Building a West Elm Inspired Outdoor Sofa

I apologize ahead of time for the during pictures, they were taken with my iPhone as I didn’t plan on writing a tutorial. Also, I’m not the greatest at writing tutorials, but I’m happy to answer any questions if anything is unclear!

When I created the design board for our back porch, we planned on building a DIY version of the West Elm Tillary Outdoor Sofa base and filling their $169 cover with foam or batting. Unfortunately, after sitting on one at West Elm we realized the back cushions slipped around quite a bit and weren’t as supportive as we’d hoped. We also preferred the 17″ seat height of the Tillary Sofa to the 12″ seat height of the outdoor version.

Keeping the idea of the Tillary in mind, we wandered around the store testing out other sofas and settees, trying to formulate a plan. Ultimately we decided to basically build a larger version of the ottoman we built for the living room, with a back rest. (Although we didn’t see one in person, our sofa is sort of similar to the Baxter Sofa.) Then we picked up two of these cute Arrow Pillow Covers, and went to buy our supplies.

Supplies:

  • 2 pressure treated 4′ x 8′ sheets of 1/2″ plywood
  • 2 pressure treated 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards
  • 1 pressure treated 1″ x 6″ x 6′ board
  • 1 pressure treated 4″ x 4″ post (or scrap wood)
  • 6 wooden fence post tops (or bun feet)
  • 4 heavy duty metal L brackets
  • 9′ x 12′ canvas drop cloth or equivalent yardage of indoor/outdoor fabric
  • fabric dye (optional)
  • 24″ x 90″ sheet 4″ upholstery foam
  • 24″ x 72″ sheet 2″ upholstery foam
  • 20 yard roll of 1/4″ loft batting
  • 2 cans heavy duty headliner adhesive
  • Screws
  • Nuts, bolts & washers
  • 1 can outdoor Scotchgard (optional)
  • 1 can spray paint (optional)
  • Drill
  • Staple gun
  • Clamps (optional)
  • Cut off wheel (optional)
  • Scissors

Estimated Cost: $300-350

Since the hardware store is better at making long, straight cuts, we had our plywood sheets cut to 30″ x 72″ and 28″ x 72″. Keep the excess, you never know when that will come in handy. (You could even use it to make a coordinating ottoman.) When we got home we cut the 1″ x 6″ x 8′ boards into six 29″ pieces, but you could have the hardware store cut those for you as well.

If you’re going to dye your canvas, do that now. Robert and I followed Emily’s steps. Ultimately we ended up using three packets of Rit Pearl Gray powder, and half a bottle of black liquid dye. (The above photo was taken before the black dye cycle.) If you don’t plan to dye your canvas, just toss it in the dryer on warm to remove any wrinkles.

Lay the 30″ x 72″ piece of plywood across two saw horses and attach the 1″ x 6″ x 6′ board along the front edge. You may have to trim the board slightly, as ours was about 1/2″ too long. We tacked the board in place using a pneumatic finish nail gun, and then went back with these 3″ coated deck screws because we like overkill. You could probably skip the nail gun step and just use long screws. After that, attach two 29″ pieces of 1″ x 6″ board along the sides the same way.

Attach the other four 29″ boards the same way, spacing them out evenly (I think ours were 14″ apart). Then attach the 28″ x 72″ sheet of plywood along the back. If you’re like us, you’ll have to stop at this point and run back to Lowe’s 45 minutes before they close for metal L brackets. Don’t be like us.

Again, if you’re like us it will be dark, and you’ll stop here because you’re starving. Assuming that’s not the case, attach your L brackets. I attached ours on the seat surface, along the two outside edges, and the over the inner-most 29″ boards. Screw the bottom of the L bracket into the seat, making sure to screw into the support boards, and then use bolts to attach the bracket to back of the sofa. Our bolts had to be shortened with a cut off wheel tool, but you may find bolts the perfect length.

Once the L brackets are attached, carefully lay the sofa on it’s back and attach the legs. We spray painted six Severe Weather 4-in x 4-in Treated Post Caps black and used them as our legs, but you could anything from these bun feet to casters. (Although, I recommend using something like Thompson’s WaterSeal if you use regular bun feet.) Since we wanted the seat height of our sofa to be 17″, we cut a 5″ length of 4″x4″ to attach the post cap to, and then screwed them both into the sofa frame using our 3″ deck screws.

Once your legs are attached, it’s time to attach your foam.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to find a 30″ x 72″ piece of 4″ foam, but otherwise a 24″ x 90″ piece will work just fine. Also, our JoAnn has a policy against making more than one cut for a customer, so we simply cut ours into three 24″ x 30″ pieces using a serrated knife. It won’t matter that the seat is made up of three pieces after you wrap everything in batting. Initially we planned to just use scrap foam wrapped in batting for the back support, but ultimately we went back to JoAnn for a 24″ x 72″ piece of 2″ foam (tragically without a coupon that time).

