A New Look for an Antique Cast Iron Crib/Daybed: Stripping Paint for a Blackened & Lightly Polished Finish

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It was extremely difficult for me to begin this project, because I did not want to go through with it…

See, I found a wonderful little crib or daybed on Craig’s List several years ago, and it had the most perfect, gorgeous, layered chipped paint I’d ever seen on a bed frame.  It is the kind of patina that only time and wear can produce, and I’ve never yet seen a convincing modern finish in person (although online there have been a select few potential examples.)  Back then I had no reason or space in the apartment to set up a daybed, but I loved the frame and looked forward to using it as is.  Although beautifully chipped and cracked the remaining paint was solidly adhered and stable.  I planned to clear coat it for more durability, but alas this could not be done in good conscious now, thanks to lead.  (While encapsulation is one way to deal with old lead paint I wasn’t comfortable with relying on a clear coat.)  Instead my options were to chemically strip every trace off or have it sand blasted.

Sand blasting sounded like a great idea, and it was always the backup plan.  I’d found a few places “locally” to do it, and the cost was not outrageous.  There would be no work for me, and if I’d preferred a pristine finish then they could powder coat the frame any colour too.  Over the past few months I mulled over options for decorative finishes, powder coating in pale grey or some variety of white, or a clear finish over the raw iron.  The decorative ideas were all seen online, and I wasn’t sure they were options from the local places.  Besides that I’m really picky about faux finishes.  Meanwhile, powder coating any shade of white kind of killed me since I loved the chippy white so much, and I wasn’t sure how thrilled I’d be with anything new and pristine looking… even if in a grey. Leaving the metal a raw silver sounded pretty neat, and I did a bunch of Googling to see what it could be like.  However, I saw that this would leave the iron too bright and shiny for our tastes, and I began to prefer the idea of saving a little money by stripping the frame myself in spite of it surely being a lot of work.

It was a lot of work indeed!  I spent several days on it last week, and I was left entirely exhausted and very achey each evening.  As I was working I was full of misgivings, and there was a time that I was afraid I’d never get it to look the way I hoped, but by Friday evening it was done and was close enough to the picture in my head.  (Yes, I’m finally writing this a week later.)  So, here is the process I used to strip, blacken, polish, and seal the old iron…

Once I’d decided to go ahead with stripping and a new finish I had the new look in mind: I wanted the iron to look aged and blackened with freshly polished silver highlights.  The idea was to have it look like armour or metalwork at a renaissance faire and to avoid L thinking it looked like an old jail (too dark) or flashy (too polished.)  He never shared my enthusiasm for cast iron bed frames and cribs although he does like when it is used for other furniture.  (Something to do with it reminding him of old institutional furnishings, I believe?)  He certainly didn’t appreciate the chippy paint, but I thought I could win him over with the armour look.

First I had to strip off the old paint.  With all the crevices and bars I knew this wasn’t going to be the most fun task, but it wasn’t too bad.  The worst part was that I couldn’t complete it in one day, and when stripping the work (and amount of stripper required) completely doubles by starting again even if nearly done the first evening.  Bleh.  When I stopped work the first day there was just a bit of paint to scrub out of the deepest crevices on two pieces, a bit more on the other two, and I was very happy with the silver tone of the bare metal.  Sadly leaving it overnight led to the development of specks of rust allllllll over.  I’d been concerned about rust.  Unfortunately every piece of the frame had flash rust by the time all traces of paint were removed.  This is when I worried that I might not manage to get the blackened look.  Brown or rusty-red wasn’t a good tone for the room, and I wondered what would be the best way to get black.

With Citristrip:

Rust the next morning:

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Cleaned up and bare cast iron:

Rusting while I was working:

I’d tried to find a product called Penetrol to treat the metal and rust, but no stores in the area carried it anymore.  I’d found a lot of references to it online as the perfect thing for preserving the rusted look of bare cast iron, but I did wonder if it might not play well with spray lacquer, and it most likely wouldn’t have given the look I wanted either.  (It darkens rust as if it were wet, and with so much rust and not going for brown this wasn’t right for the project after all.)  I took another trip to the hardware store and spent a long time considering various types of paint, primers, and rust converters.  Perhaps spraying on black primer, wiping it away from portions, and polishing would work?  Finally I went with a little bottle of rust converter by Rustoleum which the paint guy and the label assured would turn rust black.  It worked wonderfully.

I brushed and wiped the converter over every bit of the frame.  In areas that were supposed to be dark I left a thicker coating and wiped it thinly wherever I planned to polish.  Overall the frame ended up being darker than I meant, but the main reason was that I had put a second package of steel wool replacement pads back on the shelf.  The few I had wore out and stopped brightening the metal after just one side was done.  Shoot!  I tried using actual steel wool in a few levels of coarseness, but nothing polished as well as the plastic pads.  Sadly the best side is not the more visible one when set up in the room either, but I polished everything as well as I could, one side at a time, and sprayed lacquer before moving to the next portion hoping to keep the finish as I saw it without any more rust.  I didn’t dare leave it long enough to go buy a few more pads, so soon the frame was complete and there wasn’t any going back.  I’m actually very pleased with it.

