Monthly Archives: September 2012

Painting an Accent Wall

This past weekend, Tara and I took on our very first home improvement project in our house.  We painted an accent wall!  We both have pretty limited experience when it comes to painting actual walls, so we were a little nervous, but it ended up being surprisingly easy and only really took a few hours.  I’ll even put a step by step in case someone actually deems my expertise worth emulating.

  1. Get samples ($3 each at Home Depot) and paint little patches of each.  Don’t go thinking that floor/baseboard coverage is not necessary for this step.  Even though the spots you’ll be painting are nowhere near anything, white baseboards attract red paint, especially if gravity is involved.
  2. Let the samples dry and evaluate under a variety of lighting.
  3. Go back and buy the winner.  We like the paint that has the primer built in.  Totally idiot proof.
  4. Remove outlet covers, etc.  No, you don’t need to turn off the outlets at the breaker (Unless you have a propensity for sticking screw drivers in open outlets).
  5. Time to mask.  This is by far the most time consuming part.  Frog Tape is the way to go.  Use a putty knife to help evenly press down the tape.
  6. Put on some music that fosters good, smooth brush strokes.  Pink Floyd is absolutely perfect.   Almost euphoric.
  7. Paint the edges with a regular brush.  Evidently this is called “Cutting In“.
  8. Hit the rest of the surface with a roller.  Turns out there is no wrong way to do this as long as you don’t press too hard and ensure each part of the wall receives several passes to evenly spread out the paint.  I spent about half an hour watching videos online and each one described a different technique with at least one comment from a “professional” painter ripping the method shown.
  9. Wash the brushes out with soap & water (unless you got oil-based paint–then you use Everclear followed immediately by fire)
  10. Let it dry for a few hours and repeat 5 & 6 (unless your skills are far superior to ours and you got it in one coat).
  11. Remove the masking.  Frog Tape advises removing the tape while the paint is still wet so it doesn’t tear.  This seems completely unpractical to me since multiple coats is almost always required.  We waited until the paint was almost completely dry and didn’t have any problems.


Now, before the pros rip me apart, heres a couple pics:











In Which We Find Ourselves Homeowners

It started out as a game.  Home ownership seemed like something “old” people do.  We just wanted to pretend.  We’d sit at the sun-drenched table on cold Saturday mornings looking at the real estate listings in the paper while sipping steaming coffee.  The newspaper would be excitedly passed back and forth as one found something to be shared, be it of interest or just comical.  Thus we began to learn the attributes we both like.

The game progressed to a new level when some friends of ours, who were seriously house hunting, shared a website with us their realtor used.  Suddenly, we were able to see myriad high resolution photos of a given home instead of just one tiny picture of the outside with a cheesy description.  The site also had a monthly payment estimator which, optimistic as it was, helped us realize that even us kids were capable of buying a home.

We started a list of “requirements” for our future home.  Many of the items were heavily inspired by our rental house:

  • No wood paneling
  • No carpet in the kitchen
  • No pet stains/odors
  • Windows that actually keep out the cold
  • Basement I could actually stand up straight in
  • Newer than 1930

Then there were some wish-list items as well:

  • Window in the master bath
  • Master on the same level as other bedrooms (I was hoping to locate screaming babies as far from us as possible, but Tara reminded me that we’d be responsible for caring for the screaming babies and it would make sense to have them closer to us)
  • Open floor plan
  • Good sized kitchen with plenty of counter space
  • Garage
  • Reasonably sized yard
  • Granite counters
  • Anything that wasn’t build in 1995
  • Close the the university and downtown
  • Good interstate access
  • Close to the mountains
  • Ready to go as is (Not a fixer-upper)

Towards the end of March, we found ourselves with a Saturday with nothing planned.  I suggested we go out and hit a couple open houses.  Tara was suspicious of the idea, worried that it would be awkward, but I coaxed her into it.  We looked at 4 homes that day.  None of the houses were that appealing to us, but at the third house we met Gordon, who would become our realtor.  

Within a matter of days, Gordon had us in touch with a mortgage company submitting materials to get pre-approved for a home loan.  The second he learned we were approved, he began sending us tons of real estate listings which we were to go through and select a few to go see.  This process took hours and was both exciting and trying at times.  One of us would find something we really liked and then the other would point out a practical reason why that wouldn’t work.

We went on home tours with Gordon on 2 separate occasions.  It was the 2nd time out, the 2nd house we saw that evening, that we found ourselves in a house that singlehandedly met every single wish list item.  Not a single compromise would be made on mine or Tara’s part on that house.  2 days later we put in an offer.  It was the 9th house we set foot in during our search that had only officially began a couple weeks prior.

The seller accepted the offer less than 24 hours later, before noon on Saturday and we found ourselves under contract.  Throughout the 4 week process of due diligence, we kept telling ourselves that something would fall through and we’d be back on the hunt, but nothing did, and before we knew it, they were telling us that we could pick a date to come in and close.


We’ve lived in our house for nearly 5 months now.  We are mostly settled in.  The summer was so incredibly busy, I wasn’t able to find time to sit down and write this until now.  The house continues to be amazing, although I think we’ve finally gotten used to it enough to not feel like we’re just living in someone’s vacation home.  My brother, Ben has taken residence in the basement while he attends the University of Utah.  A portion of his GI bill helps pay the mortgage.

Many consider buying a house a fairly major life accomplishment.  I personally am not sure taking on the biggest liability of one’s life is grounds for a “Congratulations”.  Yes, we did plan, work hard, and save up for a downpayment, but the rest was just luck and our uncanny ability to combine tastes and find big purchases that we fully agree on.  Congratulate us once we’ve got it paid off!


There is wine tasting in the pantry

The Kitchen


Tara thinks she is out of the photo

From the Living Room.  Can you find Tara?

She's just so cute

Tara tries to stay out of the pictures


Master Bedroom


Master Bath with our IKEA spa bench