Sunday, November 12, 2017

Closet Renovation - Let's Call It Mango!

Ever since we bought the house I knew this closet needed to be orange. So when the closet shelves fell down a month ago I knew it was finally time.  The color scheme of the whole room is based on the above pillow cases.  These are my favorite pillow cases in the world and are actual vintage pillow cases from my childhood that my mom gave me.  I LOVE the orange, yellow and green combination.  The room is painted tan but I have these pillow cases on the bed and pops of orange around the room.  The closet, however, has never quite fit the color scheme.  Before this renovation it was painted a very bold yellow that resembled the color of a banana.  Besides the color issue, the closet had a very large crack that needed repair and the plaster on the walls looked like rubble in some spots where old molding had been taken off. 

The original shelves were an interesting combination.  The upper two shelves were supported by cleats that ran all the way around the closet.  The cool thing about these two shelves was that they had a side shelf that was routered out to fit perfectly into the large boards.  It was a clever, simple way to use the space.  The bad thing about the closet was the bottom three shelves were put up with brackets that were only supported by drywall that finally gave way.  So in typical Vanessa fashion, I got it in my head that we should make the lower three shelves match the upper two shelves.  It was really the only proper thing to do (besides hanging a bar and calling it a day!).

When George heard what I wanted to do I could feel him cringing.  He convinced me we should hire the person who built our porch.  Unfortunately for us, he was busy and couldn't do it for a month.  On top of that all of the contents of the closet was strewn all over the room and we needed the room for Thanksgiving. I knew the quickest way for it to be fixed was to do it myself (poor George, I know!).

But lucky for me I had LOTS of support.  I borrowed a chop saw from our friend Brent.  I certainly am no carpenter but I was proud of myself for mitering the corners.  My Dad ended up coming down to help me hang the cleats.  He put up with quite a few expletives when I cut boards too long (requiring LOTS of sanding) or when I cut boards too short (requiring an extra trip to Home Depot to buy more wood).   He also suffered along with me when screws just turned endlessly failing to grab onto anything behind the drywall and plaster.  Some boards were riddled with holes by the time we found two screws that would hold.  On top of all that the far wall of the closet is brick!  Ironically these screws were probably the most secure of all because we knew they were in tight because they were incredibly hard to put in.  Luckily Brent also loaned us his hammer drill and George used Tacon screws that worked great.  After my Dad left I continued on repairing the walls with drywall compound.  I think I sanded for two days and my arms certainly felt it.

The "funnest" part of the whole project for me was supposed to be choosing the paint color.  I couldn't wait to banish that banana!  I happily left the house that day with three paint swatches in my hand.  But on my way to Sherwin Williams I realized Benjamin Moore was on the way and stopped there just to peruse their colors.  Of course I also ended up picking one of their colors too and thought I would just have them all made at SW.  But when I arrived at SW there were five contractors in line in front of me and no one at the counter so I decided I couldn't wait.  After a trip to Huber lumber to buy my wood for the shelves I went back to BM and asked if they would make my three samples.  It turns out they can only make sample sizes in their own paint but I couldn't bear the thought of going back to SW so I bought quart samples instead.  When I got home I excitedly painted my three samples on the wall.  As the paint slowly dried my hopes turned into fear as it dawned on me that these colors were dangerously close to the most dreaded color of all... "Band-aid"! 

I decided to splurge and buy one more color sample.  I quickly returned to BM, purchased my sample and high-tailed it home.  After painting it on the wall I was confused.  Something was off and I realized the color was wrong.  Needless to say I was not a happy camper and the store was going to close in fifteen minutes!  I quickly made my way back to get another sample and barely made it there in time.  When I got home and re-painted the wall with my sample I wanted to cry because the color was still wrong!!!  And not just a little bit wrong...but really wrong.  I was so tired at that point but I had to choose a color because my friend Tim was going to come bright and early the next day to help me paint.  So I ended up choosing Benjamin Moore "Bread 'n Butter 0960", the color that I could never quite see on the wall because the sample was incorrect.

As I mentioned earlier my friend Tim had luckily offered to help me paint the closet.  I don't think he was too happy when I told him I wanted to paint it orange and he realized how much time it would take to cut in around the boards.  But when he realized I wasn't budging about the color he happily painted the whole closet while I went to cut the boards for the shelves.  Thank you Tim!!!  A side note for anyone painting shelves...I used Benjamin Moore Advantage paint that is a waterborne alkyd paint that dries hard so shelves won't get sticky.

As you can see above it was no small decision to make the side shelves.  Lucky for me again, my friend Mark owns an incredible array of woodworking tools and offered to help me router out the shelf boards.  I guess I shouldn't say he helped me because he cut all the boards for me and for that I am extremely thankful.  Below you can see how the shelves fit together. 

"Be in love with your life, every detail of it." - Jack Kerouac

 In the end, the color was not quite what I wanted.  Every time I would see the color I would try and convince myself that it was orange and not yellow.  In some light I would be delighted and the color would look like a beautiful orange sherbet.  But in other light, especially at night, the color would be decidedly yellow.  George would walk in on me staring at the closet and tried repeatedly to console and convince me that it was indeed orange.  George must have really taken pity on me because he even found an incandescent light bulb that he had banished to the basement pile of non-energy-efficient bulbs.  When he screwed it in it really did "orange" the color right up and I was happy that he had fixed the problem.  However, in certain lights I am still unconvinced.  I toyed with the idea of re-painting but couldn't stomach the thought.  Finally, it occurred to me..."Let's call it Mango!"  I had indeed traded my banana for a mango and it was a very great improvement in my opinion.  Maybe next time around I will get my orange sherbet.   

A very big thank you to Brent for his tools, my Dad for his time and patience, to Tim for his cheerfulness and painting, to Mark for his meticulous woodcutting skills, and to my Georgie for his incandescent love.

ADDENDUM:  I have to admit...I painted the closet two more times after this.  I just couldn't help myself and had to tinker with the color more.  Every time I walked into the room the color was just too yellow.  I found a whole new range of oranges when I happened to be in Ace Hardware.  They have a line of colors by Clark & Kensington and I was drawn to a color called Cantaloupe Slice (14C-4).  I bought a sample and when I got home and painted it on the wall it was almost the exact same color as the original (maybe a hair oranger).  So I ended up buying a gallon of Cantaloupe Slice and a quart of the next darker swatch called Orange Options (14C-5).  My plan was to pour off half the gallon into a bucket and then mix in Orange Options until I liked the color.  It worked great and the color was almost right, but it was now too orange.  I probably could have lived with it like that but because I had a whole half gallon to play with I mixed it again with less Orange.  I was nervous to do it again because it was a lot of effort, but I am now totally in love with the color.  If you are addicted to color like me I highly recommend doing your own mixing to get the color just right.  Now instead of banana or mango I have the perfect shade of cantaloupe! 

Here is a quickie photo of the new color.

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