Mainly Mostly

Mainly Mostly

Wallpaper Wonderland

It only took about a year to get around to the kitchen wallpaper. At one point when we were looking at houses, I remember our realtor saying something like, “I always caution people not to start peeling any loose wallpaper because you just never know when you’ll get around to it.” And I was all, “yeah… that’s smart”. I was really thinking that people that don’t get around to peeling gross wallpaper off right away are fools. So, of course, when I saw all the peel-y edges, I peeled. 

It basically looked like the picture below for over a year. Which, I suppose considering the hot 80’s “Navajo” print all over everything, it wasn’t really taking away from the overall appearance. Obviously, I’m not as awesome as I thought I would be.

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When I finally did get around to peeling the rest of it, I discovered two things:

1. Clearly, the wallpaper was super dirty and nasty as can be seen by the photo below. Compare the gross brown to the basically white part that had been covered by the awesome border. 

2. The border was covering a large section that had old wallpaper that was then painted over. Just to make it trickier.

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The old wallpaper in this house has been fun to unearth. This kitchen wallpaper is a little busy-crazy, but it’s just so much better made than the 80’s stuff. It has GOLD. And I think it was all silk-screened. 

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The good news was that, as opposed to the wallpaper we’ve done so far, this actually did have paint underneath. So after the first layer, it wasn’t so bad. As far as wallpaper goes… It’s amazing how much easier it is to take off when it’s not applied directly to sheetrock.

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The paint was chipping pretty good underneath it all. We actually ended up getting a lead test. I started getting paranoid. 

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With the kitchen wallpaper out of the picture, all that’s left is the bathroom. Oh, and the back bedroom that has wallpaper with TEXTURE over it… ay yi yi. 

Origami Shmorigami

I made a new light for our bedroom. 

Our house is full of lights like this: 

And they are so hideous. I mean, I guess it’s not as bad as the fluorescent shop-light in the kitchen… but still. 

Someday, I will have one of these or something similar…

But for now, I came up with a cheap substitute. 

Some of you may recall some origami tutorials flooding the internet as of late. Like this one. (It is not in English, but I mostly just used the super helpful step-by-step photos she posted.) Also, there are paper shades in existence. Put two and two together, and bam. New light. On and off.

We bought a pendant kit from Home Depot for 15 doll hairs and the paper I used is from my intaglio printmaking class I took in college so I paid for it at one time, but not this time. 

I tried testing out the folding with cheap-o paper first to save my nice paper, but it did not work at all. The paper that I did use is super thick (don’t remember what kind) water-color type stuff that worked really well after all the scoring. It takes a little bit of work to get the folds going, but once I caught on, it was relatively easy. 

I’m relatively happy with it. I did have to put together two pieces to make the full circle and where they overlap, when the light is on, it looks darker… which I know is silly, but it kind of annoys me. 

And here is the room as it stands:

Oh, those curtains. I never even ironed them because they were never supposed to be up. I decided I hate the IKEA curtain thing… I really would like to do some pleated ones of some sort so until then, I guess we are just using these. 

The lamps and the nightstands are here in all their glory. The bed is kinda weird and low in comparison, but we’ll figure that out eventually. The awesome wall-hanging is from the Alameda Flea and it’s supposedly of Dogwood. Which is charming because we have a Dogwood tree in the back yard. 

Short and Sweet…

I scored some end tables on Craigslist for $40. I like to think that was a decent deal since often it’s like, $40 for one. Ignore the fact that the tops of these are a wreck. Let me show you what I’m working with…

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And just to really get a good look at the tops…

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Am I crazy? Maybe. I bought these, brought them home and then they sat in the basement for a while because I started wondering how I was possibly going to fix the water damaged veneer. 

And even after cleaning them up, the stain/paint/whatever was just really dingy looking. The little hex pulls were pretty gross too. 

I guess after the lamps, I was really into stripping paint off of things so I thought it would be genius to also strip these. So I did that. And after what seemed like a million days, I finally had them all stripped and sanded (the indent-y corners were super tough to get the junk out of, but Chris got me a dremel for my b-day which made the detail work a bit easier). 

The drawers were easiest to strip, so I tested my Howards Feed N Wax on those bad boys first. 

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I also read a bit about brass and how to tell if things are real brass and found this super informative little ditty on brass things and polishing them up: this ditty. 

