How to Slipcover a Slipper Chair. Part One.

Hey! Why not start a new project when I've got like 3 others half finished?! I'm making some slipcovers for these velvet slipper chairs that sit at the front of the house by the piano. These chairs look fine in this picture but in reality they are completely trashed. Even four years ago, they were in bad shape


A Raised Herb Box

After thinking about this for what seems like forever, I finally built a raised box for a little herb and lettuce garden.



Thrift, repair, recylcle. Call it what you will. I am into it. 


Backyard Walkway

Holy shit. Has it really been two months since I've checked in on what's happening in the yard with the whole hot tub build out? A lot and nothing has been happening since then.
I am very happy to report that after a three week hiatus, yes 3 weeks, my contractor was back today to finish up the hot tub surround and the big built in bench. The delay was caused by the wrong wood being ordered which had a three week lag time. Derp.


Burlap Window Shades 2.0

Finally a follow up post on the burlap shade I made for the top floor bathroom. This shade is similar in style to these ones I made for the master bathroom, with a few small functional differences. 

Like the shades downstairs, this shade is stationary and not intended to be lifted with any frequency. I have buildings right across the street so this shade is really required for privacy. The panel is hung at shoulder height because this bathroom has a very nice view of Saint Ignatius Church and the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and it would be a shame to block that out.


New Paint in the Boys' Bath

It was time for fresh paint in the boys' bathroom. Because there are so many windows in here, this is no small undertaking, but the walls were pretty dinged up and I was also ready for a refresh. I wiped everything down with TSP, taped and primed with Zinsser Zero.
Lately in my thoughts has been this house in my neighborhood which I walk past on weekends. It has the most beautiful blue front door. It really inspires me every time I walk by -so much so that I became convinced that I should recreate this color in the bathroom. 

Also part of this painting impetus is this silver grey cabinet which I've been wanting to paint flat black for some time now. It's actually a sideboard which was my first ever grown up dumpster dive -it has huge sentimental value to me even though it is beaten up, warped and worthless. I plan to paint it the same color as the piano and this dresser (BM Black Beauty). I've been keeping it silvery grey because I thought that black wouldn't look right with the dark grey walls. Black and light blue, no worries.

Anyhoo, I collected a million sample cards in light blue. After narrowing things down, I bought a sample of Farrow and Ball's Blue Ground and BM's Indigo. And then, when I got them on the wall, I just couldn't. First of all, I remembered how generic this bathroom looked formerly light blue (albeit without the board and batten). Secondly, shabby chic. So hard to avoid it with that color and the pedestal sink and all.

I shifted gears.

This took cojones....

...especially since the first coat looks like smeared dog shit.

This is the color as it should look. I'm staying the course and I think it's going to look great, actually. It's Benjamin Moore, Windsor Green from the Williamsburg line, matte. This room is west facing, so it goes through a wide range of light conditions throughout the day. The color ranges from fatigue geen, to olive to mossy. I'm keeping the ceiling the same blue as it is now, except I'm giving it a fresh coat with matte instead of eggshell, which is on there now. I want less sheen. This room gets plenty of ventilation, so don't fret on the matte. 

Finally, it is with a bit of embarrassment that I admit that all this time, I've been painting with a brush that is too small!  I usually use a Purdy 2" but for this project it finally occurred to me to buy a bigger friggin brush. I got a 3" and switched brands to Wooster -on the advise of the very knowledgeable guy at my hardware store. He was right! The Wooster is a better brush. It holds a lot of paint and levels beautifully, but I must say that a bigger brush does require more hand strength. 

Ok. That's all for now. 

Peace and Love.


Top Floor Bathroom

The upstairs bathroom is put back together and for the most part finished.
Pretty much everything that happened in here was precipitated by removing the original chipped pedestal sink. Once I cut into the wall to add blocking to support the new (old) sink, I knew I'd be painting, which led me to consider color changes, yada yada yada. 

