This is the story of a painted front door, yes, but it’s so much more than that!
It’s sort of silly to keep reminiscing on how far certain areas of our house have come in the last year (while others have remained completely stagnant), but as we check off another to-do on the list, we can’t help but stand back and say, remember when?
Remember when our front door (and patio, for that matter!) looked like this? And remember when we had our contractors install the new door and transom window, only to find rotted wood, asphalt siding and long forgotten side lights? All of that was almost a year ago, and it’s so easy (and better, probably) to forget that sloppy curb appeal we once had. But the biggest perk of documenting this home’s journey is digging up those old photos, looking up past posts and seeing those long forgotten befores. When it’s easier to see piles of mess around the house, it’s so nice to be reminded of how far you’ve come!
Cheers to that, right?
All that to say, let’s skip the deep archives of the front door’s past and fast forward to where we were at the start of the summer. Raw wood! Broken lights! And now? Blue! A stained patio, working lights, a clean door mat and color!
What you can’t see above is that our transom window does display our address, but I smudged that out because, you know, internet. However, for those wondering, we did move forward with House Number Lab and chose the Americana in matte gold. The numbers are stunning – worth every penny! Many of you suggested we do it this way (thank you!), and since so many old Chicago homes display their address this way, we were sold! Our results didn’t disappoint.
As for the door color, we’ve mentioned a few times that we were leaning towards Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, which is the same color we used on our interior closet door. We got it color matched to Sherwin William’s paint, and although we think it reads a bit more blue than the Farrow & Ball swatch, it’s no matter! It’s a navy that we’re loving.
Last fall, we actually painted our garden unit’s door this same color, so now we finally have a matching pair of doors! This was before the worst winter ever, and we used PrimeRx Peel Bonding Primer tinted to a medium gray (an adhesion promoter) and DTM Acrylic for the color. The primer is extremely thick, which was unexpected the first time I used it, but it really does the job! Since this combination lasted through the never ending cold without any flaking or peeling (there were several days in a row of double digits below zero), we felt confident using the same on our front door, too.
With the door finally painted, it’s extra (extra!) nice to sit on our porch swing – the best seat in the house! Our potted plants are growing like weeds (good weeds?), and so far, our porch stain has been completely scratch resistant to the pups. The only downside is that the lighter color gray does show footprints more than we’d like (we feared it would), but honestly, it’s the outdoors! It’s to be expected.
You might remember when we debated painting the interior of our door the same navy blue as the closet (although, I believe we were between a few different colors at the time), and we decided to just go for it! It adds a much needed dose of contrast in the entryway, and we especially love how all the navy blues tie together – from the doors to the couch and back again. (Too much navy? Never!)
While painting, I made the decision to not tape off the mullions from the glass, and you know what? I’m not convinced that was the best choice. It was a nightmare scraping the paint from the windows without needing to do a bit of touch-up after the fact, but I think in the end, you just can’t win with a handful of teeny windows. Even though a headache ensued and there was more foul language than I’d care to admit, it turned out alright in the end! (As it typically does; just breathe!)
And now that this to-do has been officially crossed off, this leaves just one more item for the outdoors – the pee pit!
Paint/Stain the porch floor
Finish the staircase hand rail
Top the downstairs cinder blocks with caps
Install a path from the pavement to the side of our home, alongside the garden (NOPE)
Paint the front door
• Paint the staircase – that is, once the pressure treated wood has dried (next year?)
• Make a “pee pit” for Jack + CC
Scott has already made me slightly nervous by suggesting that I’m underestimating the amount of gravel and strength needed even for our small pit plans (me? Underestimate? Ha!), so we’ll see. If all goes well, we’ll get it completed this coming weekend and really check off the exterior list – that is, for this year!
So far, summer has been knocking it out of the park with yard sales! Most recently, we’ve been on a very serious, very daily hunt for a pair of chairs. I’ll absolutely admit that we have a chair problem (I believe I need to use two hands just to make note of all chairs we have stashed in each room!), but the bigger problem is that while some of them will make a great side chair in, say, a bedroom, we’ve yet to find the perfect duo for the living room. Or studio for that matter!
I’ve been on a mission to find an affordable set of chairs for both spaces, especially with fall fast approaching – meaning, more family visits, more friends in town and holiday fiestas. Affordable is the key word, as our project list is forever growing, but at the same time, we refuse to settle. Never!
