A cocoon of primer and spackle

Painting the Sullivan HouseFifteen people came to the Sullivan House over the weekend and catapulted us forward. The house I found at 11 AM Saturday morning was not the same house I left at 8 PM Sunday night. It was transformed from looking a broken building to a home that was being redecorated. The amount of work that was done was amazing.

The electrical work is 95% done. The kitchen… looks like a kitchen. The walls have been prepped in 90% of the house. The original mishmash of colors has faded away behind layers of primer and spackle. The house is primed. It’s not just ready for paint, it’s ready for one more attack of work and effort to get it ready for move-in day.

Spackling the high walls of the Sullivan House

The infrastructure is ready. The boiler/water heater work is poised to begin. The kitchen and bathroom are ready to be finished. We’re ready to move forward with the chimney repairs. The interior & exterior colors are chosen. Paint is being purchased tomorrow. If you’re available, we’ll be there starting at noon every Saturday and Sunday thru mid August.

I can see the colors in my head. This house is going to look amazing.

6 thoughts on “A cocoon of primer and spackle

  1. I don't know what you intend to do for any wood in or outside the home, but it's probably wood across the board. With wood of that age, if you have not already done so, it should be sealed with several coats of linseed oil before primer is applied. Eight hours between coats, wipe off the excess, and repeat until the wood won't take any more.

    Your primer and paint will fall off in sheets within 10 years if you don't seal the wood like this before beginning paint work.
  2. The rule in this house is: No one applies primer or paint to any wood. The only exception is already-painted crown molding. The rest is getting heat-gunned over the next year (80% is already painted and it's terrible). We will have glorious unpainted wood everywhere.
  3. Make sure you still seal that wood, or it will crack and splinter in no time flat. You can still hit with linseed, then follow up with a sealant that dries 100% clear and leaves no sheen (I forget the product).

    If you're striving for historical accuracy, the exterior was probably painted in a couple colors of an extremely limited palette. The Michigan Historical Society can help with the color selections, and if you get it right, you can apply for grants or tax breaks by having your home declared a historical property. The Sullivan House would certainly qualify on the age requirement.

    Source: helping to renovate our 1921 Sears Roebuck bungalo with my dad over the course of 15 years.
  4. The house already has single-designation historical status, so I believe I'll be able to write off renovation expenses without the historically-accurate colors being an issue. I've looked into grants and there are basically zero currently available for this sort of project unfortunately.

    The paints for the kitchen, bathroom, and great room have been ordered!
  5. Looks like we need to cover about 7500 square feet in paint. And that's just the interior! :D
  6. Lincoln - in case you haven't yet, look into Midtown Detroit Inc and the Detroit Development Fund. Either may be able to help with funding/grants. Also, call Nancy Finegood at Michigan Historic Preservation Network (mhpn.org) and ask her what she thinks. If there's one person in the state who knows where all the available money is for historic preservation, it's her.

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