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Houseplant Mania

July 29, 2011   //  Posted in: Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  10 responses

I picked up the Great Dane and Chihuahua of house plants at Home Depot yesterday because I couldn’t help myself; all of the plants in the store were looking so green and lush after the last few weeks of heat – full of new growth and chlorophyll. Plus, you know I can’t resist a baby succulent, which is that speck of dirt you see dwarfed on the step.

Big plant. Little plant.

Of course the succulent I really considered getting was this other one that looks oddly like a butt, or maybe a bad guy from Mario Bros., but is squishy and tiny and just made me smile. If you’re really wondering, I believe it’s name to be Split Rock, but I was sad to see that it would only grow about 2″ tall so back to the shelf it went. I wanted plants with serious growth potential.

Split Rock Succulent. Or a butt.

Speaking of butts when I shouldn’t be speaking of butts, what’s this about? (Caught my eye at Marshall’s. You try to walk by it and not laugh a little.)

Stainless spoon rest. Or a butt.

Back to the main, plant-intensive topic. I can’t turn down a good one when I see it, especially if it’s almost as big as me, only $13, and doesn’t look overly like something you’d find in Florida or the tropics, because vegetation like that always looks odd and out of place in NY homes, in my opinion.

The leafy greens I lugged home in my passenger’s seat measured about 52″ tall, even though the tag tells me I should expect to see it max out around 48″. Meaning it’s a superstar plant and I’m lucky to have it.

Tall plant. I'm 5'9" by the way.

It’s given name is the Umbrella Tree (or Schefflera arboricola if you’re a fanciful horticulturist), and it even towered over Cody, who’s almost knocked its precarious 10″ plastic base over on five separate occassions with a single swing of his tail. I also couldn’t take a photo of him not howling in a where’s-my-treat-for-staying-still fit. The doof.

The other plant I bought was one of the <$3 baby succulents, this one kindly named Elephant Bush, as in, this is the plant that elephants thrive off of on safari. Cool. I obviously picked the tallest one with the most stems to optimize my opportunity for success.

Elephant Bush beside starfish art.

And don’t be fooled, this baby only measures 5″ tall right now but has potential of reaching the same 48″ vertical of the Umbrella Tree.

I just hope it grows faster than the Anniversary Jade.

Impromptu Switcheroo

July 28, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I finally got fed up with the full-size bed in the master bedroom. Who lives like this anyways?

Imagine me. Jammed in there. 5’9″ body hardly fitting end-to-end. I was too used to my feet overhanging the end. And I had had enough of that.

The master bedroom – my gray, cozy, iron headboard-ed dwelling – had been arranged this way for over a year. It’s no different from what you’ve seen before (like here, when it made it’s grand reveal) except that I removed the down comforter from the IKEA duvet and have only been sleeping beneath the top sheet and the duvet cover. It’s pure light-yet-warm-and-clean fun, I tell ya. A true summertime treat.

Master bedroom (view from the doorway) before.

But get this: The guest room mattress was queen-sized. I brought it home last winter. How well do I treat my guests? That well. More comfortable than me well.

But don’t focus on how undecorated and unassembled the room is overall. Just focus on the queen mattress, because that’s what I’m swooning over today after spending another night with my ankles uncomfortably resting over the foot of the bed. Visual guest room happiness is clearly not top of mind over here (yet), but I had comfort nailed down. Shucks, I hadn’t even bought or made a bed skirt. Or tucked in the top sheet nicely.

Guest room (view from the doorway) before.Switching the smaller bed with the larger guest room mattress had crossed my mind before, although last time I played around and made the switch I wasn’t happy with how tightly the queen fit in the much-smaller master bedroom. It seemed too tall given the shorter ceilings, too wide for to all of the windows, and too large for the fit-for-a-full-size iron headboard.

But when I gave consideration to how the larger bed might fit if not for the metal framing and the iron headboard, I thought the queen bed might just work out in my favor. So I flip-flopped the beds and made some executive decisions in another moment of trial (hoping desperately that it wouldn’t be an error because those damn mattresses aren’t easy to move).

When it came right on down to it, the guest room hardly changed at all visually. The only obvious change is that the bedskirt is over yonder now. The bed even aligned just fine under the herringbone headboard (I DIY’ed that, you know, and you can find out how right here).

Guest room (view from the doorway) after. Slightly longer quilt and a bedskirt.

On the other hand, the master, my new little lair, looks much improved now. A little low-rise swanky room if you ask me. And hopefully you read that right; I said swanky, not low-rise skanky, like some shorts I didn’t want to be seeing at the beach yesterday afternoon.

Master bedroom after.And there’s still more to do. Like, hang some art up, and maybe some curtains since I’m feelin’ a curtain-y kick coming at you… but what else is different?

  • No framing; the box spring is directly on the ground for now, although I’d love to get a nice low platform bed someday and nix the box all together.
  • No headboard; I shifted the entire bed left to sit more beneath the window.
  • Shifted the carpet closer to the door (and am considering rotating it to expose even more).
  • Moved the dresser to the other wall; it’s now beside the closet.

