Using curtain rods in tight places

January 14, 2016 Comments Off on Using curtain rods in tight places

Curtains are making a design comeback. I love them! Not only are they a great way to keep the heat in during the winter, and the heat of the sun out during the summer, but they are a great design element! They come in so many colors and variations. You can change them when you grow tired and want something different!

These curtains were original to my previous design and were bought at Lowes so its great to recycle and safe money. They are unlined (I prefer lined) but the color worked with what I found in my other furniture – creams, golds, burgundy and green.

We have windows on either side of our fireplace. The problem is when the house was built, the designer made the windows too large for the space (we have a sofit that holds the AC/HVAC that runs along the perimeter of the ceiling) so the edge of wall-to-window space does not allow any room for a traditional curtain rod with a finial.

I went with hangers that attach to the ceiling. This helped me save space because I wanted the curtains to slide over and hide the left and right vertical lines of the window.

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On the tightest corner, I mounted a bracket, from the closet section of the hardware store, on the wall to fit the rod into. There would not have been room to have a finial here with a all mounted bracket and have the curtain actually cover the edge of the window frame.

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Because of the color palette in this room, I wanted a rubbed bronze (brown) look and the finial will eventually match in design with the ceiling fan I’ve selected for this room.

Mounting the curtain rod itself is a little tricky – I needed to make sure that it would hang my curtains to cover the edge of the window but the finials and rod had to be mounted away from the wall to allow the projection of the stone on the fireplace space.

Here you can see how the finials overlap the fireplace – again, there is not enough room with how the original structure was built to allow a traditional curtain hanging. However, I love how this turned out – gives a very nice cottage, homey feel to the room!

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Eventually, I will be layering blinds behind these to provide even better insulation. This room windows face west so we get some hot sun and we also get some north wind, so windows really help me in providing physical comfort in this most used room in the house – the family room/den.

Altogether this room is coming together so well! It’s very cozy and comfortable! For this room we have finished:

  • Years ago we had extended one wall between kitchen and living room, and never got the plaster texture right. In this remodel, we replastered all the room walls with texture (took about three boxes, $100).
  • The ceiling and walls are painted in the Rock color that I am using throughout the downstairs of the house which stylistically makes the different rooms feel united and bigger (it used about 4 gallons of paint if you include the ceiling, sofit and walls, approximately $200).
  • Installed ceiling molding (I’ll show an update later; around $300),
  • Decorative curtains with rods are mounted (some pieces from Lowes; others from Bed Bath and Beyond; approximately $100 for hardware),
  • stone fireplace (about $400) with new rustic mantle (from a Craiglist wood supplier, $60),
  • lighting redone (we put in recessed lighting in the ceiling and sconces on the fireplace mantle for about $225),
  • Floor rug from Craigslist ($75); this was a great find and fits with the color,
  • Used 3 seat cushion sofa from a Consignment store ($250),
  • Used upper-end upholstered chair from Craiglist ($200),
  • Moved down two bookshelves from another room,
  • Redid the floorplan layout so the television is hidden from view when you enter the room.

I will be repainting our television dresser to a distressed black (bought via CL and was previously in this room), still need a new hardwood floor/baseboard, roman shades is what I’d like to find to finish off the windows, and a ceiling fan (I have one selected at about $175; just need the cash:)

I wish I could take photos of the entire room but I don’t have a wide angle lens for my camera😦 Also with winter light things are hard to get the best photos so my photos may be coming a little later.:)

Sconces for my updated Farmhouse rustic fireplace

January 13, 2016 Comments Off on Sconces for my updated Farmhouse rustic fireplace

I ordered two sconces (with coupon and discount $179.08) for the fireplace and they are now installed! We wanted a more contemporary look even though the fireplace stone is rustic; this continues my idea of “updated farmhouse.” These glass cylinders are reminiscent of hurricane glass although without the bell bottom it has a modern flair.

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Love the shadows and warmth the sconce light gives to the stonework we recently finished up.

