Here is why I hate fashion and design and anything to do with the overarching beauty industry. The seventies. Someone, or a select group of someones, decided, in the seventies, that brown was an attractive colour and should be plastered on highly visible items like clothing, cars, and houses. These same someones then decided to fill those homes with harvest golds and avocado greens.
The result were homes like mine. Built in 1973, this two-storey, rectangular beacon of the decade sports a façade of brown with black accent brick. I both adore this house and loathe it. The latter in no small part because of the brown brick. Not so much the brick itself, I love brick, but what it has caused people to do. Designer people.
At some point between 2009 and 2012, a designer said, “let’s try to pick up the browns and blacks in that vintage brick and shroud the entire home with it!” At some point between 2009 and 2012 but just a wee bit later, a homeowner said, “Oooo, yes, let’s!”
You can see here in this screen grab from Google Street View that prior to 2009 the home was a tolerable grey. A very faded grey. A desperately in need of freshening up grey. But an otherwise acceptable, nothing in the seventies was worth revisiting, grey.
That need for a paint job became all the more critical when the aforementioned homeowner decided to sell this home. A fresh coat of paint is, after all, a relatively easy and inexpensive way to boost home value. I did it myself to the home we sold in order to buy this one. I painted ours blue. They painted theirs brown.
From the moment we moved in, I’ve wanted to repaint this house. But I’m also neurotic about HGTV-inspired waste and having just received a new coat of paint, I felt it was unnecessary to turn around and immediately paint it again. So, despite hating the colour and desperately wanting a different one, anything other than that excrement brown, I swallowed my pride and waited for the time when repainting was genuinely required.
That moment came and went oh, about 2016. By the peeling and fading was noticeable, we were ass deep in renovation fantasies. Professional renovations. It was a different time, one where house prices still went up and we were still employed. Things, uhh, changed.
One of the possibilities we contemplated, before we fully understood the cost of major renovations, was residing of the house. I quite fancy wood siding, but there’s no doubting it’s a maintenance burden. Furthermore, a hackneyed renovation prior to our ownership left unsightly siding scars on the rear of the home where a window had once been, not to mention a web of cable television wires, unused flagpole, and defunct pool lighting. It irritated me.
So, with a major interior renovation on the platter, a simultaneous exterior renovation seemed appropriate. Well, when the interior renovation estimate came in at four hundred grand and didn’t include all three levels of housing, never mind the garage or landscaping, any thoughts of doing the exterior evaporated as well.
I would hum and haw for four more years, watching the siding on the front of the house deteriorate further hoping for a miracle, or fire. By the spring of 2020, with unemployment persisting and a pandemic to ensure i, Fate had made it abundantly clear that the only logical option was a paint job. By me. As is. So that’s what I did.
A few repairs were nonetheless required. First, I removed that ridiculous RCA cable all over the rear of the house. In doing so I discovered that several runs had been both snipped at main, exterior junction box but also within the walls of the house. A slight tug and, whoop, out came the cable.
I didn’t have the nerve to replace the atrocious siding reconstruction on the rear of the house. I was sure I’d only make it worse. The second story at the front of the house, on the other hand, desperately needed attention.
This portion of the house gets blasted by afternoon and evening sun all year long and the poorly maintained cedar siding was showing the results. When the upper windows had been replaced in the nineties, their size was increased from the original. To accommodate, the siding was cut and haphazardly tacked back in place, often with only a couple nails or a screw near the bottom. The things you don’t notice until after you’ve bought the damn place and start doing stuff to it.
I replaced the cracked and twisted pieces below the left window as well as a full-length strip that had literally broken (hail, perhaps). I was extremely anxious about this work, not wanting to create my own unsightly mess in such a conspicuous spot. With my little helper, I’m happy to report it all went so smoothly we rewarded ourselves with a chocolate binge. Just the confidence boost I needed.
With the new siding pieces in place, it was time to rid the world of one more godawful brown paint job. I wanted to try a deep red colour. There are plenty of grey and blue homes around the hood and I thought being a little different might be fun. My second choice was this blue colour. It was my wife’s first choice, as it was a friend’s. So, blue won.
I again had some help when painting began, but it was fleeting help. After half hour, he disappeared never to be seen again. Apparently, Minecraft is more stimulating than painting. That’s fine. Working alone kept me from having to supervise other’s work and touch up inevitable miscues. It also afforded me the freedom to curse unreservedly when the situation demanded as much. Besides, I had bigger worries.
I am no fan of heights, but no matter how hard I tried, I found no alternative to climbing a ladder with a paint can and brush to the tippy top of the rear of the house. The middle segment of the rear of the house is the only portion without a first storey roof extension on which to stand. Another seventies designer brainstorm, no doubt. That I needed to manoeuvre the unwieldy extension ladder around windows and power lines made it all the more stressful.
Over the course of three weeks, taking breaks for body rejuvenation and weather interruptions, I managed to convert all that brown grossness into blue hotness. It was exhausting, and a significant wear on my battered body (professional painter is not a solution to my employment woes), but with each strip of cedar transformed, my joy grew like Grinch’s small heart.
Of course, making that awful brown vanish ended up being the easier of two concurrent chores. The deep blue covered the faded brown in one, generous coat. Turning that deadly black trim back to white, however, nearly broke me.
There was no way covering pure black was going to happen with a single coat. Or even two. I was forced to apply three coats before all hints of black were eliminated around those windows. With all the edges and angles that come with window frames, not to mention the care required for accurate along the glass and caulking, it took as long to do the white as it did the blue. Just those rear, second storey windows alone were enough to leave me weeping, my hands begging for amputation.
I pushed on and with only a minor paint spill during the last coat of white, on the very last window, I succeeded in erasing the ill-advised black trim. A thorough going over for touch-ups (my hands ain’t the steadiest) and voila, the job was complete from top to bottom, end to end, and corner to corner.
Damn, but it looks great, if I do say so myself. What a change! And all for the very much better. Even the unsightly siding blemishes on the rear of the house are less noticeable with the new colour. That was an unexpected but gratifying surprise.
This has been the most rewarding slo mo reno yet. On a personal level, at least. And all for less than $500 in cedar siding, paint, and painting supplies. That’s a far sight cheaper than a pro would have cost. Sure, they’d have finished the job in a couple days but if there’s one thing I have plenty of right now, it’s time. Anyway, saving a few thousand dollars like this is kind of like working, right?