Meanwhile I also decided to paint the mattress support thing too.  I’d thought to keep it original, but eventually the idea of clean black won over since I already changed the rest of the it anyway.  I only had a little can of black Rustoleum, so I had to brush it on in a few coats.  I think it looks much better than the worn out gold, brown, and rust, and I typed the original markings to leave them visible.  I also had to make new hardware, because the movers lost one very important piece.  Grrrrrrrr!  To recreate the missing piece, and a match for a pair, I bought steel dowels and steel end cap nuts to JB Weld to the top mimicking the mushroom-cap end of the original.  I also had to drill a hole in the other ends for a cotter pin, and I selected shiny new pins and springs while I was at it.  The metal was all extremely shiny, so I scoured it with sand paper to tone down the finish.


The big to-do list has had some very nice progress since my last post:

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace storm screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: (One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Make & install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)
-Scrape and vacuum.
-Install sash locks.
-Change light switch and cover plate.
Install shades.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do clear coat (Update: strip and finish bare cast iron.) 
-Add more blackening to crib
-Paint the mattress support section?
-Clear coat crib.
-Attach casters or feet to crib.  
-Create replacement hardware for side.
Polish and oil chrome stroller frames, wash Emmaljunga fabric, finish installing new hardware on re-covered vintage Hedstrom pram, make pattern and new seat for Emmalunga?
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Clear coat chair and touch up hutch.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, Mammaroo, and organise.
-Strip new mid-century hutch.
-Patch and sand hutch as needed.
-Stain hutch.
-Clear coat hutch.
-Pack hospital bag.  -self  -Mini
-Arrange furniture.
-Organise, again, and again.
-Hang wall decor, mirror, mobile.

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.  
-Paint main bath.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens.)
-Finish glazing windows

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.  Again
-Organise attic.  Sort stored items again before sale.
-Organise kitchen.  Pantry.
-Organise sewing room.  Again?
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closets: L’s & mine .
-organise master bath closets and vanity.
-organise linen closet

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
Done!

Sewing room
Done!

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
-Sew dresses for myself
-Fall/spring linen coat for myself and Mini
-Diaper and clothing organiser squares
-Dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini from scraps
-Small and full sized quilt
-Sew some soft toys
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Properly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Exterior                                                                                                                                  
-Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-Paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Done: Glazed & Painted Windows and a Painted End Table

Yesterday I was not feeling well at all and did almost nothing, but today is looking better.    I intend to paint a bunch of trim and doors today and see if I can .  Yesterday I planed the doors that were sticking in the summer humidity.  Such a little annoyance but it is already so nice to have it resolved!  After the painting I hope to have energy and time to do something else, like wash windows or something, and I’m not sure yet if I should go ahead with painting the dining and living room windows…  Doing so means having to scrap too, and the mess and effort of that is probably unwise given that I want the place to look good before the weekend.  They’ll probably be done another time since no one seems to care that they are only primed now.  I’d really like to sew another dress before the weekend also, but Thursday and Friday are spoken for, so today and tomorrow better be productive!

Since last week I completely finished the window glazing project that I wrote about.  Woot!  By the end I rather regretted taking on the front two windows besides the few in back, because it just pushed me over the edge physically, but now that it is all done I’m so pleased.  

When I wrote before I’d finished glazing just one window and planned on two more, but then I decided that the storm windows are just too ugly and that I should make and install separate screens for the summer… This meant taking out the one from the half bath and more scraping etc.  Since I was doing all of this I figured that I should complete the half-assed front windows too.  Everything snowballed, you see?  So, here are photos  from the other day during the process before glazing.  

Not so attractive metal storm window:

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And the same window all scraped, glazed, and painted:

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Windows in the back:

 

 

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and in the front:

Here is a shot of the garden bed that shows how nice the windows look now that they are all done:

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The hot pink flowers were planted before we moved in.  I should relocate them, because the colour is jarring.  While I am at it, here is more of the garden as it looks lately:

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This weekend, while L and I took a walk along some river, I spotted some wild vine with really awesome little black flowers.  Since black blossoms are so hard to find I was amazed and wanted some for home, because how perfect would that be for my garden theme?!  A friend was able to tell me what the plant is, vincetoxicum nigrum, and unfortunately it is an invasive species here.  (Considering how my honeysuckle keeps dying or barely grows although it is wildly rampant all over town, perhaps that isn’t so bad?  Only kidding!)

 

Another project crossed off the list is fixing up the marble topped end table that I recently bought at a thrift store.  The legs were rather damaged having chunks missing, but I’m pleased enough with it now and the $12.50 (half off) price.  It is quite similar to the coffee table I scored at another thrift store for about the same price years ago.  The coffee table slab is broken and we planned to replace it, but that will not be soon.  Now that I have this end table to match I’ll repair the crack and probably paint the base.  I did a whitewash kind of treatment on the coffee table, and I like it better, but it seemed better to paint the new table.

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It seems that I didn’t take the best photos of the damage, but big pieces had been broken off each leg.  So, I shaved down the legs and sanded the edges to make it less noticeable:

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I suppose that I could have stained it dark and whitewashed it to match the coffee table, and I wish I had, but painting was much faster and more forgiving.  I picked up a few chalk paints and ended up using mineral as a base then brushed some white over it and mixed them a little.  It looks okay, I guess.

