Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How do you Pick a Colour for the Windows?

My beautiful house is painted with the same all over white trim that's used on most red brick houses. It's cliche and boring, and that simply will not do. I've been looking at other houses collecting ideas and obsessing over what colours to use for months.

I've noticed that the best looking historic houses have three colours, and use two in the windows.

This one really shows the power of a darker colour in the window frame to improve even the bland colour palette of off white windows on red brick.

On a detour through Kessler Park on my way home from Home Depot I found this red brick house with it's almost black blue trim and pops of stone. I love it.

It's unique without being flashy. It has a sophisticated country mansion sort of feel to it. Warm and rich; thick on the senses rich.

But how could I incorporate both the simplicity of the very dark blue trim and the well established superiority of having two colours on the window?

After weeks of wondering and pondering I read a comment online that said one way to incorporate more colours into a historic exterior while keeping it cohesive is use a darker or lighter shade of the same hue. BRILLIANT!!
So I decided to make the window's main trim and the awning a dark blue and accent the window frame with a dark red that is a similar but richer shade of the brick colour.

This book is how you get an exact brick colour. Well, this and bring in a brick. They generally hide these books behind the counter and you have to ask for them. They show ALL the colours, and it's a lot more than the selection of square paint chips on the wall.
I ended up after a number of paint samples deciding on the colours in the right side of this photo, the really dark blue and the dark brick red. It looks even darker from a distance. Now I just have to wait for the weather to get nice again so I can strip off the old paint and caulk, replace any rotted wood, recaulk, prime, and paint the windows one by one. Should be fun! Fun in an exhausting yet rewarding kind of way.

Friday, September 17, 2010

New blinds make a HUGE impact

I've never replaced the crappy blinds that came with the house. There just seemed to be so many more important things to do that -I thought- would make a bigger impact on the house.

I was so wrong.

Now, looking back, I'm embarrassed to show how terrible they looked before. I would pull them all up first thing in the morning so no one would see them (and because I like the open feel) so many of you who have been to my house may have never seen them

Missing and broken slats were everywhere around the apartment. (I put all the more decent blinds upstairs in my tenant's space.) In the living room of my apartment the one on the far right wasn't long enough so we put a couch pillow in the window at night so people couldn't see in the house.

And here it is with new 2" faux wood blinds slightly open to let the light stream in. Now I leave them down and just tilt the blinds during the day to let in light because I love how they look so much!

In the sewing room, you can see a section where all the slats at the bottom are broken. The one next to my sewing machine was so bad I kept it up all day and night and threw it away ASAP hence no photo.

After new blinds it looks way better!!

And the thing I -stupidly- never expected is how much better it makes the OUTSIDE of my house look too!

The 2" slats compliment my metal canopies so well! I might be a little obsessed and silly, but now when I take the dogs outside at night I look at how nice my new blinds look with little streams of light gleaming through them and think proudly about how my house is now definitely the nicest looking on the block.

Oh ya.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Lincoln logs, no...POPKEN logs

I saw some huge pieces of ancient chopped up tree near the Fiesta Supermercado a few days ago on my way to Amanda's house for dinner and had a brain wave about how cool these giant log slices would look on her patio as chairs and tables. At 11:00 at night we went in the mini to check them out...hey let's try see if we can get one in the car...well that was easy, how about another...

That was Thursday. We made plans to have people help us get some of the even bigger logs on Saturday evening. The plan involved our neighbor friend Ed bringing his truck, hiring some friendly cheap immigrant labor, and Marco translating instructions. By Friday afternoon all but the very heaviest logs that would take more than 2 normal people remained. People around here like big pieces of trees! Then Ed went to Fiesta Saturday morning, stopped to see the logs we'd told him about, got a passer by to help him load the three smallest ones in this truck, and called me up.

Well, since we're all three here with the truck we might as well try to get the others ourselves if we can...and now that we have all but the two biggest "could take 6 people" sized ones we should go to that other pile I saw and get more...

I like when fun adventure projects just flow along like this. Sometimes getting stuff done is all about planning and executing steps strategically. And sometimes you just go with the flow.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Prepare for chickens!

Amanda and I went on the Dallas Chicken Coop Tour a few months ago and were completely convinced and inspired to have our own backyard chickens.

We decided the coop and pen need to be in Amanda's backyard because mine is too small and we live so close to each other that we can easily share the chicken duties. Now that she's settled into her house, we're ready to get going on it. We first walked around the yard and discussed the overall vision for her yard, then we figured out how the coop would fit in and how it would look.

The view from Amanda's back porch.

Then I came one evening with my trusty reciprocating saw and cleared out the back left corner of the yard, removing low lying limbs and small bushes and vines.

The dogs always get to romp together while we work. Here's Lady and Turkey playing next to my big pile of cut down limbs. The thicker branches will be saved to use an the chicken's perch in the coop.

Chickens need sun and shade as well as protection from the elements. This location is perfect for that.

While excruciatingly bored at work one day I drew up the plans. The next afternoon we made a detailed list of the supplies we needed and it started to hit me how big this project is. We need a LOT of wood.

Thankfully there were a lot of 60"ish 2x4s in the sale section at Home Depot. These are pieces that are left over from other cuts or have a chunk missing or sone defect...and are sold at $0.51 each! A steal! Perfect for us.

Here's Amanda with our very full lumber cart.

The guy that cut our wood didn't believe it was all going home in a mini cooper, so he came out and helped us load it up. Two different guys offered to take the stuff for us in their truck, which was nice I guess but at the time seemed creepy. Anyway, it all loaded in easily and the employees that had stood around watching and laughing got schooled.

