That wall has been the subject of much debate for a while. It's a "feature wall," which is to say it is finished with tongue and groove boards that were left rough - or "fuzzy," as I've been calling it. Here - it's easier to show you:
Please excuse the clutter. I see I need to dust the television.
There are a few reasons that I have never painted that wall or the mantel. Painting that wall had no exit stragegy. If you paint a wall and don't like the outcome, you can put it back. Once that wood was painted, there was NO going back, so I had to be sure. In the case of the mantel, we want to replace it eventually, and I knew it was going to be a pain in the butt to paint all those bits of moulding. I just didn't want to put the effort into something I was going to yank out eventually. So we left it. Over the years it went from "the wood is kind of cool," to "the wood is kind of cool, but it's awfully dark," to "the wood is sucking all the light out of this room." So I decided to paint it.
The first thing I had to do was vacuum all the dust out of the grooves, which was another argument for paint - you shouldn't have to vacuum your *walls.* The next step was the primer from hell - Zinsser B-I-N. It's shellac based, and will hopefully stop all those knots you can see in the picture from bleeding through. I've had good luck with it in the past, but the fumes are wicked bad. Those fumes are the reason I decided to do this project last weekend - the weather was predicted to be warm and dry, which meant I could open all the window and run fans to clear out the paint smell.
The primer went on fairly well, although I had a fair bit of cleanup. I had to use one of those deep pile rollers to get into all the nooks and crannies, and those fling a lot of paint around. I also discovered that I couldn't get into the grooves worth a damn. It would have taken an artist's brush, and I was NOT interested in that. When I got everything primed, I stepped back to take a look, and was very happy with how light it was, but it became apparent immediately that the dark grooves were going to drive me INSANE.
See what I mean?
I got a coat of color on the wall and the mantel, and called it a night. Then while sitting on the couch talking to Camma, it hit me - caulk. I could fill all those grooves with a paintable caulk, and then not only would it look better, I would never have to vacuum the wall again. Of course, by the time I thought of that it was too late to go get any. But I had a plan.
Sunday morning I headed out to Home Depot, and got myself four tubes of all-purpose caulk, two fluorescent bulbs for the fixture Bob was hanging over the workbench in the basement (now that we could get to it,) and a tub of Peel-Away. See, there was a bit of an incident with the paint tray that you can just see in the last picture. When I picked it up (after taking said picture) I discovered that the primer had slopped all over the unsealed brick hearth - and it wasn't coming off. The internet told me that something called Peel-Away would do the trick, and the store had it.
After spending the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon alternately loading stuff back into the basement or throwing it away, I got back to *my* project. That wall took two full tubes of caulk to fill the gaps, and I'd forgotten what a number a caulking gun does on my hands. After waiting the requisite two hours for the caulk to dry, I gave the wall and the mantel their second coat, cleaned up, and sat back to admire my handiwork. It was worth all the effort. Monday after work I moved the furnture back, and last night I put the assorted bits back on the mantel. I'm rearranging the art a bit.
*I* think it looks much better. The whole room is lighter, and I like my rooms to be bright. The living room is on the north side of the house, and the trees come right up, so it doesn't get a lot of natural light to begin with.
I'm very pleased. Now I just need to finish the patch in the stairwell so that I can put all the painting stuff away and get it out of the middle of my kitchen.
I should dig out the ultimate "before" picture of the living room. Just for giggles.