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May 13, 2006


I work in an office that's a nice dark delft blue and it makes me very happy.

Will have to defer to the lighting-designer spouse on the nature-of-color question, but he's out of the house right now. I can say, watch out for pastel colors w/ too much gray in them. Here in Manhattan, building owners try to paint rental apartments w/ a color widely know as "Landlord White" - it's v. cheap paint with the most extraordinary yellow-and-gray cast to it. It looks dirty when it goes on, and positively yucky as the months and years pass by. This is why we buy our own paint.

Although, some actual grays are v. nice. Some friends just did their dining room - which gets a ton of natural light - in a pale pearl gray, and it works.

Finally (until I have another thought) - while you're thinking about this, try v. big swatches of color on the walls, not little streaky bits.

Benjamin Moore sells little samples for ~$5 that will cover a 3 foot by 3 foot space on the wall so you can get a sense of how it will look. Unfortunately they don't have the samples in all their colors. The paint chips are also a problem because instead of being the actually paint, they're printer ink and so they don't quite look the same as the actual paint. There is a more expensive benjamin moore brand called C2 that you can get chips with actual paint on them, and they also sell extra large chips for something like 5 or 10 $ with real paint that you can take home and look. Expensive though.

re paint selection:

I'd think a nice calico color would work well, or possibly marmalade. Black with a touch of white at the paws and tail can be very fetching. Ideally, though, you'd look into the Sherwin Williams tortoiseshell line.

hilzoy - a new house is more than just a place to live! since you asked for advice, i'll de-lurk for a bit....

first with regards to colors - this is (or ought to be, imho) a very personal choice... after all, YOU are the person who has to live with it! getting lots of suggestions from other people can help give you some ideas to consider - but, in the end listen to your own preferences.

for color suggestions... can you give some more info? is there any trim and what color is it? what color is the floor? is there a rug (wall-to-wall or area?). what color is the hallway/entrance to your study?

before looking at the paint chips, think first about the color of rooms you've been in that you like (or even thumb through magazines for room pictures), then get a bunch of chips to bring home and post on the walls of your study. after a few days you will (hopefully) find yourself liking some more than others. for the the ones you like, buy the smallest amount of paint possible and paint a swatch (not a tiny one, i agree with javelina) on TWO walls. lighting matters (especially natural vs indoor) and different walls will have different lighting. if you have trim (and aren't going to change the color of the trim), paint at least one of your swatches right next to the trim. after a few days you will (hopefully) know which of the colors you like the best. if you're still not sure - paint one wall or most of one wall and see what you think of the color after a few more days.

hope this helps.

wrt to demand hot water heating - that is what i have as part of my furnace. works great, and probably saves $ and energy (not sure though).

best of luck to you and your new home!

I vote you paint it the color of the Goethehaus! (A greenish blue--very soothingly classical.)

selise: I'll paint the trim too, so that's not an issue. Old wood floors; south and west windows; no rug as yet, though I have a William Morris predominantly gray-green and black rug that might go there.

It's off a hall that is a sort of glowing pale green, not quite chartreuse, that's very nice.

It will be personal, but suggestions are always nice.

(And then there's the dining room: presently turquoise and yellow, bearable and less urgent, since unlike the study it is not about to be full of bookshelves.)

Well, like javelina, I have to defer color-related decisions to my spouse, since, unlike me, she worked with color printing for many years, and is NOT R-G colorblind. Having just done this exercise in antcipation of a (God help us)renovation/ move: I can proffer a couple of (hopefully) helpful suggestions:

1. Consult with a professional painter
(And I am presuming here that "I'm painting my study" doe NOT mean "Hilzoy puts on overalls, ties back her hair and grabs a paintbrush") - one of the things about different colors "glowing" or whatever may have to do with possible mixes of the basic color - a pro will be able to "customize" even regular commercial paint to lighten/darken the hue for you. And hopefully, add helpful input re the color choice(s) - or deter you from expensive mistakes.

2. What ugh and selise said: NEVER rely solely on sample chips for color: If possible, ALWAYS get someone (see suggestion 1) to provide an actual paint sample - horror stories about failing to do this will be provided on request.

