Monday, June 29, 2009

more salvaging, gates, doors and wood!

The barn and house have finally been leveled for the highway project, so Steven can rest a day or two before our next big challenge (yardwork!). Steven received only a days notice that the barn would be leveled, so he braved the 100 degree heat and got to play with a chainsaw. (The fun of the chainsaw was cancelled out by the dive-bombing wasps and extreme heat). But the finds he made are fabulous and definitely worth it. Someday, Bowie will be old enough to understand that his walls are made out of wood from an old barn. Every time he looks at his walls, he can image the horses that might have lived in the barn. (There were haylofts and pulleys, so we know it was a fully functioning barn.)

OK, OK... Here is the stuff!
You all won't be as excited about the wood as we are, of course. But hopefully you can appreciate taking something that was going to be bulldozed and burned, and turning it into a beautiful wall in a nursery! What really made us want this wood are the gorgeous saw marks. We are told these saw marks were made by an old tractor blade.
Another shot of the saw marks.
I don't know what I will do with this old door, but we knew it had to be saved. It has perfect glass in it, it just needs some TLC.
Look at the detail on the top of the door. How could this be thrown away?
Here are two mismatched iron gates. They are super heavy! I plan on using these for my climbing roses. I have wooden trellis in the rose garden now, but these are one of a kind and hsould be quite charming.
The handle on one of the gates. Still works!
An old wooden door. I don't know what we will do with it, but it has character.

My favorite part of the door- an old leather strap for a handle.

Not sure where we will put this old gate yet... but it will find a home somewhere in the yard.

Stay tuned... I will be picking up the rock for the path that runs through our side-yard garden. Once the path is done, I will be able to share pictures of it with you for the first time. I can't wait!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

reader question... about distressing with sandpaper vs wax

I got an email from dear reader, Carla, asking if I ever have distressed my furniture. Now, it is not that I hate distressed furniture. I really don't mind it. I have distressed furniture before - I just didn't use sandpaper so that I could save the detailing on the furniture. (Really - a little wax is a miracle). I have an old sideboard in the dining room that I distressed, as well as a table I got at Pottery Barn on mega clearance. It was a mahogany Parker table that normally went for $1400 and I got it for $99. It had scratches on the top, and while I could have refinished it, I primed and painted it white and distressed it with wax. I always have the option of stripping it and staining it a dark color since I used wax.

I haven't recently distressed anything. I sort of think just being in the old house with a bunch of old furniture is the spot where I am at. I actually am gravitating a bit more toward black than white, but I do adore beachy white rooms. I feel I tend to live my life in color. I feel like my rooms need color.

Anyway, Carla... to answer your question, yes, I have distressed furniture. Just not very recently. For those interested in using wax to save the edges of their furniture, jsut run a bit of candle wax, parrafin, whatever you have, along the edge where you want the "distress" marks to be. Paint it up, while it is still tacky, wipe off the paint. The wax will let it come right off. For contrast, use black paint under the white so black shows through. Or you can use some light stain over the white to give it aging. Antiquing paste or wax also works great for that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

square peg, round hole...

OK, here's the deal. I don't live anywhere near anything coastal. Not an ocean. Not a lake. Not even a pond. I absolutely adore the pictures I find when I flip through Coastal Living at the newstand. (Never bought the mag, again... not near the coast). I am landlocked in Kansas here, people.

I love the bedroom above. It is breezy and beachy. I don't see a bunch of sea shells or starfish anywhere, so I would feel comfortable pulling off something similar.

My problem is this... I remember as a kid, some of our relatives would come visit us on our farm in Iowa. They would breeze in, with their weird clothes (We don't wear flip flops on the farm. They are hazardous there) and I'd wonder what their house must look like. And then the mom (now an ex as they are divorced) would start pushing their toddler son about Grandpa's Tractor. And she'd say how they were doing a tractor room (to get favor from Grandpa, I am sure). And it always struck me as phony and odd since these people lived in San Dimas, California and no where near a farm. It is sort of like when a yuppie pulls up to the Hells Angels on his brand shiny new Harley and wants to be one of the guys.

I can't bring myself to put oars or fishnets on my walls. Well, not that I'd want to put fishnet up anyway. But I see the little shells and such, all the nautical looks, in the Pottery Barn catalog and I just can't do it. Then I think about some rich lady in her McMansion over in Leawood, Kansas (again, landlocked, people), who probably ordered her entire living room from page 15 of the PB catalog.

