A Textured Ceiling Makeover

It has been several months since we began this particular project, but we just brought it to pretty-much completion within the past couple days. Here is our new bedroom ceiling, complete with this then-on-sale chandelier from Home Depot:

Yes, in fact, the appearance of that chandelier did inspire me to sing "Phantom of the Opera" at the top of my lungs not only while Rick hung it but also well into the next week! How did you know?!

But let's rewind. You see, this was not a simple "let's paint the ceiling and hang a chandelier and sing an aria" job. Here's what the ceiling started out looking like:

Personally, I'm not a fan of this particular brand of textured ceiling, even though I know it has Super Crack-Hiding Abilities. (Unlike my female students in their low-rise jeans, whose crack-hiding abilities rank right up there with my ability to, say, recite "The Road Less Taken" in Polish.) So, we googled around for some help without any real success, then asked a couple different workers at Lowe's if there was anything we could do about it. They both said NO and laughed at our sheer ignorance and naivety.

(But did you see that first picture way up there?)

I am here to tell you that these workers were obviously INCORRECT and should not have snickered quite so pompously and should maybe consider quitting their day job and instead taking up Polish.

Left to our own devices, I remembered reading Kelly's tips about getting rid of a popcorn ceiling by spraying it with water, so we went ahead and soaked a corner of our drippy plaster ceiling, figuring that the plaster itself was water-based and would resort to its liquefied state. It did! A happy dance ensued. Said happy dance quickly came to a screeching halt when we realized how not-fun it is to mess around with a ceiling. Is it totally all worth it now, now that our arms no longer ache and our bodies are no longer coated in dust? Heck yes. Are we skipping off to go get started started on another ceiling? Heck no.

With our plaster thoroughly saturated, we began scraping off the plaster drips with metal scrapers. After that, the ceiling looked like this:

Better, but not flat. So the next step involved applying a new layer of joint compound to smooth out the still rough texture. I would recommend getting a scraper the size of your head and using fresh joint compound. You'll finish the ceiling in no time less than a day.

(Rick says I should mention that we had to choose between applying a new layer of plaster with joint compound, or sand all of the remaining plaster until it was smooth. We tried skipping the new layer and going straight to sanding, but we likened it to painting the room with a mascara brush: completely slow, painful and inefficient.) So we slapped on a new layer of wet joint compound. If any of the steps were easy, this was it. Even I could do it with a fair amount of success and minimal to no whining. Here's a fantastically thrilling picture of what it looked like as it was drying:

After the new layer of plaster was dry, the delightful job of sanding could commence. I'm not gonna lie: this step is, to date, the worst thing I have participated in during my brief career as a homeowner. Rick (aka The One With the Muscles) ended up doing most of it because he loves my biceps and my cheery disposition, both of which were seriously compromised when I began sanding the ceiling.

After wiping down the entire ceiling and room with a wet cloth, we primed with Kilz stainblocker (the ceiling soaked up a lot of it--we used the entire gallon of primer and only half a gallon of actual paint) and then painted. I chose this lovely contrasting shade of pale blue (Valspar's Sweet Slumber):

What? You mean you don't see any real color or contrast, only grayish white spots left by the sad coverage of our now never-to-be-used-again Olympic paint? This explains why I zoomed off to the nearest hardware store and bought a gallon of Benjamin Moore paint and primer in one, shade Glacier Blue. After all, we didn't spend all that time and energy scraping and sanding the ceiling for it to be more lame and less exciting than the sequels to Aladdin.

He claims to not want a photo shoot. Divas these days. Really, why else would he be wearing those super swell safety goggles? ;)

Next time, I, personally, will wear a rain bonnet when I cut in around the edge of the ceiling, seeing as how this time I ended up looking like one of those kids that sprays school colors in their hair on homecoming, only less cool.

(Try to pretend you're surprised that I have a t-shirt with cats on it.)

I'm really happy with how the ceiling looks with the walls (Valspar's Seashell Gray), and I think the shade of blue is bright enough to be noticeably pretty but not overpowering to the point where you feel like someone colored the entire ceiling with a blue highlighter.

Hanging the Phantom of the Opera bling chandelier was the final touch. We had to use a swag hook to suspend it in the center of the room since the electric hook-up that used to be centered in the room is now not centered because we knocked out the imposing closet as part of our mission to make the upstairs floor plan feel not quite so 1897.

That thing sparkles. Me likey.

And now, for a brief history of our birdroom bedroom. I have to add that while it didn't make me sad to paint over the multitude of birdhouses, I am impressed by the time and hard work that someone spent on them. All that stenciling isn't my thing, but every single element was really so detailed and intricate, and a lot of love went into making it that way. I can appreciate that, you know?

Hooray for progress. :)

We still have to install new trim/baseboards and refinish the floor before we can move into our bedroom, but we congratulated ourselves on the completion of the ceiling by snuggling up with some hot chocolate (is summer over already?) and watching...The Phantom of the Opera. Rick thought that maybe it would put an end to my insistence on pretending to be an operatic soprano.

