Bad Uniforms and What They Teach Us About Paint

white_sox_shortsThe year was 1976.  The team was the Chicago White Sox.  The Sport?  Major League Baseball.  Yes.  Major League Baseball.

Maybe some of you remember this, maybe this is new to many of you, but for 3 games in 1976, the White Sox sent their players out on the field wearing…yes, shorts.  And not cool, baggy shorts. No.  Tight, clingy shorts.  With their socks pulled up all the way to their knees.

This alone would have been bad–a fashion faux-pas of epic proportions–but the designers of this sleek little number weren’t done.  They added to the shorts what would have been a boring white shirt were it not for the GI-NORMOUS 1970’s black collar.

Together, the whole outfit was so horrible, I’m pretty sure opposing teams refused to even take the field against the White Sox.  White Sox players themselves likely spent hours in counseling and therapy sessions after being ridiculed and laughed into oblivion by former fans.

And yet, what’s interesting to me is that underneath that ridiculous outfit, these men were still Major League Baseball players.  They are/were more successful than me by a long shot and yet, looking at the pictures, it’s almost impossible to think of them that way.

It’s a perfect example of that old saying about how the clothes make the man (or, of course, woman).  When we say that, we know that clothes don’t CHANGE who we are, but they certainly affect how we are perceived.

For example, think of the manliest man playing the game today–I’m not going to whitesox1976aname names, you just get somebody in your mind.  Picture that player and then dress him–in your mind–in this bozo outfit from the 1970s.  Give him shorts and white socks with black stripes pulled up to his ankles.  Put that little shirt on him with the big fluffy disco collar.  I guarantee if you do that, you’ll be unable to take him seriously.  The goofy get-up doesn’t change who he is, but it certainly changes who we think him to be.

Now let’s shift gears and talk about paint.

Your home–your living room, your kitchen, the exterior of your home itself–can be in great shape.  It can be solid, well-built, brand-new.  It can be composed of the highest quality materials and consist of the best workmanship known to mankind.  It can be all of those things, but if the paint colors are boring or were poorly chosen, all of the quality underneath remains hidden.

Look again at the pitcher in the top picture.  He may be a tremendous athlete (and even if he wasn’t, he’s still likely 20X more fit than most of us).  And yet, even though that may all be true, he looks so silly in his little shorts and his big collar and pulled-up socks that I look more manly sitting here typing this story about paint colors than he does throwing curveballs and 4-seam fastballs.

As I said earlier, clothes MAKE the man–they alter our perceptions–and the same is true with your home.  You can take the best, highest quality workmanship and hide all that quality beneath poor paint jobs and lousy color choices.

It’s a remarkable concept:  an athlete takes years and years of sweat and work and effort to hone him or herself to be the best he or she can be in their sport.  Just like those White Sox players.  And yet, all that work can be tossed out in a minute when you cover them over with a stupid-looking uniform.  You can spend hours and hours and tons of money making your home exactly the way you want it, but if you choose the wrong paint color–something that simple and that superficial–the rest of the work is cheapened.

So all that to say, choose wisely.  Color matters.  The right colors can make your home look like something out of a magazine and the wrong colors can make it look like kids built it.  Choose the right colors!

Get Creative! Projected Images, Stencils, and Silhouettes

jenisonBy Guest Writer, Shannon VandenBosch

When it comes to creativity, I need some inspiration.  So I go to a few decorating magazines and/or peruse my “Favorites” list of websites for design ideas.  When I feel I have found a few pictures representing the style, image, or technique I would like to achieve, it becomes my muse.  This is when I breathe a sigh of relief because the mental work is done and I can begin the process of tweaking the look I have found in order to make it my own style statement.

Recently, I was challenged to take a blank wall in our recently remodeled RepcoLite store in Jenison, Michigan, and create interest, and hopefully, inspiration.  This empty wall space was located directly above the counter area where customers would sit and contemplate their own design decisions by beginning to choose a color or palette of coordinating colors.