Maybe I should have left it just with the grey:

But I began adding white to enhance the details and add more interest:

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Done:

And in place:

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I’ve highlighted this week’s tasks on the never-ending to-do list and made some more changes….

Front of house
-Patch broken front steps.
-Paint foundation a more pleasing shade.
-Buy new light fixture and install with sensor bulb.
-Last bit of patching.
-Last bit of painting.
-Wash exterior windows and skylights (uninstalling storms.  Make screens??)
-Finish glazing windows

Mini’s room
-Brush final trim coat on nursery panelling.
-Remove storm windows
-Disassemble, and replace screens.  (Update: make new screens to install for summer instead of storms.)
-Scrape and glaze: 
(One,) (two,) (three.)
-Paint exterior windows.
-Install screens.
-Remove old security crap from windows.
-Patch.
-Paint windows (interior.)                                                                                                                             -Scrape and vacuum.

-Install sash locks.

-Change light switch and cover plate.
-Buy and install shades.  Or make some.
-Have crib sandblasted and finished or do clear coat.
-Attach casters to crib.  Create replacement hardware.
-Attach casters to walker and assemble.
-Bring dresser from Dad’s and refinish.
-Sew Kirghiz felted carpet to a dowel for wall-hanging.
-Strip rocking chair.
-Sand rocking chair.
-Stain rocking chair.
-Reupholster rocking chair and sew pillows.
-Fix leaky sink valve.
-Set up furniture, wall art, and organise.

Main living areas and stuff
-Replace certain outlets, switches, and cover plates.
-Paint dining/living windows.
-Scrape messy paint.
-Finish painting kitchen trim and panelling
-Repaint living/dining ceiling.
-Apply sealant on entry and hearth tile/grout.
-Sew back of sofa.
-Staple cambric.
-Sew pillow covers.
-Finish sanding dining chairs.
-Stain and wax chairs.
-Paint and Mod Podge antique travel chest.
-Touch up kitchen chairs and hoosiers.
-Repair coffee table.
-Repair and sand end table.
-Paint table.                                                                                                                                     
-Paint main bath.
LATER:
-Reupholster recliner.
-Reaupholster little round chair.

Exterior                                                                                                                                   -Weed garden and path
-Stain east side of house.
-Stain or hire west side of house.
-Powerwash patios and chairs.
-and paint rusty table with hammered finish.
-Stain patios.
-Permanently attach umbrella to deck with bolts.
-Powerwash fence.
-Stain fence.

Unfinished part of basement
-Finish painting walls.
-Rewaterproof spot on floor.
-Touch up floor paint.

Organisation
-Organise storage area.
-Organise basement.
-Organise Garage.
-Organise attic.
-Organise kitchen.
-Organise sewing room.
-Organise baby items in closet.
-Organise master closet.

-Have yard sale.

Dressing room and spiral stairwell
-Touch up ceiling paint.
-Shift PAX and MALM to left.
-Patch.
-Brush edges.
-Roll walls.
-Paint trim.

Sewing room
-Remove sewing room door.
-Mark and chisel hinge mortises.
-Mark and drill door knob.  Install knob.
-Hang door.  Plane and sand to fit.
-Paint door.

Other kinds of non-house projects 
-Remake lamp shade for hanging lamp in Mini’s room.
-Remake a play mat and arches for hanging toys?
-Stain and make a busy board for Mini
Sew dresses for myself; light coat for myself and Mini; dresses, pants, and quilted coats for Mini; a small quilt; sew some soft toys; …
-Crochet or knit sweaters, hats, pants, and booties for Mini
-Make a mobile?

Pushed to later:

Master
-Caulk.
-Paint master ceiling.
-Touch up master bath vanity.
-Recoat walls.
-Poperly hang mirror.
-Install tub trim kit and drain.
-Install shower trim kit.
-New switches, outlets, and cover plates.

Storage room (now office)
-Remove stored items from storage/office.
-Rip out carpet and pad.
-Remove panelling.
-Patch and caulk.
-Prime.
-Brush paint.
-Roll walls.
-Paint sewer pipe with hammered finish.
-Paint ceiling.
-Change light fixtures.
-Change outlets and cover plates.
-Frame the two cinderblock walls
-Install foam insulation panels
-Drywall or panelling…
-Prime and paint newly insulated walls

Media room
-Get rid of giant speakers and console.
-Mount TV and sound bar.
-Rip out crappy laminate.
-Remove trim.
-Install DryCore.
-Lay insulating underlayment.
-Install vinyl planks.
-Reinstall trim.
-Paint touchups.  (I did re-paint a lot but need to finish since I ended up using a new gallon that doesn’t match perfectly.)
-Arrange furniture.
-Paint or replace stained ceiling tile.  (or ideally change to 2×2′)

 

Painting, Painting…

I expected that my next post would be about the tiling projects from December/January, but that can wait.  Yesterday I painted the nursery and just about completed it (aside from another coat of trim paint on part of the panelling and work on the windows.)  This room has been the most ridiculously involved painting project I can remember doing.  It seems like I’ve been patching, caulking, caulking, caulking, brushing, and more for ages.  Judging by the timeline in photos, I have been!

