Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sneaking in a project

Have you ever snuck a small organizing/rearranging project when someone wasn't looking? Did you ever do that in someone else's house?

Is that the kind of thing people appreciate? I know one of the people in the home will really appreciate it, and is excited. But no one else knows. Except for you. And you wouldn't tell anybody, right?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

We're still here

October. Really? Whoa.

There has been progress on our home improvement projects. Namely, the yard. Daffodils are planted, garden boxes are full of compost and ready for topsoil. But between guests, work, and the extended vacation our sander took (at the repair shop) there has been little time focus on projects or update the blog.

I'm really hoping to get our focus back, soon, and get back on track. The rain is back, so it's time to sow grass seed. Unfortunately, I probably won't get around to building the shed until the rain stops, next year. We'll also have to wait until spring to see if the Japanese Maple survived being moved.

More soon (I really, really, really hope!!)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Garden Boxes

You might remember from older posts that we've found quite a bit of garbage buried in our yard.

Exhibits A, B, C and D:

The cement in the top picture was almost 4' long. The white disc in the second picture is the top of a prescription drug bottle. We found maybe 100+ of the clear, compostable cups, and other picnicware that the previous owners had left in the yard. Some buried, some strewn about, most cracked all to pieces. Love it. Also from another post, you may remember that the rusty barrel was not only full of garbage, but it was buried, up to the rim.

Garden boxes will help ensure we're gardening with cleaner soil, and make garden maintenance a little easier. Box design and construction is another project that I surrendered control of, and, once again, it was for the best.

My mock up of his design:

We purchased: two 4x4x12 and two 2x4x12 sticks for the vertical pieces, eight 1x6x16 yellow cedar boards for the sides, landscaping fabric, 2 1/2" screw (should have gone with 2 1/4") and 3" screws. The 4x4s were cut to 12" lengths. The 2x4s were cut to 24" lengths. The cedar was cut to 4' and 8' lengths.

The 4x4s were attached inside the corners and along the 8' section on the interior side. The 2x4s were placed along the midpoints on all 4 sides, on the exterior, and were sunk into the ground for stability. Landscaping fabric was stapled around the interior sides of the boxes to help keep soil from squeezing out between the boards.

Cost of materials was $138 and change. The project required about 9 hours of labor for one person. That one person was not me.

Now we just need to get some good, clean soil and wait for next spring to start our garden!

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's been a while

... but we haven't stopped. I realized today that it's been a month since I last blogged. We officially lost a follower, and I get so excited about followers, that it bums me out. "Sorry to see you go!"

See? No hard feelings. :-)

Our sander is still in the shop. Really, I have no clue why they've had it for so long. It's been busted for almost 2 months. And we totally could have finished anyway, without the sander, but... yea... we've been distracted.

Distracted with things like backyard demo. Pictures will be posted soon, but I assure you, it's impressive. We now have a blank slate and are excited about this project.

The backyard project includes the design and construction of garden boxes and a shed. I'll add a breakdown on pricing in future posts.

Do you use Google SketchUp? It's pretty easy. I downloaded the basic version for free, and of course, I skipped the tutorial. But I've managed to figure out most of the tools- at least well enough to come up with this:

The shed, at least according to my current plan, will be about 4'x8''. As you can see, the roof will slope down to the back. I'm hoping to use salvaged materials, so I will be hunting around at the local outlets and on Craigslist.

Stay tuned- I'll be posting more about the yard and construction projects soon!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sanding is still on hold.

The sander was supposed to be ready for pick up on Thursday. Still hadn't heard, so today I called the shop. They explained more was broken than they anticipated, and they are waiting for parts to come in. And "we'll call you when it's ready."

That line is such a bummer. No expectation of when it will be ready. Just whenever. I'm so excited to wait even longer for the sander.

Luckily, we've been able to spend the would-be-lost home improvement time in the backyard. So there: the silver lining.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Time in the Yard

Yard work kept on through Friday. The vines came down off the fence.

Before (side view):

After (looking straight on):

Then Norm came over to help us remove the holly. It was growing too close to the house and was well on it's way to damaging the eaves.

Saturday I spent several hours stripping one side of the closet door for the office/guest room.

It's not quite done, but it's close. I'm debating whether I want to strip the interior facing side of the door. It's roughly 4 hours worth of labor that I'd rather put towards something else. So I may just sand it to clean up, and repaint. Or I may give in to the guilt and strip the paint anyway.

