Wednesday, July 29, 2015


When we last left this area, the baskets were waiting for a bench to cover their contents.  This was four months ago.  That's embarrassing. 


Last week, I finally corrected this issue and made the whole space much more effective.  And obviously the door was painted and casing was installed.

I can't say what took so long because we had this concept for months: a bench wide enough to span the baskets. Finally, using the Ana White book I got for Christmas, I modified bench plants to fit both the baskets and to use as much of the thicker lumber as possible. 

Those thicker pieces are from my grandpa.  I always pick through his barn when I'm visiting and he offered this raw slice of lumber with the cool knots and bumps.  I wanted to use it as a showcase, either as a table or this bench, and it happened that I could squeeze three pieces for the bench.

It wasn't a perfectly straight board, thus the gaps.  Those really bothered me at first, but in the week that we've lived with the bench, I've thought less of it.  That's incredibly unusual - I'm a dweller. The legs are angled.  They're cut at an angle (it's not a mistake), and I think that gives it something a little special.

The bench frame got the same treatment as the towel hooks in the guest room but in a different order because it was originally a huge mistake. I painted the frame thoroughly - primer, two coats of paint.  Obviously I was painting it to last.  Then I sanded with the intention of just hitting the corners and applying a bit of stain in those areas.  I messed up and covered everything in dark walnut stain and really liked the result.  It's the aged look I wanted and didn't know how to achieve.  The top was sanded and a light coat of Ipswich pine stain was applied to the filler boards.  I was trying to match those pieces to the larger board pieces.  I used teak oil on the larger boards which I think protects and enhances the wood without changing its color.  I used the same stuff on the coat rack boards and our pallet doorI opted not to poly because I don't love the shinyness all the time.

I'm really happy with it. That's a weird feeling because I rarely feel like something is completely done, especially when I was solely my responsibility.  Zach was finishing the firepit this day - another post for another day.  It's a good feeling.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Picture This: Week 30, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

July 20, 2015

Perfectly posing Henry.

July 21, 2015

We strung lights last week, but after they lasted a whopping day and a half, we were at a loss as to how to string.  After drinks at Barrio, we saw they used wire (and had the same lights). We went to Lowe's, stumbled through wire accessories, and now have a set of lights looking more professional than I could imagine.

July 22, 2015

Zucchini pasta rolls. I'm most impressed at how fancy they look.

July 23, 2015

Baby twins!

July 24, 1015

It's the year of weddings, which translates into the year of epic baking.  I took this because I was really into Jenny's metal measuring spoons, but I like the way it framed.

July 25, 2015

Without being a priority, our backyard quickly evolved into a paradise.

July 26, 2015
We destroyed "The Destroyer" and have a new top ice cream shop.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Towel hook from scrap lumber.

This is it on the guest room for a while.  It was a short burst to get that room up to hospitable standards, and now the door will be closed both literally and figuratively until I finish some other projects.  I have a nasty habit of just starting a project (like when I took a hammer to the drywall) and flitting to the next project (thus why only an eighth of our kitchen wall does not have tile).  My next plan is to focus. 

All that babble to say nothing about what was done: I built a towel rack. Or set of hooks? And I still haven't painted.

To recap, there were a few key things our guest room was missing to make it even the slightest bit inviting to guests.  We realized this nearly two years into living here. Apologies to all previous guests.  To start, it didn't have bedside tables - or more specifically - lamps.  There was one overhead with the switch by the door, so you had to get out of bed and traverse an unfamiliar room to get in bed. Not super nice.  Secondly, there were no towel racks.  You could shower, but our bathroom only had two bars.  We'd share, obviously, but it's nice to have your own space.  Third (and, okay, I might do this within the year) is the addition of a mirror.  The guest room is in the middle of our house and it'd be nice to be able to sneak a look at yourself before catapulting into the kitchen. This would be doubly nice when we're preparing to go out at night and had more mirrors for makeup.

Now we have a towel hook.
Zach love love loves black piping. It will likely be all over the basement bathroom, which is forcing itself up the remodel list. He thought it would be cheaper than these hooks I had been stalking, and though it was not, he won due to my impatience.  Though I got those hooks on sale for the office.

I based this design on something I thought I saw on Pinterest and haven't found since.  There's a distinct possibility here that it was a dream.  In my first version, there wasn't a frame, just four cuts jutting in different angles.  I had stained it dark walnut, as I do everything, and was done with it.  

Then we went on an anniversary trip to Shendandoah, I again had a vision of my towel hook frame inspiration, and knew it had to be fixed. Seriously, I think I'm hallucinating. I don't remember how long after, but shortly after we got home, I took it apart, made a frame with 45-degree-angle cuts and wood glue and fit my pieces within.  I stared at it for a while, then sanded it.  Stared more, painted it all white.  More staring, then sanded the edges for a distressed look.  Added some stain to said edges.  Messed up while adding stain by accidentally streaking the paint, but liked that look.  Covered the piece in stain.  Finally, it was allowed to dry for a couple days and I was miraculously still happy with it after that, so I screwed the hooks back into it.  

