I am always doing that which I cannot do in order that I may learn how to do it...Picasso

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Big Renovation - Part Deux


Tired and sore, my hubby and I slowly made our way downstairs to the basement that we had deconstructed into one big, intimidating mess.  The mission on day two was to seal and paint the three concrete walls and add a coat of the same high gloss white to the one and only wall of drywall in the studio.  (When we moved into the house we had only half of the basement finished so the party wall between the two spaces gives me the only drywall and by the way, the only electricity in the whole studio. ) Also on the mission plan - to seal and paint the concrete floor.

The room in total measures about 10'x26' and in an effort to minimize the distance we had to move everything we calculated that if we unloaded one side of the room into the already finished area or the basement, painted and sealed the walls and floor on the empty side, then we could leave that to dry overnight and come back and do the ceiling the next day.  Then we could move everything on the other side of the center beam to the finished side and repeat the process before rearranging the furniture and loading all the supplies back in.  So we were going to work in 10'x13' sections. 

Before starting, we had gone to Home Depot and purchased a standard, water-based concrete sealant and a bright white latex paint made for concrete surfaces.  The foundation of the house is 12 years old so we were certain it had completed it's curing process and was not going to sweat, causing it to take forever to dry.  That also meant that it would take only one coat of each to get the results we were looking for.

Initially we thought we were going to knock this right out with rollers but we discovered that the uneven texture of the walls required us to apply it with a brush.  We used 4" brushes with course bristles because the application required a lot of dappling.  I take that back - we pounded that sealant into those friggin' walls.

Fortunately by the time we had made our way around the room the sealant was dry enough to apply the paint so it was a pretty round robin work process.  Once the bright white paint was applied to the dry wall and the concrete I was suddenly less tired than I was at the beginning of the day.  The first glimpse of the vision was taking shape and I could see where we were going.

Beautiful SHINY  walls!

Now the process had to be repeated with the floor.  We did not use the same products on the floor as we did the walls.  Once again, Home Depot had a generic brand of sealant specific to floors that came in basic primer colors.  Since I had chosen a light silver grey for the floor we got a grey sealant/primer.  Both products were water based allowing for clean up that required nothing but water.  I don't know how much experience any of you have with unsealed concrete floors but let me explain that you can broom sweep a floor like this, fill a dustpan and go back right away and do it again and get the same full dustpan as before.  It is a never, never ending source of grey dust and added to that, the accumulated particles from the dust generating work I do  and we had to force ourselves to accept that the primer was not going to be applied to a pristine floor.  This time we used rollers on a pole, which gave us the leverage we needed to  force the stuff into the texture of the floor.  However, the products for the floor were thicker and  packed with adhesives causing the drying process to take twice as long.  Our schedule was now thrown off and being the control freak that I am, I found myself in deep despair.  My husband and chief slave worker was only off from work for a week.  I panicked that we would fall behind and not finish the project before the hub had to return to the job.  It's not easy being neurotic.

A note on the floor.  I wanted to put down one of those sparkly floors with the metallic speckles so it would be a little fancier.  Those floors are epoxy.  The helpful guy at Home Depot (can you believe we found someone there that was not only helpful but knew what the hell he was talking about!) explained that a) we would die from the fumes given we were in a badly ventilated basement and b) it was over 100 degrees outside with 1000 percent humidity and c) it would cost us about 3 times as much money.  Those techniques, he explain, are designed for garages and smaller, ventilated spaces.  I didn't need sparkly glitter bits that badly.  Imagine what that would have done to my schedule neurosis, never mind my wallet.

                                 Floor with primer...                               Finished off with the silver grey paint

At last!  One half of the studio was completely painted - both walls and floor.  With another day's work accomplished I left the job that day feeling very differently than I had the day before.  I could see a vision materializing.  I had imagined for years what I would do if I could renovate this space.  I dreamed of something clean and bright.  A place I wanted to be, not just because it was where my beloved work was but because the room made me feel poised, together, comfortable - like someone who could take it to the next level.

Next week:  the despised and dreaded ceiling.


  1. Congrats on the work so far! Holy cow... I can see how you would feel better in a brighter workspace... I too have dreams of redoing my little room where I keep my yarn and whatnot. I want it to be a place where I can escape to work and not feel like I should grab some yarn and run. Totally impressed.

  2. Oooh, how exciting! It's amazing what a coat of paint can do to transform a space.

  3. Brava!!!! What a Herculean task. Hope you rewarded yourselves with a nice, big chilled glass of something. Can you talk Tom into getting our apartment painted now that we've actually chosen colors? --(Karin)

  4. I smiled through this entire post. I'm so excited for you, seeing this space becoming what you have always wanted it to be. Can't wait to see the finished studio Neely!

  5. this is such an ambitious undertaking, Neely, and it is coming along beautifully! Look forward to seeing more!