My main consideration in this bathroom is that I have three mismatched items in here -pale green subway tiles, a vintage white toilet and a vintage green sink. How in the world is this possible in this new house? Well, there have been two mishaps. The original sink and toilet, both of which were from the Kohler Kathryn line, broke. The sink chipped and the toilet literally tipped over and shattered (see this post for a further explanation). As I do with all my design choices, I just bought individual things that fancied me, I never think about how things are going to "go together". 

Anyhoo, the new sink, which is a Kohler from 1941 is on the trailing edge of the American Art Deco movement. I have no idea the circa of the toilet but its shape and black seat read of the same era, possibly even earlier. Many bathrooms of this time period used black tile as an accent or trim against green or pink tiles, I thought I'd suggest this idea by painting the trim and door black. 

I repainted the rest of the room and ceiling in OC-117 (Simply White), which is the color throughout the main rooms of the rest of my house. This room has a beautiful skylight which for me dictates white. I have only a couple design "rules" or hangups to which I steadfastly adhere -one of them is that skylights or angles ceilings should remain the same color as the room.  Here, and in general, I think clean modern lines are best shown off in white.

While I'm pontificating, I want to also mention something about skylights which an architect once told me and is a completely "aha" truth, which I never would have figured out on my own. Whenever possible, a singular skylight should have one of it's edges against a wall. That way the light casts down the wall. A skylight that sits in the middle of a ceiling has the tendency to burn out the ceiling plane, making the rest of the ceiling look dark around it. So whenever possible in designing a skylight, go to the edge.

The floor on the top level is epoxy. It was one of my bolder choices when building this house. The epoxy goes seamlessly, right into the shower pan. I still love it, but it could probably do with a re-coat -it's a little scratched and less shiny in places of high wear. I've had that Ikea striped rug forever, the front side is completely faded from the sun so now I flip it. It's wool, I wish they still sold this fantastic rug.

I replaced the white toilet seat in here with a black one. I really like this look in a bath with classic finishes. 

One of the really nice details of this sink are these little chrome arms which clamp on to the sides of the sink. It is a coincidence that that little soap holder matches. I picked that up at a neighborhood estate sale a few years back. The train rack is from Restoration Hardware, the Asbury line. The porcelain light is vintage -I love this look with a mirrored bulb. And I must say, although I love Electric Schoolhouse -the company, vintage porcelain fixtures are still readily available at salvage yards for a buck each, so no need to blow it out buying new.

Ah, black trim. Everything took like four coats of paint. I used Benjamin Moore's Interior Select line in Pearl for the windows and BM Advance line in Satin for the door (the color is a custom mix that I have on all the other black doors in my house). The reason for this is that the Advance line is really great for leveling and acts most like a oil paint but has a 4-6 hour re-coat time. (In California, oil paint is verboten). That was great for the door, but with the windows, since I was removing them entirely from the window frames while painting, a shorter cure time was needed for safety reasons. The sheens of the two lines are indistinguishable. 

I must say, the Advance line was really great for the door. Most of the doors in my house were sprayed but I feel confident I can do all door re-coats with a brush with this paint, without any flashing occurring. 

I made these burlap curtains in a like an hour. They are very similar to the ones I made here and I will do a separate post about them next week.

Thoughts? Do tell. 


Laundry Room Reveal

Finally I am finished, finished with the laundry room. Oh how I love my laundry room!
I started this so long ago that I almost forgot why I started this project. Replacing the machines -last December(!) created the domino effect which ultimately led to this renovation. 

Ok so, new machines, new folding table, new skim coat walls, new rug, new hamper, new drying rack, new lights, but the real standout change in here is the mural. 

I was originally inspired to paint the walls by the work of Florence Lopez -one of my style heroes. In researching Lopez's work, I learned that some of her painted walls are inspired by the late artist Sonia Delaunay, whose textile design from the 1929 book Tapis et Tissus is shown above. There is a really great post with more examples from this book from this excellent but now no longer active blog. And, there is a great summary of Delaunay from the Tate, which describes the breadth of her career far better than I can.

One of the things I've noticed in studying Florence Lopez's walls is that there is a lot of variation in the opacity of the paint -this keeps the walls looking organic and loose and painterly. A very uniform paint pigmentation would look far more graphic and read very differently. It is for this reason that I used only 2 coats of paint -with visible brush strokes and left some of the pencil lines from my layout. I wanted this to look handmade, as opposed to like wallpaper.

The color is Benjamin Moore Glimmer in flat. I taped the straight lines and used a 1" foam brush for the curves. The taping took forever. 

I made a template for the curved sections out of card stock and traced these on the wall as I went. The ogee was made by tracing two different sized overlapped plates and I kept it symmetrical by mirroring the template on the wall.

I laid out the pattern with a 18" vertical format for the larger pinwheel section, which repeats itself (making that pinwheel 3x3'). To either side of the large format, I played with the basic geometric forms to finish out the pattern and divided the space so that I finished the pattern without a wraparound at the corners.

This pattern got very confusing at times so I used the blue tape to mark which areas were getting the yellow paint. 

As I've said previously, this took a bit of time -at least 18 hours of work but probably more.

And yes, I guess I've become a decanter. I was never a decanter before, and will admit that previously, I secretly sort of scoffed at those who decanted, thinking it sort of up tight. The only reason for my change is that I switched up my laundry game. I now buy my detergent from Amazon and switched to Persil -German edition, which comes in enormous boxes and has a whites and a cold version. Plus I am a overly enthusiastic oxy-clean user. So that ends up being a lot of boxes. Additionally, I decided to do away with the floating shelf I had in here above the folding table -so....now I decant. One of those canisters perfectly holds a 100 load box of detergent. 

But I digress.

So as not to overwhelm, I only painted 3 planes in the room -the wall opposite the door, the wall adjacent above the folding table, and the wall behind the sink.

This is my favorite part of the room. I used to hang my hand dry clothes on a tension rod above here and it completely obscured this sink. I don't know why I did this!!! Notice that bitchin marble shelf? My dear friend had it cut to size for me from a remnant from her lovely new kitchen. Yay! That shelf makes me rediculously happy. I installed it using some trim stock. It's screwed into the stud and also with anchor bolts because that shelf weighs a ton.

I stole the photo from the shed. It seemed a perfect fit for in here.

Now I hang my air dry and need-to-be ironed items on this copper rack I made. Very easy to make and instructions can be found here. I made that coil basket a while back. These are really fun and easy to make, I have instructions and other versions here and here.

Barely visible in this photo but a huge upgrade for me, I bought a Steele rolling hamper for under the counter. One of those 6 bushel kinds (no affiliate, I just dig it). It's divided into two and really does contain all my dirty laundry and is as sturdy as a horse. Well worth the investment, I think. I stow my ironing board on two hooks on the back of the door. 

I'm usually a less is more thinker, but here I decided more is more.

Some final detail notes. I replaced my old vintage lights with some new vintage porcelain ones -I found these at a local salvage yard for 2 dollars (for both!). The rug is a vintage Anatolian kilim from the 1970s, which I purchased on Etsy.

Storage and style. I'm not into upper cabinets, which I know a lot of people use in laundry rooms to house cleaning supplies. I store mine in a bucket in my garage (and I have a few spray bottles in the kid's bathroom cabinet). I do have a few baskets for loose socks, dry cleaning and change. There are often piles of folded laundry on the folding table, I don't mind that. I love that there is like an acre of space, it makes folding much more pleasurable.

Peace and love and happy laundry. Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them. 


Replacing A Sink: Part Three

Ok, this is the final teaser post about this sink before I do a whole bathroom reveal because I did change things up in here.
Last I left it, I had mounted the sink but had not yet connected the drain or supply lines.


Not to veer into mansplaining territory here, but it's nice to know the name of parts so the jackass at the hardware store doesn't treat you like a femidiot.

