Monday, November 25, 2013

Emptying Sewing Room

I have goofed off for long enough—time to get moving again. This week I started emptying out my sewing room with the intention of finally finishing stripping the paint in this last bedroom. But since the sewing room has been a bit of a dumping ground for the past many months, I'm having to spend many hours cleaning and sifting it before I actually start packing.

It's actually getting easier to imagine a day when we've finished stripping paint and I hope it will come before next spring.

Late last week Jeff also managed to finally re-hang the doors in the guest bedroom! Woo hoo! It only took us an extra year. 8-)  Pictures will follow soon. I actually stained the doors in September for Jeff's mother's visit, but the doors didn't make it up. Nor did they get hung for another friends visit earlier this month. Oh well, they're up now and once I finish touching up the stain and shellacking them, I'll post photos.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Period Book: Home Handicraft (1908)

As we start settling in for the winter, I figured now was a good time to take a look at a book that shows some good indoor activities. This week's book (okay, this month's book): The Good housekeeping manual of home handicraft, published in 1908 by the Good Housekeeping magazine.

This book extensively covers stenciling: how to make them, how to apply them, what paints to use, how to decorate with them, and more. If you're a fan of stencils like I am, go download this book and check it out.

They also have chapters on making handmade toys, applique, printing with wood blocks, making lamp shades, and decorating clocks. Some really interesting stuff.

But, of course, I'm most interested in the parts about stenciling. They had a chapter on curtains with some interesting designs.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Non-House Update

OK, I've now heard from three folks asking what we're up to, so I guess I'll throw in an update. I did finish shellacking the closets and we moved in the next day. We also went out to storage and brought back what clothing boxes we could find so we could unpack and sift stuff. Our closets are not photogenic enough yet for photos.

Over the last couple of weeks, Jeff and I also preserved four 26-pound boxes of peaches. We ended up with at least 21 jars of sliced peaches, six pie fillings plus a number of containers of frozen peaches for making smoothies.

Jeff has been spending a lot of time with his friend Eric (who helped us build the fence and closets), helping him out on big projects. He helped repair a deck and demo a bathroom. This weekend, Jeff went off with Eric to a World War 2 reenactment. It sounds like he took a bunch of pictures so perhaps he'll do an update when he gets home.

I (in a moment of ?insanity) volunteered to be the newsletter editor for the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association. My first issue is due in early-September, so I've been working on it. I decided I didn't want to use the software that came with the job, so I've been retyping it all into Publisher which takes time.
I've also been poking around my downloaded Oregonian pdf files looking for "clip art" that I could use in the Laurelhurst newsletter and I've been cleaning up the images using CorelDraw. I haven't really learned CorelDraw yet, so the project goes pretty slowly as I struggle with the learning curve.

I am deeply annoyed with our 2009 Toyota Highlander. We've had to call out the tow truck about four times since moving here and we've had to replace the starter battery twice. It is sitting in front of our house right now unwilling to move, giving all kinds of warnings, waiting for the damn tow truck again. I think it is time to figure out a reliable replacement. This stupid vehicle cost twice as much as any of our earlier vehicles and has been more than twice the trouble.
Stupid vehicle off to the repair shop

Friday, August 2, 2013

And We Have Closets

We've been crazy busy since my post on Wednesday trying to get the wood ready for our closet install today. Yesterday was spent sanding and applying two coats of stain and then we got up early this morning to put on a coat of shellac. Luckily shellac dries fast or we would never have made it.

I still have to do some minor touch up on ends which I hadn't stained because I wasn't aware they'd be showing then I'm planning to do a second coat of shellac in place. We are in the home stretch on this part of the closet project.

It's hard not to start moving into this space.
Jeff's closet shelves - obviously some picking up is in order
Jeff's closet double hang
Sharon's closet double hang
Excuse the poor pictures. We just don't have the technology to get a good picture. Once Sharon's closet is cleaned up, we should be able to get a better picture in there because the room is pretty big.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Closet Progress

Despite my lack of posts since last Friday, we are still working on the house. I don't tend to wear my little camera anymore and I've been too busy/lazy to take pictures of our current projects in progress.