Spray the seat board with heavy duty headliner adhesive, and then spray the underside of the seat cushions. We applied our seat in 3 sections to make things easier on ourselves, and tried our best to keep the gaps between the pieces as minimal as possible. For best adhesion, allow the adhesive to set for five minutes before sticking the cushion to the seat board. Once each piece is in place, weigh it down with something while it sets (we used hand weights).

Once the seat cushions are in place and you’ve given the glue a chance to set, gently tip the sofa on it’s back and wrap the seat in batting. We just tucked the back of our batting into the crevice between the back support and the back of the foam, and then wrapped the front and sides, stapling as we went. The corners will be a bit tricky, but you can either wrap them like you’re wrapping a present, or cut a slit in the corner and wrap each side independently. (For more detailed steps, Michelle wraps her corners like a present in this post, and Megan sews her corners together in this post.)

the canvas looks Light ‘Urple here, but I assure you it’s gray

At this point we chose to attach our canvas drop cloth as well. We felt it was the best way to ensure we got everything lined up correctly (especially since the drop cloth we used had seams, and we wanted to make sure those didn’t end up in a weird place). We rotated our canvas so that one of the 9′ sides was along the front edge, and then tucked the canvas into the crevice behind the seat cushions (like we did with the batting). After carefully stapling the drop cloth into the crevice, we stapled along the sides, and then the front edge, wrapping the corners like a present. It may be easier to cut your canvas and cover the seat, and then cover the back. You could also use two long pieces of indoor/outdoor fabric to cover the sofa.

While the sofa is on its back, attach the back cushion to the back support with adhesive the same way you attached the seat cushion. Since our back extends 18″ above the seat, and our JoAnn will not make any cuts less than 24″, we cut the excess off of our 24″ x 72″ piece of foam and used it for added lumbar support (we also put a roll of batting above the lumbar support to lessen the step in the foam). You could simply use an 18″ x 72″ piece of 3-4″ foam.

Once the adhesive has set, rotate the sofa onto its legs and wrap the back with batting and canvas (or another strip of indoor/outdoor fabric). It may be easier to rotate the sofa onto it’s front to reach the underside of the back edge. The outside edges of the back support will be done like a really long corner (you can see how ours turned out below). We had enough of our canvas left to skin the bottom of the sofa as well, but that’s not necessary.

Yay, you’re done!! Now relax on your new sofa!

Note: We took things a step further and Scotchgarded our sofa (and we may actually buy a weatherproof cover for it as well). If you’re going to use Scotchgard, test it on an inconspicuous area or an extra swatch of fabric first.

Additional note: We are lucky we moved the sofa onto the porch after attaching the back support, because the doorway into the porch is 32″. If we had tried to complete anymore steps outside we may not have been able to get the sofa onto the porch. If you have equally narrow doorways it may be best to build in place, after making all your cuts.

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Back Porch Daydreaming

I’ve been thinking about our back porch since I showed you the current state of our patio in my last post. We have made ridiculously slow progress when it comes to our back porch & backyard area. I’ve made a lot of plans, but we haven’t followed through on many of them. Mostly because I change my mind a lot the idea of working around a pool table has been sort of daunting. How the heck do you replace flooring under that mammoth anyhow?

Here’s the sad state of affairs that was our back porch, circa March 2011. Not much has changed. To give you a sense of scale, our back porch is about 14 feet wide by 28 feet long.

We haven’t done much yet, aside from replacing the fans and painting the walls of the house Valspar’s Oatlands Gold Buff with Almost Charcoal window sills. The other two walls remain OSB plywood painted white. How attractive.

We bought a dining set from Target for one side of the porch shortly after moving in, and on the other side is a billiards table that we received from family friends. We realized that we don’t eat out on the porch very often though, so we’re looking to  make the area more of a conversation/seating area. The table & chairs will be going to our friends who live down the street.

Fan | Rug | Sofa | Light | Coffee Table

We scored the Hunter Sanibel fan at ReStore a while back, and finally painted over the peachy-salmon color. We’re planning to DIY a version of the Tillary Outdoor Sofa, mount a tv, add a light near the back door, and make drop cloth curtains with galvanized pipe hardware. I’m also eying the Marais Coffee Table and a Quinta Nawra Trellis Outdoor Rug to finish out the space.

Further down the road we want to turn the single door opening to the patio into barn doors, and move that door to the other side of the porch (opposite the back door), leading to the dogs’ area of the yard. We also need to figure out what to do for flooring. It needs to be something that can get wet, since the screen doesn’t do much in the way of keeping rain out. Unfortunately replacing the screen with plexi or glass isn’t in the budget. Yet.

Did you notice the pea gravel flowerbeds(?) along the house? Going to be interesting flooring over those.

We picked up this restaurant style sink (also from ReStore) a while back, but need to plumb it. It will be going on the little step between the conversation area and the pool table (where the grill is in the photos above). I think initially that concrete pad was used for the AC handler, or maybe an oil tank for a heater. We may add a beer fridge in this area, too.