Because my sink is very old (1941!), the tailpiece was specific to the drain and flange. The drain was in good condition (and specific to this sink) so I left it in place, but the gasket underneath was decomposing. It was only a matter of unscrewing the pipe, which moved surprisingly easily.

I cleaned out all that old gummy mess so I'd have a nice tight seal with the new gasket.

After a couple leak tests, it was clear I needed two gaskets -the thinner one on top and then the thicker one beneath.

I reused my original waste arm, although I had to cut it down significantly to get the bend to sit in tight to the wall. The waste arm slides easily into the rough plumbing inside the wall and is sealed with a gasket and the coupling nut. I ended up removing the decorative flange that hides this junction at the wall, because I thought it looked better without it.

Hack away! I found this easier to do on with a vise on my workbench. I used a rug pad with a rubberized side to gently secure the pipe in place without crushing and scratching.

Speaking of scratching, this would be the time to mention that ideally, when working on plumbing, a wrench that is intended for plumbing and metal is best  -i.e no teeth in the vise grip so that the plumbing stock does not get marred. 

My sink is a Kohler brand and it has the most beautiful drain (and faucets) that are specific to this sink. Thankfully it has been minimally scratched up over the past 75+ years.

This is the built in lever mechanism to lift and lower the drain. It is hidden entirely behind the sink. The mechanism is just so well designed and built -I hate to use that cliche but they sure don't make things like they used to. 

This is the top of the mechanism with the rest of the built in rough plumbing and where the flexible faucet supply lines connect. I want to point out that these are a 1/2" connection, whereas the wall angle stops are 3/8". Flexible supply lines come in all kinds of lengths and nut configurations.    

I tried to mount this sink using the little chrome legs that came with it. I found, however, that for the legs to work, the sink needed to sit very low on the wall -too low for good functionality for this tall family. I do realize, in the back of my mind, that I may have mounted this a tad too high -visually speaking, but can't bring myself to fully admit this, as it was an ordeal to get it to it's present state. 

I also made the executive decision not to paint the underside of the bowl. I know this might make some perfectionists cringe, it but it just seems like too much to me -I think the chaulky surface suites the look just fine.  


Hot Tub and Garden Renovation Preview

Yes, yes and yes! This just happened today. I'm both high with excitement and terrified by the size of this thing because yes...
It's yuge.

Boy has this been a long time coming. It is so nice to be finally out of that frustrating nothing is happening mode, and to see something materially coming together. It only took two guys a few hours to knock this tub together.
Leading up to this there has been, of course, a lot of prep work with digging trenches, installing a drain, tamping, laying rebar, etc., etc., etc.

Everything had to be permitted and inspected too, so there are always the delays in that.

Six guys to pour and trowel the concrete. They were a finely tuned operation, I think because you just have to be when the material has a fixed working time. My neighbor next door, who is doing a complete renovation of her house and not living there, did us a complete solid and let us snake the concrete hose (all 200 feet of it) through her garage and yard and into our yard -saving us the hassle of bringing the hose through our house because we have no access to our yard except through the main floor, (i.e. living room). So yay for that.

We went with a steel trowel finish. It is still wet in this picture. A steel trowel finish creates a very hard and smooth surface with variation in the color -a patina if you will. It is quite beautiful and feels absolutely wonderful underfoot as it is smooth and heats up nicely in the sun. Let me tell you, this surface is in no way like a sidewalk or carport. On the advice of the concrete contractor, we added a tiny bit of black pigment to the mix to reduce reflective glare in the direct sun.

As I mentioned at the top of this post, the size of this thing terrifies me. It is crazy big (10 foot in diameter in a 26 foot wide lot and 4 1/5 feet deep!). I have faith that we can integrate it into the yard with the proper hardscape and landscaping and that it will be, the bossest thing ever (at least in my mind anyway).

P.S. Consider this a preliminary post. Of course I will be writing about the details about this hot tub and the garden as things move along. We are doing a built in bench on the concrete, a small deck around the tub to hold the roll-back top and of course planting the shit out of the yard. I am so excited.