Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Historic Homes Workshop Tampa

This past weekend the Husband, Little Man and I hiked across the State heading west to attend Tampa Preservation's "Historic Homes Workshop."

This year's workshop theme was "Maintaining your historic home" with a wealth of classes on exterior details such as landscaping, roofind issues, creating maintenance plans and budgets, window restoration, and more. Go here for the complete list of offered classes! 
The husband and I played "Divide and Conquer" so we could attend as many classes as possible and compare notes. We learned more about roof issues, roofing materials and the structure of a roof, how plan and how to budget for a larger project, more about the exterior details of historic homes, and more about paint and primers and paint issues. 

The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, and being in the company of other lovers of historic homes always feels special.Being one of the few "out-of-towners" didn't feel weird at all!

For lunch we checked in with "Foodspotting" and decided to try "The Bungalow" in keeping with the day's theme. This restaurant was located in a beautiful Craftsman style Bungalow right around the corner from the workshop, and had very pretty outdoor seating in a lush, tropical front yard.

It was SO worth it, and frankly, I can't wait until next year's workshop! This is definitely going to be a staple on our event schedule. I have more pictures of a certain class held in at a very interesting place right across the street from the main 'campus' but blogspot and/or my computer aren't very cooperative this morning, so I'll fill you in on this later!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trying It On For Size

Back into the kitchen for a quick peek:

The other day, on a trip to the orange box, I was browsing the tile selection checking out possible options for a backsplash tile that would meet our odd requirement of being less than average tile thickness to work with the reduced relief of our window trim (I shared my backsplash blues with you here) when I was approached by a helpful employee.

I explained my dilemma to him, told him I'd looked at a few glass chip tiles, and after some nodding and chin rubbing, he suggested I looked at those new ekbinnovation stick'n peel tiles they just added to their inventory.

Stick'n peel? Gaaaah ...I had to suppress an involuntary shudder at the sound of that (there are some gel stick'n peel tiles on the market that are touted as the quick cheap fix). He was clearly amused by my reluctance but suggested I gave them a quick look after all.

I'm glad I did!

They had two different types on display: stainless steel tiles (no need for grout) and clear glass tiles (need to be grouted). No cheap gel! And I actually liked the glass mosaic tile quite a bit, so I brought one sheet home.

They are sold just like mosaic tiles in 12x12 inch sheets and cost around $10/sheet. They are mounted to a sticky backing which eliminates the need for thinset which would save us a few precious millimeters in the installation.

We lined it up with the window to see how it would fit , and this could actually work!

I like the crisp white backdrop and the glossy glass finish. On top of that, glass is easy to clean and to keep clean, and I wouldn't have to worry about using a cleaner that ruins the mother of pearl finish/marble/natural stone of the backsplash. No stainless steel backsplash for us though - while it looks stunning in other kitchens and we do have all stainless steel appliances, we feel it clashes with the warm wood tones of our butcher block counter tops.

Not bad, not bad at all. We are not quite ready to pull the trigger yet (mainly because my head is all wrapped up in blue paint chips and paint decks right now) but this is a very strong contender.

Have you tried a stick'n peel product and really liked it? Would you try a peel'n stick tile? Thoughts? Comments? Buehler?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best Laid Plans Of Men And Mice

No, we don't have a pest problem.
No exterminator needed, thank you very much.

I wrote about some exterior color scheme musings way back in November last year (read about it here). I have not written about how we painted our back porch several different shades of sage green and blue-green, and how, after eliminating colors along the way as too light, too green, too dark, too blue, we ended up with the back porch mostly painted in Valspar's "Sea Port."

I even liked "Sea Port" combined with a creamy light ocher trim color (because the husband kept talking about 'yellow trim').

All was well until ....
....until the husband declared that "Yeah, that color doesn't do anything for me. Really."
Wait a second ... Whaaaat?
The husband amended his first statement with "Well, I don't hate it."

Yeah, little did he know that that statement wasn't making things any better. Turns out that the husband has his heart sort of set on a blue house. With yellow trim. He even found one house in our neighborhood with that color scheme.

It's ugly (the color scheme, not the house).

I firmly vetoed the yellow trim part, especially after showing him hundreds of pictures of blue houses, all of which sport crisp white trim, but trying to be a good wife I agreed to trying on blue for size, even though I never liked it for our house on the Sherwin-Williams' Color Visualizer.