So... I ask you... Would you feel weird trying to do an obviously beachy look (not just airy, but shells and all) when you are not near a beach? Or a farm look (complete with a milk can as an end table or something) when you are urban? Or an Asian influence when you are not Asian and live on a farm?

Michael Jackson... Billy Jean... Moonwalk

Michael debutting his Moonwalk during Billy Jean at the Motown 25. The man was a badd ass. Despite what he became, I still recognize him for what he once was.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

a door for the outdoors

I am sooo happy to share our latest Potting Shed acquisition with you! I mentioned Habitat Restore to you all before in my Kitchen Hardware on the Cheap post. Basically, it is in association with Habitat for Humanity, and people can donate used (or new) building materials and such. They have everything from light fixtures to tile to windows.

We picked up 4 antique wood shutters, which will either be used as shutters for those antique windows Steven salvaged from a tear-down since they happen to be the same size, or possibly as shelves in the shed when matched up to some brackets... that is undecided.

My new favorite thing though is this door that we got 20% off on at Habitat Restore:

Once I saw the crackly stained glass, I was in love:

The door is circa early 1900s, according to the tag. It is really heavy and has great old hinges, so I would tend to agree on the age estimate.

So I will really have to begin work on a new shed design that incorporates the two antique windows and this door, which will lead from the potting shed area into the little screen porch on the left side.

Oh, tonight Steven will be hitting another teardown for some antique kitchen cabinets. From teh pictures he took, I am really excited since they are exactly the look I am going for in my shed.

For those wondering about all these tear-downs I am referring to... Steven is in civil engineering (without being too specific). He is working on a new highway project that has enacted eminient domain. Now, as a historic preservationist, eminient domain can make me sad, if gorgeous buildings are being taken out for no reason. In this case, the existing highway has so many fatalities on it, that a safer highway has to happen. And everyone is taking great care to respect the families and the homes impacted. Steven happened to know one of the home owners (the house where we got the windows), and the owner was happy that someone was doing good things with the materials, rather than just having them hit a landfill.

So hopefully tomorrow I will have some kitchen cabinets to share with you. I hope you will continue to follow the Journey of My Potting Shed. I think it will be an amazing project. I would love to hear about any resources you all run across. :) One book I am looking at ordering, maybe on Overstock, is called Shed Chic and is all about people making sheds into great workspaces! Also, Country Garden Magazine has done some awesome pictorials on potting sheds lately.

Monday, June 22, 2009

scrapbook paper as inexpensive art

I decided this little corner of my kitchen needed a little brightening. Until now, just a little stool, that only gets used as an occassional boost for the little ones, sat there.

I found these frames half-off at Michael's. I added that scrapbook paper I mentioned awhile back, and voila: cheap art. It just so happened that the frames are the exact same size as a paper towel. I taped up paper towels to the wall to check for placement, and Steven hung them up with some wall anchors.
The middle one is my favorite. Completely washed out by the flash. It is actually a robin's egg blue background, and the girl is gray with shimmery glitter.

I am excited to have only one more upper cabinet to paint and paper in the kitchen. Then I can tackle the nasty cabinet under the sink. Can you say years of leaking plumbing and water damage?? Gross!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

DIY knock-off medicine boxes

I want these:

But they run $45 GBP each. Each. Which is roughly $75 each USD. Yeah. Not in my budget.

Do you remember how bad the cabinet used to look
with the big plastic bins of medicine?

With 2 large round cardboard boxes from Hobby Lobby (less than 5 bucks each) and some craft paint, I made these knock-offs. They are not metal, and they don't have a lock, but they were a cheap fix:

And now instead of the nasty mess that I linked above, I have this:

The inside of the cabinets are all painted bright, clean white. Everything has fresh shelf paper. Everything is in new binnies ($1 a pop at Walmart). I really love the way everything in the kitchen turned out.
Oh, and to try and keep it organized, I hot-glued little clips on the doors. I attach an index card to each door that shows everyone where everything is at. No more, "Mom, where is the drink mix?" And everyone has been really good about putting things back. No Way, Ted!!!
Plain as day. Drink Mix? Pudding? It is all in there.

I even went through all the medicines and threw out all the expired stuff... I also put together an Emergency Kit in a binny. It has burn gel, band aids, Neosporin, hydrogen peroxide, etc... Everything a mother of 4 crazy little boys needs!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

salvaged windows and guttering for my potting shed

The original plan for my potting shed will drastically change, but for the better. Steven, who I nominate for Best Husband Ever, made some great *free* finds today. At yet another house being demolished in the name of highway safety, Steven salvaged some more materials for my potting shed.

Antique windows! Here is the larger of the two he brought home. The sides open while the center window is fixed.

I love the old latch on it. Isn't it cool? You can also see the crank at the bottom. He also got the casing as well.

And he got this amazing half-round guttering. I love half-round, and antique is always great. I love salvaging!
He even got the hangers - they are really neat.

And round downspouts.

All my (new) old guttering will look great painted copper-color, I think. I need to sit down and sketch out a new plan. My old plan had two symmetrical windows on the front with a large barn-style door. With the windows he salvaged, I will need to create an asymmetric plan with a barn door flanked by a large window and a small window. I think the larger window will go better with the 48" antique sink we scored at a yard sale.
I am also thinking of reversing the house colors and using the pale blue for the siding and black for the trim maybe. Hmmm.... Sketching commences!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

uses for lavender fresh from the garden

I have mentioned a few times that the slate path from our city sidewalk to our front porch is flanked with lavender. It really thrives there. It is so thick and unruly at times that I have to hack away at it so we can walk down the path! With piles of lavender, you can do so much besides just potpourri.
We had a couple bare spots that needed a few plants added. Steven and the boys worked on planting a few replacements last night.
The scent of lavender is said to calm nervousness or butterflies. Crushing a few flowers and taking a sniff is quick aromatherapy. (Or, I suppose, just walking up my path would work. It really smells nice!)

Here Dane is weeding. Such a great little helper!

If you are a tea drinker (I LOVE TEA!!!), you can throw a tablespoon of flowers into your tea kettle. Let it steep for 10 minutes or so, and you have lavender tea. The Tazo Earl Gray tea I buy has lavender in it. Lavender tea is said to help with nervousness, upset tummies and help you sleep.

Bowie helps Steven dig a hole for the new English Lavender. We have many kinds of lavender in our yard... I don't play favorites. We enjoy them all!

Toss a handful of fresh lavender flowers into your bath for a fabulous soak. It's like the spa, but without the hefty price tag!

Along the path we have colors ranging from white to deep purple, and everything in between!

Lavender sachets are easy to make and are great gifts. You can put dried lavender in storebought sachets, or cut up old panty hose, or even put it in cheesecloth or gauze and seal with a pretty ribbon. Throw one in a lingerie drawer for nice smelling underthings (no need for perfume!). Put one under your pillow to help you have sweet dreams.

Here is a white one. (Turn your head sideways!)

Lavender is an antiseptic. Rub lavender oil (or a fresh flower) on a bug bite or scrape. Some people use lavender in cooking, especially baked goods. A lavender scented cookie is something I HAVE to try!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

window screens and old wood windows

A bird landed on the cat food (trash can shaped) container right as I was snapping this picture. Our cat, Biscuit, spends his days looking out the screen door.

I am still happy to report that we haven't turned on the AC yet... with the new screen door and all the windows open, the house is staying breezy and cool. Someone recently asked me how we keep the bugs out of our house if we don't have storm windows and screens.

Well... it is hard to explain how the windows in our house are without pictures, so, here it goes...

Our house was originally a shingled house when it was built in 1906. Queen Anne windows were installed. Then in the 40s, new owners remodeled the house, adding a thick 1 foot layer of stone. Our house is a beefcake since it is basically a house encasing another house. Anyway, they added another set of windows in addition to the existing windows. So we have 2 sets of fully functional windows. Ours are the old school windows that you can raise and lower the top set as well as the bottom set.

We found a bunch of window screens for the house in the basement. You can slide them to collapse and expand them. So we open the outside set of windows fully, then open the inside set high enough to rest the screens inside. Like so:

I just realized how dirty the screens are. I need to spray them out with some canned air. That is the kitchen window that looks out to the sorority house beside us. Hopefully that gives a good idea of what the windows are like.

I really haven't seen any other houses with double sets of windows like ours, but they are terrifically handy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

organizing the Hoosier cabinet with shelves and jars...

I did some tidying in my Hoosier cabinet... The inside of the cabinet was never painted very well, so shadows of green paint was showing through. I gave the inside of the flour bin, which Steven has just built shelves in, a good coat of paint. I added shelf paper on the shelves. For the back, I covered green wrapping paper with laminating paper and used double-stick tape to give the inside a fun bit of color. (Above)

I still need to paint the rolling door, called a tambour, compartment. (above) We keep a variety of cereals in these glass cracker jars for the boys.

Here is an older outside shot of the cabinet. For reference... I plan on clearing the clutter from the top... it just seems to gather...

I adore these Martha Stewart labels for labeling the storage jars!