I used the salt and lemon juice stuff on them at first. It more or less worked. I scrubbed the dirty grossness off with a toothbrush. The thing that really stuck with me about this was the incredibly weird smell. Salt and lemon and brass tarnish… I don’t know what it is but it is funky. 

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And after ALL of that, I waxed ‘em up and put the hardware on and finally had this: 

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You can kind of see on the top where I had to sand into the veneer to make it flat since the water damage made it all lumpy. It really bothers me. But it was that, or bumpiness. I still think I might opt to paint the tops black. Would that be crazy? We are currently using these in the bedroom. That was their intended purpose. BUT… as per usual… I think I overestimated how large these are. The scale might just be way too much for night stands. They would, however, fit nicely by a couch. So now I have a big peeling-green-paint bed, two massive lamps, and two massive night stands. Ugh… this is hard. 

The Laaaamps

Hopefully you’ve watched this charming show… So good. Anyway, this is all about a little reunion and a little makeover. Chris had the lamp, pictured below, for a while… all through college, I think. He had been given it from his grandpa… I think they found it in a basement. It was originally wood with a cream and brown ceramic base. But when I helped chris move to Portland and decorate his apartment, I painted it white, black and gray. In my defense, it was sort of beat up.

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Reunion time (I am terrible at taking real before photos, just in-the-midst photos, but you can imagine):

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Yes, we found a match!

We were visiting the Arths over the 4th of July weekend which just happened to be the weekend of the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. And let me just tell you, that place is amazing. Miles and miles of old things, as far as the eye can see… AND, even luckier, Chris’ dad was driving up to Portland the following week to take part in the Seattle to Portland bike ride which meant we could buy stuff and he’d bring it up to us! We got a few things, but for the sake of this story, we got this lamp. We were almost about to leave when we came across it. Looking a little sad and dingy. I think the seller initially want $25 for it but I only had about $15 in cash left. Plus, I told her we had its friend at home and she felt bad for it and gave us a deal.

When I saw this new, old one, I wondered why I had ever painted the old, old one. Because the ceramic part was pretty gnarly, I planned on painting it but restoring the wood. To do that, I had to strip it. I used Citristrip, which worked like a charm. And followed that up with mineral spirits and some very fine steel wool. There were parts where the paint had gotten into some tiny cracks and I had to work a little harder.

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Then I gave ‘em a bit of a sand and followed that up with Howard’s Feed N Wax. I love this stuff. It’s like magic when you see the wood get all shiny and nice again.

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More waxing.

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The ceramic base on the new, old lamp, as I mentioned, was a little beat up. It had some small chunks missing which I ended up patching with drywall spackle. I read about that, folks, on the internet. How did we ever figure out how to do anything before?

The patching and sanding seemed to work pretty well. 

After I took the lamps apart and was about to paint, I got a little nervous as the ceramic bases weren’t going to stand up by themselves. Luckily, I’m a genius, and I rigged up this amazing little lamp-painting-spit. I found these chunks o’ cinder blocks in our “garden” and they worked so perfectly. 

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Enough about my genius brain…

I used two lamp kits with new harps. I think they were like, $10 each or something. If you have ever been intimidated by rewiring lamps, don’t be. There are a million videos online plus they come with pretty clear directions. It’s a cinch. 

I could tell you more about that, and maybe that’s part of what blogs are about? I don’t know. Just look it up.

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Dun, dun, dun! Done. Two amazing lamps. They are actually quite huge. The plan is that they will live in the bedroom. So we will see how the scale works out. Our bedroom is not huge, so they could be overpowering. But I like them. 

Come to My Window…

And look at all our beautiful sunsets. We have a pretty great view from our front window in the evening. 

Here are just a few:

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Pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good.

The Shed

This is my favorite photo of the shed: 

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It’s a radiant beast.

But that is getting ahead of ourselves, because at that point, we had the doors off and the first layer of the roof off. 

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to staaaart.

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 This shed was located in our backyard. It was rotting and disgusting. The reason for it being built, supposedly, is that it helped to keep the pipes warm for the bathroom that is in the basement on that corner. That really makes no sense to me, but here she was. 

I hadn’t really even opened the thing since we moved it, at least I can’t remember if I had. I was really afraid that a possum was living in it because I read something about how possums like to live in sheds. And Chris has seen a possum just cruisin’ by our house before. So, I felt there was a fairly high possibility…

Upon opening it, though, we found no possums. We actually found not much of anything. (Unless you count a million spiders, but we didn’t know that at this point. Oh, naivety.)