We have discussed the idea of making ledges for Robert’s collection of beer bottles over the sink, but we’re unsure. Drilling into the stucco doesn’t sound like much fun, so they go straight in the recycling bin. (Love you, honey!)

Barstool | Light | Billiards Table (similar to ours)

The other side of the porch will mainly be about the billiards table, of course. I’d like to center a larger light over it, possibly a DIY version of the Alliance 3 Light Chandelier from Barn Light Electric, and put a couple of bar stools on that end. The one shown is a knock off of the classic Bertoia wire chair, made be the company as our dining chairs.

Anyone else planning an outdoor space now that the weather is starting to warm up?

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How to Evict a Raccoon from Your Attic (Maybe)

Please note we are in no way experts on this subject. There are however some links at the end of the post with more professional advice.

Over the weekend we learned we have an unexpected house guest (or possibly guests).

source

Yep, that’s right. A raccoon. Considering the season, it’s most likely a mother raccoon and her babies.

A couple of weeks ago I told Robert (and Twitter) that it sounded like something large scurried across the dining room. Since we didn’t hear the noise again, we (foolishly) thought that maybe it was on the roof and not actually in the attic. Later, a neighbor told us they saw a raccoon on our roof, and we felt a bit better.

Haha, suckers! (source)

A few days later the neighbor told us they saw a large raccoon climbing into our roof, and yesterday Robert and I heard it while standing in the guest room.

Crap.

We have bad luck when it comes to critters. Really bad luck. Cue furious Googling for humane ways to evict a raccoon family from an attic.

Supplies:

By all accounts, raccoons are strong, and can cause surprising amounts of damage. They can pretty much rip through anything, so while we will be boxing the soffits in with soffit material soon, we opted for a lower cost combination of tactics for now, and when we’re sure they’re gone we’ll completely enclose the eaves.

First, we checked all our soffits for holes, and counted how many there were total (33 triangular soffits, and 19-20 rectangular openings). Then we went to Lowe’s to access our options. We decided to go with a product that is sold as a rain gutter covering. It’s vinyl mesh with a screen backing, made by Amerimax. At $2.10 for a 6″ by 36″ strip, the price was right, too.

We got home and got to work. Robert broke out the air compressor and pneumatic stapler while I started cutting the mesh to length. For our soffits the best fit was about 12 inches of mesh, or roughly one third of the strip. I also cut off the “snap in” part meant to hold it onto a rain gutter so that it laid flush to the wall.

You can see below that our eaves need some serious repainting up close it’s not the prettiest, but it should do the job. Fortunately from the ground you can’t tell that the edges don’t meet the joists perfectly.

Since our soffit openings are triangular, Robert did his best to line the middle of the two panels up with the point of the triangle. Before stapling the mesh down, Robert sprayed Critter Ridder into the opening. It gets mixed reviews, but for $17 it was worth a try. Just a few squirts in places where the previous screen (most of which was installed from the inside of the wall, possibly when the house was built) was intact, and liberally in the areas where we knew the raccoons entered/nested close by. Spray, staple, repeat.

Also, try not to step off the ladder and twist your ankle. (No, we don’t know anyone who did that, why do you ask?)

Speaking of the raccoons entering/exiting, it’s best to leave the most popular opening uncovered until you no longer hear the raccoon(s). We may also follow another bit of advice we read and shove some wadded up newspaper in place to help gauge if they’re still coming & going.

I call the below our Raccoon Super Highway. And you can bet I basically open hand face-palmed when I realized this had been open for the past 3 years. D’oh! No idea why I trusted the former owners to have enclosed it properly. You can see we closed up the righthand side, and have left the lefthand side open for now.

I call this next one the Raccoon Super Highway Part 2. It’s basically a row of 19-20 openings over the screen porch. Fantastic, right?

The Raccoon Super Highway is located to the right of the patio below (behind the tree branch) and Raccoon Super Highway Part 2 runs the entire length of the porch.

You can also see the patio we hastily threw together for Robert’s birthday, the storm door that shattered and caused him to need stitches (damn door! I’m replacing you with barn doors, just you wait!), and our DIY adirondack chairs.

Also our semi brake drum turned fit pit, and Robert’s beer bottle collection. Keepin’ it classy.

So that’s Part 1. Part 2 involves sealing off the Raccoon Super Highway Part 2, and playing loud music in the house/attic to disrupt their sleep and encourage them to leave. If all of that fails then Part 3 will be paying someone to remove them/their nest (which should be interesting given the size of our attic craw;space), and to attempt to remove the raccoon soiled insulation.

Having your own critter problem? We found these links helpful: Raccoons In the Attic, Getting Rid of Raccoons in the Attic, Get Rid of Raccoons, wildlife-removal.com

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Spending Freeze

here’s a pretty sunset, since I’m talking about budgeting

Early in the year I set out some pretty simple budgeting goals. Last week I mentioned that Robert and I had some unexpected bills pop up. While we definitely aren’t broke by any means, we need to keep a closer eye on spending, cut out some of our (my) project-spending, and increase our emergency fund. I know many experts recommend a $1,000 emergency fund, at least to start with, but that doesn’t seem realistic to us as homeowners. Especially after a few years of realizing that the unexpected things tend to pop up more often when you own an older house (or possibly any house).

Robert has a spreadsheet for most of our bills, but I prefer to keep more of a mental tally. Generally speaking we’re doing pretty well, but when I was doing our taxes this year, I noticed that we made significantly more in 2012 than we did in 2011 and yet we don’t have as much as we’d like to show for it. Yes, we bought a new fridge, we went to Seattle, and we’re working on a bathroom renovation, but even factoring in the cost of those things it was pretty apparent that we splurged or “rewarded ourselves” a little too much last year. We resolved to do better this year, to pay down or eliminate our debts, and bolster our savings accounts and emergency fund.

Projects and eating out are Robert’s and my weak areas. We don’t have cable or gym memberships, Robert cuts his own hair (and mine), we make our morning coffee at home, and we pack our lunches. With the exception of our ancient water heater we have energy efficient appliances and mainly use CFL bulbs, which help to keep our power/water bill low. Other than our recent Seattle trip, we don’t take big vacations. We don’t even go out to the movies, concerts, or bars. I don’t buy new clothes very often, and when I do they’re inexpensive or good quality but on sale. We do tend splurge on food, whether it’s eating out or something like the Whole Foods hot bar, and projects/things for the house. It’s partially why I lovingly refer to our guest room (future master bedroom, after the bathroom is complete and we install hardwood) as a mini-warehouse. Embarrassing.

Yes, I know. We are totally boring. My birthday Lowe’s gift card for drywall (and my extra margarita at dinner) was very exciting, ok?

What I haven’t mentioned is that sometimes when I am stressed out I overspend. So you can imagine where this is going. While I was crunching the numbers on our taxes and unexpected bills, I went a little project-supply crazy. I’m trying not to feel that bad about it, I liken it to how people often overeat before starting a diet. Did you know that studies have even shown that budgets can actually increase spending?

So, I bought sockets for the dining room light, a West Elm light that was on sale (I had a gift card, but it won’t ship until March anyway, so I should have waited until shipping was free two weeks ago), some hardware for the china hutch (which I later returned), and supplies for an ottoman for Dottie. I may have bought a dress and cardigan from ModCloth. I also didn’t object when Robert suggested we go out for tacos.


grainy iPhone photo of drop cloth covered ottoman

After all of that I thought about that fact that we would have been royally screwed if Dots had needed surgery right away, or if we had another unexpected house repair. I went though bank statements and made a list of how much money we had spent on unneeded purchases, a list of all our bills/payments (including payoff amount), and a spreadsheets to help keep better track of saving. Then Robert and I took a hard look at our monthly expenses and discussed which ones we can reduce/eliminate. I numbered them in the order we’d like to pay off, starting with the one with the highest interest rate. We also heavily focused on the fact that we need to stop spending money on things that aren’t necessities. We did budget in the possibility one weekly dinner out, typically at the end of the week to unwind.


found on Pinterest

I loosely based our saving spreadsheet on the 52 Week Money Challenge above. (Many commenters suggested reversing the amounts, so that you are not paying yourself $202 at the same time as buying holiday gifts.) I think the challenge is a good idea in principle, and the amounts are reasonable, especially if you’re single or supporting a family on one income. I also really liked the fact that it’s a very visual representation of a goal, and can be updated or checked off weekly, similar to the feeling of crossing a task off a To Do list. Personally, I know that Robert and I can easily save more than $1,378 in a year’s worth of time, so our goal is $100 per paycheck, which brings us closer to $5,000 for the year. We want to pay off or reduce the balances on credit cards, car loans & Robert’s student loan, and refinance the house.

So how are we doing? In total we had eight debts that we want to reduce or eliminate, and that includes our house and Robert’s truck. We also paid off a small loan in January before making the list. As I mentioned last week, I paid off my credit card, and we are on track with out savings. We decided that once we pay off three of the eight we will celebrate by doing a larger project, possibly having the ceiling in our hall bathroom repaired. Maybe an odd splurge to some, but you know we’re DIY & renovation junkies. I also told Robert that his graduation present in August is new cabinet doors for the kitchen, so I’ve been looking up quotes on that in preparation. Feel free to weigh in on how easy/hard it is to build shaker style cabinet doors.

We’re both feeling pretty good about the path we’re on, but we’re also realistic about the fact that sometimes you need to have a life, in addition to paying things off.

 

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Backstory

Warning: This post is going to be loooooooooooong, probably boring, with no blog-sexy before & afters.

Please take a moment to look back on this post (specifically the part where I talked about finishing up projects that are dragging along) and laugh at me. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that Dots has been having hip pain. And also that we recently had our electrical panel replaced. For those of you know don’t know, I will now launch into the very long story explaining the previous sentence.

Dots’ problem started sometime around Freckles’ 7th birthday. We were doting on Helper Dog, and talking about how it didn’t feel like 6 years since we adopted him, and patting ourselves on the back for having such healthy 7 and almost-7 year old dogs. I’m not going to pause and let you laugh this time, so just try to keep the snickering to a dull-roar.

We had noticed that Dots was letting out the occasional yelp when we cuddled her, but we could never figure out a reason. Whatever hurt was gone as soon as she yelped. Similar to the yelp that Freckles lets out if one of us accidentally steps on his foot (he is extremely-helpful/always underfoot). Then one morning at 5:30am Dots woke up screaming (there really is no other word for it). I thought maybe I had rolled over onto her legs or something, and tried to comfort her. I stroked her ears and told her I was sorry, and that hopefully whatever was bothering her would feel better when we got up. An hour and a half later it happened again. I stroked her ears to comfort her and noticed that her right hind leg was twitching/spasming. A few minutes later she seemed perfectly fine, and didn’t make a sound when I tried to find a sore spot.

When we got up she was favoring the leg, didn’t want to walk down the few steps to the backyard, and was sitting or lying down a lot instead of her usual wiggling. Anyone who knows Dottie knows this isn’t normal. We called a few vets offices that were open on Saturday, but most of them didn’t accept walk-ins or have appointments available. They said if it was really bad that we could take her to an emergency vet, but they likely wouldn’t know what was wrong and it would be very expensive. We decided to watch her throughout the day, and take her to our vet as soon as possible. She seemed to limber up and the very short walk we went on didn’t seem to bother her, and at one point she ran around the backyard and tackled Freckles like a nutcase. We also bought her a glucosamine supplement. I thought maybe it was arthritis since she seems the most sore in cold weather, or hip displaysia, or nerve pain. Regardless, we wanted to have the vet look at her.

And then the water heater stopped working. Robert was in the back of the house, and I was trying to make a latte, but someone had decided to use my thermometer to attempt to check the internal temperature of meat (I’m pretty sure that failed horribly, so he – I mean they – just cut a slit into it to check pinkness). I turned the hot water on and held the thermometer under the stream while I reached for the dishsoap. “This water sure is taking a long time to heat up,” I thought. Five minutes later the thermometer was still reading somewhere in the 70 degree range. I called to Robert that I thought maybe the water heater from 2001 had finally died. He came into the kitchen and was equally confused by the lack of hot water, he checked to see if the water heater was running (it wasn’t), and went to check the breaker. The breaker seemed to have tripped, so he flipped it back on and the water heated up fairly quickly. I made my latte, Googled “water heater break trips randomly” without any concrete answers, and we went on about our day thinking “we may need to buy a water heater”.

A few days later the same thing happened again. Fortunately at this point we decided to mainly leave the breaker off when we were home until we could replace the breaker. Again, please hold your laughter.

On a Wednesday night shortly before Super Bowl (I work in sports merchandising, so my work picks up this time of year), and right before Robert planned to take Dots to the vet, we decided to replace the water heater breaker. We removed the old breaker, went to Lowe’s, bought a new 30A breaker, commented on the relatively low cost of new electrical panels, and went home to install it. The short version is, there were a lot of sparks whenever we tried to turn the power back on, with or without the water heater breaker installed. We made the decision to leave the power off to the whole house, and call in a professional. I whined a lot on Twitter.


Look, new panel! Also I never finished painting my house.

The next morning I was at my parents’ house having breakfast & discussing cabinet hardware, and Robert met with an electrician he knew through work. Diagnosis: our panel was old, and improperly wired. You never want to hear the electrician say “well, they just wire this whichever way they felt like it that day, didn’t they?” He them proceeded to remove the old panel, cut a larger hole, and install a new panel. I was going to take pictures but I didn’t want to bother him. Also my camera battery died right before we shut the power off.


This pretty much expresses how I felt. Also note the unused contractor paper.

A few hours later we had this.

Sorry for the terrible night-lighting iPhone picture.

A few weeks later we got the bill for $636. We are so thankful that we were able to use one of Robert’s connections, since we know what this typically costs. We are also thankful that Dots had some luck on the glucosamine supplement through this process, because we felt terrible that she hadn’t had an appointment yet. After the panel was replaced she had another episode and we felt like the worst dog parents ever. About $400 worth of vet visits, pain medication, and X-rays later, she was diagnosed with the beginning stages of hip displaysia and arthritis (one of the things I suspected). We’re supposed to give her fish oil (for the omega-3s), keep her moderately-active so she retain the muscles that support the weaker joint, give her pain medication for any other flair ups, and consider surgery in about 3-4 years.