3. The actual color: I second selise's suggestion: check out other rooms in publications, etc. to see what atrracts your eye(we once got a wonderful inspiration for a second-bedroom color from a favorite restaurant). If your study is going to be a room you will be in a lot (like most brilliant academics), think also about colors/saturations that will not "jangle" or distract your eye/mind (maybe a darker hue, dependent on ambient light?) - and pace Jackmormon, blue-greens are more "active" colors: probably not the best choice for a intellectual sanctum.

for cracks in plaster, I have had tremendous luck using spray on contact adhesive to hide them permanently under paint without having to spackle. Don't put more paint over wallpaper is my advice.
Also, the demand water heaters are very adequate as.
If you want to see what the roach situation is, put down some newspapers on the kitchen floor, counter, basement in a few places at night with long runs of masking tape sticky side up. Get the kind that has good grip, not the soft grip painter's tape.

Also, on the radon, sometimes the floor drain in the basement can bring it in from the sewer.

Jay C: thanks. (And thanks to everyone.) However, this assumption is alas wrong:

"And I am presuming here that "I'm painting my study" doe NOT mean "Hilzoy puts on overalls, ties back her hair and grabs a paintbrush""

Except that most of it will probably involve a roller.

I am in a similar situation, actually. Currently, my room is the worst shade of marroonish red--I'm serious. Anyways, I'm thinking about painting it white. Although people who are more artistically inclined than I am suggested that white walls would be just as bad--can anyone tell me why? As an alternative, I'm thinking pale green or pale turqoise.

Hilzoy, don't forget to use primer.

Story of my first year in college: managed to get a single in the dorm. Very weird color scheme: brown and black tiles on floor, white sink, bright blue radiator, three grey walls and one wall on end where someone previous had tried his own hand at painting. Supposedly he felt *anything* was better than grey, had gone down to front desk, asked if they had any paint around. They had a bit of white and a bit of red left over, so he mixed them and covered the wall....

..and discovered that there was, indeed, something worse than Institute Grey. Pink over grey with no primer gave the impression of white seen by the lurid light of a hell-fire.

I finally got fed up myself with the hell-fire, bought a gallon of white paint and a roller, and covered up my pink wall.

tzs: Ick. -- In my current house, the walls of several rooms were painted what I can only describe as 'hospital terra cotta'. (I have nothing against nice warm terra cottas, but this one was sort of like a bandaid with a sunburn, over gray.) The remaining walls were an alarming lavender.

nrk: last time I checked, Home Depot sold one-coat paints. The base is sort of grayish, so some of their colors (yellow, for instance), are awful. But there's a pale gray-green that's quite nice. I can't use it this time, since I think it would get into a violent conflict with the color in the hallway right outside the study, but it's worth looking at. And it really does take only one coat.. (I discovered this last time I moved -- I made two successive color mistakes in my study, and was so tired of painting that one coat sounded too good to be true.)

If you like a color that you already have, such as the hall, you can take a sample, perhaps a piece of trim, and generally get a match for it. Even home depot does this in my area. They are pretty good at matching and testing before they make a batch. The toughest job may be in getting a sample without doing too much damage.

After thirty years in the construction industry, I am now more than ever convinced of the great value that professional painters add to any project. This involves both expertise in use of color and the more important area of proper prep, sealing and protection that paint is ostensibly meant to (but in the case of do-it-yourself jobs often doesn't) achieve. But then, on the other hand, most people are happy with their own work when it matches their standards.

On demand water heaters work extremely well, especially if they are located not too far from the tub or shower. Their advantage is in efficiency and cost; the disadvantage is in initial cost to install. One would have to weigh the pay-back time. I have seen numerous units, of decorative cast iron, working well since the 20's or 30's. The modern ones aren't as prestty but they last AFAIK for a very long time. You might explore a simple solar heating or pre-heating system as well. These are pretty much a known quantity these days.

Ok, I looked up some photos of the interior of the Goethehaus, and I retract my earlier, inexact description of it as greenish blue--it's much more of a cool greyish green. This is an okay photo of the study area, although I remember the color being a little lighter than that.

I have always been a fan of Hunter Green in a study. Especially nice with dark stained wood furniture.

Six hints:

1) Find a color you like and then have the store make it half strength. You can always repaint with no more primer to make it darker, but going back is a hassle. I've painted dozens of rooms and I always use this method. Works every time. Never needed to repaint.

