A Fan of Fans

Ahh, ceiling fans, the most love it or hate it ceiling fixtures in homes.  We’ve pulled a few uglies out of spaces, despite their usefulness.  This faux wood, detailed, three light version quickly made its way out the door.


I created a simple fixture made from PVC pipe, wire, and spray paint which has served well over the last few years.


Recently though, Ben mentioned that he’d like a ceiling fan in our bedroom again.  It’s so rare that Ben asks for something specific (design wise) so I try to figure out a way to make both of us happy.  With the ceiling fan request, I scoured the internet to find something sleek, modern, with a light, that didn’t cost and arm and a leg.  I came across this Contemporary 52 inch Brushed Nickel 2 Light fan priced at $135.99 and saved it in an email and continued searching.


I always save my favorites in an email, just to see if I stumble on something I like better, but I can easily come back to make my decision.

While searching, I saw zillions of options, where I quickly noticed I preferred three-bladed fans most.  That’s not to say I didn’t like some with four or more blades.  Generally though, ones with more blades felt more traditionally designed or, I don’t know, busy?  Spoiler alert, I ordered the one above, we installed it over the weekend, and so far, we’re liking it.


After sharing a photo on Instagram and getting requests for sources, I realized I wasn’t the only one struggling to find a decent looking, affordable fan.


Here’s a round-up of some that I saved in my search, for anyone that’s in the market.  First off, ceiling fans with lights.


  1.  44″ Casa Vieja Trifecta in Brushed Nickel for $249.99
  2. 52″ Minka Aire Light Wave in Silver, but also comes in Distressed Koa and White for $279.95
  3. 52″ Monte Carlo in Rubberized Black for $286.00, comes in other finishes
  4. 42″ Moderno in Satin Nickel for $199.81
  5. 60″ Railey LED Fan in Brushed Nickel for $159.00

Sometimes, you don’t need a fan with a light, so if that’s the boat you’re in, here are a few options.


  1.  Modern Ball Ceiling Fan in Brushed Aluminum for $316.00
  2. 52″ Minka Aire Kewl Fan in Black for $114.95
  3. 52″ Minka Aire 3 Blade Fan in Brushed Aluminum for $179.95

Although our front deck with full covered roof is technically finished, there are still a few things we need to tie up or are considering adding.  Ceiling fans are on the list, either a single centered on the middle door or a trio, all centered on the sliding doors.


I’m still researching exactly what I want, but here are my front-runners.


Outdoor fans:

  1.  52″ Hunter Cassius Outdoor Fan in Matte Silver Finish for $99.00
  2. Bentley II 18″ Oscillating fan in Brushed Nickel for $139.00
  3. 72″ Casa Velocity in Brushed Nickel for $134.95
  4. 54″ Fanimation Semi Flush 4 Blade in Brushed Nickel $179.95

Clearly there’s a lot of variety here, but each is so cool in its own way.  I’m leaning toward black, but that 72 inch fan is a beast and I’m sure it can move some serious air.  I’ll keep you posted on the decision, but ever so slowly, I’m kind of becoming a fan of ceiling fans.  Where do you fall on the subject?  I know people in southern areas swear by them, but in our northern climate, they’re more of an option.

Four Year Home Tour: Part Two

Continuing the tour, let’s walk down the hall and peek into the bathrooms and bedrooms.

Four years ago, when we closed, the only tub in the house was the clawfoot in the main bath.  Having two little kids and guests, a tub only wasn’t the most ideal layout, nor were the finishes selected.

New-House-Main-Bathroom April 13 2012

Our first project was to remodel the bathroom, adding a tub/shower combo, and create more privacy by the toilet.


Across the room, a large, intricate vanity with small drawers and little storage took up a lot of floor space.  Note the plug-in sconces, in a bathroom.

Main Bathroom Vanity Before

Utilizing vertical space, we built the floor to ceiling narrow shelving for storage.  Keeping the vanity open, and painted a unique color, visually lightens the room, while still offering storage for toilet paper, towels, and bath toys.


The smallest bedroom in the house, the guest room, featured wall to wall, floor to ceiling oak bookshelves, a boob light, and another broken window.

