Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Wishing everybody a spooky, scary, candy-filled and safe Halloween!

We'll be going trick or treating tonight in the 'hood enjoying the hayride a family is organizing for the neighborhood kids. Hopefully this morning's drizzle will have stopped by then.

Oh, and if you enjoyed the vintage Halloween card above, don't forget to swing by at Jacksonville's Karpeles Manuscript Library to see their Vintage Halloween exhibit with photographs of Halloween costumes, postcards and invitations from the time of Springfield's hey days! We dropped in quickly during yesterday's SMG's Halloween Party for the kids in front of the Karpeles and had a great time checking out what Halloween decor would have looked like when our Ugly Duckling smelled of fresh paint and plaster (for the first time).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Preston - Pronto!

The husband and I have begun working on a few projects that are taking a bit longer while not giving much of 'meat' for daily updates. What with work being ca-ray-ay-zee going on two weeks now and the Little Man taking Karate lessons twice a week, Cub Scouts and my Vampire Diary quality time on Thursday nights, I'm a little hardpressed to find some spare time.

Sure, I can find some time to dabble with projects around the house but obviously not enough time to download pictures, upload them to blogspot and post about it. Booo :o(

But don't fear! DIY woman is here!
And projects are continuing at the Ugly Duckling!

Case in point: the master bathroom.

After finishing walls, updating electricity, updating plumbing, painting, trim out, installing doorframes, a vanity, a claw-foot bath tub and a toilet, I have now added *drum roll*


I shopped around online before settling on Moen's "Preston" series in chrome for our bathroom. It' s simple, yet softly curved lines mimic our vintage style faucets and the price could hardly be beat. In case you hadn't noticed, we are very budget conscious. I'd bought Moen in the past and we like the quality. Thanks to Amazon Prime, our packages arrived within three days of ordering, free of charge. Joy!

I'd ordered a double towel rod, a single towel ring and a toilet tissue holder which I installed with the Little Man's help.

We gathered our tools

measured, leveled and installed the mounting brackets. For the toilet tissue holder we had to adjust the screw placement or else we'd have permanentely screwed a drawer closed. We'd deliberated over whether to buy one of those freestanding and magazine hoding toilet tissue stands but in the end I felt a regular holder screwed into the side of the vanity made more sense. All I could think of was ending up doing business with the holder waaaay out of reach ... oy!

After installing the mounting brackets, all you had to do was slide the fixture base over it and screw it tight.

Pretty, no? And functional to boot! And so civilized!

The double towel trod was a little trickier to install and definitely called for a second pair of hands which is where the Little Man came in. While I held the pieces together, he leveled and marked - DIY kid in action! I love the look and how it's keeping our towels in handy-dandy reach when stepping out of the tub.

There you have it: Our Master Bathroom in its current state. Still pretty bare but we're getting there. We have begun using it on a more consistent basis ever since installing the accessories which - all together - make it feel so much more complete. The towels courtesy of my Mom are probably not going to stay in this bath room. We're generally aiming for a softer vintage look (hard to tell from that stark, crisp black and white contrast, hm?) but I wanted towels on the rods when taking the picture. Yaaaaah, staging ... kind of hard with no window treatments, no rug and no art. We'll get there. Really. Some day soon. And I promise you'll hear all about it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


After a mighty crazy week at work, my DIY spirit was hiding underneath the covers for most of this weekend. It was rather content to do some things I didn't have time for during the week like

  • read a book

  • whip up and eat a batch of delicious home-made caramel dip (recipe here)

  • muck about in the veggie patch

By Sunday afternoon, the laziness wore off a bit and the DIY spirit started to perk up its ears. We gingerly poked at a couple of projects

  • messed with the old gate (it's the ol' chainlink fence gate but it's better than having to roll part of the fence itself back and forth, gate-style) and halfway got it done. We're missing a hinge and nobody wanted to drive out to the Blue Box to pick up the missing part. Yet.

  • probed the upsatirs hallway closet and decided it was time to start that project if we ever wanted a chance of clearing out the library which has become a sorry catch-all for everything and the neighbor's our cat.

And then found out that we're going to have lovely guests for Thanksgiving - our FIRST Thanksgiving at the Ugly Duckling - and decided to kick our DIY spirit into gear again to wrap up a few more of those almost finished projects in time for the holidays. God helps us :o)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

With the jamb firmly in place, I finally got to tackle the pretty part: the door casing. That's the fancy schmancy name for the trim that goes around your door frame. I'd picked up two 1x4 boards, 2 plinths and a piece of trim called a "stop" to mimik the existing trim in the house.