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Before:

guest room blue

At first I’d planned to paint this room with a colour matched gallon of deep blue that I purchased in the fall.  It was dark, and I doubt I’d have picked it on my own, but L loves dark blue, people have remarked since we bought the place that it was particularly lovely, and it happened to go very well with some linen curtains I’d scored at a thrift store some years ago and finally had a chance to use.  However, it is a very dark shade which sucks away the light.  Most of the main floor of the house is done with dark paint, and I’m sometimes regretting that fact.  Then it became clear that instead of being a guest suite we’d be turning it into a nursery for MiniMonkey.

I still thought I’d just use the blue paint, and it didn’t bother me whether girl or boy.  I just hoped the kid would like dark blue!   But… soon I was thinking how nice it would be to plan something from scratch: something lighter and brighter.  When I asked L about it (expecting he’d prefer to stick with what we had due to preference for the colour and to avoid buying more paint) he said it was a good idea.  Still, I didn’t jump on it.  The ceiling paint was in poor condition, and I knew I’d have to begin there.  I despise painting ceilings, I really do, but there wasn’t any avoiding it.

There was so much prep-work to tackle first.  The crown moulding had gaps all around and needed caulking.  It was the same with the trim of the panelling too, and it really took forever to get to the point of painting, because I dutifully primed it all too.  It wasn’t only the panelling to prime and coat a few times with ‘coconut ice.’  Only the entry door had been (mostly) painted after moving in, and I had to do the bathroom and closet doors.   Actually, the windows have yet to be primed and painted except the parts along the drywall.  Once spring finally arrives I must remove all the ugly motion sensors, fill the holes, and paint when they can be opened.

A few weeks ago I grabbed some purplish paint chips while at the store.  I’d been feeling fond of purples and aquas for a while, but aqua seems tough to get right (besides, L doesn’t like green and considers many aquas too green) and would be more difficult to coordinate well with the ’60s blue tiles in the bathroom.  Only one chip looked decent at all.  Another could have been nice elsewhere but read a bit too tan in this lighting.  I left it up for a while, and L immediately agreed to it when I showed it to him.  He answered so fast I’m still skeptical that he could have even seen it, but he always has been extremely quick to judge that he likes something.  😀

We had just found out Mini is a girl when I showed him the colour.   (Uh, hopefully the accuracy of that determination isn’t called into question later, because I’m very set on her name!)  Again, we were fine with a light purplish shade for either, but it does push the envelope a bit now that I’ve seen the entire room in it.  It’s so very… PASTEL and infantile, but then again it is a nursery, heh.  In a few years I can slap on the blue again or something else.  I do like it, but it is quite a change!

 

Now I’m just waiting to furnish and set up the room, but I do feel I ought to wait.  As much as it would be nice to start setting up the crib I might as well let more time pass.  So far I’ve removed the antique dresser and am hoping to refinish one stored at my dad’s, and I bought a laundry hamper.  That’s it.  I may or may not try out the new positioning of the bed shortly, since it must be moved for painting.  I haven’t any ideas for decoration, but I removed the curtain rods at the last minute and will likely do shades instead.  It’s very much a work in progress…

The only thing that caught my eye for decor was that I remembered seeing mounted butterflies on eBay years ago that were very pretty.  Then I was at Home Goods and happened to see a beautiful shadowbox arrangement thing made of them and beetles.  I was stunned when I saw it and gleefully eyed the red sticker indicating that it was on clearance, but then I saw the actual price and sighed.  $250 was not happening.  So sad.  I took photos instead.  I also saw a pretty carpet.  There aren’t really any plans to get a carpet, and I have no idea if I’d want one that looks like this, but I liked it enough to take a photo.  (It is too feminine, I think, unless I’d used pale grey as the wall colour.)   Those butterflies though!  Sigh

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Stencilling a Subfloor: a budget friendly makeover

Ah, this was a project I planned to tackle before we even moved into our house just over two years ago.  How time flies!

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Perhaps you’ve already read about my first stencilling project?  Well, I knew that the solution to the stained (and in my opinion very unappealing) master suite carpeting was to rip it out and stencil just like I’d done to the apartment kitchen.  I even decided to stick with the same colours  and pattern!  According to the mix information I purchased the paint for this before we even moved… and here I am finally done with it.

I began tearing up the carpet on Monday the 13th thinking that with luck I could be done for the weekend.  Ha!  I just completed it on Thursday and only did so by opting not to clear coat.  (I’d wanted to do everything properly and thus apply several coats and let it dry for days as directed, but that meant not stepping into the room until next week, doing things in stages thanks to furniture issues, plus a lot of work… nah.  It’s good.)

Here is a before picture showing the carpeting.  It seems I did not take many photos of the room before we moved in, and you do not see the brown mystery stains here.  Any shades of tan, beige, and brown have never been my thing, and by the time I finally began tearing it out the carpet had additional pulls and damage.  It was beyond time to go.

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It was easiest to start inside the closets, and oh look!  A mystery stain!