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Houses for Sale: Common search phrases

December 29, 2015 Comments Off on Houses for Sale: Common search phrases

Just looked on Zillow, and these came up as common search terms for the someone looking for a house in my zipcode:

COMMON PHRASES:

Energy efficient windows
(we have solar screens, but might want to add in the listing the additional blown in insulation)
Fridge stay homes**
Large bonus room homes
Exercise room homes
Updated HVAC homes**
Two car garage homes**
Wood floor homes**
Covered back porch homes**
Huge pantry homes**
Hardwood entry homes**

** these features are in our home!

Links to inspiring kitchen images on Zillow:

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7261969707/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-5567683432/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7323365383/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7439587386/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/contemporary-kitchens-5124113387/

 

Fireplace renovation – laying stone

December 29, 2015 Comments Off on Fireplace renovation – laying stone

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As I mentioned before we went with a faux-stone made of concrete produced by a local company (using their Ledgestone and Hackett patterns in the Fireside color) . It is patterned and colored to look like real stone and I chose this product as it allowed me more customization then the Airstone that is so popular right now.

Like I wrote before, this isn’t rocket science, but it does take time and patience in laying out the tile, as stone or faux stone, varies in color and texture. If you like putting together puzzle pieces, you’ll love this project.

The mantel beam was first sanded with 80 grit with a hand sander. Then stained with General Finishes, Java gel stain. Then sanded with 120 grit with an electric hand sander for some minor distressing. A top coat of General Finishes polyurethane was applied three times. I really liked the texture and distressing effect that came out!

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The two side pillars gave enough support underneath the mantel for support there, but we also added metal brackets attached to the back of the mantel and then screwed into studs in the wall.

Before going gungho on putting up your stone, WAIT and lay it out on the floor first (if over a finished floor put down a drop cloth; this stuff leaves everything dusty and dirty). That way you have time to rearrange the pattern to exactly what you like. If you only just apply-as-you-go, your pattern will probably not be as nicely proportioned.fireplace_settingup

I didn’t get photos of how you put the screen on and the layer process so here I’m showing the work in the area above the mantel. Drywall or plywood has to provide a support for the screen and mortar.

NOTE: If this was an outside project you would also need a vapor barrier to prevent the water in the mortar from seeping into the supporting wall facade.

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The screen (see “metal lathe” used to reinforce stucco) was bought at Home Depot; Lowes no longer carries it at our location. It is stapled down using a staple gun (ours is powered by a compressor).

The mortar used is “blended mortar.” When using, just mix as much mortar for wall application as you will be using within the next 30 minutes.

Here the wall has mortar applied over the screen. We let it dry for 24-48 hours before proceeding with the stone layer.

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When you start putting mortar on the stone itself (not the wall) it will stiffen and harden very, very quickly! The concrete stone “sucks” it up and makes is harden quickly so have your stone cut and ready to apply before coating it with mortar due to the short working time.

When working from bottom up, you might want to cover the work you’ve already done with a protective plastic sheet to prevent clumps of mortar from falling onto your finished work.

A soft brush is used to clean off the dust and bits from the facade. This is really dusty work!

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TIPS:

  • Set up the circular saw near where you are setting up the stone. The fewer steps you have to take the better.
  • You will get better at laying the stone as you go, so start your line someplace that is less obvious/noticeable.
  • Use a hammer to knock of any flairs on the back of your stone if need be.
  • Don’t be afraid of shaping the sides or ends of your stone to fit better; adapt the stone to your needs and look.
  • This is DUSTY work! Cut the stone outside or if you must do it inside, then cover everything and seal off the room from other areas.
  • Your body will be sore afterwards, especially your hands! It’s harder work then it appears so take breaks when needed and be sure to have some bath salts on hand for long, rewarding bath afterwards.

Yay! Finished except for putting on the sconces which are on order!

Fireplace renovation: beginning the build

December 22, 2015 Comments Off on Fireplace renovation: beginning the build

We started the build of the fireplace right before Christmas, which is okay for us but of course for you – be aware that this is dusty work and takes some time! Your fireplace area will be down for a few days to a week, depending on your ability to devote time to the project.

Prep work was removing our original builder mantel and breaking off all the tile. This is dirty work – have your floor covered, wear junk clothes, and eye protection for those pieces that might shatter.