So far as a day spent stripping paint goes, it was pretty awesome. I had music playing, it was warm and I was well shaded by the giant fig tree.

When I decided to call it day, I still had enough motivation to clean up the front room, which has been a disaster area since starting the office project. Yep, it was a good day.

So, how did you spend your weekend?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living with Construction and Dreaming of Project Completion

I saw a post on Apartment Therapy about living with home improvement. There, in the first picture, I saw our shop-vac, our ladder and the paper on the floor. It's like they snuck into our house and took that picture. Reading further, I saw (and maybe you did, too) the script for my own home improvement.

You've got to keep the project contained, as much as possible. I try to keep a "dirty" area and a "clean" area- even if no one else can tell the difference, I usually know which is which.

The article also talks about photo-documenting progress, reflecting upon what you've done to gain a sense of progress, and sharing your progress with others for support. That, in fact, is why this blog exists.

And while I don't keep mood boards or inspiration folders at the ready, I have my bookmarks for different websites, online catalogs and a few online design tools that I really love. I like a nice online design tool that does not require you register. I hate registering for the thousands of things online, just so I can receive your junk email. Just let me use your software, dang it.

I especially like:

Icovia. Maybe you already know this one already. I've been using the program by way of the Raymour and Flanigan Furniture page. You can customize the size of every room, structural element, furniture, appliance and fixture. There's a wide variety of symbols to choose from, which helps me visual our furniture that much better. Love this tool. It's a fun way to kill a little time and prove that YES, a bigger rug would actually define our living room as such, rather than the awkward pass through it seems to be now.

Here's our living room floor plan with my proposed rug and chair:

That big thing next to the chair is actually the fireplace. Doesn't quite look like ours- actually I think it looks more like a big screen television. But it's not. The left is at an angle, to the top left of the floor plan.

I also really like Sherwin-Williams' Color Visualizer tool. You can upload your own pictures or use one of the sample they provide, choosing from indoor and outdoor scenes. If it weren't for this tool, I would never have realized that some whites look pink next to your certain wall colors, while whites actually look white. I think of myself as less-than-creative, so this tool is a "must consult" for me.

Our room with SW Color Visualizer:

In the interest of full disclosure, you can register (::shudder::) for both of these tools and save your work. I prefer to just make notes and do a screen grab of the image. Yep, I like to beat the system. And stick it to the man. Push the envelope. Etc.

Are there any similar programs you are using that you'd like to recommend to others? Do you know of something similar for landscaping? Because I really would love to start pseudo-planning our future backyard!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Equipment Failure? Change gears!

Being busy with a few other things has kept me away from the blog, but we're still hard at work.

Unfortunately, our sander died. I guess we're just too strong for the awesome plastic parts inside of the sander. Joking aside, I was disappointed to find out that plastic spindles are were holding our sander together.

Of course it broke. Why wouldn't it? It's plastic. I suppose that's probably the case for most sanders, but if you know of a heavy duty, can't-be-stopped sander, I'd love to know who makes it and where I can find it! Suggestions?

Since sanding is the last thing we want to do right now on hold, we're spending this week getting the yard ready for an overhaul. Our friend is coming over Friday to really get into the yard clean up, so today we did some prep-work, dragging the pile of brush to the curb. It was no small feat.

Here's most of it:

A while back (er... two years ago, maybe?) we found some crushed glass and a metal rim just below the grass. This is what we dug out of the ground, in the middle of the yard, barrel and all:

Filled with plenty of this:

Except for the gren t-bar. We added that. But still- wowzers.

"I think I need to get back on the rower."

He went on to say: "Old pants + heavy lifting = blow out."

The partial moon wasn't the only view. There are also these:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Shelterness Inspiration

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to share some design inspiration ideas that I found tonight, while surfing around at Shelterness. The following photos come from 50 pages of articles I sifted through on Shelterness. Think of these as my personal favorites from the first 50 pages. Again, all of the following photos are found on Shelterness.com.

A few years ago I saw something similar to this in a Pottery Barn catalog. I like how the television is integrated with the room by the large frame.

I'm also a fan of utilizing the space under the stairs for storage. I like the look in this picture, but I don't see myself putting a television there.

But maybe it would work for some shelving like this:

I always picture a big wall of built in shelves in my dream house. I like the big library ladders, too.

Take that ladder and use it in a kitchen? Now you're onto something!

My husband tells me all about the drying rack in the kitchen in Rome. In my mind, it is similar to this:

He really wanted something similar when we renovated the kitchen this year, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time.

Glass-backed cabinets are interesting. You can really show off glassware, and it does give you a sense of space. I like seeing a cabinet like this lower in a room. Even though they are see-through, when they are mounted higher (like over a breakfast bar) I still feel like they are blocking my view. This is a nice alternative.

Here is another cool storage feature. I feel like these shelves would get dusty and be difficult to clean, but I like the way it looks in the picture.

This outdoor walkway is made from slices of logs. I wonder how this would work indoors.

I'm not a big fan of tile, because you have to clean the grout. But. This tile floor is pretty cool:

Again, I do not claim any credit for these pictures. No offense to the person in this picture, or the photographer, but it's pretty cheesey. Cheese aside, I think they are onto something with the notches in the shelf. Maybe with something like this, I'd quit leaving my toothbrush on the side of the sink.

Time to get out of the bathroom.

This group of lights comes from a kitchen ceiling. I think it would look fantastic on a back porch, in a sitting area.

The first time I saw the drum from a clothes washer used as a fire pit was a few years back, in Edison, California. I really liked the rustic look of the drum (that one was double stacked- it looked like a rocket!) and have been storing this idea in the back of my mind. Maybe one day...

Finally, this picture is what brought me to Shelterness. This mailbox would have everybody laughing:

One last time: All of the photos in the post were found on Shelterness.com.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Office/Guest Room

This is a room of many names, but I envision that it will soon primarily be used as an office, and occasional guest room. Part of that vision includes removing the wallpaper, repairing the plaster, removing an extra doorway and repainting the room. Easily enough work for two people for a couple weeks.

But while I had the house to myself for a few days, inspiration struck. I decided I would see how far I could get on that room, working solo. I set a goal to do all the dusty work while I was home alone- stripping paint and wallpaper, tackling the doorway and repairing the plaster. That way, the room would be paint-able by the time my week was done. I picked up a lot of momentum removing the wallpaper.

As in the dining room, there were staples holding the wallpaper up in a few places:

Under the wallpaper, I found some caulk in the plaster... uh-oh...

What the in the world happened here??

We have several very nice neighbors, and one such neighbor helped remove the extra doorway. He, David, did almost all of the labor and advised me on what I would need to buy to complete the job. David is working on his house right now, and shared some of his tools. His house is a few years older than ours, and has some great features. He's also finishing the basement which will be attractive, comfortable and totally "Portland." His place is going to be very cool when he's done.

Here are some pictures of David in action:

I kept telling David "You're an animal!" but he wasn't sure it was a compliment. I assure you, it was. It was impressive to see how quickly and easily he could handle removing and closing a doorway.

I started stripping paint, and was about 30% through, while still working solo. I removed the hardware, in order to strip the paint. Here is a close up of the back of one of the hinges.

Have you seem this mark before? I haven't figured out what manufacturer it is yet. Do you have any cool stamps on your hardware?

Though I didn't reach my goal by the time my week living solo was done, I was glad to have my husband home and (fortunately) he was excited by my surprise project. Working together, we stripped a bit more paint, but now it's time for me to regroup, finish stripping paint and get on that plaster repair.

I am so excited to paint this room, and have it "complete." If you click that link, you'll see some colors I was playing with. What do you think of the greens? Let me know!! If you have a favorite wall color, we'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Flooding, Storms and Preparedness

In Portland, the Columbia and Willamette Rivers are currently swollen from a long/late rainy season and snow-melt. Local news outlets are calling for more bridge lifts, and the highest river levels since the historic flooding of 1996. We are currently "near flood stage" according to the National Weather Service.

If you've been following the news, you've likely heard more about the flooding currently going on along the Mississippi River than the Willamette or Columbia. The images are just shocking, and my heart goes out to everyone in the South whose lives have been impacted by recent flooding and tornadoes.

Here are a few pictures that really pull at my heart-strings:

You may remember The Great Flood of the Mississippi River in 1993:

The tornadoes that blew through the South a few weeks ago shocked and horrified residents and those watching from afar. Tuscaloosa was hit especially hard:

Please keep the families living in these storm-ravaged areas in your thoughts. And consider this question: Do you have an emergency plan? These recent events should remind us all to spend sometime preparing (as much as possible) for the "worst case scenario."

In the event of an emergency, our best assest is preparedness. Visit Ready.gov and remember to make a kit, and make a plan. Discuss your plan regularly with your loved ones, practice what you would do in an emergency situation, and keep supplies current.