Done. And I should have made the bed. Next time.

I think it'll look really cool when the walls aren't multiple colors and there's just one color peeking through.  It's also a hint of chevron, which is so prevalent in this room, without being perfect.  The other angles are tight.  

Monday, July 20, 2015

Picture This: Week 29, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

July 13, 2015

The new pallet cooler has becoming Copper's favorite perch.  Thanks Mum and Dad!

July 14, 2015

Cleveland roadworks always seem to be during rush hour.

July 15, 2015

Finally! The gravel is in, the stones are set, the fireplace is done, and we have a backyard oasis.

July 16, 2015

Continuing in the theme, we finally hung our string lights, brought the adirondacks out for the first time, and filled the cooler. Is it summer?!

July 17, 2015

Copper's trying a new food from the vet and loves the sound of the can alone.

July 18, 2015

Quick trip to Cincinnati to visit Steve's new place and new dog.  Westie's have the cutest faces.

July 19, 2015

Tremont street fair! Food, friends, and more food, with some frozen bananas and the best Arnold Palmer to date.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Statement couch.

Our house is compromised of hand-me-downs mixed in with a few bigger items that we've either saved for and love or found the placeholder for the budget. I think that's normal. That doesn't mean I like it.  It's hard for an impulsive person like me - to let a space evolve with time, resources, adaptions to lifestyle and taste. With that, we have both been so eager to offer the placeholders to our siblings as they moved into apartments. 

So when my sister took the loveseat a couple months ago, I was excited. At first, we didn't know what the solution would be, but after shifting furniture around several times, it was obvious we'd be able to fit a couch.  I generally prefer couches to loveseats - the deeper seats, more room, more seating.  I think they're more versatile. 

Zach had a different train of thought: a statement. He wanted a statement piece.  We did both - a statement couch.  Last week, it finally arrived.

We ordered it from West Elm over their Memorial Day sale.  It's the Paige Sofa in heathered grapefruit. We love it.  It's deep enough to curl up, it's plush enough to support without pushing us off, and it's long enough to sit three people or just a horizontal version of myself.  The lines are reminiscent of our favorite midcentury pieces without being too severe.  All that and it's bright without being demanding. Love.

We had more opinions about furniture than we both anticipated, and less furniture is built on legs, off the ground, than Zach would like. 

It's 73 inches long, and I was really worried about that before it arrived (though I had measured multiple times).  It's hard to envision something and 3-D dimensions are larger than flat.  It fits behind the credenza very nicely, and with another shift in the remaining furniture, the space is open with lots of seating options.  I realize I'm spotlighting those wingbacks unintentionally. I did buy fabric for one of the chairs! JoAnn's clearance section has had many upholstery fabrics lately.

We're really happy with it.  The pop of color is bold without being glaring and the orangey red tones compliment the blue rug and navy wall really well. Now I imagine all of our pieces will be statement pieces and this will start to look like a circus.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Picture This: Week 28, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

July 6, 2015

We started our first anniversary trip with a stop at Jefferson's Monticello.  He's a very smart, talented and driven man, but we toured with a little more cynicism now.

July 7, 2015

Our first hike was Crabtree Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We were told (and haven't verified) that it's the longest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi.  It was massive - a vertical hike, with many inviting pools off the falls, but we kept to the trail due to a clear algae that's tricked and killed many this year. 

July 8, 2015

We visited Shenandoah National Park.  In addition to hiking, we drove the entirety of Skyline Drive.  Awesome.

July 9, 2015

Henry couldn't be happier with the arrival of the couch.

July 10, 2015

Months later, we finally finished Mad Men.  Awesome show.

July 11, 2015

The perks of living with generous cats.

July 12, 2015

Zach's been lamenting the loss of his fire pit and we finally sat down to plan a new, more permanent solution.  We picked up supplies on Saturday and he was determined to finish it Sunday.  Now we need a break in the rain, Ohio.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Picture This: Week 27, 2015.

Obligatory prelude: I've done a picture-a-day project for the past couple years. I debate its continuation annually, but I like it as a part of posting the ordinary and capturing daily life. Check out past posts through the picture-a-day tag.

June 29, 2015

I had dinner with a friend at a divey Mexican restaurant that appears to be stepping up its game.  Not my jam.  Instead, I forgot to document that and only have this picture of the donkey succulent plant I hope not to kill, like its predecessor.

June 30, 2015

It didn't rain in Ohio this Tuesday night - miracle of miracles - so we had the chance to grill pizzas with friends on the patio.

