Paint or Be Painted

Source: FacePaintify@YouTube

Source: FacePaintify@YouTube

I just had the interior of my house professionally painted. So what was my rationale?

  1. I have a bit of experience painting cupboards, walls and rooms. I can do a passable job, but I don’t enjoy it. I find it difficult to keep a clean and drip-less work space, I go through paint at a rapid clip, and it takes me forever to clean brushes and rollers. Yet I can’t bring myself to use disposable products.
  2. I faced challenges such as covering a dark charcoal-grey wall with a much lighter colour.
  3. I didn’t feel confident knowing which surfaces required sealant, primer, or a glossier finish, nor how many coats would be needed.
  4. I barely know how to repair walls and do prep work. The amount needed was considerable.
  5. I work a share of evenings and weekends, so it was hard to pin down a time to do the work. I liked the idea of getting it all done at once, instead of over months of weekends.
  6. I thought if I could get the house ready before the painters’ arrival, they could breeze through the job efficiently.
  7. I trusted the professionals to prepare surfaces, to buy the right amount and kinds of products, and to clean up and dispose of everything properly.

Or maybe, as the DIYers would say, I have more money than sense 🙂

We piled up everything we owned to free up the walls:

Living Room with feature wall in "papyrus"

Living Room with feature wall in “papyrus”

Link's room - why did I allow this?!

Link’s room aka The Bat Cave – why did I allow this?!


Kitchen (walls look cleaner and whiter than they were!)

The process started off well. I called a company from my own neighbourhood first, to offer them the work. They came over right away to provide a quote and it was a great price, so I accepted. However, they were working on other jobs and wouldn’t be able to schedule us for 3 weeks. Great – that gave us 3 weeks to pack up the house – taking everything off the walls (including about 3000 books on 10 book cases and a robot collection) and moving all the furniture to the centre of each room. We also had to empty all the closets. Needless to say there was no room for this, so everything was piled on top of the furniture, rendering it unusable. We left about 3 feet around the edge of each room for the painters to work. So far so good, but our ensuing twice-weekly phone calls to the painters had them saying, “At the end of the week,” “The beginning of next week,” and “A couple more days.” We ended up waiting another 3 weeks, almost camping in our own house. And yes, we could have painted it ourselves, but didn’t have the vacation time to do the job in proper daylight. I felt that another contractor would have put us through the same ordeal so we just waited it out.

The company sent 3 painters and they worked for 3 solid days, a total of 72 staff hours. Day 1, prep, ceilings and window/door trim; Day 2, primer and first coat, and all closets; Day 3 top coats, baseboards and stair rails. Every time I popped in they were working consistently. They were an unusually quiet and polite bunch. To my amusement, they even listened to CBC Radio comedy shows – only in Canada, eh? 🙂

I cleaned the house before the painters arrived so the surfaces wouldn’t be too dusty (wiped down baseboards and bookshelves, etc.) but the dust remaining after the job has been a real chore to clean up; not just from the paint and drop cloths and workers’ boots, but from moving everything we owned. By the time the house is put back together, it will be cleaner than move-in day!

I am thrilled with the work. It feels like a new house. It had the original builders’ paint (one coat of drab off white) and there was tons of wear-n’-tear.

Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream OC-123

Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream OC-123

So: colour! I had my heart set on a cream colour with a hint of yellow. I didn’t want an off-white with a beige or grey cast. But I didn’t want duckling yellow either! I am very happy with the colour I found, Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream. It is paler than butter/buttercream but still definitely not white. When I bought a sample and tried it, the colour looked muted, but in real life, it is very bright and cheery. Here are some examples of how a cream colour looks in a house – NOT MY HOUSE! The shade I picked is most like the first and last photos.

Cream Walls4_housetohomeCoUk Cream Walls3_Pinterest Tracy Svenden Cream Walls2_houzzCom Cream Walls1_csoadminOrg

The crew finished up a week ago and we have just about got the place back together, except for wall decor. The house has never had a decorated look, and still won’t, but I love the cleaned-up look. Of course, the bright walls make everything in the house look old and rumpled now! I am trying to be good and not spend big bucks, but I have already bought all kinds of utilitarian things like new switch plates, smoke detectors, basic lighting fixtures and so on for a quick refresh (the old ones were discoloured). A co-worker suggested new throw cushions; who knows, maybe all I need to freshen up the place is a new bath mat or something 😉

The weather is gloomy this week so I’m not able to take pictures with good light and colour, but I’ll try when the sun comes out.

