Archive for March, 2011

No joke, that’s one lo-o-o-ng hall.  Cutting in around 7 doors, the ceiling and baseboards–well, seemed never-ending! Ditto for caulking and puttying all the applied millwork.  My poor fingers are raw and every muscle aches, so much so, I found I had no dexterity left to even just type this post last night.


So, again here’s what it looked like, and in progress….













I had a radio for company while I painted, but I amused myself with “should I keep this door, or take a chance and trade for what’s behind door #3…?  There were a lot of doors, okay?  I was tired.






I used the 6 panel doors as a guide to plot out the heights for the chair rail and bottom rail of the picture frame molding.  It keeps an orderly line in the midst of the busy doors, and breaks up the many vertical lines.  Painting the walls and millwork as one entity lends a sense of texture.



I’ve been working on this while Joann is in warm and sunny Mexico.

I can’t wait to hear her reaction–as she left me with total creative license and has no idea what has been done– Surprise! I bought a lot of new frames, mats–even fillets–to re-frame family photos to change the into a gallery.

Here are a few shots staged with pictures…..think she’ll like it?



My niece was sick and spent part of the day with me–here feeling better for a minute playing on my android phone– then suddenly back on the sofa : (


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If you remember, I told you that I was diverted by 2 projects– really, they were both more of an SOS! The 1st was my sister-in-law’s laundry room dilemma, the 2nd was her aunt’s lo-o-o-n-g hallway.  What do you do with it?  H-E-L-P-!

It makes me think of a hotel corridor.  Just more than 29ft and narrow, with 3 bedrm doors, 1 bathrm door, a linen closet, the basement door–AND–the door leading to and from the mudroom and garage! 

7 doors! Yikes! I need to think about this one for a minute.

Well, the obvious is that it’s long, boring, and totally plain. I know it’s already incredibly busy with so many doors, but—I’m thinking it would be interesting to add architectural details like chair rail, and picture frame molding.  And let’s paint it into the walls to create a subtle texture!

Using the 6-panel doors as a guide, I hung the chair rail at the sight line of the bottom panel and the picture frames at the middle panel.  Since there are three substantial wall sections–let’s create a few gallery walls for family photos and personal artifacts!

What a day—I’m completely done in from crawling around on the floor, and all the ups and downs on the ladder to plot out the levels and boxes!  Then– in and out of the cold garage to cut everything, and repeat the crawling and ladder actions to install everything!  Calgon–take me away…!

Tomorrow—I’ll counter sink any raised brads, putty, sand—and paint.  Gosh–I hope I can get it all in one day.  I’ll share photos of the finished hall, but for now, here it is roughed in!



Oh! BTW–I’m doing this with a major sinus infection, in yet another major snow storm, while Aunt Joann is in Mexico– snorkeling and basking in the sunshine for 2 weeks…

What’s wrong with this picture….?!?  —Cat

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The Garage— You’ve seen the back side…come around front!


In a 1960’s

“modern” story 1/2 house–

you got a detached garage.


it was a very generous

2-1/2 car garage…!


Okay– just a plain, boring facade.  Well–?   It’s clean.  : ]

The 1st order of business–if we can’t change the color–introduce texture. The 2nd order of business–clear out that fence-line!

I used elements from the pergola porch swing to make a connection to this side of the property.  Beginning with a kind of “half” pergola on the face of the garage, over the doors.  The two large iron brackets were found in a flea market.  There is a pseudo-cupola-styled bird house with a rooster weather-vane on the roof you can see that still needs “juje-ing!”

While I still had the electricians, they gutted, and re-wired the entire garage, and added 4 coach lamps–2 on the face, 2 for the side garden.

That urn you see, is cast concrete found on a junk pile at a local “monument store.”  I know that may set you back a little, but let me tell you about this unusual discovery.

When I needed to have a marble top table refinished–that’s where I was directed.  And it was there that I discovered I could have our vintage iron patio table and chairs SandBlasted back to raw iron for a “do-over!”  AND–think about this–maybe you’d like your address carved into a large rock in your front yard landscaping?  Well of course–they can do this too!  A real surprise of a resource!

Anyway, back to my project–

The fence row was cleared, and we marked out the holes to dig for each column, and post for the panels.  I used green treated decking boards (which were ripped to 3/8″ thickness for the lattice) so all the parts would better handle the climate changes here.













