Posts Tagged ‘home improvement’

Cleaning antique hardware

One of 8 sets of door hardware I cleaned. About 80 years old.

Restoring the hardware in your home is typically not difficult, and not something so time-consuming or expensive that you shouldn’t learn how to do it for yourself.  Now that our renovation is mostly complete, I look back at our hardware restoration dollars spent as having the highest return on investment of any task we took on.  The value of the hardware in our home makes me want to part out my house and Ebay it like an old car.  I stripped multiple coats of paint off of all of the copper, brass, and chrome hardware in the house and most of it came out perfect.


1.  The actual condition of your hardware is unknown.  There might be a good reason it was painted.

2.  Plated metals are really hard to work with.  Chrome plating much older than 40 years is almost definitely toast.  Don’t expect much good to come out of these procedures if used on chrome hardware.  There is still hope for your chrome hardware, but that’s a different procedure than this article will address.

3.  Some of the chemicals used here are corrosive and produce toxic fumes.  Wear goggles, chemical resistant gloves old clothes, and a canvas or rubber apron.

4.  Let the chemicals do the work! Don’t go grinding and scratching furiously on your hardware or you’ll destroy it.  Then you’ll end up with hardware that will look a lot like it could have been very nice.

Your shopping list:

1.  Chemical Resistant Gloves: I got mine at Wal-Mart in the “janitorial” section.  They’re cheap, if you have much to do, buy two pairs.

2.  Goggles: get the full coverage style you remember from science class.  Probably overkill, but blind is forever.

3. Canvas Apron: a good cheap way to put another layer of protection between your skin and the stripper.

4. Paintbrush: gel stripper works best if painted on with a brush.  Buy a new one so you can be sure it’s clean.  Tag this brush so you don’t accidentally ruin a bucket of paint with it.

5.  Klean-Strip KS-3: a good gel-based stripper. Gel is safer because it clings to surfaces and is less likely to splatter.  I read a lot of people recommending citrus based stripper products for environmental reasons, but I haven’t tried it.

6.  WD-40:  You probably have some around already.

7.# 0000 Steel Wool: Don’t step up in grit and think that your work will get done faster. This is for polishing and cleaning, not sanding/abrading.

8.  Wire Brush: Get one that’s just soft enough to brush against your skin. More bristles will move more gunk and scratch less.

9.  Fine tools: toothbrush, razor blade for getting into tiny spaces where the stripper has a hard time penetrating.

10. White T-shirt Rags: just go ahead and buy a box of jersey rags because you’ll burn through tons of them.  The white color is so you can clearly tell what is getting removed, and so that no dyes or screen printing dissolves while you’re working.

11.  Metal or Glass Tray or Pan and a Soupcan: thrift store cookware will be fine here, or grab a cheap metal paint roller tray.

This is all commonly available, and all adds up to a little under $100.  I told you this was cheap! (more…)


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Our garage door

This is our beautiful new garage door. It’s solid wood with a flawless finish. It makes the rest of our exterior look cheap and awful. The goal is to get the exterior to look like it is as classy and jazzy as the garage door.

David and I were given free home show tickets by the local nursery that we buy from. We didn’t know what to expect at such an event. We went because it was an unusually cool spring day in the PNW.  The show was OK, I guess. It seemed to be more for new constructions. Most of the vendors were too “contemporary” for our tastes and for our house. It was nice to see what other people are doing with their homes. There is lots of new stuff out on the market. We stumbled across this floor model garage door for a steal. We had just contacted our contractor a few days prior about a garage door. We called him up, luckily he didn’t order the hideous one from Home Depot yet. We ended up getting this one for under 1k (1k cheaper than retail since it is being “discontinued”).It really looks original to the home and resembles the original carriage doors on the homes in the neighborhood. I just have to upkeep it yearly by applying a sealant. No fun, but so is home ownership.

