Thursday, January 31, 2013

In The Middle

I had an idea a few weeks ago to replace my old kitchen curtains with vintage tea towels hung on a cafe rod.  My mom and I went looking at antique shops for tea towels, but we couldn't find anything just right--everything we found was too long or too short or the wrong color or there was only one and I needed two.  Then I decided to start in on the laundry room and forgot about the tea towels.

Until my mom called me today when I was in the middle of papering the laundry room to say, "You know, I think I made you a set of tea towels when you were little."  That sent me to my cedar chest to dig around and see what I could find.  Sure enough, folded neatly and wrapped in tissue paper in a plastic bag (a Harzfeld's Petticoat Lane bag, for those of you who know Kansas City) was a set of six linen tea towels.

When I saw them, I suddenly remembered being about ten years old and going to an old general store out in the boonies somewhere with my mom.  (I can remember the plain wood floor without stain or varnish, and I also remember the tin ceiling, the big storefront windows and the way everything smelled of cinnamon and tea, but I can't remember where the store was.)  Mom bought six yards of Irish linen toweling, and I still recall how beautiful I thought that linen was when the store clerk rolled it off the bolt to measure it.

I read someplace that anything more than 25 years old is considered vintage, so these tea towels qualify, since Mom made them about 36 years ago.  Choosing which two to use for curtains was a big decision, made easier when I realized that since I'm using clips to attach them to the cafe rod, I can switch out the towels whenever I want.  I settled on Parsley and Sage for now.

As luck would have it, the tea towels are the perfect length and width and the perfect color to go with my red and yellow kitchen.  Best of all, they're out where I can see them and enjoy my mom's neat handiwork every day.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Pain in the Neck

Karen Anne asked, "How does one hang wallpaper on the ceiling?"

My short answer is, "It's a pain in the neck."
Literally as well as figuratively.

The long answer is, it's much easier with two people.  If I had a helper, I would've cut the strips of wallpaper the same length as the room(actually, a couple inches longer) and while my helper held up one end against the ceiling, I'd go along with a clean mop or a Swiffer sweeper or something like that and push the rest of the length of wallpaper all along the ceiling until it was nice and smooth and even.  That way, the paper would be seamless the length of the room.

Alas, I had no helper.  ....Sigh....  That makes the whole thing trickier.  I had to be careful not to cut the strips of wallpaper any longer than I can reach, so that I could push the whole length of paper against the ceiling until the paste "grabbed".  Otherwise, gravity works against me and I end up with a big ole mess. (That's the voice of experience speaking there.)
I wish I had long extendable arms like Inspector Gadget.  "Go, go, gadget arms!" I'd yell, and then be able to put up a 13-foot-long strip all at one time.  I decided to cut all the strips of wallpaper 24" to 30" long so that they looked kinda like panels, because it's impossible to hide all the seams.  (And, if I'd used those plyboard beaded panels, I'd have seams anyhow.)  So, hanging paper on the ceiling all alone involves a lot of climbing up the ladder and then standing there with your arms above your head, palms pressed against the ceiling, smooshing pieces of wallpaper around until they stick, at which time you climb down the ladder and look up at the ceiling to see how crappy it looks, and then climb up on the ladder again.  Over and over and over....  See why I said it's a pain in the neck?

And when the whole laundry room ceiling was finally--after three days--covered with paper, I went back and stuck down all the edges and corners that had popped loose, and then I painted it.  Two coats.  With a pale greeny-blue that's so pale I had to look twice to make sure I hadn't missed any places.  The color is Valspar's Luna, and I love it.  Depending on the light and the weather, it goes from pale gray to soft blue to very light green.

It was a pain in the neck to do, but I really like my (fake) beadboard ceiling.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Uglies

I know y'all remember that line from the movie Office Space where the boss says, "Somebody's got a case of the Mondays".  Well, my laundry room's got a case of the uglies.  I think I succeeded in my goal to make it look as awful as possible in photographs.  Judge for yourselves.