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There has been some debate about the shed and it’s taking-apart and whether we need to invest in a Sawzall. But I convinced Chris that we should dive on in before we decide what tools we need. No matter how badly we feel like we need a Sawzall. 

So we just started prying into it. And we successfully ripped the first layer of roofing off.

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Eventually, we ran into some super disgusting rotted parts with lots of larvae-looking insect-y babies squirming about (not pictured above), which is one of my nightmares, and we ran out of bug-killer spray trying to kill them all. And at that moment, we decided that if we were really going to do this, we probably needed more bug spray. We also decided that maybe we needed a Sawzall. 

Luckily, Chris has a friend that was kind enough to let us borrow his.

We were in business!

We were able to saw/pry off the front before the Sawzall ran out of juice. Wah Wahhh… So we called it a night and woke up in the morning to this beauty.

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With a fully-charged Sawzall, we took to tackling the sides. Because I guess the roof seemed like too much of a challenge and we were kind of hoping that if the sides came down the rest would be easy. 

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Which mostly worked, but was maybe more dangerous than it should have been? Who knows… this is my first shed. 

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Prying this thing apart was way harder than I expected. Not only because of rotting wood, but because of many, many giant, rusty nails. 

With a working Sawzall, things really started picking up. I think we only spent about 1.5 hrs ripping the rest down which seems significant since the first day we spent about 3 hours on just the first layer of roof and the very front.

And here you see the side and roof removed. And Chris looking supa fly in them Dickies.

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And then it looked like this!

Just some caulking to scrape off and some holes to fill… and some dirty-ness to someday power wash!

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There was actually some 2x4’s strapped to the cement block that we removed before this shot. And let me tell you about the spiders. We started rocking those chunks of wood and the spiders started a-scurryin’. It was really disgusting and creepy and really hard to focus.

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I guess I’m really proud of this shed thing because there are quite a lot of pictures of this mess. Quite a lot of boring pictures.

But in the heat of the moment, taking a million pictures of rotting wood just feels right.

And more garbage:

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Oh, so much more work to do on the outside of our house, but taking the shed down felt really good. 

Things I learned:

Demo’ing takes so much longer than HGTV makes it out to be (Unless you watch Renovation Realities. But I guess I didn’t learn from it). Sometimes even rotted sheds cannot be simply kicked over.

Demo’ing is also very spider-y.

While demo’ing, it is better to wear long sleeves and jeans rather than shorts and t-shirts.

Livin’ It Up

I tried to gather all the nice-ish photos (i.e. no shoes and boxes and general junk laying around to distract) of the living/dining area for a bit of an update. You might remember we started here:

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And now it’s looking something more like this!

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All of those photos were taken at totally different times of day, as i’m sure you noticed. Something to work on… photo skillzzz

Bedroom Blues

Well, the bedroom had some of this wallpaper goin’ on:image

Pretty 80’s. But since this stuff is pretty thick, the top layer is relatively easy to pull down, leaving just the backing paper underneath (as well as another layer of wallpaper, in this situation).

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Gladys helps as much as possible. Also, we don’t have closet doors yet. There were some nasty mirrored closet doors installed when we first moved in which we removed with the hopes that the wooden doors we found in the garage would fit. This is somewhat of another story… all in all, the wooden doors did fit, but the hanging system was all wrong, so we have yet to tackle the door-less problem.

And take a look at this sick feature. We’ve been touching this thing for months. When I look at it now it makes me want to gag. But you just get used to things, I guess. 

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There was a small reward to all this wallpaper peeling. I did find some really awesome original wallpaper underneath all that 80’s biz. I took lots of pictures of the larger spots I unearthed for a potential project in the future. 

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Here is Gladys, getting ready to get her steam on. Hardy har har … I wish she was actually good for some labor around here.

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I did enlist Chris Arth. Take note of the care free look on his face as he puts his little gloves on to help steam with me.

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More of this nonsense… wallpaper posts are OVER! 

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So we steamed for like, ever. Of course. 

And then we primed! Yay! So white!

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Take a look at Chris Arth now! After priming he wanted to take a break, but I said “NO!” (Because I’m a steam roller.) No rest for the weary.

