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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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  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.

Front-Deck-Lounge-Area-Overall

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

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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.

Games to Get Kids Outside

Summer means kids are home from school, likely telling you they’re boooored for the umpteenth time that day.  Of course the old stand bys work, and usually my kids are willing to shoot each other with water for hours.  Still, I wanted to switch things up by building a new game, corn hole.  Basically, it’s a much safer version of horseshoes, but with moveable boards.  A few friends came over and we built four sets in a few hours.  To make your own boards, you’ll need:

Three eight foot long 2 by 4 boards, cut four lengths each at 48, 21, and 11 inches long

Two sheets of 1/2 inch plywood cut to 24 by 48 inches

Four 1/2 inch diameter, 4 inch long bolts with washers and nuts

A drill with 3 1/2 inch long screws, as well as a 5/8 inch paddle bit

A jigsaw or 6 inch diameter hole saw

Outdoor fabric, a sewing machine, and dry corn or beans

Create the frame by laying the 48 and 21 inch boards in a rectangle, with the 21 inch sections between the long boards.  Drive two screws through the end of the long board, into the short section to attach together.

Corn-Hole-Legs-from-Back

Lay the plywood on top, lining it up with the edges, and secure either with screws or a pneumatic nailer.

Corn-Hole-Top-Sheet

Mark 9 inches from the top and centered on the width to cut the hole.  If you happen to have a 6 inch diameter hole saw, line the center up with that mark and drill through.  Since we didn’t have a hole saw, I found a coffee can lid, poked a screw through the center, and drilled that slightly in at my center mark.  Then I traced around the lid, removed it, and drilled a hole near the edge to get the jigsaw in.  Ben has a steadier hand with the jigsaw, so he cut the holes out.

Next, it’s time to make the folding legs.  On each side, at the top of the board, measure 3 1/4 inches down from the frame top and centered on the 2 by 4 frame.  Do not include the 1/2 inch of plywood in your measurement.  Use the 5/8 inch paddle bit to punch a hole through the frame.  At the top of the 11 inch pieces, mark 1 3/4 inches down and centered on the width and drill through tat as well.

Corn-Hole-Leg-Top-Detail

To allow the leg to turn, you’ll have to cut the corners off, leaving about a half-inch to 3/4 of flat at the top.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look pretty, just allow the leg to easily fold in and out of the frame.  Once you’re happy with the movement, slide your washer on and tighten the nut.  For smoothness and longevity, we applied two coats of water based polyurethane to the top and sides.

The last step is creating eight tossing bags.  Use two different colors or fabrics, creating four of each kind.  If you want to sew with a half-inch margin, cut 7 1/2 inch squares, lay right sides together, and sew along three sides.  Fill each bag with just about 2 cups of corn (somewhere between 14 and 16 ounces is ideal) then sew the tops together.

Corn-Hole-Bags

Lay the boards out on a flat(ish) surface 27 feet apart, from front edges.  I scoot the boards closer when kids play, so that’s dependant on their throwing distance.

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Corn-Hole-Board-Finished-Top

The legs allow easy removal of bags, but also allow the boards to store flat.

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It’s been a big hit with the boys and their friends.  Set up and take down is quick, so it can be pulled out whenever they want to play, but provides hours of competitive fun.  Which gives me plenty of time to vacuum and clean the house in peace and quiet.

Basement Progress: Theater Room

Throughout the basement remodel, I’ve shared pictures of the progression of the rooms.

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New-House--Basement-Back-April-13-2012

What started out as one long, L shaped room has been divided into two spaces.

Basement-Floorplan-Before

Room by room, we’re trying to check things off the to do list.

Basement-Floorplan

In the first photo, the window on the left is now a bedroom, while the right is a theater/hangout space.

Basement-Theater-Window-Wall-Sheetrock

After a full gut and rebuild, we just moved furniture in this week.  Carpet went in a few weeks ago, and it’s so plush it feels like walking on clouds.  Since this is a space mostly for serious movie/tv watching, I painted the walls Jasper by Sherwin Williams, a deep, dark green.  A reclining sofa, which isn’t the most beautiful, but is comfortable sits along the back wall.

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Everything else is furniture I’ve saved after replacing it in different rooms, so I’m sure things will change.  Until then, for additional seating that’s easy to move, a pair of leather sling chairs sit against one wall.

Theater-Room-Stage-1-Leather-Sling-Chairs

Currently, the wall across from those chairs is blank, until we bring back a club chair from storage.  Black out curtains will be hung as soon as I find curtain rods.