The mantel I sold in 24 hour for a very low price on Craigslist as I just didn’t want to junk it. Another option would be to donate to Habitat for Humanity, which we have done with other items.

The first part of the building stage was to lay the hearth stones. We are replacing the floor in this room with wood and opted to go with the stone down first, with the wood floor being added later. This is on a ground floor, family room with a cement floor.

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Next we built out two columns from the fireplace wall. This are equal in size and frame the bottom part of the fireplace (below the mantel). These were built like a stand up box using 2×4’s at the corners and plywood as the face using a nail gun. Over this a wire mesh was applied and fastened using a staple gun.

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Then a skim coat of mortar was applied over the wire and let to dry for 48 hours. A coat of mortar has to be applied in order for the next coat of mortar to stick.

While the bottom was drying, we made two other structural changes:

Part of the electrical change we made was we moving down the overhead light originally in the sofit. The future lights will be two sconces that are mounted above the wood mantel beam and are centered vertically over the stone pillars.

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The recessed light was always a pain. I guess the original builder put it there so you could hang artwork and let it be illuminated; the only thing it really did was provide a harsh, unflattering light to a short wall, as well as getting into your eyes while you watched television!

Another change, was the lowering of the mantel. The original mantel was too high and anything placed on it could not be admired if you were sitting in the room. The new mantel height is also in better proportion with the wall height.

Another part of the prep was getting the mantel into shape. We did darken the wood using the Java gel stain color from American General because the wood we chose was lighter then we wanted. This ties it into the future floor and the staircase molding at the front entrance hall of the house.

The mantel weight will be supported by the two columns so no additional supports are needed.DSC_0089

At this point we are about Day 3 into the project and decided to take a day or two off so we could get holiday stuff done:) Next post will be the wrap up of the stone and mounting the mantel.

Fireplace renovation, stage one: research and planning

December 22, 2015 Comments Off on Fireplace renovation, stage one: research and planning

Another big part of the living room renovation is the fireplace redo. Right now it is bland, boring and what a hundred other houses in this area sport – a flat face with large tile surround and a simple painted white, mantle.

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Fireplace (before)

Goal: to make it a standout classic for under $1,000. This cosmetic fireplace renovation will include: new vintage wood mantle, stone facade, new floor hearth apron of stone, and new glass doors.

Before you begin any fireplace reno you need to know what kind of physical condition and type your fireplace is. Our fireplace is gas with an external control turnkey and a chimney with a vent door that can be opened/closed. It is a natural-vent fireplace, not direct-vent.  Our changes will be cosmetic in nature as the fireplace doesn’t have any repair issues to deal with.

Next, I started collecting a bunch of pins on my Pinterest board for ideas to compare looks. I love stone fireplaces that look like they belong in a cabin (like these photos taken during one of our vacation getaways)!

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second stone fireplace

From this fact-finding I knew a couple of things: I wanted the stone to go from floor to ceiling, have a chunky vintage wood beam mantel, use a larger chunky stone that gave more of a cabin “real” fireplace feel to it, and have visual depth to the fireplace facade.

Some of my favorites featured a fireplace profile that had different profile depths (such as here and especially this one):

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The tentative plan:

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There are plenty of blog posts about how to use stone veneer to redo your fireplace (see my fireplace Pinterest board for links). I decided not to go with this specific product (Airstone) because 1.) I didn’t like the color; 2.) didn’t like the way the stone stacked; and 3.) had read that the boxes have a lot of breakage and waste in them (which I didn’t want to hassle with).

The disadvantage of stone is that it is heavy, needs specialty tools to cut and can be expensive. The cost can be comparable though as veneer is not cheap and in some areas of the U.S. stone can be cheaper. Stone also takes some knowledge of how to stack and support it when you are running your course (layers).

However, a handy-person with a bit of research should be able to do it; it’s not rocket science. We have experience laying tile on the floor and as a backsplash so this work is similar.

