Painting and Decorating Made Easier!

Archive for January, 2015

Retrieving, Recycling, and Retrofitting Commercial Products and Materials.

Built-in bookcases lined the walls of a writing studio. They were constructed of expensive vinyl-laminated shelving, removed before redecorating an upscale store in Southlake Mall. After 20 years, they showed no signs of wear or give, even under the weight of over 5,000 books.

 

The bookcases represented a small example of the many creative ways that various previously-used, or remnant, commercial products and materials had been retrofitted into the property.

 

Long time area residents stopped by periodically to see what else had been done to the property. My classmates’ relatives were fascinated with the transformation of the circa 1930 concrete block rural service station…then antique/repair shop…into a sprawling contemporary home.

 

Here’s the short list of products and materials that found a new home. Approximate cost of each is shown. Most “FREE” materials required prompt removal from the construction site or property. (“COST: FREE*”)

 

1. Item: White vinyl-laminated shelving, heavy-duty steel slat strips, brackets.

Where installed: Writing studio, bedrooms, upstairs closets.

Original use: Mall clothing store.        COST: FREE.*

 

2. Item: Slide-by casement windows, wood frames, triple-pane. Brand: Andersen

Where installed: 20 ft. by 40 ft. second story great room; also 1st story.

Original use: Extra inventory of luxury home builder. COST: $40 each/construction auction.

 

3. Item: Slide-by vertical windows, aluminum frames, triple-tracked. Brand: Pena.

Where installed: 1st and 2nd story bedrooms and studio.

Original use: Lake Michigan/Ogden Dunes home.         COST: FREE.

 

4. Item: Countertops, laminated wood-grain, block.

Where installed: 2nd story kitchen and gazebo bar.

Original use: Left from kitchen project, industrialist’s new home. COST: FREE.

 

5. Item: Countertop, red leather, 72-inches long by 36-inch deep.

Where installed: 2nd story gazebo/bar.

Original use: Left from Colonel Sanders Restaurant, new construction.   COST: $5.00.

 

6. Item: Cabinetry, natural dark oak and pine.

Where installed: 1st story bathrooms, 2nd story kitchen.

Original use: Customer rejects, luxury home builder.   COST: $20 per unit/section.

 

7. Item: Hardwood flooring, 3 large boxes.

Where installed: 2nd story kitchen.

Original use: Close-out, flooring sales and installation store.       APPROX. COST: $25 total.

 

8. Item: Commercial solid wall vinyl: 8+ textures, 10+ colors; approx. 360 yards.

Where installed: Every room, including foyers, halls, baths. (Approx. 300 yards used initially.)

Original use: Left overs/projects: Hotels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, offices.  COST: FREE.*

 

9. Item: Cork panels, 10 boxes, 18-inch by 42+ inch panels; over 60 panels.

Where installed: Cut into 18-inch squares, glued on two walls, quiet alcove off great room.

Original use: Left from Casual Corner store, new construction.  COST: FREE.*

 

10. Item: Redwood shingles, interior rough-sawn; 5 boxes, approx. 100.

Where installed: 2nd story gazebo/bar canopy.

Original use: Left from Applebee’s Restaurant, new construction.  COST: FREE.*

 

11. Item: Natural grasscloth wallcovering, custom, imported; approx. 5 full rolls.

Where installed: 1 wall, Master bedroom; 1st story halls.

Original use: Left from U. S. Steel Corporation president’s office suite.   COST: FREE.

 

12. Item: Louver doors, full, solid wood; 7-feet ht. by 24-inch width each; approx. 12.

Where installed: 1st story linen, bath and utility areas.

Original use: Extra inventory, upscale development’s contractor.    COST: $5 each.

 

13. Item: Doors, solid pine, interior; approx. 20, extra wide.

Where installed: 1st and 2nd story rooms, closets, etc.

Original use: Extra inventory, general commercial contractor.    COST: $10 each.

 

14. Items: Brass hardware, door knobs and hinges, etc., approx. 400 pieces

Where installed: 1st and 2nd story.

Original use: Construction auction.    COST: $35-40.

 

15. Item: Ceramic tile: 1-in. by 1-in., 8 box; 3-in. by 3-in., 14 box; 12-in. by 12-in, 9 box.

Where installed: Bathrooms, 2nd story kitchen.

Original use: Construction auction.   APPROX. COST: $70/all.

 

16. Items: Half beams, rough-sawn, 1800+ running feet; rough-sawn finish lumber, 500+ feet.

Where installed: Ceilings – Great room, 3-story foyer, living room, 2nd story bedrooms, studio.