The things you do for your husband ...
So for the past week I've sequestered myself with paint fans and chips and samples trying to find a blue we both like and that looks good on our house.

So far, there are Sherwin-Williams "Tempe Star" and "Refuge", Valspar's "Bungalow Blue", "Magnet Dapple", "Prussian Cadet", and "Granite", and Benjamin Moore's "Hale Navy" and "Narragansett Green."

Turns out the light plays a real number on how you experience any of these colors.

I wish somebody would just tell me what color to paint my house ...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Eureka may refer to:
  • Eureka (word), a famous exclamation attributed to Archimedes
  • Eureka effect, the sudden, unexpected realization of the solution to a problem

In this case it refers to the happy excitement I felt upon finding my camera.

Yes, I 'lost' my camera.

With all the room and project hopping I lost track of where I'd put it completely and it's taken me _days_ to figure out where I last had it and where I might have put it.

Fortunately, I managed to track it down (cue 'big sigh of relief' here) and now we're back in business! I should have another project update for you later today!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Coming Clean!

Taking a shower is such a modern convenience it's hard to imagine a time when all you did was wash up and every once in a while take a bath. Living in an older house you are, however, reminded of this time. Clawfoot tubs are great for taking a hot bath, especially the cast iron tubs that stay hot forever as soon as the water has heated up the cast iron. That taking an actual shower came as an after thought you can easily tell by the awkward curtain rigs and contraptions holding a handheld shower up or extensions to create a shower 'spout' -they are not the prettiest things to look at, especially if the tub is somewhat freestanding (it's not quite to out of place if the tub is tucked into a corner).

When we turned the upstair's kitchen into our master bath one of the must-haves was a clawfoot tub - you clearly can't have a historic home without one! - and we scored an amazing deal on a beautiful acrylic tub with gorgeous chrome feet (more about that here).
All the looks but none of the weight!

Except, no way to shower. After much hemming and hawing we finally discovered the Kvartal curtain track system at IKEA and decided that that might be the best "out of the way/sight" option to add some shower curtains to our bath tub.

The KVARTAL system offers two attachment options: wall-mounted and ceiling mounted. We bought all the pieces to create a 5'x 3.5' large rectangular track system to hang right above our tub. Little Man and husband had a great time putting it together!

We decided for a set-up that is much wider than our tub because after installing the curved shower rod in our hall bathroom we had learned to appreciate the extra elbow space.

No more cold shower curtains sticking to your wet skin!

You definitely need two people to hang the curtain track from the ceiling (one holding, the other marking and drilling and screwing) but in the end the whole project was rather straightforward and simple.

And we now have shower curtains! I picked these up at Wally World months ago because the color scheme matches the ongoing theme in bedroom, dressing room and bath room just perfectly. It really picks up on the seaglass colored ceiling and ties it all together.

I hope they are still selling them because while I bought two, having another one for more overlap would be even better.

[Binky photobombing]

My "Three of Three" for our master bathroom are coming along nicely:

1. Update ceiling light
2. Install shower curtain
3. Create shelving in closet

Now all that's left to do is tackle the closet, frame out a separation and install shelves and I get to check off this room! Woot!

I took me three rooms to notice a certain ...ahem, trend, though: As you can see, the third project on each room's list so far has been the one that is the most involved and will take the longest.So in order to keep this blog hopping, I'll have to continue my room hopping as well.

Let the madness continue!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Let There Be Light!

The husband is switching positions within the company, and thought it would be a good time to take a few days off between taking off one hat and putting on another.

I was being a good wife and did not prepare a "honey-do" list for him but instead let him enjoy sleeping in, a cup of coffee with the morning paper and all the oodling about he could possibly squeeze into the day while I was at work and Little Man at school.
Yes, it was hard.
Yes, I was twitching on the inside biting back 'helpful suggestions' regarding things I'd like to see done that week.
Man, it was hard!

On the other hand, it was all the more rewarding to come home from work to discover he had tackled a project while I wasn't supervising and ...ahem, delegating!