Eric came again on Monday and helped Jeff cut the rest of the wood for the closet built-ins. The plan is to finish both sides of Jeff's closet and just the hanging side of mine. We'll come back to the cubes in my closet after the chicken coop is finished.
Rather than installing it all and then staining in place, we decided to cut the wood then stain outside or in the garage. I was prepping the wood for that project today, but then I asked Jeff to reach me a tub of shellac on top of the workbench that was way out of my reach. Anyway, the lid was not properly on the tub and it spilled everywhere: down Jeff's front, all over the workbench, all over the fir propped up against the wall, etc., etc. Let's just say, Jeff was not pleased.

So, it turns out today was the day we finally found motivation to work on cleaning the garage. We restacked the cherry tree boards along the back wall and pulled out the last bits of the salvaged douglas fir to take to Willow Classic Woodworking for planing and now we're working on figuring out how to arrange the rest of the stuff so that we can get to it when we need it without having to move everything else around it.

We were planning to have the closet boards stained by Friday so we could have Eric back to help us install them, but with this garage cleaning detour, we might have to push it a day or two. I hope not.
This is approximately what that side of the garage looked like, but it was a bit worse when we started today.
Here is the back corner this evening. We still have lots more cleaning to do, but there is a lot more space in there to work now.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Closet Shelves

Today found us out in the garage again, pawing through the huge pile of salvaged douglas fir trying to sort out the closet wood. Jeff managed to cut down the edge-joined pieces so they fit on the support boards we installed last winter. (Has it really been 8 months? That's embarrassing.)

The original plan was to cut the boards down and then stain them out in the garage and then install them, but Jeff said he likes the lighter color shelves, so I think we may just shellac them as is. (Excuse the slightly blurry picture; I need to get a tripod.)

I worked on stripping paint on more salvaged baseboards so we can install those on the hanging side. I clearly have gotten out of practice as my wrist was feeling quite done after using the heat gun to strip only two of these old boards. I'll work on more tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Side Fence Built

I am so excited because it is built!! And am I ever happy with how it turned out.
Eric and Jeff built both gates today and they made the process look fairly easy.
The side of the house is still looking a little ghetto because there are piles of gravel and other scrap, but it should look better when we get to the chicken coop next month because all that loose building material will end up going back into the chicken coop and runs.

I still have to finish the fence with a clear coat or with our white stain, but I am appreciating this project being this much done for now. I just love it when projects turn out how you plan them. Excuse me, I have to take another look.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Side Fence Progress

At long last, we got started on the side fence. For perspective, this is our goal for the project.
We hired a friend, Eric, to come out and help us for a day as it would give us the push we needed to get this project rolling along. Even though it was fairly hot outside, working under the shady walnut tree was quite pleasant.
This is the nasty temporary "fence" Jeff cobbled together from old fence parts. We needed some kind of boundary to keep the chickens in the backyard and, hey, this was free since it was made from leftover bits removed during our renovation.
Once the four posts were set in concrete, Jeff and Eric installed the bottom supports.

And once the bottom support posts were in, the construction went very quickly because very little cutting was actually required.
And then they spent a couple hours making and futzing with the little diamonds. They actually ended up changing the size a bit from the original plan; Jeff made them smaller.
We still have to build the gate, but this part of the fence went together faster than I expected. I'm still debating whether to leave it the natural cedar finish, or whether I stain with the white opaque fence stain (the color of the fence it is perpendicular to). I had planned to stain it before the fence was put together but all that rain set us behind schedule and then the photo shoot brought outdoor projects to a halt.

Yesterday's Photo Shoot

The photo shoot yesterday went well, I think. Since he gave me permission to share, Alex Vertikoff is the photographer who came out. I don't know why I didn't think to take more pictures yesterday, but I only have one lousy picture of him where you really can't recognize him.

