Friday, February 25, 2011

Life as a Closet Reformer

About 2 weeks ago, after much consideration, we decided to abandon our collection of inefficient and eclectic means of closet storage for an ultra-efficient and streamlined new Elfa closet system we got on sale at "The Container Store".  To save some cash, we did NOT pay them to install the system, choosing instead of do it ourselves.

Neither the project nor this post are terribly profound, and I'm posting about this largely because it took a lot of time and, as such, is an honest answer to "What have you been up to?", at least for a week or two.

But I WOULD like to provide more than just a visual record of what I've been up to (which you will find if you scroll down).  I want this post to be informative and well as helpful in a practical way.  So, before I get to the pictures and video, here is my first edition of "Tips to Make It Easier," painting edition.

A bit of background: I hate painting.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.  I get so mad at the paint itself, what with it seldom doing its job the first time around.  It's all like, "Spread me on again, Rob!  Just one coat of me won't be enough."  I'm like, "Paint, you've got one job: Cover whatever it is that I'm painting with whatever color you are."  If paint were an employee, how long do you think before the boss would get tired of, "Sure, I'll do what you ask.  In fact, I'll do it twice, because the first time I will not do it in a sufficient manner."  But I have found that most people are like, "That's just paint."  I call it "mediocrity."  And then there's the clean up.  It's like the paint suddenly decides it's going to be all "Oh, you want me to cover stuff thoroughly?  How about your brush?  Or your roller?"  So paint, in short, is hard to get on where you want it and hard to get off where you don't.

So that's my take on paint, the necessary evil that it is.  With that in mind, here are some time and effort saving tips when dealing with this menace we call "paint."

1.  Use lots of paint on the roller.  So called "experts" will say not to do this.  I say throw caution to the wind.  The more paint on the roller, the fewer trips back to the paint well.  If it's blobby, just roll and roll and roll until it's not blobby anymore.  I have tried the minimalist approach and, when I do, inevitably the time between the roller touching the wall and me thinking, "I need more paint on this," is about eight-tenths of a second.  Slop it on, I say.  The more you use, the more you effectively...

2.  Put on both coats at once.  "If it looks too thin, roll it again."  Paint dries fast these days, so by the time you finish that next few feet of walls, the last few feet are probably dry enough to have more paint caked on.  Seriously, who wants to sit around and wait for paint to dry?  In my experience, you don't really have to.  It's dry enough.

3.  Toss the roller.  I don't mean in the air or at the wall, though that would be cool.  No, in the trash.  It's not worth cleaning out.  They're cheap.  And next time you paint, you'll probably pull out that old, used roller and decide that you want a new one for this job anyway.  Used rollers, no matter how "clean", are icky.  This works with brushes, too, but those tend to be more expensive, so weigh the cost more thoroughly.

4.  Line the painting tray.  Reynolds Wrap makes a slow cooker liner that you can put in your slow cooker before you cook so you don't have to clean it afterwords.  The same principle works with paint trays--though those, too, are HIGHLY disposable.  But if you want to reuse, line it.  I had to do the last wall the day after doing the first 3 walls, so there was just a little bit left to do.  I put 2 Target bags in the tray and poured the paint on top of them.  Had I been doing a big job, this would have been pretty annoying to work with (the bags got bunchy pretty quick), but it was well worth it for the 30 minutes or so that I had left to paint.  When you're done, the bags go in the trash, and the tray is clean enough to eat off of.

5.  Use cardboard "guards" for rolling close to the ceiling.  Beth did the edging of the closet, and I did the rolling.  My goal was to roll as close to the floor and ceiling as I could so that there would not remain a thin but discernible strip of underpainted wall between the edging and the rolling.  The problem is that the roller is round.  So that part of the roller that touches the wall is NOT the part of the roller that is closest to touching the ceiling, by a good couple of centimeters.  (If this is blowing your mind, feel free to skip to #6.)  But, without having your eye right at the ceiling, it's hard to see how close the roller is to actually touching the ceiling.  Enter cardboard flap from a box.  Hold the flap flat against the ceiling, with the edge even with the wall.  With the other hand, roll right up to the ceiling (or adjacent wall, or floor).  The roller will hit the cardboard, not the ceiling, and you will know that you covered as much wall as possible with the roller.

6.  Fingers can be brushes.  When I got done, after I had cleaned everything, I noticed one little white spot right above the door frame.  Did I want to get out a brush to touch it up and then have to clean up a brush?  You bet I did NOT.  So I used my finger, and also a Q-tip.  I wouldn't probably do that in the middle of the wall, but in a spot that is almost completely out of sight, it worked like a charm.

7.  Wash the brushes, trays, rollers, etc., while you're showering.  Sorry--no pictures here.  But it was late, and I was all done painting, and wanted to go to bed.  So I gathered up all the messy stuff and started to walk downstairs.  I imagined myself standing at the kitchen sink for 10-15 minutes, running water over all of this stuff.  Then I thought, "And after that, I still need to shower."  You can imagine the light bulb that went off in my head.  "Why can't the painting equipment and the human get clean at the same time?"  No reason, really.  Sure, it took a bit longer than just a regular shower, but it took less time than separating the tasks completely.  Plus I didn't have to worry about paint splashing on the counter or anything like that.  Any paint that splattered just got sprayed with the hand-held shower nozzle.  I have since noticed one or two little specks that didn't get rinsed right away, but they scraped right off the shower walls, better than they would have off of the stainless steel or counter tops found in our kitchen.

There you have it.  And now, the visual evidence of the work.  A couple of explanations:
-It wasn't until I was getting ready to film the "after" shots that I decided to provide commentary.  Thus, the before shots are instead accompanied by music that I felt captured the chaos of the initial disorganization as well as the hope of what is to come.  It also happened to be the first sample I listened to on my video editing software--an amazing coincidence.

-The video "after" shots of the closet kind of suck.  I went too much "one part at a time" and there aren't any good "big picture" shots.  So in addition to the video, I've posted some still shots of the finished product.  It's still hard to get a ton of perspective on a 6" x 10" (or so) room, but the still pics do a better job.  Next time, I'll do the thing where you take before and after still shots from the exact same place.  Live and learn.  And see you Wednesday.



  1. Any reason you're holding on to the diaper changing table foam pad?

  2. I'm still trying to figure out settings and such for posting comments, but whether intentionally so or not, this was a anonymous inquiry--and a pretty personal one, for being anonymous.

    But, since the cat's out of the bag, I'll just let everyone know: We have been illegally housing a rare Asian dwarf panda bear, and we are teaching it to skateboard. The changing table foam pad is just the right size and shape to serve as a half pipe for him to do tricks on, and the foam absorbs the shock of all those nasty spills. Once he reaches full size, we'll probably have to let him skate in the bathtub, and will probably start charging admission to view him.

    Also, we hang on to it in case we have house guests with babies, though it can be had for the right price, if that's what you're getting at.

  3. No thanks, I'm just getting the last one out of diapers now and I have no desire to prolong the memories of this time in my life. Also, I didn't realize I'd written this anonymously until after I'd published it, so the voyeuristic impression I left you with was unintended. But I'm not telling you my identity; you're going to have to earn it. I'll tell you only that I still love Cadbury Eggs and I've spent the last few weeks teaching my children to love Voltron. (Any guesses?)