Secret Project Revealed!!

The waiting is over, my friends! The project that began on a snow day was finished on a snow day.

We’ll get to the reveal but first, a little inspiration.

My friend Thalla was poking around a bookstore and stumbled on a book that she knew I’d love.

restoring a house in the city

Restoring a House in the City by Ingrid Abramovitch was immediately purchased from and poured over the day it arrived. It was that day I saw these pictures:



What popped out at me were the bright red glossy radiators.

I’d been struggling with how to paint our bedroom radiators. They looked like this:


Yick. Obviously they were white at some point but desperately needed to be repainted. White? Cream to blend with the curtains? BM’s Quiet Moments to blend with the wall color? Silver?


orange radiator
Pumpkin Orange.

And a quick shout-out to Frank! When I gave hints about our secret project, Frank guessed that we were putting orange covers on our steam radiators. You were SO close. Great guess!

The process for painting the radiator was simple but very time consuming. First, it needed a really good wire brushing.


Rob ended up using several different sized wire brushes. The big one on top & a more medium-sized one for the outer parts and the little narrow ones you see at the bottom of the frame for getting in between the sections.

After the paint was scraped off, we vacuumed and wiped it down with wet rag. When it was all clean, we started painting.


One section at a time. Back & front. Front & back. Front and front again. It took 4 coats of Glidden’s Pumpkin Patch in high gloss enamel. This Old House says you should use oil based paint for painting radiators but a book we own called “We Got Steam Heat!” {highly recommended, btw} says latex or oil based is fine {p. 112}. The temperature of the radiator won’t go about 220 degrees F and that’s well below regular paint’s melting or igniting point.

pumkin orange radiator

I never thought we’d be finished with it. Each coat (front AND back) took 4 hours. FOUR HOURS. {I may have only done the back twice, so don’t look too close at the back.}

orange radiator

And yes I took the painting to the store with me so that I could find the orange that best coordinated. It is the accent color in our bedroom, after all.

Secret shopping

And there you have it!

Not 24 hours after seeing those pictures, a decision was made and the first coat of orange hit the metal. I guess when something feels right, it’s pretty easy to pull the trigger.

orange radiator

So are we crazy for painting our radiator orange? Or does it a wonderfully fun pop of color? Have you painted anything recently a wild or unexpected color?

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26 Responses to Secret Project Revealed!!

  1. Dad "A" says:

    It looks SO GOOD, Carrie! You and Rob did a great job with a very tedious (pain in the a$$) chore. Like Frank, I would have probably opted to just cover them up. Your solution brings so much more color and brightness to the room (and was significantly less expensive I’m sure).

    We’re so proud of you guys and all the hard work you’re putting into this renovation. As soon as my own “project” is complete (conversion of 1/2 garage into a home office) I look forward to spending more weekend days in Newark!

    BTW… Just for giggles… Check out for kitchen counter ideas (when the time comes). Another BIG project, but can really be an eye catching, resilent and beautiful finished project (and if DIY rather through a contractor comes on a lot less $$$ than granite or quartz). I purchased the DIY DVD from the website. I’ll lend it out next time we see you.

  2. caitie says:

    LOVE. it. totally. such a great pop of color. can we see pictures of what it looks like in the room or is that impossible to acheive cause of the angle.

    how did you even manage to reach the back?!

  3. Meg Sewell says:

    Totally love! You did an amazing job and I just love that pop of orange! Oh, so good!! Looks like a professional job. I keep scrolling up to see it again.

    I want to see pictures of your view! It looks awesome!

  4. Kim says:

    I like the orange a lot! Very clever. I would have never thought of it.

  5. Wow, daring! I love the orange, it turns the radiators into something cool. Much better than trying to make them disappear!

  6. Zoe says:

    Nice! I have radiators I’ve been mulling over, too. Wish I could paint them – I think I’m going to have to cover to babyproof. Yours look fabulous!

    • We spoke with some people who grew up with radiators and asked if they were ever burnt. They’re response? “Sure I burnt myself. Guess how many times. … Once.”

      I’d love to see whatever you choose to do though! Good luck!!

  7. Mark Sharp says:

    It looks awesome. Bruce and I scraped 15 coates of paint off of each of our radiators and painted a few of them gold.

  8. livi says:

    LOVE it

  9. Stephanie says:

    I love the orange. I can’t help but wonder, though, what the next owners will think when they walk in and see a bright orange radiator. 🙂

  10. Quinn says:

    It looks great! I love it! To me, those old radiators are art….

  11. Mom Liv says:

    Excellent outcome! and your fave color that you see several times a day!

  12. Jen N. says:

    Love them! I heart color 🙂 And you did such a great job. It does kinda look like art by the way.

  13. Angela says:

    I love what you did with the orange. It looks great! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my blog by the way.

  14. Y’all are so nice! Best readers ever. Thank you!!

  15. Dude, that is amazing! I like it so much!

    Tip for next time – buy wire wheel attachments for your drill – no manual labor needed! They come in all sizes and were a godsend for our front railing redo.

  16. katie says:

    love the orange! i agree with someone above though that requested a picture with more of the room – but the pop of color is great!

    we painted all of the radiators in our house… but we just went with white. and i used high heat spray paint… i couldn’t imagine trying to paint them with a brush! yours probably look a lot better though. we went with white because they were all different (bright) colors to begin with – pink, blue, green, yellow… after all that, i wanted neutral.

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  19. DreamyEyes says:

    Beautiful. The place looks like a magazine spread subject!

  20. lisah says:

    What a great idea! We are totally stealing it for our bedroom radiator.

    I am also wondering how you painted the back.

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  23. Hi Carrie! I came across your project while doing some research for my blog and i LOVE this orange color. And now Ingrid’s book is on my wish list. I linked to your blog – hope that’s ok!

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