His process was very different from the photo shoot our contractor did. Our contractor came in and took all our stuff out of the rooms and put in his (which is part of what I hate about the pictures).  Mr. Vertikoff did not "stage" much of anything. Occasionally he would rotate something in place, or move a chair over a few inches, but he pretty much left our stuff as is. It was nice that he actually liked our tapestries and so took photos of rooms oriented so they'll appear in many of the photos. He also didn't turn on a single light fixture and yesterday was unseasonably overcast so the light in the rooms was not good. But he has an amazing camera and tripod and he shot with very long exposure (like on the scale of minutes).

He took quite a lot of pictures then he apparently takes all the photos back home with him where he does his photo editing magic. I am really looking forward to seeing them someday. I have no idea when or really if the pictures will be used, but presumably because Mr. Vertikoff took them if they turn out, they'll eventually will be used for something to promote bungalows.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More Wood Planing

Jeff and I scheduled another appointment with Eric out at Willow Classic Woodworking to plane the rest of that giant pile of salvaged douglas fir. When the pile was delivered, it looked like this. We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but it turns out we paid just over a $1/foot for old growth 1x12 douglas fir. I'm glad we did not pass up this deal.
Yesterday we finished chopping it all down into pieces that would fit in the back of our pickup to haul out to Eric's shop for cleaning up. We had quite the truckload. We also brought one of our doors that needed some repair. The truck was pretty full.
I am constantly amazed by how gorgeous this wood is once it's been cleaned up. Yes, quite a lot of it has knots, but overall, it is quite nice wood.
Here is one dramatic example of a before and after.
We decided to go ahead and process the rest of the wood so we could turn it into the cube side of my closet. It's probably not the absolute best wood for the job, but we just really needed to free up the floor space in the garage so we can get our storage emptied.
Tragically, quite a few of these boards got cut into narrower pieces because we designed these cubes to be 15 inches deep and these boards were around 11 inches wide so we needed to cut some narrow pieces to edge glue them together. 
We won't get back to this project before next Thursday as we're cleaning up the house and yard. Hopefully early next week we'll finally get to the next step of this never-ending closet project.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Dining Room Runners Finished

Finally, I got myself in gear to finish my stencilled dining room runners. I finished sewing the linen runners back in March, and I cut the stencil over two weeks ago. I don't know why it's taken me so long to finish this project because when I finally turned my attention to the task, it really only took me a couple hours. I guess I am just really deadline-driven.
Before starting, I sprayed the backside of the stencils with Krylon Easy Tack Repositionable Adhesive Spray (first lay down newspaper to protect the surface below). You really only have to let the stuff dry for a few minutes—I let it dry for 2 weeks!
Before starting in on the fabric, I test the stencil and the color selections on paper because it is much easier to fix a mistake on paper than on the fabric. I used the same color palette as I used for the dining room curtains so these would complement each other.

When I started in on the linen runners, I would align the stencil then put a bit of masking tape where the register marks went and fill that mark so I could correctly line up the second stencil.
Then I would apply the oil paint with my stencil brushes. I use Shiva Oil Paintstiks using the techniques described by Amy Miller in Stenciling the Arts & Crafts Home; they have worked really well for me. I can't recommend her book enough if you would like to learn how to do stenciling.
Then I repeated the process five more times. Finally, another task checked off the list. As usual these need to be ironed, but I need to wait until they dry first.

The light was especially good in the dining room yesterday, so I posted a few updated photos on the Before and After page.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Period Book: Interiors Beautiful (1922)

This week's installment showing excerpts from period books brings you Interiors Beautiful by M.L. Keith, dated 1922, available from Internet Archive here. As was typical for the time period, the photos are done in black and white, but there are some very lovely interiors.

My one criticism of the book is almost all the houses seemed to run on the side of "great" houses, i.e. those with numerous huge rooms that most people couldn't afford. However, the decor ideas would work for inspiration. I do wish the scan was a higher resolution.

The book went over a series of rules for papering or coloring walls, depending on the exposure of the room, season of use, and the height and size of the room. Probably still sound advice, but too many variations to include here.