In the end we decided to go with a stone-like product made from concrete, combining two patterns (the Ledgestone and the Hackett) and the finish was Fireside. Be sure to take your plan into the company you will be using (if this is the option you pick) as they will need to know how many corner, wrap around stones (“edge pieces”) to make.

The concrete faux-stone cost ended up being around $380 but we had it delivered for an additional fee (another $119) as we were too busy running about this month to haul it.

We bought the mantel, an old barn beam from off a guy who buys/sells this type of lumber via Craigslist. That was another $60, which was cheaper then I was expecting!

We also needed other items for the project: such as masonry blade for our circular saw to trim the blocks, 2 bags of mortar, wire screening, some plywood and 2x4s to build out the facade, electrical boxes and two sconces ($200). We already had a circular saw, masonry trowel and a mixing bucket.

Progress photos coming next😀

New House Paint on the Exterior

July 21, 2015 Comments Off on New House Paint on the Exterior

The biggest cosmetic change over the last two months is that we repaired and painted the exterior of the house. Here’s some of the painting-after photos (the color is deceptive – this is gray with a brown undertone):

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The house still had its original paint color of when we built it 18 years ago – a khaki green color. The trim around the windows was really suffering as well as two areas where squirrels had taken advantage of wood rot to gain access to the attic.

The house was WAYY overdue for a repair and paint job! In the photo below, the paint is still drying on the left (and why it looks uneven) while the painter repairs our chimney stack. Boy, I can’t believe he got it done in 12 hours with just one helper!

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We had discussed possible paint colors with a real estate agent years back and she had recommended gray.  The brick on our house is a red color (no orange-red) and had a gray/smoky black accent brick. As you can see from the photos we have a unique mortar – called “weeping mortar” – it is not a mistake and some people like it (like us) and some people don’t.

We went around to some neighborhoods that were a notch above ours and scoped out a bunch of houses with brick about the color of ours that had painted the wood gray. Definitely liked it! However, we preferred the darker grays, not the light colors.

One thing we did not like was the really light color trim around the windows and roof trim. The white trim with dark color would look better in a Cape Cod neighborhood and with a house with alot more wood showing. For example, this house has a large wood facade over the garage, so the two colors of paint work! I also love the shutters!

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However, this style just didn’t suit or house and we both thought it chopped up the line of the house too much. Our front house profile actually has far more brick than wood and could handle a darker color in order to make a statement.

Some people make out doing exterior house paint more complicated then it needs to be. Since we are reselling in three years, I just needed a nice neutral that showed off the brick of the house, and would be acceptable to a large number of shoppers. I didn’t need the exact right shade of gray out of 20 different test paints.

1.) Drive thru neighborhoods with similar styled houses and take note of paint colors. Take photos.

2.) I had collected paint colors through Pinterest and read various blog comments etc… that were attached to popular colors in the color family I planned on using.

3.) Get some test paint samples and put on the house. Make sure the test paint is put on in a big enough area you can see it from a distance. Look at it in different lights and keep it up for a few days. See what you think.

4.) If not happy, go back to the paint store. Painting a house is a huge undertaking and expensive. Better to invest in some more test quarts than tell the painter to stop in the middle of the job!

5.) Paint!

Going darker, which we ended up doing, was taking our paint a little out of the comfort zone of many of the houses in our neighborhood. About 80 percent or more still sporting the same light taupe colors the builder had put on over two decades ago! We felt it was worth the risk as more expensive houses had gone darker in tone, and we wanted to stand out but not too much.

Our Painter uses Sherwin Williams so we tried two shades on the front entrance (French Gray was the lighter) and we decided on the darker color, 7019 Gauntlet Gray (the painter chose a Satin finish which I LOVE!). With the needed repairs, this was a $2,000 job for a professional house painter (someone we saw do a house in our neighborhood and who really impressed us with the work they did).

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I’ll get more photos once the sun comes back out. The brick color in the bottom before photo is more accurate. The top after photo was taken in really strong sunlight so the color is a bit off. New photos will be coming soon.

This is just the beginning of the house exterior redo – we plan on putting up shutters and doing a hardware accent on the garage, as well as new landscaping. However, after the big expenses we have had, I’m going back to smaller projects inside the house.

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