Thursday, July 3, 2014

One Chalkboard Shy of an Elementary School

I don't know if you've noticed but I like the chalkboards. I like 'em a lot. 

I painted my fridge with chalkboard paint. 

I have one hanging on your way to the powder room with a lovely little reminder for all of folk. 

And, as of yesterday, I now have a big ol' five footer in the kitchen! 

I've always thought there should be something on that big, blank wall (preferably a giant, antique cupboard but you and for $20 this fits the bill perfectly. 

Like I said, in a perfect world there would be a big, wood cupboard there but I haven't found one in my price range (read: $300 or less) yet. 

Until then, this fills up the space nicely and I really like it - even if my mom thinks it's a bit much. 
Her exact words? *to be read with a southern accent*

"It's've got a lot of chalkboards." 

Yes mom, yes I do. Thanks for noticing : ) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Lamphouse!

As you may or may not recall, a couple of years ago (October 2012 to be exact) we had this wild idea that we were going to buy a camper and turn it into a traveling photography studio and darkroom. 

Well, it wasn't easy but with a LOT of help from my parents, a LOT of trial and error, and a LOT of crying (me : / ) this space...

became this...

and on the last Friday of June, one year ago, the Lamphouse Photo Co. made its first public appearance! 

This Friday (tomorrow, June 27th), we'll be celebrating our first year with the "Lampy" camper and if you feel so inclined you can come see us at Reverie Coffee Roasters (2611 E. Douglas) from 6-9 PM.

I'll be in the darkroom but you can hang out with Conan and enjoy the AC for a minute. It's always fun when blog and business worlds collide so please bring your smiling faces down if you have time! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chalkboard Fridge Update

A couple years back, as part of our "Accidental Kitchen Remodel" I decided to paint our old, beige, came-with-the-house fridge with green chalkboard paint. 

So, here's what it looked like all shiny and new and gussied up for pictures in March of 2012:

Since then, astonishingly (or not, depending on what astonishes you) that has been one of the most heavily trafficked posts on ye olde blog!
Which gives me a feeling that's equal parts gratitude, shame, and regret.

Well, that was not the greatest DIY post I've ever done. The camera we had at the time that I had taken pictures of the process with crapped out on us and so there weren't really any pictures of the process. 

Just this sad before shot that didn't even really show the fridge:

*Man, that was an ugly kitchen!*

So, the other day when I was making a list of little things that I need to do and I noticed that the fridge needed some attention, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about how this really simple and super cheap ($7) DIY chalkboard fridge has held up over the past two years.

So, here's what it looks like today:

Covered in magnets, pictures, and receipts from our bathroom remodel (lol) but still holding up really well considering how cheaply this was done.
We've had a few people ask us over on our Houzz and a few other places if we are pleased with how it has held up and honestly? Yeah! Really pleased, actually!

The only wear and tear has been the corners of the doors as you can see in this picture:

I don't know if that's where we mostly grab the doors to open them or if that's just where the paint was thinnest.

Either way, I grabbed the leftover paint that I had from two years ago (still good, after a little stir), a small brush and went to work.

I put three coats on over the course of a couple of hours. It dries pretty quickly if you don't put it on too thick. Now it looks pretty much the way it did when we first did this DIY!

So, after 2 years of use, would I recommend that you paint your old fridge with chalkboard paint?
I realize that we don't write on it very much but all in all, it has held up exceptionally well.

A lot of people had misgivings about the chalk dust situation but again, we don't write on it much and even when we do there's not enough dust to make a difference in our already not-spotless house ; )

Speaking of chalkboards, I got a little something at the thrift store yesterday that I can't wait to share : )

Oh, and some exciting (to us at least) progress has been made on the Guest Bedroom!

Until next time,
Keep Smiling!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Updating & Decorating the Guest Room

You may remember, a few years ago, I got a wild hair and decided I was going to finally tackle the guest bedroom.

That basically consisted of re-locating the old dresser that my mom kindly re-finished for me in college, cleaning out all of the old clothes that had been tossed in there during the move...

I fixed up an old bed I got at a thrift store...

and painted the walls and closet a pail pink color.

My parents also put an outlet in this previously OUTLET FREE room (seriously old houses, what the?)

Then I basically took a couple of pictures, shut the door and forgot about it.

Now, three years later, I've decided to throw a little bit more love its way.