Original use: Left from mall store redecorating job.   COST: $50.*

 

17. Item: Moulding and trim, Cherrywood, approx. 3000 running feet.

Where installed: Throughout house.

Original use: Left over from Applebee’s Restaurants.   COST: FREE.*

* TRIVIA: In 1993, Harpo Production’s director of security and wife purchased remaining 500+ running feet, for their “small unfinished Wisconsin lake cottage.”  Perfect spot!

 

18. Item: Red brick, solid; approx. 3000 bricks.

Where installed: Exterior: New planter half walls, large front drive planter/half wall.

Original use: Left over, large commercial project.   COST: FREE.*

 

Remember: This is a partial list of the products and materials that the designers and builders – property owners – retrieved, recycled and retrofitted.

 

Within the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to visit five hotel properties, where similar and very unique architecture/design/build/retrofit project work was being done. On a large scale. With astounding results!

 

You get the idea, I’m sure. By the way, anyone can do this!

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

 

Painting It: Game Room Fun

When a person plays a game in an arcade or game room, he or she pays little attention to what the walls or other surfaces look like. One sees how the space is designed, and what colors have been used,. Whether entering the room, or standing back from the game equipment and devices.

 

The games attract the primary attention. Thus, the overall decorative scheme is never crucial to the enjoyment of the amenities there.

 

Add a few special touches. And, your game room will appear more exciting to the average player, and the novice, too.

 

The following touches are sure to raise some eyebrows:

 

* Paint the ceiling a Chalk White. It reflects light, and makes it easier to see the games.

Special effect: Add glitter to quart of the white paint. Then, use 2-inch brush to create “streaks” across the ceiling. Example: On one project, I ran “streaks” from the center ceiling fixture, outward to corners and half-point.

 

* Paint the walls a dark color. Examples: Royal Blue, Violet, Hunter Green. It creates a subdued, laid back effect.

Special touch: Add glitter to the walls. Create a cosmic-like effect. Note: Do walls OR ceiling.

 

* Paint the walls Bright, Snow or Soft White. Use semi-gloss or gloss paint.

Special touches: Paint stripes and/or graphics. Create an energizing sports design.

 

* Apply a decorative finish to add special benefits. Example: Create a multi-layered effect, or textured surface. Game playing becomes very imaginative, because of the visual effects in the room.

 

* Get creative with the floor covering. Choose a design and color combo that adds excitement to the overall theme, and purpose, of the room.

 

FIVE FUN WAYS TO USE CARPETING:

 

1. Install carpet tiles in alternating colors, monochromatic or complementary.

Example: A Central Florida hotel turned to this solution, when the game room carpeting needed replacing, after a surprise water pipe burst and flood. They purchased boxes of left-over carpet tiles from three different floor covering stores.

 

2. Create “game trails” by laying solid tiles in one direction of the room, and striped tiles in another.

Note: This trail was laid out in one of the game rooms in a children’s hospital.

 

3. Install both solid and geometric tiles, in alternate or random pattern.

 

4. Create a “space walk” effect.

Example: Install carpet tiles with Medium-to-Dark Blue and silver iridescent fibers, woven into a cosmic/space pattern. Note: This “walk” was surrounded by a mass of solid dark blue tiles.

 

5. Run a “walk” or “trail” up one long wall, turn left or right, wind it a few feet, then “move” the “walk” or “trail” back down to the floor. And, tie it into optical “ground.”

Note: This fun volunteer project, that I designed, was pulled off by using remnant carpeting, that we cut into square, oblong, and angular tiles. A major design/measure/cut/layout accomplishment!

 

Floor covering is more expensive than the average paint job. Combined with the wall finish, carpeting or tile adds immense value and atmosphere to the entire area. Its acoustics tend to be superb!

 

YES! A game room needs to include modern games, which are familiar to the guests and visitors.

 

A well thought out design and color scheme adds to the enjoyment of the area. It’s a smart investment.

Guests and visitors will thank you for it.

Guests, visitors, staff, and management will be motivated to “recommend” or “like” your hotel, spa, resort, or inn to others!

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Painting It: KidSuites and Children’s Rooms

Children want to have fun. And they need to be in an environment which enables them to do so. This is true, whether it is at home or on family vacation in a hotel or at a resort.

 

So, in what ways can a kid’s or children’s room be designed and painted that will create a great fun, and safe, atmosphere? While also keeping a child from becoming bored?

