Door Handles

For the most part, decisions for the basement have been made based on the main level.  Mainly what will flow, so we’ve carried elements throughout for continuity.  Painted six panel doors, same trim, slate flooring, and white tongue and groove are all joining the party.  One choice however, has prompted a change on the main level:


It’s subtle, but maybe this will make it more obvious?


If you still can’t tell, we changed out all the door handles and hinges.


After looking at several options, we landed on the Latitude series from Schlage in satin nickel.  I chose based on looks while Ben’s choice was based on durability, reputation, and a lifetime guarantee.

Gone are the shiny brass paddle style levers that adorned each main level door when we bought this house.   I know the brass trend is still going strong, but I prefer it in unlacquered form.

Main Bathroom Painted Door Handle

The basement had all standard cheapo knobs straight out of the 70’s.


Now that we’re at the point in the basement to, you know, install/need doors and handles, we bit the bullet and bought enough for both levels.


Clean, tailored lines are beautiful, but also really easy to wipe down.  With two messy boys, wipeability is always a consideration.


More often than not, it’s the tiny details that make me happiest.  Even something as miniscule and trite as door handles.  It’s always a great reminder not to ignore smaller elements, as they still have an impact on every finished space.

The Case for Teak Oil

When finishing a wooden product, I know a coat or two of polyurethane is a standard sealant option.  And for good reason-it’s water-resistant, wipeable, and usually durable.  It’s the top coat I’ve used on several pieces I’ve refinished and they look just as good years later.


But polyurethane isn’t the only option, nor is it my favorite.  Over the years, in an experiment of sorts, I put several alternative products to the test: mineral oil, cutting board oil, Danish oil, butcher block oil, paste finishing wax, and Teak oil.


Why, you ask?  Well, because unlike a traditional poly, all the products mentioned above can be reapplied at any time.  But why would I want to recoat when I could just use poly and be done?  I’d love to explain.  Of all the options I’ve tried, Teak oil is my favorite, with Danish oil a close second.  The rest, well, they certainly have a use in the right application, like refreshing a cutting board.  For furniture purposes, mineral oil products just aren’t durable or long wearing enough.  Teak oil, however, penetrates and creates a long-lasting water-resistant surface.  It’s great for sealing furniture, as I did with my wood frame linen sofa.


Teak oil has also been my go to for sealing the walnut cabinetry we’ve made, both in the master bathroom and kitchen island.



So what’s so special about this?  First off, it enhances the grain of wood, bringing out the depth and character.  Look what a quick swipe will do:


From blah and ashen to bold and rich.


Application is also crazy easy and brush stroke free.  Simply pour a little on a scrap of an old t-shirt, rub on, and wipe off with a clean, lint free cloth.  That’s it.


Even better, oil can be reapplied over an old coat without sanding, which is not the case with polyurethane, making it ideal for wooden pieces in high traffic/use areas.  Have a scratch, gouge, or dent?  Don’t fret, just dab a little oil on and you’re set.  Ooh, rhyme time!  This finish won’t crack, peel, or flake off.


The only down side is that over time, water spots can appear.  Upon close inspection, the most often used kitchen drawers, mainly the utensil and trash, show signs of use.  It has been at least a year since the last application, so when I find the time, I’ll give each drawer a light sand and touch up coat for a quick refresh. Now, that’s something you can’t do with polyurethane finishes.

Thrifty Treasures and Cleaning Silver

Craigslist and thrifting are of course, very hit or miss.  It’s better to go into a store with an open mind and a general idea of what you’re looking for or hoping to find.  Occasionally, I make a big score, like our camel leather sofa, but larger pieces have been elusive lately.


Aside from a pair of fantastic chairs, all of my finds have been small accessories.


There are a few items on my list that I’ve been looking for, mostly serving pieces, which thrift stores are chock full of.  Not only are they useful, but look pretty on display in our hutch.



Most recently, I picked up a three dollar silver platter and two brass flower bowls from different places.


A $5 silver teapot, three buck marble and glass cheese dome, 5 dollar brass footed bowl fill in the right side.  I’ve had these gold striped glasses for several years now, and just found a matching pitcher for a mere $4, total score!


For two or so years, I’ve looked for a wooden bowl big enough to hold our Costco quantities of fruit.  Finally, spotted this big, dark guy for ten dollars.


I almost walked out without this smaller hand carved bowl, but in the end, the grain had me hooked.


It’s so interesting and makes a great catchall on my desk.


The silver platter was dirty and tarnished, so I picked up Tarnex to make it shine again.  In my excitement to get it done, I spaced and didn’t take pictures.  Since it worked so well, I used it on the other silver pieces in my collection, including the silver teapot.  It certainly wasn’t terrible, but did have an even layer of patina.


A few light swipes of a Tarnex soaked cotton ball made it all go away.


Not sure why, but the platter required more muscle and scrubbing, while this swiped away with little effort.