Immediately, I liked the concept of stenciling or projecting an image on the wall to create a mural.  I recalled seeing a large, abstract, flower in a Benjamin Moore color brochure.  Aha!!  The inspiration, my muse!

I began by taking measurements of the wall space and calculated the size of a single petal needed to make the flower, the length the stem needed to be, and the size of a single circle.  Color choices were made to compliment the store’s interior decor.  The single petal and circle were cut out of cardboard and then stenciled or traced onto the wall.  The stem was drawn free-hand in proportion to the flower. Then the image was painted with interior wall paint. The whole process took about 6 hours. (See picture above–or, better yet, stop at our Jenison store and see it in person!)

As alluded to earlier, other ways to create murals is to use a projector to cast an image on a wall and either trace it and then paint or begin painting the image . Click here and here for more info.  You can also check out this site for some more examples of graphic murals. Silhouettes are created by drawing and then painting a picture of something, say a headboard, on the wall instead of actually using a real headboard. This technique is not only creative, but inexpensive! Take a look at current decorating magazines for more information on this technique. Stencils not only can be made but bought at local stores that sell wallcoverings, crafts, or interior decorating items.

I hope you have been inspired to get creative and make the next space you choose to decorate even more uniquely yours.

Watch Your Back!

grubby_little_hannahOK, Moms and Dads, has this ever happened to you?  It’s happened to me a number of times, but the most recent took place a few Sunday’s ago.  We were getting all 5 kids ready for 8:30 church one Sunday morning.  And, of course, chaos ensued. However, eventually, because we’re such with-it parents, we managed to get everybody, including ourselves, ready.

Breathing a sigh of relief, we started to make our way to the car, but before I did that, my youngest child–Hannah–came trudging over to me and explained that she needed a hug.  Ahh, that’s so cute, isn’t it?  Little kids who still love their dad so much they need a hug?  So I scooped her up, and hugged her.  And she returned the hug–big time–grabbing me tightly and then patting me repeatedly on the back with the overwhelming love only a child can give.

Well, when the hug was over, I ushered her out to the car and decided to give myself a quick once-over in the mirror–just to make sure I looked ok after the hectic morning.  Well, after a glance, I realized I was as good as I was ever going to look and so I jumped into the van and drove to church.

When we got there, we talked to some people, found our seats–this time in the front row of the balcony rather than our normal seats in the back–listened to the service, talked to some people on the way out and eventually came home.  However, changing out of my Sunday clothes and back into a t-shirt and jeans, I made a shocking discovery.  The back of my shirt was completely covered with gooey, dirty, cheeto’s-ee orange hand prints.  The front of the shirt was fine, but the back was filthy.

It only took me a second to put it together.  Hannah had hugged me before we left and rather than patting me on the back out of sheer love–she was just using the back of my shirt as a wash rag.  She cleaned her hands on my good Sunday shirt.  And then I went to church and walked all around, sat in the front row, talked to all kinds of people–lived it up and had a big time–all the while with my back covered over with slime and assorted gunk.

That’s happened to my wife and I many different times.  Sometimes it involves food, sometimes it’s from other things.  But the point is this:  we never catch it because we never think to check out our backs in the mirror.  And that brings me to the paint point that’s hidden away in all of this– see, I never thought to look at my back in a mirror before I went to church–it never crossed my mind.  I looked at myself in a mirror–at the front–to make sure I looked alright, but I never gave the back a second look.  A lot of us do this same thing with our homes.  Hang with me, here–this is profound–but you’ve got to hang in there.

See, we do this in our homes in this regard:  We take good care of our front doors–our main entrances. These are the doors people typically see when they drive up or drive by our homes–so we take care (at least most of the time) and make these entrances visually pleasing. We use flowers, a great door color, little welcome mats . . . all kinds of little things to make the entrance way appealing.

So, we pay a lot of attention to the front–the main entrance.  But you know what most of us completely forget?  The garage.

Now, this seems like a leap in logic, but it’s not.  See, the garage may be, in reality, the TRUE main entrance to our home.  According to a recent US survey, “71% of American homeowners with a garage use the garage to enter their homes.” Another survey stated that “45% of homeowners with garages use their garages as the main entrance to their homes.”