Here is the inside of the Hoosier. Since this was taken, I rounded up a couple more jars for that bottom shelf. Still need to get some of the boy's artwork off the side of the fridge there, huh?
The thing I like most about the Hoosier, besides the organization, is the pull-out enamel counter. When the boys are bickering too much at the table, I will put one or two of them in front of the Hoosier on some stools. Makes meal time a bit more quiet with a bit more elbow-room at the kitchen table. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

paint brings out the small things

I tried snapping a picture when the sun wouldn't wash the new blue paint out so much. Here is a camera phone pic of the front of the house. I would like the draw your attention to the righthand dormer... notice that only half of the dormer is painted... this is where we ran into problems with the 40 degree angle of the roof. I kept sliding down the roof while I was trying to paint!

The thing I think is coolest about the new trim color... when it was dull gray, you didn't notice any of the detailing. But now with the blue, little things seem to catch your eye. This is the soffit, the underside of where the roof meets the house. These were a joy for Steven to paint due to all the ridges and all... but with the new paint, they are so pretty.

Seeing how nice it is all looking gives me a little more pep to get the rest of the windows painted. Unfortunately, I require a bit of assistance wrangling them up and down, so I have to wait for Steven to be home to tackle them some more. Drats!

Monday, June 8, 2009

DIY: build your own screen door

The new screen door was installed this weekend. We are so proud of how nicely it turned out. Following is, well, the longest post ever on Cottage of Stone, but we thought we'd share with everyone the process of building our door... in case anyone ever needs to make their own!

First of all, part of the "uniqueness" of owning an old home is that you will find your doors and windows are not the "standard" size. All the screen doors they sell at Home Depot are a foot too short for our massive front door. Rather than spend $500 or more on a custom one via the internet, we (and by "we," I mean "I") decided we (and by "we," I mean "Steven") should build one.

I drew out a basic design for my door. I knew I didn't want a cross-support piece on it. I felt it would break up the door, and the glass door we have is a rectangle. I wanted the screen door to echo that. I decided on using dowels and L-brackets, as well as a double-decker door, to make sure this massive door would be sturdy enough.

A super-helpful employee at Home Depot helped me pick out the best kind of wood, as well as explained how the dowel jig set-up worked. Once we bought all the materials, Steven got to work. First, he cut the boards for the "inside" frame of the door. I wanted to use dowels, so he butt-jointed instead of mitering:
Once the pieces were cut, he used the dowel set-up to drill the holes for the dowels. Here he is using a rubber mallet and one of the "pointy" things to mark where to drill:

The "pointy" thing leaves a mark to show you where to set up the dowel jig for drilling the holes:

Here is a board with the holes drilled and ready for dowels:

A job for me! I glued the dowels in:

Steven uses a clamp to keep everything tight while the glue dries:

After the glue is set up, we chisel out where the L-brackets will go. If we had a fancy router, we'd have used that... but we don't... so we took turns hand-chiseling the wood out:

We painted the wood and attached the brackets with screws:

Once the "inside" part of the door was built, Steven cut the pieces for the "outside" part of the door. This was all made from the wood you find in the fancy millwork section of the store:

Everything tested fitted? Check! Time to attach. When in doubt, we pre-drill! I remember someone on another blog complaining that they kept splitting the trim pieces they were using and ended up just using glue. Glue is not a permanent solution. Pre-drilling will save your sanity by keeping the wood from splitting and using a clamp will keep things from slipping around:

Once everything is countersunk, a little wood filler and sanding makes everything look clean. Just add paint! That black piece you see here is what is going to keep our screen in place. I wanted to build a removable screen - in case one of the kids accidentally tore it or something:

An inner trim piece with fancy beading detail is added and painted black (still wet and shiny here):

The only annoying part of the job for Steven was assembling the screen. He had to add extension pieces to the sides since our door is so tall. Once he got the frame assembled, he used a screen tool to push the cord (and screen) into the frame:

Once the cord was all in, he trimmed the excess screen off:

He is working so hard!

Final touch-up painting:
And Steven installs the hardware. This antique (Victorian) doorknob we rescued from a house that was being demolished. A coat of flat black paint and it is gorgeous:

Steven sprayed the hinges black, too. We used spring-loaded hinges that are self-closing... so we didn't have to install one of those long springs. I worried about pinched little fingers:

Little spinny things hold the screen in place. If we need to make a repair, it pops right out:
And here it is in place! Look close inside and you can see my dining room all torn apart. I am in the middle of plaster repair:

And a shot of what it look like with the glass door closed: