Step one: Wipe ALL the walls and ALL surfaces down with TSP. The people that lived here before let their kids be "artistic" all over the walls (including the brick) so we had lots of cleaning to do before the paint could go on. TSP is great stuff, people. You dilute it in water and just go to town. It took off lots of stuff that was very "mysterious" to us.
Step three: Take off all hardward (light fixtures/ switch plates/ vent covers/ etc....) and soak them in TSP.
Step three: Paint ALL the walls with a coat of KILZ. This is also great stuff. It basically "locks" in all the stuff that just won't come off of the walls.....like red crayon :o) Painting the whole house with KILZ took us 3 days (even with all of our helpers). After this I decided that I never wanted to paint again for the rest of my life. Then I realized that I do need color in my life so the painting must go on.
Step four: After letting all the hardware soak for a few days (seriously, it was that bad), wash it off and dry it. Here is where we got frugal: Many of the hardware pieces were pretty bad. Some of the vents had rust on them that we just could not get off. Some of the light fixtures were bronz colored and that did not match my decor. SO out came the cans of spray paint and my dad who is the world's best spray painter. Seriously, folks, the man knows how to spray paint better than the professionals :o)
Here are the light fixture and vent in the front bathroom after their coat of glorious spray paint. The silver goes much better in out house.
And on the right-> is one of the switch plates that use to be gold but is now silver as well.
After everything was clean and pretty we put it all back in or up, whichever it needed :o) I can't even began to tell you the difference just these four steps made in the appearance of our home.
Oh, yeah, we also took down all of the drapes and tossed them. Not only were they outdated they were so full of dust. Major allergy attacks! We put newspaper in the windows until we were able to get replacements. We still have a couple newspapered windows. I think they give the house character ;o)