What the numbers are saying is this:  71% of Americans who own garages use the garage to enter their own homes.  45% of Americans who own garages encourage all visitors to enter their homes through the garage.

And yet, even though the garage is used repeatedly as an entrance to our homes, it’s often the last place we really think to do any “decorating”.  We put all our thought and effort into the front doors (and maybe even the garage door), but we don’t give a second though to the garage itself.  It never crosses our minds.

It’s just like my shirt scenario at church–the front was pristine, but anybody watching me walk away realized I was like pig pen of Charlie Brown fame.  I was a filthy mess.

So all that to ask a simple question:  if folks enter your home through your garage, what kind of impression do they get?  Is it a welcoming area?

And even if you’re garage is never used by guests, chances are your family enters the home–at least at times–through the garage.  Shouldn’t you have a nice, respectable entrance into your home?

The answer, of course, since I’m selling paint, is YES–you should have a nice entrance in your garage.  And the good news is, this doesn’t need to be an insanely expensive, complicated project.

THE BASIC STEPS

  • WASH THE WALLS.  If your walls are painted, go ahead and wash them with TSP (Trisodium Phosphate).  This is a great “pre-painting” cleaner that cuts through dirt and grease and rinses clean away.  If the walls are not painted, you might want to choose to use a shop vac and remove as much dust and dirt as you can.
  • FILL THE GOUGES.  After cleaning, go around the room with a good spackling compound.  We recommend Crawford’s Spackling Paste.  It’s a high quality spackle that’s easy to work with.
  • DEGREASE the TROUBLE SPOTS.  Most garages are going to have a couple areas where greasy handprints or smudges stain the walls.  Before you paint, make sure you hit these spots with a specific degreaser.  There are any number of these specialty products at RepcoLite–just stop in and we’ll direct you to the one that will work best.
  • SPOT PRIME.  If you have greasy smudges on your wall that you have to deal with (as in the above step), it wouldn’t hurt to spot prime those areas with BIN stain-blocking primer or RepcoLite’s own Zip Prime.
  • APPLY YOUR FINISH.  Once you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to roll on your finish.  We recommend a high quality acrylic latex.  It doesn’t need to be an exterior product as most garage walls aren’t exposed to the elements.  However, you would likely want to consider an Eggshell finish at the dullest and possibly even a Satin Sheen or a Semi-Gloss.  The finishes with higher glosses will hold up longer and resist dirt and grime better than a flatter finish.

And there you go!  It sounds like a lot of work (I know), but it’s not as complicated as it seems.  Typically, you’ll find that the whole project will take only a single weekend.

Quick Project: Paint an Accent Wall

14b_bedroom_darklilac2070_30_lavendarmist2070-60 It’s been a while since we tossed up a “quick hitter” project–a project that should take you less than a couple hours and cost you less than $40–so I thought I’d pitch this one to you:  painting an accent wall.

Painting an accent wall is an ideal project for the decorator on a budget.  You can usually get by with less than a gallon of paint and the time it takes to paint one wall is, typically, about 1/4 of the time it takes to paint an entire room.  (I’m throwing fractions around here just to show off  my vast knowledge of math.)

Alright, with that said, let’s clarify what we’re talking about here.  Painting an accent wall means taking a wall–the focal point of the room–and painting it a different (typically darker) color than the rest of the room.  And that’s it.  You don’t paint the other 3 walls, you don’t repaint your trim or your ceilings.  You paint one wall a different color than the other 3 and you’re done.

Now, while that sounds easy, there are a couple things to think about when you tackle this project:

PICK THE RIGHT WALL

This is probably the biggest question folks deal with when they tackle this accent wall project:  which wall do I choose?  Typically, the answer you’ll get from paint people and do-it-yourself decorators alike is “paint the first wall you see when you walk into a room.”

Now, while that may not be always wrong, it’s certainly not always right.  The correct answer is this:  “paint the wall that your eye is naturally drawn to after you’ve entered a room.”