Well, when we first moved in five years ago, we were mostly just concerned with getting paint on the walls and making the house look like it hadn't been vacant for several years. That resulted in a lot of rooms just getting the very basic treatment and now that I have a spare moment, I figured I should try to make them feel a little more filled out.

Also, we're going to start renting it out on Airbnb : ) so, there's that. 

So far, here's what I've done and what I'm planning to do: 

I got this small bedside table from a thrift store for $10 the other day. 

It's in need of a little work and a little cleaning up but I really don't want to paint over the lovely, little details. 

I got that little bedside caraffe a few months ago at a D.A.V. thrift store as well. The planter is from the ol' Hobby Lobby clearance aisle ($5) and the coasters are from T.J. Maxx ($3)

The lamp was actually something that my parents got me in high school when we were decorating my room!
I might replace it because the light is kind of bright and flourescent-y but only if I find something I love and it's so cheap it's basically free.

On to the bed frame. I like the metal one and I put a lot of work into fixing it up but I'm having trouble picking out a comforter or duvet cover that goes with it : /
I'd appreciate any links or advice you can throw my way.

I've been tossing around the idea of replacing it with this wooden one I got last year at a thrift store.

If you remember, it has this neat engraving on the back from the young man who made it in shop class in 1940!

My reasoning is two-fold. 

Fold one: it's real neat and it's a shame that it just sits in our sunroom

Fold two: The wood color is pretty and warm and I think it would look nice with these curtains I got the other day from Hobby Lobby...

They were HALF OFF ($30 for two panels) and they are extra long - 96"! 

I got a couple yards of this pom pom trim with my (beloved) 40% off coupon because I really like the colors and I thought it would pick up the pink on the walls a little.

I'm not sure if I want to get more and use it as a tie back or if I just want to trim a pillow with it.

Back to the bed for a second - the wood frame has a big split in one of the pieces that holds the mattress so that's one thing that's deterring me from using it. Since we want to get some visitors in this room ASAP, I would really rather just get a nice, new comforter/sheets that look good with the black bed.

The light fixture in this room is pretty old (maybe original?) and it's cute but I don't know if it's cute enough to not replace. Thoughts?

There's also the terrible, awful situation with the old radiator pipes : /

We removed the radiators a few years ago when we were fixing this room up the first time because space was a premium oh, and they also didn't work. Unfortunately, the pipes that are sticking up are real toe bangers and they need to be pulled up, sawed off and dropped back into the floor. This is number one on the list of things to do.

My mom and I are also going to try and wire another outlet for this room so that we can plug the window unit AC in without having to run an ugly extension cord to the outlet behind the bed.

I'd also like to find a tall, wooden dresser to put in the corner next to the big window but I'm coming up surprisingly empty on my thrift store trips : (

So, let's see what's left on the guest room list for now:

- Remove radiator pipes and plug holes in some fashion
- Add another outlet
- Find comforter/duvet cover that looks good with the bed frame
- Clean up scratches on bedside table
- Find tall, narrow dresser for corner
- Maybe do something about that postage stamp sized painting above the bed?

I'll let you guys know how things progress!

Until then,

Keep Smiling!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Exterior Plans & Lamphouse News

So, in my last post I mentioned that we'd be talking about some exterior projects and some exciting Lamphouse developments. 

I'll start with the Lamphouse stuff since it's quick and easy and I'm really excited to share the reason we've been sort of slacking around the house (well, at least blogging about it).

We put a digital photobooth in the Grand Wagoneer!

The Lampy camper is still around and we just used it last week to take some fun family portraits but for now, it only goes where its rented since there's such a large amount of labor involved. We decided earlier this year to add a digital photobooth to our fleet that would be a lot easier for us to set-up (and park!) than the camper and would be a lot better suited for large events like weddings and concerts and stuff.

The photobooth part is actually in the back and you stand behind the tailgate and pose for a few pictures then pick up the prints out of the side window.

Speaking of the Grand Wagoneer tailgate, Conan took out the old carpet and replaced it with a custom, oak liner. It's BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL you guys. Stunning. 

We've done a couple of little events to test it out and it's super fun and works like a charm. It's no hand-developed portrait but people do really enjoy how quick and simple it is and I can't say that I blame them. 
We even tested it out ourselves and it's pretty darn fun, I must say!
Alright, back to house business! Let's talk exterior plans for this big old house!

The exterior of the house hasn't gotten a whole lot of love since we moved in five years ago but that's only because frankly, it scares the living bejeesus out of me/us.

