(Almost) Finishing Touches

July 08, 2011   //  Posted in: Garage, Windows   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

Once the garage had been cleaned up and painted, I was really raring to get going on the trim. The existing trim was a combo of black and white, and the garage door itself had been especially scruff since I moved in. I should say, it had been scruff since well before I had moved in. Scruff = Dingy. Scruff = Dirty. Scruff = So-bad-that-I-had-planned-to-just-buy-a new-garage-door-when-I-moved-in.

I snapped a shot of it (just as I began priming over the black) to show it to you looking about as good as it could look, pre-paint.

A "clean" but still filthy garage door.

The door had been hosed down throughly before I started priming (creating quite the mini-flood in the garage but I won’t get into details about that). I also Lysol’ed to almost no end and hand cleaned to get as much grime off it as possible. Still, it was definitely not crisp and fresh, nor white anymore. Great, right.

Close-up on the dirty garage door.

Side note: It’s not a bad idea to stock up on paints over holiday weekends like Memorial Day and 4th of July; most brands that sell at HD and Lowe’s offer that $5 rebate on every gallon of paint, meaning I saved $15 this weekend between the new gray porpoise, a good ol’ can of plain white, and the silver leaf paint that I used for the trim. Whoop!

Silver leaf was the best match I was able to find for the white aluminum trim that surrounds each window on the house – Behr W-F-720 (purchased in exterior satin, just like the paint I used for the cinder block). As I got started, it seemed like the gallon of paint was going to go pretty far this time around. I started by painting the areas of the garage door, shed door, and garage window that wouldn’t be easily accessible by roller.

It was immediately apparent how dramatic of a door clean-up this would be. Especially on the top part of the door, which oddly was much more discolored than the lower panels. The whole door is well protected from rainfall and weather because of the overhang, but the lower panels must get cleaned off more naturally than the top.

Trim of the garage door panes lookin' real clean.

The follow-up work with a paint roller went reasonably quick, and the results were just as stunning as I wished for:

Garage door looking better by the second!

Another side note: You’re getting a hot glimpse of my neighbors silver carport in the reflection. It’s been there for 22 months now, driving me crazier each day.

You’ll notice that I didn’t use blue painter’s tape. And you’ll notice that I wasn’t even the least bit careful when it came to painting around the two panes of glass. In my experiences, it’s always been easier to be sloppy up front and clean up the mess with a razor blade; some paint is inevitably going to peek it’s way through the tape anyways, or the roller would splatter on the paned glass, and you’ll be doing the same thing anyways.

Using a razor blade to clean paint from the glass panes.

The post title includes the prefix ALMOST because the one thing I haven’t yet done is paint the cinderblock to the right of the door porpoise gray yet; I did remove the mass amounts of ivy that had taken up residence, but want to let the little roots (little ivy fingers) dry up a little so that I can try and scrub as many off as possible. The anxious person in me just wants to paint over them, but they’re everywhere, and the photo doesn’t do justice to how raised some of them are from the surface of the garage so I’m behaving this time and going to do it right.

Ivy remains on the garage. Must get cleaned off before the final painting.

But with that said, how does the painted door from the driveway? Oohs, ahhs.

Garage door looking spiffy clean.

And as I said, the garage’s side window and shed door got a good scrape-down, re-prime, and re-paint too. I also refinished the overhang edges, which were overdue for a clean-up. Ahhs, oohs.

Side of the garage with painted door and window trim.

Styling with Faux-Succulents

July 07, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  12 responses

I had been keeping my eye out for succulents all spring. Not the obvious itsy-bitsy potted variety sold for $2.99 at Home Depot (which of course I want all of because they’re so tiny, cute, and full of potential), but the more difficult to find faux breed. You know, the ones that you’re more likely to find buried in a pile of faux-hydrangeas and faux-ivy vines at your local faux-loving craft shop.

The whole reason for this wild-faux-hunt? I was going to try and make a wreath decorated with the plants. (And also write a post testing how many times I could use the word faux.)

The collection started small and grew slowly at first:


Part of the reason it took so long to collect is that I was gettin’ my thrift on by only using those little 40-50% off coupons for A.C. Moore, JoAnn’s, and Michaels, and then comparison shopping between the three stores to find the most realistic looking plants at the most reasonable price. At my stores they weren’t even in great supply, and I only found 5-10 pieces to pick from at any given time, and sometimes were damaged, discolored, or just plain weird-and-not-naturally-in-NY-faux-looking.

If you’d like a little product/store comparison:

  1. JoAnn’s lines were¬†phenomenally¬†overpriced, had less of a variety, but were in turn heavier and seemed more durable.
  2. Michael’s were less expensive, plentiful in breed, and still looked reasonably good, albeit a lighter, and less likely to survive a drop from a 2-story house kind of material (not that I might accidentally launch one out my bedroom window anytime soon).
  3. (And I never went to A.C., I just used their coupons at Michael’s when I needed to, since they accept competitor discounts after all.)

