Posts Tagged ‘renovation’

"Fancy" 5 cent pulls (only 2 of those)

OK, so it took me some time to find the kitchen drawer and cabinet hardware that I wanted, but I did find it. I wanted something chrome-like and 50’s dinner or 30’s streamline moderne. In the basement, there were some built-ins with the coolest pulls. I wanted something like that. The items offered at Lowe’s were either Scandinavian modern or country kitchen. Not what I wanted. Here’s what I wanted and how I got it:

Our kitchen. Don't judge me on the mess. No dishwasher 😦

Hickory Hardware "The American Diner" knob, reproduction

For the cabinets we purchased from Van Dyke’s Restorers “The American Diner Knob” in Chrome. We paid less than $2.50 for each. I don’t know if Van Dyke’s is carrying the chrome knob anymore. We of course ordered many of them and needed one more. Van Dyke’s was sold out. We found our last one on Amazon for more money. The American diner knob is manufactured by Hickory Hardware. So if you are looking for this style of knob, search for places that sell Hickory Hardware. Total cost for us: $21.50 plus shipping (including Amazon knob). I think shipping was like $9 (ordered some other things). And I had to buy that lonesome knob from Amazon for like $4.50.

OK, now to the drawers. I wanted something that matched the built-ins in the basement. We looked and looked. We were about to order The Deco Drawer Pull from Rejuvenation in Polished Chrome. This beautiful pull retails for $16 each. Ouch, we’d have to buy 13 of them. But, I was sick of looking and I wanted to open and use my drawers. By chance that afternoon I went to our local Habitat for Humanity thrift store. I found the pulls picture here for 5¢ each! OK, so they aren’t as jazzy as the Deco Drawer Pull. But, they are so cheap, in awesome condition, and are original. I picked up more than I needed (in case I didn’t notice rust or needed to replace a few). I even got a set that was very fancy. I used these on the cabinets under the sink. It pays to thrift! Now looking at all of them up. I think I like these better than The Deco Drawer Pull because they are simple. The kitchen has

5 cents kitchen "plain" retro pulls

more of a pink/aqua 50’s vibe and the ones that we have “fit” better. Total cost for us: 65¢

We were fortunate enough to have these hinges already on the bottom cabinets. They cleaned up nicely. They aren’t perfect but I’m not going for perfect. I’m also going for cheap. Total cost to us: $0

Our total on kitchen hardware: under $30 (including shipping) for 20 drawers and doors. We didn’t have to buy screws for the vintage hardware. We already had that lying around.

Guide to Retro Hardware:

Looking for retro hardware or retro looking hardware? Look at dealers such as Van Dyke’s Restorers. Do not overlook their clearance page. It has awesome deals! Who knows? Maybe what you want is on sale or you can settle for something similar. If you know you like a reproduction knob/pull. Find out who the manufacturer is and search for them on-line. Find the best deal that way. Love the ease of Internet shopping! If you’re not on a budget search at places like Rejuvenation or Anthropologie.Don’t forget about salvage yards, thrift stores, and even antique stores. Sometimes you can find a great deal like we did. By thrifting we saved over $205! If you choose to go the thrift route be prepared to look and look. Keep a list of the number of knobs/pulls that you need and their dimensions on your phone or in your wallet. And if your going cheap, don’t forget to mix and match. It can look really great and polished. Check out kitchens in design magazines. They usually use up to 5 different knob/pull designs in a large kitchen. I need to add that sometimes salvage yards will make “trades”. Have a 40’s sink you switched out for something else? Trade it for hardware. (I’d call before hauling a sink around). Also check out vendors on Etsy. Etsy has options that fit into the no budget range and the budget range. It’s worth checking out.

*I’m not the best at pictures. Excuse my crummy quality. Photographing small chrome things is not easy. Also, this is a living and working kitchen. Excuse my crummy mess. I don’t have the mad skills to Photoshop the dirty dishes out 🙂

Original hinges



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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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Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and ask someone about where to find floor waxing supplies, or worse yet, for advice, I dare you.  Waxing floors is “old-people” knowledge.  To figure out how to do it, ask somebody old how their mother did her wood floors.  It was lost as a common practice decades ago, supplanted by cheap polyurethanes and the desire for a tough, resilient finish.

