Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winter Projects

I wish I could say that I'm ready to move full steam ahead with my bathrooms and kitchen renovation but I'm not there yet.  These are big ticket items and the bad economy hasn't really cooperated with my saving plans.  Such is life.

I do have a few projects to keep me busy through the winter.  First is a makeover of the back bedroom.  When I first saw the house and the collection of little cottages that sit down the little alleyway along the garden side of my house, it reminded me Provincetown where cottage are packed tightly against the harbor.  This bedroom started off with a painted floor like the ones I'd seen painted with marine paint on Cape Cod.

This photo from a Martha Stewart Long Island beach home tour has floors that are probably painted with marine paint.

I got the look by painting the floor with Benjamin Moore Calypso Blue which is a slightly toned down version of the electric marine paint.  It's always gotten a great response but I can't help feel this Cape Cod B&B look doesn't quite fit in the house anymore.  

The wallpaper has also been a problem.  I originally did this room on a really low budget.  The wallpaper was about $10 a roll, the sheers are from ebay and the blinds are from Home Depot.  I don't know if it was the cheap wallpaper or the old paint but it's developed fairly large gaps at the seams.  Before the photo shoot, I had to spackle the seams in a few places because I was afraid they would show.  So that needs to come down.  I think I'll just go with paint since I've acknowledged and embraced my affliction of needing to redo rooms every few years.

I love painted floors and I'm hoping a new color scheme will achieve a totally different look.

One of Christmas presents was one of these gadgets:  a silent paint remover.  I first saw one on This Old House and Katy Eliot has mentioned using one to strip paint in her Colonial house in Marblehead, so I thought I would give it a try.  The device uses infrared bulbs to heat the paint and separate it from the wood surface.  It's supposed to be safer for the environment than using chemical strippers and I believe I can turn the scrapings for proper disposal at my city's recycling center.  It's probably best done on days when I can have windows open to exhaust any fumes.  I'll let you know how it works.

I'd like to learn how to sew (better).  As I've said in the past, my mother and aunt used to make many of their/our clothes so I grew up with a sewing machine set up somewhere in the house and am no stranger to using one but I've never done much more than a straight seam.  I'd love to be able to whip up a pillow cover or make a slipcover so I hope to work on that.  I had an old sewing machine that I used to make a lot projects for a course I took at Mass Art a few years ago and I ruined it sewing plastic and cardboard so I just bought a new one last year that's still in the box.

Further work on the kitchen and back porches call for window and door changes that require a variance from the city.  In the kitchen, for example, I'll have double windows over the sink and on the porch side, the windows will become french glass doors.  The kitchen window changes not only require a variance but they sit right where this old chimney is.  The chimney is no longer used but removing it will also require a repair to the siding, the soffit and the roof.  A lot of work for one window but winter will be a good time to get all the applications done and get that ball rolling since it takes a few months.

Recap posts and Advertising

I've been getting a lot e-mails from people asking about paint colors and sourcing for various things I've used in the house and it makes me realize I've not done a good job giving those details.  I see quite a bit of traffic coming in on certain posts.  People seem to like before and after images and I have quite a few so I'm going to be doing a series of before and after posts of each room in the house and try to give more sourcing information.  At the same time -- and I've avoided doing this for a long time -- I realize that I've gone through, and continue to go through, a process and gained a lot of information that's valuable to people.  As a result, I'm going to give advertising a try.  I put a lot of time and effort into the blog and if ads are related to my content and they're useful useful to people, it would be nice to get some revenue from that.

If anyone has any tips or advice on advertisting, it would be appreciated.

* * * * * 

Aside from these things, I really need to close the laptop and get my butt on the elliptical.  I won't be blogging about it.


  1. Hi Steve,

    You sure do have a lot of projects in the works! I am awaiting the outcome of the bedroom makeover, certain that it will be as elegant as everything else you do. My own bedroom re-do was a project that I completed in December, and so my brain is still muddled in bedroom stuff. Like you, I have e desire to keep things fresh, and I think change is good (especially in the rooms of my home). I sure don't blame you for allowing advertising on this site. In these tough economic times, most of us could use a little boost in the pocketbook. Happy new year to you!


