Kinda, Sorta Landscape

You know I love about making my art?  I don’t feel bad when I get sick of it and want a change.  Which is exactly what happened with the ampersand I painted for our master bathroom.


It was fine, and filled the wall okay.  But it was elementary and rather boring after a while.  Using the same canvas, I set out to paint a very loose, abstract landscape.  Here’s how it started:


Too bright, and almost as boring as the ampersand.  I waited a day to be sure I didn’t like it (I didn’t) and focus on what would make it look better.  More muted colors, different proportions of the darker ‘mountain’ areas, and more blending.  So, here’s the same landscape, version 2.0.


Not terribly different, but different enough that I like it.  Now to frame it out.  Maybe with pine 1 by 2 lumber, like I’ve done before.  Or just maybe with some of my cedar pile.


It’s a bright, colorful spot against the dark walls.


Having all the supplies and reusing the canvas means it was a free project, too.  Hooray!


I left some texture in the sky and grass, which I really like.


Not too bad for a few hours of painting.

When brainstorming ideas, I thought about getting another engineer print done.  This time, of the hot air balloons we saw last month.


Being in a bathroom, with excess moisture/steam, I’d have to frame it behind glass.  Maybe it’ll still happen, even if in another room.  Engineer prints come in black and white only.  I think it’d be fun to color over the balloons so it’d look something like this:


I do need large art to flank the entertainment center.


With just a little color, and a lot of contrast, cutting the above image in half could make a cool diptych type set.  Not sure yet, but I really like the idea.  Assuming coloring over the print would work well…  What art have you covered over?  Any fun engineer print projects you’ve tackled?

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.


I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.


Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.



Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.


For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.


And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.


Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.


In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.


Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.


The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Caddy Shack

Time for an intervention, folks.  I’m addicted to using old cedar planks.  It started innocently.  First, I used a few to create a slim entry shelf.  More recently, we planked one wall in our bedroom.  And now, our bathroom is rocking a new cedar tub shelf/caddy thingy.  What am I going to do when I run out?  Ahhh!


The process couldn’t have been easier, either.  I measured from outside edge to outside edge of the tub (29 inches) and added two more inches for overhang.  Then I measured the inside of the tub (24 inches).  I cut an extra piece of cedar down to 31 inches and made two 1 1/2 inch wide strips.  On the back side of my wood, I marked 3 1/2 inches (the difference between my outside and inside measurements) from either side to attach my small strips.


Setting a flat board would certainly work, but I wanted the cleats to keep the shelf in place if it got bumped.  It can only move about 1/2 inch before it hits the other side of the tub so it can’t crash down.  To attach the strips, I used two screws in each and flipped it back over.  With a fine grit sand paper, I smoothed out the rough edges.


After sanding, I applied a light coat of teak oil to seal everything.  Took maybe 20 minutes to make.  And I’ve got a place to set a book or whatever while relaxing.


I considered making a walnut board, but I thought the darker color would draw more attention.  This way, light color blends in and allows other elements to shine.


Cedar is also more naturally water-resistant, so it should handle splashes better.  Crazy simple and totally functional.  Feels a little fancy-pants, too.

Two Year Check Up

This month marks two years of living at this house.  Like last year, I’m taking you on a room by room tour to show you the changes.  Here’s the plain entry the day we closed:

New-House-Entry April 13 2012

Recently, we installed a tongue and groove accent wall, new front door and window, modern light, giant Longhorns and cute art.


We now have a bright, light filled happy space we’re not ashamed of.  Especially because this is the first impression.  We still have to replace the uneven, stained tile and railing, but this space is nearly complete.  The living room had great potential, but it felt too traditional for us.


Much of this room is still subject to change, but it’s functional and more ‘us.’  Painted light gray walls modernize it, while still feeling warm.

Living-Room-into-Dining-Two-Years-Later Coffee table plans are in the works, and I want to find a new rug and chairs.  Art, too.