 

Here are some essential ingredients to liven up a kid’s or children’s room:

 

* Use multiple bright paint colors on the walls, ones shown to have a calming effect on children.

Examples: Sky Blue, Kelly Green, Hot Pink, Sun Yellow.

 

* Hang pictures of cartoon characters, action heroes and sports figures on the walls adjacent to the child’s bed.

Examples: Curious George, Pokémon, Hernandez.

 

* Create an area in the room, where children can draw and express themselves, and you can still protect the surfaces from damage.

Example: Dry erase board.

 

I have found that children tend to draw on anything within their reach.

 

* Install simple games, which are fixed to a surface, and have few small pieces that can get lost.

 

* Create an interactive character window, where children can play act and be photographed as some famous person, or cartoon character.

Examples: Mickey Mouse, cowboy, astronaut.

 

Designing the space is not enough!

 

What types of paint or finishes are formulated to hold up the best under the energy of children? I recommend the following:

 

* Ease of washing and abrasion resistant: Gloss enamel or gloss acrylic latex. Either is the best choice when considering ease of workability.

 

* Superior durability: Gloss epoxy. Notes: This product is more difficult to work with; and the odor can be overwhelming.

 

* Wood as the finished material/surface: Satin varnish, or polyurethane clear finish is the most suitable choice.

 

* Hand-painted murals as part of decor: Use sign painter enamel finishes; then a protective clear coat to ensure a lasting quality.

 

Making a children’s room a fun place is hardly new.

 

To make it happen, the approach involves one or more creative adults, and/or talented teens.

 

There is one prerequisite, really, to get started: Ask the children! Usually, they have definite opinions about what makes for a fun environment. Including in their bedrooms. And, they know how to bring that fun environment idea to life!

 

Use lots of color! The more the better. Add some unbridled artistic talent, too.

 

Painting for kids can be great fun.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidosiously fun!
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Two KidSuite-Children’s Room True Tales:

 
1. Two children had gotten very creative in their KidSuite. On two walls, they had drawn and painted in favorite cartoon animals: Curious George, Dinosaur Rex, Rolo the Dog, etc. Over half of the “filling-in” had been done with permanent markers. (Artistically, the 1st grader and preschooler did a great job!)

 

I used a soft scrub sponge to gently clean the surface with mild sudsy soap and warm water. After the family checked out two days later, I went back and used a “kids-safe” and odor-free latex paint to repaint the entire KidSuite.

 

Less than a month later, the walls in the same KidSuite had to be scrubbed again, and repainted. Three children, one only age three, had gotten super creative. With a large set of permanent markers, they had “painted” a “mural” along the walls, across bed frames, over the TV-dresser console, etc.

 

The children were very funny, and lovable. But way too creative and energetic to be holed up, on a rainy day, with nothing to do.

 

 

2. A Cocoa Beach hotel engineer told me about this problem, while his department was still trying to resolve it…

 

Here’s what the housekeepers, and painter, found when they entered a vacated family suite.  Crayolas, permanent markers, paints, colored pencils, colored chalk, and make-up had been used to draw and paint on nearly every surface in the children’s sleeping area, and one-half bath. Also, on two walls in the main sitting area.

 

The painter and an engineering tech worked on the area an entire day with minimal luck. The engineer asked me for suggestions to deter “future creative repeats at this level…” I suggested either of the following:

 

  1. washable, wood-look wall paneling, or
  2. washable, wrap-around kids paint-it mural, or activity paper.

 

Children hotel guests do not set out to damage room/suite walls, furniture, etc. They set out to have lots of fun. To entertain themselves. To get unbored.

 

Children’s hotel rooms and KidSuites need to make room for their energy, creativity, and curiosity.

 

And, the people who operate, clean, paint, and maintain these “special-guest” rooms and suites might want to explore – and install – more user-friendly surfaces!

 

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Children are people, too! So were we adults when we were their ages.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

 

 

Painting It: Your Front Desk and Reception Areas

There’s no doubt. First impressions are important. Creating that lasting feeling of quality and taste for the guest is an ongoing, and essential, aim of hoteliers.

 

The front desk is a key area. Special attention should be given in the display of style and the element of décor.

 

What is the best approach to take? Should we repaint, install wall covering, or apply a decorative finish? All are advisable. The choice is up to the individual making that decision.

 

The following considerations may help you decide:

 

* Design the area to complement the surrounding design elements of the lobby – as well as the hotel’s overall design and theme.

 

* Select colors which are neutral, soft tones – and easy on the eye. Exception: Hotel with a kids theme.