Why have I not added lovely carriage door hardware? Too tight of a squeeze. 😦


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"salvage" garden shed featured in Sunset

Since the weather is much nicer and we have had enough of winter, we’ve been thinking about our exterior and gardening way too much. I saved this pic of this “salvage” shed from Sunset magazine sometime ago, before we even purchased our home. I loved the fun chartreuse shade of this garden shed hidden in a PNW jungle. It is so striking and sooo West Coast. And this shed is in Port Orchard, WA,  our neighbors across the inlet. The article contained interesting info and listed the plants in this garden. They seem to thrive in our environment. Since I am a transplant, I’ve had to study what works here. Sunset magazine has been very helpful for that.

Anyways, I’ve revisited this article (here) over and over again because this really, really resembles our exterior colors. Our house turned out this green, not what we expected, but we will live with it and like it. Our trim is a chocolate brown just like this shed. The difference is that our house is much larger and taller than this quaint, cute shed and we have no landscaping. Our lawn is naked and neglected. The chartreuse shade of our house can be seen miles away, I think, or so the neighbors tell each other. No lovely hydrangeas are breaking up the green from the curb. When I look at this picture, I realize that our colors didn’t turn out too bad. We will work with it. It’s unexpected and chartreuse is my favorite shade of green and green is my favorite color. This article/feature makes me want to go out and dig, plant, and turn crazy things into planters. It also makes me feel good about our unexpected color choice. I liked it when it was featured in a magazine, why wouldn’t I like it for myself?


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Our unfinished kitchen

I think it is only appropriate to show such a “moody” picture of the kitchen. This is how this kitchen makes me feel. I feel we made many gains quickly and then it stayed in this shape for 4 months. If you need a refresher, I’ll give you one. All of our cabinets and drawers were covered with blue faux fur, think Cookie Monster here, underneath the custom van complex addition, there were layers and layers of paint. This included an adorable mint green with the cutest vintage rose decals ever, too bad that couldn’t be. I think David spent 3 months just removing layers and layers of paint off of the cabinets/drawers. Oh, and Trappy’s Pepper Sauce (rehab homes are not easy may I remind you). Months later and we are still waiting for the fresh coat of white paint to dry on two doors. It then took me a couple of months to find the perfect vintage hardware (not seen in this pic). I did find the perfect hardware and that is a post soon to come. David redid the floor with eco-friendly (I couldn’t resist) and vintage fabulous marmoleum, the white tiles have been salvaged. We ordered the black. The original floor was a wreck, once again, a post in waiting. We did keep the original fixtures. I adore my faucet and my light fixtures and my shallow, long sink. I worked with my pink with gold flake counter top. I do love that as well and would get it new if I could. The walls are painted a ’57 Chevy teal or a milkier Fender Strat in Taos Turquoise, of course not seen in my moody pic.

It’s not the best picture. But, this hasn’t been a picture perfect renovation. It is going to take some time to get there with us both working full-time. I just thought I would share some of the progress we’ve made and to also complain a little about how I live. At least we have a stove and fridge. We lived off of a George Foreman and a mini fridge for many, many months. I guess I shouldn’t complain that one can see my spice collection, tea library, and bare white dishes. There used to be a dead muppet on the doors in there and a wigs worth of crazy bachelor’s hair. Oh, and I forgot the shagadelic, mod felt faces wallpaper!!!


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David and I have had a difficult time with choosing just the “right” lighting for this house. We’ve kept what vintage lighting that was left with the home. This has only been a few rooms. During the 1970’s and later, most of the lighting in our home has been replaced with the most boring and cheapest lighting options available. This is a shame because replacing it with period lighting is very, very expensive and time-consuming. We’ve spent months searching antique stores, salvage yards, websites looking for the kind of lighting that would have been in a middle class suburban home in the mid- 1930’s. The reproduction market is plagued with overly fancy items that would have never have been in this home to begin with. I have found a few antiques but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for and didn’t want to pay $500 for something I didn’t know if I liked or not. So…we’ve decided to put the search on hold. We have more important things to do. In the meantime we’ve decided to just replace what was in the house with something that we like better but isn’t expensive. We’re waiting for just the right thing.