I'd be remiss not to include this picture of Henry, the caped crusader.  When she's particularly wild, she climbs on top of the scratching post to survey and beat Copper on the head.  This night, she scaled furniture instead.

July 1, 2015

Date month box: right on time.  I love the surprise of these.

July 2, 2015

Copper, always attention deprived and never willing to help with yard work.

July 3, 2015

Henry was elated to find that after the vet took off her cone, all paws were still attached.

July 4, 2015

Fireworks. There's nowhere better than the capital, and from Anacostia, we were surrounded. 

July 5, 2015

Bailey wanted to snuggle but was spooked by Zach. Poor girl.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guest Room Tables.

After finishing pallet sides tables for my mum, I knew what was next and overdue: side tables for the guest room.  Thus far, the room had been making do with one folding TV table my grandpa made and one lamp. Totally fine if one person's staying. More of a debate when it's two.

I knew it was overdue when I mentioned in passing that I was picking up lamps to my mum. She asked where I needed lamps now.  I said the guest room. She said, oh, yes, your dad and I do argue about the one light.  Vindicated.

I didn't document the pallet tables I made for her, mostly because she mandated a design she found on Pinterest. I followed that and it wasn't exciting.  I liked the angles, so I wanted to emulate in the guest room side tables.  

That room is all about angles now with the headboard and rug

Getting to it - the build.  I kept with 45 degree angles because I'm lazy.  The wood wasn't particularly warped, meaning that 45 degree angles would actually fit with each other.  I started by building a frame.  I glued the joints and clamped them for a few days before using the kreg jig to secure - that's the pocket holes you see.

Then I made another frame, but in vertical orientation.  I followed the same process.  Instead of using the kreg jig on the corners, I used the nail gun and some brads.  I would later be using the kreg to attached to the first frame.  It felt like overkill to do the corners as well. 

With both frames attached, I enlisted Zach to cut a piece of thick plywood to sit inside.  

I used Liquid Nails - a heavy duty adhesive - to attach the plywood underneath the frame.  Flipping it over and within the frame, I attached the angled design pieces with the same Liquid Nails.  Again - all 45 degree angles.  It looks complicated and really is not. 

Lastly, I cut four legs, two leg support pieces and one top support piece.  All were attached with pocket holes through use of the kreg jig and clamps.

Finally, I stained them with different doses of Dark Walnut.  The darkest was three coats, the frame and legs were one heavier coat and the lightest is the little left on the rag after doing the frame.  Once it was dry, they got two coats of poly. 

The lamps are from Target.  I've loved them for a while.  It's hard to capture these in the room with no natural light. 

The current situation is much improved from where this room stood for so long.  I also realized that pictures are extra terrible because the overhead light boasts only one working bulb to the three options.  I would say paint is definitely next in here, but it might be a light. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oil-rubbed bronze paint.

I'd mentioned I wasn't thrilled about the look of the brown trim on our front door.  It was better than white, but both were bad. I'd resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to spray paint it oil-rubbed bronze and it would be a terrible build-up of taping or covering everything in a five-mile radius with plastic. Obviously I exaggerate. Truthfully, it would be terrible because I would inevitably take a shortcut in the name of tape not sticking to brick, and then our front door would have an ORB aura. It would be disgusting, we'd have to move, and no one would buy our house.  Can you see all the trouble this brown trim was causing?!

Then - miracle of miracles - I found an old post from Chris loves Julia about ORB paint. PAINT. I can control paint. The post was a couple years old, so I was holding my breath that it would be in stores and not only available from China via Amazon and hundreds of dollars. Though that would be cheaper than the above scenario.  It still would have been difficult to pass through Zachles.

I found it at Home Depot.  Specifically, it's Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch metallic paint in oil rubbed bronze.  My local store carried it in little pots, but online it makes you think that you have to buy a two pack. I was so anxious, I didn't even search the shelves - I went straight to an associate and had them lead me to it. That's unusual for me in Home Depot because I feel like they always respond to Zach with questions I ask - then I'm offended.

So here's where we started - a blue door with the window trimmed in white. 

That wasn't working.  Using what we had on hand, I painted the trim the same brown we've used around the door. 

The picture doesn't do it justice - there's more here.  It was bad.  The brown was a lot more dry and chalky looking than the smooth ORB handles.  The brown was jarring in the same way the white was - it was so different.

Now - ORB paint:

The paint was glittery and so exciting.  I know the wet paint factor contributes to the difference in finish, but even once it was dry, the difference was obvious and much improved.

Another shot from farther out -

The difference isn't as obvious stepped back, but the undertones are darker. That, or the shadows were in favor of the ORB. Can you blame them?

A close-up to include the hardware in the same picture:

I'm so obsessed with how it looks that I'm painting the trim on the back of the doors. Even Zach mentioned how good it looks.  That's huge.

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