A great looking wood floor for pennies? You bet!

Since I've done almost no decorating this year, haven't wrapped a single gift or baked a single cookie (yet), I'm lacking in the holiday post department. But that's doesn't mean I don't have a little gift for you. Because I do: An awesome idea for a super cool, great looking and inexpensive floor.

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This floor can be found in a great new shop that recently opened in my hometown. It's full of super cute stuff and it's just a lovely space. But what caught my eye from the beginning was the really cool floor. And that's when I took a closer look and realized it was ...

Oriented Strand Board (kind of like plywood, but made with small wood strips all mushed together with wax and resin).

I know, can you believe it?

One of the owners told me the story: As they were fixing up the space (which had been an antiques store, appliance store and a bunch of other things in its past life) they realized it would be very expensive and time-consuming to try to rip up the layers of flooring to get to the original wood floor in the old building. Looking for an inexpensive solution for this large space, they came up with the idea to use OSB. They figured they had little to use: If it didn't work, well then they had a great subfloor all set for whatever they decided to do on top of it.

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The only way you can spot the seam in this photo is because some of the green paint that comes on the edges of sheets of OSB is left. If it weren't there I bet you'd never spot it.



They set the OSB sheets down on the floor and kept the joints super tight (I can't remember if they offset the seams or not, to be honest but I think you could do whatever you wanted), and nailed them down as you would with any subfloor. The trick is to line the joints up really carefully to keep them tight. I think if you wanted to get really picky about it you could use wood filler or caulk to fill them but really, the OSB is so busy that it hides a lot of evils.

Then they rented a floor sander and sanded it all twice: With 30-grit and then 60-grit sandpaper. Then they applied stain just like you would with any wood floor. What I love about the floor is how the stain sticks to different orientations of the strands in different densities. Then they followed it all up with three coats of polyurethane.

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I think this floor is brilliant. It looks great and was inexpensive. And in the midst of this beautiful store, with it's charming displays, fun products and wonderful windows, wanna guess what I'm told gets the most reaction? You guessed it: The floors.

What do you think? Would you ever try something like this in your house? I'm wondering if you could do something like this below grade because I think this could be a perfect flooring solution for the finished part of our basement.


P.S. Sorry for the cell phone pictures on these. I thought it would be too weird to take the camera in the store and start snapping photos of the floor. 

Construction Update No. 11: Down to the finishing touches

I'm happy to say that we are actually to the point in this renovation where I don't want to share too much in terms of updates, lest I ruin the big reveal. That, folks, is a good thing.

There's actually a chance we could be done (OK, probably not with all the painting, but maybe) by Christmas New Year's. I hesitate to even SAY it because it seems too good to be true. In fact it probably is. I probably just jinxed it.

But I thought I should catch you up on what's been happening.

The 2x4s that held up the little gable over the front door have been removed and the brackets were installed. I'm very happy with how they turned out. We designed them and the GC had them built for us. The siding around them has since been replaced and the siding on the front of the gable is also finished. We've not stained the beadboard ceiling in it yet, because it's just too cold for staining. We are actually thinking about going with a mid-to-dark stain vs. a solid white stain. What do you think? I'm thrilled with the new light there too, which was a pretty economical find.

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The decking, stairs and posts are all finished. Right now I think the posts look sort of ridiculous, but I'm hoping once we get the top rail on they will look better. We'll be doing cable railings as well, but Mr. Much More Patient and I are doing those ourselves (we've had all the parts and pieces and two huge rolls of stainless steel cable sitting in our garage for about four months now), that may have to wait until spring to be finished.

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Hudson surveys the scene from the deck. The stairs he's looking at go into the yard but he doesn't like those. We had the stairs that go to the patio purposely made with a short rise to make it easier for our aging four-leggeds.

