Something I Never Imagined I’d Be Painting

August 02, 2011   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

It’s amazing what an afternoon’s work (and can of special paint) can do. Here’s to tackling something that most people would overlook or ignore (including myself). I mentioned last week when I wrote about the glassblock window frames that another project was sneaking into my shots. And that project is… not-too-exciting-but-still-nice-booming-drumroll…

The painted foundation.

The poured concrete foundation of my home is fortunately in very good shape (for being 70 years old). It doesn’t rise very high out of the ground, instead only exposing about 8″ of itself all the way around the house between the soil and the siding. In the front yard, for instance, only this much of the foundation peeks above the soil. I won’t go as far as to call that a flower bed.

The chipping foundation on the front of the house. And a dying azalea.

What are the odds of that azalea coming back to life? It’s taken a turn for the worst.

The thing is, at one point the plain concrete foundation had been painted black. I have a feeling it was in the early 90’s, when the shutters on the then white house were also black, and a painted black staircase led to the front door. But in those past 2 decades, the base of the house has endured it’s share of weather. Especially the foundation along the driveway, from which the black paint had almost been entirely removed and the cement itself is a little more roughed up than in other areas. From this angle, the you’re getting glimpses of the unfinished (but now finished) glassblock window frames, the cracking driveway and the unpainted foundation, which is kind of like a triple-dog whammy of embarrassment for me. And all that after showing you the deceased azalea… rest her little soul.

A rough, exposed foundation.

But let me defend the foundation situation for just a sec: If I take a minute to do some calculations, snow must have sat in the driveway for 4 months out of the year for 20 years which means the black paint was possibly frozen for 80 months or approximately 2,440 days. Brr. So it’s no surprise that the paint has been peeling and fading away, whether they used the right paint or not; repainting it just to neaten up the foundation and general appeal of the exterior of my home seemed like a good (and easy) project to take on.

Armed with a rough scrubby brush, paint scraper, and power washer, I went to town on the foundation and lower siding (anyone else purposefully plan misty projects for 90-degree days?). In some areas, I had been able to scrape all of the remaining black paint off, and if it had been so effortless all the way around, I probably would have left it neutral and natural cement instead of painting it. But because it didn’t work out quite that way, I formulated a plan to paint the foundation the same shade as the trim, the not-quite-white-but-close Silver Leaf that I used on the garage trim and door a few weeks ago.

I had plenty of the latex-based exterior Silver Leaf paint to use, and the foundation wouldn’t need much anyway, but a brief investigation told me that I shouldn’t use latex on cement (nor should I prime it, which I had also planned to do anyways in the mindset that sealing things up makes for a happier existence). Latex was banned (so to speak) for breathability and possibility of peeling reasons. I should also note that different rules apply if your foundation is brand-spankin’ new, so it’s worth your time to see what’s right for your house if the foundation was constructed in the last year.

The many advising sites I looked at (none of which I can recall because I didn’t bookmark them) recommended sticking to a masonry paint with my 70-year-old foundation, and the folks at Home Depot recommended one by Behr that I was happy to find priced at $19, even less than of a traditional gallon of Behr paint.

Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Paint from Behr. Tinted Silver Leaf.

They even managed to tint it to match Silver Leaf, even though it hadn’t been one of the colors listed in a paint coordinating stick-to-these-colors-or-be-disappointed-with-our-tinting-abilities pamphlet.

I gave the powerwashed and scraped foundation a few days to thoroughly dry before I painted, but as I began, I was pleased how easily the masonry paint went on the cement. Much thicker than I expected; I only needed one coat, and I’m sure that’s the first time I’ve ever said that.

The overall change is minimal but really nice. Fresh. So fresh and so clean-clean. Check out the side of the house how (with the glassblock windows all done too, hurray). Only embarrassing driveway cracks to take care of this fall.

Driveway foundation repainted.The front of the house looks white-years better (little purposeful pun because of the white paint). Lame. OK. How about a little before and after?


The chipping foundation on the front of the house. And a dying azalea.And after:

Updated foundation on the front of the house. And a still dying azalea.

Oohs, ahhs. And the azalea is still as dry as kindling.