This is the view from the back door.  (Usually the ladder and the laundry hamper aren't in the middle of the room.)  Note the boat winch on the wall, used for cranking open the basement trapdoor.  So pretty.  That door goes to the kitchen.  It's beautiful too.   This is the room that taught me to always buy samples of paint.  The chip looked beige; the walls turned out pink.  They've been that way for about six years.  The only thing I like in this photo is all the space inside those cabinets on the left.  (But those strap hinges have got to go.)

View from the kitchen door.  It's always bugged me how the washer and dryer stuck way out into the room like that, so today I finally got back behind there to see if there's a reason for it.  There's not.  I plan to shove them down towards the kitchen so they're in the corner.  Note the really ugly wall heater that I'm going to hide somehow. That area rug next to it was the subject of an ongoing argument between the old trash company and me.  They said it was too big for them to take; I kept putting it out in the trash because I have no place else to take it.  The town has a new trash company now, so we'll see what happens.

This is the least-ugly part of the laundry room, but that's only because I primed those shingle walls and bought that little telephone bench. (The seat of which is covered with a towel because it's become the furbabies' nap spot.)  The door on the right goes into the bathroom I just finished.  I need to decide if I'm going to replace that door; if not, I need to paint it.

I have a long way to go 
before this room looks pretty....

Monday, January 14, 2013


I've given a lot of thought to that list of mine from the last post.  (My work schedule is kinda odd, so thinking about it is pretty much all I can do until the middle of next week.)  I think I'll start on my laundry room next, with the pantry makeover thrown in when things start not going well in the laundry room--because you know at some point that will happen.

So this time I'll share pretty pictures of what's inspiring me to redo the laundry room.

I kinda fell in love with the beadboard wallpaper from the bathroom makeover, so I think I'll use that in the laundry room to cover up the horribly ugly walls in there.  I'm thinking floor to ceiling, like this:

Source: via Jayne on Pinterest

Make that floor to ceiling and the ceiling.  (Wait 'til I show you the laundry room; you'll understand.)

Speaking of the floor...that's a big problem.  The trapdoor to the basement is right in the middle of the room, so I can't put real tile down--which I'd love to do--because I'd need a crane to lift the trapdoor.  There's a boat winch on the wall now (not kidding) that I use to crank the door open like a drawbridge, but I'd really like to get rid of that thing.  I considered putting down laminate, but I'm not sure how I'd seal the edges on the trapdoor and its opening.  (If anyone has any ideas about that, I'd love to hear them.)  Then my friend Christy posted this on Pinterest:

I swooned.  That rug.  Wowza.  PeeWee Herman once said, "Everybody I know has a big but".  I have a big but, too.  Here it is:  BUT, my laundry room is the most high-traffic room in the house and it's where the furbabies are corralled when I'm at work so a big wool rug in beautiful pale colors is not a good choice.  Sigh.  And also, dagnabbit.  And even, Hell's bells.  It's so pretty.  I couldn't get that rug out of my mind.  And then one day (when I had fever) I had a dream that I made big gigantic stencils based on the design in that rug and painted my laundry room floor.  I'm obsessed with this idea now, and I haven't had fever in almost a week, so we'll see if I actually do it.

Remember the shingles that were all over the outside of my house?  Well, I have them on the inside of the house, too, on the shared wall between the laundry room and the bathroom.  I was wondering what to do with them--and dreading having to take them off and fix the wall--and then I saw this on The Lettered Cottage:

Look at that--painted shingles.  They look cute and cottage-y when they're painted, don't they?  I started putting primer on mine a week or so ago.  Those things are really dry, so it's going to take a lot of primer.  Two coats and it still looks kinda like whitewash.

I still haven't decided what color to paint the laundry room.  I'm thinking of a sort of bluish-grayish-greenish color, not too dark or too light.  Why is picking a paint color such an overwhelming decision??  Even knowing (sorta) what color I want, I still have 15 or so paint chips on the wall.

Pretties this time; uglies next time.  Pinky swear.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Inside, Outside, Upside-Down

I have a plan.  More than one plan, actually.  Lots of plans.  Plans that will take me the whole year to complete.  If I complete them at all, I mean.  (Y'all know how that goes.)  I have all these plans bouncing around in my head and distracting me from important things like off-season MLB trades, so I thought I'd make a list.


Fix up the laundry room.  Formerly (and sometimes still) known as the back porch, it's the first thing people see when they walk into my house.  It doesn't make a very good first impression.  The closest thing I can compare it to is a garage--I don't have a garage, so the laundry room gets all the crap stacked in it that people usually put out in their garages.  Except for my car.  That's outside.

Organize the pantry.  It's not really a pantry; it's a little closet in the kitchen.  I have cereal and pasta and dog chewies and my breadmaker and paper towels and a hundred other things all jam-packed in there and I can't find anything.  I'm not planning to go crazy and spend a hundred bucks on cute containers and chalkboard labels and all that, but I would like to straighten it up.  Mainly so I don't buy another 6 cans of tuna thinking I don't have any and then find 23 cans of tuna already in there.  (Y'all think I'm kidding, but I'm not.)

Finish the doors we glued back together.  Remember when we took the sawed-in-half doors off the hinges and glued 'em back together again?  Well, one of them still doesn't have a doorknob on it and three of them still aren't painted, and that was almost four years ago.

Figure out my bedroom and/or possibly move into another bedroom.  The bedroom I'm in now has six doors and a window in it.  One of those doors goes to the outside, which kinda freaks me out.  There's almost no wall space, which makes arranging furniture in there a challenge.  Also, the longest (widest?) wall in there is curved.


Finish the west wall of the house.  This is the wall we started scraping on last May, and almost all of it is scraped and painted, except for a 15-foot-wide section where the paint is nearly impossible to remove.  As soon as the weather gets nice, I'll be out there working on that.  I also need to fix a couple of trim pieces over there and neaten up a patch of clapboards that someone nailed over a basement window.  (Stupid.)

Finish the north wall of the house.  That's the back of the house.  I got a pretty good start on scraping it last fall, and I even put a big ole swatch of primer on it, but it's far from done.  We still need to replace those clapboards that are on there all whopper-jawed where they patched in the old back door.

If I can get those two things done this year, I'll be happy.  No small potatoes, that.


Overhaul the Room of Shame.  The back bedroom (the one connected to the bathroom I just re-did) is an unmitigated disaster.  For the entire time I've owned this house, I've tried to pretend it doesn't exist.  I'm not sure what happened in there, but in addition to looking like a disaster I think it may have suffered an actual disaster.  Maybe a flood.  Or maybe the roof caved in.  It's that bad.  It needs a new ceiling, a new floor, and maybe even new walls.  So of course, I'm thinking of moving my bedroom in there.  Really.

So there it is.  The 2013 To-Do List.  At the end of this year we can look back on it and marvel at all the things I accomplished laugh at all the things I didn't get done.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bathroom Reveal

The little bathroom at the back of the house was the room I hated the most.  Now it just might be my favorite room in the whole house.  (Although, in fairness, every time I finish a room that room becomes my favorite.)

And so without further delay, I present the obligatory mouseover before-and-after photo.  The before is what the room looked like when I moved in.

And more photos...

A better look at the main part of the bathroom.
 The hook with the little bird that I just had to have, holding up my new hand towel.  I love, love, love those towels.
 A close-up of the stenciled floor that took me hours and hours and hours to do.
 A closer look at the vanity that took us all day to install.  I swapped out the knobs it came with for these little blue glass flowers.
A better view of some of the chair rail and the wall color.

And now I'm gonna have to find another room to hate on.  I have just the room in mind...and it's actually far worse than the bathroom ever was...