Speaking of the top handrail, this is a good remodeling lesson. We really fell in love with the idea of a dark hardwood top rail similar to what you might find on ship. Unfortunately those suckers are expensive. The one we liked the most (ipe) was $10.50 a linear foot. Another one (garapa), which wasn't the right color but we figured we could stain it, was $7.50 a foot. Another option (cumaru) was $5.50 a foot, but only came in a 4-inch wide version and we really wanted something beefier. Then our GC was at a local lumber store and he came across some handrail parts in a remnant bin. Turns out they were leftover from a large project and they had many more. Because we only need relatively short sections (the railing will go between each post, which is a design I'm sort of regretting, but it is what it is and hopefully it will look great), he was able to cobble together enough to do our smallish deck, for just $3.70 a foot. Score!

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The stairs into the yard ended up much longer than any of us expected, but once we graded the yard, things changed a little. The skirting for the bottom will be cedar lattice (square, not diagonal) that we're staining gray.

Perhaps the most exciting progress to report is in the new bathroom. The tiling is almost complete (there's some that can't be finished until the vanity counter is installed). Don't pay attention to the paint colors in these pictures, because it's all been changed ... AGAIN!

Since these photos were taken the toilet and shower fixtures have been installed. Tomorrow the vanity and linen unit go in and as soon as that's in we can finish up all the light fixtures (I really hope I measured where to put the pendants over the vanity correctly because there are some big holes in our ceiling), mount the mirror and work on getting the towel warmer up (I have a feeling that's a complicated project). The glass for the shower has been measured and it MAY show up between Christmas and New Year's but I'm not betting on it. And the vanity countertop seems to be but a distant hope at this point.

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The finishing touches for the shower will be a teak dividing shelf in the niche, a teak floor grate and a frameless glass enclosure.

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The wall color has changed since this photo (the BM Healing Aloe was way too light, but I ended up using it on the ceiling) and the toilet has been added in the corner.

We are clear to move back into the bedroom as soon as I finish touching up the paint and can eat enough Wheaties to get the mattress back up there, so we're definitely down to the finishing touches at this point.

Want to see where we've come from? Here are all the old house renovation updates:

Construction Update 1
Construction Update 2
Construction Update 3
Construction Update 4
Construction Update 5
Construction Update 6

Construction Update 7
Construction Update 7.5
Construction Update 8
Construction Update 9 
Construction Update 10

Winter window box

I pulled out the  fall planting of the window box (which wasn't looking all that bad other than the mums which were DOA) and wintered it up on Saturday. And just in time, I guess, since I didn't even get a chance to snap a picture until Sunday when it was covered in snow.

 It's not exactly gorgeous, but it was completely free and it took me about 20 minutes, including the, um, pruning.

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Here's what it looked like a week earlier:
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The ornamental cabbage was finally getting really beautiful:
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Check out how the window box looked in warmer days.

Finding REAL cottage style

Cottage style is very in these days. That cozy, coastal vibe is why entire magazines devoted to the style, not to mention blogs and even furniture lines continue to thrive. In fact, I'm a devotee of the style myself. But anyone who has ever had the chance to stay in a real cottage, I think, has a better understanding of what cottage style is all about. It's a feeling. It's about being lived in and cozy and genuine.

And when you've partially grown up in a place like that it's easy to fall in love with it, as I have of our family cottage. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, this is where my father, his four sisters and their parents lived during the summer in impossibly small bedrooms and a bathroom the size of a closet (all of which didn't matter because they lived outside). It is where my beloved grandmother summered, where I spent almost every summer day of my childhood, and where my family celebrates every summer holiday. Now owned by an entire generation, it is decorated by committee, which means it's a mishmash of furniture that's been there from the beginning, collected items and things moved from my grandmother's house. Probably no one in the family would claim it is their style, but collectively it incompasses an entire family's style.

We were lucky enough to be able to stay at the cottage during the more destructive phases of our home renovation and it made me appreciate all the little things that I love most about the place. And I realized all those things are the things that have been there since I was kid. None are fancy, but all are genuine. Here's a peek.

