Archive for July, 2014

Doors Be Darker

Favorite project ever! Okay, not really at all. (I just couldn’t help trying to match Sherry’s enthusiasm from yesterday’s post). Back when we had our house’s exterior patched & painted right after moving in, we opted not to get the garage doors painted since we knew it was a task that we could easily tackle ourselves. Well, 12 months later and it’s finally done.

These two doors were sporting the same cream color that the old trim was before it went white, which wasn’t a very good look since it was nixed everywhere else. So we debated going bright white, medium gray/brown like the siding, or with a nice dark gray/brown color that’s a few shades deeper than the siding (like the tone of our metal window frames with the white sills).

Talking about those options pretty much got us nowhere, so we hopped in the car and drove around the neighborhood. We saw lots of white doors and black or deep gray/brown ones, and even some medium gray ones. And after staring at them all like neighborhood creepers, we decided that rich dark ones on a brick house was our favorite combination.

I kicked off the paint-fest with a cleaning party, courtesy of a hose-down (note: not nearly as fun as a hoedown) and a wipe / dry session with a rag.

This painting task quickly promised to be more involved than our previous rendezvous with a garage door, mainly because there were some added maintenance tasks involved – like redoing the patchy caulk around the weather stripping trim.

Since I know I’d be re-caulking anyways, I figured I’d go ahead and remove the weather stripping entirely since it would make my paint job easier and more thorough (I’d be able to paint all the way to the edge of the door, rather than stopping at the weather strip, which could shrink back in colder months and show an obvious unpainted line). I used my crowbar to pry off each strip, and then used a spackle knife to scrape off as much of the old caulk as I could.

These weren’t tough tasks, but they ate up about an hour before I could get to actually painting anything.

The paint color we chose was Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams, which was the darkest color on the same swatch as our siding color (Anonymous) which pretty much guaranteed that they’d go well together.

We bought a gallon of it in their Duration line since that’s what the house painters used and loved. The Urbane Bronze color was nearly identical to the color of the dark metal window frames and oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures around our house, and it even tied into the charcoal roof pretty nicely, so it was an easy choice.

Painting was a combination of brushing (around the recessed panels and edges) and rolling (everywhere else). I worked in small sections so that the brushed portion didn’t dry and become tacky before rolling.

The first coat was fairly spotty looking, but that’s to be expected. I was just happy the second coat was enough – although it’s hard to tell in this photo since the sun spots are making it more uneven looking than it really was.

After the main part of each door was painted, I also raised them up bit-by-bit so I could paint the cracks in between each section of the door. That way it didn’t flash stripes of cream color every time the doors went up and down. This took a fair amount of patience because I had to let each part dry before raising the door a little more to do the next one.

The next day, once everything had dried, I reattached the weather stripping and recaulked the edges. I hate caulking against brick because it’s basically impossible to get a clean line against the craggy surface (I’ve tried painter’s tape in the past, but the result wasn’t much better), but since I was already working against the previously uneven caulk/paint job, I wasn’t going to beat myself up over it.

We actually contemplated painting the weather stripping Urbane Bronze to blend with the door, but after staring at it (and a few of our neighbors’ garage doors again) we decided going white like the rest of the trim on the house (Snowbound by Sherwin Williams) was the better bet. I opened the garage doors when painting these so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting any paint on them, which made this step go pretty quickly.

After a bit more drying, and a second coat, we were officially back in business. And by business, I mean Clara could reclaim her favorite chalking spot. Just don’t look too closely – that needs a nice power wash.

Oh and we also contemplated adding some decorative hardware, like some handles or what-not, but none of the options that we found felt like a good fit for our doors. We might try hunting a little more online, so we’re open to suggestions if anyone’s got some.

In addition to just being glad the cream is gone, we also like how the darker doors seem to tie in with other dark accents – like the light fixture and those dark metal window frames.

Overall, it’s not the world’s most exciting update, but it feels good to have it check off the to-do list (finally). They feel like they ground the house a little better and don’t get lost in the beige-iness of the surrounding driveway and walkways.

Have you guys painted your garage doors? Did you slowly drive around the neighborhood to check out other door ideas like a creep? All of the homes around us have their garage doors on the side of the house (like ours) so that made it especially neck-craning for us, but thankfully nobody called neighborhood watch on us. That we know of.

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Wallflowers (aka: How To Cover A Wall With Fabric)

Favorite project ever! Ok, I probably say that to myself every month or two, but this one might reign supreme for a while. Especially in the small/easy division (our sunroom reno and Teddy’s built-ins might have given it competition if it fell into the heavy-duty upgrade category, but there’s no way it belongs there because it was so simple). Ladies & gentlemen (gentleman?), I give you… Clara’s closet:

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of covering the back wall of Clara’s closet with something fun for a while, especially since images like this inspired me to add some playful to make it feel more like a little hideaway within her room. Right after we moved in she proclaimed her closet her favorite spot in the whole house. She plays in there a ton since there’s a lot of space in the back for her dollhouse and a few other favorite toys since we store most of her clothes in her six-drawer dresser with the exception of a few hanging items – and it’s a super deep closet, clocking in at 6.5′ feet deep and 4 feet wide.