2) Buy and use a Wagner Paint Stick. Then toss it out. They don't clean up well at all, but they make painting a snap. no need to constantly reapply paint to a roller, and little drying of the paint to either side.

3) Paint in an "N" pattern and then go laterally in say 3'x3' sections to spread the paint evenly.

4) Paint the edges as you go, not all at once before or after the walls.

5) Consider repainting your ceiling as well. Nothing makes a wonderful color and sublime decor look like caca like a dingy ceiling...

6) Hire a licensed, bonded, union painter like I did for my last job. It'll cost a lot, a whole lot more than doing it yourself, but you'll be supporting a system that allows a person to earn a fair living, with health-care and retirement benefits etc.

Must Use Miracle Product For Not Making A Huge Gigantic Dispiriting Mess:

BLUE "PAINTER'S" MASKING TAPE (minimum 2" width... for us amatures).

Mask everything not to be painted but abutting the surfaces you're painting. Makes fabulous clean straight lines (You'll thank me in the morning... I promise).

Also, color-of-the-year here on Casas Adobes Drive: Pale Dusty Sage Green (that's not the actual name... but I can find it for you if you'd like). Offset by crisp white trim, white louvered wood shutters and blonde-wood floors: MMMmmmm! Scrumptious.

But don't paint anything sans the blue masking tape. Trust me on that.

On-demand hot water heaters are great. They use very little propane or gas, and the one we have wasn't very expensive and holds up really well (a Paloma). Install it near the shower (ours is on the other side of the wall). We live in interior Alaska, and the water coming in to the house is pretty cold, so we need to run the water for bit before the heat kicks in (we catch it in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet in the winter and water the garden in the summer), but after a minute or so (in winter) it's fine. Ours is small, though, so if you got a larger one, you probably wouldn't have this problem, and since you live further south (as evidenced by irises blooming now--they haven't even come up here), you may not have the initial lag. The water gets quite hot, in the kitchen, too.

It seems terribly wasteful to me to have a regular hot water heater--all that propane for just sitting around? makes no sense. And then when you run out of hot water, you're out. On-demand heaters just keep heating--but only as long as you need it.

Dick Cheney's painting points:

In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials.

His "top legal adviser" was David Addington, who advocated using illegally and unconstitutionally obtained evidence against criminal suspects to obtain convictions without informing the judge or defense counsel.


"Top legal adivser" is apparently a synonym for "apparatchik" these days in the United States of America. Did you know that you can buy $150 pairs of (official) Nikes within 500 meters (or less) of Lenin's tomb?

i painted my office/study with pratt & lambert's "contemplation"- sort of a slate(gray?) green, which i still really like (several years later). but since you already have greens (hallway & rug), maybe a slate-blue? i have an extra bedroom painted with a blue called "pewter" (all my trim is white "ancestral"), or a gray/taupe (i've used those in a dining room and living room)? i also like their whites - which are really just very pale colors (i have "pearl rose" in my bedroom).

this time i picked my colors based on what i like instead of what other people liked (although i did get, and appreciate, suggestions). .. so i wouldn't be suprised if your reaction to my colors is "yuck!". ;-)

wrt "what makes some light colors glow while others look like icky pastels," - i don't know, but could it be the finish? i always get "eggshell" for my walls because it is easier to clean than "flat", and i do think it looks nicer too.

... and i really do think its a good idea to use a primer and paint the ceiling, and then 2 (!) coats of paint.

good luck with whatever you decide... and don't forget to give us an update!

Anyways, I'm thinking about painting it white. Although people who are more artistically inclined than I am suggested that white walls would be just as bad--can anyone tell me why?

Not I. Actually I would not like pure white – but tinted with just a tiny bit of blue, it has been my favorite for many years. You will see it called “Arctic White” or “Polar White” or something similar. It has always been a very soothing color for me for some reason. Not that I am “artistically inclined” by any means :)

As there seem to be some professionals hanging about – any ideas for the best protection for moisture problems? I have had my place painted 2 times by professionals, and each time, within about 2 years I have paint chipping off all over where spackle was used, dry-wall tape peeling off etc.

I live by the water and the humidity is high most of the year. To make matters worse I can’t vent the dryer externally, it exhausts into a water trap inside.