  2. do something fun with those opening seams-
    like gluing a strip of something on top of the opening seam-
    rick rack-
    give the room a different look for a while-
    if it turns out that you don't like it you have only lost some strip of something and a bit of time-

    john in nc

  3. Dear Steve,

    Thanks for always making my day brighter with your insightful blog posts.

    Looking forward to those "before and after" entries.

    Have a great day,
    Karen- Wisconsin

  4. John-
    That's a very interesting idea. Thank you!

  5. Well you know already that I love your blog. A silent paint remover! Colour me jealous. A new sewing machine still sitting in the box! I'm just sew jealous.

  6. joan (for the love a house) did a great job of posting her house colors on her sidebar thru an image (of paint brushes) link. I thought that was wonderful.

    Add me to the list of those who just have to re-do a room after about a year or two,ok, maybe three or four. I've learned never to buy new. Antiques and vintage things I can recycle or sell - and I'm set with a blank slate again. donna

  7. I would definitely love a post on the Silent Paint Remover! I've been interested in that for years, But I've never met anyone who used one.

    Before and After posts--People do seem to love them. Count me in.

  8. I've just stated ads on my blog. I don;t have many followers but I have made about $16.00 in 2 weeks. Every little bit helps. I am sure you will do very well with the ads. If you place them right they do not intrude at all on the overall look of the blog.

  9. I am really fascinated by the silent paint remover. Please post on that.

  10. Since I still have a few more windows to remove paint from I'm interested to hear how your silent paint stripper works. As for wallpaper it has never lasted in our home more then a few months until I hung grasscloth. It's been up for a few months and I haven't even once been tempted to rip it down. Love reading about your home redo since we have an old home too.

    Enjoy your evening!

  11. Huh. Never heard of this silent paint remover you speak of.....but the world suddenly seems bigger and brighter and changes more easily achieved.

    Before and after posts, sign me up too.

    We all have several winter months to get through.
    Let's spend them at your place!

    xo jane

  12. So happy to see your Post! Although January is dreary, it's a good time to begin renewal. A quiet month for making changes. I look forward to seeing the changes in that bedroom. And the paint stripper? Wow.

  13. Dear,
    Your blog it is very interesting !!
    I see that you loved this Greek Cottage and your photo is the Alexander the Grate !!! Do you love the Greece or I make mistake??
    Have a nice day

  14. Hi Steve, I'm very curious to find out how that infrared paint remover works! Thanks for the info on that!

  15. hi steve, it sounds like you have a good plan for the winter ahead...i have a sewing machine (passed on to me) also but have not opened it. it is on my life list - to at least be able to make a pillow cover and hem the curtains. i have not sewn since home economics (when they still had that - i heard it is coming back actually).

    the kitchen will be amazing with french doors. all the effort and detail will be worth it in the end.

    strip paint? you are a purist - i thought everyone just painted over it. hmm.

    where are the cats? i expect them in every post now.


    xo terri

  16. HI Steve~if you have a parking spot for me, I will come over and spend the day sewing up a slipcover or whatever it is you want to learn how to make. It is a lot easier doing it with someone than trying to read directions on how to do it...we could do a joint blog post on it!
    While I am there I can fill you in on what I know about ads...you can make money off of your blog and there is no shame in doing so.

  17. Hmm...I wonder if we just think alike or if we are "talking" to the same person. I too have been thinking of doing the ad thing but first I need to work on my blog a bit more and gain some more Followers.
    I love BEFORE and AFTERS and especially when they give details. Remember the old "Cottage Living" magazine and they always included the paint brand/color and where the fixtures and accessories came from. I think that you are really on to something and ONLY you can do it with style and humor.
    I'm planning on painting my spare bedroom floor...this weekend? LOL!
    Maybe I'll do a "BEFORE" and a "OMG! What HAPPENED!"
    :) - Cindi

  18. hi steve,

    i wasn't reading you when you did the bedroom the last time, so am just seeing the wallpaper for the first time, and it brought back .... well, nightmares!

    We bought Mitchell's parents home - built in 1918 - and completely redecorated it over several years. The wallpaper in the central hall, which included a huge stairway and wrap-around gallery halls on the second floor was that same pattern, but in DARK gray. It was as dark and dreary as yours is light and airy! I think I spent a year stripping it!

    If your re-do is as attractive as the "old" version, it will be wonderful. keep us posted!