One of the very first things that had to be done was replacing a rotten soffit. My mom and dad built some really "exciting" scaffolding to pull that off. Here's the old pops getting ready to throw a hammer at us for buying a house that was falling apart. Jk, he was holding a paintbrush.

Next were a few cosmetic changes like planting some flowers and building a beautiful picket fence:

So, after all of those things and the odd window re-corded here and there, our house isn't in terrible shape on the outside but it's definitely not in the greatest shape either. The list of little things that need to be done (wood replaced here, window re-glazed there) seems so insurmountable that I would just as soon close my eyes the moment I get out of my car and not open them until I'm inside. 


If we're serious about being stewards of this old house we have to take care of all of it, not just the fun, inside, decorate-y parts. 

So about a month ago, I decided that I was going to get serious about putting some paint on the house. Every.single.time I mention starting another interior project, the first thing my dad says is, "What you really need to do is get some paint on this house." Ugh. I wish he wasn't right, but he is. And the only way it's ever going to get done is if I just pick a place and get started. 

I decided a couple of weeks ago that the most logical place to begin would be the front of the house. The siding on the front porch, since it's sheltered, is in pretty good shape and we wouldn't need any scaffolding. The second floor, right above the front porch, is also in decent shape and it wouldn't require scaffolding either. 

So, about the front porch.
Ever since we've moved in, the front steps have been a total mess.

The paint was coming off,

pieces of rotten wood were falling off,

some of the risers weren't even attached to anything anymore.


So, over memorial day weekend, Conan and I set out to replace them. We bought new risers and new treads and we were all ready to pull up the old ones, easy peezy, put new ones down and be done with it. 

Then we started taking things apart. Dang. 

The stringers were in really rough shape, too.

Big chunks of rotten wood were being pulled out with the risers so we decided it would be best to just scrap the whole thing and start fresh.

We bought new stringers then came home and using the old ones as a template, re-built four of them. 
You can see from all of these pictures that the porch decking itself is also in rough shape. But we did a little pricing on that and let's just say neither of us have a kidney to sell on the black market right now so...that's a no.

We did have to pull up a few pieces, though to replace the very top riser. We scraped the old paint off and put them back where they were.

Here's Conan screwing something to something else. Power tools, yeah! 

It was a lot of that. Cut, cut, screw, repeat.
By the end of this (very long) day we were kind of on auto pilot. Our neighbors were having a memorial day party and generously offered some frosty refreshments but I don't have to tell you guys that power tools and pints don't mix. But man, they sounded like they were having a good time!

When we got to the last tread, about 12 hours after we began this project, I ran inside and got a marker. 

Fun fact: when my parents were remodeling their old house when I was growing up, I remember my mom insisting on having us all write something on the studs before the walls were put up. I'll always remember that as an integral part of a project and so, every room we've worked on in our house has a little message from us hidden somewhere. The front steps were no exception! 

So, there's the finished product!

Like I said, the decking is still pretty rough but they are about 1 BILLION times more sturdy and much more worthy of our old house. They really do make things look so much cleaner and nicer and I can't wait to put some paint on them in a month or two. You aren't supposed to paint treated lumber for a little while so that it can dry out so that gives me time to decide on some colors for the front of the house. Here's my inspiration so far: 

I really like the dark green on this house. I've been trying to focus on houses that have columns similar to ours to see how they handled painting them but I don't think I would paint ours two different colors like this. Maybe too much green that way? 

This one is really pretty and I love all of the different colors. I really think that our house needs at least three, maybe four colors since we have some decorative shakes on the third floor and the porch eaves that are kind of similar to the third floor of this house. My only concern is that this house is a little more ornate than ours so there might not be room for all of the different colors that I like so much on our house.

Speaking of several colors, I passed by this house on my way home from work last week and I just fell in love with the subtle differences in grey and blue.

This crappy cellphone picture doesn't do it justice but I really think that with a darker contract color maybe on the screen windows, this could be the perfect inspiration. I especially like the different color on the little scalloped shakes.

Thoughts? As you can see, I'm really leaning toward a green color palate. Funnily enough, we've always known that we were going to paint the house green - it was the inspiration for the name of our old Etsy business, Green House Paper years ago : )

So, I'll keep you guys abreast of any exterior developments that are made. It's likely to be a slow and arduous process that stretches out over the next several years I expect.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of little projects on the second floor I'm tinkering with and will share when I get the chance.

