Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unfortunate Victorian & Paint Colours (Again)

I just made a quick, and fairly restrained post about this house over on Old House Web, but as my fellow blog readers, you get the uncensored version.

Since I moved into this house, I've made it a point to walk all the nearby streets in the neighbourhood, to see the houses, and look for original details for my own renovations. For the most part, a large number of the houses in this area are pretty run-down, and heavily remuddled. 95% of all the houses are covered in vinyl, and the remaining 5% are rotting. The ones that are in good shape tend to be the brick houses, which usually escape the more drastic remodel ideas (moving windows, painting, capping in vinyl) since they aren't as easy to modify.

My area of town is a bit farther north than the older parts of town, so most of the houses in this neighbourhood are from the 30s, 40's or later, with the exception of maybe 4-5 Victorians.

On such house is just 2 blocks away, and I pass by it regularly. It's capped in vinyl, and the original windows are gone, but it's in generally good shape. The real show-stopper on this house, however, were its original set of solid wood entry doors. I loved these doors.

Last weekend, coming back from a trip to Home Depot with my Mom, we passed by the house, and I screamed in terror (not kidding, she stopped the car) when I saw what they had done.

These are the only before photos I have, and they are pretty low-quality screen grabs from Google Maps.

This is why I was so horrified:

I just can't believe someone would do this. Those doors were gorgeous. They not only removed the door, but they also destroyed the original curved transom windows. And I can't understand why they did this. The doors looked like they were in fantastic shape. They weren't even painted! I was so pissed and sad about this that I wrote them a rather nasty letter (trying my best to stay civil and polite about the whole thing).

It just looks so awful compared to before. And those cheap pieces of sh*t doors won't last. I have the same kind of awful metal doors on my house. They were installed the year before I bought the house (2009), and two are already not opening or closing properly, even though they were "professionally installed". The front door needs to be slammed to close properly, the back door is crooked (but works ok), the upstairs one is ok, but the worst of the bunch is the side door, which I literally have to body-slam to close it. Even slamming it as hard as I possibly can, doesn't always close it completely.

And the weather stripping on these doors is pretty crappy. Several of mine are already nicked and torn. These are all reasons why I want to scrap them as soon as I find nicer old wood doors.


I promised some better photos of those colour samples. So here you go:

Then these are some samples I've been tacking-on to the wall for the dining room. Again, I'm nowhere near ready to paint, but I am pretty sure that I want to go with a golden yellow/orange for this room.

I was originally inspired by this photo, but I think it might be a bit too dark in my house.

This one also looks quite nice.

These are some of the swatches I started out with:

And then I removed one that was a duplicate, and all the ones that were too dark, or the wrong shade.

Out of those, I like swatch 3, third and fourth from the top, and swatch 4, fourth from the top. I'm still not sure. I always tend to pick colours that turn out to be WAY darker once they're on the wall, so I'll be getting samples before I commit to anything.

Thoughts? Opinions? Does anyone already have a similar colour in their house?


  1. Go ahead and buy sample quarts of what you think you would like and put test areas up now. You'll then have several months to decide if you like them or not as you finish up everything else.

  2. It looks to me like they painted the original doors--they are the same shape--but it's not terribly surprising. That seems to be the IN thing right now, especially in popular blogs and on pinterest. I agree--it's a tragedy!!

    1. Hi, they are definitely not the same doors. The new ones are cheap, mass produced metal clad doors from a big box store (Rona or Home Depot). I would have been WAY happier if they had just painted the originals. I would have been sad that they covered up nice wood, but it would be much better than scrapping them.

      Also notice that they destroyed the original curved arch window to install their ugly matching beveled glass insert.

  3. Hi JC,
    I have a similar lighter version of golden yellow, you can see here: The foyer was dark and spooky, this colour did the trick and I intend to extend this colour beyond the foyer, into the downstairs and upstairs hallways which are super dark - I love it, it works for me. You will see with your sample area, how rich you can go depending on the light in your house.

    As for those pour doors, I understand your anger.

  4. My living room is painted yellow, and my experience has been (because I repainted a number of times) that a dark yellow paint chip looks lighter when it's applied to a wall, and one that looks just right as a chip will turn out wimpy. I think the 4th down on swatch #4 will be relatively lifeless when you get it on the wall. The 4rd or 5th down on swatch #3 (from what I can see) will probably be closer to your ideal (the New orleans house).

    1. My only concern is that the dining room connects into the kitchen, and there's only one window for both rooms, so the lighting is usually pretty low. I plan to help with this by adding bright lighting in the kitchen, but I don't want a colour that's too dark. If it were another room, I'd definitely try a darker/deeper colour. I will keep everyone up to date as I pick something out.

      Sample colours tend to be a bit pricy, so I might try to mix my own shade with cheapie tole paints from the dollar store (painted on large samples).

  5. Ugh.. it's so disappointing to see changes like that. :( It's too bad they replaced their original doors. man.

  6. Rat. Bastards.

    They should have used the money they spent ruining the historic integrity of their home to buy some taste. :-)

    1. LOL, you said rat bastards!

      But yeah, they suck. I sent them a nasty (but politely written) letter about the doors. They sent no reply (big surprise).

  7. JC, Yellow is a tough color—maybe the hardest to get right.

    Too pale and it looks insipid, too dark and it looks orange, or worse, green or brown. Contrast it with the wrong shade of any color and it's jarring and disturbing. Thankfully, so far you're choosing yellows that shouldn't change too much. It's the pale yellows (known as blue-yellows to color experts) that tend to perform the worst on the wall, the deeper golden yellows tend to be pretty true, and more real (most yellows in nature are really golds). Before painting, do invest in a few sample jugs of paint and live with them for a while.

    The weird thing about perceived darkness of color is what its next to. Since most people paint their house trim white, when you drop any color in next to white, it looks, well, hold on ... dark. No matter how much light comes into the room, the white trim contrasts so starkly with the wall color that the walls look dark.

    I painted my dining room a super deep green, but with careful work on the underpainting and the trim color, along with adjustments to the ceiling color (almost always forgotten as an option for additional color) the room never seems small, dark or uninviting (all common fears induced by the thought of a dark color).

    All this is based in 30+ years of color science work. I may not have a freekin table saw, ha ha, but I got color down.

    1. Thanks so much for all the great info. I like white trim, but it would not have been my first choice. I would have preferred an antique white, or even dark brown with faux graining to imitate the original shellacked Ash trim, but what drove me to stick with white were the replacement vinyl windows. I didn't want the trim to be a different colour than the window (it would have driven me nuts).

      I'll be painting my upstairs hallway a rather dark taupe colour this weekend (possibly later today), so that should be fun and interesting. I already know it will look very dark, but that's the look I wanted (based off a photo I saw elsewhere).

    2. James, I remember your house/blog now. You had that gorgeous "grass green" (Empire Green) dining room. I saved photos of it, and it's also in my inspiration folder.

      I forgot to mention in the post that I might be doing wainscoting/paneling on the lower half like the photo with the black table. I haven't decided 100% yet, but if so, I would choose a deeper, richer yellow.

  8. As awful as removing the original architectural fabric is and replacing it with the modern equivalent it could be worse. In my city they would have removed the original double doors and the transom. They would then built a new opening for a single door covering the extra space from the double doors and transom with whatever kind of mismatched vinyl siding they could get their hands on. They would then install a solid steel door, without a window and without a transom. The new steel door would be left it's original gray primer color for the rest of time...or until it's replaced sometime in the future with more crap. :-(