I normally only use semi-gloss in the bathroom and kitchen, flat everywhere else – but the semi-gloss seems to have a better seal against moisture. I’m thinking about doing it all in semi-gloss next time around.

And to be filed under

"What Will Those Crazy Fundies Think Of Next?"

It's The Jesus Alphabet Song!

(Sung to the tune of ABC song)

Jesus died for you and me
Jesus died for sinful men, AMEN!
I believe God's word is true,
God has promised you
A home eternally.

There's even a backwards version.


xanax -

There's always this approach:

Jesus was a PUSSY!!!

What with all that forgiveness crap, and do onto others, and turn the other cheek: a Democrat through and through. And, BTW, the meek shall NOT inherit the earth, Dick Cheney will. Heh heh heh.

Corruption Watch by hilzoy

Obsidain Wings is quick to criticize Republicans, but more than willing to ignore stupid Democrats.

A Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general denies the Holocaust occurred and said Friday he will speak this weekend in New Jersey to a "pro-white" organization that is widely viewed as being racist.

Larry Darby concedes his views are radical, but he said they should help him win wide support among Alabama voters as he tries to "reawaken white racial awareness" with his campaign against Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson.

blowm# -

I agree, hilzoy has not been keeping a close enough eye on the democratic primary for Alabama's attorney general. Similary, she has not been looking enough into corrupotion in the election of Guam's zoning board, trash collectors in Des Moines' suburbs, and, most important of all, Laura Bush's infidelity.

"There's always this approach:

Jesus was a PUSSY!!!"

Ugh: or more precisely (as Kris Kristofferson put it):

Jesus was a Capricorn

Jesus was a capricorn
He ate organic food
He believed in love and peace
And never wore no shoes

Long hair, beard and sandles
And a funky bunch of friends
Reckon wed just nail him up
If he came down again.

And by the way, Didn't Dick Cheney already inherit the earth?

blow, etc: I had not heard of the Democratic candidate for AG in Alabama, or any other candidate for that position. Now that you've brought him to my attention, though, I'll be glad to say that from the description you've given, he sounds like an idiot. I also said that Ward Churchill was a jerk, just to head off future queries.

What are your views on the Secretary of State's race in West Virginia?

Kris Kristofferson is a commie pinko for starring in the "Amerika" miniseries in the 1980s where he led a rebellion against our beloved government that monitored all of our communications and made sure that we were safe, under UN and Russian supervision, of course.

Plus Blade 2 sucked.

Jesus was an ubermensch and an anarchist who committed black irony by either committing suicide by Roman or by faking his death whereby leaving countless ostensible believers to demonstrate their faithfulness though the ages by committing regular symbolic cannabalism.

Larry Darby? How did Nixon miss him in his southern-wide sweep for newly-minted nutcase Republicans.

Open thread: Maybe you've seen this. Got an e-mail the other day showing me how to fold the new $20 dollar so that shocking stuff is revealed. I've assigned this task to my son. Once he shows me it can be done as instructed, I'll forward the e-mail to the kitty. It's a little freaky.

Hey, nobody ruin it yet.

Also: On CNBC yesterday, they did a feature on the newest, largest passenger ocean liner of all time (or close). It's in New York harbor right now. Here's the thing: among the perks on board are a climbing wall and a swimming pool that can simulate a surfing wave.

On a boat. On an ocean. So I can fly from my mountainous state (could be anywhere), get a cabin on this ship, and ..go rock-climbing!

Or, I can surf in a pool on a platform on an ocean that has actual real surf.

Of course, I'm the guy who will take three Dickens novels with him to England and forget to look out the window of the train because somehow, suddenly, Pip's adventures are more exciting than mine in the real world.

I feel alienated somehow.

Hilzoy: Don't paint the study. Cover every inch of wall with bookshelves. The spines of your books can be the decor.

Right on, Ugh! I mean, what do we want? Security? Or to get all in a twit about our civil libertarian rights?

John: I achieve that effect anyways; still, the old stick-in-the-mud in me insists on painting the room, just so I'll know it's there.

"For the structure that we raise,
Time is with materials filled;
Our to-days and yesterdays
Are the blocks with which we build.

Truly shape and fashion these;
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Think not, because no man sees,
Such things will remain unseen.

In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.

Let us do our work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.

Else our lives are incomplete,
Standing in these walls of Time,
Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb."

