun.


That’s all I’ve got for tonight.  Seems like more than enough.  My friend Chad is real good at short snappy posts.  Check him out at baldmanmodpad.  Me, I’m wordy.  And a bit of a blowhard.

One last tidbit.  In his twenties, Eddie Grant had to retire to his home studio after a heart attack.  I learned this from the cable music channel I was listening to while painting – it was called party hits. Seemed like it would be fun to paint to.  Not so much.  My idea of a party is different than Grande’s.  After one too many Paula Abdul and Gloria Estefan ditties, I went to the back to change the channel.  But as I did so, Electric Avenue came on, and I learned something new.

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What Have I Done?

I have lived in the same duplex for six years.  It might be more.  I don’t keep track of such things.  I always have to do some complicated subtraction in my head to even remember how old my dog is.  The point is that I’ve lived here for a LONG time without ever really making much effort at decorating in an adult sort of way.  I’ve also lived with a color of paint, chosen by my landlord, called putty.  Literally, that is the name of the paint.  I found it at Home Depot today and confirmed.  I hate it. I’m also kind of a mess.  In the sense that I am messy.  But I have decided to change all of that.

Decision #1: Paint.

Decision #2: Switch my bedroom and living room.

Decision #3: Get rid of some old furniture, paint some other old furniture, make a headboard and get new window treatments.

I joked yesterday that this will take me a full year, but I’m not sure that’s much of a joke.  I think it really might take me a year.

The apartment is one half of a typical Austin, Texas bungalow.  It’s shotgun style.  You walk in the front door and you can see the back wall.  Currently it goes like this: living room, hallway/bathroom, kitchen, bedroom.  Soon that order will be reversed. Yes, it means I’ll sleep in the same room as the front door.  But I’d do that if it were a studio.  There are too many boring reasons why I’m switching rooms.  You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s necessary and will be better.

I started today by vacuuming, dusting and moving furniture into the center of the front room.  I thought that I would have started painting by now.  But with a whole lot of books to move and put somewhere, along with a whole lot of records and cds, that hasn’t happened.  Clean. Clean. Clean.  I blame it on my dog and the fact that he sheds a large cat-sized amount of hair EVERY DAY.  It’s impossible to keep up with.  Let’s just say I’m glad no one was here when I moved the bookcase away from the wall. (I just turned on the tv and Extreme Home Makeover is on.  I’m thinking knocking this old place down and starting from scratch would be ONE MILLION TIMES EASIER.  I’m also starting to doubt that shows like Trading Spaces REALLY do everything in 2 days.  I mean, I bet those people clean out their rooms first.)

So, now every room in the house is a mess, cause stuff from the front room is in the back.  I’m already thinking about short cuts.  Like not stripping and scraping the gloppy old paint off the trim, but just painting right over it.  I mean, I don’t own this place. I hate not doing things correctly, but I’m also trying to avoid insanity.

I’m ready to get that can of white on the walls.  Right after I finish this glass of wine.

(I do have before pictures.   But I’m too tired to download them from my camera and then upload onto this blog.  Later.)

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