I was spending some idle time one day, half-way watching a marathon of "I Want That" on the DIY Network, my mind wandering as fancy objects flashed on the screen. I sat up at attention when they showed an adhesive slate tile and thought, "That's exactly what I need to protect the wall behind the stack of firewood."Lo and behold, when I went to the website, that was the only product not listed for the episode. Instead of throwing up my hands and screaming, "Why me?" which was my original inclination, I decided to do some Google sleuthing until I was able to find a similar product. I thought it would be nice to have something similar to the patterns in the slate floor, as well as something that would compliment the wall color. After some deliberation, I chose "Indian Multicolor."According to the show, the tile was easy to cut using a utility knife. However, there were two road blocks. One, I wasn't sure it was exactly the same tile that was shown on TV, and two, I couldn't find our utility knife when I decided to prettify my wall. These were the tools that chose to accept the task: a level, a box cutter, my pair of Fiskars multipurpose snips, a pencil, a thrift store rolling pin, and of course, the exciting tile that might just change my life.
The tile was very thin, almost like poster board, and the back was covered with a peel-away sheet. The adhesive on the back was very strong, with just enough give to help me feel that I had a bit of wiggle room to get each piece just right. Since it's real stone, each tile was unique, and also, very pretty.
Installation began by removing the baseboards. I will be putting them back up soon. Eek! There's that burgundy again. I swear it's haunting me! I took the first tile and leaned it against the wall, finding where the top rested. Once I knew that, I grabbed the level and marked a line so that the course would be level with the wall, not the floor. As you can see, there is a small gap at the floor, but that will be covered up when I put the baseboard back.
I peeled off the backing of the first piece and slapped that puppy up. My Charles held the second piece up to the level line while I marked off where the wall ended. To cut the tile, (and it probably would have been even better if I knew where in our thousand square feet our utility blade was,) I used a straightedge and marked the back with a pencil. Then I scored the back a few times, still using the straightedge, with my box cutter. I then whipped out my fancy Fiskars -- seriously, I love those things -- and cut down the score mark. The cuts weren't quite as pretty as they would have been if I'd been able to cut straight through with the box cutter, but the organic edge worked with the patterns of the slate. Once all the pieces were up, I made sure everything was nice and stuck by using the rolling pin. Seriously, use one you don't care about because you will get stone dust all over the pin.
Three tiles up was all it took. Now the wall is protected, and that corner looks like it should be the landing place of a couple of snow-filled nights worth of firewood instead of I'll-just-shove-it-here. It adds a bit of beauty to an otherwise utilitarian corner, and the clean lines evoke that modern cabin feel I'm striving to convey throughout our little house. I think I'll wrap the tile around that wee bit of wall on the left to make it feel even more finished. Maybe the best part -- it took all of an hour to get the project completed, and I'm sold on those peel and stick tiles.
This garden walkway made from an old pallet is one of my most-pinned, and I've been meaning to make something similar since I pinned it -- that IS the point of Pinterest, right? That and the eye candy. So anyway, when the Pinterest Challenge from Young House Love and Bower Power came up this time around, I decided that I finally needed to DO THIS ALREADY. The original project, and this beauteous photo on the left were from Funky Junk Interiors, though the link in my Pinterest photo was from DIY Home Improvement. Now, my Charles and I both work in grocery, so pallets abound. However, the wood of those pallets is questionable at best -- beat-up, old pine boards that are rather thin and sad. Funky Junk's pallet boards were remarkably thick and hardy-looking. I was impressed. Instead of pallets, I decided to use the last of the salvaged wood from our old front steps. Though most of the wood was rotted, I didn't have the heart to throw out anything that could be reused. It was old growth redwood for Pete's sake! Since this wood had been hanging out in the elements since 1977, I knew that it could stand to become a walkway.The first thing I did was to measure the width of one of the cement stairs. I figured that having the same width for the walk would create a nice continuity. Bonus, the stair was exactly two feet across, so easy peasy math for me!* I used our miter saw to create nice, straight cuts.Then I removed the stone walkway I had made last year. It was just a placeholder, as I always had the intention of recreating my pinned image. Thank you, Sherry, Katie, Emily, and Renee for actually giving me the inspiration to get it done.
