After the world’s longest, most torturous winter, the exterior of our house is just horrid. It’s filthy, yes, but not a thing had been done to it after we moved in last summer. After initially spending all of our time indoors (knocking things down and building them back up) and working with contractors up until Thanksgiving week, the weather became too brutal to devote any energy outside – until this past weekend!
You might remember when we had to remove the siding around our entry, reinforce the front door and install our transom window, and as a result, we had fresh 2x4s that met up with our old, dingy front patio. After losing The One and finding The Real One, the sizable patio was a huge selling factor (a rarity in Chicago!), and while we did enjoy many, many drinks on that patio last summer, it received no attention whatsoever. We’d been talking about the day when we could focus on our home’s exterior, and we’ve finally reached a phase in our home renovations – weather permitting – where we can think about how we’d like it too look.
But! First things first. As with everything within (and, obviously, outside) these walls, a lot of our time has to be put into prep, prep, prep. We’re looking forward to the day – this summer! – when we can rebuild the front stairs, paint the patio and plan for flowers, bushes and pavers. It’s so easy to want to dive in, but we first have to put in the sweat to get to our starting point. Up until this weekend? Our patio and siding had been covered in grime and sludge – from the weather, contractors and decades of neglect (us included):
Not having a need or use for one until now, we picked up a Craftsman 675 Series gas powered pressure washer as a part of our collaboration and partnership with Ace Hardware and got to work! (The kids at Ace? They’re awesome.)
I’ve never used one before, but I’ve always had this idea that a pressure washer is a magical tool that changes lives – and luckily, it’s true! It’s true! I watched Scott for a little while before I gave it a go, and I was hooked. It’s so easy! It’s so fun! It fulfilled my love of instant gratification, which quite honestly, is wholeheartedly embraced during this DIY ride.
For almost four hours this past Saturday, Scott took over and transformed the patio, siding and lattice on the front half of our house (not including the second level). We’re both enamored with the results – if not a little grossed out by what used-to-be:
We’re thinking that our cute (but too small) bistro set may eventually have to go for something with more comfort, and omg we cannot wait to paint the front door – and, of course, the patio! (Now if only the weather forecast will allow for more than one day of sunshine…)
And because Ace Hardware loves you as much as we love them, together with the Ace crew, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! (The best part of our partnership? We think so!) The giveaway runs through this Friday, April 18th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post by Friday evening. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting those that support us!
Scott and I are a little bit all over the place with house progress. With the workroom being completed (packing Shop orders was life changing last week!), I’ve got my sights set on the main studio space, but we’ve also been working on the entryway baseboards during the weeknights, we’re really itching to find a rug to set under our soon-to-be navy sofa, and we’ve got a few plans to get started on the exterior this coming weekend (hello, spring! Kind of!). Nothing is terribly overwhelming (ha!), and we’re taking it one step at a time (well, one step here, then one step there), but isn’t that the general feeling during the changing seasons? Wanting to do All the Things?
But back to the main studio! It’s completely functional and fine – but remember how excited I was to pick up this farmhouse table? And then we both spent hours and hours reconstructing, sanding and refinishing it? I loved all of the little imperfections – after all, it’s from the 1800s! – but one day, I noticed that a teeny little split on the front edge started to grow. It grew some more, until eventually, it forced the center leaf to have a 1/2″ gap. And then another one of the – ahem - ‘adorable’ imperfections split, too! It split across the width of the entire table.
Of course I was super bummed (Scott too!), and we thought, did we over sand it? Is that even possible? Was the wood too dry? I wasn’t ready to just let it go that easily, as my visions of a big, hunky farmhouse table was still very much alive. But as the cracks not only grew in length but also in width, well, it became clear that it just wasn’t working.
Two other issues came up along this table journey, which I tried to fight at first (Kim = stubborn):
- ONE. The aprons are too tall! When we lengthened the table overall, we mimicked the original 6″h aprons, but I’m kicking myself for not going a smidge shorter. Crossing my legs while I work is near impossible, and the arms of my chair just barely won’t fit underneath. If only I had given myself an extra inch of breathing room – that’s all!
- TWO. I imagined that with such a large table, I could have a pen cup or fill a small tray with my stapler, tape and scissors – but what about my painting supplies? Originally, I thought they were going to live in the workroom, but as the plans for that space unfolded, it made more sense to have them on hand at my desk. Right now, my paints and desk supplies are living on a rolling cart nearby, which works – for now.
I’ve finally admitted that I need to switch gears completely, and I need to take this as a lesson learned. (Boo.) What I’m imagining is something just as wide as the 6′ table space I currently have, as one half is perfect for my computer, and I can still roll out my drop cloth on painting days without disrupting the laptop, hard drives and random camera accessories – but with two large front drawers. There have also been days when Scott will work from home in the afternoon, and I love being able to have enough room for us to sprawl out in the same room. This Ikea desk sort of fit the bill (at least it met my drawer requirements) – until I realized it’s only 15″ deep. What?
I do think this table could still be saved as a dining table for someone else someday (go figure, it’s intended use!), and the turned legs still make my heart happy – but I’m slowly realizing that I’m making too many concessions and I’ve reached a point where starting new beats more modifications. I need clean. I need sleek. Maybe stained wood, maybe not. And if we can make our actual dining room table, I told Scott, well, we can make a desk too! Right?
Does anyone know where we went wrong? Or was it really a fluke? We’d love to learn from this! And if anyone has made their own large desk, can you recommend plans?
It’s here! And whoa, how about this blue? After Scott and I agreed that our new couch needs to be a statement, our thoughts immediately went to – surprise, surprise! – navy. Our velvet chair has held up really well with a home full of pets, so we knew that we could always order West Elm’s fabric by the yard again. But after we received a suggestion from our reader, Heather (thank you!), to give House Fabric a go, we ordered a handful of samples. (We also checked out our favorite local Textile Warehouse, but with no luck.)
The winner was clear from the moment we spread out the samples across our table – Chambord Indigo. It’s so thick, and this blue has so many shades and variations depending on the light. Just imagine how it’s going to look once it’s been tufted! We took these photos outdoors which shows a very vibrant blue, but indoors it looks deep and rich, true to the sample on the House Fabric website. It does not lean primary (as these photos in the direct sun may suggest!), and at times, it’s a subtle gray blue. And as I sit here at my desk and look over at my swatch, it’s a true, dark navy. How’s that for a blue with multiple personalities?
We had budgeted around $20-25/yard for our fabric (we would need 20 yards total for our more-than-8′ couch!), but quality was a must for us – so we weren’t set on sticking to that number. But as you can imagine, we were thrilled that our favorite (crazy durable) indigo velvet came in at $15/yard! We rubbed our sample all over the dogs (you know, as you do), and we were surprised to see that it came back virtually fur-free. Our other contenders were fur magnets, so while we know choosing a navy velvet couch might seem nuts for a four pet household, well, we’re taking the risk. Call us crazy. (Oh, hey, crazy!)
I’ll be dropping off our couch to the upholsterers today, and in a handful of weeks, we’ll have a game changer in the living room. We’re bursting.
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