Restoration of houses is so often plagued by lack of knowledge of historical methods.  Rather than do the real thing, lot’s of renovators would rather use a contemporary method and try to fake the antique look.  Plaster work is another fine example of this.  You’ll never match the real thing.  Ask a remodeling contractor how to do plaster repairs, and the answer is: “tear out the wall and dry wall it, then spray it with texture.”  Which, by the way, typically looks nasty compared to actual lathe and plaster with texture.  As if the builders had a job-site compressor with a hopper full of goop in 1935.  I still haven’t been able to figure out how they actually did it, but I’m guessing they sponged it and did the entire house by hand.  Labor was cheap in the 1930s, and materials were expensive.

When we bought our house, we pulled up the nasty light blue shag carpet to find mostly perfect old growth white oak floors.  According to contractors, hardware stores, neighbors, and the internet, the only option was to sand it all the way down to get all the wax out, and then apply a polyurethane or aluminum oxide coating.  Then the  bids on that came in at nearly $6,000!

But we didn’t even want “perfect floors,” we wanted “antique” floors.  Floors that showed the age of the house, and that had the same beautiful warm glow that these originals had.  I spent hours trying to figure out how to do this myself.  I could rent a sander and try to get the floors refinished myself- not that much of a stretch for me, because I’ve done a little bit of furniture finishing.  I estimated the cost of that process at over $1000- if I ignored all the time and energy that would be spent on cleaning up the unbelievable mess created by sanding 1500+ sq. ft. of wood down an 1/8 of an inch.  I’m not one of those people who thinks that I’m Donald Trump and that I can’t be hassled with doing work or spending time- but getting that much sawdust out of all these textured walls and trim would be an absolute nightmare.

So I took a risk and I pursued waxing the floors.

It's a finesse game, so I never got it.

It’s kind of inherent in my personality to distrust most of what people tell me not to do- especially when they don’t appear to have a good reason.  I’m happy to say that we almost have our entire house done with wax now, and I anticipate cost will easily be under $200.

Here’s what I learned:

1.  Wax: to wax a wood floor, you need a paste wax.  SC Johnson makes a good one for about $5 a can, and a can will do about 400 sq. ft.

2.  Restoration and Cleanup: I used Howard’s Restore-a-Finish and Howard’s Feed and Wax. They’re the highest cost items I bought, but a little goes a long, long way.  Both of these products were absolutely magic on the “golden oak” color of our floors.  Rub your stains and paint splatters out with steel wool and soapy water.  Let it dry.  If the stain lightened the wood, apply the restore a finish- in small amounts.  If it didn’t, then apply the feed and wax.  Always rub with the grain of the wood, and try to stick to one board at a time.  If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of the steel wool catching on a splinter and fraying.  Not a huge risk to the floor, but when you’ve got a lot of floor to do, don’t waste your time trying to pick #0000 steel wool out of splinters.

3. Applying Product to the floor: Apply Feed and Wax to the entire floor with a wide lambskin “stain applicator” on a long pole.  Use the pole to quickly smooth out any uneven application of wax.  Do this enough, and you might achieve a nice shine- but it’s not really important at this state.  Leave the floor alone as much as you can for a few days.  Then, using a rag, apply the SC Johnson Paste Wax with the grain and let it sit for a while.

4. Buffing:  we paid about $30 for 24 hrs. of renting a commercial buffer and buying the wheel.  This thing is like wrangling a roid raging rodeo bull.  Start the buffer in the middle of the room the first time- because it will pretty much tear your arms off.  Go slow, and cover every area you can with it.  Use the lambskin application on the corners.

In general, you should remember that the house you’re renovation may have really “thirsty” floors because it’s been poorly (or in our case: not) maintained.  So don’t rush into just paste wax and buff.  Clean the floor thoroughly and apply a feed and wax and wait. Give it two weeks if you have to.  You’ll probably find that your feed and wax sinks right in and looks like it was never applied.  Apply it again, and repeat a couple times before you apply wax and buffing.  Our first round with the buffer was disappointing because all the wax soaked in after we buffed it.  It looked awesome for a month.