 

* For a contemporary feel, utilize textures. Use custom, hand-applied wall textures, such as “Venetian plaster.” Or, use various types of multi-patterned wallcoverings.

 
* Construct a wood paneled wall system, decorated in dark rich wood tones. Note: This installation involves more planning, fitting, installing, and finishing.

 
* Apply a wood veneer to the surface. This can be finished in your choice of color and sheen finish.

Note: Even many professionals overlook this application.

 
A given: There is a wide variation in cost, preparation, and finishing time.

 

With some applications, the results can be extraordinary. “No one can resist complementing it,” said a Miami Beach hotel’s retiring front desk manager.

 

It’s also a great boost to the morale of the staff, or employees. “Fantastic!” was the response of the front desk manager of a South Orlando hotel.

 

In front reception areas, the same options apply, as above. Here, it would be in the best interest of the management to ensure that these areas are designed, based on the public’s perspective.

 

THREE RELATED EXAMPLES:

 

1. The new “Concierge” area of the Chicago Hilton & Towers set adjacent to the main lobby and front desk. To give the space – and job – a distinctive identity, a unique combination of colors, textures and wood were used. Each of the elements alone, and in combination, complemented the lobby’s overall design and color scheme in an inviting and classy way!

 

2. In May of 2012, a hotel guest told me that he was the front desk manager for a Fairmont Hotel. He’d come to Kissimmee to attend his son’s wedding. He described the Fairmont’s front desk and lobby area as a “refined representation of the hotel’s upper crust clientele.” He described the area as small, and decorated in elegant paint colors and custom-designed textured wallcoverings. And, it was furnished in antiques from Europe.

 

He called his suite at our hotel: “comfortable and unpretentious.” He called our front desk and reception area “touristy and utilitarian.” He was right. Many Central Florida hotel lobbies, at that time, were still limited in the diversity of guest services and amenities offered in that area.

 

3. A family friend owns a cluster of upscale, trendy vacation villas in Jamaica. (They are full-sized homes.) When he visits family there, he stays at a hotel. He enjoys the hotel atmosphere and amenities, and ability “to meet someone new.”

 

He’s said that he prefers the more subdued décor of the hotels around Central Florida, where he resides. His business enables him to go in and out of hotel lobbies, meeting rooms and conference centers on a frequent basis. He possesses a keen understanding of hotel guest preferences. Including front desks and reception and concierge areas.

 

His best friend is the GM at a large Disney area hotel. He lets the GM friend know, for example, how his hotel front area services compare to those offered by others.

 

As a painter and decorator, I like to visit different hotels, spas, resorts, and inns. It’s a great way to pass an hour – say, between appointments in the same neighborhood.  More important, it’s a way to see a hotel’s amenities, from a guest’s or visitor’s view.

 

TRY IT!

 

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“A hotel’s front desk and reception area, and the persons that serve there, tend to paint a clear view of the importance of people there.”

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

 

Paint It: Homes for the Homeless: 3

“Ruth” could be found, nearly every day, on a computer at the local library. She caught up with the state, national and world news. She read authoritative articles and blogs on health/medicine, nutrition, fitness; business, politics, government; education; culture; environment; animals.

 

She kept up to date on happenings back in California. She applied for jobs in private transportation. She played online brain teasers, Solitaire, and action games.

 

She was intelligent, curious, and friendly. She dressed neatly, and always smelled like roses, lavender, or French vanilla. Her full, curly black hair enveloped her full, glowing face.

 

“Ruth” was homeless. Ordinarily, she lived at the back of a nearby closed-up gas/convenience business. When the temperature dropped to the 30s, she went to the Methodist Church’s shelter four blocks away.

 

One of her friends, “Angie,” pulled a small luggage cart in and out of the library. It was loaded with a 14.5+ inch screen HP laptop computer in a black satchel, a black accordion file case full of papers, and a large handbag with an app-loaded cell phone inside.

 

She plugged her computer into the library’s WI-FI power plug. Then, she conducted online research. She wrote poignant letters to the editors of newspapers around the U. S.  She emailed government officials, congressional subcommittees, and non-profit leaders about societal, employment, economic, and health legislation and imbalances. Discreetly, she snacked from a pocket-sized re-sealable plastic bag.

 

“Angie” was homeless. She was also a former Fortune 500 businesswoman.