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The padding underneath was actually really nice, but it had to go since I wasn’t about to put in another dust collecting carpet.  Annoyingly, previous workers had been rather careless with spackle and paint which left the floor a bit lumpy.  I didn’t want to try sanding anything though, because with the plywood it seemed weird to.

This was a lot of work, and I didn’t quite finish removing the carpet on day one.  I’d begun thinking it was perfect timing to bring the trash out for collection the next morning, and it ended up being 12 contractor bags full at the kerb not counting what was still on the floor when I quit for the evening.  At this point I may have been having a second thought or two.  The were about two million staples to find and pull up!

Last time when I stencilled the apartment kitchen floor I neglected to prime first.  That was not to be skipped now!  When I was nearly done brushing it on I noticed that the can said it wasn’t meant to be used on flooring.  Oops.  Perhaps it would have been better to stick with only the floor paint after all and no primer?

It looked a lot cleaner after priming anyway.  The next day I brushed on a few coats of the base colour.  In the apartment I’d regretted having the edges dark since it showed dust bunnies too well, but I ended up doing the same thing here with the navy blue exposed at the edges.  Actually, I was very close to switching to the grey except that I’d already completed the cutting in and taping for the navy.  In the end I suppose it works out better in this case to have the darker one at the edges to disappear better under the heaters and disguise imperfections?

I filled in most gaps which included rough cuts around doors and a lot of gaps in the landing area.  I’m unsure why they never installed any trim there and had to add some myself.  I really don’t like quarter round and always opt for cove moulding instead.  Rather than wood I used the foam stuff thinking it would curve with the “tower” wall, but the piece I had ended up snapping around a nail, so I filled the wide gap instead.  Eh, it works?

Previously I had made a painted border, and I wanted to again, because I think it looks more complete with one, but I was intimidated by the idea of taping a curve.  Whether this room would end up with a border or not was up in the air until I actually attempted to tape.  It wasn’t bad at all with just a bit of care and finessing.  I was rather proud of myself!  😀

The navy had an entire holiday weekend to cure before taping and stencilling.  I only eyeballed the distance from walls and tried to account for projecting bits of trim to balance with the baseboard heating units.  No portion is perfect, but I am entirely pleased with the results.

It was at this point that I considered switching to grey for the outside border, but I’d not trimmed the tape or planned for that.  The navy matches very well with the bits of carpet on the stairs too, and that helped me decide to keep it as the main colour.  So, another line of tape was added within the perimeter of this.  Just look at this!  So proud!  😀

Before quitting for the day I wanted to complete the border by brushing on the navy to seal the edges and then two coats of the grey.  I peeled up the inner tape before anything dried too much in hopes that it wouldn’t lift any layers that weren’t supposed to.  Success.

In the kitchen I’d measured and begun the pattern symmetrically, because the room was narrow.  Here I decided that the most important focal point was the space between the entry door as one walks up to the landing, so I began there.

 

This is how far I made it the first day:

And finally I was done late on day two and just barely with enough paint in the tray for the last bit:

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Working on a much wider room was a challenge, and I had a difficult time keeping the pattern on track.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m still quite pleased with everything.  Here is the tour starting with the landing:

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Standing in the corner is one of the steamer trunks that my paternal great-grandfather used when he left Slovakia in 1900.  Each of my uncles has one or two, I’m told, and my parents had two but kept this “uglier” one in the damp basement (and mum painted the “nice” one, sigh.)  I rescued it a couple of years ago, washing and waxing away rust and mildew and treating the leather, but the bottom (back here) is falling apart.  😦  It is a fairly awkward item to keep around, but I don’t want to lose a rare bit of family history, and so here it lives.

Last fall I scored an older one, with at curved top, free from a neighbour after it didn’t sell at their yard sale and about to be tossed!  It is also in less than excellent condition but has a nice look with neat metal reinforcements at the edges and lovely bare wood. I’m going to let it dry out this summer then preserve it.  I’ll be sure to write about it here.

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For the photos I decided to set up the cradle that I refinished to match the bed (which I also stained and waxed to have a greyed Restoration Hardware look.)

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L and I are much happier now with the room and feel like it finally has our style.  I’m also glad to be rid of the dust-trapping aspect of carpet and look forward to a much easier time when vacuuming.  The only thing that I might do something about are the closet doors and trim colour.  It would be a pain, but it could be worth gel-staining the wood to a darker tone?  I’d really like to paint it but think that would be a shame to do and will not, but a deeper shade could make a big difference.  The trim already looks significantly better here than it used to having been touched up to hide strange fading and wear.  As for the doors, they are loud and feel flimsy.  Depending on measurements I could rig up some Ikea PAX sliding doors or something one day?

Next I’ll have to finish painting the bathroom.  Colour goes a long way, and paint disguised the nasty formica-like vanity, but one day we hope to renovate it.  I’m sure that will be many years from now if ever, but it doesn’t stop me from envisioning marble tile and some sort of wonderful tub.

 

Here and There

Hello again!

