merrypad | inspiring homeowners to embrace a DIY lifestyle


Gettin’ Stair Paint Swoony

June 14, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Stairwell   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses

… And now I’m doing a happy stair-planning dance. The project I finally decided to be brave enough to do? Painting those stairs. Here’s to hoping I don’t revert into the most indecisive person on earth (you know how much I love color).

The stairwell leading to the second story (the bedrooms and bathroom are up yonder) was once carpeted, but has since been unveiled, refinished, and poly’ed to a glossy, glossy state of glossiness. You can see that transformation over in the before + after section. And I love them – I’m not actually painting over any of the natural hardwoods here, but I’m ready for a little something different. Where once was white will be no more.

A starting photo for stairwell design.

If you follow me on pinterest or have ever spoken to me about stair porn (yes, it’s a real site), you probably know I have major staircase envy. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love me some color.

The homeowners who dare to revamp their otherwise-ordinary staircases with bright colors, stencils, or Orla Kiely wallpaper (drool.)? I want to be them. Yes, for real, I’m going to paint my stairs, and hopefully make an appealing update (if it ends up being vomit-inducing, that’ll be a problem, since it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the front door).

I started the whole planning process this go-around with the simple photo of the staircase (just that quickie shot shown at the beginning of the post); I printed out a few copies of the photo so that I could use the real images as a sketch pad (or activity book, or coloring book), and then spent some time sitting in the entryway giving owed consideration to the colors of the frames in the wall photo gallery, the glow of the hardwood floors, and the color of the walls. I brought up the house paints from the basement, spread them out on the ground, and started playing with a dozen paint brushes mixing colors to see what hues might work best with the other colors in the space. You more artistically adept folks might just want to use photoshop to drop in colors, but I didn’t because I wanted to work with the real paint colors from the palette… and because I don’t have it on my machine.

Once I finished my little art project, I pinned my modified printouts up on the sunroom wall. The one in the center is higher because I’m (waveringly) voting it the leader. Read on.

I hung each of the painted photos on the wall of the sunroom to look at them side-by-side.

On each sheet, I tried to incorporate many hues and a few different plans to see if I should use more than one color on each step, and if so, tried to gauge which colors worked together best with the wall color and bright picture frames. Orange was a thumbs down, as much as I like it as an accent color. Horizontal stripes of multiple colors are looking like a promising idea. And I’m digging the light blues, but maybe that’s because I just finished using it to paint the entryway wall.

Tried out a little orange.The light green/gray color you’re seeing is actually very similar to the handmade shade that I used when I painted the sunroom floor (a sly concoction of Behr 2-in-1 Tiffany Box Blue from a $1 Oops Bin at Home Depot and a splash of floor paint gray). I was thinking it might be nice to try and pull that muted but bright color into the rest of the house subtly, so this was an attempt to see how it might fly. Also tested: polka dots and chevron. Without the use of a real stencil it would be harder to hand-detail a design (and I’m not totally sure I want to make another one like this but it’s not out of the question yet, just awaiting the right inspiration).

More stair painting efforts.

As I said, the photo that was raised in the center is showing the most promise to me right now (that’s not to say it won’t change tomorrow when I realize I have more blue painter’s tape than I expected). The top three stairs pull the original gold wall color and lighten it gradually with gray, going upward; it’s the kind of color combo that I wasn’t sure would work well, but it seemed to in this test. The bottom four stairs do something similar with the Tiffany’s blue and gray paint (like the sunroom floor dots).

Color scaling on the sample photo.
It’s going to be an indecisive few days. The biggest part is doing it in a way that it’s something that I can live with, without overpowering the other colors and elements in the small space. Await and see more; I’m hoping to make my pick and start the ball rolling (or… paint stirrin’) by the weekend.

(And, as always, votes and suggestions are appreciated, my fine and tasteful readers!)

Sugru Giveaway!

June 13, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  31 responses

Over in these here parts, we’re starting Dad Bonanza 2011, the week long countdown to the best family picnicking holiday of June, Father’s Day. We’re rolling out the grill (so Dad can cook for us), hauling home the mulch and topsoil (so Dad can finish planting those annuals for us), heading to some fairs (so Dad will buy us lots of cotton candy and tickets to ride questionably-safe ferris wheels), and stocking him up with all kinds of new gadgetry (so that he can make us stuff).

Of course the best thing you can stock Dad (or Baby Daddy, or just your man) up with this summer might just be some fine, fine Sugru, which, ta-da! is exactly who is rockin’ our socks with this-right-here giveaway!

Smart Hacks Super PackYou. Are. Totally. Welcome.

Sugru is a malleable silicone that enables a plethora of projects, as it’s water-resistant, tolerable of both heat and cold, and adheres to almost any surface you could think of. It allows you to customize your life, and make what you own last longer.