The end result of all this is a finish that I absolutely love- and one that you can repair, not just replace.  Any time the floor gets damaged, I apply steel wool and feed and wax.  Once or twice a year, we’ll have to reapply wax and rent the buffer again.  That’s a lot of work.  But at 10% the cost of the alternatives, and when it looks this good, it’s hard to want a poly finish now.

Just look at how “worn” these floors feel.  It feels like every single board is a slightly different shade of gold.  I didn’t buy an old house to try and make a new house out of it- and if that’s your goal, you’ll find yourself frustrated at every turn in a home renovation.

This project was just another confirmation of our philosphy for the renovation: work with the house, not against it.


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I don’t really do “color”. Just look in my closet. It is a collection of black and gray; however, you will see some orange and coral peeping out of that abyss. I have a thing for orange. I would love to have an orange room but it isn’t really fitting with the scheme of things right now. But, I can admire it and plan for the future, right?


foyer from Martha Stewart

This first little space if from Martha Stewart’s website. I love the bold harvest orange with the crisp white millwork. This really pops. I love it against the deep wood tones. (That being said, I love anything against deep, rich wood tones). But, yes. This is a great space. I adore the curiosities displayed on the walls and love their bold, graphic, and simple frames. What is that black/espresso stuff lining each edge? I think the website said it was ribbon. That’s a bit odd and time consuming, I imagine. I’m sure it would look silly in real life but it takes a great picture. I would personally just painted it. This is a nice small foyer, about the same size and layout of the one that we have. Currently, it is housing a dark ladder back chair until I find that perfect something. I still do not what that something is.

The other room is a living room from Southern Accents (RIP). This room has that colonial feel but it is really fun and vivid with the walls that harvest orange shade. This is another example of how nice this color goes with white millwork (doesn’t everything). I like to see orange look this formal and not like an Ikea show floor. Orange has the potential to really look elegant without being too immature or “modern” a.k.a Target’s “dorm” collections. It works nicely with deep woods and some rustic pieces. I must mention that this chair in this room is very weak. I am not fond of “skirts” but the chair could of benefited from a print or even another bold color such as ochre or brick. However, that’s my opinion.I can never look at a room and think that is perfect and to my liking. I do the same to my own space. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons why this is taking so long.


Southern Accents harvest orange living room


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Frink the frug

Frink the frug

OK, so we are so freaking crazy. I guess we’ve been inhaling a bit too many toxic chemicals during this renovation and killed too many brain cells. We’ve added a new family member to the family. Let me introduce Frink the frug. Frink is a dumb looking puppy. His mother is a pug and his father is snazzy looking brindle French bulldog. We know we didn’t need to add any more stress to our lives, but Frink is so frugly that he is cute. We’ve been wanting, well, I have been wanting a French bulldog forever. (See my previous buttermilk baby posts.) Frink just happened to happen. I wouldn’t call myself a dog lover. I am very breed specific. I only like French bulldogs and pugs. Frink is a great compromise and quite an original. He has the coloring of a Frenchie and the pig tail of a pug. He has a “win me over” personality that I can’t resist. He’ll be a great older brother and hopefully positive role model for a buttermilk Frenchie sometime in the future.

Frink is very sweet, a bit dumb, but he is only 10 weeks old. I was shitting my britches and screaming at that age as well. Frink is great because he doesn’t judge. He doesn’t care if he is being raised in the chaos of a renovation. In fact, he loves to snack on lead paint chips, just kidding but I bet he would if he could. He doesn’t care if we appear stressed out about exterior paint colors. He just loves us. We’ve had him for 5 days and he is spoiled rotten. He’s a good friend and really well behaved for an infant. We’ve learned so much. We are becoming quite the behaviorist. We needed a distraction from the chaos of our renovation. It also feels very good. It makes us feel like a homeowner. No pet deposits, no asking for approval. Frink has really brought the home ownership, dare I say, home. We love our Frink and he gives us the motivation to finish this huge project 🙂


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Southern Living kitchen

Country Living kitchen

I plan on painting our kitchen a mint. It’s going to be kitschy and retro. This is today’s project: paint the kitchen. The groovy wallpaper has been removed, the faux fur has been pulled off the cabinets, everything has been scrubbed. We are ready to start painting.