Keep Smiling!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Black Powder Room Before & After

And so the Toilet Closet odyssey comes to a close.

If you'll recall, way back in October, when the air was just starting to get crisp and I was highly motivated to start a house project, I wrote about our shameful little "bathroom" under the stairs.

The ceiling was crumbling, the walls were cracked,

the floor was perpetually dirty looking,

and perhaps the worst offense - you couldn't even close the door behind you. 

I remember in one of my early planning posts I said that I believed wholeheartedly that we could get two extra feet out of this bathroom and the other day, out of curiosity, I grabbed a tape measure and what do you know, 24 inches exactly.
So, if anybody wants me to pick out their lotto numbers tonight, I'm available. 

Alright then, let's take a look at where we ended up and a few glances back at the process. 

First up, a head-on view of where the toilet used to sit.

Like I mentioned up yonder, the thing looked R-O-U-G-H, rough. But, for all its shortcomings, it was handy and we did use it. 
Now, here is the same view of where the toilet used to sit and the sink does now.

The dimension of the room in that direction didn't change. It's still the same depth there as it was before.

The vintage sink that we found at the Barn at the Farm is the perfect size for the space. I will admit that the handles are so small, it's kind of hard for people with normal, human-sized hands to turn them completely off. I usually have to use both hands to turn the cold water off after I wash my hands.

When I posted a million years ago, I revealed a little glimpse of the Rust-o-leum High Gloss, Enamel, Black paint we decided to go with.

I'll admit, when we did the window I was worried. It stood out like a sore thumb in a sea of white Sheetrock and I would be lying if I said I didn't have a lot of second thoughts.

But, after the walls were painted and the floor went in, it looked slick as a whistle. 

When we started, I had every intention of re-using our leftover tiles and grout from the upstairs bathroom but if I'm being honest, I really wished that we had done a matte finish tile upstairs and so I decided to right that down here.

We also decided on a lighter grout and I'm glad we did. It made for much less mess and it was easier to buff it off of the tile after it had set up. 

Now, if you've read carefully, you'll remember that I sort of casually mentioned that I used to get ready in that little toilet closet while we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom a couple of years ago. And I may have mentioned that I kept getting ready down there even after the upstairs bathroom was done because I couldn't get close enough to the mirror to do my makeup. Well, when we re-did the powder room I knew that I would be doing my makeup down there so it needed to have storage. I know it seems strange to go downstairs to get ready in the morning but if you have a spouse that gets ready at the same time as you every day, you'll totally understand how much easier it is to have a one-to-one bathroom to person ratio ; ) 

So, the little over-the-toilet nook was born.

It's tucked right in under the stairs and it's actually a surprising amount of storage!

I had originally thought I would put toilet paper here but as luck would have it, I found this gigantic basket at Tuesday Morning and it holds like, 12 rolls!! 

So, I got a little, deep-discount, damaged jewelry box from Tar-jay for my makeup and a couple of nice towels and candles to fill in the space.

I may do my makeup down here but I didn't see the point in putting my face-wash and nail polish and all of that stuff down here since I do all my exfoliatin' and nail paintin' (lol, I never paint my nails) at night, in the upstairs bathroom. 

The light fixture is just a cheap, porcelain one from ACE with a silver-tipped bulb that we had gotten a long time ago when we did the same thing to the upstairs bedroom lights

So, that's pretty much it! Like I said, I was a little uncertain at times about the color but now that it's all put together, I absolutely love it.

 I've totaled everything up and it looks like we came in just a little over $700 for the entire project - frames and towels and everything. Not bad, I'm gonna' say. Not bad at all.

Here's where (mostly) everything in the little powder room came from if you're interested: 

Ceiling paint: Olympic bright white, semi-gloss
Ceiling Light: Porcelain Light Fixture
Ceiling Bulb: 1,000 Bulbs
Sink Tray: Vintage, already owned
Mirror: Vintage, Paramount Antique Mall
Frames: Target, Ross, TJ Maxx
Lucite Toilet Tray: Marhsall's 
Hand towels: Target
Basket: Tuesday Morning
Grout: Lowe's, White, Unsanded

And if you want to follow the toilet closet odyssey from the beginning, you can do so here! 

I've got another post coming up real quick about some exciting Lamphouse developments and some exciting exterior plans/projects we're working on (aka: what we've been putting off since forever).

Until then,
Keep Smiling!

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