Guest Room Before

With a tight layout, we wanted to create a useful room, with plenty of walking space and even a dresser.  To do so, we cut out a notch in the shelves to recess the bed, making a cozy nook.  Sconces flank either side, with the shelves serving as a nightstand.  A larger window creates an egress access and brightens the north facing room.


Across from the bed is a petite dresser and small closet.


Perhaps the most neutral space before, the boys’ bedroom, had two windows and oodles of sun shining in.  It also had unevenly patched walls and popcorn ceilings.

Boys Room Before

When working on spaces for kids, I like to ask for their opinions.  Before getting started on the fun stuff, I fixed the walls, scraped the ceiling smooth, and we replaced the fogged up old windows.  Then came the fun part, and the boys helped choose the wall color, art, and stripe curtains.


There’s a small space between the entrance and closet doors, but the starting point was a blank slate.

Boys Room Before

To use the small space, a handed down bookshelf fills the space nicely, without eating up precious real estate.  Of course the Star Wars gear makes an appearance.


While the boys’ room was neutral, the master bedroom had peeling/painted over wallpaper, electric blue walls, two large windows, an ugly ceiling fan, and popcorn ceilings.


As with the entry, we added a wood planked wall for texture and interest and later painted it white.  On other walls, I painstakingly peeled off the old wallpaper and scraped off popcorn ceilings.  A custom bed, sewed leather top curtain panels, and floating nightstand add character and warmth.  We also replaced the window and added a door leading out to a small, private balcony.


Along the left wall is our walk in closet.


Oh the power of paint!  Blue walls be gone, in with bright white and nearly black walls.  A large leaning mirror is a functional way to put the small area to work.  Storing extra blankets looks good on a DIY ladder rack.


Across the room is the entry door (to the right) as well as the master bathroom (on the left).  With a generous open area, it’s a bit challenging to put to good use.  A master sitting area seems to be the go to.


Instead, a recently found Craigslist dresser brings the warm wood tones over to this side of the room.  Added storage is always a plus, but I love having a surface to hold decorative items, too.  I hear masking tape is the new, modern alternative to picture frames, didn’t you?  Haha, no, a frame will happen…eventually.


Four years ago, if you went through the door you would have seen a hot dog covered with ketchup and mustard-esque room.  Red walls, yellow tile and sinks, and brown floors.  In a word, woof.

Maroon Master Bathroom Before

After a full gut remodel, we have a modern meets rustic retreat.  Ben built a custom walnut vanity, topped with a stainless steel counter and vessel sink.  More tongue and groove is a durable lower wall and a high contrast against the dark upper.


Double sinks on a long vanity were nice, but not something we really need.

Maroon Master Bathrom Vanity Before

Instead, we shortened the vanity to five feet with a single sink, allowing room for the clawfoot tub we pulled out of the main bath.


Though much of the basement is still in the process, here’s a peek at the previous arrangement.  Door number one (to the left) led into the under stair storage, and the small French doors went into a big, open space.


With a bit of reconfiguration, we turned part of the under stair storage into a small mud nook.  Straight ahead is a bedroom, with a theater space on the other side.


Stay tuned for the exterior changes, as this post has also gotten lengthy.

Luck of the Irish

I may not have Irish heritage, but I undeniably love the color green.  As a kid, when coloring or painting, I didn’t consider my work done until I added a splash of green somewhere.  If you’re wondering, yes, I was a complete nerd who loved to draw, paint, build and decorate cardboard doll houses.  I remember making a yellow-backed floral wall paper by drawing on white printer paper.  It’s too bad I don’t have photos, because I’m sure it was just lovely-haha.

To me, green adds a vibrancy and lively element no other colors can.  Yes, yellow is bright and cheery, but it doesn’t add the right warmth.  Blues are beautiful and soothing, but can’t quite make the statement green can.  Green is so abundant in nature, whether light, fresh spring green, dark mid summer grass-green, or the muted tones found in fall and winter.  As a general green lover, I’ve incorporated some of each throughout my home and I urge you to do the same.

