Painting Old Walls

Our fixer-upper came complete with yellowish walls and glossy orange trim! These weren’t your run-of-the-mill pearl-finish paints, either. They were heart-stopping, high-gloss lead paints from yesteryear — almost blinding when the sun came in. I dreamt that one day, when patched and painted, our walls would look like the ones in these rooms:

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls White Dining Room

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls Yellow Sink

We kept all of the old walls in the front part of the house. I didn’t want to hide the fact that this is an old house, after all. With a little TLC, the old plaster will add to the charm and character of the place. So many people wanted us to knock them all down and put up new smooth drywall, but I’m so happy we didn’t.

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls Hallway

This wall used to have a massive crack and still has a bit of a dip in it, but I love it all the same. The white is colour-matched to the ever-faithful Cloud White (OC-130) by Benjamin Moore in a scrubbable matte finish by Beauti-Tone. (Nowadays you can have paint colour-matched to just about anything.)

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls Before Stairs

This is our staircase and vestibule door before. The door colour almost defies description. After countless hours of stripping paint from all the woodwork, we brought in a lovely professional (Lionel Tissot of Boreal Painting, Toronto) to do the plaster restoration and painting. Time and money very well spent!

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls Yellow Door

And this is the space now — a good reminder that simply adding (or removing) paint can really work wonders. The baseboards, stair treads and window are painted with Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe. I have always loved this dark grey shade, that is not in any way purple like so many greys.

We painted the door using Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint in Sparkling Sun (2020-30) to go with our bright yellow mailbox. It’s a perfect yellow that doesn’t look too fluorescent (like a highlighter marker), nor too lemony or orange. We dunked the door handle in paint remover (yes, even the door handles were encrusted in years of paint!) and discovered it was fashioned from a dark wood that resembles our floors.

Photo Blog April 28 Painting Old Walls Doorway Stairs

This is the view from our little den/library to the hall. After some trial and error with colours (does anyone have a use for a gallon of pink-brown paint?!), we painted it in Benjamin Moore’s Cement Gray (2112-60). This shade seems to have a bit of a lavender base, but a sophisticated grown-up one at that. It certainly isn’t playroom purple or Grandma’s lilac-coloured bedroom (though, that can be charming too)!

So, things are starting to come together at Casa Reno, thanks to the power of paint. It’s almost time to unpack, get the furniture and artwork out of storage and stop “camping” in our own house!

For more inspiring punches of yellow like the one on our door, view our Yellow Rooms photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Living Etc May 2008
2. Living Etc February 2010
3-6. Catherine MacIntosh

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