And ORB wins it!

Not Orb, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, though kudos are indeed due to that gorgeous horse, but ORB, aka, oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.  Where would I be without it? A brassy and miserable place, my friends. Miserable.

Recall, the den started out heresville:

Fireplace and built ins, before.

Fireplace and built ins, before.

Add paint, add some accessories, and you end up around about hereseville:

Fp at xmas timeToday I decided that instead of cleaning, laundering, or cooking for the week ahead – or, God forbid I start the motion I need to file tomorrow before 9 tonight – I’d spray paint that brass fireplace screen.  The fireplace is wood burning, as you can see above, but I was told by a chimneysweep that it isn’t sealed properly, so it shouldn’t be used.  Whoops.  Goose and I really enjoyed this fire while it lasted.  It’s on the list of things to fix, but until then, it gets a $5.99 treatment. Onward!

IMAG0336I couldn’t find my painter’s tape. I just used it when I was painting the hutch. Where did it go? I have no idea. Post it notes make a wonderful substitute! Hint, hint, 3M.  This is not the world’s most perfect spray paint.  But it doesn’t matter. This thing is not long for this world because I am hoping to ditch it for a gas insert in the next 12 months.  And this was easy and nearly instant gratification. My favorite!

IMAG0338The lighting here is a little funky. My magical photo editing software that was on my old computer didn’t come preinstalled on this computer, so you are stuck with the photo as it looked through my phone’s camera. Blech! But you get the idea!  Now that this thing is bronzed, it draws way less attention. Just as it should be.



Hutch painted in RECORD time!


Hutch painted in RECORD time!

My darling realtor and friend gifted me this hutch that had outlived its welcome in her home. She also gave me sparkly doodads, which you might recognize as clear acrylic knobs. It is a little hard to tell in the picture, but the paint is actually a warm navy blue. The interior is (duh) PINK. And awesome. I doubted my plans to go navy and hot pink when I was at the hardware store, actually trying to pick a paint, but in the end, I remembered one of my DIY mantras: “Relax, it’s only paint.” I mean, if the pink turned out more Pepto than perfect, I could just prime and repaint. My friend C came over and helped me with the paint choices, sanding, and getting the first coat of navy blue paint on. She was a huge help and excellent company. She was also an excellent DJ, playing a live Buena Vista Social Club album. After C left, I touched up the navy and got to work on the four, count them, four coats of pink paint.

Crafty Time!

This is a good example of the before color – I didn’t take a before picture. Naughty blogger!

Lamps are expensive.  My dearest friend Sarah always comments that they are something that seems to cost more than it should.  I get that – lamps are pricey.  But, unless you happy to fall into one while playing football in your family room, they don’t wear out.  They can last decades.  They can certainly outlast their trendiness!  Case in point: the brass lamps my friend Cheryl gifted me with some awesome stuff when she cleaned her mom’s beach house out.

Upon first impression, the lamps were, how do you say, not precisely my cup of tea.  They were that bright yellow brassy color that was in fashion in the 80s.  My mom says it’s coming back in, but I don’t much care.  But after that first thought passed, I remembered the power of spray paint.  DUH!  I happily skittered away with these previously loved brass wunder-lamps, ready to take them home and work my magic on them.  I didn’t actually get to work much magic until more recently, however, since I had cleaning, organizing, packing, and unpacking to do.  I still do, really, but that’s neither here nor there.

The silhouettes are lovely, classical, timeless.  I’m so happy with how this guy turned out.

Here is the sad part: this is the only daylight photo I took.  But you can see that I rocked the oil rubbed bronze spray paint out.  Here it is siting next to its favorite new book from my friends* the Petersiks over at Young House Love.  And you can see another lamp that is waiting to be given the spray paint treatment sitting next to it.  Classic lines, right?  Just the one on the left feels right now, and the one on the right feels like 25 years ago.

*The Petersiks don’t actually know me.  Calling us friends might be a stretch.

