Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Live And Let Dine II

I have kept all the mounting hardware in a baggie and rubber banded them to each rod and will donate them to a used building materials store in the area.

Back in spring of 2013, I tackled window treatments in the living and dining rooms. Well, it's just one long rectangle of a room, but you know what I mean. At some point, a guest or sitter or someone just tugged on the curtains to close them instead of using the draw cord on the window behind the sofa and it had been jacked up every since. This meant that the left and right panels were not open the same amount and that we couldn't adjust them really at all. This was a drag and mostly it made me angry at the cheap window hardware which should've been able to tolerate such. I came to loathe the curtain hardware to an intensity that seemed unnatural.

From Spring 2013. Walls re-textured, walls and ceiling painted. Our ceiling fan installed over the living room, but still the awful fan over the dining table. Our art and decorations on the walls.

Last autumn, I took down all the panels to launder them. And I started searching for new options and ideas for window covering hardware. This would also give me an opportunity to hem them, because when I went through all the trouble to line the panels originally I totally forgot to adjust the hem and they puddled a little. That is a fine look, but not really our style AND not really suitable for living in the woods, miles from pavement, and with two dogs (at the time) dropping their fur all over like monsters. And maybe I'd even find the border detail material I didn't find back then! And then they sat haphazardly folded in the auxiliary guest room closet while other projects and adventures took precedence.

Eventually, I settled on these brackets and decided to utilize the 10' lengths of 3/4" PVC pipe (exterior diameter is close to 1") left over from another project for the rods. I just have to cut them to length make them look like wood - since 1" wood dowels longer than 3' seems impossible to find. And let's face it, I love to 1) make a thing look like another thing entirely, 2) use what we have in our stash of stuff, and 3) do something as thriftily as possible. Luckily, there is lots of advice on the internet about making PVC look like wood and I even did my own version for a shower rod in the upstairs bathroom way back when.

Luckily, the weather allowed me to do this part in the wood shed and the wood shed was allllmost empty from our long, long, LONG winter

Had I been able to use a dowel I might have gone sans finials just to keep it that much simpler looking and simpler to just get done. But the hollow end on the pipes needed something. I ended up combining wooden finials with PVC caps that I painted to match the metal brackets.

I did take step-by-step photos and I will post a tutorial later, because I think they turned out pretty cool and one could easily riff on these to achieve their own look and maybe save a bunch of dough!

This photo just reminds me about how much I hate the ceiling texture downstairs, but man it sure is a lot easier to get used to ignoring it than it would/will be to skim it out. Bleh.

Having "undraperied" window dressing hardware up for just us (and a just a few guests) was one thing, but up for all of House Guest Season was something I wanted to avoid. So getting this project done before that and before working outside could realistically commence became a priority.

And "done" they were they were until I stood back and noticed they were still too wrinkly. I did the only logical thing: turned around and focused on something totally different. [lalala - avoids eye contact] A couple weeks later I thought to ask around the neighborhood about borrowing a handheld steamer and found out that Neighbor Pam did have one and yes, I could borrow it when they got home from their trip. YEY! And then I went to their house, loaded it into my car, drove it around with me on my errands, brought in the house and let it sit for two days. Finally, I opened its box and the nozzle bit was broken. D'oh! I could see where it have been glued before and sent a text explaining the situation to Pam and asking if I could glue it. About 2 minutes after I sent that, I realized that I, in fact, own a wallpaper steamer. I have even used it in 3 different rooms in this very house (so far) and many other places. D'oh! So I used that and it worked just fine. Probably a little messier, but the draperies lost their fine lines and wrinkles!

Because the panels were no longer held open by the curtain rod, I thought we would need tiebacks. I searched around for something simple, but not plain or typical - my standard M.O. I decided to riff on a toggle style jewelry "clasp" using wood and a soft-ish jute rope from the home dec section at Jo-Ann.

I used "toss rings" from an online wood findings retailer and a dowel from the hardware store. I cut the dowel with my beloved Milwaukee miter saw & tapered the ends with a pencil sharpener (that's right!), then finished all the pieces with an acrylic "stain" in American Walnut.

I didn't find nice border detail material to add to the panels, but I did get them hemmed. I'll keep looking locally and maybe next time I am somewhere else, I can shop for fabric! Perhaps in meters! Ooooo. Or perhaps I'll just call these done.

Looks totally different than that panorama shot above from Spring 2013, right? Yeah, no. It's subtle:
Chandeleir over dining table, no puddling on the curtains which have tiebacks and are hung on new rods, new reading lamp by the green chair, different Lite Brite on different table, more books and magazines on tables.