I’m serious when I say that Dad’s going to love this supply you win him all summer long; each pack in the set comes with 12 different individual packets (which I never really thought of in the context of “tiny pack” until right now), and in a whole array of colors on top of that (white will actually be included too, in addition to the selection in that image above).

We’ve been raving about the stuff since we first got our sticky little fingers into the shiny metallic packaging; there are lots of great examples of the product in action over in the Sugru gallery. If you want to check out some of my own recent Sugru projects, you should see what I made for the centerpiece, the TV, the camera, and the starfish.

But what we really want you to do is enter to win 1 of 5 Smart Hacks Super Packs of Sugru.

(That’s right. 5 winners, 5 chances to win, can I get a woo-hoo?)

Two ways to enter:

1. Leave us a comment on this post (tell us what Dad might want to hack!)


2. Tweet this: Make Dad’s summer more awesome by entering to win a Super Pack of Sugru at @merrypad. #dadslovesugru

We’ll be accepting entries until 10PM on Friday 6/17, which means you have over 100 hours to get your entries in this week. We’re sure that’s enough time.

P.S. Not that you wouldn’t win or anything, but you should know that starting this week, Sugru is supporting local US shipping, meaning it should be a whole hack of a lot easier to get the product state-side! (Yes, that was an intentional hack joke.)

P.P.S. Why don’t you follow @projectsugru while you’re at it.


I’m Chipper For This Chipper

June 10, 2011   //  Posted in: Gardening, Other Pads, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

New treescaping obsession?

The wood chipper.

Chip, chip away. Shout-out to Connor's Hot Dog Stand Class of 2005 in that shirt.

I’m a self-professed landscaping tool virgin, never really having had an opportunity to use light- or heavy-duty yard outdoor power equipment like the common rototiller, chainsaw, backhoes, bull dozers… I’ve never even used a riding lawn mower even though my parent’s mowable lawn was 1+ acres (nor have I sped through the yard on one full speed like Handy Girl in this video tutorial, which is a good watch if you want to know how to make zig-zags in your lawn) but I think I’m hooked. Shocker, I know.

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I volunteered to help Pete + his parents with some treescaping (which I’m happy to find is totally google-able and not just a word I made up); it was sunny and warm and sure thing I was up for a little outdoor action. They had cut down a bunch of tree limbs to bring more sunlight into the yard and porch (which made a world of a difference, BTW, although I didn’t snap any photos of that before + after so you’re going to have to trust me). To get rid of said limbs, we were tasked with grinding the branches with the wood chipper, which is something I now know anyone with significant property would enjoy owning.

Their’s was a handsome Troy-Bilt model. Any more details on that will need to be provided by Pete. Contact him yourself if you want. I can tell you superficially that it was red. And loud. And chipper. Har-har.

Man chipping. I love this wood chipper.

How much fun can hacking apart dozens upon dozens of branches be?

Amazingly fun – that’s the answer you were looking for.

And don’t get all lazy or “Wah, I’m too busy” on me until you at least try it; cutting down branches with a hack saw and chopping logs for the fireplace with a totally manual ax? That sounds hard (and I’ve also never done it, but I’d try it). This was easy. It was therapeutic too, like vacuuming with a Dyson and watching all of the dirt, dog fur, and dust gather in the transparent canister, except that instead of fur and dropped crushed tortilla chips, it was regurgitating finely grated mulch (that smelled quite similar to a wheat grass smoothie since the chipper was also nom-nom’ing green maple leaves).

After 3 hours and hundreds of branches (big and small) we had a sizable stash of mulch, which of course now I’m wondering how we could dye dark brown and recycle into the garden. Have ideas? Pass them on to me; I haven’t actually done the research yet but there has to be something out there for mulch-tinting.

Oh, and I keep making a big (flowery) stink about the (lack of) Peonies in my own yard. Just like a friendly reader commented a few weeks ago, it seems that my little plants needs another good year to root themselves before they give me the blossoms I’m craving. In the meantime, though, Pete’s mom’s Peonies are AMAZING (and stand as high as my chest). Yep, so amazing that it deserves a bold and underline. You might have seen this picture over the weekend if you like me on facebook:

Peony happies.

And Pete uploaded another photo to the facebook page yesterday, as the blooms had fully wham-bam-exploded. I love these flowers.

That's what I'm talkin' about.

P.S. I updated the before + after section of the site. This house rules.

P.P.S. Another giveaway is coming on Monday, and it’s my biggest yet! Five possible winners! Hear that, now?

P.P.P.S. Remember to like merrypad on facebook so you can see more random photos of our activities that don’t always make it onto the blog.