Anyone else finding themselves doing odd spring cleaning like repainting foundation in the summer breeze? Just me?

A DIY Fabric Covered Garden

August 01, 2011   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

My original intent in going to Home Depot last week was to find some new large plants to occupy terra cotta pots that I had given an overhaul. The updates to the old pots that were taking up space in the basement weren’t anything complex, just something that I had seen on Pinterest and decided it was worth trying for myself.

Pretty fabric covered planters via Pinterest.

After all, I still had some leftover pieces of Urban Outfitters blanket fabric from when I made Cody’s dog bed. May as well do something with them, right? Burlap or an ivory fabric would be pretty too, but I didn’t have any around the house.

Fabric scraps. Just enough for one more project.I made a DIY Modge Podge-like substance using a recipe I found online somewhere that called for a combo of Elmer’s Glue and water to form a loosened-but-still-sticky syrup, which I painted onto the pot before applying the fabric on top of it. And there was no “formal” recipe, it was just a little of this, a little of that until I was satisfied with the consistency and it held the fabric in place.

Fabric coating in progress.

I used lots of smaller pieces of the same fabric which gave it slightly more of a patchwork appearance and made it easier to apply and cover the pots smoothly. I have no idea what nips and tucks the makers of the pinned pots had to perform in order to get theirs looking so smooth and flawless.

A fabric covered pot.

I didn’t apply Modge Podge over the fabric, but left the surface soft. Anniversary Jade is right at home in the medium-sized pot. (Note: It’s still planted in it’s original terra cotta pot, just set inside the other pot. Because terra cotta pots absorb and hold so much water, I wouldn’t plant directly into the fabric covered pot in the chance that the saturated clay repels or disinigrates the modge podge glue.)

Anniversary Jade in a covered terra cotta pot.A little fern that I salvaged from a clearance rack is thriving in the smallest of the pots (again, the fern is not actually planted in the fabric-covered pot), and the largest pot , which I thought was going to end up being perfect for the 10″ potted Umbrella Tree turned out to be a smidgen too small (unless I wanted to reduce the pot size holding the tree) but perfect for the Wandering Jew I bought on-the-cheap from Wegmans over the winter. Potted like it is and trimmed back, it sort of looks like a curly-haired man but I’m still adoring it’s pretty leaves with purple undertones.

Wandering Jew looks like a man with curls, no?Coupled together, the matching pots will be cute moving around the house with the sunshine.

Be There: Hearts & Crafts

July 29, 2011   //  Posted in: Helping The Economy   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

In the vein of handcrafted-awesomeness, I have a little unsolicited promo to sing about this afternoon.

It’s a small-but-amazing event that, if you’re local, or maybe in Syracuse, or maybe in Buffalo, or maybe in Ithaca (I could go on and on), you should consider attending this Saturday and/or Sunday.

Hearts & Crafts, this Saturday and Sunday!

Hearts & Crafts is hosted a few times a year, and each event has brought more and more attention to local artists, crafters, makers of our area. Pete and I are big fans and supporters of handmade goods, as well as local economy and the whole 3/50 project. We’re not even getting paid or perked to sing these praises, yo, we’re just friendly with the brain children (which is a word I’m not quite sure you can pluralize) behind the extravaganza and want to spread the love.

It’s so big this time around that it’ll be in two venues: 11a-5p each day, baby.

On Saturday: Starry Nites at 696 University Ave is host to Part 1 of the event, which features makers of wearable art. You know, I’m talkin’ the clothing, accessories, and jewelry that deserve a spot on you.

Photo courtesy of Hearts & Crafts and Beadwork By Amanda, who will be at the event!

On Sunday: You’ll be wanting more coffee + art, so go to Java’s Cafe at 16 Gibbs St for the more traditional Hearts and Crafts market that many people already all know and love, featuring the diverse wares of over 30 local makers, including (but not limited to!) paperie, ceramic goods, toys, and accessories.

Oh. Hell. Yes. And as my Mom reminded me this week… it’s not too early to begin your Christmas shopping. So why not add it to your agenda this weekend?

Photos courtesy of Hearts & Crafts and are the property of Beadwork by Amanda and Dock2 Letterpress, respectfully.