Archive for 2012

the stairs

about the stairs...  the pink wallpaper that you see below was the last remaining wallpaper in the house.  we had great plans to remove the wallpaper and paint the stairs years ago, but the height and lack of a tall enough ladder kept pushing the project back.  we even bought a new light fixture several years ago, and it had been sitting in our basement. 

the (lovely) old fixture had 3 bulbs in it.  one by one these bulbs have burnt out, and we have been living with just one bulb the last couple of months.  we refused to replace the light bulbs in the old fixture, knowing that we had a brand new one in the basement, just waiting to be installed.

the fall rugby season has ended, so we decided to use our first free weekend to finally do something about the wallpaper and the light.  we ended up renting a 24' extension ladder, and were able to do the entire stairwell from the ladder.
good news for me (but bad news for mike), his extra height and the fact that only one person could fit into the stairwell at a time, meant that mike did most of the work.  it took him almost an entire day to remove the wallpaper...
we had to patch the wall in a few places, and then primed the wall above the window. 

i found this painting tool at sherwin williams that allowed us to cut in along the ceiling without having to actually reach it.  it worked well, and was much easier than trying to figure out a way to build some kind of platform to gain access.
we used the same antique white paint that we have in most of the rooms downstairs, and the upsatirs hallway.  mike had to repair the ceiling around the old fixture because the hole was larger than our new light canopy.  we've used the same ikea fado light in the downstairs hall, and the smaller version in the upstairs hall.  with all of our other unique light fixtures, i liked keeping these spaces simple.  

so much better!  and it's nice to not have any more wallpaper in the house!


murphy, a year later

murphy turned one last month, it's crazy to think that we've had this guy for a year now.  our decision to get him was kind of spontaneous, but he's been great.  i can't believe how much he's grown though!  some days i miss our cute little puppy...

murphy's fur still hasn't gotten very long, and he's very tall and skinny.  for the most part, he's well behaved (except when we leave food on the kitchen counter).  he is the most curious dog that we've had, he has to know what everything is.  cooper is still his most favorite thing ever, he likes to sit right next to cooper, which is pretty cute. 

sorry for the blog silence lately, we've been enjoying the fall, and enjoying the break in home projects...  sometimes it's nice to be a little lazy! 


are #6 and lightening

good news, i found out i passed my architecture exam #6, which means only 1 left!  so much pressure!!   

i studied more for the structures exam than i have the others, and while i didn't leave the exam feeling confident, i wasn't sure what else i could have done to prepare.  glad that one is over with!


i'm taking a short break from studying but plan to start studying for the last test soon.  meanwhile, i've been loving the fall weather, we've been taking the dogs on long walks and sleeping with the windows open (my favorite!).  the photo above is taken from our deck a few nights ago.

one other random update - check out the crack in this tree that is in front of our house!  we had a pretty bad storm the other night, and at one point heard a very loud snap sound - the tree was struck by lightening.  since it was pouring, we couldn't really see how bad the damage was (although all of the neighbors moved their cars away from the tree just to be safe).  the next morning we discovered that the lightening had caused a split in the entire length of the trunk!  there were giant splinters of tree trunk all over the street and in the yards.  we think the tree might actually survive because it's not very deep, but are waiting on the city to come out to inspect it.  i'm glad that no one was hurt!


still here!

sorry for the silence on the blog lately...  no real reason other than we are taking a break from home projects after spending all of our money on the kitchen.  although, i was thinking of doing a source list for the kitchen, let me know if that is something that you'd be interested in.  or if there are any other details that you would like more information on.  in my excitement to post the "after" photos, i know that i missed a few steps.  we've also added the kickplates and a shelf to the kitchen, i should probably take new photos...

other than that, we've been playing catch up on everything else in life that got put on hold while working on the kitchen. rugby season started back up for mike, and i just took my 6th architectural registration exam (structures, still waiting on results). the weather in stl is finally starting to cool off, it's been nice to be able to do things outside the last couple of weekends. 
anyway, hope to be back to the projects (and blogging) soon, just wanted to stop by and say "hi"


the boys

sometimes it's hard to be a dog. it's super hot outside which means that the walks have been very limited lately.  so... they (mostly murphy) have had lots of energy and always want to play.   or cuddle on the couch (see note above about it being hot). 

last week, murphy fell down the stairs and was limping so we had to talk him to the vet.  luckily it was nothing major, he just banged up his leg a little.  a few meds and a few days rest and he's back to normal.

cooper must have been feeling neglected with all of the extra attention murphy was getting, so i came home from work on monday and saw that the left side of coopers face was all swollen.  i'm not sure if he got stung by a bee or wasp, or if murphy beat him up, or what.  but he also got ice and medicine, and is back to normal.

the high tomorrow is only a chilly 93*, maybe we'll finally be able to get out for a walk... we're ready for fall.

