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.

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.

Building a Sleek Railing

A few weekends back, we took the plunge and replaced our stair railings.


It was our first venture, with a few small things to figure out, but overall went smoothly.  To get started, we of course had to remove the old set, loosening the bolts from the underside first.


With the flat side out, we determined our new post placement.  Since the old railing was too close to the front door trim, we shifted the posts over an inch.


Ben cut the 4 by 4 inch post to size (38 inches above the floor with 11 inches below), set it in the hole, and cut another post in half length wise and to height for the wall side.  Neither were fastened in place so we could first attach the horizontal planks.  We purchased 2 by 6 boards, but ran the sides through the table saw to cut them down to 5 inches wide and take away the dimensional lumber look.  To save some time sanding, we also ran each plank through the planer for an ultra smooth finish.  Once all the boards were cut and prepped, we cut 4 inch spacers to make sure spacing between was even.


While I held the boards in place on the full post end, Ben worked on the half post side.  He screwed through the backside of the post, into each board three times to secure it in place without visible holes.  Then we shimmied it into place on the wall and fastened it to the wall.


The full post end was only slightly different since we used longer screws.  Ben pre-drilled through the post, creating a recess for the screw head, then drove the screws into place while I kept the each board in place.



Working on the flat side was easy enough and went quickly, but the angled side was a bit tricky.  Again, removing the old was step number one.


Another 38 inch tall 4 by 4 post was set into the hole at the top of the stairs.


To keep the spacing between the boards even with the flat areas, the post at the bottom had to be taller since the angled cuts make the planks taller.  This post had to be notched out to cut around the stair wall before screwing it in at the base.


Then time for the straight meets angled cut to follow the stair angle.  Once the angles fit perfectly, Ben applied glue on the angle and drove screws in from the top and bottom to keep everything rigid and in place until the glue dried.


Like the other side, Ben put two screws into each plank.


In that corner, where the stairs meet the small section terminated to the wall, we had to stagger the screws so they didn’t cross.  Since the wall section is shorter, one screw in the center held firmly.


After everything was securely fastened on the upper sections, Ben drove 6 inch long screws through the posts and into the wall studs below for maximum rigidity.

For a seamless finish, I filled each screw hole, knot hole, and hairline crack with putty and sanded smooth.


Caulking along the seams and walls was the last step before painting.


When painting over raw wood like pine, sap bleed through can be an issue.  For greatest durability and stain blocking, I applied one coat of the same stain I used on our bedroom wall: Sherwin Williams Exterior Oil-Based Wood Primer.  It’s stinky, so I built a fire and opened the windows to air the room out.


Knowing white will show any dirt, grubby hand marks, and well, everything else, I needed a paint that could withstand a good scrub.  After a chat with my favorite paint guy at our local Ace Hardware, he suggested Benjamin Moore’s Ben Exterior paint in the low lustre finish to avoid a glossy finish.  Three coats later and it’s a wrap.


With this checked off the to do list, we can start hanging sheet rock in the basement.

A Sleek Stair Railing

Back on closing day, nearly four years ago now, our living room had a lovely variety of honey toned oak.  Floors, doors, trim, and the railing.  The light fixtures, red accent wall, and arch over the railing were high points, too.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

We’ve since added new trim, painted the doors and walls, replaced the lighting.  Basically changed everything except the floors (which will remain the same) and until recently, the railing.


With the basement completely gutted and free of drywall, we finally had access to the underside of the railings.


Over the weekend we removed the old oak railings and built a new, sleeker design.  Two years or so ago I started planning what would eventually replace the oak and thought a horizontal layout would look best.  A few months ago I spotted this railing by Milk and Honey Home and knew it would work for our home, too.


To build our railing we used four by four posts and two by six boards for the rails.  It took a day to build and install, and even before primer and paint, it looked light years better.


One coat of primer and three coats of white paint later and here we are today:


Be prepared for photo overload.


The simple design doesn’t attract unnecessary attention and is sturdier than the old design.


Getting the straight section by the living room done was pretty straight forward, but the angled section was trickier.


I’ve got a post in the works covering the building process, so I’ll save the specifics for then.


It’s much more modern and more in keeping with the straight lines of the house.



I may regret my decision to paint it white after the millionth round of washing dirty hand prints off, but I love the way it blends with the tongue and groove wall.


The post tops are simply a 45 degree angle and rise 2.5 inches above the top rails.


To give the boards a defined termination into the wall, we cut a post in half for a seamless look.


Every new change is so exciting to see when walking past, and this one has been a long time coming.


The way it brightens up the entry and living room is my favorite.


Once we’ve replaced the tile, our entry checklist will be complete.


And with the railing complete, we can continue work in the basement and should be ready for sheet rock soon.  Then the fun can begin!  I’m already gathering paint samples, measuring for furniture, and we’ve purchased a couch for the theater room.

Window Seat Planning: Step 2

In every plan we create for a new project or built-in, there are many options, with changes, tweaks, and revisions along the way.  It’s fun to think and/or draw up different ideas and other possibilities, even if they aren’t used in the end.  Planning the living room window seat is no different; I’ve drawn up several designs of seat and shelf combos, all with variations on measurements.  I’ll share more about the evolution later, including my drawings to show the process.

Depending on the window seat plan and dimensions, the furniture arrangement needs change, too.  Initially, I was torn between a 24 inch and 30 inch seat depth.  Twenty four inches isn’t a tiny seat, but it also isn’t the wide, curl up and relax oversized area a 30 inch deep seat would be.  Adding another 6 inches would cramp a furniture plan with the couch directly in front of the tv, fortunately, we have other options.


Sometimes, a simple furniture reconfiguring can open a world of possibilities.  To leave adequate walking room between the furniture and soon to be built-in, I placed the leather sofa and the smaller linen couch parallel to each other, but perpendicular to the window and tv.


This allows for the deeper built-in, while adding emphasis to the window wall and the views beyond.  The chair is our stand in for a window seat, but at 36 inches, we know a built-in that deep won’t work.  A thirty inch depth seems to be the Goldilocks of the seat, not too narrow or too wide.


Way back when we first looked at this house and considered buying it, the views were one of the top selling points.  Creating a beautiful, but still comfortable, livable, room to play up the views is priority for this built-in.  Up until now, with the sofa squarely in front of the tv, the views haven’t been the focus, rather the tv.


We’ve lived with this arrangement since Monday, and sure, the old sofa placement was more comfortable for tv/movie watching.  With basement plans in the works and a remodel nearing, we’ll have room to create a designated theater space in the darker basement.  At that point, I think this living area would be a secondary tv space, in which case, the tv doesn’t have to be the main functional focal point.


Now, the layout pulls double duty, with focal points on either end of the room, with furniture allowing viewing in either direction.



As plans are discussed and elements change, the window seat evolves, getting more functional and beautiful with each revision.