Makes me happy.  Ooh, you know what else makes me happy?  That snazzy rectangular shade.  Picked that puppy up from Target.  The lamps came with shades that are a little more like the one in the first picture.  I’m not wild about them, but I am going to see if I can breathe some new life into them by using fabric spray paint and finding them homes in the bedrooms.  Anywho, a few more pics.

This gives you a better idea of the color and shows you a spot I need to touch up. I might go back and ORB the white plastic, I don’t know yet.

Isn’t this shade great? Feels a bit mod to me, nice contrast to the classic lines of the lamp.

In conclusion, I love lamp.  🙂  Actually, I lied.  That wasn’t my conclusion.  I showed my rejuvenated lamp to my mother, and she liked it so much she is going to do some spray painting of her own.  She has been very skeptical about my spray painting adventures, but now she is on team oil rubbed bronze!  I talked to her this afternoon and she told me she was eyeing up some brass candle holders she’s had forever.  That’s the ticket! Viva la revolucion de spray paint!

Last night’s activities

I’ve been so busy with moving in, making the last few decisions about the renovation, and going back to work, that I haven’t spent much time updating this blog.  No fear, I’m still a narcissistic blogger who thinks everyone wants to know about where I place my lamps.  😉  

For the last few years, I haven’t entertained much.  I love, love, love to feed people.  I love having folks at my house.  I did it all the time in college, and again in law school, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it very much after law school.  My place didn’t feel right and it didn’t lend itself to big gatherings.  Also, I had no table to eat at!  So I invited a few friends over Monday night, knowing that it would be helpful to get my ktichen squared away enough to entertain and also knowing that I don’t have the kind of friends who expect the house to be neat as a pin.  Real life happens here.  I whipped up a roast turkey and a little pumpkin cake, my friends brought sides and wine, and a good time was had by all.

Image  She’s a beaut, right?  It was so wonderful to have friends around my table.  🙂

And I guess you can see from that picture that my long-awaited appliances have arrived.  My dishwasher gets dishes so clean, they sparkle!  And my washing machine is very very quiet.  It’s so quiet I assume it’s hunting rabbits!  

And remember when I told you that I made a headboard out of a door that I took down?  I suckered asked my mom to come over and help me hang it.  It was a little dicey because the door is hollow.  I used wall anchors in the door itself, and held my breath a bit.  Then I used wall anchors in the wall, too.  Oh, but I should point out I used this little doo-hickey to hang the door.


It’s called a z-bar.  It is 18″ long and according tot he package, can hold up to 200 pounds.  I have the same type of hanger holding up an oval mirror in my entry way, so I knew how it worked.  The directions were great and we made a go of it.  i wish I had taken pictures, but I didn’t!  I decided I wanted the hanger to sit 4″ fromt he top of my headboard, so I measured and marked an 18″ line 4″ below the edge of my door.  Then I measured up from the floor to where I wanted the top of the headboard to be and used my trusty level to mark and 18″ line at the center of the wall.  I used my new drill — THANKS KNITTING FRIENDS! — and put in a few screws, et voila!  Behold, my headboard installed!


I need a better picture.  Where *is* my camera?  I don’t know.  But back to my drill!  My darling friends that I knit with every Sunday gave me a very generous gift card for home improvement projects.  I promptly used it to buy a serious drill for my serious projects!


Ain’t that a good lookin’ drill?  🙂


Speaking of my drill, here’s the mirror I was telling you about in the entryway.  If you overlook the empty box and the watering can (which I adore, but which probably doesn’t belong there), this part of the house is really starting to come together.  🙂


Photobomb by Goose.  I hung up my Nighthawks at the Diner print from the Hopper exhibit at the Smithsonian a few years ago across the way from here.


I think it’s going to stay there, but you never know – sometimes when you live with these things for a while, they ask to migrate.  The rest of the living room still has a long way to go.


Photobomb by Maverick.  Alright, that’s enough putzing ont he intertubes for now.  Off to get something accomplished in this house!

First Inspection: Done

Daniel Lee the HUD Consultant (more on what that is here) was already at Elephant Culo by the time I pulled up this afternoon.  He had his original report with him and was just checking things off.  By the time Steve my GC showed up (on time, Daniel was a little early and I was way early), all Dan needed was to double check his list of what was done.