It's a ceiling light! In the master bathroom! I'd picked up another ALĂ„NG ceiling light fixture at IKEA during my weekend in Tampa a few weeks ago. We liked the look of the smaller fixture we installed in the dressing room so much and thought it would also go beautifully with the texture of our vanity light shades that we decided to replace the shiny brass nipple fixture in our master bath with the larger version (since the bathroom is also much larger; it's a whopping ~12'x13').

So, because Super-Husband installed it as a surprise, there are no 'Before' pictures - no biggie, nobody really needs to see the brassy nipple fixture that wasn't doing anything for our bathroom in regard to light or looks - only 'After'. It's so much prettier and so much brighter now, and we have a more cohesive look between the dressing room and the adjoining bathroom now.

And I didn't have to nag once!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three of Three: Master Bathroom Madness

Well, we're still stewing on our back splash for the kitchen, and covering up the utilities in the laundry room has begun, but in order to keep this blog going with more than one post per week and even more so to keep the current momentum (you never know when that'll fizzle out), we're pressing on here at the Little Old House!

After tackling (or starting on) two rooms downstairs, it's about time we make a big jump and hop on upstairs! On my trip to Tampa a few weeks ago I managed to sneak in some quality time at IKEA and picked up a few things for the house. Since one of those things was something for our Master bathroom, what better room to choose that one next?

So, here we go!

Our upstair's master bathroom began life at closing as the upstair's kitchen of our duplex. Then we tore into it, ripped everything out and have been putting it back together ever since.

Miraculously it went from this ...

 ....to this

It's come a really long way. Since this last picture we have also finally added a vanity light fixture

and we also changed the wall color from just bright white to a pale beige for some much needed warmth. Our master bath is -huge- and we felt the bright white walls which looks so pretty in other bathrooms made our bathroom feel just like a cold, empty, open aircraft hangar. The very light, but warmer color on the walls makes the trim and tile pop and adds much needed warmth to our bath room, making it feel cozy and comfortable.

Of course, there are still things I would like to add to it, and change about it. From the long list of projects and flourishes I picked the following projects for my "Three of Three" list:

  1. replace ceiling light
  2. install a shower rig and curtain
  3. set up the linen closet with shelves
Let the madness begin!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Laundry Lovelies

 Now that the laundry room is all painted and pretty, I feel like it's so much more fun to make it even prettier! This past weekend's weather was perfect for indoor crafty kind of projects - it was all grey and rainy skies here in North-East Florida (not very Floridian at all).

And nothing needs more pretty-fying than the plastic bottle of laundry detergent. Right?

Luckily, I keep some empty Sangria bottles on hand. It's the perfect "summer nights on the porch" drink, if you ask me, and I really love the chunky peasant bottles they sell it in. So I grabbed one, removed the old label and washed it out. Sangria-scented laundry might not be as much fun ... y'know, not to mention possible stains.

Then I whipped up a quick label in publisher and printed it on a shipping label because it has a sticky back and thicker paper. I think this combination together with Modpodge will give it a fighting chance lasting last the abuse of daily laundry action. Right?

I cut out my pretty label and stuck it to the bottle. The area where the old wine label used to be fits just right but even if your bottle doesn't have a flat area like this one, it'll work. Just stick and ...

 Modpodge it all over for protection!

While the label was drying I grabbed a funnel and the old detergent bottle and poured the detergent into its new home. We use "free'n clear" because the husband has allergies and a very sensitive nose but I do keep some nice smelling detergent in a smaller bottle occasionally for a load of my stuff only because I love the smell of scented laundry detergent (some, not all). I should probably make a pretty bottle for that one, too.

And here you go, a pretty bottle for the laundry detergent (still  all bubbly from switching bottles). Can you believe the husband commented on it? He -liked- it! Called it 'chic' ... hehehe.

He does have a point though, since it looks a lot less utilitarian than the regular plastic bottles and just nicer when in plain view. I wonder when they'll be printing more decorative labels. You'd think one manufacturer would have picked up on that already ... something pretty in French, maybe?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Three of Three: First Recap

On my quest to "Get'er Done" and finish some of the projects we started weeks or months or even a year or two ago and inspired by Apartment Therapy's January event "The Cure," I created the infamous Little Old House "Three of Three" List. You can read more about that list in this post.