With the rocks removed, it was time to take my flat shovel and create a nice, even surface for the boards to go. I retained a couple of the purdiest rocks to use at the end of my boardwalk as a kind-of "this is where the walk ends and the plain ground begins" visual indication. I then did a rough layout of the walk, just to see how far it would go and to give me an idea of how I wanted the walk to curve and meander. Spy that white rock at the end of the dirt path in that middle image? That's how far the boards would go, so I knew I didn't have to dig any further than that. Once I figured out the layout, I chopped into the sides of the slope to get my curves.
*A note on safety -- always wear your safety glasses when using power tools. And remember, no one said that safety couldn't be stylish. Flaunt those safety glasses, knowing that those gorgeous eyes of yours are being protected.
Next up was the technical stuff, i.e. getting the soil compacted and level so the garden path would be a pleasure to wander upon instead of an aggravation. No one enjoys having boards pop up when they're gazing at flowers. Just say no to shoddy craftsmanship! My walk had a slightly upward slope, so after getting the first few planks nice and level, I worked with a slight angle until the walkway was complete.
Like the tortoise I was, laying everything out slow and steady, board by board, testing each piece and making sure it was good and solid before progressing to the next. Though methodical, it wasn't arduous, and I was finished within a couple of hours. Isn't it just the most adorable little thing? I'm quite in love with the way it came out.
If you squint, you may be able to make out the narrower pieces that I placed after three of the regular sized boards. I had just enough narrow planks salvaged to go three-one-three-one until I got to nineteen reclaimed once-were-stairs.
I've walked up and down the garden path a ton of times already, glorying in the even surface and enjoying how luck allowed the boards to end right at the bench. It's also been through a thunderstorm and a moisture-filled spring storm, and it's holding up like a champ. I love how it draws the eye down into my garden when you're descending the stairs to the house. The walkway gives our woodsy lot one more feeling of intention, and it's a lovely place to stand and gaze at our colorful display of blooms.
"Veil" Acrylic and Artist Ink
Each May, I organize and hang an art show featuring the creations of the co-op's employees. Of course, I submit a couple of pieces, too. While I'm always in charge of the store's gallery, this yearly celebration of our artistic staff is one of my favorite shows.
"Drunk Bitch" Mixed Media (though for the work show, it will be called, "Angry Drunk").
Reduce and reuse are before recycle, and whenever possible, I like to use what we have. When you have a small house, taking advantage of wall space is a must when trying to organize. The blank wall to the right of our wood stove has stood there, glaring at me balefully for the last few years, waiting for me to do something useful.At last, with Earth Day staring me down, I did something to reuse one of the pieces of wood left over from our old front steps and create something useful, besides.The first thing that needed to be done was to measure the wall. I eyeballed how long I thought the board I was going to use needed to be and decided on 25 inches, both because of how it looked as I held the tape above my head as well as because 25 is just so darn easy to divide.
Then I busted out the circular saw and trimmed off the excess. The salvaged wood has been chilling outside since we replaced the steps, so it was rather dirty. I liked the way the peeling, red paint looked, so I did a minimum of work to the board. I simply washed it with Murphy's Oil Soap and sanded down the edges, as well as the sections where the paint was peeling, just to make sure there would be no future splinters or paint pieces. (The age of the house plus being in California meant that I didn't need to worry about the board being covered in lead paint. Make sure to test with a kit if you have any questions before starting a similar task.)
While I waited for the newly clean board to dry, I found the studs in the wall. Though what I was hanging was pretty light, I didn't want anything damaging the wall down the line. Plus, I hate doing work over again.
One of the great things about spring cleaning this year was that I found an unopened package of large cup hooks shoved into the corner of a high shelf. They were exactly what I needed for this craft. I screwed in four hooks, five inches apart, and then was ready to hang the board on the wall.