  • GCFI outlets in kitchen and baths
  • Interior painted (will be touched up after the floors are installed)
  • HVAC installed (inspection tomorrow!)
  • Kitchen pendant light installed
  • Cabinetry removed and trim fixed in the kitchen
  • Roof replaced
  • Gable vents replaced
  • Window trim wrapped in vinyl
  • Roof fascia replaced and painted

That’s a good looking list, right?  Yay!  I had to sign one form and Steve had to sign two forms.  Now Dan sends a report to Chris at M & T.  I’m sure Chris will then generate another report, possibly a TPS report, and then so long as this is done by 12:30 tomorrow afternoon, the check-cutting people at M&T will UPS a check to me.  The check will be addressed to Steve and I, just as a way to provide a final balance in the system.  Then Steve can pay some people!

Highlights to look for in the coming days:

  • Hanging my upholstered door headboard on the wall in the master bedroom – I tried to take photos of this, project and they arehorrible!
  • HVAC inspection
  • Plumber to replace the shower pan in the master bath and fix the sewer connection pipe under the house (that seems like a big deal, doesn’t it?)
  • Vinyl installation
  • Carpet installation
  • Touch up painting
  • Appliances coming for the kitchen and laundry
  • Installing cabinet hardware in the kitchen
  • Finishing the installation of the pedestal sink
  • Finishing tearing out that horrible no good very bad wall paper in the half bathroom

I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and I’m not even doing most of the work.  Oh, and I have a brief due in the NC Supreme Court on my birthday next week, and I’m packing, and I’m moving.

I got this.  Can someone get me a diet Coke?

Powder Room Progress

Name that plumbing piece!

Hey mom, guess what I was doing while I was on the phone with you Friday night?  I was on my back on the floor in the powder room, wrestling with the nuts that hold the supply tubes onto the water pipes.  Those suckers were TIGHT and grody.   I spent most of our phone call on unscrewing two nuts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was stoked to find a house with a half-bathroom that was downstairs in the public part of the house.  It’s a luxury you come to appreciate when you are used to only having one bath.  I was not stoked that the bath came with dated shell wallpaper, a vanity that can kindly be described as interesting (and unkindly, candidly, as a hideous DIY hack job), and a set of oak toothbrush and cupholders on the wall.  Ew.  These two photos are a good example of these “features.”

Faux-wood countertop with odd metal trim on the corners? Got it. Painted white front and hinges? Yup. Odd, 23″ square shape? Check.

Shells as far as the eye can see. Dizzying! I have no complaints about that closet though, that thing is awesome.

And then there are the roommates.  Did I not tell you this house came with roommates?

Larry is dead.

It did.

Sorry about that.  I should have warned you, but warning you isn’t really my style.  I’d rather ambush you with pictures of dead roaches in spider webs.  You are welcome.

So.  I wanted to remove that vanity.  I really, really, really wanted to remove that vanity.  Really.  I loathed it.  It was hideous.  But it has so much potential!  My mom has a really wonderful tiny half-bath in her house, and it is a little jewel of a room.  Small bathrooms can be really nice.  And this one is going to be really nice, some day.   In order to get it on its way, I had to remove the vanity.  After reading up online, I decided to go for it.  I went in here . . .

It is really difficult to take a picture of the inside of a cabinet.

The light makes the paint look pink.  It’s not, it’s white.  This, as they say, is where the magic happens.  Thanks to scouring the internet, I could identify the pieces inside this cabinet.  There is the U-thingy, also known as the trap, the shut-off valves for the hot and cold water, supply lines leading from those up to the sink, the sink drain coming off of the bottom of the sink, and then the contraption that makes the plug to the sink work.  See?  Not so scary.