  19. I love painted floors too. Is that what you are planning to strip with your new stripper? (That sounds a little naughty...) That blue is beachy (a look I love) but what popped in my minds is some frescos I saw in Italy that were mostly muted colors but had some beautiful blues also.

  20. I LOVE before and after shots...I really need to see the before to fully appreciate the after...have you posted your dining room before? I think I saw on a comment that it's like 9.5' square or something? It looks way bigger.

    This paint remover thing you speak of...I apparently have so much to learn...I was thinking of painting over the paint...what is that a bad thing?

    So happy you addressed the idea of advertising...I'm looking forward to seeing where you take that. it just makes sense to me...anyway.

  21. I think the bedroom looks fantastic now, so I cant wait to see what the make over will be.
    Also looking forward to your before and after posts,

  22. I'm here to make the exact same offer as Amy. Happy to share some sewing tips and ad tips as I can, anytime.

  23. Winter-when we plan-or in my case, PIN! I have a LOT of ideas/images.

    I think your re-do room will look more current with the paper off...and a painted floor is awesome-will you stencil it? Stripe it? Keep it solid?

    Hubby and I call it "pulling a thread" when we get the urge to change/make/improve JUST one thing...then that sucker just unravels! We love it, though.

    PS-Machine sewing is easy.
    It's like the computer-it won't do anything you don't tell it to :P
    Pillows and table runners are tres facille. Slipcovers are not hard-just time consuming.

    (That said, I bought mine from uglysofa.com-pottery barn returns/sale stuff-it's hard to beat their $29/$39 sofa slip prices.)

    So happy for the long weekend coming-We get to put up open shelves in the kitchen!

  24. I love the blue painted floor. Can't wait to see the before & afters and sourcing. You deserve some compensation for all the work you put into your blog - the money can go in the kitchen renovation project. : )

  25. Steve- It would be great if the photos on the sidebar linked to the rooms they show - I am always trying to click on them as a shortcut to the details. Then new readers could scan through all the rooms and get up to speed on your house quickly. :-) Jacqueline

  26. People with a lot less subject matter than you advertise so go for it. If it gets you another room for us to enjoy (or even for you to enjoy) it's worth it! I painted floors years ago to make a sad rental a bit more jolly. Layering the paint thinly and building it up worked well. Good luck!

  27. Before and afters sound like a great idea! That bedroom floor is fabulous. Good luck with your winter projects....more windows are always worth the trouble!

  28. As a new blogger, I have no tips on advertising...just barely able to create links! But I encourage you to learn how and then share that knowledge with us. Think about using the revenue on jaunts to visit your new blog friends. Come and visit us in New Mexico. The guest room is lovely, but lonely!

  29. Thanks for the offer, Heather. We could go painting plein air together and I could have enchiladas Christmas! Sounds like a great idea!

  30. We will be traveling in February, but March and early April are pretty open. May is full with a trip to Alaska, June is crazy with Vacation Bible School, Harry Potter Camp (will be blogging about that soon) and the birth of our 3rd grandchild. One Family reunion in California and one here in July. August looks okay. September is always lovely in New Mexico, or you could come for the Balloon Fiesta in October. Would love to take you painting, and enchiladas are always on the menu!

  31. Steve,
    I really enjoy all of your posts. You have a good mix of decorating, gardening and cooking (the domestic pursuits I find interesting), and you do these things in ways I like to (or aspire to)as well--incorporating antiques, plants, flowers and artwork in a way that isn't stuffy, but very liveable and pleasing. I appreciate your writing, humor, sense of style, and stunning photography. Also, the clean and simple design of your blog is easy on my eyes.

    Keep the eye candy coming!

  32. Heather,
    It sounds like your plate is full of things in addition to enchiladas. The Balloon Fiesta sounds like a great spectator sport.

    Thank you so much. That's very sweet!

  33. I'm sure I've said it before, Steve, but surely there is a BOOK to come out of your blog? (And in the meanwhile copyright everything!)

  34. I'm very intrigued with the paint stripper. Looking forward to your report. What's with the variance? Historic district?


  35. Steve I actually like your painted floors. Are you going to stain after the paint comes off?

    Wow I would take Amy or Linda up on there offers. I definitely need sewing lessons,it has been years! Oh and I do love before and afters!