Once attached, all that was left to be done was to hang the wood stove tools on the hooks and BOOM -- I had me a new piece of organization wonder from an old piece of wood. Cost to us, zero dollars, as we had everything on hand.
Now there's one less thing for me to trip over (Believe me -- I did that a lot.) and one more piece of practicality, and I kept a little something out of the landfill, too.
There's one more thing I'm planning for that small section of wall, so keep your eyes peeled. It's coming soon. I'm actually really excited about it.
I have to have a skin test for allergies next week, so I'm feeling pretty miserable right now, as I'm not allowed to take any allergy medication until after the test. Because of this, I don't have the energy for projects, but in the interim, I thought I'd share what's on my mind, via Instagram.
Gazing at black velvet paintings cures my moodiness.
Forgetting to put the shovel in the tool shed before winter means splinters in spring.
Our view is awesome, every day.
I am embracing the house's 70s design with massive ferns.
My dog makes me smile.
Pollen, pollen everywhere prevents me from sitting in this chair.
When I water the garden, birds sing.
Charles' mom's cello wasn't stored properly, is no longer playable, but is still beautiful.
Full confession -- I still have some burgundy to paint away in the hallway. (Maybe this weekend?) And I still hate it. I'm just a top notch procrastinator.
Sometimes you don't blog because instead of doing house projects, you attend blending trials. Other times, it's because you come home, open the curtains, and say, "Charles, there is a HUGE woodpecker right outside the window." And then the former wildlife major walks over, gets super excited, and says, "That's a pileated woodpecker. I've never seen one so close! They're usually so wary of people. What is it doing here?" Then you both enthusiastically gaze at a giant woodpecker doing its thing for the next hour and are reminded of how awesome it is to live in the woods.
Cleaning is NOT my favorite thing. I don't get home after a long day at work and think, "Oh goodie, let me break out the mop!"That said, if I gave in to my natural inclination to curl up with a good book and let the world flow by, I'd have to hire a search party to find my pets.Being just a tad more practical than that, I attempt to stay on top of the housework. At least twice a year, I try to go above and beyond the usual chores. Spring cleaning is one of those times, and it's usually easy to feel motivated when I'm able to throw open the windows, air out the rooms, and welcome the sunbeams' return.This year, it's been made even easier because of the purchase of a new vacuum. I managed to kill our old one and then had to research models and reliability. After a couple of weeks of frowning at the quickly-growing-fuzzy-with-animal-hair carpet, I found the lovely on the left. (No, this isn't a sponsored post. I'm just quite twitterpated with this machine.) My floors have never been cleaner, and I honestly never thought my cow hide rugs would ever look like new again. Guess what? They totally do. But along with gazing lovingly at our newest purchase, I have a list of other things to clean.Spring Cleaning 2013
What am I doing blogging? I gotta go clean. Time's a wastin'!
- Wipe down fan blades.
- Clean out all cupboards and wipe down shelves. Get rid of things we're not using.
- Polish wood stove with stove black.
- Wash curtains.
- Clean out pantry and examine the expiration date on each product.
- Clean out closets and donate clothes that haven't been worn in the last year.
- Clean the refrigerator.
- Hose down outside of house with outdoor spray.
- Clean mattress.
- Call the furnace/a.c. company to come out and clean the air conditioning unit.
As many of you know, I love the ocean and desperately miss it now that we live inland. What better way to celebrate my 38th birthday this past week then to take a long weekend at the coast? We feasted on wine, cheese, and crackers, filled our lungs with the salt air, and were lulled to sleep each night by the constant crashing of waves on the shore. It was wonderful, and I was home.
So… our slate tile saga. It all began when we discovered dry rot – a lot of dry rot – under the sliding glass door. My Charles started to chip away at the flaky wood and discovered, much to our horror, that the previous owners had POURED CONCRETE and tiled above the rotten subfloor.
My Charles used his manly muscles to sledgehammer – seriously, he did that – through the concrete in order to get down to the rotten floor. Then we replaced the bad stuff with sound, thick plywood, and instead of doing the insane thing of adding two inches of concrete back on top, we added another piece of plywood to make sure everything was at the same level.
