Category Archives: Before & After

Studio Makeover #3: Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint & Primer Review

behr paint and primer

Behr Premium Plus Paint and Primer in One has been available at Home Depot for a while, and I was always really skeptical. I really like Zinsser’s water-based 1-2-3 Primer, and I just did not believe that paint alone could do as good a job. The carpenter who did my bathroom remodel convinced me to give it a try in that room. He had used it on bare drywall and had been very impressed. I gave it a try in the bathroom and was pretty impressed, too.

I had nearly an entire gallon left, so I decided that the real test would be whether it could cover this bright yellow paint with dark yellow and blue stars. I mixed my leftover gallon of grey with a gallon of ultra pure white to make a lighter grey. The paint is the flat finish, which is all I use on lumpy old plaster walls.

original room color

As a reminder, here’s what the walls looked like before painting. I sanded down the stars so there would be no raised edges showing through.

one coat behr paint and primer

And here’s what it looks like after one coat! This post is not sponsored in any way, it’s my unbiased review of this paint. I can’t believe how well it covers. You can see speckles of yellow where I didn’t roll on enough paint, as usually happens with a first coat. The stars have been completely covered. If your paint technique is good enough, you could probably get away with one coat.


And here it is two two coats. Getting rid of that yellow was such a relief. The new grey color makes the tan trim look even worse, but it will be gone soon! I still have a half gallon of my trim paint (from Behr’s regular line), but when it is gone, I will try the Paint and Primer on my trim in a semi-gloss finish.

The Paint and Primer runs about $32 in the flat finish. My favorite Zinsser primer runs about $30 for a two gallon bucket, making the Paint and Primer over twice as much. If you need to watch every penny, you’ll want to stick to using a traditional primer. If time is more important, the Paint and Primer will save a lot of time. One of my next projects is painting my front stairwell, and I’m going to have to spend a lot of time on a 20 foot ladder over the stairs to get to it all. I’m going to use the Paint and Primer so I can spend as little time on the ladder as possible.

removing carpet

With the walls painted, I went ahead and started pulling out the carpet. I cut it into three foot strips so they’d be easy to carry. The wood floor underneath is in pretty good shape, with just a few areas where the finish has worn away. I’m not planning to do anything to the floor other than clean it with some Murphy’s oil soap. I couldn’t wait to hang my capiz shell lamp, so I hung it as soon as the paint was dry. Before I painted the ceiling, I drilled until I found a joist to hang the hook from.

It’s amazing how much the character of the room changes with the new color and the carpet removal! The next steps are painting trim and starting to bring in furniture!

— Loryn

Before You Do That Stencil – Studio Makeover Part 2

room ready to paint

The room is mostly cleared out, and I’m ready to paint! Unfortunately, there’s one painful step before that can happen. The star stencils have raised edges that have to be sanded down before I paint.

if you’re thinking about stenciling a room, think about how much work you’re willing to put into it when you want to change the room. All stencils leave raised edges of paint around the designs. It will show through any paint you put over it. Make sure it’s a stencil that you can live with for a long time!

If I wanted to get rid of the stenciling completely, I would need to remove the wallpaper, patch the plaster, skim coat, and then repaint. I’ve done that in several other rooms of the house, and it takes weeks of work. I’m trying to keep this a quick-and-dirty makeover, so I opted to just paint the wallpaper. I’m not worried about having perfect walls in my studio. In fact, I prefer the imperfect walls, because I can hang, tack, tape, and glue things to the wall without worrying about damaging the surface.

sanding away stenciled designs with a mouse sander

I tried hand sanding the first star and immediately went to get my mouse sander. I have a Craftsman sander that uses the 19.2 volt batteries. It makes quick work of each star, though I went through 3 or 4 batteries. I wouldn’t try sanding something like this by hand. You’d be ready to jump out the window after the first 20!

walls with sanded stencil design

I spread the sanding out over two days just to keep the vibrations of the sander from killing my hands and wrists. Each time a battery died, I took a break and did something else. When the sanding was finally finished, I painted the ceiling with two coats of Glidden ceiling paint. It’s the kind that goes on pink and dries white. It’s okay, but after painting the walls, I’ve completely switched my paint preferences (more on that in the next post!).

Before painting the walls, I did two other things. I put up new roller blinds, as you can see in the first picture. I wanted to keep the budget for this room to a bare minimum, so I used $9 Magic Fit blinds from Walmart.

magic fit blind install

I could not believe how easy these were to install. The blind is perforated to you can tear it in half inch intervals. The spring mechanism is adjustable, so after tearing the blind to size, you simply push the spring mechanism to the right size. It really does take about five minutes to adjust them.

Ultimately, though, I’m not very happy with them. The perforations tear really easily, so if you have cats, they will put tears in them really quickly. The blinds also curve in at the sides, so they don’t really give complete privacy. The tension rollers are really fussy, so getting the blind to roll straight is aggravating. I had planned to laminate them with a cute fabric when it got warm enough to use spray mount outside, but now I think I’m going to replace them down the road.

vintage light fixture with round bulbs

The last thing I did was to replace the surface mount light fixture with this nifty vintage chandelier. This is one of a pair that I’ve had for a long time. We tried to use them in Lynne’s living and dining rooms, but the fixtures just got lost in those big rooms with 10′ ceilings. The scale is just right up here (the ceiling is about 8’6″). To modernize the chandeliers, I took off the orange glass shades and used round decorator bulbs. I’ll use the second chandelier in the guest room with the same bulbs.

In my next post I’ll move on to painting!

Junk Room to Studio Makeover Part 1


This is the dreaded junk room. Big, Victorian houses have so many rooms that it’s easy to end up with one (or more!) that are just piled up with stuff.  It’s the only room in the house that I haven’t touched at all. The house was a foreclosure, and in pretty rough shape when I bought it, so this room still has the filthy green carpet, ugly green valances, and stenciled star decoration, My goal is to turn it into a studio/office/workroom while spending as little as possible and making use of stuff I already have.

more mess

Still more mess, and most of it really isn’t junk. There are many pastel paintings by my stepdad, artist Richard Miles. He and my mom live in the other half of my duplex, and they don’t have a climate-controlled area to store his paintings that overflow from his studio. Pastels are very delicate, so they’ve been laid out all over the room. The first thing I needed to do was to box up all of the paintings.

I layered the pastels between sheets of glassine, laid them in shallow boxes, and stored them in the big closet of this room (it has a window, and was probably a nursery at one time). You can see it (with the lovely orange floral wallpaper) in the photo above. The shelves of the closet had just a few paintings laid on each shelf, so I needed to make much better use of the space.

Here’s what it looks like now:


I didn’t disturb paintings that had already been layered with glassine (they’re just too delicate), but I did photograph each painting that I boxed up and numbered the boxes. That way my stepdad can look through the files on the computer to find a particular painting.

pastel painting

Here is one I photographed as I was boxing it up. Isn’t his work beautiful?

pastel storage with shelf system

Here is the rest of the storage. The cabinet is a shelf I built him for Christmas a few years ago. It holds 48 paintings on foamcore.

With the paintings safely stored, the room was looking much better!


I  recycled a giant load of cardboard, took a few bags to goodwill, and sold several items to a local antique dealer. I’m a packrat by nature, but I’ve become pretty ruthless about getting rid of stuff. It doesn’t help to keep things around “just in case” if it prevents you from using the space you have. After four two-hour cleaning sessions (less than I expected), the room was looking much better.


That’s a lot of progress already! I’ll post again tomorrow with Part 2.

— Loryn