How To Hang a Straight Row of Hooks (or Anything)

When planning the pool house, I didn’t picture art on the walls.  Instead, I wanted the accessories to serve as art.  Which means every item has to be extra special to serve the functional purpose and add a design element.  Obviously with a pool, towels are necessary.  I found beautiful 100% cotton striped Turkish towels from The Longest Thread and I bought ten.


Our pool will have only one ladder, in the shallow end, close to the window in the photo above.  For convenience, I wanted to hang seven of the towels on hooks below the window, placing the remaining three near the future hot tub area.  To hang the seven hooks in a straight row, I held the towel on the hook up to determine my height, marking it with a piece of blue tape.  Next, I eyeballed down the line, placing tape on each batten strip.  With the tape up, I held a level, marking the line on each strip.


Next, I held up a hook, making sure the level line ran through each screw hole and marked each.



With the tape still in place, start driving the hook and screw in.  Before tightening too far, pull the tape off and continue attaching.


Voila, easy, perfectly straight row without a bunch of measuring.  If you have to measure the spacing between each hook, stretch a full piece of tape or paper across.  It’s easier to mark it up and change than the wall.


Over by the future hot tub, three more hooks and towels are hung higher below that window.


I love the pattern and softness the towels add, just like functional art.


I realize I’m jumping the gun adding towels before we even have the pool liner, but I’m excited to unpack the accessory hoard I’ve had for over half a year.  Speaking of my accessory stash, I pulled out all of the bathroom goodies and got it all in place.  Stay tuned for that next week!


The Painted Pool House

Bright and early on Saturday, Ben and I put on our best painting clothes, head socks, respirators, and got to work spraying paint.  We used Pro Industrial in Snowbound from Sherwin Williams, and it was okay.  It’s a very thin paint and paired with the detailed board and batten, Ben had to be careful with application.  It dripped in a few areas, but as the day warmed, it dried quicker, which helped a lot.  Unlike oil based paint, water based paints create quite the haze.


Once Ben painted around each door, we cut small slits in the plastic, opened the doors, and popped a fan in the mechanical room window.  We waited several hours for the paint to dry to the touch before pulling the masking off.

Ben started with the ceiling/beam masking while I worked on the doors, windows, and benches.  That first glimpse of the stained wood against the white walls made me stupidly giddy.  Pulling the masking off is far more satisfying than putting it all down, of course.


When the drop cloths were down, it washed out the entire space.  Folding each sheet up to reveal the slate floors grounded the room.


With the walls and ceiling all the same white, the beams, benches, floors, and accessories all stand out.


I was most nervous to pull the tape off the wood, but relieved to see crisp lines.



Ignore the layer of dust and chipped paint bits.


We spent Sunday, our anniversary, installing sconces, outlet/switch/vent covers, and cleaning up the messes.


The floating walnut shelves and vent hood look exactly as I imagined.  Deep, rich walnut always looks good, but especially against a clean, fresh white.



In the half bath, the battens terminate into the marble back splash, creating a textured backdrop for the accessories.


I’ve started to unload my hoard of towels, pillows, and other goodies even though we don’t yet have a pool liner.  That’s next on the list, along with finishing up the kitchen cabinets.

Seeing White

Our previously decrepit indoor pool house has been our single biggest, longest, and most expensive room makeover to date.  Though we had demolished the raised wet bar in 2012, replaced windows and doors in 2015, we really got to work in November 2016, working from the ceiling down.

While the ceiling was a lot of work, mostly due to the awkward working space, the walls win the most tedious award.


Although I only have myself to blame for that, because I was set on a floor to ceiling board and batten wall treatment.  First, hanging sheets of plywood backing, followed with hundreds of batten strips.


The single most time-consuming, finger killing part was the miles of caulking.  I trudged through because I knew the result would be 100 percent worth it all.  This weekend, we made it one giant leap closer to the final, completed room.  Before we could get to the satisfying part, spraying primer, we had to mask off everything we didn’t want to get paint on.


Floors, ceiling, cabinets, shelves, benches, doors, and windows.  Probably most fun, the two huge support beams that span the entire room.


When masking, I prefer to start with a good quality painter’s tape, closely following the edges.  Then I come back with my sheet of plastic to quickly mask the remaining open areas.  When in doubt, tape every single seam.  It’ll prevent over spray coming through as well as the plastic flapping up from the sprayer air.


With the plastic applied, we laid drop cloths on the floor to completely cover it.


With the prep work out of the way, we cracked open the oil based primer and got to spraying.  Ben started in the kitchen, working around the walnut shelves and vent hood.  My heart was beating so fast, a mixture of excitement of how great it looked already and worry that I hadn’t masked well enough.  I felt the same way about the ceiling beams and those turned out perfectly, so I have my fingers crossed.


This step is the single most satisfying part of a job.  In a matter of seconds, the walls went from unfinished plywood to crisp white.


Ben rocked the priming, knocking out the entire room in about 2 hours.  Despite being unfinished, the primer gives us an idea of the finished look and feel.


Even with the windows covered, it’s so bright and fresh (looking, because the smell was terrible).



It’s taking everything in me not to peel back the tape on the benches to see how it looks, but we still have to paint.


One minor annoyance is that the rough edges of each batten strip absorbed most of the paint.


We hoped to paint on Sunday, but instead took the day to brush each edge with a second coat of primer.


