Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Radiator Sludge Removal & Floor Repair

I mentioned a couple of posts ago about those radiator pipes  in the guest room.

About a foot away from the bed, perfectly hidden behind the curtains, prime toe smashing territory, folks.

If you've been reading for a long time, you might remember us mentioning the heating ordeal with this house and why we got rid of the radiators in the first place. If not, here's the cliff's notes:
foreclosed property
vacant a couple of years
radiators froze and burst in that time
poor, young dummies buy house, discover lack of heat
love can keep us warm, etc., etc.
no it can't
get central heat installed
start removing some radiators where space is a commodity (i.e. guest bedroom, living room)

So, yeah! Conan and his dad removed the boiler and the rusting pipes that were accessible from the basement.

Then my mom and I took a few of the radiators (like this one in the living room) apart and removed them.

It wasn't all that difficult to remove but unfortunately, on the second floor where we can't get to them from underneath, there were still these lovely pipes sticking up out of the floor...

and a heavily damaged floor underneath where the radiator had sat.

 Well, while I was at work a couple of weekends ago, my handy dad cut them off at the floor and CAREFULLY lowered what was left of the pipe down into the floor! Toe smashers be gone! 

I hit the area with a belt sander (the same one we used to re-finish the kitchen floor) and that pretty much took care of the ugly black spot that was there. 

I put a single coat of poly-shades on there and wasn't a perfect match color-wise so I hit it with the belt sander one more time and tried just plain polyurethane on the spot at Conan's suggestion.

Is it perfect? No. Is it an improvement? Heck yes. I'm glad to know that it's as easy and simple as it was so that I might be inclined to do this in the living room someday and make a better match. It would also be easier to plug the holes since we can do it from the basement underneath.

I had planned on buying a runner to put there anyway to cover up the holes until we can devise some sort of plug/peg solution and after shopping around I found one at Target that spoke to me. Well, Cartwheel spoke to me and it sounded like, "Katherine, this particular rug is 25% off so maybe you like it a lot, yeah?"

It really ties the room together, man.

So, that worked out pretty well I think. Well enough that I feel comfortable trying it down in the living room.
As you can see from this photo, I picked out a real, grown-up bedspread. It's kind of a blue-ish gray in person and it looks really nice with the ship painting above the bed.

Just a few more little things here and there and I'm calling it done. In the meantime, we gave the front porch a good cleaning the other day and my parents may have tracked us down some affordable (i.e. borrowable/free) scaffolding so the exterior of the house might get a little attention before the fall. Our neighbor saw us outside cleaning and said he was going to start painting his house this weekend. My mom asked him how long he thought it would take and he said, "Few days."
He asked us how long we thought ours would take and we laughed like two crazy people and said,
"A year? Maybe more?"

Here's to realistic expectations!

Have a great week, everybody! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Yellowstone, There's No Place Like Home

The thing I love most about vacation is how much it makes me appreciate coming home. Sure, it's always sad to end a trip but boy, does it feel good to use your own bathroom : ) 

Just the other day, we returned from what we'd affectionately referred to as "the trip of a lifetime" to Yellowstone National Park. So if it seems like I kind of put the projects and the guest room and the blog on hold for a second, it's because my mind was racing with campsite reservations and packing, and my most favorite pastime, making lots and lots of lists. 

If you're planning a trip there yourself or you're just curious what it's like here's a few pictures. 

We drove through Colorado and Wyoming (stayed at our first Airbnb which was really reassuring since we're planning to rent out our guest room on there in the near future) and camped in Canyon campground for four nights.

It was unreal. I'm sure that's a given but until you've seen it for yourself, there's just no way to imagine it.

 Conan had actually been once, about three years before we got married and although I had seen all of the pictures and heard all of the stories I was not prepared for a) boiling mud or b) the sheer volume of people who are there. 

Now, I'm going to brag a little bit so brace yourself. 
We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary on this trip (July 18th) and since it's our wood anniversary, Conan made me these amazing magnets! 

Can you even believe that? When I saw them, I called him at work to make sure he didn't just buy them before I went and started telling everyone he made them!

They're taken from a picture of us last year on our anniversary.

So cute, so talented, so easy to brag on : ) 

But now, vacation's over and it's back to work on the house and the Lamphouse. Before we left, we had managed to do quite a bit of work on furnishing the guest room so that our friend Lisa could stay in there while she house-sat.

New linens, new curtains on both windows, toe-smashing radiator pipes gone, two new outlets, pretty new rug, and a Dollar Tree trashcan spray-painted gold (which I will totally do a DIY of later this week, lol).

I'll post some more pictures once I've gotten everything settled and unpacked. In the meantime, have a great weekend and Keep Smiling!

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...

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 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!

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