It's not uncommon to see life rings and signs used as home decor and I think they're very cool. But they are much cooler and far more special when they are all real. All of the life rings and name plates came off of boats owned by family members.
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The cottage is very small and cute built-ins are all over the place. I love this built-in bookshelf on the back side of the kitchen wall (the kitchen counter wraps around the wall to make for a perfect place for serving buffet style). The bookshelf is filled with books, some have been there since I was a kid and others have rotated as people read them and bring another to replace it. I'm not sure what the tall cabinet on the left was originally for, perhaps a gun cabinet or maybe for fishing poles, but I like it's current use: driftwood. I'm not keen on the color this wall and the built-ins have recently been painted, but that's what happens when you decorate by committee. Sometimes you like the color, sometimes you don't, and in a few years you'll have an opportunity to paint it a color you like better for the price of the paint and your labor.

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This side table is my single most favorite thing in the entire cottage. Someday I'll build myself a side table just like this.

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Dinners are eaten family style here, and when we can't all fit at this long table with two long benches, we flow out onto the deck or the floor in front of the fireplace. This table and the two benches are perfectly rustic and original to the cottage. A couple years ago a refinishing incident (I wasn't involved) damaged the table so it was covered with laminate but the bones are still there (and it's super easy to clean).

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Can you see what's out the big picture window behind one of the benches? That's the lake right there. There's obviously a better side of the table to sit on!

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Of course the best part of any cottage is found outside and that certainly holds true here.

The dogs loved having the beach in their back yard.

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And even when the oven had burned dinner again, my feet were freezing (no real heat) and the stress of the renovation had hit a new level, a glass of wine and a sunset like this melted it all away.

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Gifts for gardeners

You remember gardeners, right? They are the people who play in the dirt. You know, like I did before the house project sucked me up? Well, let me tell you, I intend to make up for my decreased amount of gardening this year 10-fold in 2011. I can't wait to spend part of the winter planning some new landscaping.

But in the meantime, why don't we dream about the holidays a little and come up with a few gift ideas for gardeners. Some are practical, some are just pretty and a couple are a bit outlandish, but hey, you never know what someone's budget is, right?

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1. This hori hori knife is my go-to gift for gardeners. I've yet to give it to someone who didn't absolutely love it, even if when they first opened it they looked at me like I was nuts. I didn't know about hori horis until I read about them on North Coast Gardening and now I wonder how I lived with out it.
2. This reproduction Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House vase is so lovely. If I had two short stone columns at the entrance to my house I'd want a pair of these to flank it with and I'd fill them for every season.
3. Compost bin brackets aren't the most romantic gift in the world, but I think most gardeners would really appreciate them.  I've been loving the new bin I built using them (and it was so easy since I had the folks at Home Depot cut the boards for me).
4. I think every gardener likes some objets d'art for their space, and I really like these highly textured zinc leaf spheres. They're classy and interesting and well, not bowling ball-like.
5. The Bahco pruners are another can't-live-without item in my gardening arsenal. And another thing I found out about at North Coast Gardening. These are particularly great for women, as they come in different sizes. I never realized that the pruners I was using were too big for my hand and therefore causing a lot of hand fatigue until I got a pair of Bahcos. They felt small in my hand at first, but I could prune all day with these.
6. One of these stainless steel buckets would be a perfect accessory gift to the compost brackets. There are a lot of countertop compost buckets out there, but I like these because they are simple, classic and have a lid.
7. The best stocking stuffer on the planet, at least if you're a gardener, is a pair (or more) of Atlas nitrile gloves. Unless you're into pruning roses or something else equally thorny, these inexpensive gloves are perfect for gardening. Because they are priced right, you can have several pairs (as I do) so there is always a pair around that is dry and standing by. I also wash mine in the washing machine (lay them out to dry) and they are as good as new.
8 and 9. This is sort of a dream gift, but wouldn't it be nice to hire a professional garden designer to decorate your favorite person's home for the holidays? These designs are by the talented Deborah Silver (who is in Detroit), and I'd love nothing more to come home to a house decorated as beautifully as these. 

So what's on your list for Santa this year?

Getting back in the garden

We had pretty typical Wisconsin November weather this year. Several days of temperatures in the 60s followed by two in the 30s. Rain, a snow flurry or two, a little bit of sleet and the occasional dose of sunshine.

But it's December and when Sunday's weather was in the upper 40s, I thought I better make the most of it while I could. And since the garden has been almost completely forgotten about this year I took the time to do a couple of garden chores that I've been putting off.