I thought we would end up using wallpaper or a stencil for some back-wall pattern, but then we came across this fabric (called Peaceful Perch by Dena Home for $20 at U-Fab) and just KNEW it was the one. Clara was with us and before I could even say “what do you think?” she was rubbing her face all over it (she’s her mother’s daughter) and saying she loved the birds. Jackpot. I was going to cover that back wall with that fabric if it was the last thing I did.

So I bought three yards of it (enough to go from floor to ceiling with a little wiggle room to spare) and rejoiced that the bolt’s width was easily wide enough to cover that back wall. When we got home Clara went to color something in the office and I fed Teddy in the living room and then she walked into the living room ten minutes later and screamed “YAY! DID YOU MAKE MY CLOSET PRETTY?! I can’t wait to see it!!” Needless to say the girl never covered a wall with fabric. But neither had I.

The surprising news is that it only ended up taking about an hour and a half to adhere the fabric along that back wall and another half hour to trim it all out for a finished look, so it can’t be done in the time it takes to feed a three month old, but it can be done between feedings (even if your son is on an every-two-hours schedule). In other words, it was way less intimidating and time consuming than I initially expected. And all it set us back was the cost of the fabric, some fabric glue, and some ribbon.

The first thing I did was empty her closet.

Everything came out, including the shelves and hanging bars that you see here which I removed as I went (I needed free access to all of the nooks and corners along that back wall).

I stood on a step ladder with my staple gun and started in the top right-hand corner, stapling it nice and tight around the perimeter of the back wall. Every few inches I shot a staple in, making sure they were nice and tight against the wall, and that the fabric wasn’t wrinkled or folded. By starting in that top corner with my completely untrimmed three yards of material, I knew I could work my way down and across, keeping things tight and straight as I went, without running out of fabric. It really was that simple.

I think if I had been working with something striped or geometric in a the-naked-eye-can-tell-if-that’s-not-level way, it might have been more of a challenge, but since this print is so wild and free, I really just focused on keeping things pulled taut, and stapling them every few inches around the edge.

 I even realized that I could wrap the fabric around the shelf board on the back of the closet with a few staples on either side of it so it was nice and clean looking.

My only real warning would be that if you have a big flap of extra fabric going on like I did on that angled part (I didn’t trim the fabric at all before hanging it for fear of cutting it off at the wrong angle or taking too much off that would make the entire remnant unusable), just be sure you don’t staple it behind itself or something. I never did that, but almost did a few times. If you did it wouldn’t be the worst thing because you can just pop staples out with a flat-head screw driver if you mess up anyway.

I did that a few times if I thought I hadn’t pulled something tight enough, or when I got to the bottom of the wall and felt like the corner had a crease or a bubble it shouldn’t have. You just sort of undo a few staples and re-pull things and re-staple until you like the look.

When I finished with all of my perimeter stapling, after the obligatory victory dance with the unplugged staple gun (unplugged is the key word), I ran an exacto knife along the entire perimeter of the back wall to cut off the excess. You’ll want to put a nice new blade in there to get as clean of a cut as possible. I tried to push just hard enough to cut through the fabric but not hard enough for it to go into the drywall. Since it’s the corner and I knew I’d be adding a trim piece of ribbon for a finished look, even if I jammed it into the drywall a little, it wasn’t a big deal, but for the most part I could slide it through the fabric without digging into the wall itself.

Next came the ribbon for that nice polished edge. I held up various ribbon remnants in red, pink, blue, and white that we had on hand and John and I both liked how the pink looked because it blended into the wall color (bold colors like red made it a little busy when combined with such a bold fabric, so we liked the more seamless look of the soft blurs-into-the-wall pink option).

We didn’t have enough pink ribbon just laying around, so I ran out to JoAnn and grabbed two 6 yard spools (we calculated that we’d need around 8 yards to go around the wall’s perimeter) and also grabbed some Aileen’s Fabric Fusion glue to attach that all the way around. It was almost like clear silicone caulk, so I just ran a thin line of it down the edge of each wall…

… and stuck a pre-cut-to-size ribbon against it for each portion.

Here’s the finished result:

Once that dried (within about an hour) I brought back all the shelves and hanging rods I had removed, and put the closet back together.

Clara’s PSYCHED about it.

So is momma. Dad’s pretty keen on it too. Burger and Teddy are ambivalent, but I’ll take it.

The coolest thing about this project is that I completely expected it to be one of those kinda-complex-and-tedious jobs that are worth it in the end, but it ended up being one of those surprisingly-simple-and-straightforward projects that make you beam because it looks way more expensive and complicated than it was. We already have had a few people over and all of them thought it was wallpaper until they touched it and said “no way, it’s fabric?!”

What did you guys do this weekend? Any kids-room stuff? Fabric projects? Victory dances with your 16 pound baby? Sometimes I feel like all I manage to get accomplished is to feed these kids and keep them semi-clean, so fun little projects like this are pretty exciting. Especially when I can squeeze them in between feedings. We also managed to get a little hiking in this weekend, and although it involved a particularly “memorable” port-o-potty visit with Clara, it was pretty awesome while it lasted.

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