...because home doesn't happen overnight.

little things 1

With the major renovations completed, we’ve been able to turn our attention to smaller projects here and there. Most of these pesky projects are leftovers from bigger projects. We never truly finished some projects because we let minor details fall by the wayside in favor of: pretending we did them, feeding the kids, going outside, sleeping, working on our fitness, drinking wine, watching “New Girl,” smothering all the edible things in Trader Joe’s cookie butter, reading, showering, singing karaoke to “All About That Bass,” petting the cat, talking with our faces, (insert any action or inaction here). Whatever. It happens. And when we finally do get around to tackling these measly projects, they don’t seem blog-worthy.

But lump all those lil’ effers together and, BAM!, blog post. At least, that’s how I see this playing out. I don’t know. I might be wrong. Let’s give it a go anyway, shall we?

new fans 1

new fans 2

We replaced the ceiling fans. We loved the look of the first fans (seen here) but they hummed and whirred so loudly. In the fans’ defense, they were listed as commercial fans and we overlooked the possibility that they might not be ideal for a residential setting. The other problem we had with them was the fact that, due to unique installation requirements, the canopies didn’t mount flush against the ridge beam so there was a visible gap.

Last month Steve said, “All I want for Christmas is new ceiling fans.” Santa came through with these plus coordinating downrods. (Apparently, Steve made the nice list.) Installation was uneventful which is always a good thing when it comes to DIY. But the best thing? They are quiet. Like, silent. The canopies are flush with the ridge beam. No gap! And we really like the aesthetic. The fans are matte white and super sleek. Functionally, they’re better too. They’re slightly larger than the previous fans and a better fit for the room. They also have reverse switches at the motor so we can change the rotation based on our needs. (Clockwise in winter; counter-clockwise in summer.) The only thing that would make them more awesome is if they were self-cleaning. Someone please invent a ceiling fan that cleans itself.

trim 1

trim 2

trim 3

We installed and painted trim around the fireplace surround. After painting the brick surround and building & painting the TV wall, we lived with gaps at the mantel-wall and brick-floor seams for several months. We added trim last spring (that can’t be right?!) and I just got around to painting it a few weeks ago with the same paint I used on the surround. It’s Benjamin Moore white dove, semi-gloss finish, mixed in Clark + Kensington’s primer + paint in one. It’s really, really good.

painted man door 1

Notice anything else?

painted man door 4

I have been cropping out the man door to the garage for years. It’s solid wood but was orange-y and drafty. I kept an old towel pushed up against the bottom to prevent cold air from blowing in but you can imagine how (in)effective my efforts were.

We reworked the door frame and added a new threshold, weatherstripping, hardware and trim. I painted the door and trim when I had the paint out for the fireplace trim. Now the mudroom / dining room isn’t nearly as cold as it used to be but I still wish we would have added radiant floor heating.

painted man door 3

I added a double hook to the back of the door for my purse and reusable shopping bags. The three wall hooks in the mudroom have been overtaken by the kids’ coats, hats and backpacks. And a certain toddler likes to play “Quick! Take and hide all the things in mom’s purse!” So this seemingly trivial hook is, in all actuality, a game-changer. There’s a set of key hooks to the left of the door which recently caught the attention of said toddler, ifyaknowwhatimean.

You might also notice that we rotated the sisal rug in the living room. See the corner in the image above? That corner used to live over by the media cabinet and the corner that was here (now by the media cabinet) sported a perpetual roll that drove Steve mad. (You can catch a glimpse of it in the seventh image of this post.) He tried everything. It was comical. If you can’t beat ‘em, rotate ‘em.

kitchen plinth

Finally, FINALLY!, we added a piece of filler plinth to the corner in the kitchen. (You can see the gap here.) This was one of those minor details that we overlooked when we installed the cabinets. We bought the plinth shortly after “finishing” the kitchen but didn’t put it up until, oh, THREE YEARS LATER. We still need to caulk at the wall seam. According to my highly technical estimates, that should happen in 2018. Don’t worry. It will be a blog post.

Have you been putting off little finishing projects too? What’s your excuse? It can’t be any worse than ours.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

painted bathroom 1

Staying true to the “slow and steady wins the race” motto, we’ve been plugging away at the hallway bathroom when time allows. All the grout has been sealed. Baseboards have been installed, painted and caulked. The walls are painted, too. I’ve been doing this for a while now but the effect of finishing touches (like baseboards and paint) never ceases to amaze me. All of a sudden a project feels like a room!

painted bathroom 2

We had to order additional base molding to match the baseboards in the rest of the house. We had a small section leftover from the whole house renovation but were ~20′ short. The baseboards in the rest of the house are painted Benjamin Moore white dove but when I held a swatch up to the subway tile in the bathroom, it was too creamy. I ended up painting the baseboards in Benjamin Moore super white. It’s a great match but I’d be lying if I said having a different white in the bathroom doesn’t make me the slightest bit twitchy. The tile is a very cool white with bluish undertones and the room itself is north-facing so the light in here isn’t as warm as in other areas of the house. But it’s all good. I think repeating black and wood accents in the bathroom will help to tie it in with the rest of the house.

painted bathroom 3

Steve and I had assumed I would paint the walls Benjamin Moore tapestry beige to match the hallway and main living space. But when I painted a swatch on the bathroom wall, it looked so wrong (i.e. dirty) in the context of the bathroom. That’s when I made the executive decision to stop worrying about “matching” the bathroom to the rest of the house. Instead, I focused on selecting a paint color that suits the room and its cool light.

I considered painting the whole room out in BM super white but, (I think I’ve mentioned this before) as much as I like looking at white rooms online, they don’t feel right in real life…at least not in this house. The super white looked, well, super white. So stark, so cold. I kept looking and searched hundreds of paint colors and finally landed on Ace Paint lost spur. (The color number is D35-2. Ace Hardware should have an Ace Paint color deck at the paint counter. If it’s not on display, ask for it. My local store doesn’t have it on display.) I had it mixed in Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one. This is my go-to brand ever since I painted the mudroom walls black. I’ve used it in the boys’ room and on the brick fireplace and TV surround. The coverage is great. (Not sponsored, just sharing.)

painted bathroom 4

painted bathroom 5

I love the color. It’s a subtle green-gray with some blue in it. It’s one of those colors that looks different every thirty minutes. Sometimes it’s white, sometimes gray, sometimes green, sometimes blue. Sometimes it’s warm, sometimes cool. I love chameleon colors like this – colors you can’t put your finger on. I like that it’s light but not an obvious match to the tile. Also, this room is so difficult to photograph. I wish you could see it in person. You really have to be in the room to get the full effect.

painted bathroom 6

Steve and I installed the wall sconce last night. It’s the same light we have in the master bathroom. I’m itching to get the vanity in so I can start The Great Mirror Search. But, first, the tub.

unpainted tub

Here it is hanging out in the garage in all its one-legged, heavy cast iron glory. We recently cleaned out the garage (yep, this is the cleaned up version) to gain access to the tub. We hadn’t looked at it in years and were pleasantly surprised to discover the inside is in excellent condition. (The previous owners had it reglazed.) There was a lot of drama surrounding the acquisition of the tub. So much so, that I think we forgot about the condition. To be safe, I tested the interior and exterior for lead. The results were negative. I know it looks kinda shabby but I think it just needs a good cleaning and a few coats of primer and paint on the exterior.

black jack paint swatch

We’ve already agreed on a paint color for the exterior. It’s Benjamin Moore black jack. I’ll probably go with an oil-based paint in a satin finish for durability and ease of maintenance.

reclaimed beam

For weeks we’ve been scouring the internet for wood to attempt a DIY cradle base for the tub. We were looking for specific dimensions. The ideal beam turned up at a local reclaimed materials supplier this week. It set us back $40 and Steve hauled it home in his truck on Wednesday. After some deliberation, it looks like we’ll need to take it to a saw mill to have it cut. We don’t think the rough cut of a chainsaw is the look we’re going for. We don’t want perfection (it is a reclaimed beam after all) but we don’t want rustic either. We’re hoping to have it cut to size this weekend. Steve and I both predict that once the tub is in, things will roll pretty quickly. Let’s hope so!

painted bathroom 8

So that’s where things stand with the bathroom. We ran out of caulk and still need to caulk around the window and where the tile meets the drywall but that’s small potatoes. I swear. Gathering supplies is almost always the rate limiting step for us in any project.

painted bathroom 7

In other news, Cheetah is my shadow and quite the camera lover. Such a photobomber! Is cat modeling a thing? If so, I’m signing her up for the next animal talent search.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

calvin & hobbes 5

My kids are OBSESSED with Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a daily read around here. I credit the comic strip with advancing Everett’s reading skills over the summer. It has prompted a lot of good questions from the kids, too. (“Mom, what does ‘pizzazz’ mean?”) Even though Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite of Steve’s when he was little, he never pushed it onto the kids. It just sorta happened. I think it was Layne who first chose a Calvin and Hobbes book at the library and it was love at first sight read.

So when I was brainstorming ideas for a blank sliver of wall next to the boys’ closet, a DIY mural of Calvin and Hobbes was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily, everyone else thought it was a cool idea, too.

calvin & hobbes 1

We searched high and low for an image that would fit the narrow wall space. We settled on a simple image of Calvin and Hobbes standing next to each other. Steve printed the image onto a transparency at work. (Shhhh, don’t tell.)

calvin & hobbes 2

We used a projector to project the image onto the wall. The projector is the same one we used for a similar project in our previous house. We borrowed it from Steve’s office and they told us to keep it because they had no use for it. I have no idea how the projector made the cut and managed to stay in the “keep” pile when we downsized. In fact, I thought we had given it away but Steve found it in the attic space above the garage last week.

calvin & hobbes 3

Steve traced an outline of the image onto the wall with a pencil. The image was a tad too wide. We didn’t want the bedroom door to obscure Calvin when opened. So after tracing Hobbes, Steve repositioned the transparency to move Calvin a little closer to Hobbes. Then he traced Calvin.

calvin & hobbes 4

Using paint we already had on hand (Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one, color-matched to Ace Paint color “besalt” D36-7 in a flat finish) and a small paint brush, Steve filled in the lines. It took two coats to get adequate coverage.

calvin & hobbes 8

The matte charcoal paint worked perfectly. The end result is similar to what you would find in print. Except it’s life-sized and on a wall.

calvin & hobbes 6

The area under the basketball hoop no longer feels like a void and the mural should hold up to free throws.

calvin & hobbes 7

For reference, here’s the same view with the bedroom door open.

Layne and Everett were away at their grandparents’ house when Steve painted the mural. Even though we had talked with them about creating a mural, the boys had no idea it was happening while they were away. They were so surprised (and excited!) to discover it when they came home. Everett talks to Calvin and Hobbes. It’s hilarious. And ironic. And awesome.

The best thing about the mural (other than it being FREE!) is that it’s easily “erased” with a coat or two of paint should the boys tire of it. But seeing as how their dad is still a fan after 25+ years, I don’t think Calvin and Hobbes are going anywhere.

Fun fact: Did you know Bill Watterson first created the popular comic strip characters in his spare time when not working at an advertising job he detested? The mischievous first grader and his tiger sidekick were originally side characters in a strip that was rejected by a syndicate.

How do you feel about wall murals? Would you consider painting your child(ren)’s favorite character on a wall? I would never agree to a character-themed mural on a wall in a main living area but when done in a kid’s space and in a simple, non-garish design, I think it’s harmless fun.

FYI – If you’re interested in DIYing a wall mural but don’t own a projector, try borrowing one from a local business, school, library or church.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking