winter is just not a great season for anything but binge watching TV (is everyone else watching The Great British Baking Show???) but we’re still trying to get a few things done around here and mostly its been little things. the kitchen has been a major recipient. we have added a chalkboard wall, a shelf above the radiator for cookbooks (and a christmas cactus that is looking a little sad actually), we wallpapered a wall of the pantry and spiffed up a vintage clock from my grandmother’s house. our kitchen is is our main target the next time a big power ball jackpot rolls around but in the meantime these changes have livened up the place a bit.
my dad came back around again in january to replace some more lights and switches for us. this time we placed the pendants in two of the closets, these were the original fixtures and my dad was super worried about them being a fire risk. they are not the sexiest new lights in our house but they function and my dad will sleep better at night. the pantry also got a new light that’s got a lot more visual interest. we ran out of time for a slightly odd desire i have, an outlet in the pantry. why an outlet in the pantry? because that is where i want to keep our new microwave. we intentionally picked out the smallest one on the market but i still think it takes up too much real estate on the counter. much to my happiness dad says this outlet is possible so hopefully we’ll tackle it in the spring.
other little bits and bobs- we added some support to the lovely marble shelf that nick’s mom gifted us with in the bathroom (it’s really classed up the joint). we’ve been on a bit organizing tear some many new little boxes have been purchased. and nick has taken on radiators as his new passion project. it began with us wanting to give a fresh coat of paint to the radiator in the nook and that result made the rest of the radiators look shabby and so it goes. he did one more in the dining room but i have vetoed the painting of anymore until it is warm enough to keep the windows open. in fact until we can keep the windows open we are going to try to continue lots and lots more little things!
we’re happily winding down the renovation of our breakfast nook and we’ll share the finale of that soon-ish. in the mean time i thought i would share our journey in figuring out what the hell to do with the back of our banquettes. when we moved in the banquettes were backed with a plastic-y material that was glued to the walls and was meant to simulate embossed wood. we knew that any makeover we endeavored in the nook would include replacing that crap with something awesome, but what? the first thought was wainscoting and then we thought we would try and find some real embossed wood (we failed) and then we came back to wainscoting. then we thought about upholstery but scrapped that knowing we wanted to do some bold wallpaper in that room (we may still do cushions for the benches). then we came back to wainscoting again and then it finally occurred to us while standing inside of lowes that we could use the paneling stock to create a patterned panels instead of just vertical.
we initially thought we would do a herringbone pattern but once we laid it out on the floor we realized that the tongue and groove of the individual slats would prevent the pattern from lining up perfectly. so we adjusted things slightly and realized that we could avoid that issue if we went with a chevron pattern instead. with the help of a trusty chop saw we got to work cutting down all of the panels and then figuring out to actually attach them to the sheets of plywood. the question was how to clamp down all of the pieces and how to do it without shifting the pattern?
the answer was painters tape and weights (and a paint can or two) it went basically like this: get an entire row of panels line up, tape them in place, flip the section over and apply the wood glue to the back, shift the section into place and then use hand weights, weight plates, or whatever you can get your hands on to evenly weigh things down. and then repeat, repeat, repeat. all of this moved along quickly enough with only one real hiccup. there turned out to be a roque package of wood that had a different sheen to it which of course i did not notice until it had been glued down and i had take a crow bar to the thing to fix it.
when all the cutting and gluing was done nick took over the project and began staining the finished panels and then polyurethaned them. i intentionally made the finished panels bigger than necessary so that once the benches are put back into place we can measure and cut them down to a custom fit. we are really pleased with how they have turned out so far and we are chomping at the bit to get the nook done to see the final product. in our heads this all going to come together beautifully, we shall see!
happy new year everyone! i started working on this post many weeks ago but the holiday craziness kept it on the back burner all this time. i look forward to writing more regular posts now that we’re here in the new year. so anyway, when my dad was finally done volunteering with young theater enthusiasts for the fall season he was free to go back to volunteering for us. we took full advantage of his freed up schedule and attacked the pile of light fixtures we had amassed. the to do list for this visit included new lights for the front porch, the breakfast nook, and three in the hallways as well as a new door bell and a timer for the porch light. we started with the porch light which we were so excited to finally see in action. we had a really hard time finding the one that felt just right but one day we were at salvage arts (inside community forklift) looked up and there it was.