Some rooms have just a sprinkle (nothing too in your face) of green, such as our family room. In a mostly neutral space, nearly citron green pillows liven up the couch and add a jolt of color.


A brightly colored green and blue landscape painting perks up the mantle while the lumbar pillows pull the color down to the neutral chairs.  Just a few small green accessories like books, a small vase, and candles pepper the color around the rest of the room.


Our kitchen counters are dark, nearly black green soapstone that still reads as a neutral.


Small additions like towels, plants, dishes, even fruit are quick, zero commitment ways to add even more color.


Other rooms have a slightly bigger swath of green, like our living room.  Six sets of luscious grass-green velvet curtains flank the windows.


Cover the curtains with your hand and you’ll notice just how much life and personality they bring to the room.  When in doubt, always default to house plants to get that bit of color without overwhelming a room.  Bonus, you don’t have to deal with picking paint colors or fabrics.


Speaking of paint, sometimes a quart can make the biggest impact.  At less than $20, what do you have to lose by giving it a try?  Our main bathroom rocks an olive-green vanity, which has so much more character than any neutral ever will.


Toss a few more green accessories, in this case, hand towels and a nearly ugly 70’s landscape painting, around the room to complete the look.

Main Bathroom Overall

According to the color wheel, green is a cool color, but it certainly adds warmth to any space.  A muddy sagey olive acts as an almost neutral backdrop in our guest bedroom.


Pairing with bright white it feels so fresh, clean, and simple.  But greens really shine next to warm wood tones, much like a tree trunk and leaves.


By far the most overtly green room in the house is the boys’ bedroom.  Back when I gave their room a makeover, I asked each of them what color walls they wanted.  One said green and the other said yellow.  We compromised with this lemongrass yellow-green.  It’s fun and happy, but is tempered by white, gray, and navy.


Our master suite, though mostly white and black, has green tucked here and there.  More grass-green velvet wraps the headboard for a touch of color against an otherwise white wall.


Opposite the bed, a few bright green plants and (soon to be framed) landscape painting flank a dresser, bringing color around the room in a simple, easy-going way.


Even our master bathroom has touches of green via plants and a very abstract landscape.


Though we’re not quite at the point of the basement remodel to paint and add accessories, I’m trying to narrow down green paint options to use down there in a few ways.  I think we all have a color we naturally gravitate toward, right?  What’s yours, and more importantly, how do you use it in your decor?

Craigslist Dresser Score

In some ways, having a large-ish bedroom is nice, but the long layout is a little difficult to put to practical use.  For the last two or so years, we’ve had this mid-century bench against the wall opposite the bed.


It was fine, but we never hang out in our bedroom, sitting on a bench.  Mostly, the bench was a perch for a basket of clean, folded laundry before putting it away.  Over the last few years, I’ve been passively searching for the perfect dresser for this spot.  Something simple, with straight lines, at least six drawers, five or more feet long, and not crazy mid-century looking.  Something I could paint without feeling guilty, if necessary but a good wood tone was preferable.  Not having to refinish was an added bonus.

At long last, the search ended when I spied a dresser on Craigslist that checked each criteria box, listed at $300.  After a little arm twisting, Ben agreed to look at it with me to give his approval and help load, should he like it as much as I did.


Based on the fact that the dresser is in our bedroom, you can guess how that went.  It’s a vintage Kroehler and included a matching mirror.  Since we already have a large standing mirror in the room, I’m saving it to use above the basement bathroom vanity as I’ve done in our main bathroom.

Back to the dresser, I adore the simple detailing on the drawers.


The handles, well, I’m on the fence how I feel about those.  I mean, they’re fine and original to the dresser with a great shape, but the inside detail isn’t my favorite.  I don’t know, maybe a quick polish would help things?


That burl strip along the top is a lovely little detail.


Having two different widths of drawers breaks up the design nicely, but is also practical for storage purposes.


To add a lighter, taller element to this side of the room, I set the Schoolhouse Electric knock off white and linen lamp off to the side along with a stack of white books.  A crystal covered rock the boys found sits atop the stack for small sparkle.  I’m sure I’ll continue to change things around, but it’s a start.