Not ideal, but necessary for the best possible paint finish.  We’ll spray the walls white, Snowbound from Sherwin Williams, this weekend and that’ll be the last whole room project.  After that, it’s all minor tasks to complete.  We’ll install sconces, finish the kitchen cabinets, and add the pool liner.  Then, it’s party time.

Modern Built in Planters

We’re taking advantage of this warm but not too warm spring weather with an outside project that has never been a priority.  Apparently I don’t have many pictures of the cobbled together rock planter, seen on the right, likely because I’ve always hated it.


It divides the flat parking and the steep driving sides of our driveway, with nearly a four-foot height difference between the two.  The planter is needed to help bridge the gap of elevation difference, but is difficult to navigate around with bigger vehicles.  A native Ponderosa Pine grew in the planter, taking up even more space.  We did like the height and interest it added, but weren’t sad when it died from beetle damage and had to be cut down.


Aside from the too large size, the planter construction was an ugly cobbled together mixture of leftover rocks.  Sandstone boulders from the property, left over landscape blocks, and thin sandstone stacked together made a wobbly structure.Peonies-and-Boxwood-by-Front-Walk

Earlier this spring, I transplanted the peonies that were in here and starting pulling out the loose rocks.


In order to prep for the new planter, Ben used the bobcat to dig out the big rocks.


He dug down four feet to create an area to set the new planter in, which will get back filled after.


We intentionally left a 30 inch space between the wooden walkway and the future planter.  I’ll add plants to fill the gap, but also trail down the front slope.


So what type of planter are we installing?  Well, we kicked around several options.  Maybe a square plate steel design, similar to these:

Or a poured concrete shape, like this:

Kathleen Shaefer Landscape

Perhaps even a horizontal wood one to mimic the balcony and deck railings.

Contemporist Built in Planter

All would be great, but I decided I wanted something softer and not angular; something round.  Preferably something with thin walls to allow as much planting space inside, without taking up more of the driveway.  Ben suggested a section of culvert, and though it seems strange, I really like it.

Culvert Planter

I prefer the parallel grooves compared to the angled screw thread pattern.  To better blend with the house materials, I hope to rust the metal to bring a bit of the rust steel to the planter.

Horizontal Culvert Planter

Inside, I want to add a compact tree and surround the base with lavender to greet guests (and us) with that beautiful scent.  For now, we wait for our culvert section to come in.  Until then, I’ll be searching for trees, but I’m leaning toward an Ivory Silk Tree Lilac or an Amur Maple tree.  I’d love to hear your tree suggestions, keeping in mind we are zone 4 and want something that maxes out around 20 feet tall.

Our Spring View

Spring is easily my favorite time of year.  It’s glorious to get out of the house after a long winter; seeing everything come to life again is a fresh start.  I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside, transplanting a few plants, pulling weeds, and filling my empty pots.


Back when we started landscaping our steeply sloped lot, we spread a lot of limestone rock.  Since then, I’ve slowly added plants throughout, and with several years to grow, things are finally filling in.  The Russian sage tends to spread, so I pull what I don’t want and leave the rest.  Free plants are a win in my book.


Along the road frontage, I’ve tucked a mix of succulents into gaps between the big boulders.  Lamb’s ear and lavender are drought tolerant, but form big, mounding piles that cover a lot of ground for one plant.


The row of Stella de Oro daylilies are filling in along the driveway, softening the edge.  Three Royal Purple Smoke Trees have tripled in size since planting, but are slow to fill out.


For a nice welcome at the top of the driveway, a clematis sits in a pot between the two garage doors.


Depending on how it does in the planter, I’ll build a bigger trellis, but this small one works for now.


Lining the front walkway, the row of Karl Foerster grasses will soon be at eye level, creating a living fence of sorts.  The swish sound in the wind combined with the nearby lavender scent is the perfect summer calm.


This spring, while checking out plants at Lowe’s, I saw two concrete pots for $28 each and quickly loaded them in the cart.  A lilac plant adds height, with succulents and a purple sweet potato vine to fill in.  Come fall, I’ll transplant the lilac near the top of the back hill.


Off to the side of the stone path, I set a Shepard’s hook into the rock with a hanging basket of succulents for a somewhat sculptural interest.


My first plant additions are thriving, though I now wish I had added more variety,  for more height and color.


The view from the back stairs is my favorite.  What looked like this in 2013, right after adding all of the limestone:


Now looks like this:


A viburnum proudly stands nearest the stairs, with a succulent below.  I think the deer carried a few little pieces of another over, which is a happy little accident that I let grow.


Spring blooming viburnum is a great pair to the hydrangea near the deck.  Unfortunately, it had a terrible aphid problem last year that I could only fix by cutting off the new growth.


Viburnum tend to get leggy, so it worked to keep it compact, but also decreased the amount of blooms.


Off the right end of the stairs is a cut flower garden with a mix of peonies, coreopsis, daylilies, hyssop, and a honeysuckle training on an orb.


Catmint have grown so, so well that they dot throughout our property.  Soon, they’ll be covered in unruly purple blooms and the bees will love it.


Another great grower is lavender, with the bonus of the amazing smell.  Angelina stonecrop has spread into the crannies of large rocks, carrying chartreuse color all around.


We haven’t put the table back on the deck, but the lounge chairs are out.  Our kids especially love these.


Flanking the chair are (chipping) pots loaded up with purple butterfly bushes and lime green sweet potato vines.  Though they look pathetically small right now, I hope they’ll fill in as the seasons progress.