So that’s what I’ve been doing/watching for the past 7 weeks. It’s the most strenuous house reno I’ve been involved with since all the flooring in the whole house was replaced in 2009, because of the necessity of moving everything. I’ve noticed lots of other bloggers are painting now, too: check out Lili, Gill and Juhli‘s posts, and Fiona may be next!


  1. Looks great. I am glad you are thrilled with the work. You feel it is money well spent.

  2. tess

    congratulations on the lighter, dreamy wash, what a big project, such a difference to have a team working to get it all done,

    I’ve washed (with Dirtex or TSP), rinsed ceilings, walls, trim & painted our rental apartments between tenants, relatively a “breeze” since rooms are empty, I use a sponge mop to extend my reach, usually in the summer so super steamy work on already hot days;

    in our occupied, furnished to the gills apartment, I’ve washed and painted one surface at a time, better than not getting it done at all, cheated by painting around bookcases, I find painting meditative with occassions of stress as when I accidentally smashed husband’s hard drive when I gently pulled desk away from wall

    • Hi Tess, thanks! You sound like a pro. I had a similar incident – I pulled a TV shelf away from a wall (gently, I thought) when everything was still plugged in, hoping to untangle all the cables. Our newest SmartTV tipped over and was instantly smashed – I had to take it to the electronics graveyard (recycling centre) 😦

  3. Jen

    Nice color choice! I’m painting my daughter’s room. Min the dreaded prep phase. Usually we hire someone but this room is fairly easy and I am off work in the summer

  4. What a lovely neutral color! Our current house is painted a similar color, maybe a bit more yellow, and it’s nice and cheery without being overwhelming.

    We hired professionals to do some necessary painting before we moved. I could have done it except I would have procrastinated forever, and then beat myself up about the lousy job I did. The professionals did not cost as much as I thought, and had it all done in a day and it was perfect. Well worth every dime we spent.

    • Thanks! I’m glad someone else likes yellow! I have had similar experiences with painting myself. Besides the procrastination, it takes me at least 3 times longer than a professional to do the same job, with worse results, wasted paint and 3 times the cleanup! Then I am always looking critically at my work and thinking I should redo it.

  5. Sounds like a big project even with hiring out the painting! Wow. I bet it looks great. I’m starting to realize that the trim throughout the house really needed to be painted. It has been 10 year I guess, but, ugh.

    I spent the weekend (and more) prepping and painting door and doorway and man, I must be getting old because it wore me out. So, this DIYer thinks you’re brilliant for hiring out. 🙂

    • Thanks, Candi! I thought I would get some flack for not doing it myself. Besides the expense, there is certainly a feeling of accomplishment when you can master skills like that yourself. Actually I think doors are hard to paint because they usually have a high-gloss finish. Good for you 🙂

  6. Margie in Toronto

    It’s a lovely shade and I think you made a wise decision getting the professionals in for such a big job – I would have done the same. There’s lots of things I’ll do myself but I have also learned to recognize my limitations , both physically and mentally – there is no way I could manage to do even my small apt. on my own – and the thought of having to move all my bookcases stops me every time! Good luck with getting everything back into place.

    • Thank you, Margie. I have come to appreciate professional services. I wouldn’t do my own electrical work because I don’t have the skills – similarly I don’t do any plumbing or carpentry. I can do a bit of basic painting but the pros, by definition, can do it more efficiently and just better! There may be some areas where I would learn new skills (gardening and yard work for example, which I don’t hire out) but I too know my limits.

  7. Fiona

    I absolutely love the colour, Dar! 72 hours for a professional would be countless more for a DIY job, not to mention that a non-professional would find it hard to work with the consistency and length of day of a professional. If I had any thoughts of doing my own work (I don’t!) those figures would totally convince me!

    It sounds like an epic job to move everything. So glad to hear that it gives the house that fresh, ‘new again’ feel. I’m hoping ours will come up the same! We don’t have as much to move but I bet that as soon as we start, the dust will make me go ‘ugh!’ 🙂

    • I remember that your house has a spacious feel and has been decluttered so you may fare well with moving your stuff! I was appalled by the amount of stuff in some areas of my house, and happy about others – it was easy to empty my streamlined closet! We have almost got everything back in place. After that I will need to wash all the floors again and do another dusting, but the end is in sight. You are right about the length of a work day. It took Rom and I a day to paint the bathroom a couple of years ago. The painters primed and gave the first coat to the whole house in one day!