All of the directions I read said I’d need to use a razor blade to cut the caulk around the edges of the vanity, but when I inspected my vanity, I didn’t see anything to cut.  Hmmph.  I also read some tutorials that included directions in removing the sink from the vanity top, and then taking the top off of the vanity.  That seemed like an unnecessary step to me, since I wasn’t replacing a sink.  I was going to chuck the vanity.  Meh.  This really wasn’t hard.  I shut off the water to the sink at both cut-offs — righty, tighty, lefty loosey, don’t forget.  I put a bucket under the trap and the cut offs and unscrewed the trap from the drain pipe and the pipe coming out of the wall.  A little bit of water came out right into the bucket, how satisfying!  Then I grabbed my wrench, hunkered down on the floor, and began slowly, ever so slowly, loosening the nuts connecting the supply lines to the water.  This really should not have been that hard of a process, but, like many plumbing projects, it was made difficult because I was trying to work in a small space, with crappy light.  It was also made difficult because they were crusty as hell.  I finally got them off, though, and bent each line up and out of the way.  Then I tested my theory – that being the theory that the top of the vanity wasn’t caulked to the wall at all, by yanking on the edges of the sink.

I like it when I’m right.

Success!  That thing wasn’t connected to the wall at all.  I guess that’s why they built up that peculiar backsplash.  Because I am hella strong, those nails you see sticking up were no match for me.  Grrr!

I think this counter top and sink look much better out here in the living room.

Look how grody it is inside this vanity!  Clearly, there had been a leak at some point and no one ever did anything to fix the wet conditions that resulted.


Enough of that.  Next step was to wiggle that vanity and see if I’d be able to just pick it up, and I could!  I had to wiggle it a bit to get the water pipes to fit back out of the hole cut out of the back, but eventually, I was able to get that puppy out of the corner and into . . . the doorway.  Why the doorway, you ask?

Damn you!

I mentioned earlier that the vanity was 23″ square, and that is true.  I forgot that the toilet paper holder was clapped to the side of this thing, and wouldn’t you know it, that was just way too wide to fit through the doorway.  The door opens into the bathroom, you see, so I had a dilemma.

Decisions, decisions.

You can see in this picture that the vanity is sitting in the doorway because the pipes from the wall are in the background.  Well, I could take the door off of its hinges, or I could take the toilet paper roll holder off of the cabinet.  Surely, that would be the easier route, right?

Me Hulk! You, busticated!

Well, or not.  I popped the metal shiny bits of the TP holder off of the side, but the little brackets it sad on were still just a little too proud to fit through the doorway.  It was only 3/16″, but it was an important 3/16″.  I grabbed a screwdriver to unscrew them, and I couldn’t move them at all.  I could have used my drill with the screwdriver bit, but it was at the other house.  So I hit it with a hammer!

I’m not gonna lie.  That was fun.  At first I thought I could just bash the back end of the screws holding the TP holder out and then use my needle-nose pliers to pull the screws the rest of the way out, but those screws weren’t budging.  I did notice that the cabinet was starting to pull apart, though, so I went for it.  It was just nailed together, not screwed, so it actually came apart really easily.  I took it out of the room in a few pieces.

I guess I’m really committed to that pedestal sink now, huh?  🙂

Let’s pretend!

I have a friend, let’s call him Dave, who has a house that he has just bought and is lovingly bringing it back to its former glory.  His place is a wee bit older than mine and a wee bit rougher.  I mean that in the nicest possible way, though, house, so please don’t be offended!  Anyway, I finally got the chance to feast my eyes on this house tonight, and I am in love.  It has great bones, so many fireplaces I couldn’t count them, and all of the potential in the world.  Dave was telling me that he couldn’t picture his kitchen renovated.  We stood in the room, brainstorming, and I could see his kitchen renovated 1,000 different ways!

I got home and decided to play around with renovation ideas.  Behold, my magnificent MS Paint rendering of Dave’s kitchen as is.

The little blue rectangles are windows.  Oddly, the window on the left is a full height, so it is really LOW.  What looks like a door on the right is really a doorway into the main hallway int he house.  The box at the bottom left is a HUGE pantry.  The box at the bottom right is a full bath, accessed from the hallway.  The filled in black boxes are old chimneys.  They are drywalled off.  This picture doesn’t do a good job of showing you that the hallway is open to the dining room between the two walls there.  Maybe this next picture will help.