First of all, I cleaned up the vegetable garden. It was really a mess and I never should have waited this long. I pulled out about a dozen overgrown frozen cucumbers (which one of the dogs ate and then promptly threw up on the lawn), tomato stalks, the occasional onion that had been missed. This is not good for your garden people. In fact it's a really good way to have diseases live in your soil, not to mention a bunch of volunteer seedlings pop up in places where you don't want them. I'll be paying for this next spring, I can assure you.

I was also planning on mixing in some green sand at this time, but the top of the soil was already frozen, so that too will have to wait. So do as I say, not as I do, and clean out your veggie gardens before they freeze, people!

I also hadn't dealt with the giant pot containing the Papyrus 'King Tut.' I keep this enormous fiberglass container out year round and fill it with red twig dogwood and evergreen boughs in winter, but of course it's difficult to do that when a frozen, dead, enormous annual is residing in it.

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Once I got King Tut out of the larger container, you could see how big it had gotten in one summer. The smaller container next to it is actually a little bigger than the container I bought it in and I have no doubt it would have filled whatever container I put it in over the course of the summer.


As I've mentioned before, I grew King Tut in a two- or three-gallon nursery container and sunk it in the larger container and after removing it, I recommend that even more. I'm positive this thing would have taken over the whole pot had it not been contained.

Even getting out the nursery container was a trick, although I did myself no favors by waiting until the top layer of soil was frozen. I had to dig through that and through a rather laborious process of pushing, pulling, levering and prying, I finally got it out. And because I wanted to put it in the compost bin, I also needed to get it out of the plastic pot. And that's where my hori hori knife came in, because there was no way that sucker was coming off without some serious persuation of the sharp blade variety.

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The nursery pot was bulging and roots were coming out the bottom.


And check out what it looked like in there. Pot bound much? Those are some serious roots. I'm surprised it didn't look at me one day and say "Feed me, Seymour!"

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That's a lot of roots!

So now the pot is all empty and ready for some winter decor. And yeah, I'm a little late on that too, but it won't be the first year that I've had to drill holes in frozen soil in order to put greens and branches in.

A little virtual art shopping

Do you ever play "I'm not buying but if I were, I'd buy..."?

The Art.com catalog came today and I found a number of things that could be so cute in the right space.

Here are a few:


These are from their Country Chic collection. I love the birds. I feel like you might be able to re-create this with a framed piece of fabric.

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I love Picasso's sketches, even if it seems weird and maybe a little wrong that they are mass produced. Some of the animal sketches are great, but I love this one. Plus, doesn't it feel good to know that even you could have made the same piece of art that Picasso did?

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I love Botero's sculptures. I remember when they were displayed in downtown Chicago and were flown in via helicopter. I think this print would be adorable in a bathroom. I'm picturing it in a period bathroom full of white subway tile with black accents.

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I also love vintage posters, but I don't care for the ones that are so popular you see them everywhere, like this one, which I instantly associate with bad Italian food. (OK, so there hardly is anything like bad Italian food, but just seeing this poster makes me have garlic breath.)

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 I much prefer the look of old travel posters.

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So what do you think? Do any of these pieces of art have a future home in your house? Or is there something else you're lusting after? And am I the only one who pretends to shop?

All images from Art.com

Construction update No. 10: Getting there

I've been so caught up in painting and other house projects that I'm behind on construction updates. So let's catch up, shall we?

The new ceiling fan was hung in the living room. And then it was hung again.

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Too low.

We actually purchased this fan well over a year ago to replace the hideous shiny brass thing with the ugly burned-out lightbulbs but realized that it would be no easy chore to actually mount it. We decided we'd just wait until some scaffolding arrived. Unfortunately when I bought it originally I guessed at how long the downrod was and ordered a four-footer. When we got it up, we realized that was way too long, as Rich was actually looking at the TOP of the fan (you know, where all the dust collects?) when he stood upstairs. So we got a new downrod and put it up a second time. The photo is of the longer downrod and taken from upstairs so you can see how it's RIGHT THERE.

They pieced in the paneling in the living room.

