Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Home is where the hearth is.

Yeah we didn't build a hearth, but it's the only fireplace pun I could think of.

Christmas time is fast approaching, and this is our first Christmas as a family with a fireplace. But you know what we were missing? A mantel to hang our stockings on! It's one of the only things you can't buy at Target so like any red blooded DIY family, we decided to build one.

In keeping with the mid-century style of our house, we didn't want anything ornate. Just a clean, simple mantel. We took some measurements and photos, and I put them in SketchUp so we could play with heights and sizes. I decided to actually "build" it so that we could use the model to get lumber measurements.

You're right, the actual hearth IS sloping and we need to jack it up.  Stop being so judgy.

So on a Saturday morning, my trusty project manager and I headed to my parents' house to use dad's table saw. I wanted to build a frame that we'd attach to the brick, and then a sleeve of  nicer wood to slide over top. That meant we had to build the 2x4 frame first in order to get proper measurements for the sleeve.

Frame - done.

This part was super easy and then all we had to do was measure and cut for the sleeve - which due to my project manager's nap schedule, would have to be constructed back at home.

Since drilling into masonry would probably wake him up, Sarah and I used nap time to put the sleeve together. Using the slightly more expensive wood was definitely worth it. Once everyone was awake, it was time to attach the frame to the hearth. This required another set of hands, so we called on our good friend and extra muscle, Kenneth (last seen ripping out the old desk in the den). With a long masonry bit, some masonry anchors, and brute force - that thing was up in no time. And thanks to careful measuring, the sleeve slid right on. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Cover Girl.

Took the face off of the frame so that I could drill into the masonry.

They're beautiful. They're brilliant. And they work for Charlie Sarah.

The next morning, Sarah painted the sleeve while that lazy project manager napped and I raked leaves. After a few coats, it was ready to be put permanently in place. Slide on, screw down. Puddy holes. Merry Christmas (and all before Thanksgiving).

Ho-Ho-Hope you don't notice the puddy sitting on top!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Doors

Today we're sharing TWO different projects we've just wrapped up.  But before you get too excited, let's remember that we are the worst photographers in the world (we use our iPhones to capture the images and even then, we don't take special precaution for what the lighting is like, if we're in focus, if we've had one too many spiked apple ciders...).  Now that we've got that disclaimer out of the way, let's go be underwhelmed together.

First, the front door.

Picture from listing.

We've shared some of the lighting upgrades we made to jazz up our curb appeal, pretty much right after we moved in.  We swapped out the numbers on the house (look closely - the original numbers are to the right of the windows... and above the front door... and then a third time on a post by the curb) and changed the mailbox.  But one thing we hadn't discussed was the front door.  Oh sweet baby Jesus the front door.

Another picture from the listing and the only one I could find that showed the color, not blocked by the storm door.

I think we can all agree that the front door is the window to the home.  You can quote me on that.  What I mean, is that it sets the tone for the rest of the house.  And the tone we were setting was being communicated in a very Gilbert Gottfried type voice.  This picture doesn't even do it justice.  It was so loud and obnoxious.  I like a bold, happy green.  This was not that green.

So all along, we'd had plans to repaint it.  Moreover, there was no deadbolt, which we felt was semi-important from a security standpoint since the brass handle lockset (which was installed backwards) only latched if you slammed the door.  Super fun closing that guy when the baby was sleeping.

With new hardware on order, we debated what color to paint it.  The siding on the house is grey and cream and so we were playing with a weird balance of warm and cool.  Truth be known, we don't love the cream siding but that's a project we may never tackle.  As Nick was installing the new hardware one Sunday afternoon, I started peeling the paint with my fingernail.  (Quality job, you can imagine).  It started to peel off in sheets as I imagine it hadn't been primed before it was painted.  This revealed a cream paint behind the green.  And if we're all reading carefully, I just told you the cream was not our jam.  

The back side of the door was left the natural wood so I started to think...what if we just strip the paint and have a natural wood door?  

Using the extremely caustic paint stripper (that we also used to strip our guest room dresser a while back) we started to strip it.

It took quite a bit of arm power as the cream paint had (in my estimation) been original to the house, built in 1962.  But with a few coats, some scraping and then a strong sanding, we got her naked.  

Then it was a matter of staining and sealing (same color as the rest of the wood in the house).

First coat.

After first coat...showing some imperfections in the wood.
 Three coats later, she was done.  And we also removed the storm door.  With all the glass in the transom and the side light, we didn't feel the storm door added enough value to block the door.  And we're much happier with the look.

New hardware helps, too.

I like my afters before my befores.  Because I'm a rebel.

It obviously does not look like a professionally stained door.  Or a new door, for that matter.  Heck, we may even decide to paint it one day.  But with the cost of the stripper and stain, it was much cheaper than getting a new door and we're happy enough with it in the interim. 


Now onto my favorite of the two door projects...barn doors for our master closet.  One of my favorite bloggers had written this tutorial to build a light weight, inexpensive barn door.  When we bought the place, our closet had no doors, so we've been looking in on it for over 6 months.  And as much as I like looking upon my shoe spoils, I was ready to hide that junk.  

The tutorial had to be adapted to accommodate two skinny doors versus one large door as we didn't have the room for just one large panel to stack back.  

We hadn't actually done anything in our master bedroom yet (except find a vintage bedroom set with dressers from a store in Mebane) so I was looking for inspiration.  After perusing my new favorite fabric store, I found this beauty.

Nick needed some convincing as he wasn't sure if it was too girly, but I assured him, everything else in the room would eventually butch it up.  So I snatched up 2-1/2 yards (I was able to work it so I could cut the 54" wide fabric in half to cover each door) and off we went to get the lumber. 

Since her tutorial is pretty in depth, I'll be finishing this story pictographically.   Because, who didn't prefer picture books to word books when they were younger?

Plan, plan, plan!

Cut, screw and repeat.

Find yourself an adorable project manager.  This one loves kitties, pesto and long walks up (and down) the hallway.

Wrap it like a canvas.

Staple like a boss.

 (Process pictures were strangely not taken here as I guess we'd had one too many spiked ciders but we chose to paint our outer frame with the white trim paint that we've got throughout the house.  This was then added to the outside of the panels to give us the below product.)

Whatchy'all know about some crazy wood panelling in the dining room?

They see me rollin'...
And then we put up the pipe and flanges on the wall (this took 4 people...two to hold, one to screw and one to distract our project manager from eating said screws).

And voila.

See how they have to stack back on either side versus one large panel?

One door closed.
So I'm really loving the doors.  I like that nobody else in the world has these exact doors and I can finally start pulling the rest of the room together.

We just bought a new pendant light and will be painting soon.  I'm surprised I put this off for as long as we did, but when you spend most of your time with your eyes closed in a room, it's easy for it to fall down the list.  But with these a-door-able barn doors, we're heading in the right direction.

(Who doesn't love to mic drop with a good pun?)

Monday, November 10, 2014

An Exercise in Futility.

So I got my fifth StitchFix in the mail earlier today.  I knew it was on the way (aka I'd been tracking the shipment on my phone like a maniac) and debated in my mind whether or not I'd write a post about it.  It's a lot of work, ya know?  Trying on the clothes, taking pictures, downing a half bag of Oreos, writing captions and opinions, trying to figure out how Nick's FREAKING Mac works, researching hilarious GIFs that are relevant to my thought process, all whilst trying to be mildly entertaining...

But I love gettin' my Fix on.  And I want the whole world (ahem, six of you) to know it.

A few good friends suggested I keep it short.  HA.  Maybe they aren't that good of friends because brevity is a skill I've yet to master.  Worth a shot though, right?

Oh, and as I've alluded to in the past, the "taking pictures of yourself wearing clothes" part is very awkward for me, so my strategy this go round is to photoshop pictures of gals I've been told I resemble on to my body.  (Full disclosure: Nick is amazing at graphics.  He does it as part of his job.  But I didn't want to ask him to do this for me so I'm totally handling this on my own.  Brace yourself for some pretty horrible mutations.)

My girl Blake styled me again and in her note mentioned a few things that she sent would pair well with the Kenzie jeans I got in my last fix.  (By the way y'all, I wear those jeans like...errrrrry day.  I lurve them.)  I scheduled this Fix a while back thinking I could use a punch of fun as fall rolled around.  Little did I know that I'd be knee deep in home renovation stuff (a post coming later this week about that!) so our expendable cash, like always, was slim.  So most of my decisions are monetary but that won't stop me from spilling my unfiltered thoughts all over your screen.

Pomelo Avah Chevron Print Dolman Sleeve Top as modeled by Nancy Kerrigan

While I very much like the shape and fit of this top, when I looked in the mirror, this is what I saw:

Last I checked, Easter Egg Sexy wasn't a style trend.  If you're interested in starting a new movement, let me know.  I might reconsider.

Fate: Livy Zipper Pocket Open Drape Blazer as modeled by Jessica Biel

I loved this blazer.  I don't really love coats (I know that's a weird thing to say, but it's true) and this one was really amazing.  It was versatile and different.

I would have bought it in a heart beat but the sleeves were too tight.  This is one of the rare occasions that something has not fit me well.  Usually they're pretty good about finding the right sizes for you but they can't all be winners.  If I wasn't quickly losing feeling in my fingers when I bent my elbows, it would have wound up in my closet.

Market and Square Earl Lace Detail Knit Top as modeled by Megan Draper

Ok, things are starting to get weird here but go with it.

Can you believe I've never had any photoshop training?

Imagine the softest thing you've ever touched.  A baby rabbit.  A cloud.  Pudding skin.  Now listen to me when I tell you, this shirt is softer than all of those things.  And with some lace detail to boot?  GIRL YOU CRAY.

Here's where the penny pincher in me ruled the day.  This shirt, while something I would probably wear a lot, was $54.  And something about a heather gray shirt that cost more than my gas bill last month rubbed me the wrong way.  So while the style and fit were spot on, the trifecta was broken when it came to dolla bills.  Womp womp.

Kut from the Kloth Danny 5-Pocket Knit Pant as modeled by me as I have yet to have anyone tell me my butt resembles a celebrity.  Yet.

Stretchy, colorful and fits well.  How's that for concise?  GIVE HER AN AWARD, PEOPLE!

Pixley Josie Sequin Elbow Patch Cardigan as modeled by Liv Tyler

Probably a more accurate color rendition.
 Oh, a plain ol' grey cardigan?  Yawn.  But wait!

SEQUINS!  Y'all, I squealed when I opened the box and saw this.  Everyone knows my favorite color is sparkle.  I'm totally that girl who wore tutus and sequins and sparkles all over everything when I was younger and the adult version of me would lie, murder and steal to find an appropriate way to incorporate it into my current wardrobe.


So that's the abbreviated story of my fifth fix.  If you missed my first four...well, just go back and search for them.  Consider it your workout for the day.  

And if you're interested in a Fix of your own, click here to get started. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, too.  I may answer them in a funny accent or Pig Latin, but that's just because I'm hopped up on Oreos.  Turns out doing all those weird celebrity head graphics called for a whole bag.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome to the Wolves Den

After we totally teased you with a partial tour of the house, we kinda fell off the map.  So sue us.  Nobody pays us to do this blog.  (YET.  Beyonce, I'm looking at you.)

But we have good reasons.  Besides being chronically sleep deprived, we have been doing some pretty epic work/home juggling with my sweet mama out recovering from surgery.  And in the midst of it all...we were doing a den renovation.

So here's what's going to happen.  We're going to do this mostly with pictures.  We'll sprinkle in some context here and there but honestly, everyone just wants to see the goods.

The room we're dishing about is on the backside of our carport.

The house was built in 1962 but this den addition was done sometime in the 1970s.  The seller (who grew up in the house) told us they used it as a rec room.  It had a ping pong table in it for years.

I imagine their friends used to sit on the built ins by the window and yell "far out!" and "groovy!" after a good play.

Orange. Wood paneling. Bronze blinds. Old built-in desk that was de-laminating from old gas heater. Weird light fixture that may have been pieced together from an old wooden ship from the Civil War era.  A popcorn ceiling (the only one in the house) that Nick's dad got rid of for us.

And back when we mentioned an interior window we removed from Carter's room, you saw a glimpse of the den.  

Carter's side of the wall got prettied up fast but we had a big white blob on our dreamsicle orange wall for nearly 6 months.  No, it didn't give me panic attacks.  Why do you ask? 

We spent a few months saving up and then selling virtually everything that was in the den.  It had become the catchall for the random furniture that we didn't have a place for in the house.  So I made a list, gave it to Craig, and bank rolled that ish to help fund the reno.

We borrowed our friend's truck and made a massive Ikea trip. The ensuing 3 hour drive home was fairly stressful since we had our hazard lights on the entire ride on I-40.  The next morning, we put our enormous couch together.

Baby shown for scale. 

And then we put a call out to our Community Group to help us with the heavy labor.  Have we no shame?

The gas heater came out, as well as the upper corner of wood paneling.  We used what was taken down and replaced the panel where the heater was.  (If you're wondering why we didn't remove all of the paneling, there was no gyp board behind the panel and it would have been a severe undertaking to prep the room.  Uh, no thanks.)

Existing froo-froo chair railing came down.  (The profile was too ornate in our opinion, so we decided we'd put back something simpler.)

The original built in that smelled like an old man passing gas through an onion was the next to go.

As our dear friend Kenneth put it, "what they lacked in craftsmanship, they made up for in nails."

One cool find from the demo was some of these old game cards.  I'll be framing those and hanging them at some point.


The carpet under the built in needed to be patched, as did the area under the storage bench at the windows.  Luckily, we saved the carpet we ripped up in other areas when we refinished the wood floors and we patched those areas.

To deal with the high gloss sheen on the panelling, we had to sand it with a palm sander.  So everything got protected and our gal Lindsey went to town.

And then we added back some "moulding" @ the transition.  It was basically a 1x3 topped with a 1x2.   Elementary, my dear Watson. 

We installed some of our new Ikea cabinets and counter (since we loved the IDEA of a built in desk area but not the current implementation).  No pictures of that as Nick and I tackled most of that together late at night and documenting that process was low on the priority list.

Then came time to get our friends super high.

Once the panelling was sanded, it needed to be primed to give it that extra tooth to ensure the latex paint would stay put.  So we bought an oil based primer and invited our CG over again for some fumey fun.

Also primed the windows and all the trim.  That was arguably the most time consuming.

Once the priming was done, we were actually ready to finish the room.  We installed hardware on the cabinets.  We painted the new chair rail, all the primed trim and window work a fresh white.  We painted the walls.

I got progressively more calm as the orange bit the dust.

We installed new vinyl floor by the back entry.  I bought pillows and new custom cut white blinds.  We replaced the Ikea couch legs with some baller new ones from Etsy that instantly made the couch feel more expensive.  I reupholstered the ottoman with fabric from Premier Fabrics.  We added some steel hairpin legs to the new media unit that houses our cable, modem, DVDs, etc.  

Cat photobomb coming atcha.

Nick used some of the wood from the built in to make wood caps for the couch to put martinis, bellinis and Diet Cokes.  (We are fancy on a regular basis.)

And then hung some of my Raleigh art and family photos.  And voila.  We were "done."


Wait for it...

Want to see it?

We felt this was important to see before we revealed.

Let's remember the before.

And see the after.

Mucho mejor, amigos.  And now, since I promised not to be wordy and I've typed upwards of 500 words, I'll let the pics do the rest of the yappin'.

Banner is not a permanent fixture...it's just leftover from C's birthday party this past weekend.

Remember before?
Cat door added to the left cabinet so they can do their...business in peace.

Butcherblock counter.

Carter's zone.

As per usual, this room still has some work.  I'm going to hang some curtains.  We're going to do some hand drawn wallpaper on the long TV wall above the chair rail.  We'll put some organization in the desk cabinetry to house crafts, files, sewing machine, etc.

But if we don't stop at some point and call a room "done," we don't get to ride the high of completing a space.  So for now...it's done.  We're pleased with the transformation.  I considered saying "pleased as punch" but I'm not familiar with the metrics of punch.  It's quite possible our pleased state actually exceeds punch.  I don't know, I'll do some Googling and get back to you.