-- Longfellow

(love the handle, btw, really classy, that!):
My interest being piqued by your commment, I wandered over to this major Democratic site to see what they had to say about Larry Darby and his campaign for Alabama AG: the general response seems to be, well, decidedly short of supportive.

I know I'm not a Big Time Blogger like Hilzoy, but let me (a proud registered Democrat) be the one to post here the Ritual (but Sincere) Denunciation of Assclown Larry Darby as a racist nutjob, and a disgrace to the human race - to say nothing of the Democratic Party.

Happy now?

hil: "the old stick-in-the-mud in me insists on painting the room, just so I'll know it's there."

The paint, I assume... not the room.

Reminds me: On my father's first day in the service he was given a bucket of paint, a brush and the following orders:

"If it moves, salute it. If it don't, paint it!"


The U.S. Department of "Justice" has filed its motion to dismiss the EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for the NSA's spying on phone records. It cites the state secret privilege. Link (a pdf)

Note that this was filed on a Saturday, demonstrating your government's confidence in its legal arguments and popularity of its actions.

Big fan of dark green for studies and libraries

Hilzoy, have you thought about getting a good carpenter to put in some built-in bookshelves in the study? (If I ever buy a house, it will definitely have built-in-bookshelves. And yeah, I know, you never have enough.)



Great point! I guess it's obvious that if it supported her agenda she would be.

Hilzoy, I have to aggre with all the sugestions for green, a soft tint or hunter green would be great, depending of course on hallway colour. Good luck.

Knowing you have some amount of computer skill and seem to want not to do the job more often than you must, Google " home decorating " or some such. www.designingonline.com/ was my first hit. I was looking for free software to give a visual preview of paint colour choices.
Since yellow is such a bright primary colour it will tend to clash with anything - except white - that's also bright. If you dislike pastels I can't see much except green or brown working. I hope you have good lighting or dingy is likely to be where you end up.

Since I heard about Qwest not handing over my data I've been of two minds. The citizen/customer part of me says "Bully for Qwest!"

The attorney part of me, however, is kind of pissed that I'll miss out on the class action fun and fees.

When I painted, the first coat was a Dutch Boy white semi-gloss over nav. white. I then used their glaze in blue, and the pearl base untinted. I hand mixed the coloured glaze and pearl in a paper bowl and used a sea sponge to wipe it on the wall top to bottom. Different places have more or less of the pearl. The other walls were done in green (no Pearl) and lavander. The different colours are soft and blend well. Blue tape is the best thing including sliced bread. Also lots of drop clothes - plastic table clothes are thicker than the plastic drop clothes. Take everything out of the room Cats will walk in the paint.
Enjoy the project

Another vote for on demand water heaters. My father just had one installed in his house, and adores it. More environmentally reasonable (no big tank of hot water sitting around keeping hot), and hot water faster than from a tank. Do it.

LizardBreath: I am going to, more for the environmental reasons than the speed of hot water. -- It's truly amazing how much of one's energy usage one can eliminate, if one sets one's mind to it. (I mean, I've been triying for ages, but buying a whole new house is a spur to the imagination.) And of course my commute is dropping by a huge amount as well.

Yay! I can replace the window ACs with a ductless system that has a SEER rating of 18!

Sounds like a lot of fun. We just bought ours in March-- right now we're also looking at appliance upgrades, since our dryer's beginning to fade. When we get to paint, I'll have to look back on this thread for ideas.

As for bookshelves... yeah, we got two bookshelves that we jokingly call "the monoliths" because they're each 7'x4'. They've conquered one wall of the dining room...

Good luck with your projects!

My friends swear by Ralph Lauren paint: it's a little more pricey but you need less coats.

If you still need ideas, check out www.apartmenttherapy.com --> good ideas for decorating & people who comment there are VERY into decorating.

For some reason, "hot water heater" always brings out my inner curmudgeon. I'm not sure whether it's a misnomer (what they heat is cold water; if the water were already hot, it wouldn't need heating) or a redundancy (see also "tuna fish sandwich"), but I don't like it, I don't at all.

Irregardless of that, it sounds like the on-demand ones are worth checking into. ;-)

Iran isn't cooperating very well with negotiating, it seems.

wow. that's a hell of a spam attack!

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