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Old and new grays

Since we didn't have long enough pieces, some of them had to be spliced in but a little wood filler and paint later, you can't even tell. You can see the difference in the old and new colors here (we had one coat of paint on before they spliced in the boards to finish the walls). The light gray was the old color. The darker gray (BM Gray Husky) is much warmer and we like it a lot better.

They also finished the paneling in the hallway upstairs.

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Bathroom on the left, and the second/guest bedroom next to that. That's Desdemona the cat checking out the progress and wondering when there will be a bed for her to sleep on all day.

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Other side of the hallway and the doorway to the master bedroom.

I'm so happy we decided to do this. Since the upstairs hallway is open to the living room we wanted to keep the paneling there to make it feel more cohesive. Even though we salvaged as much of the old paneling as possible and only had the minimum amount of new paneling made, this was definitely an upgrade over drywall. But worth every penny. I actually kind of liked how the mismatched board looked up there, but I knew over time it would look a little shabbier than chic to me. I wish we had thought to put small barn lights over each bedroom. I think that would have been so cute.

You can also see the rather severe roof angles it that hallway. Amazingly, even though Mr. Much More Patient is 6 feet, 3 inches tall he doesn't have a problem negotiating them.

We also got ALL of that paneling painted. Two coats. And sanding a primer before that. That was quite the project.

Then the board for the bedroom ceilings arrived.

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Doesn't everyone have a stack of wood boards in their living room?

They were all stacked in our living room for quite a few days. We had them pre-painted by a professional painter (after the kitchen I swore I'd never paint another ceiling again, much less a wood ceiling) and then put up. We actually got the boards at Menard's (a big box store, in case you're not familiar with it), and they cost about 75 percent less than if we had purchased them through the lumber supplier. They had some knots and a few cracks but we figured since we were painting them it wasn't a big deal. Although the installation cost was a little higher than if we had drywalled, I think the material cost was actually less.

Unfortunately when they were installed, the guys weren't very good about only nailing into the tongue, and we ended up having to have the painters come out and fill all the nail holes and spray it again, making that original spraying pretty much a giant waste of time.

The interior doors also arrived. We had these pre-painted by the painters as well. They've now been installed. Honestly, I didn't pick the door. I just specified a six-panel and I'm not thrilled with the trim detail on it, but since they were already painted there was nothing I could do about it, and frankly, it's just a door. I'll get over it.


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Not to mention a stack of doors?

Mr. Much More Patient also headed up the yard grading project.

If you recall, the back yard looked like this in September.

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Um, you left a mark.


Although we knew it was getting a little late in the season to be thinking about planting grass, we gave it a shot anyway. With the dogs, spring is already a very dirty season but the idea of having a giant mud pit in the back yard was rather unpleasant. He got three truckloads of dirt, a Bobcat, some grass seed, a bunch of straw and a lot of help from the on-staff landscaper at the company he works for, and went to it.

Hudson and Rita are in charge of holding the straw down.

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This straw has been Hudson and Rita tested and approved. Kindly ignore the junk pile migrating toward the garage.

Here's the rest of what's been happening:
1. All walls are now painted. The bathroom has been painted about four times since I keep missing on the color but I think I nailed it last night. BM Healing Aloe seems to be the winner. For some reason the green helps keep it from getting too icy but it still reads blue-gray in the room.
2. We've moved back into the living room. This is cause for celebration. Having a place to relax other than the kitchen or bedroom is awesome.
3. We had a big talk with the contractor. According to the schedule we got, the project was supposed to be done November 6. Obviously that didn't happen. Apparently that was a "phantom schedule." Anyway, the conversation got a little tense and work did pick up pace for the next week or so. Overall I'm happy with where a lot of things are. Frankly, right now we're the holdup on some of these things. I'm not hoping that we'll be completely done by Christmas, but I wouldn't be surprised if the bathroom lingered on a little bit since some things, like ordering the shower glass and the countertop, can't be done until the last minute and both take some time and of themselves.
4. We installed the floor in the master bedroom! I'll have a whole post on this at some point.
5. The deck is about half done and I've stained almost all the cedar for the risers and skirting.
6. Most of the lights are in. The electrician broke one and cursed at most of the others, and the one light I bought off eBay turned out to be defective (I've contacted the seller but honestly I don't have a lot of hope that the situation will be rectified).

I still have to do a lot of painting to do. All the windows and trim upstairs, the staircase and little things here and there. I am now an expert painter, by the way. Tape? For wimps, I tell ya. I think I'm developing carpel tunnel syndrome from painting. Which is a sad state of affairs for a person who types for about 10 hours a day.

We have one more floor to go in and of course we'll be installing the cable railings on the deck (in winter it looks like). Still, it's starting to look like a house again.

Want to catch up on the whole process? Check out these posts:


Construction Update 1
Construction Update 2
Construction Update 3
Construction Update 4
Construction Update 5
Construction Update 6

Construction Update 7
Construction Update 7.5
Construction Update 8
Construction Update 9

This is what I feel like today

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Hudson, modeling how I feel today.

At about 3 p.m. yesterday, it occurred to me that perhaps I bit off a bit too much of this renovation project for myself. As you know, I suffer from TES: Time Estimation Syndrome, in which I estimate everything will take way less time than it actually does. And this weekend it all came down on me at once.

For some reason I thought it was realistic to do the following this weekend:
1. Move back into the living room.
2. Install a floating bamboo floor in both bedrooms.
3. Prime and stain all of the cedar trim for the deck.
4. Paint the bathroom (AGAIN! The right color continues to elude me).
5. Design the built-ins for the bedroom.
6. Spray paint the mystery item (mentioned on the Impatient Gardener Faceboook page).

Here's what really happened this weekend:

1. Moved back into the living room. Yay! (But still plenty of cleaning to do).
2. Installed most of a floating bamboo floor in both ONE bedroom.
3. Primed and stained all of the cedar trim for the deck under 1 a.m. two nights in a row.
4. Paint the bathroom (AGAIN! The right color continues to elude me).
5. Design the built-ins for the bedroom. 


I also wanted to catch up on a lot of blog posts, but that didn't happen either. And now I just want a nap.

The blue door ... again

I have lots of posts just waiting to be finished, written, posted, etc.  But this weekend is the big push on painting and installing the floors upstairs.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled that once again our blue door was featured in a Houzz ideabook



If you don't know about Houzz.com, you must check it out. It is every decorating inspiration picture you could ever possibly need in one spot.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Leaving our mark

You might remember that we found this awesome little note on a rafter when we started the demo (way back in September, which now seems like ancient history).

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It was so cool finding this on one of the first days of demolition.

We saved it, of course, although I haven't decided what to do with it yet. However, we loved finding it so much that we figured sometime in the future someone else might want to find a little note from us. So we set up the big ladder (the construction guys leave all their ladders here and it's so nice always having a ladder around when you need one), and climbed up to the big ridge beam where we left a note of our own. Our very own time capsule, I guess you'd say.

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Our own note to the future owners.

To commemorate the moment we took a really awful photo of ourselves and tried to get the beam in the background. It didn't work. And we look like aliens.

So instead you get a picture of Mr. Much-More-Patient scaling the ladder.

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With all the overspray from the primer on the plastic up at the ceiling it sort looks like Mr. Much-More-Patient climbed up to a cloud.

Breaking the barriers of paint technology

You know how people say "We can put a man on the moon but we can't _________ (fill in the blank)?"

Well now there is one less thing to say that about. I got an e-mail this morning from My Perfect Color announcing that they can now make you a can of spray paint in ANY COLOR. That's right, you can now pick beyond the 15 or so colors commonly offered in spray paint and you can specifically color match it for your project.

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Now, this product needs to be tested for sure, because not all spray paint is created equal. Some just works much better than the rest, but I have a mind to order a can to give it a shot as I have a spray painting project in the works soon (just wait until you see what I'm going to spray paint. Hide your husbands, ladies, because they are going to cry at the horror of it.)

They describe it as a high-quality, industrial-grade spray paint "perfect for painting accessories, railings, grates, registers, crafts and anything else." Well, that about covers it, I guess. It's available in semi-gloss and gloss (too bad because I'm a fan of the satin finish, but beggars can't be choosers.