Vanity:  Lowe's 
Chair rail:  Nerd's Hardware & Home Center; Lexington, Mo.
Trim corners:  Home Depot
Beadboard wallpaper:  Lowe's
Tin ceiling wallpaper (not shown):  Home Depot
Mirrored medicine cabinet:  Home Depot

Towel bar, toilet paper holder & faucet:  WalMart
Bird hook, bath sign, vanity knobs:  Hobby Lobby

Blue paint:  Valspar LaFonda Mirage; Lowe's
White paint:  Valspar Gilded Linen; Lowe's
Teal paint:  Valspar Fish Story (Porch & Floor Paint); Lowe's
Stencil:  Hobby Lobby
Framed bird prints:  Hobby Lobby
Waffle-weave shower curtain (not shown):  Target
Towels:  HomeGoods

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Friend Mr. Clean

Y'all, I have made two New Year's resolutions.

1.  Stop arguing with people about stupid schidt.

2.  Stop leaving paintbrushes wrapped in tin foil all over the house.

As you might guess, something happened that caused me to make those resolutions.

I finally finished stenciling the floor in the bathroom, which is a good thing because if it had taken me another set of days off to finish, I might have lost what's left of my mind.  Then I cleaned up the floor really good with soapy water and made chocolate pudding from scratch while I waited for the floor to dry.  When it was dry, I brushed one coat of Minwax Polycrylic over the whole bathroom floor.  (Folks, that stuff stinks.  I mean, really stinks.  I chose to use that because it has a "crystal clear finish" that's not supposed to yellow like regular poly does.)  Then I carefully wrapped the paintbrush in tin foil and found something else to do for a couple of hours while the poly dried.

Part of what I found to do was to call Charlie and rehash an argument we'd had about not spending New Year's Eve together.  (Long story short, he says that it's "just another day" and not worth staying up late for, and I pitched a bitch about that.)  The point here is that New Year's Eve was four days ago and I'm still bickering about it, which is a stupid waste of time and I know better.  But not to worry, because shortly after that argument, Karma bit me right in the hiney.

When I went to put on the second coat of poly, I picked up a paintbrush wrapped in tin foil, dipped it in the poly, and put a couple swipes on the floor.  "Huh," I thought, "I know this stuff's supposed to go on milky white and then dry clear, but the first coat sure wasn't that milky."

Then it hit me:  I was using the brush I'd used earlier to paint the trim in the bathroom.  The brush with white paint in it.

So I cussed.  And I ran out of the bathroom into the kitchen and then back again, because I didn't know what to do.  Then I cussed some more.   And I told Louis, "I just ruined my g.d. bathroom floor!  I just ruined my g.d. bathroom floor that took me hours to stencil!"  (I actually said "g.d." because I don't like to cuss when I'm talking to the babies.)  Then it occurred to me that latex paint cleans up with soap and water, so I tried that.  It worked pretty well on the part that wasn't quite dry yet, but all that running around and cussing gave the first swipe time to dry and it was stuck on there pretty good.  It looked just awful.  I may or may not have cried at that point.

So I went in the kitchen and rummaged around in the drawers looking for help and inspiration, because I really, really did not want to have to paint over that part of the floor and then stencil it again.  I found a box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.  I never use those things because I don't know what's in them, but I kinda reckon that anything that removes crayon and tar is probably not good for me or the environment.  However, desperate times call for desperate measures.  I scrubbed a little with the Magic Eraser and the white paint came right off.  (So did a little of the teal paint I stenciled with too.)

I made resolutions and I made friends with Mr. Clean.  All is well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

People say that the first thing you do in the New Year is a sign of what you'll be doing all year.  If that's so, then this is not going to be a good year for Louis.

That's him trapped between the back door and the storm door.

I can explain.

I was half awake this morning when Libbi woke me up because she needed to go outside.  So I stumbled to the back door, let her out, and then slammed the back door shut because it's 19 degrees outside today. As I was fixing my cereal, I heard an odd scratching noise.  I walked out to the laundry room, didn't see anything, and walked back to the kitchen.  Heard the scratching noise again.  Walked back to the laundry room.  Concluded it must be squirrels on the roof, and went back to my cereal.  Heard the noise again.  "What the hell is that noise?" I said to Gracie.  Then I saw Louis's furry little head pop up.  Poor Louis.

Despite his look of sheer terror in this photo, he's none the worse for wear and tear.

Happy New Year, y'all.