the light was slightly over budget but we knew that it was the perfect choice and that nothing else would live up to this antique fixture. we were so so happy at the prospect of having a functional porch light again (the crapola one that came with house was broken) but we also though it would be nice to have it on a timer so when we got home at night it was already on for us. not even my dad was not sure if such a timer existed but we found one at home depot that fits right into the switch plate. (side note- this did become a bit of a debacle. there are two different models of the same brand of indoor timers at home depot. it appears on the box that the only difference between the two is that the more expensive one has a back-lit display. well it turns out that the cheaper model which we bought only works with incandescent and the more expensive one powers CFLs and LEDs. so when it did not work initially it was quite frustrating. i couldn’t figure out what the problem was until i read through the comments on the home depot product page. once we put in an incandescent bulb into the fixture it worked perfectly.)
we moved onto the doorbell next (another item that had not been working since since we moved in) we thought that we needed a new button and bell but we replaced the button and much to our surprise the original door bell to the house still worked! it needed some special spray to lubricate electrical devices to get it working properly but now the tone is lovely. we are so happy to be able to preserve this original feature to the house (i need to fabricate a new brass cover for it though, the original is no longer).
and then it was on to the new light fixture for the breakfast nook (an update on that project is coming soon!) we found this one at CB2 and it had been sitting there in the box waiting for this day for a while. this guy was easier to assemble than we thought and the installation was pretty easy breezy too. since installing the light it has gotten real dusty due to the all the work in that room. i am looking forward to getting it back to how it looked that day once we are done in there. the best part is there now one less brass chandelier in our house. progress!
all that was left then was the three new pendant lights from ikea. they were pretty tricky to photograph after they were installed so i also included a product image for these guys. when we moved in there was nothing but ugly glass/brass flush mount fixtures that were very blah. these pendant lights are likely closer to the original look of the house and do our high ceilings great justice. and that’s, that for this post. my dad is due back in a week to help us out with even more lights! lucky guy!
i first began this post weeks ago. thanksgiving has finally giving me a break long enough from the jewelry bench to get back to it, so happy thanksgiving! and we have begun the renovation of our breakfast nook. nick’s parents came down a month ago to help us get things started and generally turn the house into a dust monster. within minutes of his arrival jim had begun taking apart the built-ins so that they could be refinished.
one friend saw a picture on facebook and was a little concerned that maybe we were just getting rid of the original built-ins, trust me we aren’t those type of people. they are safely in pieces in our basement awaiting one more round of sanding along with our baseboards. removing the benches meant we could also finally remove the gross old plastic backing behind them. i think it was originally meant to give the appearance of embossed wood but, well, i doubt it ever looked that great. we whipped out the scrapers and discovered that our plans to wallpaper the room are not the first! we found a strip of old floral wallpaper that was probably very pretty when it was new.
once everything was removed the rest was sanded down to smooth out the walls. and speaking of the walls, they got pretty ripped up when the benches were removed and we discovered a damaged section under the table so we needed to some major repair work there. the new areas still need a bit more sanding but overall that task is finished. once complete we will prime the walls with a wallpaper primer. i am working away on new panels for the backs of the benches (post coming soon on that) and my dad installed a new light fixture in the nook (another forth coming post) so our to-do list is dwindling down. the majors items left are the installation of the beautiful new wallpaper and the built-ins and the baseboards. once they are in place they will need to be stained and poly-ed. we are very anxious to get this room finished (and hopefully before the end of the year) we miss our nook and look forward to enjoying the new and improved room!
Oh man do i wish we were heading into spring instead of winter right now but at least the front of our yard is. a few weekends ago we started on the next faze of turning what was a weedy wasteland and some poorly planned beds into a perennial garden. just as a refresher, when we moved in the front of our house “featured” two bricked in beds that were set in concrete and partly filled with bearded irises (great!) a half empty area (blah) and an ugly bush with a case of bagworms (gross!). soon after we moved in the bush was dug out and the now two empty spots were filled with annuals just to make it look a little less sad.
but now that the annuals were done for it was time to start digging and planning. we ordered a whole mess of bulbs (blues allium, white fringed tulips, and pink daffodils) and a few roots (pink peony, and oriental poppies) and got started. first i began digging up the irises which had become way too over crowded in the current beds and saved some of them to replant. then nick got the pleasure of pulling out the brick and concrete border which was as heavy and awkward to remove as it sounds. after that was done nick got to move on to the always thrilling task of using a tiller to break up all the weeds and soil that was left behind. then we raked and spread some topsoil to even things out.
we ran of daylight (and energy) so i had to wait a couple of days before I could get to work replanting the irises and planting the new bulbs . man, i did not realize that planting 75 bulbs at once would be so taxing. but we’re glad to have made some more progress in this area and can’t wait to get this coming winter over with so we can enjoy all of the new flowers. we still have a ways to go before this part of the landscaping becomes the wild yet elegant flower garden in our minds but here’s to baby steps!
do not trust those little wheels on the front. they are not there for anything more than moving a piano around a room and are not suitable for moving over uneven terrain. this is what nick, his dad, and i learned while moving an upright piano out of his grandfather’s house and into a truck to be moved to our house when the left leg broke off. oh, and pianos are really heavy.
nick’s dad felt confident that we could fix the leg once we got the piano to DC and sent us home with some bar clamps to help with the mending. but before we could begin that process we still had to get the damn thing up our front steps. did i mention that pianos are really heavy. nick lined up the truck so that the uhaul ramp would at least clear the first few steps, we recruited a few strapping friends (thank you greg and michael) and then just had to pull thing up step by step (i pushed from the front, i’m not sure if that did anything but at least i got to feel like i was helping). side note- the next time this piano moves it will be by a professional.
the next day we got to work on the repair. thankfully the worst part of the break faces the back of the piano but that also made it tricky to to figure out how to get the leg properly in place quickly once the epoxy was applied. we practiced a few times because the process required nick to lift that corner of the piano up while i put the leg in place and used a rubber mallet to position it properly. once we had it a figured out we taped around the exposed areas incase any epoxy leaked out and we got the clamps ready to be put in place. we used a 6 minute epoxy and the whole operation went very smoothly. we left the clamps on over night and viola!
the piano needs to be tuned and nick is a little rusty but it is already filling our home with music.
it all started so innocently, we just wanted a small chest or such to put in our bathroom to provide us some much needed storage. then i suggested that maybe we should just get rid of the dumb pedestal sink and replace it with a sink cabinet to achieve more storage and then that means a new faucet and it would really be silly to stop there and not replace the sconces… and so our bathroom got a makeover. but first a quick refresher on what we started with, a functional bathroom that we would love to gut someday.
the first thing we needed to do was repaint the trim. in all honestly i didn’t really hate the original color all that much, it just wasn’t doing the floor any favors. we needed a color that would help the floor blend better with the rest of the bathroom so we brought home a bunch of samples to figure out which stone like color would work best. Ultimately we choose Ralph Lauren’s Elgin Gray and it has worked wonders. i now find the floor tolerable. next up was replacing the the sconces. the originals are by a company called porcelier and will likely be coming to Craigslist soon. the new sconces are from West Elm. the installation went pretty smoothly with my dad’s advice to “try not to disturb the wires too much”. i’m not sure how much is too much but no one was shocked so i am calling it a success.
then it was time for the centerpiece of the project, the new sink cabinet and faucet. we ordered the sink from Wayfair and the faucet from Home Depot. removing the old pedestal sink was pretty easy (once we borrowed a bigger wrench from our neighbor) but putting in the new sink required some tinkering. first the back of the cabinet did not clear the pipe so we had to cut a notch in the bottom. then the faucet did not have enough room to screw in properly so we had to cut a section out in the back to accommodate it. with our custom cabinet now complete we then realized that the pipe from the sink did not line up with the one from the wall so we had to get a flexible pipe thingy to connect the two.
