Saturday, October 4, 2008

Frugal Modern Home Interior Painting 101

With the immense help from my darling Jason, I've FINALLY started doing something with it. After a year and a half of financial ups and downs (mostly downs, and the ups were more like "uphill battles") and having an absorbingly hectic schedule, I've finally gotten to a point in my career where I have more time to pay attention to my home - my abode, my sanctum sanctorum. It's a little overwhelming to think about all the plans I'd like to do to the house, so I have to slow down and just take one thing at a time. But knowing myself, it'd be more like 2-3 things at a time.

I wanted to share with you my experiences with this because between coming to the slow season for my business, the economy, the gas crisis - a girl like me has no choice but to be frugal about her home investments. My friend, Heather M. posted this NYTimes article on her Delicious account about becoming inspired by the frugal, yet creative mentality of many college students. I LOVE stuff like this - taking found objects and turning them into cool, creative, and functional household furnishings/items. ReadyMade Magazine is also one of my favorites, its namesake inspired by one of the masters of modern art, Marcel Duchamp and his avant-garde "readymades". But I digress.

Let's start with one of my first goals: PAINTING (interior)

I used to do murals here and there before I became a tattoo artist, so I've learned a few tricks that I was excited to utilize again. First, choose general color schemes. For example, I wanted the hallway to have a terra cotta kind of feel to it. I want the bathroom to have spearminty greens on the walls and inside the cabinets. Now that I know what colors I want, off we go to Lowe's and Home Depot in search of good quality paints - but for less than half the price.

HOW?!!! If you're adventurous (I'd say "like me", but I would NEVER go bungy jumping), you'd go to the "OOPS PAINT" section. This is my favorite shelf of the paint section.
oops paint n. house paint sold at a discount because it is deemed of unsatisfactory or wrong color, has been returned by a previous customer, or was specially mixed but never sold.
Oops Paint is usually sold for $5-7 a gallon at Home Depot, and $7-12 at Lowe's. But most of them are good quality paint brands, they were just orphaned. Even when I'm not looking for paint, anytime I go to those stores, I'd take a glance at the Oops Paint shelf. If I see a color that has potential, I'll snag it. If it's not the EXACT color you want, it's no big deal. You can mix paints! Do you remember what your art teacher taught you about the color wheel? Okay, so not all of you did.

But here's a good general rule of thumb, even for the most inexperienced:

*When choosing Oops Paint, try to choose a color of the same HUE as the color you want. For example, my hallway paint is to have terra cotta colors, which is like an earthy orange tone. I found a paint called "ginger", which was way too dark for what I wanted, but it was the HUE I wanted. It was muted like a plant pot, not bright and saturated like a creamsicle. So all I had to do was buy a can of white paint to lighten it to my liking.

*Better the Oops Paint be too dark than too light. Dark paints can always be lighten little by little by white paint. Light paints are harder to darken, unless you have a good grasp on the color wheel AND how paints mix with other kinds of colors.

*Make sure the paints have the kind of finish you want. If your Oops Paint is a matte finish, but you want an eggshell, then lighten your paint with a white with an eggshell finish or even a step above that - a satin finish, to compensate for the matte.

*If you want to do more than one color in a room, make sure you do some sample painting. Pick a small section of wall and paint an even coat of each color right next to eachother so that there's no space in between them. Colors may "look" different when juxtaposed with other colors. So make sure you have an idea of how they'll look together.

This may seem like a dangerous chemistry/art project - and it certainly can be a trial and error process. But if you have the mentality that anything can happen, and just freaking go with it kind of attitude, this can actually be really fun! And once you're done painting, you can tell people "I custom mix all my paintwork". That really gets them impressed. And it's even more fun when you've only spent $15 worth of designer brand paint on your new hallway.

For paint equipment, like rollers, dropcloths, etc. I've found the best place to go are places like Big Lots. The quality is just as good as at Home Depot or Lowe's, but cheaper. Use the plastic dropcloths over and over again. Rollers are re-usable, you just have to replace the actual roller covers. Buy a paint tray (or 2 or 3, depending on how many colors you're using in one session), and then buy paint tray liners. You can get 10 for just a few bucks. The liners are disposable, and you've still got paint trays to last and last. Paintbrushes can be re-used, as long as you clean them thoroughly with mild soap and warm water. If you take care of your equipment, they can last a long time.

(note: the blurry thing of brown and white is my dog, Millhouse)

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