  8. Kris

    Congratulations on surviving the painting, Dar! When we had our house painted inside, B was ready to murder the painters after the first week. Talk about empty promises… The end results looks great!

    • Thanks, Kris. It did turn into an ordeal but most of it was stress about them finally turning up. I had no complaints about the painters who were good to work with when they did arrive. Unlike the flooring team who worked in our house a few years ago – they fought among themselves, were hard to communicate with, and made numerous mistakes that they had to correct later, begrudgingly. What a difference!

  9. I’ve definitely got to a point in life where I feel that paying an expert to do a job well is almost always better than trying to do it myself in a half-assed way! It’s a standing joke between me and my partner that my motto is ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing quickly and improperly’ so it’s no doubt sensible to get tradespeople to do things instead!

    • Agreed – I would rather do without a lot of other things, and pay someone to do my work! (PS – Your comment would have disappeared temporarily because it was sent from a different email address than previous comments, and first-time commenters need to be approved)

  10. I painted the walls in my last house. And did I good job. But I left the windows, doors and trim to professional painters. I need to paint this house but for the same reasons as you I’ve left it. The prep and the finish and the cleaning.

    I want those rooms you’ve put up as examples. I sometimes think of getting a interior designer in to pull my look or revamp it. Hey! It’s only money!!!

  11. Diva has been after me to repaint our place. Not interested as we have a ton of stuff. The baseboards and doors need to be done as I did not paint them the first time. 😦

  12. Amanda

    I love the color, Dar! My entire first floor is painted cream and I adore it. Goes so well with everything but still sets off the white ceiling and trim 🙂 I can’t imagine the stress of moving everything in the whole house! Luckily we painted the downstairs before we moved in our furniture and have slowly done the upstairs rooms as needed. Not looking forward to when they need repainting!

    • Hi Amanda, Hope all is well with you and yours! I could not recommend more highly painting a place before you move in, even if it delays the move-in date! I am liking the “just enough” contrast between the cream and white.

  13. Lovely colour – I painted the loft a yellow toned colour to help it form being a cavenous box! It was called Lemon Souffle which was also a lovely name. It’s easy to get over the painting – the people in your home, the stuff all piled up. It quickly challenges the idea that I might be even a little minimalist when you move it all away from the walls! I want to congratulate you for making it through the relative trauma – glad you’re happy with the outcome. Definitely think it’s worth paying the expense of someone else painting too!

    • Hi Sarah, Because so much of my stuff is on shelves and in cupboards and closets and storage boxes, the house doesn’t look excessively cluttered, but we have TONS of stuff. I came close to wanting to pitch everything I own and start over, but I came to my senses. I really need to change this place, though. I do not want to live in a storage vault.

      • It’s tough though – I certainly noticed ‘we’ve’ acquired more stuff cause more storage. And once it’s away, it’s done. I hate that I can’t find things occassionally. Less stuff, and surely that happens less often?

  14. I really like the colour. It’s an off-white but still has a tint of colour. We’ve done both. Hired and painted ourselves. To be honest, I like hiring people more because it’s easier. We have high ceilings and a popcorn ceiling which makes things difficult at times.

  15. Jamie

    I love that colour. It looks very similar to a colour we used on our walls at the house we renovated. It was Barrister White by Dulux. The perfect blend of cream and yellow.

    What colour are your trims?

    We painted the inside of the house ourselves. What were we thinking!? 14ft ceilings with pressed tin. Picture rails. French doors. One bay window, the rest 6-pane double hung/sash windows. But it was the decorative wooden arch in the entryway that nearly sent me barmy!

    When the time came to paint the outside (ahead of selling) my husband was working away, travelling back on weekends. We tried for a few weeks to do the outside ourselves, but ended up calling in a professional. It was like magic to come back at the end of that first week and see how much they had achieved! We did have a little tussle with them over the paint they used on the shingles in the gables – it was too glossy. They argued the point with us, saying “you are selling the house, what do you care? And it will cost you extra” But I put my foot down and they put in a special order for a low-gloss paint from interstate. It was perfect. And they didn’t end up charging extra.

    • As the homeowner and employer, you should get your way with the paint job! We specified white trim in semi-gloss. I’m very happy with it. I can’t imagine doing the interior paint job you did!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: