Category Archives: DIY Projects

(Not so) White Trash Tuesday

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may remember a short-lived post series called White Trash Tuesday.  This segment died out because… well… it was mean and… I don’t like feeling like a mean person.  When I was making fun of myself it was fine, but I’m not gonna make fun of other people… well, at least, not people I don’t know.  It’s just not my style.

But back on topic… White Trash Tuesday started in March with a post about my white trash side patio.  It was falling away from the house.  It was a sad sight and there was a car jack in plain view for all the neighbors to see.

If I ever try to tell you I don’t care what people think- I’m lying.  I care.  This was embarrassing.  Unavoidable but embarrassing.  Sadly, insurance didn’t cover it.  They called it “settlement” and “bad design,” neither of which qualified us for anything more than some unsolicited advice from the Adjuster on how to fix it.

Months go by.  The jack spent a while there and then Chris did some work to raise the porch roof.  Most of the extra support that Chris built was fairly well hidden so I was… still feeling ghetto but less obvious about it.

It is now September, 6 full months later and… I AM PLEASED TO TELL YOU THE PORCH IS FIXED.  AND WE GOT A NEW ROOF!!!!! Hooray!  I cannot fully express my joy at the change the painted shutters & front door, un-jacked up side porch and new roof made in my house.  I feel practically fancy.

Chris did most of the work on the side porch and I am sad to say that I don’t have any “during pictures.”  However, I do have a few pictures from the roofing process…

I was nervous about getting a new roof.  It’s a big deal… a big EXPENSIVE deal.  Chris did the research and we found a family-run company we liked and whose bid came in lowest.  After that I got to pick the color.  Our old roof was light gray.  A light gray roof on top of our light gray house.  Yuck.

After I picked out a few colors, our roofers gave me some houses to stalk drive by that had those colors.  They said that the colors in the pamphlets weren’t always true to life.  They were right.  Some of the colors were very different but I ended up liking my first choice- CertainTeed’s Landmark Series “Pewter.”  I liked it because it was dark enough to contrast my light gray house but light enough that it wouldn’t soak up too much sun.

I scheduled the work for mid-August in early July.  Then I waited.  The day before I job was to start, I called the company to check in.  The certified bonded fancy-pants brother who had scheduled me was out of town and would not be there for my project AND they were behind due to the torrential rains. So, the project would not be finished in one day as I had been promised-it would take 2, max.  “…okay… no big deal.”  I said.  The next morning, the supply truck arrive and I was thrilled (or as thrilled as I can be at 7:30 in the morning)…

When our foreman arrived, there were more complications.  Although I had told them when I scheduled the job that we were not going to have them do the back and side porches- they had brought material for the WHOLE roof.  Luckily, we caught it before the truck left and they hauled the material away again.  They also informed me that the 2 layer tear off would happen that day and the new roof would go on “the next afternoon.”  I was a little flustered at this point.  It was a lot to be going wrong before anyone had even stepped a single foot on the roof.  My sister, the interior designer, calmed my fear telling me “this is typical for contractors.”  So, I went to work.  When I came home, my home had no roof- as expected.

You may notice the basketball hoop to the right of the house.  I had been wanting to see that thing come down since the minute we moved in.  It was glorious to see my garage line without it!

The second day, I worked from home so I could be there if they needed anything.  I worked the day away, Candice came over at lunch and when there were still no roofers at 2 p.m., I called the foreman.  They were coming, he said.  They were finishing a job in Akron and would be here within the hour.  “…okay…,” I said.  They finally arrived at 4:30 pm.    They left with things 2/3 done at 8:30 pm when it was both getting dark and starting to rain.  End of day 2.

Day 3 (of my 1-day roofing project).  They arrived bright and early.  So bright and early, in fact, that the sound of a load of shingles being dropped on the roof had me bolt upright in bed thinking we were under attack.  At that point, I was definitely awake so I headed into work early.  I’m pretty sure the roofers finished mid-day.  All I know was when I got home, the roof was done and looked amazing.  Contractors may be frustrating but if they do good work, you often are willing to forgive and forget.  I forgave and forgot on Tuesday when Dish Network came and reinstalled my satellite television.  🙂

Soooo… pictures…  First is our much less ghetto side porch…

Did I mention I painted our house numbers to match the shutters & front door?

So, are you ready for the before and afters…???  We’ll start with the listing photo from when we bought the house.

It’s kinda like one of those “can you spot the difference” photos.  There are at least 8.  Can you spot them? Comment on this post with your guesses.

P.S. I still want a new driveway but all good things come with time, right?



**Disclaimer:  I am HIGHLY unoriginal.  I feel the need to say right now that all concepts in this post were stolen directly from Bower Power.  Either Katie Bower created these techniques or she learned them from someone else who learned them from someone else and so on and so forth…  I, in turn, learned them from her and executed them half as well.  Techniques in this post can be found here and here.**

In an effort not to bore you with all the technical stuff that, if you want to do it yourself, you can learn in the post above, this post is going to be a lot of photos and a lot of metaphors.  Enjoy!