Lucky for me, no miter cuts were required for this project!

First up: the plinth. That's the decorative part at the bottom of the door frame. For the most part, the plinths in our house have very little decoration - some our just plain pieces of wood wider than the trim - and so the ones I found at the Blue Box fit the bill quite nicely: they have a little bit of carving which mirrors the top of the baseboards and the price was right too.

After installing the plinths aka nailing them into place, the sides of my door casing came next. All I had to do - thanks to the ingenius design of historic trim in our house -was measure the distance between the top of the plinth and the upper edge of my door opening, cut my boards to size and nail those into place as well.

I'd bought a length of plain "stop" trim to cap off the sides, just like on all the original door casings in our house. Since our bathroom and dressing room are a later addition to the house (years ago, a previous owner added a second story to the originally one-story part housing our kitchen), the ceiling is quite a bit lower as you can see. Thus, the husband and I are musing about bumping out the ceiling for a vaulted and airier headspace. It's not as bad as you'd think - especially since we painted everything white, both rooms feel light and spacious and you notice the low ceiling more like an afterthought.

A short length of a 1x2 board tops it all off. Voila! - historically accurate looking door casing. Oone side down, one more to go!

This whole project didn't take me that long. Of course, now we're back to the basics of caulking between boards and filling in those nail holes, priming and painting. It -never- ends, does it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jammin' the jamb

In our master bathroom we have finally reached the "finishing touches" stage. Over are the days of major construction (ahem, aside from the husband and me musing whether to remove the ceiling to create a vaulted ceiling above the bathroom ... it's really just a crazy idea ...for now ..maybe later. You know, when we've pleasantly forgotten about how rotten a thing dry wall dust really is.) and we have a basic room with working fixtures! Yay us!

[Before: In its former life as Duplex, our master bathroom was the kitchen for the

upstairs apartment. It was nothing but gross and grungy. It gets great light, though.]

And here, for a collective sigh of relief, are two of the "close to the finishing line" shots

[Getting there: baseboard in place but not yet nailed and caulked]

There's very little that's not new. We have

new plumbing
updated electric
new subfloor
partially new drywall
new tile
fresh paint
new baseboards
new fixtures (sink, clawfoot tub and toilet)

The next item on my project list for this room was "frame door" so I investigated the design of our existing doors throughout the house and started poking around on the internet for pointers as to how to frame and trim out the door between our master bath and the adjoining dressing room. The nice thing about a historic home like ours is that you don't have to worry about perfect miter cuts.
While door and window casing is put together from more pieces than the average modern casing, it is cut at square angles and stacked rather than cut at intricate angles that require mega accurate measuring and cutting.
Lucky me!
I found this carpentry ebook online and found it rather helpful in learning to name the various parts of a door frame and how exactly things go together That's how I learned that a door jamb had to come first. The door jamb is the vertical inside portion of the frame onto which you secure your door.

I hopped over to the Blue Box and after browsing the aisles I decided to pick up this simple door jamb kit. It had all the pieces in the right amounts in the right widths which cut down on any unnecessary guesswork and measuring on my part. I -did- measure my door opening before going to the store, though, to make sure the jamb was wide enough. Live and learn, baby, live and learn.

Fortunately, I got to reap the rewards of having had great contractors build the wall and door opening. The existing door frame was plumb and level so all I really had to do (and did) was measure the length of each side, cut the 'legs' to the appropriate length, measure the space for the header and cut that one as well and then slide the whole frame into the opening and tapping it lightly with the hammer for a nice flush fit.

Tada! Our door way started looking like an actual door way right away, even though the casing aka the trim along the outside of the door frame was still missing. A handful of nails later we had a jamming jamb and were ready to move on to the actual casing. More on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend Impressions

Things are starting to look like fall around here .... no, really ...

and we had a small influx of artificial and somewhat spooky birds in our front yard.

Zombies plagued the area between the Veteran Memorial Arena and the Everbank Field Stadium this past Saturday.

We ran for our lives, and won a medal!

Little Man participated in the 99.9 Gator Zombie Chase and had a blast.

We "spookified" our front yard!

No actual thumbs or toes were harmed in the shooting of this picture ;o)

Of course there was some DIYing going on over here at the Ugly Duckling but that's food for another post.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Catching up on the Holidays

Yesterday I almost died of a heart attack:

2.5 weeks until Halloween
6 weeks until Thanksgiving
10 weeks until Christmas

The extent of my seasonal and holiday decorating so far?
A measly three mums, an updated door wreath, a scare crow, and a pine cone on the fireplace mantel. Wop-wop-woooooop!