I wish I had pre-painted some of the wood.  It was a daunting task–that of course had to be done during the peak of humidity.  It was described as “the air you can wear.” No joke.  Seriously.

The landscapers came back at the end to plant 3 arborvitaes, a wisteria at each post of the panels, and yellow day lillies at the front and back centers of the panels.  This whole design was an effort to give my mom privacy from the neighbor–but it needed to look good for them too!  Between the newly amended/fertilized soil, and, apparently, the best wisterias in the word–they covered the panels in one season and were crawling across the pergolas.  I’m training the vines to ultimately grow to, and climb across the garage pergola too!

This is a close up of the face on the service door!


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The Outdoor Living Space!

Our family moved to this house, many years back, after all my dad’s years in the air force.  It was a very modest, smallish, story and a half house—but with, they felt, lots of potential!

One of the first improvements made was to raise the roof at the back of the house, which changed the long hallway-styled bedroom into a large bedroom for my 3 big brothers, an office for my teacher-mother, and a full bathroom shared by both spaces–which I’ll share in another post!

The outside was very sparse–no landscaping to speak of.  My parents planted every tree you’ll see pictured.  I can’t seem to find anything showing the original back of the house–but this is after the roof was raised.  My dad also created a large patio area with poured concrete, then built a large brick and stone bbq for all the fun gatherings we seemed to have–including some wild, neighborhood water balloon fights!


Many years later, with all of us grown up and gone, my mom told me Uncle Fred was going to need to come live with her after a major back surgery.  They would have to build one of those horrible ramps for him to be able to come in the front door.  “No! Don’t do it!”



I suggested that instead, they remove the window by the kitchen table and “install a french door leading to a deck–with a ramp!” Everyone loved the idea!






On the next trip home, I razzed my big brother that it “wasn’t a deck–it was a big porch!” A design I promptly re-worked when I eventually came back to renovate the house for my mom’s retirement!  I insisted he take down certain sections of the railings– which he did–while grumbling and saying stuff under his breath I couldn’t quite hear!  Once the new deck extension was built, and it all made sense–he liked it!

(Spoiler alert– You can see some of the other renovations to the back of the house in these pictures.  But I’ll share that, too, in another post)


Strategically removing the railing sections to form an “open” corner, allowed a natural transition down to a large outdoor living room– leaving the original deck for a dining level.  We created a bump-out in the deck for the pergola porch swing so it wouldn’t eat into the deck space.  It was built from a kit–the 5’9″ long swing folds down into a bed–like a futon.  Wisteria was planted on each side, and has grown up the sides and partly across the top!  It’s a great place to take a nap–I know this first-hand!

The deck was built in the fall and these pictures are from the following summer. The deck is now stained with a very rich, semi-translucent mocha color!  The market umbrellas were changed to the palest of yellows, and the sumptuous chairs’ cushions were reupholstered in fabulous outdoor fabrics.

Lighting– I tucked rope lights just under the overhang of the long stair treads, there are built-in dimmers on the 2 lamp posts, and lights are attached to the splines of both umbrellas–all provide ambient lighting at night!  AND–I added outdoor speakers!  This is a really fun place to hang out–day or night!


The table between the chairs is an urn! I had patio table glass cut into a “donut” so it could be planted full of geraniums and still be a table to set drinks down!


This is the initial garden you step down to. Beginning at the column, and continuing around the outer perimeter, we planted 28 endless summer hydrangeas.  We’ve been tweaking the garden in the foreground, in front of the church railing, to create a totally “green” garden of snow on the mountain, and a wide variety of hostas.  A tete a tete sits quietly in this space, which is enclosed by hedges of ewes.


Take note of the size of the “tree” in the top picture vs its current size–wow!

From the back “yard” looking towards the house, you can see how far we got before the coldest weather set in.


…..this is how it looked pre-renovations!


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Auntie on Dutie!

Wow!  My whole week has been thrown into a tailspin!  I swear, I’ve got 100 things going at once–but everything took a back seat when 4 nephews and nieces needed me! (and my sister-in-law!)

11, 9, 7, and 4–and this morning I’m moving at the speed of—zero.  Oh!–plus, we snatched up another niece who was visiting!  I don’t think my sister-in-law was thrilled with my “loose” rules though.  Hey, I’m not their parents–I’m their fun, favorite Auntie!!! (Revenge is never so sweet as getting back at a big brother by way of his kids!)  At one point when I told them we were all going to be in trouble with “Mom” and she wouldn’t let me babysit again–they told me they would make a “petition” for me to come back every time!  A petition…??!!

During school hours, when it was just me and Rachel, I teased that she needed a job–she defended, “but, I’m just a little kid!”

Auntie– “Yeah, but you still need a job!”

Rachel– “Na-aaaa!” 

Auntie– “You could dooo….laundry!”

Rachel– “No! The maid does it!”

Auntie– “The maid?”

Rachel– “Yeah! Noah, Lukie, and Aleigha!”  (at least she didn’t say her mom!)

Auntie– “They don’t do laundry– their job is school.  You need a job too!  What should be your job…?”

Rachel– “I’m just a kid–that’s my job…!”  Then somehow she decided her job was to watch me!  I thought I was watching her…?

Since I needed to get some photos and art re-framed for a design job, I told her she could be my apprentice, which lead to more funny conversation!  This was her contribution! 

She “tried out” several frames!  Her distractions made the process take longer, but even more fun!

–I really liked this frame and did use it!


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While I’m off on another design project–let me share this one.

A garden make-over….interrupted by winter.

First, let me say, my parents bought this simple & modest house after my dad left the air force.  It was a last relocation, planting us sort of in the middle of both Grandmothers.  They felt it had a lot of potential, and did make many improvements through the years.  My mother still lives here, and has finally retired after 42 years teaching English.  I returned to renovate the entire house for her retirement–inside & out, as it turned out.      

In the beginning–with no trees for shade–my dad concocted this make-shift oasis.  That’s me, probably hiding out from any unpacking…! 

I’ll start this renovation tour in the garden and work towards the inside– I’ve got summer on my mind!

The back yard was left plain for sake of 4 growing children, although, my mom did claim space at the back of the garage for vegetable and flower gardens– which only changed a little through the years.

These are my hard-scape changes.

I hated the ugly window, so I built 8ft “doors” to cover it– What window?!?  The lattice panels on each side will support some kind of vining plant–morning glories, clematis, roses, jasmine…?

The square tubes were found at the ReStore.  I have no idea what they are really used for, but here, they are sunken a foot into the ground for stability, and will be planted full with cascading asparagus ferns.

The meandering flagstone connects to and from other parts of the flowing garden.  A concrete garden bench provides a respite among the flowers.

My faux doors I wanted them to look really old and kind of wracked! I still need to counter-sink all the screws, and 2 finials are still missing from the inside posts.  Plus–hose off all the dirt splash! I can’t wait to get planting!













I love the cast iron door knobs and back plates!  Oh! And check out my really creative door hinges–they’re drawer pulls–see?!  I’m on the hunt for one of those old hanging lights you would find above a barn door!  I’ll hang it near the gable peak to light the whole scape!  Maybe I’ll find one in a flea market this summer!  Crossing my fingers!


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Okay–new day, so brilliantly sunny, it’s hard not to have a new attitude to deal with winter’s….reprisal. So instead of pouting over having to conceal my fabulous new pedicure in socks and tennies, I’ll just think of them as being— “protected!”

Here are two pictures of the laundry room.













The white, oddly placed wall cabinet ….? My brother and I cut the top out of the cabinet before hanging— clothes from the kids’ upstairs, hallway ldry chute fall into the contained space until they get dealt with. 

I cut a shelf to install on the right side of the sink base (below the chute) so Lynn (my sister-in-law) could sort their clothes into a pair of stacked baskets.

The custom cabinet I’m building will sit between the dryer and wall.  It will hold those big, heavy, super-sized containers of laundry supplies, as well as give her a place to store other misc things.  I added a drawer to give her place to store stain sticks and lndry markers, and “stuff.”  I put the drawer “in” so you could see.

The right wall (between the door and wall cabinets) will have a 3′ hanging rod and shelf, giving her a better place to hang clean clothes until they travel to their appropriate closets.

The decorator in me would love to persuade her to paint all the cabinets white to unify, brighten, and visually enlarge the whole room—we’ll see.  I’d also like to paint the walls a brighter, cheerful color–but since she just painted it, I don’t think she’ll want to. Plus–I would love to see a great light fixture replace the “boob” light—those things should be outlawed.

I have another coat of paint to go before I can take everything over to install.  I’ll take pictures.

That 2nd project that’s taking me away—I’m off to Lynn’s Aunt’s house to add the architectural details the builder did not, and to re-work and refine some of their paint color choices.

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