Dave is planning on getting rid of the bathtub in the bathroom and converting that to a half-bath.  Don’t worry, a different bathroom is going to grow a tub.  I also am planning on having him take out the entire pantry as it currently exists, so that the dining room and kitchen are open to each other.  Does that make sense?  If not, hopefully it will make sense when I show you the ideas I came up with.  These are, of course, all just for fun.  I have no idea what these ideas would cost, or if they are all possible.  Well, except for demolishing the wall between the kitchen and the dining room – I know that is possible because Dave already knows that’s not a load-bearing wall.


Are you loving the bright color choices?  Are you loving the jenky MS Paint designs?  I know I am.  I found out after I sent this to Dave that he is partial to side-by-side refrigerators, so the fridge will need to be scooched over a little bit to accommodate the fridge doors.  The chartreuse green is used for areas with upper and lower cabinets.  The kelly green is for areas with lower cabinets only.  This keeps the current flow through the kitchen to the dining room and hallway and would keep that openness by adding a bar height counter top where the wall to the dining room used to be.  It’s much clearer in this image that the kitchen is open to the dining room, too.  I have dreams of beautiful pantry cabinets with GFI outlets where Dave and his wifey can hide away all those counter space hogging appliances – toaster, coffee maker, et cetera.  I left the wall above the stove cabinet free because I thought a nice big feature range hood could go there.  Nice, right?  I thought the skinny cabinets by the chimneys could redeem what was otherwise dead space by providing a spot to keep those pesky food containers and lids for the one on the dishwasher wall and by providing a spot to hide the trash or recycling for the other one.  There is never a good place to keep that tupperware crap!

VERSION 2: SHUT THE (side) DOOR (way)

I am really having fun with this now, so I tried to get a little creative.  I kept what I liked best from Version 1: sink centered under the window (I didn’t put it in my earlier renderings, but it’s oddly to the right of the window now), big opening to the dining room with that bar-height counter top, and using those slivers of space that the chimneys create.  I thought about it, and decided that building a pantry out with sheetrock and plain old ordinary shelves would probably save a lot of scratch and provide just as much storage.  So I added in a new pantry in the space gained from ditching the bathtub.  I decided to close up the hallway, which might not be an idea Dave ends up going with, but hey, it’s fun to play around with, right?  I got the idea from my kitchen in my current house. It has two doorways, which is strange for a room that is all of 10×10, and I ended up putting a dog gate in one doorway to keep the dogs from tearing into the kitchen with their dirty paws.  I don’t miss that doorway at all!  Plus, if Dave goes with this option, it opens up a host of other options with his back hallway and the laundry room and bathrooms off of that hallway.  He might even gain enough space to tuck a little home office or even a home workstation over there.  You, dear readers, will have to trust me on this, because you haven’t seen the house.  But I have.  So trust me!  Oh, and the rug in the center of the room is for the family dog!  Got to think of the dog, right?

Version 3: Fantasy Island

This design could be subtitled: Wherein My Pants Get Fancy.  I am not sure if getting rid of the chimney near the bathroom is possible, but it sure would be nice.  You could still build a pantry in that corner with the chimney there, but it wouldn’t be nearly as functional.  This design is pretty self-explanatory.  I ditched the half-wall between the kitchen and dining room in favor of an island.  I really like islands.  I anticipate you’d want a couple of bar stools to sit on the side of the island closest to the half bath wall, so I didn’t put anything along that wall to ensure that there would be enough room to move.  the rest of the layout isn’t anything too fancy.  The only strange thing I put in here was a lower cabinet that would partially block that really big window.  It feels a bit blasphemous to cover a window, but dangit, that huge window is not functional, and that is also blasphemy.  There is a vent in front of that window, too, which is easy enough to move (says the girl who doesn’t have to move it).  Really, this plan has a lot in common with Version 1.

Alright, internets!  What do you think?