Leftovers in the Little Office

I've been putting off redoing our smallest bedroom but I got tired of looking at its bare white walls, so I finally tackled it a couple of weeks ago.  It's a room almost entirely made up of leftover accessories and furniture, but Alex commented that it's the most coordinated of all of the bedrooms.  Funny how that works.  Here's the "before":

And now here are the broad views of the "After":

The dresser was left in our garage when we moved in, the mirror we pulled out of the trash, and the sconces were purchased for another project but didn't work out.  The wall paint was also supposed to be leftover but I made a mistake and bought some supplemental paint that was a shade darker than what I had been planning to use out of my stash.  It all ended up being Sherwin Williams Silver Strand.

The curtains hung in our basement for awhile until I replaced them with some others that I fell in love with at Ikea.  The nightstand is part of my childhood furniture set that is scattered throughout the house.  The orange chair belonged to my Gamma (paternal grandmother).  The lamp and teal pillows are more items that we had in our collection, leftover from our earlier lives.

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The desk is part of that same childhood set.  The chair was purchased from the neighbors across the street - originally intended for a refinishing project but I've stolen it for myself for the time being.

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I had this dresser in our other guest room for awhile but I decided to move it out since it was a tad too big for the space.  I love the wood grain veneer on the front. Please pardon the cords.

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Two new additions are this owl print (Rockfish Gap Antiques) and this gold framed box (Target).  The gold box has pieces of coral that my dad harvested in Hawaii before it was illegal, and the owl print reminds me of my Grandpa, Henry. When he passed, my cousin Chip noticed an owl hanging around in the daylight and decided it was a sign that Grandpa was watching over us.  I believe he is.

These birds are another item we had in our collection, waiting to be hung.  They were a gift from my Mom about 5 years ago and used to hang above our bed in our first apartment.  They used to be black (someone once mistook them for bats!) but I spray painted them white and gold to match the room.

This twin bed was mine in college.  The London print over the bed was purchased on clearance at Pottery Barn and was the color inspiration for the room (gray, orange, teal, gold & white). The duvet was a new purchase from Ikea, as was the curtain rod, and the frames in this part of the room.

This photo was taken by my dad when he was a student at Annandale High School.  It fits with the bird theme (can you tell I like birds?).

Another photo taken by my dad in high school.

On the desk -- more vintage cat art from a family trunk full of photos and prints; a lovely quote by John Wesley given to me by a friend at church, and an angel given to me this Christmas by my mother-in-law.  The wooden box behind contains all of my work files.

Over the desk, these rails were purchased for another project but didn't make the cut. Here, they're doing their job keeping me organized.


A Year of Progress - Front Door

A few weeks ago I "celebrated" my first full year of life in Pittsburgh.  To be honest, it's been a bit of a rough one.  People tell me that moving to a new city is never easy.  I suppose they're right.  As I've mentioned, after accepting then relinquishing a job that was far from my expectations, I dove into some much anticipated home renovations, taking only small hiatuses for weekend trips and visitors.  Now, as projects are wrapping up and my pace is slowing, it's time for some reflection -- both personally and professionally.  I'm ready to formally share some of my handiwork, as flawed and mistake filled as it may be, and share a bit of what has been both my joy and sorrow over the last 12 months.  I'm ready to appreciate these changes, and I hope you will too. I feel the need to make the disclaimer that none of this happened overnight.  Many hours were invested, some blood and many tears were shed.  Nothing is more frustrating to me than a blogger who pretends that home improvement is easy and quick.  It requires lots of money and planning, and not everyone has sponsors and a team of family members/friends who come over every weekend to help speed up the big projects (picture me prying my own kitchen cabinets off the wall by myself in the direction of my face).  That being said, let's skip to the pictures.

I feel there is no better place to start with an update than the front door.  As the cheery folks at younghouselove.com say, "the door is the smile of the house."  Perhaps you'll remember these plans that I shared almost a full year ago, as we were having our windows and exterior doors replaced.  At long last, they've nearly come to life.  Here's where we started:

The original 1960s wood door was showing it's age, both physically and in terms of style.  The varnish was chipping off and the color was doing absolutely nothing for the curb appeal of the home.  If memory serves, I also think we were lacking a deadbolt.  In the interest of energy efficiency, safety, and style, we opted to replace the door with the rest of the windows.