Theater-Room-Stage-1-Blank-Wall

An added bonus of the darks walls is that the big tv and speakers fade away, nearly blending in rather than being big eyesores.

Theater-Room-Stage-1-Leather-Chairs-and-TV-Wall

When planning the new basement layout, we decided to make this space one that could be considered a legal bedroom.  Behind that door is a storage space that is also Ben’s reloading man cave.  Because of that closet door, we had to hang the tv off centered.

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Whenever it’s a priority, we’ll build an L shape cabinet to anchor the tv and provide storage for dvds, blankets, and anything else.

A Deck Makeover & Cozy Outdoor Lounge Area

Four years ago, when we bought this house, it came with a large front deck and a paver patio.  Without adjectives, both spaces sound lovely.  I’m sure the paver patio was beautiful, but the lack of maintenance, weeds, and tree roots took a toll.

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Replacing windows and siding was a priority, but before that could happen, we had to excavate a foot of dirt back here, build a low deck, and only then could we hang siding.  In home remodeling, each project seems to hinge on another aspect being ready.  Though we didn’t want to tackle landscaping first, it did give us a baseline to seamlessly transition siding.

May-Garden-Back-Deck-Potted-Plants

None of that is new, and has been featured several times before.  But, there’s another deck that hasn’t been shared since move in, until today.  Before getting into the afters, here’s a look at the condition the front deck was in when we took ownership:

Original-Front-Deck-from-Road

New-House-Deck-April-13-2012

West-Side-of-Deck

In a word, woof.  The railing that was so far from code/safety requirements, benches along the edge were uncomfortable and took up useful space, rotting/spongy joists, and splintered deck boards didn’t exactly make this space enjoyable.  It certainly had potential, but thanks to other more important projects, we just got around to rebuilding it last summer.  Due to the technical aspects, this isn’t a deck building tutorial.  Rather, it’s the kind of television makeover before and after without the work, sweat, and wait-surprise!!

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Clearly, a lot has changed.  Everything, in fact.

Front-Deck-from-Road

We completely demoed the structure, rebuilding to meet or exceed code standards to ensure longevity.

Update: A reader emailed me, wanting to similarly cover an outdoor space, asking if/how much light the solid roof blocks?  Since others might have the same concerns, here’s my answer and our rationale why covering the deck was worth it.  This entire deck fronts the pool house, not our normal living space.  Since it is a pool house, it has 8 skylights, normal windows, and four sliding glass doors that flood the space with light, so the deck roof hasn’t changed the lighting too much.  Yes, it’s a touch darker, but totally worth the added usable outdoor living area and not becoming the human version of a roasting marshmallow.  That said, I don’t think this is the perfect solution for all outdoor spaces.  Before adding a cover, consider the size and orientation of the windows/doors and the room(s) it will potentially darken.

Front-Deck-Lounge-Area-Overall-Toward-Grills

Redwood deck boards are smooth and splinter free, the railing is not only safe, but offers more privacy, not only to the deck, but the (currently nonfunctional) pool inside.  At 36 inches tall, the railing still doesn’t block the city/mountain views.  Instead, it hides just the street and houses across, even when seated because our house is on a steep hillside.  Thanks to the southern, full sun exposure, we decided to add a full roof, keeping the area as cool as possible.  When we swapped the dining door placement, we created a four-foot wide walkway off the front.

Front-Deck-Lounge-Area-Toward-Pool-House

Over the long weekend, thanks to awesome sales, we picked up two World Market sofas (only $204 each!!) to create a comfortable lounge/seating area.  Until this point, this 900 square foot deck housed two grills, the bench in the background and that’s about it.

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Last year, while we were rebuilding the deck, I started my search for outdoor furniture and came across a pair of linear wood frame chairs:Wood-Frame-Outdoor-Chairs

That screenshot has been on my phone for nearly a year, and for the life of me, I cannot remember the source.  But, I do know that I was instantly smitten, and wanted the same look.  Imagine my surprise when I was wandering around World Market and stumbled upon the Praiano set.  At $400 per sofa, it wasn’t a bad price, but I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger.  Fortunately for me, my patience pair off and I struck when the price dropped to $239.99 plus a 15% off coupon.

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After patiently waiting a few months, I became impatient and bought, assembled, and lounged within 24 hours of getting the coupon in my inbox.

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Those sleek lines have my heart.

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And closely resemble the railing.  Haha, I guess I have flock to a distinct style.

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The cushions are firm, but not uncomfortable.  However, the arms need some cush, so I pulled some indoor pillows from the linen closet to soften the hard wood frame.

Front-Deck-Sofa-Corner-Detail

For additional greenery, I added two potted Arborvitae trees in the corner of the center bump out.  The green seems so much more vibrant against the dark gray siding.