So, that’s about 1100 words to say that we’ve had some unexpected bills lately. And while we are thankful to be able to pay those bills without issue, we also have the second half of Robert’s tuition to pay. Basically, all of it made us realize that we need to be better about saving, and we need to build our emergency fund back up. So rather than regularly checking things off our to do list, projects are going to be a little slower than I had hoped this year. We have a lot of completed projects that I have neglected to blog about (like the super exciting process of recaulking the tub! …I’ll be skipping that post) and I am a project supply hoarder, so we have some things that will only require minimal costs to finish.  My hours at work have also picked back up for the time being, which will help with budgeting.

Sidenote: I just paid off the balance on my credit card this morning, and the feeling of not having that hanging over me is almost as jazzing as completing a large project. Yes, my nerd is showing.

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Lighting It Up

This post is a long time coming. Robert and I installed our globe pendant in the living room spring of last year, and I’ve been promising a tutorial ever since.

It’s probably no secret that I can be horribly picky when it comes to light fixtures. I have debated the subject before, and I think the only light we’ve installed without modifying it in some way is the Flat Stock Flush Mount light from West Elm that Robert bought me for my birthday in 2011. (Sidenote: If they ever bring that light back I will buy at least one more in a heartbeat.)

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have seen me pinning a lot of globe light fixtures last year. (Clearly it was before I decided to use more search-friendly pin descriptions.)

I had a few issues with all the lights I pinned. Even though the West Elm Globe Pendant was on sale for $79 at the time (and currently is again), I felt like Robert and I could make something less expensive that we liked a bit better.

So I searched online for quite a while until I found this 12″ clear globe for $27.32 a mylampparts.com (the same globe is sadly $67.32 now).

I paired the shade with a 4″ threaded “uno” threaded fitter, a keyless brass socket with “uno” threads, and gold cloth-covered wire. I can’t remember exactly which fitter and socket I used, but I know that if I were to do things over again I’d likely either use this socket from Grand Brass instead of the standard press-in metal shell kind, or this fitter with a ceramic socket. Together with an $8 Edison bulb, this project ran us around $80. We also have some cloth-covered wire left over since Sundial requires a 10 foot minimum order.

When it came time to think about a light for the laundry room, Robert and I liked the look of the Carlton Pendant from Lumens.com, and the Azusa from Schoolhouse Electric, but not the price tags. The Carlton Pendant is $276, and Azusa says it starts at $99, but the pictured light is $153.

We decided to DIY something similar, so I ordered this shade from Antique Lamp Supply, a brass fitter (with socket) and ceiling canopy from eBay, and Robert picked up some black 18/2 wire from his store (he runs an auto part store). Robert actually called it “trailer wire”, but it’s 18-gauge, 2-conductor wire. We got it from his store because Lowe’s didn’t have what we were looking for.

Of course, as soon as the shade arrived we decide it would look awesome over the sink (replacing a $20 seeded glass pendant from a few years ago), so we ordered supplies for a second light. Then once we installed it we started wondering if the second light would be bright enough for the laundry room. Ultimately we decided to put the second light in our pantry, and we’re back to square one on the laundry light. D’oh.

The lampshade was $39.90 (closer to $50 with shipping), the canopy was roughly $8, the fitter with socket was $18, and I have no idea how much the wire was so I’m estimating $3 for the foot or so that we used. That means this light came in right about $80 as well.

Anyone DIY any lights lately? Or have any ideas for our laundry room light? I can’t decide if a 60w Edision bulb will be bright enough.

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5 Things I Love About Florida

Please don’t hate me too much if you’re currently up to your waist in snow and negative temperatures…

Friday seems like a good time to write a brief ode to my beloved Florida, so here are my current Top 5 Things I Love About Florida. Being winter, they’re mostly weather-related. In the fall this list tends to include more football/tailgating, in the summer it’s (even) more about the weather, seafood, and water sports.

1. The Weather – Florida weather can be nutty sometimes. It might be in the 80s one day, and a freeze warning the next, but just about the time you’re sick of the current weather and longing to lie on a beach somewhere it will do a 180 and be sunny and perfect again. (We always say “Don’t like the weather? Wait 15 minutes, it’ll change”.) We basically have three seasons, Hot, Hotter, and Chilly. Just enough sweater/coat weather so we don’t get sick of it, and no shoveling snow.

2. The Water – I’m pretty sure that when anyone thinks of Florida the ocean, or water in general is not far behind. The river here is pretty massive, at least compared to other parts of the country. It’s really nice to have an ocean (and the Intercoastal) on one side and a wide river on the other. Having lived in Tallahassee during college, I know that I start going stir-crazy in more “land-locked” places. (Also, in Florida “land locked” means the beach is 2 hours away instead of 20 minutes or less).

3. Sunsets – Yes, every place has sunsets, but there is just something about a Florida sunset, especially over the water, that melts tension away like nothing else. It doesn’t hurt if you’re gazing at that view with a cocktail in hand, either.

4. The Beach – I’d be remiss if the beach didn’t get it’s own number. Whether it’s winter or summer, there is nothing quite like a walk on the beach. Winter storms bring seaglass and bigger waves, and summer is perfect for soaking up some vitamin D, boating, and long walks. Our local beaches are not quite the white sandy beaches & clear water of South Florida, but they have a breathtakingly rustic beauty all their own. Check out Yellow Brick Home and Katie Bower’s posts about nearby Amelia Island if you don’t believe me.