Then it went over many furnishings one might want to purchase for their home, discussing the quality of some of the current brands available at the time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Photo Shoot

I've just learned that we're having another photo shoot of our house in less than two weeks! Eeek. It's not the best timing because our calendar is booked up between now and next Wednesday.

Luckily we cleaned up pretty well for company a couple weekends ago, so the house is generally in good shape. But our next batch of cleaning needs to be projects like polishing brass hardware and washing windows and dusting everything.

I'm not sure if all of a sudden I'll be posting a bunch of projects and pictures or if I'll go silent between now and then. I guess we'll see how much energy I have left at the end of the day.

P.S. This photoshoot is for a magazine, but I've been asked to withhold more information until the article is actually published. Trust me, when I can, I'll let you all in on the secret.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Period Book: The Home Beautiful (1915)

This week's book is really just a woodwork sales brochure. I thought the pictures were beautiful, even though they're mostly all black and white, so I decided to share them here on the blog. The brochure is called The Home Beautiful and was published by Farley & Loetscher Mfg. Co. in 1915 showing their suggestions for interior woodwork. "A book of practical information for builders of up-to-date homes."

This is another post with a lot of pictures, so I'm going to insert a page break. If you want to see all the pictures, you'll have to open the post.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shopping for Period Style Kitchen Items

I have spent literally hours trying to find period style items for my kitchen. It is surprising how difficult it is to find modern kitchen items that resemble those I found in the period photos. I really thought it would be easier; after all, how much would canisters and crocks change?

These were the containers I really liked.
I spent hours and hours trying to find modern reproductions with no luck. I finally had some success with finding similar canisters when I tried ebay and etsy. If you want to search ebay or etsy, I suggest using the search terms "german porcelain canisters" or "mepoco german" or "block canisters" or other variants. (There are actually some beautiful sets on eBay right now, but they'll be gone too quickly to make it worth preserving the links here.) It is especially difficult to find a good set that still has all the pieces and all the lids and when you do, they're not inexpensive.

Since I never found a set that coordinated with my kitchen—most sets with an acceptable pattern were delft blue which really didn't work for me—I finally compromised on a modern good-enough-for-now round copper set and I continue to keep my eye out for a nice antique or reproduction set. (The copper set is already showing signs of wear after less than 2 years of use.)

I have to admit I gave up on the drainer. Rubbermaid does carry a large chrome dish drainer but the reviews for it complain that it starts to rust almost immediately. It is also possible to find quite a few vintage wire dish racks, but again, I imagine they'll all suffer the same rusting fate. So, for now, I content myself with a plastic-coated rubbermaid dish rack. I am on the look out for a decent looking option in stainless steel and when I find one, I'll update this post and buy it.

Fortunately wire bale jars are very easy to find. They're literally carried all over; here is a 12 pack at Amazon. The lids for mason jars look to have gotten smaller, but they're also period as well. They're carried everywhere, especially at your neighborhood garage sales which is the most affordable way I've found to pick up quite a few of them.

One great place to shop for old style kitchen gear is Lehman's. (No, I'm not being paid for the endorsement in anyway; I'm just a happy customer.) They cater to amish and other folks off the grid and they carry non-electric versions of a whole lot of kitchen gadgets. And especially of note, if you need those little rubber rings for your old bale close jars, they carry them. They also currently have a beautiful set of heritage blue stripe stoneware that would be tempting if my kitchen cabinets were not already bulging.

I did manage to score a 1914 toaster off eBay that didn't cost a fortune.

In examining the old pictures, there seemed to be a lot of enamel-coated bowls and cooking pots in the photos. You can still buy those too, but they are NOT cheap. A reputable brand, Le Creuset, is having a sale right now—their 11-piece set is $1000! And while you can find less expensive alternatives at places like Target, I have no idea how they would hold up to regular use.

In concluding this post, when I first started shopping for our kitchen, I actually expected I would be able to find more period-style items, but it was disappointingly difficult. With our current disposable everything-made-in-China culture, I guess we have moved on. The good stuff made to last is too expensive and the cheap stuff just doesn't look like the traditional items anymore. There is just so much stuff made from plastic now.