I simply took our mega "Master List" of projects in and around our little old house and prioritized the projects in each room, choosing the top three for my "Three of Three" list. The idea is that these three projects would finish their respective room allowing me to move most of our tools and equipment and paint buckets into the storage shed and concentrate on creating a home that doesn't look like a partially exploded construction site.

So far I have tackled two rooms: our laundry/mudroom and our kitchen.In each case I am still missing one project out of the "Three of Three" but, boy, did finishing two top priority projects make a difference already!

Laundry Room
1. paint (cabinets, tabletop and part wall) (read about it here, here, here, here and here)
2. install door knobs (read about it here)
3. cover the utilities

1. paint window (read about it here, here and here)
2. add lighting (read about it here)
3. add backsplash (learn more about my musings here)

It's amazing to see how much of a difference finishing these few projects has made (and how painless they were, really. Unlike a certain staircase project ...ahem). We still need to come up with a clever way to cover up the utilities in the laundry room (hopefully this weekend will see some progress) and, of course, we haven't had the time/funds/chutzpah to install a backsplash yet but at least we have begun the decision making process in earnest and that's at least a mini step into the right direction!

Have you tackled any "Get'er Done" projects lately? Which little project made the biggest difference in (almost) finishing a room?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Backsplash Blues

The remaining task on my "Three of Three" list for the kitchen at our little old house is "install backsplash." For the past two years our backsplash was merely painted, in part because we allocated the funds for that project to more important areas such as plumbing, electric and more. Another reason was I was completely 'shopped out' and just couldn't make up my mind what I wanted (or whether what I thought what I wanted was really what I wanted to live with for the next umpteen years).

So far, the painted backsplash hasn't worked out too bad. We picked a quality paint that can be scrubbed down and if all else fails, paint touch ups are easy-peasy and done in moments. No wonder the whole backsplash project got pushed even further to the bottom of the to-do list.

There is something really nice and pretty and finished about a 'real' backsplash though, and I caught myself browsing tile sections both online and at the store lately, so it got moved up on the list.

Penny tile is darling and one of my favorites. Since I didn't get to use it in the master bathroom, I've been oogling it for a kitchen backsplash.
Ohh, fancy! Marble is just sooo pretty and classy and would add a nice bit of bling to our more country chic kitchen. I like the nod to our beekeeping adventure in the hexagonal shape of the tiles, too, but wouldn't complain too much if they came in little squares or pennies either.

Beadboard (or even beadboard wallpaper) would fit rather nicely with the overall look of our country kitchen. It's probably the most economical choice so far.

And there is, of course, the classic subway tile that will most likely never go out of style.

The problem with all those choices?

They are too thick!

No kidding. How can they be too thick? I mean, they are standard size tiles. Everybody uses them. What could possibly be too thick about them?
That's where I come back with the old adage "It's not you, it's me."
You see, a prior owner drywalled over the existing plaster (and lathe) walls, probably because they didn't want to deal with repairing plaster walls throughout the house. Plaster repairs can be a real pain and it's hard to find real professionals who know what they are doing. So, drywall went over those walls which added insulation to the house but in turn removed quite a chunk of the reveal of the trim. My kitchen window, for example, only sticks out from the wall by mere millimeters.

That really puts a crimp into your style, I'm telling you. The average tile is twice the thickness of the reveal I have available without making my window recede into the wall, and that's not accounting for the thickness of the thinset that needs to go behind the tile. Oy!

More googling and surfing the 'net, however, revealed that there are options even for tricky situations like ours.

I discovered this lovely lovely 'Mother of Pearl' penny tile that is just ...wow! It adds just such a beautiful sparkle to a wall, and comes in all shapes to boot, everything from mini bricks to hexagons to squares.

I think it would go nicely with our butcher block countertops and white cabinets. The price is a bit higher than what I'd like to pay though but, oh well, it is what it is (about $16.50/sqft) but it is very very thin which would be perfect for our awkward situation.

We also discovered that some of the glass mosaic tile at the blue and orange box come in thinner styles which would also work for our particular set up (*cue sigh of relief*).

In the end, we're still on the fence with which option to go. We are thinking along the lines of simple, white or clear, possibly glass for ease of maintenance and timeless appeal.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busy Bees

On a completely different note ....