we have not yet caulked around the sink yet because unfortunately we now have to repaint the walls. (when we pulled off the tape from around the trim it pulled off of some sections of the cheap ass paint on the walls). this way we can take out sink cabinet briefly to paint behind it when we are ready. other little touches included and towel ring from Ikea and new knob for the medicine cabinet from Anthropologie and a shelf from the Container Store. all of these changes have added up to what feels like a completely different bathroom (and for less than $500) we’ll update the after shots once we repaint the walls.
what’s coming next? thoughts on repairing piano legs! (i’m not kidding)
sumer is coming to a close (the solstice is on saturday) and the more hectic pace of fall is settling in here for Nick and myself. we are trying to keep a steady flow of progress going on in the house though while our work schedules become more demanding. notably we are making some excellent progress on our september project, the bathroom. we are not ready to reveal the dets on that just yet but we thought we would update you on some progress elsewhere.
the main goal we had for the end of summer was to finish painting the dining room and to remove the carpet in that room by the end of august. we happily accomplished that goal and are so thrilled that our house is officially rid purple carpet. also the floors look pretty great! sure they could use a little work (we’re going to try buffing first) but they really are in good condition as is.
for another month or so the dining room will be empty (i have been joking that it is our ballroom) and we still have some additional furnishings coming for the living room too but its pretty amazing the difference that paint and carpet removal have made in the front half of the house. so that’s all for now. we are looking forward to when the bathroom is ready to share and soon, we swear!
it all seemed so simple. we thought we would just remove the crappy added on trim running through the middle of the wall, slap on a fresh coat of paint, rip up the carpets and presto- the hallway is done! we were wrong. first we realized that the top half of our 10ft tall hallway had been wallpapered, and then painted over (grrr!) but fine at least it is not the whole length of the wall. then there was the areas that we discovered that had some sort of plastic-y covering which has left sections that will need sanding to remove the residual adhesive and smooth out. but then we found out that there are parts of the walls with large cracks that had been patched OVER the wallpaper and then painted. i mean you expect to find cracks in an old house but patching over the wallpaper, such a dick move! the rest of the project seemed pretty straight forward though, it required us to scrape off the painted paper layer and then steam off the backing. that part really isn’t that terrible once you get a rhythm going but it does create a huge mess and as i learned the hard way during the first go round you need to protect your eyes, your hair, and your cleavage (if choosing to remove wallpaper while wearing a sundress). see outfit photo.
but then the wallpaper steamer we got from Nick’s mom died and it was like a month until we got the time to rent one from the home depot for what we thought would be for that one time and it was on that fateful day that we realized that ceiling is also wallpapered. like i said, hallway from hell. so that folks is where we stand, the hallway still has green carpet, the walls are still unpainted and filled with cracks, and the ceiling is still wallpapered. we will get there eventually (hopefully before the end of 2014). on the upside i think that i have decided on wall color for the fateful day that we can finally paint the dang hallway. i look forward to having that update for everyone.
if there was ever a bete noire in our house it is the “fireplace” and we are not quite sure what we will do with it. you see there is not a chimney so no crackling wood fires for us and that gas radiator thing (original to our 1920’s house) is no longer safe to use. there is a gas line but we are not exactly sold on the look of the ventless gas logs. maybe we will remove the whole thing and gain the wall space… you see we have some to decisions to make. we will likely not reach a conclusion soon but while we think it through the one thing that we know is that we HATE the look of the wood grain of the mantle. its an odd looking grain and clashes with the many other wood grains in the room and we have no shortage of unpainted wood in our house (also the mantle piece is not original to the house so i don’t want to hear any crap about painting it!!)
so it was sanded, and primed, and sanded, and primed, and sanded, and then two coats of semi-gloss paint. we choose Behr’s Clear Moon for the color and we are really, really happy with how the whole thing turned out. it looks clean and fresh but not at all put of place in our old home.
and if any of you out there have any suggestions for the future of our fireplace that we maybe haven’t thought of feel free to shout them out. maybe they will be the subject of vol.2!