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

But the modern twist on a rustic/Western style is coming together.  The newly finished sofa is perfect in here.


Hopefully a leather sofa will replace this one, but it serves the purpose until then.


Our dining room has seen some progress, but it’s not looking so hot these days.  Though it really didn’t look to great when we bought this place either.

Dining-Room-After-Move-In-April-30 A window replaced the door, and we’ve got one sheetrock-less wall while we deal with electrical changes.

Dining-Room-Two-Years-Later One of the least changed rooms is the kitchen.  Maybe this winter we’ll have some updates to tackle.


Aside from removing wallpaper and painting, no action going on in here.


In the adjacent family room, we’ve refaced the fireplace, added an insert, built shelves for a little nookpainted the walls a soft beige.


This room is one of my favorite places to relax and enjoy the back yard views and wildlife.


Our first remodel here, the main bathroom, was a full tear out.  Though it was one of the most recently updated spaces, the dark, showerless layout didn’t work for our two young boys or guests.

New-House-Main-Bathroom April 13 2012

Replacing the tub with a tub/shower, it now functions for kids and adults.


Across the hall, the small guest room was very dark.  North facing, small window, and a wall of 70’s oak shelving sucked the light and life out.


A new egress window lets in more light while the white shelves and happy yellow walls add cheer.


A beige box of boring wasn’t really a happy place for two little boys.


After asking for their suggestions, I scraped off the popcorn ceiling, painted the walls a pear green, and filled the room with color and kid friendly decor.


The master was completely opposite from the boys’ room starting point with obnoxiously bright blue walls.


So far, I’ve only painted over the shocking blue.  Soon, we’ll get new windows.



The biggest interior project from the past 365 days is the master bathroom remodel.  It was a dated yellow and red room of yuck.


Now, its our updated sanctuary complete with a walnut vanity, clawfoot tub, and pretty slate and marble tile.


A few big inside changes, but our landscaping saw the most attention last year.  I’ll get to that in another post.  We’ve been adding plants and greenery!

Sometimes, progress feels like it moves slower than a turtle, even though we’re most often working on something.  It’s nice to look back to see just how much we really have done; to be reminded of our excitement at closing.  And look back at the ugly and plain space we inherited.

Bathroom Before and After

When we moved into this house, the master bathroom was dated with yellow tile on the floors, counters, and shower.  The brown grout always looked dirty.  And those red walls.  Oh, I couldn’t stand those red, patchy walls.


Though the bathroom was large and filled with light from the big window.


A shower leak bumped this remodel up the priority list, and we couldn’t be happier to bid the old room adieu.  Last fall I quickly painted the walls a light green, just to cover up the red (but didn’t bother taking the light fixture down to paint behind).  So, here’s what the room looked like before demo work began:

Master Bathroom Macinack Island Green

Master Bathroom Macinack Island Green Window

Which is a stark contrast to the finished room we’re using today:


Ben built a custom solid walnut vanity topped with a vessel sink with stainless steel countertops.


Wood planked walls and ceiling give subtle texture and the nearly black painted upper part has a high contrast I love.


Accessories and the long teal linen window curtains pop against the neutral walls.


Simple DIY art, arrows, and a copper bud vase add personality and really make the room feel lived in.



The new slate floor and marble shower tile feels ultra luxurious.


Our low profile curtain hanging system also helps keep the bathroom open and airy in a way even a glass wall couldn’t.  And with far less cleaning and maintenance.


But we can’t forget the tub, because that’s a key piece in this remodel.  By shortening the vanity to a single sink, we were able to make room for the claw foot tub.


I’d love to make a small shelf to rest on the tub, because the rattan stool is in the way of the door swing.



One last item on the bathroom to do list is replace the window and surrounding trim this spring or summer.


Finishing a room always feels great, but this one is especially satisfying.  So many elements we love, some we weren’t comfortable putting in a main bathroom.  Like the claw foot tub.  The boys have used it a few times already, and we’re happy not to have to worry about four sides of splashes on a daily basis.