5. Relatively Inexpensive Real Estate – Obviously this is subjective, but after a few Twitter conversations I’ve come to learn that the South has pretty inexpensive real estate compared to the rest of the country. Not as inexpensive as some parts of the Midwest, but definitely affordable. Things I consider expensive are apparently dirt cheap. Houses in our area of Florida (at least moderately sized ones like our 1850 sqft house) are in the mid-100s. $400-600k will buy you a McMansion on the river, or if you have more to spend (think the $1mil range) you could buy a larger McMansion on the river with acreage for horses and still be close to everything in town. $1-3mil would buy the same McMansion on the ocean. A more modestly sized beach house starts around $600k. Rentals are very reasonable, too.

What are you loving about where you live? Would you believe I’ve only seen snow twice in my lifetime? (And that if you even count the dusting we had here when I was 2.)

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Wishful Thinking, Take Two

My birthday is coming up next month, and while I’m terrible at making birthday suggestions to family, I always enjoy daydreaming about the things I would buy for myself if money wasn’t an issue. Usually I at least try follow it up by making a more realistic wishlist, too.

  • Tamron AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 – Last year I was lusting after the Nikon version of this lens, which is pricey even for daydreaming. This one is slightly less, gets good reviews, and would be nice for blog photos & travel.
  • Nest Thermostat – We installed a digital programmable thermostat made by Honeywell about a year ago, and then this came out. Curse my timing.
  • West Elm Reclaimed Wood Floor Mirror – If you follow me on Twitter you know we recently had our electrical panel replaced, and that I’m having trouble finding a mirror to cover the larger panel. I’d love to DIY one like this if I could find a builder-grade mirror for less than $187.
  • Target Fretwork Flat Weave Area Rug – The 8×11′ version is incredibly pricey, but would look lovely in our library or in the living room once we have our wood floors and that “step” in the middle of the room is gone.
  • Target Azzure Toss Pillows – As is usually the case, the fabric I fall in love with gets picked up by Target for pillows & ottomans. This fabric that I wanted to make curtains out of is still out of stock, but the gold color does make lovely pillows. Sidenote: I’m thinking about these curtains now

And the more realistic wishlist, most of which is hard to wrap.

 

 

  • Lowe’s giftcards – Drywall is hard to wrap, and that is the next/last big purchase for the guest bathroom.
  • Octagon Dot Floor Tile – We need about 30 sq ft of this tile (I think our local Lowe’s also has some as well) for the guest bathroom.
  • CB2 Big Dipper Floor lamp – I think this would be perfect in the living room.
  • 32gb 1st gen iPad, wifi – I have no need for one of the newer iPads, and I certainly don’t want to add another thing to our data plan, but something like this would be great for surfing the internet from the couch, or even for taking to freelance client meetings. They often pop up around $200 on eBay and Amazon for a gently-used one, which is a plus.
  • Hall Bath Vent Fan – We already bought the fan, but we haven’t installed it yet. It wouldn’t make any sense to fix the ceiling just to leave the under-powered fan. Maybe our new electrician friend can make this happen?
  • Guest Bathroom Wiring – We have the fan up, and we already bought the lights and Romex, so in an ideal world the electrician could wire that the same day as the hall fan, right?
  • Hardwood Installation – You may know we bought some reclaimed hardwood from our local ReStore a few years ago, and that it has yet to be installed in the guest room or the living room.
  • Ceiling Repair – I would love to have the crack in our library ceiling repaired. And the peeling hall bathroom ceiling. I think the guy my parents usually use is busy until at least March, though.
  • Concrete Counters -  Robert has a friend who does concrete counters, and we (ok, I) would like to try to get that ball rolling as quickly as possible.
  • Cabinet Hardware – So… I bought some zinc hardware from Lee Valley for about $28 last year. It was similar in style to the Restoration Hardware Aubrey Pull, but I’m not loving it anymore. I listed it on eBay, and am thinking the Top Knobs Asbury line of handles & knobs would coordinate with the bin pulls I bought.

Ok, so maybe that’s not very realistic either.

Honestly, I don’t need anything for my birthday. All I really want is to finish some projects that have been dragging along (like the pantry and the guest bathroom), and spend time with family. I’m fairly certain Robert and I can tackle the hardwood, but I’m considering hiring out for the wiring, and definitely for the ceilings. Anything else on my list would be icing on the metaphorical cake.

 

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Design Assistance: Jess’ New Place

Today is my sister’s birthday, so this post seems appropriate. Happy birthday, big sis!

Back in December I posted about my sister’s apartment. I mentioned that Jess had semi-recently moved to Philadelphia, so I was thinking of some ideas for her apartment. (Yes, past tense.) When she sent the pictures I mentioned a few of my suggestions, and she said she wasn’t really attached to her new place, that it felt too big and not like her style. You can probably guess where this is going.