Our bedroom furniture was dated.  When I say dated I mean like 1983— as in the year my parents were married.  Chris and I inherited my parent’s bedroom furniture.  They got it when they got married from my dad’s grandma, my great-grandma’s furniture store (or Momo, as I knew her). This is high quality real wood furniture and  I’m sure it was very hip in the early 80’s.  Sadly, it made our room look very dark in combination with our dark walls.  The set includes a tall dresser, a long dresser w/mirror, 2 bed side tables and a really skinny tall dresser that I’m not really sure what was meant for and have no room (so it lives in my parent’s basement).  I thought ahead just well enough to get just a couple pics…

I knew something needed to change. I thought about getting new furniture but I’m cheap and new furniture is expensive. Veto.  So, in January, I saw the first Bower Power post.  I was inspired… I thought “I can do this.  I can DIY new furniture form a diamond in the rough (yes, that was an Aladdin reference…).”  I am that person who, when asked if I paid for the holes in my 2004 Aeropostale jeans, proudly announces that I got them at 2 a.m. in a Waffle House parking lot.  (I should probably throw those jeans away but they just fit so well!)  This was the middle of winter.  I needed space and so I waited… and waited… and waited…. until 4 weeks ago when I finally got the motivation to get started.  Yay!  Off I went to Home Depot and got the supplies.  Then I got to work.  The first weekend I just did the bed side tables.  They were small and good to test things out on.  First, sanding…

After things were all sanded down a bit, I put on the first coat of paint. I bought paint and primer in one in a shade of cream that matched our bedding. Even with the paint and primer in one, this was dark wood and it sucked the paint up.  Here is how things looks after 2 coats…

Since glaze was going over the top, I put on one more coat and we were golden.  It was about 90 degrees the day I did this project so after painting the furniture I moved everything into the basement so I didn’t melt trying to finish it.

Glaze is a funny thing. You mix paint and glaze, apply and then wipe off the excess to get the look of a vintage piece that has experienced some wear and tear but first, you have to distress!  This project taught me a lot about distressing and glazing. It was a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  On my first attempt with the bed side tables I didn’t distress/glaze enough.  On the tall dresser I did second, I went too far.  Finally on the dresser with the mirror, my 3rd attempt- BINGO!- just right!

Here’s a couple images for those of you scanning through just looking at pictures…  For those of you actually reading, there is good distressing and there is bad distressing.  If you over-distress, just go back to painting and cover up your mistake.  It’s like it never happened!

Last but not lease, hardware. I thought about getting new hardware for months.  I researched and thought and planned and visited Home Depot.  The problem… although the hardware on all 3 pieces are similar, they are not the same.  More specifically the space between the screw holes varied.  As I mentioned before, I’m cheap… and now we can add lazy to the mix because I had no interest in covering the holes and creating new ones.  So on that trip to Home Depot for supplies I looked at my options.  Enter Rustoleum Hammered Silver.  It gave me the updated look I wanted for $8!

As I mentioned, week one I painted the bed side tables.  Week 2 I moved onto the tall dresser.  Week 3 I rested at the New York Lake House.  Week 4, with a little help from Miss Lindsay in Wonderland

… I finished strong on the long dresser with the mirror.  It took a lot of time, but was TOTALLY WORTH IT. Now a bunch of  after pictures…

The difference really is stunning. The entire room has a much lighter feel. I wish I would have taken more before pictures or used a better camera or something.  If you know me and are at my house, ask to see it.   If you don’t know me and are at my house, I might be a little creeped out but I’ll probably show you any way.  My friend Candice saw things 2/3 of the way done and said it looked like something you could get at Pottery Barn- best. compliment. ever.

A splash of color!

**Before I start this post, I have to say that I considered not writing it right now because my phone which contains the photos for it is not within arm’s reach.  I. Am. Pathetic.**

It’s been a very busy summer but I am excited to say that I am FINALLY getting to some projects I mentioned WAY BACK in this post on February 1.  To be more specific, I have completed one of those items and am 2/3 of the way done with another.  WOOT!  But this post is about the completed item- painting our front door and shutters.

There was nothing explicitly wrong with the facade of our house (if you don’t count the collapsing side patio– which is being fixed!)  It just lacked… pizzazz.  Take a look…

Ya, white on light grey just wasn’t doing it for me and between that post on February 1st and the day those shutters were painted I went back and forth on color A LOT.  I thought maybe dark gray, maybe blue gray, maybe some shade of tealie blue (yes, I do realize that “tealie” is not a word, thanks).  My sister, the interior designer that she is, had lots of opinions.

