I bought a mattress and boxspring for the guest room during the winter, which has since only been used by my Dad, master-in-command of house-and-dog when me and Pete are out of town. He tells me it’s comfortable.
And comfy is good and everything, but I’m glad he hasn’t been putting up much of a fuss about the state of the room overall; for example, since this new mattress is a queen, I bought one single set of queen sheets but don’t have a quilt yet. And while I moved in a nice trunk to act as a bedside table, the guest room also serves as storage space for winter jackets, toilet paper, random dressers that don’t fit anywhere else, and the dog (who uses the floor as his bedroom at night and when I’m not home, no lie). Nice assortment. Not nice looking.
But I’m still hoping to fix it up, and that is what this post is about.
When Pete + I replaced an old window in his parents house back during the late winter, I kept it. Instead of trashing the very old panes, I saved them, cleaned them up, and brought them home. I considered many different uses for them, and I had a new idea every other week, which is maybe why it’s taken me almost 4 months to do anything with the salvaged glass. Should it be a basic picture frame? Or maybe make some painted glass if I was feeling artsy? Make side tables with glass tops? Paint them a fun color and hang them emptily?
Finally, I decided that maybe it would make for a nice headboard treatment in the barren guest room. The room really needs all the attention it can get, and this seems to be a good starting point.
I’ve also been seeing lots of radical projects (on pinterest) that use paint swatch samples (read: free!) from the home improvement stores. Some people have made amazing wall murals, others have made crafty garland, and I’ve even seen some cool framable art that make for intriguing home decor pieces. OK, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this rainbow bike wheel hack that kicks butt. My latest paint chip scavenge occurred around the middle of last month when I got my hands on a facebook coupon offered by Benjamin Moore (free pint color sample valued at $6.49 according to my local Ace Hardware). So, when I was at the store picking up my freebie color sample, I did find myself leaving with a handful of swatches that I wanted to compare against my own color palette, and voila, this project was essentially born right there on the spot.
Sidenote: I don’t know the general policy about taking these swatches at no cost, all I know is I’ve been hoarding them ever since I became tall enough to reach the display when home-improvement-shopping with mom. Creativity blooms at a young age. OK, glad that’s off my chest, onward with my totally freebie-licious project.
You may or may not know that I’m also a big ol’ fan of herringbone patterns. Let’s be honest – who wouldn’t be. This photo that I took in central park last summer was an inspiration to what you’re about to see unfold.
And don’t get all excited; this isn’t rocket-science or for-The-Louvre-type art in any way, just a snip and a chop and a tape into a fun pattern.
Before I got going on my project, I did take some time to refinish the original wooden window frame itself; a little clean up, sanding, spray primed and hand-applied a coat of white paint really helped the overall appearance of the window.
The original plan was to use both panes above the bed, positioned vertically, side-by-side; they’re exactly the same size. When I got to this next part of the headboard process though, I changed my mind a little bit.
I had bought a floating picture frame from IKEA months and months and months ago, but never installed it. Another one of those “waiting for the right spot” excuses… well I finally had one; it was not only an adequate length, but also a nice chunky width and I decided it would be perfect to install right above the pillows on the bed as something the panes could sit on.
As usual, I employed the trusty 1/8″ anchor bolts. (I bought a nice bulk pack of these and am relieved to have them on hand so I can hang heavy things into drywall in 3-minutes flat.)
I’m serious when I say 3-minutes flat. This shelf went up lickity split, and sure, maybe it was because I had just hung the brackets in the dining room, but I had the drill bit and level handy and ready for action.
The height was decided on based on by the typical height of the pillows and the likely tendency to cram said pillows against the wall; and if there was any chance of Dad whacking his head on it in the middle of the night, I knew I would be hearing about it so I aired on the side of precaution. You’re welcome, Dad. With pillows in place, as you’ll see, it looks perfectly positioned.
But one other thing happened when I decided on this height…
I realized that hanging the two panes vertically side by side would make the whole artsy headboard seem really… tall. Tall, as in, out of proportion with the rest of the room, the windows, the fan, the bed, everything. So instead of proceeding with developing herringbone for two panes, I just stuck with one, and decided to lay it horizontally. The other painted pane will come in handy in another way, I’m sure.
