Friday, March 07, 2008

Guest Room Hijinks - Part 1

Thank you all for being so patient. Well. Some more than others. Without further ado, here is the first installment of What I've Been Doing to the Guest Room Except Not Recently Because Life is Busy.

The Schack is chock-full of things that make me roll my eyes, sigh deeply, shake my head, or pound my fists, but there is one element that absolutely makes my blood pressure skyrocket just thinking about it.

The swirly god damn ceilings.

Lord help me, they make me want to harm small animals. I'm really not exaggerating - I have real, true, honest to goodness physiological reactions if I look at them for too long. Now, I understand that these were rather popular at some godforsaken time, and that some soulless heathens still think they're kinda kicky. I am not one of these people.

Take this picture:

This is a photo of the guest room part-way through this project. (Here are some Before shots.) And do I look at this project and admire the fine woodwork or the neato original lighting fixture? Do I see the excitement of home renovation in progress? Do I feel shame that when I started this project there were still leaves on the trees? NO! I feel none of these things because I am too focused on my deep breathing exercises, attempting to bring my heartbeat back to normal human range because of the god damn swirly ceilings.

Look at them. Like Van Gogh on crack.
A neverending swirling vortex of neck pain and grief.

Ever so long ago, I got started righting this tremendous wrong. (Before I took a four month hiatus...) I read a ton about all kinds of ways to remedy horribly textured walls. Some said to wet the walls and scrape (yuck). Some people recommended ripping them out and replacing them, either with drywall or new plaster ($$$$). The solution that made sense to us was skim-coating with a plaster mix of some kind to smooth out the texture.

Here's how I got started.

First I painted the whole room bright white with a double-coat of primer. This one seemed to do just fine:

Then I set about patching funks in the walls and skim-coating the (shudder) swirls. I tried knocking down some of the more ferocious swirls with a hand sander, but it was messy and didn't work so great, so I stopped. I read a bunch of online tutorials like this one, and another one that I can't find anymore (it was a blog with an orange background, written by a guy maybe in Texas, who was skimming a wall that separated his living room from the kitchen/dining room - if it's you, say hi!) and decided to use simple, ready-mixed joint compound to skim the walls. We picked this particular bucket because a guy at Lowes with white splotchy pants said it was good.

I remember the day that I started so clearly... it was a warm, sunny September day. I gathered my supplies, cleared out the room, and taped a giant plastic drop cloth down over the floor.

Then I opened the joint compound bucket.

oooooooooh........... It smelled like Playdoh and looked so smooth I had to stick my hand in it.

Then I got artistic. It was like a bucket of cake frosting.

But I kept myself from eating it.

Then it was time to get serious. I dug in with the 10" trowel

And scooped some goop into my trough (that's what it's called, right?)

Then I got started. I quickly switched to the 8" trowel, as the 10" one felt a little unwieldy. I covered about a 3x3 foot square before I had to move the ladder, scooping some goop, scraping off the excess on the sides of the trough, and spreading a thin layer on the ceiling. For the first coat, I mostly focused on filling in the space between the ridges and making the whole thing as flat as I could. I'll use subsequent coats to smooth it out and further cover the ridges. Here's the work in progress. You can see where I started (far left) and how that part is more dry than the middle. I think you can even already tell the difference here, between the superswirl fantasma on the right and the sane progress of order on the left. Ah.

...To Be Continued!...


Omar said...

Haha, looks great! That swirl pattern is exactly what we have on the ceilings and walls at my parents house.. very groovy. :)

The Litter Box House said...

At first I was offended, but then I realized "Hey, I am a bitch!" And clearly it works for me because I did get this post out of you! :)

Good idea to cover it over vs the other options. I think I'd go crazy with a swirly ceiling too.

Even though I'm a bitch, I am human. I still haven't finished my stair railings. But I promise to start as soon as I can start opening windows. I can't wait to finish that damn project!

I was a sailor in my previous life...

Kristen said...

Oh please don't be offended, Andrea! I meant it affectionately, of course. In fact if you hadn't bugged me, I might never have posted the stupid thing!

The swirls are so so bad. In the office/rabbit room we don't have shades on the windows yet, and you can see the swirls from the sidewalk at night. Barf.

Also, we vastly underestimated our winter-induced laziness. My god. But spring is coming and I already feel more productive and motivated!

Sandy & Michael said...

It seems like everyone is reawakening into activity with the beginning of spring.

I can totally look past the swirly ceiling and hope soon you won't have to anymore! And I hope your arms don't fall off, I can't imagine trying to smooth out an entire ceiling.

Good luck getting it done!