    Art by Karena

  36. i just adore a painted floor! If I could, I would have a harlequin patterned one all over my first floor. If this was my forever house, I would probably be doing it in stain on the wood. But I won't go to the effort in this house. Anyway, looking forward to the bedroom redo, and I thought the suggestion of gluing something to the seams was an interesting idea, too. How did I miss this post?

  37. Gosh, we have lots to look forward to. Won't mind some adverts at all since I'm confident you'll keep them relevant to your content.
    I'd be interested in what kind of sewing machine you got. I'm still using an OLD Necchi inherited about 20 years ago from my great-aunt who died at 97. No instruction book and some mysterious attachments. I have to get a friend to make buttonholes for me!

    I second Heather's invitation to New Mexico. We'd love to share our area with you--and perhaps see your photographic impressions.

  38. Thanks for the second invite, Rosalind! You NM people are so friendly!

    Your old Necchi sounds much more interesting than my new Brother.

    I HOPE the ads are relevant. I'm not sure I have much choice on the specific ads; they're supposed to be content related. We'll see.

  39. I can see a stencil on that floor using the blue you have as a base color. It would be really attractive and the pattern could be period appropriate. Don't be so eager to remove the paint! I would remove the wallpaper. :) Paint the walls and pattern the floors. perfect!

  40. Steve, As always I can't wait to see what you do next!

  41. Your list of potential accomplishments has me so looking forward to your upcoming posts...am especially interested in the "before and after"s! Best of luck with your advertising adventures...have never delved into that pool but am in agreement with the commenter who hopes you'll be sharing your experiences. :) Thank you for being so generous with your life and thoughts...as always...it's a pleasure to visit here.

  42. Sounds like you've got your hands full this winter! I love the marine floors - if we didn't have beautiful hardwood floors already I might be tempted to copy the idea!

  43. Same here- we have our new little home half built , but due to the finances... we are still in our current home. Hopefully we will resume building this summer. For now I am doing things around the current home that do not cost much at all. Paint is a wonderful thing!
    I also LOVE painted floors. The blue you chose is perfect in your room!!!
    I can not even sew a hole in a sock - but I would love to learn to sew so I could make things for around the home. I see so many creative things people make on the blogs and I am so jealous!
    Have a pretty day!

  44. Yes, indeed- it sounds like those projects will keep you busy through the winter! Please take Amy up on her offer, then you can come to my house and teach me;)

    carry on!

    p.s. please, please post your photos as "extra large"... these eyeballs need all the help they can get to see all the lovely details!!

  45. Even though it isn't exactly what you wish, talk of painted floors rekindles my desire to do this. So, you used "regular" B. Moore paint and not marine paint. Did you seal the floor in any fashion after you painted?
    This is near the bottom of my list of projects, so no need to answer. When you redo the floor, I know you will go into your usual marvelous detail.
    Inspired in Burke, VA

  46. Steve...I took sewing lessons a few years ago and I was a fool for about 6 months. Up late......sewing like a madman. House a mess....threads everywhere. I think I was having a party or something, I put it away and it is still put away. Every time I think about getting it out, I know that mess will start all over again. It is fun to be able to see some fabric and have a pillow by that night! Let's see it is January...time for makeovers :)

  47. I like to sew and taught myself after living with a grandmother who had to be Martha Stewart's cousin-she made everything from scratch including my clothing! I realize now how fortunate I was.
    I do have a sewing room and I just added a wing chair after seeing your's. It is so comfortable!
    I wanted to learn how to do zippers so I took a sewing class but the teacher would not teach us zippers unless the whole class wanted to learn it so I still don't know how to put in a proper zipper! I do make my own pillow covers and I don't use a zipper. I call it the envelope style; on the back one part tucks into the other.
    I have dogs and teenagers so I have to be able to dry clean/wash the pillow covers for the sofa and leather chair. Don't feel bad about your sewing machine being in a box-still. I have a Pizzelle maker in the box from a couple of years ago! I guess I will use it one day! Good luck with your sewing projects, it is fun!

  48. the device used on This Old House was not the "silent paint remover" it is "speedheater" which is the only infrared paint remover that is UL listed. TOH will issue a correction if they already havent done so.