In the studio, we didn’t have any lighting at all. When we purchased our home, there was just some rigged up extension cord contraption. The electricians wired the room for overhead lighting in the middle of the room. For many months we’ve had a boring bare bulb. Our wonderful neighborhood joined forces and started giving us lighting that had hanging around their basements. This is how we’ve ended up with our current studio lighting. It had a glass bulb with some floral etched design. We decided to remove it for more of a harsh, steampunk type of feel. I wanted an Edison bulb but those offer very little light. We’re using a “decorative” bulb instead. We’re calling it “The Days of Our Lives” fixture. Hey, it was free. No complaints.


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I have learned recently that there is not a color out there that people hate more than pink. I personally love pink and I enjoy it in decorating. I have been shocked by other people’s reactions of pink. For example, I have painted my super tiny “boudoir” pink with a khaki trim. People look in and go “Did you mean to do that?” or “Wow, I assume that you haven’t gotten to this room yet.” That was one of the first spaces I worked on and yes, I meant to do that. I have witnessed people’s faces cringe at my choice of pink. I find their reaction entertaining and very odd. After thinking about this much too long, I have came to the conclusion that people are either A. very boring and narrow-minded. They can’t think of pink for anything other than a pretty-pretty princess little girl’s room. They aren’t willing to detach pink from prissy pig-tailed little girls and see it as an unexpected color to use and B. people hate women. They hate things that are associated with femininity. Men think being in a pink room shrinks their balls and women think that they are weak if they like pink. They think it means if they say they like it then all of female kind will go back to being a stay-at-home baby factory that was lucky to get a high school diploma. OK, so maybe both A and B are very harsh, but I do think that people have some very set stereotypes and “hang-ups” with pink.

I like pink. I feel I can embrace it. I can embrace it as a bright and unexpected color to use. So far, I have been very happy about my pink choices. I have found these two pink dining rooms. I like them. But, somebody should let them know that they will never resell the place if they keep the colors this way. If you are going into foreclosure or something like that or if you really don’t want your house to sell, then paint your rooms pink. People can’t get past it!

Betsey Johnson's dining room

This first dining room is nice. It’s Betsey Johnson’s dining room, so yeah, it’s pink. I’m sure that I feel in love with it because of the sputnik lamp. I think I like any room with one. This room is very pink. It has a formal and somewhat 60’s vibe. I like this room but I do feel the pink is overwhelming and it should of been balanced out with more chartreuse and maybe more “gold” metals. It’s a whimsy room. And I love it with the “dark” lines of the table and mirror. Ohh, I need a sputnik for our dining room.

I think this other room came from Cottage Living magazine (another RIP magazine). Once again it is a room with pink, acid green, and dark contrasts. It is fun and I think this home is in California. A place with lots of sunshine can pull off these colors easily. Pink really looks great with wood tones.

I don’t really think that either of these dining rooms are “timeless” but I do think they are fun. You could keep all the furniture, linens, and accessories and change the color of the walls and get an entire new room. That is the power of pink. It’s just one of “those” colors. It can change an entire space. That being said, taking it away can change an entire space as well. I’m with my pink right now.

Cottage Living dining room

I have to ground it with neutral colors, woods, and creepy objects for a grown-up look. My husband doesn’t mind all the pink either. That’s good. I did marry a guy that enjoys interior design and decorating, so I would actually be shocked if he didn’t like pink. Or perhaps he’s learned that marriage is more important than complaining about pink. I’m fine with either reason.


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As usual, Frink is overseeing the renovation.

We finally removed every trace of the layers and layers and layers of retro-fabulous wallpaper from the dining nook! We may have resorted to an electric sander with a buffer pad and diluted Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, but we did it. Since then we’ve had the windows replaced being that the ones that were there had some homemade mess of glass that was caulked together. We painted the room a dove gray mistint that I love (less lilac than the picture). I am going for a swank early 60’s Hong Kong hotel, think the decor of the hotels featured in the series I Spy. I got my wish and it will be fantastic. I didn’t realize that most of the things we own fits in the “swank early 60’s Asian hotel” category.  I’ve started decorating this space. I’m not finished. Does one ever stop decorating their space? I’ll show those pics when I get there. I desperately need a sputnik!!!

I just wanted to share this little accomplishment. I can now eat dinner at a table. I haven’t had that in 7 months.


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