Tag Archives: renovation

Weekend Show and Tell

13 Nov

We all know about my Scrabble obsession from this post.  Just spent yesterday afternoon at the Roanoke beating my husband by a hair. that’s why I fell in love with these pillows from Etsy.  I think we could cover off our family with B-H-M-A (Brett and Brandy, Hannah and Hailey, Maeve and Ainsley.)  So cute, right?

PLAY Letter Pillows - CASES ONLY

Coffee and I are not friends. I am a tea drinker. Irish breakfast. One cup every morning. I have tried being a coffee drinker, but after a week or so I am an anxious insomniatic (not a word but I like it anyway) mess. But I am envious of beautiful ceramic French presses like these I saw on Grassrootsmodern.  You can use them for loose leaf tea too!

I have been working on this paint chip calendar that is a total disaster.  Instead, I think we are going to paint the door to the furnace with chalkboard and magnetic paint. What a relief and great use of wasted space.

From Remodelista, great looking folding chairs for those extra Thanksgiving guests.  How much snazzier for your table than the old school creaky metal ones?


From 2modern, bold yellow cabinets. Lovely. I admire people who just go for it with color. Making me rethink the kitchen cabinets.  Yet again.


Meet Another Karl

4 Oct

In a previous post I made a joking reference inviting you to meet my husband Carl Spackler. Now I have another Karl to introduce to you.

You know how you always want people to take photographs of your ‘good side’? Or how in almost any given situation you want to put your ‘best foot forward? Well, if you can believe it, we’ve been doing a fair bit of that. I think it’s because my project list began with areas in the house that I felt I could control, the areas where as a beginning DIY-er, I felt like I had at least a possibility of a positive outcome.

The family room is not one of those areas. It is however where we spend a majority of our time. (Especially now that we have no furniture in the main living room!) I don’t like it. I don’t like being in there. It has old (really old) carpet that is coming up from the tack board between the room and the kitchen. It has an unbelievably motley crew of furniture from my husband’s bachelor days. (No offense, honey.) The sky lights have this kind of messy drywall compound around them that must have been from a leak repair, which we’ve had no problem with thank goodness. Good repair.

And when I say motley crew of furniture, I mean it. The sofa is one Brett had in his room when I was dating him for which we bought a target slipcover (that never really fit) so I wouldn’t get those boy cooties they have in their furniture. This sofa is man-cave ready and I was ready for it to be there. The TV stand is an old blonde wood IKEA stand with drawers that don’t really open and close very well. And the crown jewel of the room is Brett’s Dania leather rocker. Now, I don’t object in theory to these rockers. They fit well with our style and are quite nice. When they are new. But his one is so worn that is the leather has changed colors and it is so far past its prime that ‘nice’ just isn’t a word I would use for it now.

We cleared about $800 for the furniture from the living room.  I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to buy so I turned my eye to the family room. Brett and I had been wanting a sectional for the family room for a long time, something comfy and large that all six of us could fit on. At IKEA last weekend, I took a look at one that had been recommended by my heroes at Young House Love, the Karlstad. (I just love IKEA names for furniture.) I did some more research. This sofa is pretty much recommended everywhere I looked. It’s a solid value for the price ($899) and has a 10 year warranty, pretty much on par with the other class of sofas I was considering.

So we did it. Sunday we drove to IKEA, looked at it again and bought it. Under 10 minutes flat. Brett and I are not people who mull over decisions like sofas too much. Saw it. Liked it. Researched it. Bought it. Done. Veni vidi vici. Voila! (Any other foreign v-words that work here?)

Oh, and we love it. It came while I was at work yesterday and Brett and Maeve put it together, which is no small feat apparently. (I mean, putting together a sofa?  Really? Only from IKEA.) The lines of the sofa completely change the room and point it in the right direction. We will be giving Karl’s legs the treatment because they are too light for the room I have in my head.


The old sofa and white leather chair (yes, you heard right) moved out to their rightful place in the man cave. The messy desk and lounge chair and media stand are still there, along with the bean bags and toddler chair that has somehow found a home in the fireplace. But soon, my friends soon. We have a plan for the media stand that we will share soon. I can’t wait to really tackle this room.

Atomic Orange

3 Oct

We know color has been a big topic with me.  Do I go with the bright fun mid-century colors or the more cool sleek modern colors? As you know, in the end the greens and oranges won out and I am sure glad they did because every time I look down the hallway and see that orange accent around the closet at the end, I smile.


Now that the bathroom and hallway are done, it was time to tackle some of the bigger rooms (which ended up being easier than the bathroom and hallway. Lesson learned.) The problem with the bigger rooms is the wallpaper. And the wallpaper backing. After pulling off all the wallpaper in the dining room and living room, we were faced with the backing and deciding what to do with it, paint over it or remove it.

We took the high road and started on one of the walls in the dining room with DIF and then with a steamer. (I say ‘we’ but I did a tiny section of it while Brett did the rest.) The wall wasn’t large and we thought it would be a good experiment. However, six hours later we decided it was a horrible experiment and we would never do it again. In fact, I think Brett’s quote was that he would rather hang drywall over every wall in this house than do that again. Okay, then. The wall did look lovely once it was painted, I will say that.