Deciding that even I could make the paint chips form a herringbone pattern framed as a headboard, I proceeded with the samples that I had on hand. Like I already mentioned, I had chosen colors that were similar to my own palette and/or were complementary tones (and I’ll note, this design came easily because the strips were large solid swatches, not consisting of multi-color palettes).
I started by cutting them in half lengthwise before sorting them onto one of the glass panes.
The herringbone arrangement in the next photo seemed to work well. The original idea was to leave some transparency between each color but I quickly aborted that plan when I realized I didn’t have a good way of locking them in place (and I didn’t want to clutter the whole project with lots of scotch tape).
Truth be told, I did this next step blindly to make things interesting. I left all of the color swatches upside down, shuffled them like I used to shuffle the cards when playing Go Fish as a kid, and then started picking and taping them to one another. I didn’t peek until I had the whole thing taped down, but trusted that I’d get an assortment of colors and tried not to be too concerned as to whether or not the pinks were being clustered in a particular corner. Organized chaos. I was also doing this part of the project at night, hence the sad white balance effort.
To make sure the whole display stayed right in place, I cut and popped a piece of plexiglass in on the backside to keep the paint swatches to keep it flush with the glass pane. (I happened to have the plexi on hand from an old, no-longer-used poster frame that even had some scratches and nicks in it, fortunately you can’t see those since they’re hidden behind the swatches.)
Once it was secured in place, up it went!
Those purple pillows aren’t doing anything for the picture, but you can see how how my Dad isn’t going to accidentally shove the pillow or the back of his head into the shelf, right? Truthfully, I wasn’t happy with the white either. You can’t tell in the photo so much, but the Sherwin-Williams white I was using is clearly not the same as the IKEA white on the floating shelf.
I took the pane down and whipped out one of my Benjamin Moore Color Samples (the $6.49 reduced to total-freebie that I mentioned earlier). One thing I will say: Benjamin Moore claims to use premium paint in their sample, unlike the Sherwin-Williams Color-To-Go products that I had been testing out earlier in the spring. For not much more money, you’ll get a better product with BM… just my observation. I applied some Fresh Olive green (also one of the swatches in the herringbone) to the front edge of the frame to break up the whites a little bit. I think it worked.
Alright, well he’d probably manage to knock the fresh-cut azaleas off the shelf with his head, but they look pretty anyways. The glass pane itself has been carefully attached to the wall with heavy duty mounting squares (sticky on both sides) so there isn’t any fear of it toppling down and smashing (on Dad’s face, oi vey).
I had some of this IKEA canvas laying around and wonder if it’s worth trying to incorporate it into the future room design at all:
The next steps for the guest room will involve incorporating more of this bright vibe into the space in accessories and linens. It’ll all come together. Not this week, but eventually.
P.S. You might wonder why I have the bigger more lux bed in the guest room instead of mine? The guest room is slightly bigger and the window placement allow a queen-size to fit in easily. I tried it for an hour in my room, which I like because even though it’s smaller, it has a nice view of the beach. Full-size bed it will remain unless I get wild and start tearing down walls and reshaping my bedroom. Wink. NO, I have no plans of that.
Come on over now, Grandma. Between the handrail that I reinstalled on the inside staircase and the brand-spankin’ new front porch with fancy dual-handrails that is about to be revealed, you’re probably less likely to take a fall on my watch.
It hasn’t been too safe around here for the last 7 months. And I’m kind of a safety nazi. I had gotten someone on Craigslist to successfully disassemble and haul away the old front porch last November; that old porch wasn’t pretty. Facts: It was stained reddish. It was an odd, unflattering shape. Its platform extended beyond the overhang every which way. And it was really ragged out. Remember it? Here’s a refresher.
The timing of it’s demise corresponded with the new siding project; I had wanted the contracted crew to install a new header board for the porch and side around that board while they were doing the rest of the house. Neither Pete or I wanted to be responsible for hacking into the perfect siding once it had been installed, so this seemed like a pretty good plan. And yes, it ended up working out in our favor just fine.
Except that it was then November. And I live in Rochester. Which means it gets cold, and not many people want to be using power tools outside in icy conditions, myself included. For a few weeks around Christmas I was certain that my house wasn’t going to have any kind of front porch until springtime, but we did luck out right around New Years, finding ourselves home on a weekend when it happened to be a balmy 60 degrees. I went out and bought lots of lumber for the front porch, and we had a platform and adequate steps built just in time to ring in the first substantial snowstorm of the new year. (You can read that whole process right here and here, if you’re interested). The porch has looked just like this for 5 full months now.
And that brings me to current day.
Good ol’ Memorial Day weekend is usually a nice time for some yard work (and I’m forever excited about the hardware store deals this time of year, which is part of the reason I started working on the front garden) but we also had ambitious plans of getting the much-needed railings installed on the front porch. After all, like I was hinting at, the entryway has been lacking safety for months now. Both Pete and I had nearly fallen off in moments of imbalance, and I just couldn’t have Grandma or Grandpa being concerned with falling off the porch on their way in. Plus, it looked bad. And I didn’t want to find myself with some fine for an unsafe structure, you know?
I had already bought 4″x4″ boards for the railing posts, and those spent the winter safely nestled in the garage, but I then spent a lot of time trying to figure out how exactly I wanted to do the actual barrier railing pieces. Similar to the pergola railings, I leaned towards a chunky horizontal presentation for the front porch too; and since you can see one of the pergolas from the road, mimicking those railings seemed like it would look consistent and refreshing all around. I leaned to use the same 1″x6″ boards that come in convenient 8′ lengths right at Home Depot.
You might recall from some of the more recent pictures of the front of my house that I left the front porch floor boards un-trimmed to length; this is because they’re pressure treated, and based on my experience with the back deck, I knew that the boards would shrink a little bit in width and length, which they did after having the 5 months to settle into place, so we snapped a chalk line and trimmed the boards to be even; we’re confident that they’ll remain looking this clean-cut for years to come.
The posts were the easy part. Wait, did I say that? This ended up being a highly complex project starting with the posts. It made both of us thankful for being reasonably good at the whole trigonometry thing. Angles and measuring and planning was made much easier by our new friend, Mr. Miter Saw, which I rocked out on for hours.
We didn’t actually expect it to be a 7-hour job, but it became that pretty quickly. First thing we realized was that the posts leading down the stairs would need to be angled to accommodate the slanted railing, and that slant needed to be the exact same angle as the stairs, which we deciphered to be about 36-degrees but don’t ask us how we came up with that. Three random techniques from deep within our mathematically-minded brains validated that measure, so we went with it and held our breath. Turns out it worked.
If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it again; Pete a level-headed dude and every single board that went up was checked thrice for being level in all directions. This obviously works very well in my favor. I “eyeball” almost everything.
Tricky part numero dos had something to do with realizing that the boards slanting down the stairs needed to be cut at an angle, therefore making the board appear to be 7″ wide instead of 6″. And while it’s still hard for me to grasp exactly what kind of mind games these pressure treated boards were playin’ on me, we had to adjust our game plan a little bit and go with the whole fool-your-eye strategy and cut the slanted boards down to 4-7/8″ wide instead of 6″. Tell me if you can seriously tell that we did some mindful manipulation to the slanted boards when you see the final pictures, OK?
You can see in these pictures that we modified our install process a little bit from how we installed the railings on the pergolas; this time, each board is affixed to the space in between each post instead of overlapping it and being attached to the exterior of the post. We think this makes for a cleaner overall look. It wasn’t difficult to do either, thanks to Pete’s idea of sistering up some smaller pieces of wood to the posts (perfectly measured to match the railings boards) and letting the rails attach to those. From the outside it looks seamless, and from the inside of the railing it looks like this (not bad at all):
Pete earned bonus points by deciding to cap off the post caps too. He’s been telling me it would be easy to do this around the pergola posts too, and now I believe him. Instead of leaving them exposed like this:
He encased each of the 6 caps with custom cut boxes to conceal the metal uglies. I like the nice chunkiness of the whole thing too.