I really should have written about the tiling that I was working on in December while I was at it.  Why did I convince myself that projects must be complete before I could post?  All that leads to are delays, and it is silly considering that all the blogs that I’ve most enjoyed reading all seemed to be progress posts rather than complete and perfect before & afters.  Speaking of, I recently found a really enjoyable blog, written by a talented and impressively productive lady, while researching for a future project.  It took me forever to click through to begin reading at the first post, so you’re welcome for the link to it.  😛  (I don’t know about you, but I have to start at the beginning when I find a great blog.)

Just after my last post I did grout and finish the hearth and entryway.  (Although I didn’t seal it yet, now that I think.  Whoops.)  Photos were taken, and there will certainly be a post about those coming up.  Aside from that we enjoyed the holidays, and I was focused on frenzied sorting and organising of all the things before succumbing to 1st trimester exhaustion.  I’m still fighting it, to be honest, and I don’t think that the dreary winter weather is helping much.  Sporadic project-ing does happen, but I could use some energy.

Yesterday I caulked crown moulding in the guest  baby’s room and edged the ceiling.  Rolling on the paint was too much, however, although I re-coated the hallway where water had leaked months ago.  At some point before Christmas I pulled all the furniture to the middle of the room and brushed one coat of Coconut Ice trim paint onto the wainscoting.  Slowly I’ll get there.  Now the dilemma is whether to paint the walls with the colour-matched dark blue (that I already purchased) or go light and bright, perhaps with the Polished Limestone that I have on hand?

This is a difficult choice!  First of all, I already bought the blue.  It is a lovely shade that matches a bedspread and picks up the blue in some heavy linen curtains that were finally put to use after being found at a thrift store some years ago.  It has character and cohesion.  …But it is soooooo dark!  Our entire first floor is done with rather extremely dark shades of paint, and the light does get sucked right into the walls.  It would be lovely to have and airy room on cloudy days.  …But the pale grey is so neutral and boring comparatively!  Sure, it is a lot more “nursery,” but it feels like giving up.  Heh.  Yesterday I asked DH about the situation, and he surprised me by not jumping at keeping the blue.  I thought he’d be all for it since it is his favourite, but he even suggested choosing something entirely different.  Perhaps?  Such a shame to lose that blue though!

This is not the most helpful photo, but I was laying on the bed tired and just wanted to get a shot of the two colours.  The colour-match may read a little differently than this, I believe, and Polished Limestone can be seen in the hallway beyond the door.  Disregard the need for at least one more coat of the trim paint.  😀

Anyway, this will be a long series of progress posts for the nursery, I am sure.  I already plan to move the bed to fit a crib, and the dresser will be stored indefinitely.  I love it, and it was a Salvation Army bargain which I felt lucky to find, but it doesn’t store very much and is delicate.  I used to have one handed down from my mother that is much more suitable, but it has been stored in my father’s basement for a few years.  The condition is questionable.  Once I refinished it and would love to again, but I’m afraid paint may be the best case scenario now.  At worst I have to find one on Craigslist and figure out how to get it home or resort to  Ikea.  (I realllllly don’t want to do Ikea.)   Due to the placement of windows, closet, entry and bathroom doors I don’t know whether I can fit a recliner/glider into the space too.  Gliders are wonderfully comfortable but mostly ugly and always expensive, but I have a thrift store recliner in storage (and pieces.)  It needs refinishing and  reupholstering, again, because the cats shredded the fabric the first time I did it.  Also a nicer fabric would be ideal, but the one I planned to use isn’t in stock (now that I waited a couple of years before buying it.  Unfortunately upholstery fabric isn’t cheap, so…)  I can only hope it will be available again and soon  or else the recliner is doomed to sit in pieces for years.  😦  Planning a real makeover for the nursery could be fun, but I’m not sure I’ll go for a full leap.  The kid is sure to love navy blue and Jacobean floral curtains, right?  Right?  What I do have so far is a lot of linen crib bedding that I scored at the Restoration Hardware Outlet during big sales.  It is all shades of grey and white.  The crib is iron, but I don’t know yet how I want it finished/painted.  Perhaps just clear coat over bare metal?  Boringly safe white?  Decisions!

Lately I’ve been dreaming of spring and have been making garden plans.  Today I placed an order with RareSeeds, and I bought a montmorencey cherry tree too.  We moved to this house two years ago this week, and that first spring I planted a tiny cherry tree thinking the sooner the better if I ever wanted to eat any fruit, but the poor thing died right away.  Last year I told myself not to bother and be glad not to attract more critters, but now I’d really like some tart cherries to look forward to.  I have fond memories of eating them straight off the tree once at a relative’s house (she had an amazing garden) and this pushed me to go for it so that our child can pick cherries in our back yard.  (If I can get the thing to live and grow!  I opted for the more expensive one instead of bare-root hoping to improve my chances.)

The RareSeeds order is basically for decorative stuff that was in the goth garden already, but I added some beans too.  A few of them are gorgeously purple and will be part of the decorative garden.  This year I’ve decided to make use of the somewhat sunnier front of the house more ambitiously.  There is no water source, however, so I’m thinking of ways to extend soaker hoses knowing anything out there is otherwise doomed.  Some of the beans should be pretty there, and perhaps I’ll try a few tomatoes and watermelon?  Last year the tomatoes were a dismal failure since we are so shaded by neighbouring trees, but I desperately want home grown tomatoes if nothing more!  I was working too much and think they were not watered enough either, so my hope it that more attention will make a difference.

