Now, why does a picture like this make me smile? Let me count the ways! It’s PROGRESS. It’s ACTION. It’s IMPROVEMENT…and it’s a sign of what’s to come.
A few months ago L and I started this messiest of messy home improvement projects call Scraping Off a Very Heavily Painted-Over Popcorn Ceiling. It was Super Bowl Sunday actually when we kicked off – no pun intended. I really wanted to do the fun stuff first like repaint a few walls I was getting sick of here in the townhouse and replace the old doors, but L wisely said no, we need to scrape, sand and repaint the ceilings first. Man, he was right.
Back in early February, June seemed a long ways off. We figured sure, we’ll be done with the upstairs by June. Now, blink the eyes and it’s MID JUNE. We have made progress though not as much as I’d hoped. We’ve learned so much about this process…the guinea pig room was my master bedroom and open dual-sink vanity area. The largest of the 3 bedrooms upstairs and THE most personal, sacred place for me. So it was painful cutting our teeth in there, it took far longer than we thought and it’s not yet finished – the ceiling is scraped and sanded but not yet primed and repainted. Living with displaced clutter has grinded (ground?) my nerves but I’m a lot more used to it now.
The 3rd bedroom has been a dormant mess for, sadly, nearly 10 years. It was going to be a guest bedroom but ended up being a dumping place for things I didn’t know what to do with…and was too lazy to tote down to the garage (which has yet to have some decent shelving added…Le Sigh that’s another thing on the list). This weekend it was time to clean it out and scrape the ceiling.
L came over Friday evening. I made quinoa chowder (find the recipe in my post here…I diced up a chicken breast, sautéed it and added it to the soup to make it a little heartier) and we just relaxed and watched TV. It felt good having him over. I’m feeling in a much better place these days. Work is super busy, but I’m relieved my assignment will be extended into the fall. I’ve got some fun summer plans on tap, I feel happy that L and I are great friends and he wants us to stay friends forever. The home improvement work is messy and moving slowly but I trust that he will keep helping me until we finish. I know it’s going to look great when we’re done. By 10pm we were both tired and crashed. He took over the living room couch, M’s dog by his side on the floor and I headed upstairs.
The next morning I fueled us up with a big breakfast…bacon, scrambled eggs with Tabasco and toasted bagels with cream cheese. And lots of coffee of course. We finished the last part of the 3rd bedroom clutter…moving the books off the tall bookshelf and lying the bookcase on its side against the wall, ready to wrap in protective drop cloths. Ideally we would have moved it completely out of the room but there was nowhere convenient to put it. My upstairs hallway is pretty narrow, and the other room up here – my home office – now has boxes and stacks of books added to the rest of the clutter already in there. It’s starting to look like it’s auditioning for an episode of Hoarders. Scary. Breathe, breathe…it’s temporary. This is how I continually remind myself it’s going to get finished and all of this mess will be back in order. I DO NOT live like this. And I giggled when I realized how pristine the carpet in the 3rd bedroom is. It’s hardly been walked on in years. The only routine action it gets is when my house cleaners vacuum what they can every month.
Now if you are considering attempting a ceiling scraping project like this, remember that you cannot have too many plastic drop cloths. It’s essential to not only cover the floor with them, but also to tape drop cloths along the top edges of the walls to catch the ceiling debris as it comes down. It’s a pain in the ass taping drop cloths along the top edges of the walls but if you do you will avoid a lot of mess with dust clinging to the walls as it comes down. You can see a strip of leftover painter’s tape in the picture actually.
Compared to the large master bedroom and vanity area, this room was a breeze. It’s a lot smaller – it’s too small to hold a queen-sized bed if you would also want two decent night stands to give you an idea of the size. We started at the section where the window is, so we could take down that wall drop cloth first to get some ventilation. For those of you just tuning in, L and I are doing the old “spray and scrape” method of taking down the popcorn ceiling. I use a garden sprayer to spray small patches of the ceiling, let it sit for a few minutes, and L scrapes away. We found a cool-looking tool designed for this purpose that attaches onto an extension pole awhile back. Sadly, it’s too flimsy to do the job. My ceilings are heavily painted over with thick, flat, matte white paint so a couple of good putty knives are what L uses while standing on a step stool. One knife is 6″ wide and the other 3″ wide. It’s tempting to get something even wider to cover more surface area more quickly, however the risk is if the ceiling is not perfectly flat you run the risk of gouging it with the tool edges. So far no problems there.
We’re also learning about the fine line between getting the ceiling damp enough so the scraping is relatively easy, versus getting the ceiling too wet and risking mold later. Another reason why good room ventilation is essential. Thankfully the weather has been somewhat decent this weekend. I’ll be keeping the window ajar for the next few days. I can already see how a lot of the wetter patches have dried.
Now that the ceiling is scraped we’ll need to sand it down like we did in the master bedroom, but I’m already thrilled with how it looks. This room is going to transform…I’m not 100% sure how yet but it will. See that small patch of paint? That’s a Benjamin Moore paint in Sioux Falls. It’s a glorious bluish green and I can’t WAIT to paint! I love color and I can’t wait to get rid of that horrible, flat white paint. The ceiling will be painted off white, however, not colored.
L thinks I should make that 3rd bedroom my home office and make the (larger) bedroom where I’m sitting here – my current home office – as the guest bedroom. Interesting idea! I could definitely put a queen-sized bed in this home office which would be a lot more comfortable for guests. I know L likes smaller, cozier spaces to work in, while I thrive in more open spaces. This could be a fun way to change things up. Technologically it could be a problem now that I think of it…that 3rd bedroom does not have any phone jacks or cable hookup. Gotta love older (32 year old) homes that are not pre-wired for technology like homes are today. Hmmm.
So while I tend to get frustrated when I see the long road ahead in getting this townhouse updated and the shell game of having to move crap between rooms to clear them out for the ceiling work, I remember how great a place it is. The floor plan is kickass. I remember when I was ready to start looking to buy a place and made a list of my priorities for my realtor. She found everything I was looking for at the top of my list…3 bedrooms and townhouse style! And a huge 2-car garage! They just don’t make them like this anymore. Sometimes I wish I’d purchased a newer home that didn’t need so much updating. Carpet, countertops, window treatments, flooring, appliances…but I know that newer places have problems too. Guess it’s all part of the journey of homeownership.
For now, I grin…progress and wonderful Man Help thanks to my guy BFF!!