For example, if you walk into a bedroom, often times, as you approach the room, the first wall you see through the doorway is the side wall.  Once you enter the room, your eye doesn’t linger there, though.  Instead, your eye is naturally drawn to the wall that the bed stands against.  That wall is the “focal” wall, the wall that you should consider for your accent wall.

So don’t spend so much time considering which wall you see first upon entering a room.  Instead, spend more time looking around and noticing where your eyes are drawn.  If you’ve got a fireplace in a living room, that wall is typically the focal wall.  Painting an accent color against that wall will make your fireplace stand out, will draw attention in that direction and will give your room that “designer feel.”  Other typical, natural focal points can be large paintings or a mirror, dominant pieces of furniture (a couch against a wall for example), or even an archway or a set of french doors.  The walls that these items sit against, on, or in are candidates for the focal wall of the room.

PICK THE RIGHT COLOR13a_chestvignette_SmolderingRed_2007_10

Once you’ve selected the right wall for your project, the next thing to consider (and, honestly, the last thing) is this:  what color?

Often, when we hear the word “accent color” we think of orange.  Or red.  Or bright green.  Or maybe a dark, dark blue.  Basically, we think of bold, crazy colors.  But don’t limit yourself in that regard.

Always remember that the depth or “boldness” of a color is subjective–it’s determined largely by the colors around it.  If you’ve got a soft tan or an off white on all the walls of a room, even a mid-range blue or an earthy green would function as an “accent color”.  In fact, an orange in a room like that would be really difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to pull off.

Conversely, if you have a room of medium to dark tones, you could go either direction.  A bold orange, green, red, blue, brown could potentially be a tremendous accent color to put on that one focal wall.  But, so also could an off white.  If the rest of your room has some color and depth to it, even an off white can function as an accent color.

So, all that to say, don’t limit yourself (and scare yourself away from the project) by thinking that in order to do the project justice, you’ll need to pop open a can of “safety orange” and kiss your calm, peaceful room goodbye.

A great way to pick a color for an accent wall is to look to your fabrics–pull one of the colors out of the throw pillows on the couch or the comforter on the bed.  Look to any art you have on the walls–is there a color in there that would look great on one single wall of the room–possibly the wall the picture itself is hanging on?  What about the carpet?  The window treatments?

Anyway, you get the idea.  Find a wall, pick a color and spend a couple hours this weekend or next painting that one single wall and you’ll be amazed at the results!

Quick Project: Framed Handprints

blueframe_handprint

If you’re looking for a quick project that can make a huge impact in a room, check this one out!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Quart Hallmark Ceramic Matte Paint from RepcoLite (it’s the best, afterall!)
  • 1 Quart RepcoLite’s Prime-All Waterbased Primer
  • 1 picture frame
  • 1 scrap of wallpaper (or decorative paper) big enough to fit in frame
  • A few sheets of heavy-duty artist paper
  • Some old newspapers (to protect your work area)
  • An old paper grocery bag
  • Double-sided tape or photo adhesive

How to Do It:

This is a great project that will take you very little time, but that will pay off big in terms of visual “pop” in your home.

Just start with a standard picture frame. If it’s already stained and finished, then do a light sanding with some 150 grit paper and prime with RepcoLite’s Waterbased Prime-All primer. Once it’s dry, apply the Hallmark Ceramic Matte finish paint in whatever color you selected using either a roller or a brush.

Set the frame aside to dry (with Hallmark, it will only take about 30 minutes or so to dry).

While the frame is drying, take your scrap of wallpaper or your decorative paper (picked up cheaply at any hobby store with scrapbooking supplies) and cut it to fit inside the frame.  (A simple way to do this is to save the paper insert that came with your frame.  Use this as a template).

Anyway, cut the wallpaper or decorative paper to fit the frame and set it aside.