Enough with indoor projects for a while! Probably! It does feel good to have checked two projects off my long, long list with this and all the guest room projects: bedside tables, lamps, coasters, switch plate.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Humor in Home Decor

The antler-bearing switchplate I bought for the guest room a few years ago didn't last long at all. I had just one antler for a long time. I tried to repair, it but that didn't hold. Not too long ago the other antler broke, too. I hope 3D printed items such as this have improved* in the last couple of years!

I wasn't sure what I wanted to replace it with. We've been replacing the switches and outlets along with the covers as we go along updating rooms, but for some reason I haven't been excited to work on this particular electrical project. Maybe because I am considering repainting at least some of the walls and want to wait until I decided on colors before choosing new ones?

Then last week, I was digging through a box in the shop looking for something else and found a bunch of half-complete decoupaged switchplates and outlet covers from over a decade ago! I dug through the bag and selected that one to complete and install. Good enough for now!

* The only other 3D printed wares I have purchased are Bigfoot cookie cutters in 2 sizes and I gotta tell you they just suck. The plastic is laid down in layers and those layers create ridges and those ridges hold on to cookie dough (and to cake, which I tired too). The situation reminds me of ring shank nails. Sigh. And yes I floured the cutters. I also greased them. Neither of those worked.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Piping Hot Lighting! Or Something. (Vintage Thermos Lamps)

Now that we have new, roomy bedside tables in the guest room, it is finally time for bedside lamps! But not just any bedside lamps purchased from Target or wherever else there is to buy table lamps around here. Vintage thermoses turned into bedside lamps!

House of Hawthornes' images are probably what compelled me to try to throw some other bits into the photo. The sun was bright and it was hard to see my screen. This was the best photo of the bunch... even though there's a dang fly on my mug! But let's face it... that's real life.

I mostly followed this super tutorial that I found on pinterest, but made a few changes to suit my particular thermoses. If you're interested in the how-to, check out the tutorial by Pam at the House of Hawthornes blog, but I'll describe my differences here.

Her yard sale thermos already had a broken glass insert and she broke it up further using a screwdriver then dumped out the shards through the top. Mine were intact AND my thermoses had the screw-off bottoms for replacing broken inserts, so I was able to just take them out.

Mine also had plastic liners that one's hot lunch would actually be poured into. My guess is that is because these are wide-mouthed thermoses, they were probably meant more for having hot soup or chili rather than coffee or tea. This would make it safer to eat directly out of them with a spoon. Anyway, this meant I needed to drill an extra hole and use an extra rubber grommet.

And because my thermoses were wide-mouth and didn't have that cute taper, I decided to keep the lids on. It turns out that was lucky for me, because one of the stoppers cracked and then totally came apart when I was drilling. Turns out there are little bits of cork as insulation in there! Who knew? Not me.

After all the holes were drilled and I had the correct size of rubber grommets, it all came together pretty quickly with the Westinghouse Make-A-Lamp Kit.

I realized after I'd taken this, that I inadvertently copied House of Hawthornes' styling, too, but photographing these on a picnic table! In my case, it was because it was the quickest outdoor surface to make look decent.

And then after this photo was taken I realized I'd forgotten to weight the bases so the lamps wouldn't be tippy. This part is extra fancy...

... it's gravel from the driveway. OooOOooooo!

I picked up a couple of lampshades at a big box home center and tarted them up with some clearance home dec trim from Jo-Ann and glued it on with fabric adhesive. These shades came with clip-on fitters, which means I didn't have to also buy harps.

A couple of 60 watt, warm, LED light bulbs and DONE.

[here is where a photo of them with their shades on was supposed to go, 
but I forgot to take it before...(see below)]

Not Done. The right width lampshade was a too-deep lampshade, at least with those (dang) clip-on fitters. It was awkward looking and physically awkward to get at the switch. I think the best solution would have been adding harps, but that's not really an option with the clip-on fitters. Instead, I bought two longer nipples than come with the Make-a-Lamp Kit. I used 5" nipples, but could've gotten away with 4" very easily. With two extra nuts, four fender washers, and some brass tubing, which I had to cut to fit using a hacksaw and miter box, I was able to extend the space between the top of the thermos and the socket. They are less awkward and ready to serve guests for up to a few dozen nights each year.

[insert that screeching needle on the record sound here]

DO OVER: A couple of 60 watt LED bulbs and DONE.

I do wish I'd been able to get a darker shade and I did look at the options, but they were either way too big or entirely the wrong shape. 

And now we're finally ready for some well-lit house guest bedtime reading action! Er... yeah.

I really need to get on ordering some reflectors for taking photos. This photo was taken the day after the Summer Solstice, so it's not going to be getting any lighter around here! 