Unlike the deeper bench, the 19 inch depth is perfect in this kind of walkway area.  Of course, it’s far more functional, offering storage for out of season clothes as well.


Having a little display area is stupidly exciting to me.  My only concern was how the dresser was going to look in such close proximity to the somewhat similar bathroom vanity.  Are they too similar?  Fortunately, I’m digging the look with the peek into the bathroom.


Eventually, hopefully sooner than later, I want to hang a 30 by 40 inch Emily Jeffords print above to round out the grouping.


Back when I ordered it, I intended for it to go above the bed in the future basement bedroom.  But I love it so much, the colors and size are perfect for our bedroom, so I’ve decided to enjoy waking up to it every morning.  Naturally, I taped it to the wall to see how it all works together and I’m quite pleased.


Now to figure out my framing situation and get it done.


After a little bargaining, Ben negotiated the price down to $240 and we’re all happy.  And that’s the tale of the Kroehler dresser coming into our lives.

King Bed Build Plan

When you’re on a budget and have something specific in mind, DIY is such a good option, allowing customization and a lower price point than most store options.  That’s how our king sized bed came to be, and cost less than $200 for every last supply.


Fortunately, this wasn’t our first bed building experience-we made a captains bed for our smaller bedroom at our last house and a bed for each of the boys about two years ago.


In fact, the process for creating our bed was very similar to the steps we used to make a set of twin beds.  First, we cut a 4 by 4 post into 16 inch lengths, then running the sides through the table saw to create a 3 1/4 inch square, just to take the rounded edges off, looking less like dimensional lumber.  With a sander, I angled the tops of each post an eighth of an inch, just to ease the seam.  Here’s a normal post next to a finished one for comparison.


To securely fasten the side rails into the posts, we measured 1 1/2 inches and 6 1/2 inches down from the top of the post.  For the head and foot rails, we measured 2 inches and 6 inches down.  Staggering the screws is a very important step because the screws are going in perpendicular and you don’t want them to hit.  It’s easiest to place the post in the corner and mark 3/4 of an inch in from the edge where the rail will go in.  Pre drill holes through the post, keeping the drill as plumb as possible to avoid the screws going in wonky.


For a beefier, well proportioned bed we used 2 by 10 boards for the rails, with a half strip of 2 by 4 nailed along the base.  Again, we ran each through the table saw to cut away the rounded corner.


Large beds are difficult to maneuver, getting around corners and through doors, so we built each side to come apart easily.  For even easier disassembly/moving, Ben attached spacers to the side rails, leaving enough room for a vertical 2 by 4 between each.  These keep the mattress cross supports in place without nails, meaning the supports are removable without tools!


Along the head and foot rails, we secured a 2 by 4, to give the OSB a ledge to rest on, keeping it flush with rest of the cross supports.


Below, the rails are ready for the corner posts.



On a level surface, lay all the pieces out upside down, which keeps the tops of the rails and posts flush.  Then drive a 6 inch long screw through the post and into each rail.


While still in the garage, we assembled the bed to make sure everything fit, then took the side rails apart, leaving the legs attached to the head and foot sections before staining.


Our finishing cap that covers the posts and rails is also a 2 by 4, but planed down to a 1 inch thickness and cut to match the post width of 3 1/4 inches.


Mitered corners on the foot end, but a square-cut at the head end to tuck under the headboard.


Once stained, oiled, and dry, we hauled the pieces up and put it back together, just like Humpty Dumpty.  In go the cross supports, spaced 16 inches on center.  Ben builds everything to allow a large pachyderm to be able to use it, so no creaking, squeaking, or wobble going on here.


Then the OSB sheeting.


The headboard is a sheet of OSB cut two inches narrower than the frame, then the edges are thickened up with a half strip of 2 by 4.  I wrapped batting, then the velvet over, stapling to the underside of the 2 by 4 edge.  Once the upholstery was done, we nailed a 1 inch wide wood strip around the sides to finish it off.


Two by six sections run vertically, screwing into the back side of the head rail to attach the headboard.  Overall, the bed took us about 6 or 8 hours to build and finish from scratch.  And in those hours, we saved roughly 1600 dollars, which is far more than my hourly pay rate of nothing.