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On to the fun part, finally: choosing paint colors. 

I was actually toying with the idea of going white, but Chris was pretty set on color, so we decided on either of the two middle swatches here. ‘Herbal Mist’ or ‘Tide Pools’. And then we settled on ‘Tide Pools’ with the idea of maybe trying the green in the kitchen? I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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Learning our lesson from the entryway, we bought test pots of both and tried them out in a few different places.image

And just like magic! It’s done!

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Obviously we still don’t have closet doors. And we really haven’t unpacked either… 

We really like the blue so far. It changes a lot throughout the day as you can see. But it’s really nice. Not too baby-blue, either. Kind of a slightly muddied blue-teal. 

And maybe someday we’ll get a new bed! The celery monstrosity you see above is about to break. It was Chris’ from college and then I painted it and besides being old, it’s now uglier as painting IKEA furniture is kind of not the best idea. 

Someday…

Great Green Mishap

We acted like the living/dining area was all taken care of, but in reality, all of that was painted and we still hadn’t really tackled the entryway. For whatever reason there was some kind of different wallpaper glue used in there and it was just covered in some really gross, thick stuff. Super weird. We thought that maybe GooGone would work on it, but it didn’t. So I ended up going back to the Dif gel. I just had to REALLY let it soak in before scraping it all off and then washing everything down again with soap and water and doing a light sanding to make sure the glue was all gone. 

After that bit of fun, we had a master plan to paint our entry way green. Like, green-green. Same color as our cool new chandelier: 

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Oh, yeah. And we got a table and chairs a little bit ago from a vintage shop up in the St. Johns neighborhood. It’s decent and relatively large (it has another leaf) but kind of serving as a stop-gap until spending money on a nice table we love makes sense. I’d like to reupholster the chairs. Especially since that is not original. They’ve been done a few times and the layer under that is a weird waterproof-type picnic tablecloth stuff that kind of crunches a bit when you sit. I’m thinking kind of a nice orange?

But I digress… back to the entryway:

We did get a test pot but for some reason, we were so convinced it would be so great, we barely messed around with that and after things were primed, we got down to it. 

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You can probably tell already, it’s going to look totally pukey. I think I already knew, but I pushed on.

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Sometimes you don’t get it right on the first try. It just really reminded us of all those houses we had looked at previous to ours where people try and get all “creative” with nutty paint choices and it just looks cheap. 

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I got one coat on and decided it was disgusting. And we had tons of the gray, Ashes, color left over from the rest of the living area so it didn’t make sense to do anymore experimenting. So I primed it up again. 

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I had this idea of having a little “jewel-box” entryway… but not so much. Which is fine. The gray is nice in there too. And nothing is screaming cheap-y, too match-y match-y weirdness. So that’s good.

I have no nice photos of the entryway… Just this one with shoes and a purse and a cardboard box in the background. But you can imagine it, right? And Gladys makes everything look excellent.

Paint. Finally.

Oh my gosh, we finally got to painting. 

And you know what, I did not do any of the ceiling painting because my husband is a saint. 

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I’m not even really sure what to say about this other than that it was too long coming. Or it felt like it. 

The color… I don’t even remember what it is is Ashes by Behr. But I do know that we looked at about 20 paint swatches taped to the wall for like EVER. But this one was the winner of that competition and it worked when we put it up. I actually really really like it. It’s not too cool of a gray so it works with the off-white of the brick on the fire place. But it doesn’t go all brown-y ever either. Because I am realizing more and more than I am not a brown kind of person. 

A few things: this felt like it took forever. We taped everything and covered the floors and still managed to get a lot of paint everywhere. We were super crabby at each other by the time we finished because I am a “steam roller”. Also, I used one of those edger tools for the wall/ceiling area, and it sucked. I dunno. Some people really like those, but I was finding that I had to clean it off every time I had to load paint on it and it STILL got paint on the ceiling because it would eventually get on the little roll-y wheels. So I ended up just using a good angled brush which is what EVERYONE tells you to do anyway.

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This is about where I stopped using that silly edger. Because I realized I was just going to have to go around and fix a bunch of stuff on the ceiling and it was clearly not working.

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The lighter color is actually the paint and the dark is the primer. Our primer was actually pretty dark but the paint went on super light and darkened as it dried.

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Okay, here are more pictures: 

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