I had to close the blinds to avoid the whole back-lighting situation. Even though I still really love that Ikea print, those gotta go!

Next up for the guest room: making new window coverings. I think I even have most or all of the fabric I need! It might be awhile before I tackle that though, because there are still those exterior & outdoor projects to do, but I really, really want to make them instead. Sigh. So, I am going to use making shades for and painting the guest room as a "reward" for doing other projects. What is wrong with me?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wildlife Watch XV!

It was very stormy in our area for several days; flood warnings on Monday-Tuesday & the whole thing. When I went out to my truck to go pick up the trash can, I found this sopping wet, little white breasted nuthatch huddling in the bed by the tailgate.

Well, shoot. Now what? I went in to tell Eric and ask if he though my idea might be worth trying. So we got one of the cleaned out, old recycling cans from the garage and a smooth dish towel to make a little "nest" with. Then we scooped up the soggy little peeper and placed it inside.

At first we set it on the picnic table, but since there was also a relatively dry white breasted nuthatch cheeping and hopping about nearby my truck we moved it over to some brush nearby - on top of that dumb old rototiller that the last people left as decoration and we have yet to remove. I ended up rolling up another towel and making a U-shaped bolster of sorts around the back to hopefully trap some of it's body heat to help it warm up and dry off. There's no photo of that.

Not too awfully long after, certainly not longer than 30 minutes, Eric went out to check on it then came up to tell me, "It's like a totally different bird. All fluffy and peeping." So came right down to check and it was already hopping around on a rock outside the ad hoc shelter! And by the time I got my camera activated it was hopping up the nearest tree! Wanting nothing to do with me, of course.

Turns out it pooped on my towel, too.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Two Bedside Tables for Under $29**

We'd squeaked by for years with just a tiny bedside table in the guest room. It's a singleton from a vintage Oriental-style nesting table set. I still kind of love it, but it isn't super practical. By the time you get a lamp & alarm clock on there, a guest would have to choose carefully between a book, water glass, or phone.

I couldn't find a picture of this in place beside the guest bed which I was sure I would have. Oh, well. Here it is on the balcony doormat.

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a couple of small tables at a crazy-low price in a non-crazy style that I could refinish, but nothing ever appeared. So after poking around the internet and pinterest, I decided I could just mount some crates to the wall and call it good.

Well not just, of course. That is not my way, for better or for worse. These are the standard crate available at craft stores that usually run around $15 each. They just happened to be on sale for $8.99 each when I decided to go this route AND I had a 20% off regular and sale merchandise coupon, so they ended up being $7.19 a piece!

I already had the stain which is the same I used on the crates I made for the Dr Potter's Medicine Show photo shoot which is made from soaking rusty metal bits in white vinegar. And varnish that was leftover from refinishing the main bathroom cabinetry.

After a pretty quick image search for "vintage wooden crates" to find inspiration, I was able to put together replicas (the words, not the typography) of a couple that I especially liked using Photoshop. I did need to print them with a laser printer, which Eric could do at the office, but 2 black/white copies at the copy shop would still have kept the total under $15 for the project, especially as I already had the solvent to transfer the image to the wood.

Just to give them a little bit more authenticity and a cool detail, I added metal brackets to all the corners. Of course, I couldn't find something suitable in the right size with a couple quick looks, so I got longer pieces of extruded aluminum ($12.44), and cut them down with a hack saw.

Then I made a template to mark holes and drilled them out. Eight holes in each of eight corner brackets which is sixty-four holes for those of you keeping track. Why do I do these things to myself?

I used cut tacks ($ 1.30, used about half of the package) to attach them. The heads looked crude and nails would be so much faster than screws. Cheaper, too.

Finally, I filled down the sharp edges left by the hacksaw. I didn't worry about the holes since they'd be covered with the nail heads.

Attaching them was the quickest part! Afterwards, I realized they will probably add some stability, too. However, I don't expect to add much weight to them once they're installed. I like a nicely styled bedside table as much as anyone, but what I like more is enough room for my book or magazine, my glasses, and maybe a glass of water.

The slats are just a little too close together to help with cord management, so I used my trusty, slightly rusty, rasp to widen one spot on the "top" and "bottom" of each crate. Both will have a lamp* and one will have an alarm clock, but I want guests to be able to charge their phones or other devices, too.

Because of how they're installed, the labels are not super obvious, but I like how they're a little detail that a guest might not notice immediately.

* Total spent: $28.12; combination of sales, coupons, and having a fair number of supplies and tools on hand made this low cost possible.

**Stay tuned for a fun and funky lamp project, hopefully coming very soon!