Fido kept trying to hop into the car while we were unloading everything into Amanda's garage. "please can I go home now?!!" He eventually hid in front of the driver's seat by the pedals. He doesn't really like hanging out in the backyard in the heat while the other dogs do stuff like...

...create their own mud puddles where the hose is leaking.

So the prep work is all done!
Check in soon to see us build a chicken coop.

This is going to be GREAT.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grout: easier on than off

This morning, 31 hours after adhering the tile to the Hardy Board, I put in grout. I'd thought about doing black but decided it might be too heavy looking. So I went with a medium grey that would be an in-between colour for my slate and white tiles. I hope I made the best choice!

I used a premixed container of grout, a trowel, a kitchen spoon, and my fingers to get it on.

Getting it off turns out to be much harder than getting it on. You just keep wiping, and rinsing out the sponge, and wiping, and rinsing... The thing is, you can't leave a film on the tile or it will dry that way and always look cloudy but the sponge seems to always grab a touch of grout from in-between the tiles and smudge it around. I ended up using the sponge to get it clean down to a thin film, then a dry dish towel to get it mostly perfect, then a dampened piece of towel around the tip of a finger to scrub individual tiles. The white ones really didn't want to come clean! It took about an hour start to finish to do the grout.

Update: the grout dried slightly darker and looks great! So, paint AND grout both dry darker. Good to know.

Now I wait 48 hours before putting on the tile and ground sealer.

In the meantime, I'm washing dishes in the bathroom. Ugh. It's worth it though.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Tiling the sink! FINALLY!!

Yesterday my Dad, Marco, and I finally got down to business on the sink. Tiling is pretty easy, but getting it ready for tile took some power tools and muscle.

This is where we ended last time. Not my Dad under the sink with a flashlight, but a basic wood frame with a huge porcelain sink in the center, washer/dryer on either and a box of tile waiting to be put on.

The tile shouldn't be applied to wood, it can warp and pop the tile off, so we had to apply Hardy Board to the sink top which meant we had to unhook the pipes from the heavy cast iron and porcelain sink to pull it out, then measure cut and screw down the Hardy board. This meant cutting the top piece the right size while wearing masks because this stuff makes seriously nasty dust...we remembered the masks after this first choking dusty cut...

...then lying it on top and tracing the hole for the sink...

...then using a circular saw and jig saw to cut out that hole using special carbide tipped blades because Hardy Board aka "concrete board" is so abrasive it dulls a normal steel blade in moments...

...then measuring cutting and screwing the front panel on with special hardy board screws...

At this point my Dad went home and Marco went to a coworker's birthday party and I spent the next couple hours (11:00pm-1:00am) laying out the tile and putting it down. It's really easy. Put down a thin even layer of concrete looking tile adhesive, put the tiles on, wiggle slightly and smoosh them into place, then wipe off excess adhesive and look admiringly at your beautiful tile. I used tile "nippers" to cut some tiles, which sucked because although it worked, it made a jagged cut. If I were doing a lot more tiling I'd look into a real tile cutter which is still less expensive -and way more fun- than hiring a professional.

I had 28 tiles left over. Pretty good estimation of how much was needed, huh?!

The adhesive has to dry for 24 hours before I apply grout. Then that has to dry for 48 hours before I can put the tile sealer on. Then after that dries I glue down the edge pieces, and then the sink goes back in. I'll keep you posted on progress!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Small triumph. Shelves.

I've been spending a lot of time in my design studio. I'm transitioning into sewing full time. One thing keeping me from my highest level of productivity is disorganization. Half of my closet with big mirrored sliding doors is my personal closet for my clothes (renting half the house and living+working in the other half, remember?) The half of the closet where I store sewing room stuff had few shelves and lots of wasted place where things would pile up. So I decided to put in shelves. I'd already put one new shelf in but it wasn't helping much. Here a pic. Don't be scared!

I cleared it all out including the plastic set of drawers and took measurements. The thing about making shelves is that all the walls aren't level so you have to measure each shelf in it's position. There was a 3/4" difference between the top and bottom shelf's length. My plan was to screw a 3/4" wide and 11" long piece of decorative trim (the kind you usually put around a window or door) onto the wall on each side of the shelf to support it, using scraps left from doing the same thing in the kitchen This gives me some leeway with the length of the shelves. As long as they're long enough to rest on my supports we're good.
You can see how it works in the upper right corner of this pic.

Now, measurements and plan ready, it's off to the lumber department. I always try to look like a hot construction worker when I go in. A bit rugged and casual so I look somewhat capable and definitely not a potential winey helpless girl, but still cleaned up enough that they want to try and impress me with helpfulness and might try to get my number. This is how you get perfect cuts of wood (they're not supposed to do measured cuts) at half price and get out in half the time.

Getting my shelves cut to the right size from a 12' plank.

I ended up with 2 helpers this time and got a full tutorial on putting in tile (tiling the sink is next on the house to do list) and got all the supplies to do it. Now I just need to borrow a jig saw to cut the cement board so I can start. Anyway...two helpers.

Pushing the lumber cart while being led to the tile aisle to get grout and supplies.

The next critical part of putting in shelves is using a level. My huge level wouldn't fit in the tiny closet so I downloaded an ilevel app on my iPhone.

A lot of measuring, leveling, and use of the cordless drill later, I have an organized supply closet for less than $15.

Toby helped too. He sat on the wood I was using, demanded that I throw his tennis ball, and fell asleep near by me like he always does. A good sidekick is critical for any project however small.

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