Hey, here's my cat, surveying the Christmas aftermath and saying, "Don't look at me, I didn't do it."

I adore this picture.

On to other things.

There was some, shall we say, "overlap" between purchasing the house we are living in now and selling the old house.  It was the source of much stress and anxiety for me during an otherwise difficult year of stress and anxiety.  We moved out and then did projects on the old house to improve the sale-ability of the house and it was a good idea and all worked out in the end, but oh lordy how I never want to go through that again.  By the time we sold it, it was better looking than it ever had been and I learned two things:
  1. The idea of doing all the improvements to the house after you move out and not getting to enjoy any of your investment of money, discomfort and hard work is pretty stupid.
  2. After painting literally every surface of every room in that house, neither of us wanted to pick up another paintbrush for the rest of our natural lives.
So we declared a year-long moratorium on painting in the new house.

That moratorium extended organically to twenty-two months out of a combination of business and laziness... mostly laziness. 

We didn't love the Apartment Off-White this entire house had been painted top to bottom, nor the eggshell finish that stains and marks if you so much as look at it cross-eyed, but it sure beat washing out another paintbrush.

But finally in November, I gave it to a deep desire for color and gingerly bought a gallon of turquoise blue paint.  I know you're going to say this is nowhere near "turquoise" and I'll probably agree, but I pulled the color from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin palette and that's what he called it so I'm not gonna mess with the Master. 

It actually came out more in between Turquoise and Midnight, but I pretty much love it and I'm not gonna complain.

This was a great way to ease my way back into painting projects because I only had to paint half a wall and it required no taping, no plastic on the floor, no standing on ladders, no cutting in at the ceiling joint, and no painting anything with my arms raised above my head. In fact, the whole thing took me a couple of hours one afternoon and a little less the next. My life was hardly disrupted by it. Woo hoo!

Then I got cocky.

The KoH has recently changed jobs and due to reasons! and use or lose leave, he ended up with a little over week off in between Christmas and New Year.  It's actually one of the reasons we had such a nice holiday.  In our whole marriage, we've never both had this time off together before.

My favorite color in all the world in Frank Lloyd Wright's Cherokee Red and I've always wanted to do a room in Venetian Plaster that is that color.  So, inspired by the vast improvement a little splash of color gave the kitchen, and the vast emptiness of a week without work and work projects and getting up for work and going to work, we made plans to burn a couple of our holiday days with a plaster project in the living room.

And so it begins.

Owing to my little obsession, I've been to a lot of Wright buildings in my time and let me tell you, Cherokee Red is a tricky color.  What Frank calls Cherokee Red in one building is vastly different than what he calls Cherokee Red in another building. The FLW signature tiles are supposed to be Cherokee Red, but in person, these always look way too bright red to me to be anything close to Cherokee.  The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust uses Pantone 173 for Cherokee Red. The floor at Taliesin West is also supposed to be Cherokee Red but that's not nearly as orange as Pantone 173.  The Cherokee Red at Fallingwater is more brown to than all those things and ultimately I don't think Frank Lloyd Wright even know what he meant when he called something Cherokee Red. But I went to a couple of [insert name of big box hardware stores here], armed with my precious Pantone color swatch book (man, those things have come down in price since I last had to buy one) and a dream.

Eventually, I found a couple of suitable options and settled on one.  Then finding tint-able Venetian Plaster was a trick because employees of both large big box hardware store chains tend to look at you like you have grown a third ear in the middle of your forehead when you start talking about anything but satin and semi-gloss.  

Paint desk guy: "Venutian what?  I do not think that is a Thing." 

Me: "I know it's a Thing.  And it's Venetian, not Venutian."

"Well, we don't have that Thing."

"Actually, look here on my phone. This is your store's app.  It says you have this Thing on aisle 9."

"Hmm.  Guess we do.  But we can't tint it."

"See here where it says in the description of the Thing You Don't Have in your store's app?  It says it's is tintable.  That means that Thing You Say You Don't Do To The Thing You Say You Don't Have is possible."

"Well, we can only tint it these three colors."

"The company's website says you can color match it."

"Yes, but we don't have that color in our computer."

"We if you can color match it, can't you just use this swatch from your paint colors rack as the thing to color match it to?"

"I dunnoo......"

"Just give me my Thing."

Eventually, I got my Thing and even after I watched like fifteen videos on how to put it up, I still needed The KoH to help me understand it because when I saw the technique years ago on Trading Spaces, they did it differently and I couldn't wrap my brain around it.  It's good to have a partner in crime.

This is not really paint.  It's not applied with a paintbrush, but with a trowel or a drywall knife.  Which is interesting.  Now that I've done it once, I kind of get it, but if I'd known then what I know now, it would go a lot smoother.

Step one:


Once that is done, on to step two:

I know it looks like we could have just covered the entire wall in the first place, but it actually does matter that you do this step a day later than the first step.  I would have been just as happy to leave it like this because I think it looks like suede, but the texture of the wall was displeasing.

Step three, not pictured, but it looks a lot like step two because we should have just done step two a lot thicker.  Step one also actually.

Step four: sand it all lightly with fine grit sandpaper and then spend two weeks removing red grit and dust form your bookshelves, books, underneath your fingernails, your hair, the corners of your eyes, etc., etc.  This step also not pictured because my camera lens seems to have a film of red covering it.

Step five: burnishing.

This involves taking a metal drywall knife and using all your strength to rub a section of the wall until it doesn't feel like old sandpaper and it becomes polished and shiny in spots.  From me to you: this part suuuuuucks.  You really have to want this if you're going to get through it.

It's also good if you have some indentured servants to help.

The bigger indentured servant was the most helpful of them all, because as it turns out even at my best, I don't really have the strength or weight to put my back into it and do this properly.  Also, I was nursing a really awful head cold at this point in time so I would work for about a minute and a half and start to get dizzy and have to sit down with my head between my knees. 

Eventually, he took a big, metal cement trowel and rubbed the wall vigorously with it until it responded with gorgeous veins, lines and splotches.  I know that sounds a bit sexual and it is.  That's right, baby.

He's my hero.

I could not be more pleased with how it turned out.

And now it's probably going to be another six months before I can think of painting anything again.  

Totally worth it.