It sells for $19.99 for a 16-ounce can, which is insanely expensive, but as far as I can tell, they have a lock on the ability to give you spray paint in any color, so I guess that's how they get away with it. Right now there is a coupon for $5 off with the code SCCoupon5A. Free shipping is standard on orders over $50.

To order it, type in the color you want (they offer color matching to almost any brand of paint other than, sadly, Farrow & Ball and Ellen K.... whatever that other one is. 

I've ordered from My Perfect Color in the past and they do a great job of color matching and ship quickly.

So, what do you think? Would you spend $20 for color-matched spray paint?

Construction Update 9: Don't want to leave you hangin'

It's been awhile since I've posted one of these, and that's mostly because things were moving quickly there for awhile. Sadly, that pace seems to have slowed and now it seems like every little thing is taking forever and a day.

Anyway, here's where we were as of about a week ago.

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Everything was insulated (about four inches of spray foam followed by the roll-type insulation).

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We were fortunate that they were able to go through the paneling wall in the living room to get the plumbing up to the new bathroom, meaning that the existing bathroom was untouched during the process. Thank goodness. I don't think I could have handled one more destroyed room. Especially such an important one.

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Drywall went up! That was a great day. It was so good to see things closed in. The drywall crew was there for over a week putting it up, taping and mudding, applying texture and then priming. We decided on a very, very light texture that was troweled on, sort of a plaster type look. I really wanted smooth walls but the drywall guy suggested that since our ceiling still wasn't perfectly straight/flat, we might want a little texture to help hide that. I love what we ended up going with. If anything we could have used a touch more texture, but this is great too.

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That's the drywall in the master bedroom. The walls look sort of brown because the the texture was still wet in these photos. It took two days for that stuff to dry before they could prime.

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All of that drywall work left a ton of dust behind, most of which settled on our fireplace. The dust is (and it's still there, a week later) a quarter-inch deep in some places. Supposedly they are cleaning that up today.

If you've been following on Facebook, you'll know that I've been painting. Non-stop. All the time. I'm either working, sleeping or painting these days. I sanded the whole railing on the stairs. Not only did it need some smoothing out, but the woodwork in the house is all oil-based paint and I wanted to take the time now to switch to water-based, so I'm sanding everything, priming with an appropriate primer, and then I'll follow with two coats of a water-based paint (I like Benjamin Moore's Aura when it's in the budget). Here's the staircase looking pretty rough:

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There's primer on it now, but I don't really want to get to finish painting until they are done with a lot of the up and down. I'd be sad if my new paint job got all dinged up right away.

If you want to follow the progress of the remodel, here are some old posts:


Construction Update 1
Construction Update 2
Construction Update 3
Construction Update 4
Construction Update 5
Construction Update 6

Construction Update 7
Construction Update 7.5
Construction Update 8

Lighting the way

Gosh, I'm so sorry that I haven't been posting more regularly. It seems like every free moment of my life has been spent with a paintbrush in my hand lately.

Since our renovation project has gone over budget, and we weren't willing to cut out some of the things we really want out of this (like the deck), we started taking on a few more projects than we anticipated, and painting is one of them. So far I've painted both bedrooms (walls only ... very TALL walls), the bathroom ceiling (which doesn't count since I hate the color), all of the trim that wasn't attached but was on premise, and have sanded and primed the paneling and stair rail. This weekend I'll finish up the paneling (the new stuff for the hallway will thankfully be unattached when I do it so it will be so much easier to whip through that in the basement), paint all the windows and trim in the living room (except for the baseboards, which I'll wait for the floor covering to be off when I do that), and sand and prime the windows upstairs (and MAYBE get a coat of paint on). And then I still have to do the risers and the trim on the staircase, which I'm not at all looking forward to.

Anyway, one of the more onerous tasks of this remodel that has fallen entirely to me is the lighting. I think this may be a case where too many choices is a bad thing. I am sure I have looked at more than 40,000 lights. I'm not joking with that figure. I've been to every big lighting store on the Internet (and one in person). Since most of these have about 10,000 pendants alone, and I've scrolled through all of them, it's not an exaggeration.