For a handful of months, we’ve been making the rounds on Craigslist, Krrb, Chairish and various Facebook groups. I’ve been trying to remain patient (ha!), and then two weeks ago, I received a text from Scott: There’s an estate sale in the ‘hood today! Go on your lunch break! I did, and I found chairs! Fast forward to this past weekend, and Scott came in from a coffee run to say: There’s a yard sale in the ‘hood today! Let’s go! (That Scott, always full of good news). And then? We found another pair of chairs for the studio. Hooray!
Want to see?
ONE. Our intentions for the living room are to have chairs that are comfortable and movie-watching-worthy, but not overstuffed or large. With the bold patterns already taking center stage (we’re looking at you, rug!), we preferred to keep the chairs the same (as opposed to mis-matched styles), and ideally, they’ll be in a soft, neutral color. I picked these up from the estate sale and stuffed them in our wagon:
The current nubby fabric has got to go, but we have samples on the way! (We’re leaning towards a super soft gray, if only to liven them up with a pillow or two.) They’re not too small, definitely not large, but truly, just right. The Goldilocks of chairs! We put them in place for now (ugh, the overwhelming color palette is making me all sorts of itchy!), and they’re a great fit for the space and exactly what we had in mind (well, minus the scratchy mustard upholstery). They weren’t a steal, but at $240 for the pair (this is the part where we sigh and say, oh, Chicago!), even with new fabric and foam, they still give new chairs a run for their money. We love, love, love them.
TWO. The more recent yard sale turned up these two, initially spotted by Scott who shot me his glance – you know the kind? Look! To your left! We took a seat, and while I’m not convinced the wire seats are the most comfortable (although Scott thinks so), that’s an easy fix with a soft cushion or pillow.
They’re not real brass, but the imperfect condition was too cute to pass up! While I initially argued that the last thing we needed was more chairs, I imagined them in the studio and then shot Scott my glance. You know, the one that says, yes! He was on board from the get go, and we brought them home for $10. (Only later did I realize why they looked slightly familiar; they’re the curvy cousins to these guys!)
Of course, the studio has a long, long way to go (um, baseboards? A rug? Door trim!), but we’re really enjoying the more lighthearted and fun vibe we have going on upstairs. And on a somewhat related side note, while we’re thinking the guest and first floor work rooms will be the next bigger projects we’ll tackle, I’m really looking forward to bringing the studio up to snuff. Perhaps we’ll squeeze in a few updates as they happen; I’m determined to make this space shine.
Our recent finds have officially forced us to begin combing through our furniture inventory, fine tuning what can go and what can stay. We’re being quite aggressive with it, too! What may have worked in our condo might not be the right choice for this house, and we’re finally letting go of some items that no longer make sense for us.
Clutter be damned!
With the recent addition of our streamlined gallery wall in the living room’s gap, we’ve been itching to add something large – very large! – above our velvet sofa. Not wanting the room to feel overly cluttered with our already vibrant rug (and the opposing wall’s art round up), we’d been tossing around a handful of ideas for the last year (yes, really), and we finally landed on trying out a couple of over sized engineer prints.
This, of course, led us to the next question, of what? And since choosing to “go big or go home,” we took the most literal route and went with a tried and true favorite – dinosaurs!
I picked up a vintage dinosaur book, Life Before Man, with page after page of prehistoric illustrations. We settled on the finalists – the notorious T-Rex (!) and a wild flightless bird. While the latter falls under a different (although prehistoric) era, we loved the composition when the two were paired up. We wondered if it was normal for two adults to choose such subjects, but we decided it was best to fully embrace our inner quirk and run with it! If it’ll make us smile every time we enter the room, why not?
Engineer prints can be printed up to 3′x4′ at any copy center (we used Staples), and they’re inexpensive at $7 each (although you can pick up smaller sizes for as little as $2!). I scanned our chosen images from the book at 300 dpi, submitted them through the online system, and we picked them up the next day. We knew the paper would be very thin, so we teamed up with Ace Hardware to create extra large frames to give them that finished, polished look.