Once you’ve got these things accomplisblackframe_handprint2hed, it’s time to create the handprint in the center.  Now, this is not a difficult process, but there are a few things to know that will make your results turn out well.  First, you’ve probably seen this done before (at school) where the handprint is “globby” and, well, for lack of a better word…ugly.  The reason this happens is because kids usually mash their hands down on the paper while they’re covered with way, way, WAY too much paint.

The easy way to fix that is this:  carefully brush the paint you used to paint the picture frame onto your child’s hand (if you’ve used Hallmark Ceramic, it’s perfectly harmless–though you will want to supervise for obvious reasons).  Making sure your child doesn’t touch everything in site or eat the paint, help your child press his or her hand onto a paper grocery bag.  Do this a number of times until you start to see a clearly defined handprint.  Once you get to that point, shift from the paper bag to the sheets of heavy duty white artist’s paper.  Help them firmly press their hand onto the paper and then help them lift their hand off without smudging the print.

Maybe make a couple just to be sure you get a good one and, while those are drying, wash your hands and clean up your supplies.

When everything’s dry, cut the handprint paper down and tape it or affix it using photo adhesive to the center of the wallpaper scrap.  Mount everything in your frame, hang it up and there you go:  something cool, something unique, something that will serve as a great memory and something that will add some visual pop and interest to your room!

Ending Decorating-Induced Depression One Can at a Time!

Young couple is tired because of redecoration

About a year ago, I was working at our Lakewood Blvd. location and a couple came in with a bag full of samples: hardwood flooring, kitchen cupboards, countertops, carpet scraps, paint chips–everything. They dumped them on the counter and then the lady explained–in a very depressed way–that they had just remodelled their kitchen.

They’d put in all the materials they were showing me samples of. And they hated it–hated all of it. The floors looked terrible against the walls and the kitchen backsplash looked pink. That made the cabinets look green and on and on and on. She was really down–I could sense that immediately–and then I learned why: they had spent nearly $10,000 on the remodel and they hated it. They hated it so much that they were right then looking for new tile and considering new floors. They were thinking about tearing out what was new and starting over. From scratch. Seriously.

It was depressing. Painful. Emotionally draining. I can only imagine what was going through their heads. See, if I buy a videogame that stinks, I spend 3 weeks bemoaning the fact. Ask my wife. I drop $50 and don’t get the edge of my seat, laugh-til-I-drool experience I was expecting from that game, and I mope dejectedly around the house until I buy something else that I hate. Then I focus on that….

Anyway, I do that over $50. Let me drop $10,000 and hate the result and you’re going to have to institutionalize me.

That’s what these folks were dealing with: depression and frustration. They were looking at new materials, more time spent with their house ripped apart, more debt, more work, more inconvenience . . . all just to accomplish what they thought they were accomplishing in their first go-round. Depressing.

But I said this was an amazing story–not a depressing one. And it is. See, I handed these poor people off to one of our decorators at RepcoLite and after about 1/2 hour of talking, we made up a quart of a new paint color for their kitchen walls. The next day they were back for a couple gallons of that color–and they were excited.

See, the problem with their whole project wasn’t that they chose the wrong tile and the wrong floors and the wrong cabinets. The problem–believe it or not–was that they chose the wrong paint color. The color on the walls made everything else seem disjointed. When a new color was put down–a color that complimented all the different materials–the whole room changed.

The couple came back a week or so later and to tell us the good news. Rather than having wasted $10,000 and all that time, all they needed to do was change the wall color.

Now, I bring that up for a number of reasons. First off, I write all that to let you know just how much difference the right color can make on a wall or a room or a home. It’s difficult to imagine, but it’s true: a new color in the same old living room, filled with the same old furniture and carpet, can make the room seem completely new. It really can–if a new paint color can make floors, cabinets and backsplashes that seem to be terrible together look great and coordinated, then think what it could do in your home.

The second reason I bring that story up is this: things are never as bad as they seem. When you’re home project doesn’t turn out looking as great as you thought, don’t panic. Don’t let yourself immediately spiral into depression. Take a step back. Take a deep breath. And then consult some experts. Chances are, everything will turn out fine in the end.