Master bedroom after.

And I decided that I really should start ironing my bedding before it’s on international bloggy-dom. Whatever, we’re all snuggly, duvet-crunching humans, right?

I’m still fussing with how the bed sits beneath the window; we use enough pillows for it not to be an issue when we’re sleeping against it, but should it directly beneath the window, or am I content to keep it a smidgen off center and balance the variance out with art just because I’m allowed to do what I want? The reason it can’t go further left and perfectly centered (as shown in the next photo) is because the IKEA bedside table is wedged between the bed and the wall where the dresser had been previously. It may need to move to the other side of the bed if centering is the ultimate gameplan.

Master bedroom after.And it really surprised me that adding the bed to the room like this made the room feel bigger; I think forcing it away from the doorway was a good decision.

Did I mention it’s way cushier than the old mattress? Sorry guests. I’ll be working on updating and beautifying your room soon enough if it’s any concession.

P.S. Project Runway tonight! 


The Glassblock Beautification Project

July 27, 2011   //  Posted in: Basement, Curb Appeal, DIY, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Damn you, troublesome windows.

See, the foundation of the house is poured concrete, but only rises about 8″ above the surface of the earth. Baked right into the foundation were five windows that I had replaced last November with a more durable glassblock variety. The windows that were there weren’t sitting in the foundation like you’d regularly encounter though; instead, they sat on the base and were wrapped in house framing. Weird? According to Craig, the handy and highly-recommended glassblock man (and my new savior-slash-best friend), only 2-3% of the houses he worked on had this “condition”. And yes, I’ll call it a condition because for awhile after he explained the issues, I felt like my house would never be cured.

Last fall when I quoted the job with him, Craig didn’t even want to treat me. Not me, I mean them. The windows. It’s not that they weren’t ideal candidates for glassblock replacement, but the manner that they’d need to be framed from the outside made it an overly complex job, and while he rocks his own socks off when it comes to the mortaring and glassblocking thing, woodworking wasn’t something he was up for. I negotiated some more (and begged) and eventually he agreed to take on the job if Pete and I agreed to do the woodworking part separately, whether it be with a local handyman, or by ourselves. I don’t think there was eyelash batting involved with this do-my-job-or-else coercion, but there may have been.

Truthfully, his initial diagnosis of what we were going to find sounded way worse than what we were really left with, which looked like this:

Unframed window. See the framing, layers of siding, and insulation?

Because of how the window needed to be installed, the previous layers of siding, insulation, and new siding were left exposed both to the elements and to anyone’s line of vision. That equals ugly. 8 months of ugly, if you want to be exact. Fortunately, only two of the windows along one side of the house are actually exposed to the everyday passerby, so we turned our focus on neatening those two up (two others look out beneath the deck, and one looks under the sunroom).

The solution, we decided, was to frame in the inset exposed area to make it appear purposeful, tidy, and completed. Oh, you know, like this, which is the completed look. Ooohs, ahhhs, yes. Keep reading to see how we did it.

Framed glassblock window.

See, what we did was line the left and right sides of the window with 1″ x 6″ pressure-treated board scraps that we had on hand from back when we built the front porch railings. Each window was a smidge different in depth, so we actually narrowed each board with the circular saw to be more about 1″ x 4.5″. There was enough of a surface with the exposed framing for us to nailgun too, so that’s what we did. You know how much we love that pancake compressor. I still think you all need to own one.

Starting to frame the inner edge of the window to conceal the layers of siding and insulation beneath.

The extra trimmings from the boards we cut down were 1″ x 1.5″, and ended up being perfect to add an outer frame and neaten up the appearance of from the full frontal perspective. Sidenote: Get your mind out of the frontal gutter.

Anyways, nail gunning at it again, and hey, look, a picture of me at my peak of tan-ness. Sadly, it’s also as tan as I’ve been in 8 years. And I live at the beach.

Nail gunning the trim to the glassblock frame.There was conveniently already a header board at the top of each window form the installation, but we added the trim to unify the look all the way around on both windows.

Another sidenote: It was sunny-sunny-sunny by the time we worked on the second window; Pete insisted on DIY shade using the cardboard from the storm door (that has been used for various purposes and not yet recycled). That’s temporary resourcefulness if I’ve ever seen it.

DIY'ed sun shield while Pete works on the second window.How about that? The simple frame really cleaned up the look of the windows.

Framed, but unpainted window.

I primed and painted them yesterday (using basic interior/exterior primer and part of the can of exterior Silver Leaf paint that I had bought when I painted the garage door and trim earlier in the month).

Close-up awesomeness:

Clean, freshly painted, and not visually appalling glassblock window!

And the grand finale, which isn’t really the grand finale because I already showed it to you about 6 photos north:

Framed glassblock window.Another sidenote: These photos also give a little sneakster-peekster of a in-progress project. You probably don’t notice unless you’re intimately involved with the exterior of my house, so stay tuned for another home improvement reveal in the next few days.