 While we are still waiting for the chicken legislation to pass that will one day hopefully allow us to legally keep a chicken or two in our urban back yard (I so would love to own a pair of silkies!), we have been toying with the thought of keeping bees for several years now.

Last year this plan of ours was tabled due to a possible job offer that would have relocated us waaaaay north (too north for my comfort, if you ask me) but this year nothing was going to stop us from adding a bee hive to our little old house.

After much research we decided to go for one of those new-fangled topbar hive - its simpler nature of construction and maintenance appealed to us, including the smaller amount of needed storage and heavy lifting (neither of which we have to waste nor feel too keen on doing). The drawback of a smaller honey harvest is no big deal for us since we are not looking into going into business with it. We are looking forward to 'harvesting' more sweet-swelling beeswax, and frankly, an expected 15-35 pounds of honey from a healthy topbar hive is still way more honey than we use in a year.

Soo, all that being said, when we received the notification that the apiary from which we are getting our bees and queen this year has begun preparing the bees for shipping, we frantically started building our hive.

And here it is! In all its glory, with topbars in place. It's a simple box, about 4 1/2 feet long. The inside is angled at 120 degrees and measures about 7" at the bottom board and 20" at the widest point.

Here you can peek into the cozy inside. We opted for a closed bottom for this hive (we might experiment later) because supposedly it's easier for the bees to maintain the proper interior temperature and humidity when they don't have to factor in a screened bottom that may or may not be open.
The screened bottom is often used as a tool in dealing with Varroa mites but we're hoping to avoid this issue altogether by buying hygienic, mite-resistant bees able to battle those pests by themselves without the 'help' of pesticides and antibiotics used in the hive.

Of course I had to pick up a few new flowers for the yard as well when I went to the Blue Box to buy the lumber! I added a few red salvias, orange bulbines, more bright orange and yellow lantana and Confederate Jasmine to our back yard. All of those plants do well in our climate, are drought resistant once established and bees like'em!

We also added a cute roof to our hive to keep the girls nice and dry. Here is the husband hard at work measuring and cutting the sides for our hive's roof. He's just as excited about the imminent arrival of our bees.

I poked around the hardware store for a lightweight roofing solution and finally settled on those light, clear but textured light box panels (you know, for those awful fluorescent ceiling lights *shudder*). We attached the panels with screws and then caulked over the screw holes to make sure no rain would seep through those holes, and voila! a roof!

Now we have to wait for a probably frantic call from the post office to come and get this 3lbs box of a buzzing nightmare busy bees and their queen. STAT! So stay tuned for more updates on this little side adventure!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Call Me Mrs. Obvious

... but I obviously enjoy stating the obvious.

After installing "Pull" knobs on the cabinets in the laundry room, I -knew- exactly where to put this cute little iron "Garden" sign.

Where, you ask?
Why, the backdoor to the yard, of course!

Little Man lend a hand and together we measured, marked drill holes and screwed the sign to the back door.

And after two years of grumbling about that one cross brace of the outside screen door always covering up the small narrow window in the door, I went, broke out the screw driver and - gasp!- removed it.

Guess what?

The screen door is just as stable without it (it has two more cross bars below the one I removed),  you can now see out of the back door window, and the world didn't come to an end.


Friday, April 5, 2013

All Done!

After stripping, prepping, sanding and priming, it was finally time for a fresh coat of bright white! We have been using Behr's Ultra Premium White for all our trim, moldings and interior doors, and love how crisp and clean it looks.

The exterior of the window is still in need some serious TLC (stripping, sanding, re-glazing and repainting are on the to-do list) but on the inside it's looking mighty nice.

Yep, it's not brand-new, in fact it has all the wrinkles of a 99 year old, but it's gotten a serious facelift and the new make-up ... err, paint looks so much nicer and cleaner and smoother.

Our breakfast station - coffee, tea cups, a toaster - missing in action are our cereal bowls.

And with that the kitchen window is D-O-N-E!

Looking at my "Three of Three" list for the kitchen at our little old house, the finishing line is near!

Three of Three - The Kitchen
1. paint window frame (Done!)
2. add lighting (Done!)
3. add a backsplash

I don't know if the budget will allow adding a back splash right away - it all depends on what we decide to install, so I might have to tide you over with a couple of musings, our decision making process and a "Three of Three" of another room before I have squirrel away enough money to sink into this project.