By the time that painting day came around, I had made one decision.  Spray paint was the way to go.  Trying to paint with a brush over the slats just didn’t seem like a good time.  So- spray paint it was and that limited my choices down a lot. Suddenly my options were down to straight up dark grey or Valspar’s Mediterranean Blue. I wanted pizzazz and so I took the risk and purchased 4 bottles of Mediterranean Blue.

First task- remove shutters from house.

Sun beached siding?  Check.  Hornet’s nest behind the shutters?  Double check.

This is where I must make a statement about my husband. God bless that man. I get him into my hair-brained schemes and he not only keeps me sane but THINKS ABOUT THE DETAILS.  I am a big picture person.  I want to have a vision and get it done.  I don’t think about how it is going to get done.  Chris does.  Thank God.

After the shutters were washed off, sanded and then washed off again, Chris started painting them.  Why Chris?  Because after painting 2 motorcycles, the man is a genius with a spray bottle.

Yes, Chris is wearing a t-shirt in his head (to avoid over spray in his hair) and no shoes (because he’s a man and doesn’t need shoes).  The shutters are fiberglass or plastic or something so they only needed 2 coats of paint.  After that Chris impressed me with his head for details yet again and painted the screws.  I guarantee I would not have thought of this.

Final product?  Well, I’m pretty sure both Chris and Tracy had the same reaction… “It’s bright.”  They’re right.  It is bright— and I love it!

A few weeks later, after we had time to really get used to the color, we moved forward with painting the front door.  Painting your front door is tricky because it means you won’t have front door on your home for a unknown period of time.  This means you have to plan really really well.  Have the supplies ready, have your plan of attack prepared and pray for good weather.  When those things come together- GO.

On a side note- I really hate the fact that the siding to the left of the front door does not match the rest of the house.  Anyone know a lot about siding and want to help me fix that?  Otherwise, I’m going to need to start researching how that works…

Just like the shutters, you have to wash down, sand (a lot), wash down again, sand some more for good measure and then wash down again before you start painting.  Sanding is crucial with this door because it is real wood.

The door took 3 coats of paint and a lot of drying time.  We put it back on the hinges a few hours later but left it open as long as possible.  If I would have planned better- we would have chosen a less humid weekend for this as the humidity really does affect drying time.  Once we finally had to close the door we learned the cost of that humidity when the paint stuck to the frame in a few places.   It wasn’t a major error but it bothers me.  I haven’t fixed it yet either.  Need a good day with lots of drying time. Final product??

The screen door is pretty dark so it doesn’t have quite as dramatic of an affect as I had hoped or anticipated but I’m still glad I did it.  Because the door is hidden in many views of the house and the screen hides the color a bit, I’m planning to add a few Mediterranean Blue accents to tie everything together.  Chris is currently in the process of fixing up the side porch and I’ve take the opportunity to paint our house numbers.  Maybe I’ll paint some pots too!  Lots of possibilities, right??

P.S. This is my 100th post on WordPress.  Snaps for me!!  (Name the movie for 10 point!)

I was framed!

I can’t tell you why, but our master bedroom got lost in the initial house painting and decorating frenzy.  We finally painted in November 2009 (a full year after we moved into the house).  Then, my  fabulous sister purchased  amazing wood blinds and built a headboard for us last Christmas.  Thank god she’s an Interior Designer (at Laura Gills Interior Design Co.). I would be lost without her.  So, this is where we were…

I knew that the wall behind our bed needed… something- especially before we had that headboard.  I would think about it occasionally but I have to be honest- I have a hard time spending my money on art.   I just feel like practically everything I see is really overpriced.  That is probably why we have lots of framed photos hanging in our house- a lot less $$ and a lot more personal.

However, a framed photo just wasn’t going to work over the bed.  Especially because it was such a LARGE space.  I found a few pieces that I liked but nothing fit.  I even pulled the trigger and bought a great framed sepia photo of the base of the Eiffel Tower at Old Time Pottery.  Too small. The huge headboard made the very large frame look comically small.  It is now on the wall next to our dresser.

So, on we went with the bare wall.  It was practically indecent (Get it? ‘bare’ wall??).  Finally, on our July trip to Charleston I found what  I was looking for at the open air City Market.  There was a vendor selling black and white 4×6 photos of elements from nature and architecture that look like letters.  I loved it!  But what to spell????  The letters weren’t expensive but the longer the word meant the more the bill.  So I went with something simple and personal- RADAK.  5 letters. boom. done. bag ’em.

I brought the letters home with big plans.  Big plans that never quite materialized.  Amazing how life gets in the way, isn’t it?  I was also a little worried that we were going to have another size problem.  My plan was for all the letters to be matted in 1 frame.  Well, it wasn’t looking like that one frame was going to be nearly big enough.  Luckily, Tracy the Interior Designer came to the rescue.  She said we should mat and frame each letter seperately and then hang them all.  I said “Great. That’s what I want for Christmas.”