Then I tried it on the silver bowl we keep Lego minifigures in, but it barely changed this harsh tarnish.


Any tips or products to polish up really stubborn silver stains?

Painting a Wood Wall White

Last I shared our master bedroom, it looked like this:


We had made some progress, especially compared to our starting point, but the to do list still had plenty of unchecked boxes including a new bed, seating arrangement, and possibly painting the wood wall white.


That last item, painting, was something I’d been considering for a while, to better flow with the white tongue and groove planks in the adjacent bath, entry, and kitchen.  Having painted new wood before, I suspected this reclaimed wood would toss me a curveball thanks to all the tar paper residue.

Reclaimed Cedar Planked Wall

Fortunately, after painting our deck ceiling, I had the perfect product in my possession: Sherwin Williams Exterior Oil-Based Wood Primer.

The reason I had to wait so long to tackle this step was the uncooperative weather.  Stupid summer with temps constantly in the 90’s.  Oil-based primers and paint are always stinky, so I waited for a few days of cool weather that would allow open windows and proper ventilation of the room.  My first coat of primer covered the wood beautifully, but the tar areas bled through lightly.


Per the instructions, I waited 24 hours before reapplying a follow-up coat for thorough, opaque coverage.  This primer is thick, and filled in some of the spaces between the boards, making it look sloppy.


Knowing I’d still have to paint, I held off cleaning out the grooves.  After two coats of white paint, I used a utility knife to scrape the paint out, leaving clean gaps and a full textured ship lap looking wall.


Though I liked the warmth of the wood wall, it didn’t flow with the rest of the room or house.  Painting the accent wall white gives me a blank slate to work against.  Moving forward, I still have projects to tackle, like a new bed, complete with a lovely green velvet upholstered headboard hence the taped up text fabric.


While I was making changes, I switched out the lamps and art.  The triangular lamps I made took up a lot of space on our floating nightstand, so while in Minnesota I picked up two Ranarp sconces from Ikea.

Smaller light fixtures left more space above the nightstand than before, so I painted feathers on watercolor paper to create science poster art.


Each piece cost less than five dollars and didn’t require frames thanks to the style.  I cut quarter-inch thick by 1 1/2 inch wide hemlock strips one inch longer than the paper, applied a coat of special walnut stain, and stapled through the paper into the back of the wood.  A string of twine is a simple hook, also stapled into the wood.


Thanks to the lightweight design, a thumb tack with a small wood slice glued to the front keeps the art in place.


Then, as usual, one thing leads to another and I didn’t like the mismatched look of the dark art wood and the light nightstand.  Not to worry, a coat of matching stain on each was a quick fix and really finished off the look.


Ahh yes, much better.




Up next, sewing a matching set of curtains for the window above our bed.  After many attempts to get my hands on another six yards of white linen, I finally broke down and had the fabric store order some for me.


With the deck project in full swing, I’m not sure when the bed will be a priority, but it’ll make all the difference in finishing off the room.  Now to decide how I want to handle the other side of the room.

Mini Bug Shadowbox

I mentioned in the guest room update that I’ve been drawn to natural elements for decorating.  The bookshelves are filled with things found in nature including driftwood, feathers, skulls, and a framed butterfly.


Just a few weeks ago, after watering plants, I shut off the water and was startled by a large (2 inches long) beetle on the ground.  It didn’t move, and I went back inside.  Three days later, it was still there and obviously dead.  Ben brought it inside to show, ah hem, scare the boys.  Surprisingly, only one was afraid of it, while the other thought it was cool.  Half jokingly, I said we should frame it for over his bed, and he agreed.  All that to say, I’ve hit what may be a new crazy, even for me.  I made a tiny bug coffin shadowbox.  But, most of the supplies I already had, so that saves me some crazy points, yes?  Anyway, if you want to make a small shadow box, here’s what I used: one 2 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide by 1/4 inch thick poplar, one 1/4 inch square wooden dowel, both originally from Home Depot and a small piece of glass from a frame at Goodwill.  To get started, I applied a bead of wood glue to the top of the poplar board and set the square dowel on top to clamp, like so:


This beefs up the face and gives a lip for the glass to rest on, but keeps the frame from getting too thick.  It’s also easier than getting out the router.


Once the glue dried, I assembled the frame the same way I made this larger set.


To keep the beetle away from the glass, I cut pieces of a paint stick to fit snugly inside the frame and gave everything a coat of white paint.  After the paint dries, place the clean glass in first, then the paint stick spacers, then the backing with the mounted bug, or whatever normal thing you’re framing.  A dab of glue holds the bug onto a scrap of white cardstock.  For now, it’s living in the guest room, but I think it’ll get moved to the boys’ room.


Poor guy lost a few parts sitting outside, but he’s still pretty cool.  By cool I mean semi creepy, but not to all little boys.  Have I totally lost it?  Wait, don’t answer that.