I have almost all the lights taken care of at this point so I thought I'd show you what I chose.

Bathroom
We have a lot of lighting in this 8-by-8-foot space. I can't stand dark bathrooms. So in addition to the two windows, we will have a light/fan in the shower, two pendants flanking the mirror, a ceiling light and two "hockey puck" lights in the linen unit.

In order to keep from blinding ourselves when we visit the bathroom in the middle of the night (which will now be much easier since we won't have to go downstairs), we got a combination shower light/fan/nightlight. It's not beautiful, but it's better than some.

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Panasonic Whisperlite

The ceiling light for the bathroom was very tricky because we have an angled ceiling, but didn't want a chandelier. There aren't a lot of lights that work on angled ceilings (something to keep in mind if you're ever building and you have the option of an angled ceiling or not). Unfortunately I cannot find a picture of it anywhere (and frankly, nor can I find the light in the pile of boxes in my basement), so you'll have to use your imagination. Picture a white glass cylinder about 9 inches long, with a larger, clear glass cylinder around it. Now hang it from the ceiling in a semi-flushmount arrangement.

The pendants were the hardest light of all to find. I wanted something classic, but not boring. Clean-lined, but not overly modern. And most of all, proportion was very hard to figure out. Since we're using a large mirror, the pendants couldn't be itty bitty, but it's overall a small space so they can't be huge either.

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I ended up choosing this teardrop-shaped pendant. It has a chrome finish which matches the rest of the hardware in the room, which was nice, although not a requirement (I figured I could have gotten away with a stainless or brushed chrome finish as well). I haven't actually seen it with the mirror yet as both are safely boxed up, but I hope I love it in the room as much as I think I will.

Master bedroom
A ceiling fan was a must for us in this room. We love leaving the windows open as much as possible in summer, and now that we have more east-facing windows we'll be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. But we need some air circulation, especially with cathedral ceilings. Sometimes I feel with ceiling fans that you just need to go with the least objectionable. This one's not bad.

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While I was looking around the site where we got the fan, I found some nightstand lights at a nice price. I was planning to  look for a good deal at TJ Maxx for these, but after the discounts and coupon codes, these were $50 each and that's about the best price I've seen on halfway decent lights at TJ Maxx.

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Second bedroom
We'll reuse one of the existing ceiling fans in this room, but we needed a light for it. Ceiling lights were a luxury we didn't have in the old bedrooms because the ceiling was too low for them. I thought I'd go a little crazy in this room (if you can't have fun in a guest room, where can you?) so I picked up this light to attach to the fan.

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Hallway
This is a tough area to light because it's open to the living room and it needs to light the stairs as well as the hall. We could have done recessed lighting, but I didn't think it was right for our house. In a more modern home, or definitely a mid-century modern home, definitely, but recessed lights didn't feel right. Enter track lighting, which falls basically in the same category as ceiling fans: just get the least ugly thing you can find.

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It's no beauty, that's for sure!

These aren't so bad. We'll have four of them total.

I'll also have a little gallery wall in the hallway that I'll light with a Pottery Barn track light that I picked up eBay. The finish matches the finishes of lights in the living room (but not the finishes of the doorknobs and stuff ... I'm trying very hard not to get crazy about that).

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Exterior
This is the last lighting area I need to deal with. I really wanted lights in the steps on the deck, both for safely and ambiance. I found these neat little LED lights that are angled down (so you don't get blinded walking up the stairs) and look like they would be easy to install (in case we need to do that ourselves since we have the worst electrician in the history of ever).

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I'm not going to worry about the lights by the back door and patio door at this time, we're just going to use what we have. I might paint one to match the others or replace them all in the future, but they'll do for now. I do, however, need to get a light for the front door. It will be mounted in the ceiling of the gable/pediment.

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I was all set to get this lantern, but it will take six weeks to get it, so the hunt continues!

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So that's the lighting plan for the house. I hope it looks as good in the house as it does in my imagination. And even if it doesn't, well, it will do. My brain can't handle any more light fixtures.