While poking around online (when I had the time to do that) I found this kitschy turquoise/teal kitchen in Country Living magazine. It’s a bit prop-ish for a kitchen but it is adorable. I love the pairing of teal and red. It’s a sunny and a happy hausfrau kitchen. It means business with a touch of love. It’s a nice eat-in kitchen. I love the repro appliances. Those are drool worthy. And the repro linens used as curtains is cute. I think I saw these exact same ones at Anthropologie one time. I am always looking for a function for vintage linens. Anyways, this is a cute kitchen and pretty versatile really. It is made 50’s by the use of accessories. Take those out and you’ll have a very different looking kitchen.

This other kitchen is a real kitchen from www.trickmybrick.blogspot.com. This is an awesome blog about  the renovation of an otherwise plain mid-century home. (David and I always thought we would be fixing up a ranch home, but we’re in the Pacific Northwest now and there are many more bungalows.) Anyways, I adore this blog. I love their clean, modern style. Oh, and I am a sucker for “before and after” shots. (Heck, I was a makeup artist). This is the “after” of their kitchen. It is such a pretty shade of teal. I have always said it and this just proves it, a sputnik chandelier will always make a room look like a million bucks. This kitchen is the perfect example. It totally jazzes up the place. (Like I needed another reason to lust for one). Also, I love the cabinet hardware. It’s simple and fitting. This is what we are looking for. Visit their blog for many more pics. You’ll love it.

Trick My Brick kitchen, after.

Trick My Brick kitchen, after.

These are two very cute “retro” kitchens. Teal is a great color because it is vintage but very clean, airy, welcoming. It’s the perfect color for a “working” home. Plus, it looks amazing with white. I see a teal room and just think “happy family”. So, I hope I like the results of the hardwork that we will be doing today.


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will not be called that anymore. Dig if you will a picture: 10 ft+  silhouette of your girlfriend, black trim, red shag carpet tiles laid out in a checker board pattern over hardwood, blue faux fur king sized waterbed, and mirrors on the ceiling. This is what I called the “porno” room.


Really it is a master bedroom and it will not be called this anymore. I was getting too many stares at home improvement stores when I would ask David, “Well, we need some scrubbers for the Porno Room”, etc. Sweet David called this the “Blue Room”. There are other blue rooms so I found this too confusing. Yesterday the confusion has ceased. The red carpet tiles have been removed. They left behind the craziest black rubber mess. We scrapped it off and vacuumed up the rest. Beautiful white oak, ready to be refinished underneath. To my amazement and disappointment, the mural was painted over wallpaper. This meant we had to remove it with the Wagner Power Steamer (which disinfects too, haha).

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

This was my project yesterday. She is no longer there. Instead there is a plaster wall painted mint green under the mural and 2 layers of lovely painted over 1940’s and early 1950’s floral wallpaper. This was an unpleasant surprise. I thought we would just have to prime this room, not remove wallpaper too. However, only one wall had wallpaper. This one wall took over 3 hours of removal. She was stubborn and it was almost impossible to remove her silhouette. But, we did. We should be able to prime and paint in the next few days. We need to remove the tape/ sticky stuff from the ceiling and repair a few plaster cracks.

The trim and doors in this room have been painted black. I kind of like that. But, I am sure we will prime over it and paint it white. However, I want to leave the door as is. It’s strangely goth and menacing and looks like it belongs in a classic Bela Lugosi flick.

The door.

The door.

I wanted to paint a few doors black anyways. I do plan on painting the trim white.I think I am painting this room a sea pebble taupe. David and I are using this as our studio. It would make a grand master bedroom but I like cozy, small bedrooms. We would get much more use out of this larger room if it was a working studio space and not where we crash.

This room looks very different now and we haven’t even started. I imagine this entire home will look very different in the next few weeks. You won’t believe what removing a larger than life babe mural does to your space. You should try it.


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