A very small amount of self-leveling concrete was poured on top of the sublfloor, and we had a nice, safe, sturdy surface to replace the slate.
This is when things really became difficult – because whacking through inches of concrete wasn’t hard enough. Finding tile that matched was impossible. We hit up every home improvement and tile place within an hour’s drive in our attempt to find what had been used previously, but to no avail. So, admitting defeat, we purchased the closest substitution we could find at our local tile shop. Called “Butterscotch,” the colors looked like they would blend in.
Two weeks later, when the special order arrived, the tiles weren’t as butterscotch as they had looked in the sample, but the colors that ran through the slate were the same as the colors that ran through the current floor, just in different concentrations. The 16 X 16 squares were laid, and then winter hit before we were able to finish.
Since we don’t have a garage or shop or even a basement, our deck is the only place where a wet saw can be used. We waited for warmer weather and tried not to look at our unfinished living room floor.
Our early spring meant that we were able to rent a wet saw the Sunday before last and finally finish the project. Cutting slate tile was really simple with the saw. Slate is fragile, but it’s also pretty soft. It was like butter. (Think Mike Myers in Coffee Talk.) Each area near the wall was measured, the tile was measured and then cut. We dry fitted the tiles and made sure the arrangement worked and the spaces between tiles were correct, and then we got down to thin setting those suckers, using tile spacers to keep things accurate and never letting the level get too far away. The tiles set up nice and even and level. We let everything set up over night and grouted with a sanded grout the next day.*A note about the thin-set we used: we followed the instructions on the bag, and that worked perfectly for us. The thin-set was of a toothpaste consistency. We used a notched trowel to apply it to the floor as well as back-buttering each tile. Everything set up so well, when my Charles decided to remove a tile because it was slightly crooked, he had to chip that mofo out piece by tiny, shattered piece with a heavy duty chisel.
I wet the tiles before my Charles grouted in hopes of easier clean up. He then sponged up the excess grout on the tiles, I wet the next batch, he grouted and sponged off, and we worked our way down the replaced floor. After waiting two hours, we swiped the sponge over the grout and buffed away the film on the slate. It took me a few passes to clean all of the film away.
And then we had a complete floor in our living room once again. A beautiful, slate floor with no rotten subfloor and a new sliding glass door – what bliss! After months and months of our furniture being just a little too close to the walk way, everything was finally back in its proper placement. The slate may not match as perfectly as we had hoped, but it’s close enough, and having a floor is a beautiful thing – something this home insists upon reminding us again and again.
This weekend was spent finishing the replacement slate tile in the living room, so I'll have an update for you on that soon, but I also spent the weekend updating a pair of chairs and a table that my Charles and I got as a housewarming gift from my grandma.
I had been quite diligent with the teak oil on this IKEA set each year, but the harsh sun on the deck each summer as well as some surprise snow showers in the spring and fall had worn down the finish. Rather than break them down for kindling (Not really -- they're still serviceable.) or grimacing at their uneven surfaces, I decided to try to give them a few more years of service with some coats of spray paint. I used Rust-Oleum's Bright Blue, and the trio took two whole cans.
Even though the finish had broken down quite a bit, I still prepped the furniture before painting. First, I gave each surface a light sanding. Then I wiped down each piece with a microfiber towel to make sure all of the dust had been removed. I then laid down a tarp (which ended up being almost the exact same color) and used thin, even coats until everything was fully painted, with just a bit of wood grain still showing through. Then I left the pieces out on that aforementioned sunny deck to cure for a couple of days. When all was said and done, we had what looked like new furniture adorning our outdoors. The blue matches our glorious front door, and it's a really cheerful color that makes me smile whenever I peek outside and see it.
For the cost of a couple cans of spray paint, our housewarming gift will continue to cradle our backsides and hold our drinks for years to come, and that bright blue gifts me with a zing to my soul each time it brightens my gaze.