For this month’s Ace challenge, we were teamed up with Tasha over at Designer Trapped, where we both chose to give the Bosch Variable Speed Palm Router a try; we encourage you to see what Tasha created! In our case, we used the palm router to DIY our frames, opting for thin and sleek, allowing the dino prints to be the star. (Naturally.) Here’s what we needed for two frames:
MATERIALS USED FOR 2 FRAMES, 39″ X 41″ EACH:
4 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′
2 Packs – Ring hangers
2 Packs – 3″ corner braces (each pack comes with 4 + screws)
Hanging wire (we chose 100 lb, but 50 lb would also work)
2 Engineer prints on 3′x4′ over-sized paper
2 Pieces – double paned glass cut to size (this can be done at any Ace)
2 Sheets - Foam core (size dependent on art)
Anchors for hanging
Measuring tape / pencil
Dust mask / safety glasses
Sandpaper / Power sander
Bosch Palm Router with 1/2″ straight bit
Compound miter saw
Spackle or wood putty
Paint brush or small foam roller
Staple gun with 1/2″ staples
WHAT WE DID. To start, I used our small power sander to smooth out the wood for the frames. They were pretty rough to begin with, but felt good after using an 80 grit paper, followed up with a 120 grit. Tip: 2x2s are very inexpensive, but be careful to choose pieces that are as straight as possible!
We used our palm router to create the lip for the glass, art and backing to sit into the frame, and we chose to route all of our 2x2s first (rather than do so after the frame was put together). Never having used a router before, it took a few rough starts to get it right, but the ultimate trick was slow and steady. (Scott got the hang of it quickly, after which, it was smooth sailing!) It kicks up a lot of saw dust and debris, so safety glasses and a dust mask were crucial for this step!
We adjusted the router to a 3/8″ depth, and the 1/2″ straight bit was perfect for getting that recessed lip. Bonus – the edge guide made it super easy to keep our line perfectly straight. Once each piece had been routed, I followed that up with a quick sanding to get off any burrs and rough edges.
Next up, we used the compound miter saw to cut the four pieces for each of our frames. We goofed the math a few times (and tripped ourselves up more than we’d like to admit!), but when it came time to figure out the proper lengths, this is likely the easiest way:
- First, measure the size of your art. Ours came to 35.75″ x 37.5″ (it filled the 3′x4′ engineer prints width-wise, and we allowed the height proportions to fall naturally). Your glass and foam core should be cut to this same measurement.
- Subtract .75″ from your width and your height, and make your mitered cuts using those measurements for the inside edge. For example, this would give us a measurement of 35″ x 36.75″, which should be the length of the inside of our frame.
- Once everything is all assembled, this will ensure that your print, glass and backing will fill the frame, but it will still leave you with an 1/8″ of wiggle room within the recessed tray!
With all of our pieces cut down to size, we worked on one corner at a time. After a dab of wood glue, we used clamps to hold two pieces together, drilled a small pilot hole and used a chamfer bit to allow our 2″ screws to sit below the level of the 2×2. We only used them on the top and bottom of the frame, for a total of eight screws per frame.
Our frames felt pretty sturdy after this, but as an extra measure (always!), we installed a 3″ brace along each corner, snugging it up to the routed edge as to not hit the 2″ screws beneath them. As large as these frames ended up, they were super strong and provided no give – perfect!
I spackled the exposed screw heads, and once that was dry and sanded, I dived right into painting. I applied two coats of the same exterior Valspar paint that we have on our front porch, color matched to Clark+Kensington’s Designer White.
We allowed everything to dry overnight, and the next day, we brought the frames inside to bring it all together! As mentioned in the supply list, we got double paned glass cut to size at Ace, and I used a utility to knife to cut the foam core down to the proper size. Using the same framing technique I’ve been using for years, I used a staple gun with 1/2″ staples to secure everything into place (the trick is nestling the gun about an 1/8″ away from the frame, which will allow the staple to remain proud). We finished it up by installing ring hangers (you can pick them up in a kit with screws) and 100 lb hanging wire; this is admittedly overkill, as each frame couldn’t weigh more than 20 lbs (the glass is the heaviest component!).
Update! Check out Kyley’s comment regarding the installation of D-rings (photo above). For something this large and heavy, it may be best to use an anchor per ring rather than a strong wire.
Each frame was hung on a 50 lb. anchor, and we fussed with placement until the height was high enough so you wouldn’t hit your head while seated, but low enough to avoid the art-that’s-hung-too-high problem. Now, when you walk in our front door and look left, you’ll see this!
We’re super happy with our choice to use 2x2s; they’re substantial enough for our massive prints (we still can’t help but chuckle when we realize that yes, we have large prehistoric creatures on our wall!), and yet they’re sleek enough as to not detract from… well, you know. The T-Rex!
We absolutely love them (weirdos), but don’t forget to check out how Tasha used her palm router! And because we want you to make some ridiculously large frames too, how about $100 to get you motivated? Together with our friends at Ace, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through this Friday, August 1st 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!
*Update: We had a glitch with our Rafflecopter widget! Please let us know if you have any issues with entering. Thank you!
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. #rawr
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