Painting our front door Progress, not perfection

I need a 12-step meeting for perfectionists.

“I’m Rita, and I have a compulsive need to do everything perfectly.”

thissortaoldlife rita sanding the front door

If I had such a meeting, I’d have a sponsor who would have helped me see that painting the front door as I’ve chosen to paint it is my version of crack.

This (sorta) Old Life: Front door window

And she would have talked me down, told me to find a new playground and new playthings. She’d have encouraged me to walk away from the Frog Tape.

This (sorta) Old Life: Frog Tape detail

It would have been so simple to paint it all one color, the way it was before we began our house painting project.

This (sorta) Old Life: front door before painting

But no.

No: I had to get all…something…with it. We don’t have much trim or architectural detail on our house (the beauty/curse of the split-level), so I figured it would be OK to get a little fancy with the door.

Just 3 colors: the dark brown of the house trim, a neutral gray, and our bronzey-gold door color.

I mean, I had a major breakthrough when it came to that door color. Originally, it was going to be Glidden’s Golden Bronze.

This (sorta) Old Life: Golden Bronze on front door

But then one night Cane and I were at Home Depot (where we have gone probably 3 days of every 5 this summer) picking up something and remembered that we needed the paint for the door. I didn’t have my chip and couldn’t remember the exact color, but I was sure I could find it.

“It’s got ‘bronze’ in the name,” I said. “I’m sure it will come right up in the color finder.”

It didn’t–because I was using the Behr color finder. Because I’d forgotten that the color we chose comes from Glidden.

“Well, it’s got to be in these rows,” Cane said, waving his hand at a goldish section of the Behr paint chips.

So when I plucked “Burnished Bronze” from said section of chips, I was sure it was the one we’d chosen.

This (sorta) Old Life: Behr paint samples

I’m not sure if that gray is the gray we actually used; I’ve lost my paint chip and the name isn’t on the can.

I didn’t realize until I’d painted two coats (and put the door back on its hinges for the night) that it was not, in fact, the orangey-bronze we’d originally picked.

This (sorta) Old Life: Burnished Bronze on front door

“Oh well,” I said to Cane, “I kinda like this color, and we’ve got a whole quart of it. Let’s just go with it.” He agreed.

And that, my friends, was a red-letter day in my recovery from perfectionism.

But now, well, I’ve had a major slip.

I’m not quite sure where it all started to go south. Before I started painting the door trim, I was pretty sure I could do all those edges free-hand. That’s how I regularly do edges when I’m painting walls. I find it’s no more time-consuming than taping everything off, and I usually get a cleaner edge.

thissortaoldlife living room and library

Last spring we wrote about painting our living room. (Clicking on the image will take you to the post.) I didn’t use any painter’s tape with this project.

But when I tried an initial run at it, I found I couldn’t. The lines just weren’t clean enough or straight enough.

This (sorta) Old Life: Sloppy paint trim

After my first try at painting the edges free-hand. Too sloppy for me.

I thought maybe if I took the door off and painted it from a different angle I could make it work.


And when I took it off, I noticed how crappy the paint looked on the door itself. There were ridges. Everywhere. Despite my use of Floetrol, which had seemed so great when I first used it.

This (sorta) Old Life: front door paint detail

See that speckly texture in the corner? Drives me crazy.

There were places where the light hitting imperfections almost blinded me. (OK, not really. But it really bugged me.)

I’d thought I was done with Golden Bronze, but clearly it couldn’t stay that way. I brought out the sander and sand paper. Again.

This (sorta) Old Life: sand paper

“What are you doing?” Cane asked. “No one else would notice any of that.”

I pretended I couldn’t hear him over the noise of the sander.

It took another (sweaty, dirty, backache-inducing) day to repaint the main part of the door. Getting that Burnished Bronze as smooth as I could.

This (sorta) Old Life: Smooth front door

Here’s the door after I sanded down the original paint job and repainted.

It wasn’t quite perfect, but it was much better than my first run at it. Too bad it  just made problems with the trim stand out all the more.

I’d already put two coats on the trim pieces that frame the door, but the ridges showing through were just awful. I got the sander out again.

This (sorta) Old Life: Ridges in front door trim

“Really?” Cane asked.

“I have to. I can’t stand it the way it is.”

I was so much happier with the front door after re-sanding, I wanted to do it with the trim. After re-sanding, I needed to do all the taping on the brown edges.

This (sorta) Old Life: Taping front door

Mid-taping the curvy window. I used small pieces of tape to make sure that I was getting a clean edge on that curve.

I’m not sure how long the taping took. Let’s just say:  A damn long time. Long enough for me to realize I’d slipped over some edge.

This door project has been feeling like a monkey on my back for a good 2 weeks. I haven’t let myself work on any other projects, because it’s got to get done before we go back to work (a deadline set by me).

This (sorta) Old Life: front door paint supplies

But I’ve come to hate it so much that I just procrastinate to avoid it. It hasn’t been productive procrastination–in which I tackle something else to get a break–but the yucky kind that leaves me feeling apathetic and grumpy (and usually involves the internet).

So, when my trim pieces looked almost as ridgey after re-sanding and re-painting them as they did before, part of me felt like crying.

This (sorta) Old Life: trim piece of front door

I moaned a bit to Cane, who was not at all sympathetic.

“I’m sure people are going to say, ‘Did you see that house with gold door? Can you believe the ridges and brush strokes on the trim?'”

It wasn’t exactly kind, but sometimes we need to hear it straight. My bubble was broken.

It’s a door. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It can’t be perfect. I’d forgotten our mantra:

Good enough is good enough.

Thankfully, every day is a new chance to do things right. I’m just about done with the brown, and then it’s on to the gray.

I’m still hopeful I will have it done before school starts–and a few other things I’ve been itching to get to. I’m grateful to our blogging friend Karah, who reminded me this week that breaking up a long big project with smaller, easier projects is a sanity saver.


Here’s some irony for ya: In my quest to make this the perfect blog post–which means getting the paint names exactly right–I discovered that I used the wrong paint color for the door trim project. The house trim is Sweet Molasses, but I’ve painted all the brown on and around the door in Espresso Bean, the paint I used on my temporarily abandoned chair project.

This (sorta) Old Life: wrong trim color

That’s Sweet Molasses in the trim piece at the left of the image, and Espresso Bean on the center trim piece. Ridges AND the wrong color.

As my Grandma would say, “Fudge!”

I’m just glad I hadn’t torn the tape off yet.

This (sorta) Old Life: Paint can samples

We’ve got so many projects going on simultaneously, we’re having a hard time keeping everything straight.

Your comments are always welcome. Any of you recovering perfectionists? How do you keep yourself from going there?