Now the pressure was on her.  As usual, she delivered.  We returned from our trip to DC to find this…

Perfection.  Merry Christmas to me!  🙂

Mantle mayhem

NOTE:  I’m excited to have my husband, his attitude and his English degree contributing on this post. I hope it is something that will happen regularly.  His contributions will be in italics.  ENJOY!

The lower living room at our house has been titled ‘The Man Cave’ and is mostly Chris’s territory.  There are framed posters of Arnold, a projector for sports games and the like.  Here is what the room looked like before we moved in…

Yes, that is fencing and a lamp post in my house....

Work on this room has gone slowly.  We were excited to have the extra living space but  not in a hurry to make it the entertaining area that the upstairs living room is.  However, as projects got done around the house this room did get some attention.  Soon after we moved in, my parents passed down their sectional so we would have seating and about a year later we finally painted and took down the lamp post.  These were big improvements for a room dedicated to football, beer and the star of the Terminator movies.

However, there was one last thing I had been craving since our first Christmas.  As you may have noticed in the before picture, this room has a fireplace but no mantle.  That meant I had no where to hang my stocking.  How  was Santa going to know where my toothbrushes, hair clips and gum went without a place to hang my stocking?!?!  But life was busy and that first Christmas, 2 months into our life on Roedean Dr., we had other priorities.

Fastforward to December 2010 and my current Christmas list.  Originally I had told Chris I wanted an e-reader.  But when I realized how expensive the good color ones were, I decided that it might be smarter to wait and get an Ipad in 6 months or a year when the price goes down (hopefully).  So, I thought and I thought and I asked for a mantle.  Chris probably had it easier with the E-reader…

This was supposed to be a simple project, but got complicated by math, physics, and my inability to cut a straight line.

We started by looking at websites to find inspiration.  I like to keep things simple.  Lots of clean lines.  We found things we like but much of it wasn’t practical in the space as the white pillars along the brick wall (that i hate but am afraid to take out) complicate the situation.  We decided on a simple board top with a smaller box under it to support the weight of whatever we would later decide to put on the mantle.

Anchoring a load-bearing “base” board to the wall was simple enough once we realized that our chimney is basically indestructible, and that the masonry bit cut through the mortar much more easily. With that secured, I started holding up scrap plywood for Sara to “eyeball” the dimensions she wanted.  She settled on an 8″ deep mantle, with a decorative (and structural) box under it.  That was supposed to be a 4″ drop, and 5″ run to the wall.

Thank goodness one of us took Physics!

It was supposed to be; but Home Depot refused to make the “rip” cuts needed to created our 4″ and 5″ boards.  Words cannot express the confusion and irritation I felt as I stood in Home Depot thinking, “so you’re Home Depot; and you’re saying you don’t have a tool appropriate for this cut, but  you expect ME, Joe Homeowner, to have such a device?”   They were more than willing to show me their selection of table saws…

Suffice to say, we passed.  But we did pick up a mitre box and after some redesign, found wood that would not need the evil rip cuts.  $47 later, we were on our way home.


Happy Chris with his perfect piece of wood, pre-devastating rip cut news.

Recalculating after the devastating rip cut news...

Back home the frustration did not subside. The little mitre box was not big enough for our 7 1/2 inch mantle top and too wobbly to guarantee straight cuts on everything else.  Chris used all his ingenuity, patience and strength to overcome and soon we had a top board cut to perfection and an arrangements of clamps that would prevent further wobbling.

For those not aware, a mitre saw cuts exact angles.  Typically 90 and 45 degrees at least, and nicer models can be adjusted to anything in between.  Hand versions are tricky, because while the mitre box guides you in the proper direction, the blade (and your wrist) still want to flex, and obscure your angle.  1 degree off makes a big difference when you’re trying to match corners.  with a little practice, and a pair of 4″ C-clamps to hold the wood flat and level, I got results that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t embarrassing.   Wood-putty and some hand sanding should help too.

Are we done now?

Chris will not be outwitted by a mitre box!

Once the cuts were made, Chris checked his angles and put in L-brackets to hold the pieces together.  After a few pilot holes and some sanding, it was ready for paint.  We chose white because it matches the horrible columns I mentioned earlier.  2 coats did the job.

Paint me please!

Then it was ready to hang.  No major incidents there.  Chris’s pilot holes worked perfectly.  We didn’t fill in over the screws with wood putty or paint over them for now.  They aren’t obvious and we were about ready to be done. Here is the final product…

That was (kinda) easy!

If you don’t count the mitre box, this project cost us about $40 (we already had the paint).  Better mantle decor to come.  I want to find some pieces that are a little more classy but still stick to the “Man Cave” feel of the room.  I’m sure that will be another entry.  Let me know if you have suggestions!