It did not.

It merely encouraged it.  

So: other tips for conquering textured ceilings? Practical venues for reciting Frost in languages other than English? Vocal exercises to flawlessly reach high Bs? Let's hear your thoughts. :)

This post was brought to you by a dork who loves musical theater, bling, and masked men in boats.



Let's get this week started off on a positive note, shall we? :)

Here's some inspiration, encouragement, and smiles that I've found around the world wide web lately.

*          *          *

Something to inspire you:

This antique key plate pendant would be totally cool to DIY, and I bet it could be made for a lot less than the selling price of $600.

 Something to encourage you:

So true. We've learned this time and time again. I could write a book about how I got my teaching job and how much I battled God's timing until, in the end, I could look back and see how it had been perfect every step of the way. Every trial, every uncertainty, every setback had to happen in order to get me where I am today. (Seriously, if you're struggling with unemployment, email me. I would love to share my story with you and pray for you.)

 Something to make you smile:

Apology accepted. Thanks for caring.

*          *          *

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you have a great week! :)


And then, we relocated our living room.

Our living room furniture has been going through some pretty big changes lately. (Sort of like 13 year-old boy changes, minus the deepening voice and...well...never mind.) No, we haven't reupholstered our couch in pink fur.


Does this remind anyone else of something they once pulled out of their fridge?

These are Big Changes namely because we've moved all of the furniture, couch included, to a...completely different room. It was sort of an on-the-whim move, spurred on by a conversation about how A) we didn't know where additional seating would go in the old living room and B) the old living room was sort of cave-like since it only gets morning light and the porch is outside of the east-facing window, blocking what little light is allowed to filter in. Here's a rendering of the old living room digs that I will probably print and hang on the fridge as soon as I'm done writing this post:

See what I mean? Really, the only place to put an additional chair is in the bottom right-hand corner. And that, still, is only one additional chair. Our couch is giant (9' long to be exact), which means it can fit several people and their pet cats, but lining up on the sofa isn't exactly the best way to have a heart-warming conversation with guests. You can sit on the ottoman, too, but it would need to be moved every time we intended to use it that way, since sitting 4 inches from someone isn't the best way to have a conversation, either. (Unless you are that aforementioned 13 year-old boy, in which case you may disagree with that statement.) 

Happily for us, our 1897 floor plan has gifted us with a double parlor: the former living room spills right into the new living room via double pocket doors. So we wasted no time moving the couch, carpet, TV, and ottoman to their new resting place. We considered showing them Puberty: The Movie so they wouldn't be so alarmed by their changes (you know, the one you had to watch in a dark gymnasium at the tender age of 10) but scratched that idea in favor of not being complete weirdos. Plus we couldn't locate our personal copy.

Here's the new view from the dining room, facing the old living room:

And from the old living room, facing the dining room (which is also accessed via double pocket doors):

This room gets a ton more light, and the couch doesn't look nearly as cramped. We set up these two chairs that we hauled home from Ikea over the weekend and the room already looks more full and inviting.

I got the standing lamp from Target; my inspiration was a similar one from Crate & Barrel. Cost difference: $160. So far it turns on and off and lights up our room just like a lamp should....so I'm glad I didn't spend millions on it.

Still on our to-do list for the room:

-privacy curtains for the bay window so our neighbors can't watch PBS with us

-get lighting for the chair/TV side of the room so we're not sitting in shadowy corners like creepy people

-find round wooden or metal side tables for the chairs (or just something not made out of fabric--we already have a lot of that in the room)

-get a less awkward stand for the TV--I'm considering finding a small but taller curvy dresser that would contrast with the more modern style of the chairs and painting it a fun color; thoughts?

-more pillows for the couch, even though Rick throws them all off when he lays down anyway

-hang stuff on the walls (like this circle art and the aqua mirror that both make cameo appearances in the above pictures because I didn't feel like moving them)

-install a light fixture to make the 10' ceiling feel slightly less cavernous

-refinish floors and doors (they need some TLC) 

-more that I won't think of until I...think of it

So we still have a bit to do. BUT: it's made some decent progress from what it looked like when we moved in:

And just because it's scary, here's what our former living room currently looks like:

We're not sure what will go in there, so for now, its function is Glorified Trash Pit. (See, I told you that our storage ottoman wasn't the only place where we created disorganized mayhem.) Thank God for giving some 1897 designer the wisdom to install pocket doors. :)

So. If I were to host a party where we first all celebrated having places to sit in my living room and then followed up that great festivity by eating leftovers from my fridge and watching Puberty: The Movie just for old time's sake, would you come?


Our Maiden Voyage to Ikea

Rick and I recently spent some much-needed time away with just each other. Not each other and drywall. Not each other and our cats. Just each other, with no obligations and no need to set the alarm. On our way home from our long weekend jaunt, we made a ridiculously lengthy stop at the Pittsburgh Ikea, at which point we began spending time with the most giant spectacle of a store that I have ever stepped foot into. This was an exciting time for us, because until that lengthy stop, we were Ikea Virgins. Ikea was this Magical Place I only read about in the blogosphere but never saw with my own eyes.