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lindsey adelman chandelier

as promised, i'm back with a quick tutorial on how to make the lindsey adelman chandelier.

i thought that her instructions were easy to follow and mostly clear, so start there if you want step-by-step instructions.  we had a few issues, which i will explain below.  i feel like i should note that prior to this project, mike and i had done some electrical work in our house (both installing new fixtures and running all new wiring), so we were already comfortable with basic wiring skills.  we had also made a light fixture for our dining room, which made me a little more confident going in to this project.


the first thing i did was review the instructions, including the materials list.  we wanted to hardwire the fixture (her instructions are for a plug-in fixture), so we needed to order a few different parts.  i also wanted to use 5 bulbs instead of 6.  we ordered everything from grandbrass, except for the wires which we bought from lowes.  unpacking the box and seeing all of these pieces was a little concerning...  hard to believe that this was going to make a light!

next we did a quick layout of the pieces.  her instructions include a nice diagram, but didn't specify lengths for each individual brass tube, so we came up with something that we thought would work for us.



then, we started wiring!  we found that it was easiest to start at the socket and work our way in towards the center of the fixture.  each arm has its own set of wires.  we cut a good length of wire to make sure we had enough.


once you got the process down, it was actually kind of fun to build. 


at some point, we realized that the gauge of wire that we bought was too thick, it wouldn't fit through the tubes and fittings once we had several wires that needed to run together. so we had to take it all apart and start over with new wires.


once it was all together, we tried to install it in the kitchen.  we already had a mounting plate in the ceiling which conveniently had a hole in it that we could thread the top tube in to.  this made things a lot easier.  otherwise we would have had to install a new mounting plate first.  you connect all of the wires from each "arm" in that center piece, so you are only connecting one set of wires up at the ceiling.

the first time we did this we had a short when we flipped the power back on and tried to turn on the switch.  we had to take it down, and after much investigation (including borrowing a special meter from the electrical engineer i work with), we figured out that one of the wires had gotten twisted in the assembly process, so the coating had come off and the copper was touch the brass arm.  once we fixed this problem, the fixture worked!


then we decided that the clear tubular 40 watt bulbs that we bought were not bright enough. and that the clear bulb had a lot of glare, so we tried out a few standard 60 watt to see if that was better.

we ended up buying tubular frosted 60 watt bulbs instead, and this works a lot better in our kitchen. the light level is really nice, which is important in a kitchen!


it even looks cool when it's not on.  and yes, i did switch out the ceiling canopy for something more simple.  i ordered the wrong canopy the first time, so when we ordered the new bulbs i got the more simple canopy (which is actually a lamp base part, which is why i didn't see it the first time).


what do you think? i love how it adds something a little unexpected to our kitchen.


if you have any other questions about the fixture, let me know!


lake michigan

lets not talk about how it's going to be 106* today... again... or how the kitchen is still not done, or how i turned 30 a few weeks ago and am in denial about it, or how far behind i am with blog posts....

instead, here are a few fun pictures from our vacation.

we rented a beach house on lake michigan with some of our bestest friends and spent a week doing, well, basically nothing. and it was glorious. i read several books, sat on the beach, attempted to play golf, ate lots of good food, and just enjoyed spending time with people that i don't get to see enough. we all turned 30 this year and wanted to do something fun to celebrate.


we rented a cottage right on the lake, the beach was our front yard.


the sunsets each night were amazing, i took about 500 photos of just sunsets.




have you ever seen kite surfing? it was really cool to watch, i was impressed with how high some of these guys would jump!



and since we were in michigan... O-H-I-O!


campfire on the beach with s'mores? don't mind if i do. every night.


lake mi2

we had a really nice vacation, mike and i are already trying to figure out how we can get our own lake michigan beach house...  maybe someday.

lake mi

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kitchen reveal

technically we are not done with the kitchen, but i am too excited to not share the 95% complete photos with you. i was hoping to have more time to post some of the details along the way, but i think now i'll just do those posts later. so if you have any specific questions, make sure to ask and i'll try to answer them!

as i've mentioned, the only big things we have left are finishing the base along the bottom of the cabinets, and eventually replacing or rebuilding the island. i'm still messing around with some of the accessories and details, and we'll probably end up installing some open shelving.  but we've come a long way from where we started...

just for fun, here's the kitchen when we moved in:

dark, dirty cabinets, a fruit light fixture, wallpaper on the walls and ceiling, and green carpet.

in the first few months, we removed the counter table, removed the wallpaper and carpet, removed the trash compactor, painted the cabinets white, added new hardware and installed a temporary plywood floor. 

when we installed the new hardwood flooring on the first floor a year and a half ago, we also updated the kitchen floor.



i think that living with the old kitchen for so long really helped us figure out what we needed in the new kitchen.  we needed more storage and more counter space.  as we've renovated the rest of the house, i've been mixing vintage ideas with simple modern elements, and i knew that i wanted something similar in the kitchen renovation.  i also have a thing for unique light fixtures.

anyway, here is how the kitchen looks today (i removed the island in a few photos since the space is difficult to photograph):


when we make the new island, we would like to keep the base design simple, similiar to this test island.  now that i've seen it in the space, ideally i'd like to also replace the butcher block top with a darker butcher block (walnut?), but we'll see. 





i will probably add some of the open shelving that we had in the previous kitchen above the microwave area, the kitchen seems out of balance and i think that will help.  or maybe just hang my giant stendig calendar.



we really love it.  it's hard to believe it's the same kitchen, the space feels so much bigger and brighter now!



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