The Exterior Staining Project: Beyond Halfway

The house staining project is… going.  I’m more than halfway through now, and it looks very nice, but the going is slow thanks to ladder troubles, weather, and energy levels.  I’ve found that I cannot set up the 32′ extension ladder by myself.  I can shift it around once it is up, but whenever it needs to be brought to a different area altogether I have to wait for L.  This has caused a big delay, because fully half or more of the best weather days went unused for staining.  I thought I’d have finished by now.

I knew the siding was calling for some stain, but I hadn’t realised just how badly it was needed until I began.  The difference is dramatic here

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After doing the back section of the kitchen addition I headed up to the roof.  The siding on the upper addition was in rough shape, and I wanted to coat it as soon as I could after pressure washing lichens and stuff off of the wood.  It would be a nice little boost to feelings of productivity too, being a smaller section, and I love to spend a warm fall day on the roof anyway.

Reaching the highest areas was an obstacle, but I was surprisingly comfortable with this set-up.  It worked out just fine:

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Last week I was focused on finishing the front of the house.  The big ladder had finally arrived, and I quickly stained the living room section.  Yay!

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Then I ran into trouble.  The big ladder was actually too tall to use on the upper landing at the front door, because it extended beyond the gutters and held me too far away from the siding to reach decently (if at all,) so I had to switch back to the telescoping thing which feels very bouncy and fun.

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It wasn’t awful to do that first corner using the telescoping ladder, but I found myself very nervous when I began the next section over.  To reach the very top I’d have to climb above the gutter that it was leaning against, and I didn’t trust the gutter very much, and the sway of the ladder was unnerving too.  I couldn’t bring myself to go high enough without the “support” that the corner had provided.  So, I moved onto the portion reached by the extension ladder.  It felt gloriously stabile!  However, it was also resting on the gutter, and while I could stain to the left, my brain wasn’t happy with the idea of looking to my right or brushing beyond the centre of my body.  Seeing the drop off of the landing made me freak out that the thing would crash down or something to the right.  The left was perfectly fine thanks to the visual mass of the house… despite that actually being no help at all.  Silly brain!

Therefore I switched to the back of the house and completed the lower level.

Over the weekend we drove up to visit my family, and the scary-ladder topic came up (with much agreement that they are indeed unnerving.)  On Monday I got back to work and no longer found myself fearful after all.  Great!  So, I finished what I could reach with the ladder on the landing and also moved it to the steps to get the patch that I’d missed before.  A cinderblock and board helped with levelling.  No problem still.

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The front was so close to completion, but I was stuck without any help.  The weather remained dry and favourable although cold, but the ladder needed to be brought down to the driveway to get over the garage.  I used very little time on Monday before hitting a standstill due to the ladder.  Tuesday was wasted too.  😦

Yesterday L. worked from home and moved the ladder twice.  First we brought it from the front steps, where I’d dragged it on Monday, down to the driveway so that I could complete the front of the house.  I was so excited that it would look good to all the people walking by!  However, nerves got to me again.  We struggled to set up the ladder but eventually did get it in place.  The feet had been slipping a lot on the hard surface while we were setting it up, and that bothered me a bit.  On top of that it was now extended much more than before and was flexing like crazy.  I began scampering up to test it, and I didn’t go quite halfway before feeling uncertain.  Maybe I could have steeled my nerves, but with L. only able to help so much it seemed more productive to leave the front and take the ladder to the back of the house where I was certainly able to work.  L. encouraged me to climb down immediately, and we brought the ladder to the back.  There I was perfectly comfortable with the more calming landscape (with decently flat grass, the rise of the hill behind me, and a tall neighbouring house set above us rather than the hard surface, visual drop off of the hillside, retaining wall, street, and neighbouring homes far below.)

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Annoyingly I had to stop working for an appointment in mid-afternoon which kept me from finishing the section before today’s rain.  Otherwise the back would have been totally done leaving the pathetic patch of the front and each side of the house remaining.

Today we have nasty, cold, rainy weather all day.  While tomorrow is going to be dry and Saturday warm with some sun I doubt I’ll do any staining due to weekend plans with L.  There will be rain on Sunday, and on Monday I have an appointment to set up our second round of IVF.  By Tuesday things will be dry.  I’ll have to do as much as I can before it rains again on Friday, but it looks like it will be nicer and warmer than I was expecting.  Surely I’m running out of time in that regard, so wish me luck that I can finish this thing!

Meanwhile I have neglected to do any gardening posts all season long since spring.  Perhaps through the winter I’ll share gardening cheer and photos between projects?  Currently I have some bulbs left to plant, but that isn’t conducive to pretty “job complete” photos, heh.  I surprised myself with a shipment of fall bulbs that I ordered in spring.  Just as I hoped, I completely forgot about them until I received a tracking email, and it was fun to figure out what was on the way.  In fact, I had to search each bulb on the website to see what they were.

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I’ve already planted a few bags but still have to get to the rest.  Leaves have fallen everywhere and are in the way, but nice days are meant for staining not raking.  Last year’s saffron began sprouting up a couple of weeks ago, but I only found one or two shoots of this year’s planting.  Either the squirrels messed with them or the vendor isn’t as reliable. (I believe it was the squirrels.)