We took the front door replacement as a cue to take care of some other plain old maintenance items, including re-coating the paint on the wood areas in the entry and on this rusted railing.

Here's Alex repainting some wood paneling around the corner.  Our process included scraping all loose paint with a paint scraper and/or wire brush, filling in gaps with caulk, priming, and painting.  Note all the paint chips littering the stoop.

Luckily, the front door came pre-primed (with a beige primer) so we just sanded it lightly and went to town with a high density foam roller and high quality brush.

The old light fixture was also crying out to be replaced.  This one was a bit too traditional (and also, disgustingly bug filled and dirty) for my taste.

The result of our hard work was this.  There's still a bit more to be done (our front steps are in desperate need of replacement), but I think it's looking a bit more cheerful these days.  The raised panels on the front door provide just the right amount of traditional style to the front of the home, mediating some of the other traditional elements of the facade.  When combined with the modern light fixture and house numbers, I think it results in the perfect blend of old and new.  I think it works well in that the combination also speaks to the character of the home, as many original features fall in the same line.  Note, for instance, the existing gray brick and the way it incorporates both a traditional material (natural quarried stone) and modern proportions (long and linear).

The paint on the door is an exterior semi-gloss in Martha Stewart Living's "Plumage" from Home Depot.  For the wood areas, we used Behr's "Ultra Pure White" in exterior semi-gloss as well.  On the railing, we used a Rustoleum primer and black oil-based paint to help prevent future rusting.  The new light fixture is a version of the one I originally selected from Kichler, found here.  My only wish is that the light was a bit higher on the wall so the door was more illuminated at night.  Right now, the fixture downcasts all the light towards the ground.  I may end up changing it out down the road -- we'll see.  The house numbers were purchased at Home Depot.  Last but not least, I moved our old coir doormat to the door to our covered patio and replaced it with a geometric rubber one from Target (it doesn't seem to be listed on their website anymore).  This was because our gutter leaks a little on the stoop and the coir mat was too thick to dry in this north-facing location.

Altogether, this painting portion of this project took us the better part of a weekend last fall.  Between all the prep, scraping, taping, and 4-hour recoat times, it wasn't as quick as I had expected.  The light fixture and the house numbers took about an hour to install on a afternoon a few months later.  Oh, and removing that hideous lace curtain took about 5 minutes and was done gleefully in preparation for new windows.  I still haven't settled on a replacement but it seems okay untreated for now.


More to come!

Outdoor Updates

Several weeks ago, we took the plunge and ordered all new fiberglass exterior windows and doors for our house.  The windows on the house now have a whole slew of issues.  They're original aluminum sliders.  Many won't lock, are fogged, and all are serious thermal bridges bringing unnecessary heat and cold into the house.  The exterior doors are pretty awful as well.  The one on the front is scratched and difficult to open.  The rear door still shows signs of a break in that occurred a couple years ago while the house was vacant.  The door to the garage has a two inch gap underneath it and is not fire rated. Last night we were thrilled to hear that our new windows/doors will be installed next week.  Maybe soon our house will no longer be the ugliest one in the neighborhood?


Here's what I'm thinking we'll do at the top of the stoop:Image

In terms of colors:

A. A peacock blue/teal paint on the new front door (1.)

B. Gray/brushed nickel hardware

C. White trim, similar to what we already have

D. Fresh greenery near the door

E. Black metal accents

For the basics:

1. A semi-traditional six panel ProVia door for added architectural interest in a current color, while maintaining the style of the home (I originally wanted a flat panel door but the salesman talked me out of it)

2. Modern house numbers in black to contrast the white paneling behind.  These are black ribbon anodized numbers from West On.

3. A new brushed nickel wall sconce in a transitional style to match the brushed nickel hardware on the door.  This one is a Kichler Seaside Outdoor Wall Lantern.

4. A hearty cold weather (or artificial) outdoor succulent.  Image found here.

5. A brushed nickel peep hole from ProVia, embedded in the door of course.

6. We'll leave the brick as it is, since no one else in our neighborhood has painted brick.

7.  Brushed nickel doorknobs to dress up the teal door.

8. Your basic terracotta planter for the succulent(s).

9. A new coat of black paint on our wrought iron railing.  Image found here.

What do you all think?

The next big job will be ripping out those huge bushes and re-landscaping the yard. Unfortunately, that may have to wait until next summer.