The sofa and curtains belong to her landlord, the nesting tables are from Ikea, and the tv console & red cabinet are from Target. I’m not sure where the bar height table & chairs are from, but I’ve seen similar sets online at Target, O.co, and Wayfair.

I think you can see from the kitchen why she chose this apartment, the dark cabinets are reminiscent of her last apartment.

Initially this is the board I came up with, before I saw her photos. I had a laugh when I saw the blue curtains from her landlord, though I’d add a set or two around the sofa. I believe her Kivik lives in the office/guest room, and J’s bedroom wasn’t quite organized enough to show.

curtains | rug | pillows | pouf | slipcover | print

I think a darker slipcover for her Kivik sofa bed might stand out a bit more from typical apartment-beige walls, and the blue-yellow-gray color scheme would tie in with the pieces she already has.

About the time I came up with these ideas Jess posted this:

“Doesn’t look like much right now, but that’s the window to (what will be) my new studio apartment!”

What can I say, girl moves fast? (Or I’m horribly behind on everything. But let’s go with the former.)

curtains | nesting tables | rug | pillows | slipcover | pouf | print

After seeing that, I quickly tweaked things to create a studio-inspired board. The curtains are very similar to the Ikea ones, but rod-pocket instead of grommet. I’m actually considering them for our living room. They also have a similar pair that are thermal, which could be a good option, depending which way her apartment faces. The other rug I considered was the Porter Rug from Crate & Barrel, but I think it’s a tad out of her price range.

I have to say, I’m a bit jealous of her soon-to-be studio already. I can’t wait to see the inside!

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Meet the Blogger

Last night I was drafting a style post (I know, quite a departure from the usual posts around here), and I realized that y’all probably don’t have any clue what I look like, since I rarely post pictures of myself. Just to be sure, I mentioned it on Twitter.

It turns out, a 65×65 pixel photo of myself on the sidebar is not enough. Noted.

This is me.

The whole conversation made me realize that if y’all have no idea what I look like then my personality probably doesn’t come across quite as clearly as I assume it does. I know I’m pretty terrible at writing about myself, but maybe I can work on posting more photos and sharing a few facts. Some of which may be old new for those of you who follow me on Twitter or who actually read my rambling posts tagged Life from 2011/2012 that were rife with quotes found on Pinterest. (Y’all, 2011 was a bad year, and 2012 wasn’t much better.)

  • I’m 25 (26 next month. Robert is 26, 27 in May)
  • I’m brunette with dark brown eyes.
  • I’m also nearsighted.
  • I like to say “I’m 5’4 on a good day”. I might be shrinking, it’s hard to reach the upper cabinet shelves. (Also, if 5’4 is the average height for a woman, why do I have to buy petite/short pants? My best guess is that I must be long-waisted.)
  • I’m a graphic designer. I graduated from FSU (Florida State University) with a degree in studio art, emphasis on graphic design. Apparently they have an actual graphic design major now, which wasn’t an option when I was in college.
  • My 9-5 job is editing images for the website of a sports merchandising company.
  • If you’ve read the About section you know that Robert & I met in while volunteering at  the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity in order to meet the community service hours for our IB high school.
  • I drink a lot of coffee & lattes. I know caffeine is considered the devil and whatnot by most people who do their best to eat healthy, but I cannot give up my coffee. I have started drinking brewed coffee black, though (I’ve always drunk skim lattes).
  • I worked  at Starbucks during college, and for a year after college graduation.
  • I do my best to drink my 8-10 cups of water a day (though I’ve fallen off the wagon about this recently).
  • Last year I challenged myself to learn to like more vegetables. Dusty’s 80/20 plan sort of sums up what I strive for, although this past month R and I have been eating out too much.
  • I used to do gymnastics, but instead starting competitions in 4th or 5th grade I gave it up in favor of horseback riding (which I started when I was 9).
  • When I was 16 I got a horse rather than a car. His name is Charger, he’ll be 25 in April. We used to belong to our local Pony Club, he came to college with me, and he now lives on Robert’s aunt&uncle’s farm in Tennessee.
  • In the span of one week in 2011 I had strep & an ear infection, my paternal grandmother passed away, and Robert and I were shot at while outside our best friend’s house (by the neighbor, not the friend). You can read more about that here and a little bit here.
  • We’re not currently close to that friend, and I miss him every single day. He understands (understood?) me better than anyone ever has, even Robert. That’s probably not the sort of thing you’re supposed to admit about a guy you aren’t married to, but there it is.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but maybe I’ll make this a series, and work on thinking of some more interesting facts. Also, feel free to ask questions. I’ll do my best to answer, assuming it doesn’t make be blush too badly.

Feel free to snag the graphic from the top of the post if you’d like to re-introduce yourself to your readers as well! Or the one below, if you prefer.

More about me: More Insight Into Who the Heck We Are; Things You Can’t Tell Just From Reading My Blog

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