From afar, the house is really starting to come together; I know that I’ve said that before but between the updates with the landscaping this weekend, the new doors, the new siding, and the new front porch, it’s really looking much different from when I moved in. New, new, new.
Next up: weather proofing. It’s due for a nice water sealant in the next few weeks to help the wood keep looking so good. I’m considering staining also, but I might leave that for another year and just enjoy the fresh new wood look for awhile longer.
P.S. My neighbor’s big metallic temporary garage has been there for two years, sad face. I wish very much for it to be gone. Just wanted to you to know I have no say in that.
I didn’t mention last week that when we found that awesome estate sale, I had also convinced the folks hosting the sale to give me a shovel full of Myrtle from the home’s front garden. It was lush, flowering little purple blossoms, and I thought it was the type of shade-loving ground cover that my yard might just soak up. I love me some maintenance-free ground cover. And I love me some free perennials.
And then I found more. At Pete’s parents. And they let me take some home. Clarification: they let us dig up an entire recycling bin’s worth -WHOA, that’s 6-layers thick in the next photo. And truth be told, you can barely tell; the hole in the middle of the garden was immediately consumed by remaining Myrtle. It just grows like that.
Of course this meant I needed a place to plant it, pronto, so Sunday morning bright and early I conjured up a real plan of attack for starting work on that front garden that I had written about here. I’m not going to run out and buy some of the big shrubs I was hoping to splurge on, but having new plants to put in the ground gave me the courage to start something… anything.
First things first, I removed the tulip bulbs and transplanted them into the garden in the backyard; I realize this is a major no-no considering they had just barely finished blooming (and the ones that weren’t finished were trimmed and are sitting nicely on the mantel). Secondly, I weeded my little heart out until the front garden (from the vantage point of the porch) looked like this:
And then I started getting crazy.
All along, I’ve wanted to make the garden wider, but the driveway’s a big obstruction in that. Of course, I also had been wanting to reduce the driveway from 3-cars wide to a more balanced 2-car width, and having all these new plants that needed to get into the ground lit a bit of a fire under my butt to do it the way I wanted to the first time. And that involved ripping up a bit of asphalt.
I’m not sure what Pete was thinking when he came home to me with a sledgehammer and small pile of asphalt; I was sledging myself into a major state of head-achey and arm-achey but the asphalt was so hot and melty from the nice weather that it actually peeled up from the rock base pretty easily, and tore into manageably sized pieces in a way that I can only compare to breaking apart warm brownies. YUM.
After a little while, some ibuprofen and water, we had this:
Of course, we had a little bit of work to do to get the finished end looking straight, and had to figure out a way to get a couple of posts from the original deck out of the ground, so we kept on working. Pete employed a trusty angle grinder to gouge a straight line into the asphalt; it happily gave us enough of a crack to effectively sledge and have it break right on the line.
In another fun feats-of-strength-esque moment, I caught Pete on camera in a series of poses that only could be compared to something out of Power Rangers or Karate Kid. I think this earns him a black belt.
And again? Just for fun. Because I’m impressed with him and my shutter speed.
Oh, and the posts did successfully make it out of the ground and I’m happy to say that the previous owners had built the original porch correctly with the posts 48″ under the earth completely surrounded by concrete. Read: this removal was not as easy as Pete makes it look.
I won’t get into the ordeal that is removing 40 sq.ft. of rock that lays 6″ deep as a base for the asphalt because that wasn’t easy in the least (and it’s boring, and I still have a headache when I think about shoveling grindy rocks)… but it’s gone, and in its place is 19 bags of sale-priced top soil (that seems mysteriously to be mixed with lots of bark, Home Depot). Thank goodness for Memorial Day Weekend savings at those stores; the whole buy didn’t cost more than $25 thanks to a 10% coupon I had saved.
The Myrtle was successfully transplanted and we’re looking forward to it getting it’s sea legs (or, roots) established so we can see some growth and expansion in the garden space.
We made another big change to the front of the house yesterday, but the photos aren’t quite uploaded yet. I’ll share them as soon as possible! All I’ll say is… it’s finally looking SO GOOD.