So I decided to ramp things up a bit with the focus on Halloween since that's going to be here quicker than instant grits! I knew I wanted some vintage-y looking art for the still-bare walls in the living room, maybe some more things for the mantle and a little bit of Halloween gore in the front yard and on the porch. When I spied this beautiful gallery arrangement on pinterest, I knew I could create something like this with a Halloween twist!

[via pinterest]

I scoured the web for some vintage looking etchings and engravings fit for Halloween and discovered my favorites on the Graphics Fairy webpage. After downloading them I manipulated them using Gimp, the poor people's adobe photoshop. No kidding - it's free and versatile and fun and a great tool when it comes to image retouching and editing.

I lost my picture of the bat somewhere in the fathomless abyss of my computer's files so I'll have to re-do that one and the hot air balloon isn't really know ... Halloween-y, but it's quirky and different and I loved it and that's all there is to it.

After editing them in Gimp which revolved mostly about rendering the background transparent, I printed them on regular white paper. I cut a few pages from an old bible that had been damaged beyond repair and copied the artwork right onto it. Since the pages aren't 8x11 letter size I needed to tape them to regular sheets of paper to run them through the fickle printer but in the end things worked out just great!

I also picked up this four pack of frames at Michaels for just $10 plus tax thanks to a coupon.

With the help of a bit of spray glue I mounted my prints on sheets of off-white linen paper rather than having mats cut to custom size to fit the document frames.

Here they are, all mounted and ready to be framed! I was a bit worried what the spray glue would do to the thin brittle paper of my prints but it worked surprisingly well.

Popping the matted prints into the frames was a matter of minutes, deciding exactly -where- to hang them took me the better part of two hours. I even moved furniture around in the living room considering a different couch placement and with it a new decorating scheme. Eh ...suffice to say, it didn't work as well in real life as I imagined it on paper. So, change of plans, different wall.

The area above husband's roll top desk looked like a good spot. It's in the corner of the living room, catty corner from the couch, and we'd get to enjoy my latest creation from all angles.

After some measuring, leveling and nailing 4 pictures hooks into the wall, the frames went up!

[Oh, look! Unpainted trim!]

Now I need some bats and crows and stuff ... maybe some blood dripping candles? Orange lights? Spiders? Do you have any Halloween favorites?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Isn't it the loveliest of them all?

[Look what I found!]

I discovered this pretty vintage and rather large mirror on one of my quests through the local thift and antique stores. (I should take you along one of my trips some day; that'd be fun!) I'd been searching for a suitable mirror to go with our vanity for a couple of weeks now. At first, had my heart set on the "Ung Drill" Mirror from IKEA but while the husband wasn't opposed I worried it might be a bit too frilly for his taste. Looking for a better compromise I decided to continue looking; IKEA is just a 2.5h drive away and if all else failed, we could just swing by and pick it up during a weekend trip.

This darling mirror with its curvy yet clean lines caught my eyes as soon as I set foot into the store.

I zoomed right in on it.

And then I saw the price tag.

[Quite a splurge ...]

Yep, that's $12.95, ladies.

Muahaha ... and it's MINE!


I lugged the heavy thing through the store and to the cash register without wasting any time on possible other treasures. Even if we didn't like it for the bathroom, it would still look quite delicious above the fireplace.

[Beautification in progress]

At home I went to work to beautify it. The finish of the frame had some unsightly blemishes, not to mention that I wasn't too crazy about the ...uh, aged finish of the silver paint. In keeping with our minimalistic black and white film noir color scheme for the master bath, I whipped out a can of black spray paint.

It looked like the mirror was putting on a little black dress: the curvy lines started to look classy and sleek, and after following up the coat of paint with a coat of glossy spray poly, the mirror looks like new! I did give the new finish a solid two days to cure before touching it. Patience, baby, I has it (somewhat ... a little .... you know, sometimes)!

I had to replace the hanging wire on the back, drill two holes for hooks into the wall by the vanity but after just a few minutes, some groaning and some grunting (this thing is heavy! And big!), I had it hanging on the wall!

Ohhh .... pretty!

Yep, definitely loving it!

With all of the major bits and pieces in place, it's now finally time for the decorative, finishing touches. Well, alright, that is after the door is finally framed out. Or maybe the husband will take care of that while I run off to say ... Calico Corners and Bed, Bath & Beyond and other places for fabrics and stuff. As you can see we also need a light to go above our vanity. I have a couple of ideas, but need to run them past the husband for input first, so stay tuned as the adventure "master bathroom" continues. (Heh, we're kind of like a bad soap - no end in sight!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Master Bath: a sink, with feeling!