We decided to try another experiment, this time painting over the backing. This is a tricky thing (as explained in the wallpaper backing post above) but we figured it was worth it just to see what happened. We removed any loose edges of paper and sanded them down. They we applied Kilz Latex sealer all over the wall. Then we painted. Orange. Easy peasy. Much faster and easier and peasier than that other wall. You cannot see any seams from the wallpaper backing at all. Even if you look super closely. And it makes me happy every time I look at it.

The living room walls got the Air color, as I learned in my Apartment Therapy tutorial that you only want about 20% of strong color to not overwhelm. I think that in the living room I will bring in the orange with my fantasy orange sofa from Perch.



The kitchen and family room are next and as I type this I realize that in the end, I am going back to the palette of my favorite Orla canisters. Should always remember to trust my gut.

So another room completed.  We went from this:

To this (I love the way I can see both the green and the orange from this vantage point):

And this:

And the now empty living room (after selling all the Pottery Barn furniture…except for the rug. Anyone want to buy it?):

To this:

The house if finally getting that Atomic Ranch feel we were dreaming of when we first walked in. I am now totally stoked for the next project. And so is Brett. He just asked me if he could get a jump on it while I am at work today. Score!

Weekend Show and Tell

18 Sep

Wow.  Have I let this week slip by or what?  Back to school really threw me for a loop.  Not to mention the never-ending project list at my day job.  All of the above has left you all completely neglected and in dire need of your hit of mid-century modern design, right?  Am I right?  Well, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or hell, have a Bloody Mary, and sit back to see the parade of all the things I love that I didn’t post last week.

From The Contemporist, I bring you this gorgeous house designed by SJB Architects in Australia.  How very updated Frank Lloyd Wright in my opinion, with those horizontal lines and the way it seems to float up out of the ground as part of the earth.  Gorgeous. 

From the same house, the living room features a large oriental rug.  I sometimes wonder about orientals in an MCM home and, while I do like the look, I feel it sits in the room like an anachronism and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not.  What do you think?  Do the elements of MCM need to be pure or can they weave in more traditional designs?

From Dans Le Townhouse comes this wonderful DIY project made from old wood-flooring leftovers.  Could I love this more?  It reminds me of an Etsy art I pinned a while back, but much less expensive.  Hmm, free versus $1050?  I’ll take free.  I need to find some of these boards because that puppy is going over our sofa in the living room.  (Of course, when we get said sofa because it only exists in my mind right now!)

For those of you who didn’t see the update on Facebook (seriously, LIKE the page now!), MCML scrabble post was picked up by another blog Crafting a Green World with a post on upcycling board games!  Scrabble is making its comeback with another post on Remodelista too!  Very excited about our first re-post!

From Antikmodern, I really really really want one of these old school mid-century modern shelving units. Unfortunately, it’s a fixture in Albam’s store (UK).  I know exactly where I would put it to help solve our book storage issue.  If any of you awesome MCM crazies know how I might obtain a beauty like this, please let me know.

Ugh…Mad Men season 5 has been delayed.  Whatever will I do without my fix of Don Draper?  (Catch up on the other seasons with my husband, of course.)  In the meantime, brought to you by one of my new fave blogs Grassrootsmodern (courtesy of a suggestion by my brother Patrick who has also started a blog here), these very cool Mad Men posters by Madebyradio.  Sigh.  Pining for Don.

 Oh my, there are so many more that I think I will need a Part 2.  Stay tuned.


The Basics on Baseboards

7 Sep

I really do have the world’s best husband. Nothing is too much for him to figure out. Not even guest-writing (with some ghost-editing) this post in addition to completing this project.

This weekend’s successful project was putting in the baseboard trim in the bathroom.  Yes, THAT bathroom.  The bathroom with the never-ending project list.  You know the one that looked like this originally?

  1. Remove wallpaper
  2. Buy new shower curtain and towels
  3. Paint
  4. Put in new trim

Et voila! Right?


That list ended up looking like this and with just one item left:

  1. Remove wall paper
  2. Remove vinyl baseboard trim
  3. Buy new shower curtain and towels
  4. Scrape wall paper glue
  5. Clean with TSP
  6. Paint walls
  7. Paint cabinets
  8. Buy and install new cabinet knobs
  9. Repaint walls and cabinets
  10. Apologize to husband for getting the colors wrong
  11. Apologize to husband again
  12. Prime, paint and coat the countertops with Polycrylic
  13. Coat the countertops again
  14. And again.
  15. And again.
  16. Install new baseboards.

I have to admit I had nothing to do with any of this project beyond a little editing. (Okay, well, I did my part by re-painting them a color not-purple.) Here we go…Installing baseboards from the mouth of my babe.  (Parenthetical italicized commentary courtesy of moi!)

From Brett:

I painted the trim pieces first, but in hindsight, I would have done this after measuring and cutting.

I measured the length of each stretch of wall needing the trim.

Then I cut the pieces.  This sounds easy but, oh boy, not so.  The trick with trim is the angles. Most commonly these are 90 degrees. Angles that go on the outside of a wall, where the trim is going around rather than inward into the 90 degree angle, need to be cut at a 45 degree angle so the part of the trim missing is the non painted side.  (Ummm…I’m getting lost.)

The angles that go inward need to be cut so the non-painted side is cut out.  Keep in mind during all of this that the measurement changes depending on whether it’s an inward angle or outward angle.  (Wow…translator? Way too complicated for my paint impaired brain.)

I messed up one cut right away and had to stop….and say to myself, ok, lets visualize how this will work, which took me about 10 minutes. Then I had to stop and visualize each cut before I made it because materials were running short. I cut and walked inside to make sure it worked.  On top of that I had two angles that were not 90 degrees but rather 2x 45 degree angles…so at each cut I had to do the same process but make my cuts at a 22.5 degree angle. (Does wine come with this?)

Nail the pieces into place with the brad-nailer (and some big machine that makes a lot of noise called an air-compressor).

Fill holes and space in corners with wood puddy and paint. That’s it, easy peasy. 

(So says he!  That is why I love this man.)

Wallpaper Backing

6 Sep

Have you ever been so resistant to something that you refuse to believe it’s the right thing to do even when you know it probably really is? That’s me and wallpaper removal (and probably a few other things). After the bathroom project that never ended (which you can read about here and here and here and here), the thought of removing the wallpaper in the rest of the house makes me cringe. It’s in the dining room, living room, all bedrooms but one and the remaining bathroom. A lot of it is original, which makes it extra tricky. Almost 50 year old wallpaper wants to stay.

The other night the magnificent Maeve decided that the peeling section in the dining room irritated her and asked if she could peel it off.  Half an hour later she had pulled off all the paper in the living room (only one was papered…thank heavens) and half the dining room…the parts she could reach anyway. The backing of the paper was left behind and is stuck good and well to the wall.  No seams coming up anywhere that we could find. In fact, I had a hard time pulling up a seam of the backing paper.

So let’s just paint it, right?  Why not? It’s kind of a nice construction paper texture and would look good. It was about 9:15 at night and Maeve begged and pleaded, so I told her we she could paint a section and wait and see how it turned out. It actually looked pretty good. But something about this didn’t feel right. I remembered reading somewhere that painting wallpaper was a bad idea. Okay, I can see that. But what about painting wallpaper backing? I told Maeve to wait and went to do some research.

There are a wide variety of opinions on this. Never paint over wallpaper. You will totally regret it. Go ahead and do it. Go ahead and do it carefully with certain precautions. But what about the backing? Is it just as dire?

Some sites say no, but you must be very careful about the preparation.

When I removed a bit of the backing with some DIF and a scraper (which wasn’t difficult but incredibly tedious), I found some very old dried glue. I tried scrubbing it off with some TSP but it’s pretty stubborn and took a fair bit of elbow grease, which translates to some very strong elbows given the size of the house. Argh.

This dried glue is also found in Hannah and Hailey’s room, where the wall paper came off super easily and had no backing. The dried glue in the twins’ room is even more stubborn and comes off only with serious scrubbing with a brush.

Given the overwhelming task at hand, I am debating between the two methods and wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts or recommendations? If we scrub, we are into this project for a long long time. If we don’t and we sand the seams, seal and prime, what are the odds we will be in good shape? Would love to know your thoughts or if anyone’s ever done this before.

The Mother of Invention

30 Aug

Apparently necessity isn’t the mother of invention. I am.

Despite what some of you may think, I am not crafty. At all. In fact, I don’t even really like the idea of being crafty. I am creative. Not crafty. There is a difference. I can envision things and ideas, but I cannot make them. I get other people to make them. (Yes, I can now paint a wall, but I don’t consider that all that crafty.)

Maeve on the other hand is both crafty and creative. The girl never stops. Some days she spends all her time outside painting, creating something near a masterpiece.

This morning for example, she decided she was going to spend her day making an Eiffel Tower out of Popsicle sticks. Huh?

Her other recent creations have been more mid-century modern inspired. When she isn’t scanning Ebay for mid-century things for our home like hairpin table legs, she is dreaming up other MCM creations using regular household objects. For example, she created this pendant lamp from an old light fixture she had in a Chinese lantern and some plain old printer paper.

She also made this Eames inspired clock with the clock mechanism from an old Target wall clock, construction paper and wooden sticks.

And she took my Pinterest challenge seriously, even if I didn’t, but making this succulent planter with a vase she found in the cabinet, rocks from outside and a plant from the garden.  She puts me to shame.


And if that weren’t enough, she even has her own Etsy shop, Raindrops. Check out her lovely jewelry. I am so proud of her creative energy and I hope she will follow her bliss always.  The other night we were talking about some of her peers who are starting to get wound up about college choices and making sure they have enough club and philanthropic activity to get themselves into Harvard. I could see her getting stressed out about it and I shared with her one of my favorite posters. I reminded her this is her life and she only gets to do it once. Happiness comes from following your bliss and I am sure she will.

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