 

Certain Methodist Church parishioners kept an eye out for both women. They made certain that “Ruth” and “Angie” had a safe, hygienic and warm place to shampoo their hair, and bathe regularly. A place to launder their clothes. Ways to live “in mormalcy,” as Ruth put it. For a little while, anyway. Between Ruth’s and Angie’s usual street lives.

 

For the homeless, having a “place to live” is an urgent necessity. And, it is the moral responsibility of the rest of us to help those with such dire needs.

 

How do we provide a home for our homeless?

 

ONE SOLUTION:

 

A few communities – eg. Central Florida – are forming collaborative commissions, agencies, foundations, etc. They address what Andrea Bailey, CEO, Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, calls “chronic homelessness.”

 

Focus emphasizes (1) getting large Federal grants (eg. $6 million) and (2) emulating homeless housing programs, like the one in Houston, Texas. They focus on designing, building, and developing an all new housing complex for the homeless.

 

Some Pros:

 

  1. All new structure(s).
  2. 100 percent code compliant facility.
  3. Property custom designed and retrofitted for a set purpose, and specific type of occupants.

 

Some Cons:

 

  1. Higher costs and overhead.
  2. Management intensive, and top heavy.
  3. Heavily dependent on government, public, corporate, and political backing.
  4. Operations and administration wrapped in red tape and beauracracy.
  5. Takes 1-to-2 years, or longer, to get from conception to “Open for Occupancy” stage.
  6. Location un-centralized.

 

ANOTHER SOLUTION:

 

More communities around the U. S. are getting very practical and quick responding in their approach.

 

Focus emphasizes: Converting existing multi-family, unit housing into code certified transitional homes for the homeless.

 

 

Some Pros:

 

  1. Property is located within established community.
  2. Public transportation is accessible.
  3. Housing sets within proximity of jobs – eg. entry-level, renewal, lower-skilled jobs.
  4. Structures are solid and adaptable to comply with local codes, state regulations, etc.
  5. Property is paid for. (Caution: See “Cons: 2” below.)
  6. Facility is part of the neighborhood.
  7. Facility can get up and running much faster.
  8. Administration, management, and operations are more grassroots and mission oriented.

 

Some Cons:

 

  1. Structure may need major repairs and upgrading to comply with local codes, and state and federal regulations.
  2. Property and/or business may have liens and old bills attached to it.
  3. If located in a run-down neighborhood, serious problems may be embedded – eg. drug trafficking, vandalism, numerous abandoned properties.
  4. Maintaining safe property environment may be difficult, dangerous and costly.

 

 

Both housing solutions named here are viable. Deciding which direction to take depends on many factors. Many more than I can name. Many beyond my background and capabilities as a painter and decorator.

 

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“Help starts with a home.”   RDH     

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Painting It: Skylights

As a natural source of light, a skylight is often overlooked as an area to be maintained and painted. Parts of it are exposed to the elements. Thus, keeping it weather tight is a priority in order to prevent damage to interior surfaces.

 

The skylight is also an element of design and a diverse use for color. “How is that,” you ask?

 

I once worked in a single level office building, where skylights were used to provide most of the interior light. My role was to paint these areas using a combination of hues to give the skylights an optical colored shading effect. Also, from different angles, the colors appeared to change. This occurred due to the changing intensity of the light.

 

Encorporating this effect into your own home is a possibility as well. Once again it will be your creativity that will be your guide.

 

Before you begin to paint, make certain that the following guidelines are observed:

 

  1. Make sure the skylight is sealed properly. Caulk if necessary.
  2. Clean the surface, removing any mold.
  3. Repair any cracks or loose paint.
  4. Use stain blocking primer to seal in the areas.
  5. Sand the entire surface for finish painting.
  6. Select either latex or oil based paint as your finish.
  7. Exposure to higher temperatures may require a more durable finish.

 

To paint a skylight, here are several options:

 

  1. Apply a color and sheen, which “matches” the surrounding ceiling area.
  2. Apply a color and sheen, which “differs from the surrounding ceiling area.
  3. Apply a bright color and glossy sheen, which “attracts” one’s attention.
  4. If the skylight is sizeable, apply multiple colors and sheens to create a “decorative” design.

 

Painting a skylight can be basic. You can match the white of your ceiling. Or, it can be a creative project. When it is completed, it complements any living space or an office.

 

Remember, a skylight can show off more than just the light. It can show off the colors in the area.

 

It can accentuate the appearance and function of the area. It can enhance the amenities of the hotel, hospital, or business.

 

And, it can lift the spirit of everyone that passes underneath its “spell. Something that natural light – sunlight – tends to do for persons of all ages. Our pets, too!

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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