Good morning!

I just wanted to let you know that today's entry will be featured as guest post Over at Nette's "This Dusty House"Blog. You can check it out here:

"This Dusty House" is one of my absolute favourites, and checking in on Nette and her latest project is on my daily to-do list.

We both share that we're writing renovating blogs, not decorating blogs. While we occasionally take a break from the bigger DIY projects to toss in an adventure in hanging curtains, spray painting accessories and upholstering a chair, we're still up to our ears in bathroom remodels, total kitchen gut jobs and more drywall dust than we probbly ever wanted.

So hop on over and find out what's going on with this:

[Peekabo - I see you!]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Death by laundry

I guess one of the biggest lessons (finally) learned is that order only comes through having a space of its own for everything you own.

At the Ugly Duckling, laundry tends to accumulate quickly and infinitely. My normal state of being is "between piles": the unwashed pile o' laundry and the ready-to-fold pile. And once that is under control, you know, for that half an hour a week, the cord to the iron tries to trip you and the ironing board is lurking in the laundry room just waiting for the moment to whack you over the head good.

When I was over at the Blue Box today, I spied with my little eye this nifty little thing:

[Quick and easy laundry organization? Yes, please!]

That sounded like a quick and easy way of securely coralling the wicked iron and its board into a safe corner and a first step to creating some semblance of order for our laundry situation.

So it went into the cart and home with me.

[Before: Into the corner with you!]

Here's the corner I chose for our unruly iron and its partner in crime, the ironing board, before the installing. All that was required were two holes for drywall anchors and then the shelf was screwed into the wall with two screws. That took all of 5 minutes after locating all necessary tools (a drill, a level and a pencil and a screwdriver)

[After: All well-mannered and orderly!]

So much better! Now the iron has a place to go and hangs nicely secured so unexpected whacks over the head are now a thing of the past. The iron has a nice spot to sit and the starch can go right next to it. And me? I'm tickled about tidy it looks.

Now if I could only make the laundry vanish ...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Curse you, Restoration Hardware!

Good Lord! Have you SEEN the latest Restoration Catalog???

All that tufted glory?
The aviator chic?
The Steampunk sass?

I've been DROOLING over the catalog for the past couple of days ... yeah, well, really ever since it showed up in my mailbox, really.

[source: Restoration Hardware]

[source: Restoration Hardware]

[source: Restoration Hardware]

[source: Restoration Hardware]

Who knew that a monochromatic decor scheme could be so sexy?

I wonder if the husband would let me repaint and redecorate the house ....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Master Bath: trim and proper

And the saga continues (does it ever really end?): right now I'm tackling the basic trim-out of the bathroom with baseboards and some quarter rounds.

Only half an hour into the process, I'd learned my first lesson: shoulda done that -before- installing the toilet and moving in the vanity. Oh well, live and learn and improvise!

Here's what the transition floor to wall looks like without baseboard.

[Before: Something is definitely missing ...]

Yeaaah, not so pretty. Definitely can't leave it like that. We're sticking with the textured walls for now, for the most part because we're sick and tired of drywall dust. I'm toying with the thought of adding wainscoting or batten'n board which I already successfully installed in our master bedroom (read about it here and here). It looks beautiful and would leave us with a smaller area to de-texturize aka skim-coat and sand. We'll see, we'll see .... for now our project list is still plenty long; no need to add new projects just yet. A fresh coat of white paint did a LOT to clean up the look.

[Miter saw (How I wish I had an electric one!), measuring tape, baseboard and a pencil]

For the next three hours I measured, cut, measured some more, cut some more, finagled a baseboard into the tight spot between wall and vanity, maneuvered another piece around the toilet's plumbing and finally had all the pieces I needed for a full trim out. Go me!

Husband was amazed that not once did I cut an angle the wrong way. Maybe I'll be as lucky when it comes to crown molding? One can dream ...

[Getting there: baseboard in place but not yet nailed and caulked]

Nailing the pieces into place (yet another tool for my wishlist - I wish I had a nail gun) went quickly and then it was on to caulking for a nice clean transition between wall and baseboard. I will have to add quarter rounds to mask the fact that our walls aren't 100% straight (*gasp!* Shocking, I know, no straight walls in an old house) but for now I get to marvel at how proper this room is starting to look.

Now it's off to work! After work, I'll make a quick detour to the orange box to pick up the quarter rounds I need for part 2.