Until now. Until I was apparently so under its spell that I even let Rick take this weird picture of me.

You could get lost in that place. In fact, we did get lost in that place. (Okay, I got lost in that place. Rick notoriously knows exactly where he is going in any given foreign land while meanwhile I am unknowingly wandering into places like the men's bathroom.) But in addition to the fact that Ikea is just a giant monstrosity of a store,we spent far more time than necessary there because the closest one is 5 distant hours from our house. So do we buy things because we won't be back soon? Or do we not buy things because we can't be back soon, eliminating all potential for returns?

In the end, there was plenty that caught my eye, but I exercised credit card restraint and bought only a ceramic planter and 3 yards of fabric in the name of "cheap household accessories," and two Karlstad armchairs in the name of "we actually do need things to sit on." And it's a good thing we didn't buy more than that, because this is what appeared when we went to pick up our chairs:

Did I mention that our vehicle of choice is an Elantra? That was already full of our suitcase, our cooler, and other random items absolutely necessary for travel, like this hideously ancient gallon of paint?

Creative piling ensued. We ripped open the boxes and stuck a leg here, an arm there.

I may submit this post to Awkward Family Vacation Photos.

Rick wasted no time putting our contraband together when we got home, and Gingerbread wasted no time trying them out in all of their various partially-put-together stages.

I think she approves.

We also approve, because now our guests don't have to sit on the floor.

Fun-ish fact about these chairs: Rick was actually the one to find them and say "We should buy these!" (Note: this is partly because I personally spent my time in the store being lost near a urinal.) Our rule for large purchases like this is that we both have to be on board, but usually it's me doing the convincing and not the other way around. I'm pretty sure he'll be congratulating himself for the next month or so on picking out something that I, the ever-picky shopper, actually approved of. (Maybe allowing me to get lost was part of his master plan?)

We can even both fit in one at the same time, in case, you know, the cats take over both the other chair and our entire couch. (It happens.)

So our maiden voyage to Ikea was pretty fun (Rick even admitted to enjoying it, and not because of the free lunch we got for spending more than $100) but I think I am glad we don't live closer to one, mainly because I might enter and then not re-appear for several months. I seriously expected it to be snowing when we exited.

Do you remember your maiden voyage to Ikea? Did it involve the men's bathroom? Are there any remaining Ikea Virgins on this planet, or were we the last of a now-extinct breed? Are you wondering why I'm asking so many questions? Me too. Over and out.

Weekend Bloggy Reading


Circles, Candy, and Cooties

I promise that title will make sense soon.

Meet the latest addition to our $1 "art" collection:

Frame ($1 at a yard sale)
Scrapbook paper for circles (owned for.ever and in dire need of being used)
Circle paper punch (I used the 2" one that I had but you could really do this with any size circle)

After I punched out all of the circles, I just played around with arranging them until I found a pattern I liked.

You could also make a happy face. She's happy because of her bow.

Or a fire-breathing fish.

But I instead opted for a decidedly less fishy arrangement...

...and at some point ditched the yellow in favor of two more shades of blue.

Something about the yellow just made it seem like I purchased the whole thing at a circus craft fair or something.You know, the kind where the lion tamer sets up his booth of crocheted palm tree paraphernalia and the clowns sell lavender potpourri and shell art next door. (What do you mean you've never heard of one of those?)

After a couple coats of dark metallic spray paint on the frame, my "art" was ready to go.

I know where I'm going to hang it, but there are a couple of other things I want to put next to it and am waiting until those are ready before I put any holes in the wall.

Now: before I finish this post, I need to say that throughout this entire project I was reminded of two things, the first being those weird little neon candy dots on strips of waxy paper. I asked Rick what "those weird little neon candy dots on strips of waxy paper" were called and he said, "Oh, those ones that look like that thing you made downstairs?"

Yep. Those. And apparently they are called Candy Buttons. (Can you still buy these?)

The other thing that kept going through my brain was "Circle, circle, dot, dot, now I've got my cootie shot."

(Because of the circles, obviously, not because of any particular concerns I have about Rick's sanitary condition.) And just because this is too good not to share, I just googled "cootie shot" (in what was apparently another attempt to prove that teachers probably shouldn't have the entire summer off with nothing to do), and I found someone who posted a question on a Yahoo forum about how to get a cootie shot, and whether they could go to Planned Parenthood to get one.


I am now busy using both of my hands and feet to scrape my jaw off of the floor after stumbling upon that question, so I'll conclude this post by simply asking: Has anyone else made any cheap "art" lately? Did you administer cootie shots on the playground? Rick's officially legal for giving immunizations, so he can hook you up if you need one. Although he will need to get a job at Planned Parenthood first...

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