This is the story of how two dunderheads, one who’d never painted a room before, the other who’d only painted a wall, spent a full Saturday (from 11 am to 1 am) painting a bedroom and a kitchen. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the kitchen; a task that might seem daunting at first, but one that, as will be evidenced by the pictures, is well worth the effort.
The dunderheads in question are me, your Amateur Gourmet, and my friend Rob Meyer who’s not a dunderhead at all: in fact, he’s a really talented filmmaker (check out his site). Rob’s award-winning short film “Aquarium” is actually what led him to our new apartment on Saturday, determined to paint our walls. You see Craig worked on Rob’s film as Assistant Director and Rob owed Craig some work; Rob would repay us in paint.
So now, how do two guys who’ve never painted a kitchen (or a bedroom) before go about the job? How might you go about the job if you leave this post inspired to paint YOUR kitchen?
First things first, you will need some tools. These tools are:
- A ladder
- Painter’s tape
- Paint rollers
- Clean heads for the rollers (one for each person and each color, if you’re doing more than one)
- Brushes (one for each person and each color, again—buy cheap ones)
- Paint trays (we bought 4 cheap plastic ones, but heavier ones will make things slightly easier)
- TARP!!!! (The exclamation marks and all-caps are to emphasize how important tarps will be. Buy lots of them: cheap plastic ones cost very little and you will want to cover everything.)
- And last, but not least, paint. We bought one gallon for each room and that wasn’t enough (I had to go back for more). So if you have a large bedroom (like I do) buy two gallons of paint. For the kitchen, we got away with one gallon plus one quart.
As for what kind of paint, we bought Benjamin Moore paint and we were very happy. After the lively discussion here, Craig and I decided on a color for the kitchen called Desert Sunset (as seen on Apartment Therapy). For the bedroom we chose Avocado (you can see the color in the can):
The only thing, after color, you have to decide about the paint is what kind of finish you want. A flat finish will give you smooth, attractive walls, but will be very hard to clean. A glossy finish, on the other hand, will reveal all the imperfections in the walls but will be very easy to clean. So a happy medium, and the one suggested by our friends Josh and Krisse, is a Matte finish. That’s what we chose for both rooms.
Now let’s please study that last picture as we begin the process of painting the kitchen. That picture isn’t a picture of the kitchen, but it illustrates several points.
1. Begin with the painter’s tape. All around your kitchen you must place blue painter’s tape–long stretches it–on every border of every surface you plan to paint. Think of it as a removable frame: the tape not only lays down the parameters of where you will be painting but, far more important, it creates an even line so as you inevitably go past those parameters, you’ll be painting over tape, not on the surrounding wall. The best feeling in the world is when you remove the tape at the end and see neat lines (but more on that later).
2. I’m pretending this is the 2nd step, but we’re still talking about the first. Taping the walls is a long, long process. It took us a few hours. The hardest part is getting the lines even. I had a really hard time in the kitchen because the ceiling wasn’t at a 90 degree angle to the wall–it was bumpy and inconsistent–and I found myself taping and re-taping several times.
3. When the room is fully taped, it’s time to tarp. Now if your kitchen has lots of stuff in it, it’d probably be a good idea to take everything out of the kitchen while you paint. Luckily, we haven’t moved in yet, so there was nothing in there. But there was a stove and a refrigerator and lots of other appliances (including my lovely, beautiful, sexy, awesome, I can’t-believe-I’m-going-to-have-one dishwasher). You must cover this and all the floors with tarp. Believe me, you will drip paint. Oh, how you will drip paint. And you will be very sad if you drip it all over your floor or your sexy dishwasher, so cover everything in tarp!
Let’s pause for a second to look at my kitchen pre-taping and pre-tarping so you can see the difference after we paint.
Isn’t that a nice kitchen? But it needs a little color, no? Desert sunset, here we come!
What step were we on? 4? 5? Ah yes, 4.
4. Here’s where things get a little unclear. What’s the right way to actually paint the walls? To start, open your can of paint. Stir it around with the paint stirrer. Carefully pour a decent amount into your paint tray. Re-cover the can: you might knock it over!
5. According to several videos we watched online, the best way to start is to take your brush, to dip it in the paint, and to paint the borders first. This one video–click here–has a specific technique for painting the borders. You approach the tape not straight on (too much paint would pool if you did that), but at an angle. So you start somewhere lower on the wall and then paint towards the tape, and glide your brush across.
6. But, inevitably, after doing the bedroom this way, we approached the kitchen a bit more zealously. To whit: Rob just grabbed a roller, dipped it in the paint, scraped some off on the other part of the tray, and started rolling up the walls.
The key to this is long, smooth strokes. The more we painted, the more we discovered that long smooth strokes are the key to an attractive wall. This is true of using the brush too, something I mastered while painting behind the sink and the stove. Carefully load your brush, wipe excess paint off on the tray, place the brush on the wall and drag neatly across in the same direction and smooth out–back and forth–until the paint is all smooth. You don’t want clumps of paint all over the wall, do you?
7. So paint, paint, paint and then take heart: when you finish your first coat of paint, you will look at your walls and think: “Oh.” You will think that because, really, it’s not going to look that good. Ours didn’t. Some neighbors came over to say hello and one of their friends, who may have been slightly drunk, said: “Who picked these colors?” I forgave him because he didn’t realize: this was only the first coat!
8. While the first coat dried in the kitchen, we finished the 2nd coat in the bedroom. The difference between the first coat and the second coat in the bedroom was so dramatic, we couldn’t wait to see the difference in the kitchen.
9. And–huzzah!—it was an amazing difference! Craig joined us for the final painting of the night (he’d been working on a screenplay all day) and as the second coat went on, we all knew this kitchen would soon be a masterpiece:
When the tape came off, it wasn’t too perfect–the line at the top, which I had trouble making even–came out predictably uneven, but we’re probably the only ones who’ll notice. Otherwise, our kitchen looks pretty nifty, wouldn’t you say?
(For a dark picture of our avocado-colored bedroom, click here.)
I have to say: I love our new kitchen, I love the color. Painting was a lot of work, true, but now we have a kitchen that has personality, that has character, that feels like a real person’s kitchen, not a temporary prop-kitchen that serves as a way-station between one apartment and the next (which is actually how I’ve always felt about our Park Slope kitchen). So thanks to Rob Meyer for being a great painting partner and to Craig for the tiny amount of work he did at the end. Desert Sunset kitchen, we’re on our way!
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