Front-Deck-Potted-Tree

I’m still trying to track down chairs to round out the grouping, since these are standing in from our old, seen-better-days patio set.

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Then there’s this sad, mostly empty corner.  Again, these pieces are standing in until we have time to build a dining table.

Front-Deck-Future-Dining-Area

Ben and I have differing visions/layouts for the deck.  Mostly because he’d love to build an 18 foot long Last Supper style table to take place of the current lounge area.

Napa Style Residence

While I think that’d be really cool, I think we’re better off putting this corner to use as an extension of the adjacent indoor dining space.  Adding an overhead fixture to this area would also be pretty easy with the attic overhang and access.  Time will tell, but I’m thrilled to have a cozy place to escape the house to enjoy a book.

Oh, and the deck desperately needs a good wash to get rid of the dust and pollen.  In the above photo, the darker area between the furniture is the real color.

Eventually, we want to ‘build in’ the gas and charcoal grills to hide the stands for a polished look.

Laundry Room Progress

In what feels like a never-ending saga, let’s dive into the progress we’ve made in the basement.  Specifically, the laundry room.  For it’s purpose, it’s a decent sized room at nine feet wide and eight and a half feet deep.  We started out with our washer and dryer side by side, below a row of orange oak upper cabinets.  Since we immediately ripped out the pet stained carpet, we tossed a rug below to have a less dirty floor to walk on.

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Just to the left of the appliances was a big, plastic wash tub and open floor space.

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Opposite the washer and dryer was a full wall of dark oak upper and lower cabinets, complete with stunning orange countertops.

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Based on the cabinet configuration and the large mirror, we think this room was a designated sewing space for a previous owner.  While the room boasted a lot of cabinetry, it wasn’t laid out in the most functional way for our uses.

Laundry-Room-Door-Side

When we gutted the entire basement, we decided to tweak the door placement to throw more depth to the appliance side.  This minor change centered the door on the open floor space, making each side a better depth for what would go on the walls.

Basement-Moving-Laundry-Door

After five months of working toward an updated basement, we are nearing our finish line.  Let’s take a look behind the pocket door.

Basement-Laundry-Pocket-Door

We still have the sink, washer, and dryer on the left side of the door, but opted to stack the units to accommodate an upright freezer.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Left-Side

For the most finished look, we built a floor to ceiling panel to block the side of the stack.  A 40 inch wide by 24 inch deep cabinet, which will have a sink once we get our countertops, fills in from the side panel to wall.

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Above, we opted to skip an upper cabinet, and built two floating wood shelves instead.  At eight inches deep, we won’t have to worry about crashing heads, but we still have enough room for laundry essentials.  Of course the shelves can also hold a few pretty things to add a bit of personality to even a laundry room.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Sink-Area

Over on the other side of the room is a wall-o-cabinets.  Sleek white cabinets keep this dark, windowless room from feeling dingy and depressing.  At the back of the room is a 5 foot tall by 2 foot wide vacuum/ironing board cabinet.

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This leaves us with a 6 1/2 foot long counter space, which will be great for folding, but also getting laundry baskets off the floor.

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A pair of upper cabinets gives us ample space to store, well, I’m not sure yet, but whatever we need.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Right-Side-Toward-Door

Clearly the bottom drawers aren’t finished, but the shallow tops aren’t actually drawers.  Surprise, it’s a pull out drying rack.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Drying-Rack

To be honest, we don’t have much that can’t go in the dryer, but we didn’t have an option before.  Yes, we could have added a pull down wall mount version, but I love that these are discreet when not in use.  More than anything, we built the cabinets, so we easily added the option.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Pull-Out-Drying-Rack

Even when fully extended, there’s a little more than two feet of space to get around.

Basement-Laundry-Room-with-Drying-Rack

Like the kitchen and master bath, all drawers and doors are soft close.  It’s a small feature that is just so nice to have; no more accidentally slamming anything shut.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Upper-Cabinet

Before we can call this room finished, we still have a few things to finish up.  Two more drawers to build, a cabinet will go above the freezer, a panel to cover the top of the dryer, countertops/sink/faucet to install.  Baseboard and crown can go in soon and then it’s fill, caulk, prime, and paint.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Cabinets-to-Build

Even with those lingering tasks, how about a side by side to show just how far we’ve come in five months.

Basement-Laundry-Room-Before-and-Almost-After

Guys, we have floors that don’t feel gross underfoot.  We’ll have counter space by the sink to actually set stuff like soap.  No more mirror to creep everyone out.