Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cutting A Rug (Or Two)

A happy and hot dog.

In the warm, dry months we spend a good deal of time on the front deck. It's where the front door is, it's where the hot tub is (unfortunately those are the same place), it's where the good views are (hence the first two items on the list). But it's also in pretty poor shape. The last owners spruced up the dilapidation by applying barn-red paint (to a lot of things), but it doesn't look like they primed first or really did much preparations at all so it's coming off where it gets the weather. They also painted around the old hot tub and so when we got a new one and moved it just a bit to maximize square footage it got even worse looking.  Still, we have bigger plans than just replacing the deck boards, so those plans will have to wait a few years while other projects take priority.

Yeah. Ugh.

Another legacy of the last owners was this braided runner rug on the part of the deck from the stairs to the door. That first summer I was going to get rid of it, but Eric pointed out that the Beastie Grrrlz liked to lay on it in the sun beam, so it stayed. Later I realized just how much dust and dirt it caught and kept out of the house, so it stayed even longer.

Harsh sunlight was probably a bad photography chose, but that's what I had when I decided to take a before shot. Trust me, the rug looked even weirder in good light.

I started shopping for outdoor rugs to replace the runner and to help disguise the deck until we are ready to tackle redoing and expanding it. But HOLY CATS you can pay a lot for an outdoor rug! That's even at off season prices last autumn and winter. And the less costly ones are in colors that just aren't our style. At all. Then through the Magic of Pinterest, I learned that I could get an affordable, but unattractive option at the big box home centers and make it more attractive with stencils. Hey, I know how to stencil and paint!

I forgot to take a true "before" photo of the rugs before stenciling, but I do have a photo that shows how cheap they looked and at the same time sort of tells you what these rugs will endure.

You can see how Delia's Sticks go from being big sticks to small sticks. Betty chews them, too, but not nearly so much.

I used two different tutorials, combining what I thought were their best/easiest processes. I bought 6' wide indoor/outdoor carpet by-the-foot (or maybe it was by-the-yard) at one of the big box stores and I actually don't remember which one, because they're practically right across the street from each other in Missoula. The runner is a 3' length and the bigger rug is about 9'.  I wish I'd used the 12' material and made it 7' for this space, but I'd lost my measurements on one of my phone replacements over the last several months and so was guessing. Oh, well.

Obviously this is a cheater picture I made after the fact for inaccurate illustrative purposes. (BOO!) 

I didn't want to dive right in to the time-consuming stenciling, so I started with a simple 2.5" border using painters tape. It's 2.5" because that's the width of my long, clear ruler and the proportions seemed fine.  I chose black paint rather than a bold color, because even though I love the colors in the slip covers on the chairs, the (stupid) barn red deck boards really clash with them. Plus, the new resin wicker chair seats are brown with black, so it seemed like a classic and safe bet. I am all for experimenting, but I really didn't want to do this twice or live with a color we didn't like: if I wanted to do that, I could've bought a cheap one at World Market and kept that rag rug.  Plus, the real show around here is the forest and the view across the valley.

Just adding that border made a huge difference in the appearance of quality; even Betty (above) thinks so. That pile on the right is Delia's Sticks which she likes to bring up to the house from the property when it's time to come in.

I had been mulling over a couple of themes that I have been digging on lately, both trendy, but still appropriate for our mountain life: arrows and feathers. I eventually choose arrows, looked at various clip art images of them online, and then drew up a few options to later make into a stencil. I even looked at pre-made stencils, but they were not the right scale or the right price. Luckily, I've cut a few stencils in my day and even had mylar in my stash!

Of course, I measured then made design decisions and made the stencils.

Shafts, arrow heads and fletching.

Then I measured and marked the rugs with a fabric-marking pencil.

I have a drywall square which makes measuring and marking larger surfaces easier.

Finally I started applying the paint!  WOO! I started with the shafts, three different styles of heads and then fletching.

The stencil does 3 arrow shafts at a time. I used a sharpie to mark the center of the stencil and a chalk pencil to mark the center of the rug, There are chalk marks across the center that mark the center of the "top" shaft for each impression.

I should have left a bit more mylar around the cut out stencil and/or dug up a smaller brush to applying the paint to the arrow heads and fletching pieces.

The pattern was one style of arrow head every third shaft, switching ends every other third. I did the same with the fletching pieces.

I cut a second set of arrow shafts, this time 4" longer, for the larger rug.

Now I need new table covers for the patio tables and to reweave and slip cover the last two chairs!

~ ~ ~

Since I was going to all this trouble with the rugs it seemed like a good idea to deal with the side effects of one of the bird feeders: seed shells and poop on the deck and railing. I know whose poop that is, anyway, it's a whole bunch of freeloader birds' poop!

Yes, the feeder is empty in this photo. Eric's biologist friend at work pointed out how feeding wildlife, even birds, is enabling "the weak and the stupid" which doesn't help the gene pool at all. We just couldn't bring ourselves to quit feeding them altogether, so instead we let a few days lapse between refills so the birds have to keep finding wild food sources, too. Flawed logic? Very possibly.

So I got a plant hanger at the hardware store and moved the feeder from just over the railing to about a foot out. We can still easily reach it to refill, but the poop is gone from the railing and the shells and poop on the deck greatly diminished. Woo!


  1. Betty looks fabulous as does the rug.

  2. That rug looks fantastic! AND it gives me an idea for our back patio. Like you said, outdoor rugs are expensive, even on sale and often times don't have a design I like. This is a great option and really makes your deck look good. Plus with the dogs loving on it you wouldn't want to spend a lot on an outdoor rug anyway. Love it!

    1. At least the dogs won't use them as a toilet; unlike the birds, bugs, and trees!

  3. That rug looks GREAT- very 50's Montanan! (My mom was from Billings, so I'm sorta familiar with that decorating style.) Nicely done, and moving the bird feeder was prob'ly a good idea, too. We're stupid-bird enablers, too. Well, actually, more stupid SQUIRREL enablers...greedy little buggers that they are! XD

    1. Thanks, Heather! And I like that description. I wanted it rustic/woodsy, but not covered with moose and bear silhouettes, ya' know? I can't believe that we don't get more squirrels in the feeders, actually! We do get that flying squirrel in winter, but we like that guy. :)

  4. I ADORE those rugs, great job! and your pup is so adorable! :)


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