Paint and Tile! Manhattan Nest

Paint and Tile! Manhattan Nest

Paint and Tile!

I used to think painting was the worst thing in the world. I was OK with the part that came before——spackling a few holes, a little sanding, maybe cleaning the walls a little——and I liked the part that came after, when the room was painted. But the actual process  of painting——the endless cutting-in, the rolling, the paint drips and splatters and going to sleep with dried paint in my hair and under my finger nails——those were all things I dreaded.

But by the time I finally  filled all the holes with patching compound and filled the gaps with caulk and de-greased and de-caulked and got through all the prep work in my kitchen, painting kind of felt like fun arts-n-crafts time? Like a nice way to kick back and relax? Maybe I actually like painting? Maybe Im going through a very confusing identity crisis? Maybe my whole perception of reality has been irrevocably altered?

If youve read my blog for a while, you might have noticed that Im a very firm believer in buying good paint, which for me has always meant Benjamin Moore. Its what my mom always used in our house growing up, and its what Ive always used by myself, save for once making the enormous  mistake of using really cheap paint at a friends house and discovering sometime around my 4th or 5th coat that quality really does make a huge difference when it comes to coverage, adhesion, durability, and the final result looking good. From then on, I just accepted that my future would be composed of $40-$50 gallons of paint, and that was that. Thats more or less OK when youre looking at a small apartment with a landlord willing to cover $20/gallon, but it sort of blows when youre looking at a whole house of walls, doors, and moldings literally begging and pleading to be repaired and freshly painted.

So, when Ace Hardware offered to let me try out their new-ish brand of paint and primer in one, Clark + Kensington, I decided to take the chance. I warned them that my allegiance was elsewhere, and that its my policy to always give honest reviews and theyd have to be as OK with me not  liking the paint as they were sure that I would, and they agreed. So confident. So sure of themselves.

Real talk: this paint is dope. I was really expecting it to be pretty mediocre, but I found it to be pretty much on-par with the Aura line of Benjamin Moore paints——which is quite an endorsement, because thats some fancy paint—— except about $30 per gallon instead of over $60. This is hard for me to say, butI think Im converted!

The paint can also be color-matched to several different brands (including Benjamin Moore and Farrow & Ball), but I wanted to check out the Clark + Kensington colors for myself! And by colors, I mean various shades of black and white. You know how I do.

As usual, I started by cutting in the ceiling. This was a massive pain in the tuchus because the seams in the sheetrock on the ceiling are covered in those thin wooden strips rather than taped and mudded, so all of that needed to be painted by hand. I used a regular roller for the panels in between.

Check out how gross that ceiling is. It is the most gross.

With the ceiling all painted with two coats of Designer White in Flat Enamel (which is a pre-mixed off-the-shelf white, which Im using on the moldings and upper cabinets, too), we started in on the walls and cabinets! Ill save the cabinet painting for another post, but this was about the stage when I started to get really  excited about the kitchen. It was also a period of sort of non-stop marathon crazy work in here, which is why this photo was taken at like 2 in the morning and everything is a total disaster.

I stayed up super late painting, and in the morning.

ANGELS SANG.

There really is nothing better than fresh paint.

I know this picture might not look like much since obviously the doors and moldings still need to be painted, and I didnt paint the backsplashes, but getting the walls over with was an incredible feeling. I used a color called Casablanca on the walls, which is an extremely  pale grey. Obviously it reads as very white, but its different enough from the ceiling and molding to give the room a little more dimension than if everything was the same shade.

Words cant even describe, yall.

Paint and Tile! Manhattan Nest

That night, my friend Nora and I also put in the first row of tiles! Sorry about the horrendous nighttime iPhone shots. These are just plain old American Olean white 36 subway tiles from Lowes, which are super cheap at about $.22/tile. I know it might seem silly to install tile backsplashes in a kitchen that we arent planning to keep forever, but I already had the thinset and black grout from tiling my kitchen in the apartment, so for about $100 for all of the tile, it seemed like a really worthwhile aesthetic and functional upgrade to just go for it. Also, Nora wanted to learn to tile, and I believe in being a gracious host by making my friends work super hard until the wee hours of the morning in July with no A/C in exchange for letting them sleep on a shitty air mattress and cook for me. Thats just manners.

Since I just  did a whole tutorial on tiling backsplashes (here and here ), it didnt seem necessary to rehash the whole process again, especially since I would have done a few things differently if it needed to last forever. Obviously, I didnt paint the backsplashes or really prep them at all first (in a perfect world, I wouldnt be using drywall as backing at all!), and I barely planned out how the tile would run before just slapping them on the walls. And yes, I used cardboard and stir sticks to hold up my first row instead of something more rigid and precise. And yes, I started the tiles at the top edge of the base cabinets, not the countertops, because with the height of the upper cabinets, this was the best way to cover the most surface area of the backsplashes with tile without having a huge weird gap at the top, if that makes sense. So yeah. Its not perfect, but its still going to look totally fine when everything is done. Totally fine is kind of this rooms guiding principle, lest you havent noticed.

Im just including this picture because I got smart and bought myself a stirring attachment for my drill to mix the thinset and grout. CHANGED. MY. LIFE. Stirring thinset with a paint stick or a spoon or whatever is really difficult and tiring (youre supposed to mix for 5 minutes, let it sit, then mix it again for 5 more minutes), and this handy attachment just takes all of that work away. FYI.

The next day, after the bottom row had time to harden up, we mixed up more thinset and got back to work! I really should have planned this so that the end of the run (where it meets the vertical trim pieces, not the corner) would be composed of full and half-tiles instead of these weird in-between fraction tiles, but I didnt do that. Oh well. Again, with everything done and grouted and the room complete, itll be fine. Im just pointing it out because Im human and I make mistakes and mistakes are bound to happen, and now I know better! (and my bathroom/future kitchen tiling will be PERFECTION. Mark my words. I know things now.)

First I thought Id do the subway tile level all the way around the room (so the backsplashes and this sink area would all have the same number of rows of tile), but then that seemed a little too dinky for here. Then I thought maybe Id take the tile all the way to the ceiling (well, to the bottom of the big hollow soffit over the sink, anyway) in this sink area, but that had a whole mess of complications I wont bore you with, including maybe just looking weird. Then I used the super-professional method of eyeballing it until the proportions seemed right, which is why there are more tiles here than the other areas of the kitchen. Science!

Overall, there was just a ton of fudging and making it work and eventually throwing my arms up with a hearty GOOD ENOUGH!  in this area around the sink. Trying to get tiles to line up on three wonky walls with the sink and the window molding was justnot going to happen. With everything painted, caulked, and grouted, thoughwell, you know what Im going to say already. Its going to be totally fine. Nice, even. I promise!

This post is in partnership with Ace Hardware.


Leave a Reply