I lucked out last time I was at Michael’s because the line of succulents I had been slowly buying went on sale – 50% off each. I couldn’t use the coupons on top of that discount, so I bought up as many as I could of the $2.99 variety; each plant was then marked down to $1.49 and I left the store with enough faux-succulents to get started on my project.

Noteworthy bonus: Many of my stems had 3 separate small faux-succulent heads, meaning it was like a 3-for-1 deal-io; the smaller pieces acted for nice filler between the bigger faux-guys.

Faux-succulents beside real succulents.

The wreath I had planned to use all along was free; Mom and Dad have a plethora of grapes on their property and make dozens of wreaths a year accidentally as they prune and clean up the vines.

I started by clipping all of the succulents to have a short stem (between 1″-2″, there was no rhyme or reason). There was a metal wire through the stem, so wire cutters did the trick easily. Using a thin gauge wire that I had on hand, I cut many pieces about 4″-5″ long (again, no methodology) and wrapped one end around the base of the succulent head. The way the stem was affixed to the plant, I was able to pretty tightly wrap the wire with needle nose pliers.

Wiring each succulent.

From there, I began securing the succulent stems to the wreath – the wire and stem went through the wreath, and the wire was wrapped securely around a piece of vine to position the succulent head in place and still keep the wires hidden.

Back of wreath

I clumped the faux-plants tightly together, and alternated placement of the smaller heads, bigger heads, and the varied colors too.

Back of wreath

The wreath came together very quickly – the project from beginning to end only took me as long as it took to watch an old 30 Rock (I’m still way behind on my DVR programming).

I didn’t fill the whole wreath, because I wanted some of the natural wreath to be exposed and keep the faux-pieces nestled tightly; I think it worked out pretty well and looks balanced.

Finished wreath on front door.

I hadn’t planned for the purples in some of the plants to complement the door so nicely, but they do. I really like this wreath on the front of the house for summer; the greens are fresh, and truthfully, the plants themselves don’t look very fake, especially from the road.

And, because the wreath and wire were already something I had on hand and the faux-succulents were all bought at discount, I doubt that I spent more than $12 on the whole project. Not shabby for something that will hopefully last awhile.

Faux, faux, faux (for good measure).

Playing With Fireplace Gas Lines

July 06, 2011   //  Posted in: Basement, Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

Oddly, the best photo I have of the gas log insert is this one, from May 2009, taken within the first 10 days of moving into my house. I was in the middle of painting the living room, the fireplace, and polyurethaning the floors. It’s also glaringly obvious that I had already painted the dining room it’s first color, a lively coral pink. Fun, and so ahead of Pantone in embracing the Honeysuckle. (I still wish I could have made it work.)

Living room in progress, circa May 2009

There are small stones you see at the bottom of the fireplace; they were removed (probably shortly after this picture was snapped), and I left the fake logs and mechanism hooked up directly on the brick floor.

I guess the fact that I have no other recent photos that highlight the fireplace insert so clearly just further evidences how much I disliked it. I’m surprised it took 25 more months to remove it.

Did I ever use the fireplace? Not even once, even though it was fully in working order (it was on and functional when I did my first walk-through ever). I never turned it on myself to revel in the happiness that comes with a working fireplace, even though I do love a nice working fireplace in the fall and winter. And I can start a real wood fire just fine, but the gas-powered log system freaked me out.

So recently, we removed it. Naturally, we planned for the worst and assumed that there was going to be all kinds of capping and investigation involved, but it turned out to be pretty easy. See, the gas system just pulls forward in the fireplace itself to expose it’s gas hookup:

Gas pipe exposed behind the fake logs.Upon further exploration, we found that the pipe extended down the hole for ashes in the floor; just within the hole but out of the camera’s line of sight was a gas valve, turned off:

Hole for ashes in the floor of the fireplace. The gas line was run up through this trap door.

The good sanity-ensuring news is that there was a second valve in the basement on the back of the fireplace; it was also turned off already. And after double checking (and triple checking) that neither were going to start spewing natural gas in our face, we unscrewed the logs from the gas line in the living room.

Living room fireplace, sans gas logs.The doubly-sealed-off gas line was tucked carefully into the hole, but not before making some safety tags using some on-hand envelopes for us to reference in the future (or alert future homeowners and inspectors):

Gas line warning tags.The second tag was attached to the line and valve that are more readily visible and accessible in the basement.

Flagged: Gas Fireplace Piping Exists Here.

With the pipe carefully tucked away, I’m busy investigating the best paint to use inside and on the fireplace base, since I do want it to be a functional fireplace for myself or someone else someday. Suggestions based on experience appreciated.