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The garden has looked about like this since mid-August, but it will not for much longer.  We almost had frost these past few nights.  Of course one of the black pearl pepper plants, planted in April, finally began blooming!  There are two tiny peppers on it now.

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Due to the cold weather I brought in the three hanging planters with black petunias in hopes of keeping them blooming all winter, but we’ll see how that goes.  Here they looked nice against the new red on a warmer day:

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Basement Improvements

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So many projects, and so little time.  Each weekend I am trying to tackle something.  However, a few must be devoted to seeing family and friends, and the to-do list is longer than ever.  About a month ago I had a few days off and used them to work on as many home improvements as possible.  The ugly unfortunate looking finished part of the basement was something I’d really been looking forward to making some changes to.  Truly it was the most un-apealling area of our home, and it needed some help.

First of all, it still had a pile of unpacked boxes in the corner (soaking up water too, I found, yuck.)  Then there was the tangled nest of cords that irked me.  (Right after moving my husband wanted the TV set up, and he did it himself since I was otherwise occupied.  He and I have different takes on cable management, so there was a nest of unknown wires clumped behind the console for months until I got around to beautifying the basement.)  😀  Aside from these eyesores close to half of the walls had somewhat white paint that was very dingy and marked up.  The remaining majority were vintage wood paneling.  The floating floor has a bit of a moisture problem and is bouncy and uneven with rot underneath, and I have plans to eventually rip it out, waterproof, and install tile.  The baseboard trim was very beaten up, scratched, and generally looked bad.  Some wasn’t even stained, clear coated, or painted at all.  It still isn’t, actually.  There is a drop ceiling, which I don’t prefer but understand the need for, but it has the big oblong kind of tiles with the institutional worm-eaten finish that just doesn’t scream cosy or anything pleasant.  With the moisture and their size they sag unattractively too.  My plan is to replace them with square tiles that have a smooth and recessed finish, like this.  Oh, and there were dark luan doors with chipped, shiny-brass handles and really old vertical blinds blocking the casement window.  Sounds great, right?

Here are my before photos:

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Funny how it doesn’t look so bad in photos.

So, I took down the blinds and changed the door knobs to my preferred brushed nickel.  Much better!  At first I thought that a cheerful yellow would liven up the space and go well with the tone of the Pergo, the panelling, the sofa fabric, and so on in spite of it being out of character and my husband detesting the idea.  I tried it anyway, and didn’t like it at all either. Probably I chose the wrong yellow, but I went ahead and wasted a few hours only to decide to repaint immediately.  Our favoured grey was yet again the answer, I thought, but it took a moment to settle between the lovely paint, “polished limestone,” from the hallway upstairs and master bath or “silver tinsel” from my sewing room and the flat I lived in before moving into my husband’s.  Note: I should come up with something to call him on this blog, because it feels really odd to keep repeating “my husband!”

Afterwards I painted the worn out trim and one of the doors with “coconut ice.”  I think it was the biggest and best change.  Now I am considering to paint the panelling as well in the grey and the rest of the trim.  It could look nice and sort of like the New England seashore, but I’m nervous to make such a permanent alteration.  I’ll hold off on that decision a long while.

Yellow:

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… and the grey:

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Last weekend we were near a Restoration Hardware outlet when visiting family and had a nice time browsing and dreaming.  My husband really liked certain heavy and sort of Spanish-medieval styled stuff that I think is a bit much, but we also found some things to agree on.  I prefer more simple and rustic things mostly.  We are searching for a media console, and I might try to transform a thrifted one if I can, but it was helpful to discuss what we like and don’t like.  Besides this he has found that he loves leather chesterfield sofas and ottomans, and we are dreaming of replacing ours.  It is all fun to contemplate: the floor tile, furniture options, and such.

I want to mention and link to two wonderful things that we have in the media room.  First of all is Litter Robot.  It is hands down the most amazing appliance I can think of besides refrigeration.  I’ve had cats all of my life, too many cats at once according to most standards, and Litter Robot has been a wonderful change.  It is really expensive (Jebus, I think they raised the price a couple hundred too!,) but since it actually works and doesn’t bog down or break like the other automatic litter solutions that I’ve tried I have to recommend it highly.  I do save a lot on litter compared to a regular box too.  Unfortunately, my husband’s cat never adapted to it, and I need to provide a normal litter too, but my four were much less work thanks to it.  I love it.

The next item is a cheaper dehumidifier.  I knew we needed one, and when I saw that they generally start at well over a hundred dollars I was annoyed and didn’t know which to choose.  I opted to try out this cheaper unit since it was less investment but actually looked nicer than the more expensive ones, and I highly recommend it too.  I ended up buying another for the unfinished part of the basement too, and it works just great.  Hmm, I should mention that we have a Roomba in the media room too, and even though I don’t consider it a vacuum replacement it does help the tracked litter situation tremendously well.  (I would have a litter capturing tray with carpet if the problem-kitty didn’t think it was an extended litter.  Those work too otherwise.)

So, there is a post.  😀