I Got 99 Problems But the Deck Ain’t One

Like most homes in the south our little abode has a deck in the backyard. There’s nothing really special about it…just a standard rectangle deck.  Other than the red color, there was nothing offensive about it. It’s redeeming feature was it’s size (that’s what she said). The deck spans almost the entire length of the house. So, in that regard…nice.  However, after spending some actual time living and using the deck we discovered a “usability” problem. This giant deck only had one tiny, crooked staircase to get into the yard.

Let me back up a second and explain why that’s such a big deal. The backyard is a main attraction…an oasis if you will. It’s a fenced in beauty that neighbors have actually admitted to coveting (Yeah, it’s weird). My point being, this deck was actually preventing you from really enjoying and accessing the the yard.

I mentioned it in passing to my dad. Or as he should probably be called “The Deck Master.” This man just really loves building decks…really nice decks. As I was saying, I mentioned my annoyance that there was only one way to get off the deck (unless you were willing to hurl yourself over the rail) and before I could finish he said “I’ll come over this weekend and take a look at it.” Oh, sweet. This was a bit surprising because he was so adamantly against helping us build a TV built-in. “You stick to what you know,” he said.

That weekend he came over and took a look and he didn’t seem too impressed. I could see his eyes judging its inferiority. Then, like fate he was walking down the staircase and the last step collapsed! And if you knew my dad, he’s not a big guy…muy tiny in a masculine way of course.

The Deck Master: “How the hell did this thing pass inspection?”

The Deck Master: “Look at it, it’s crooked!”

Me: “Uh, I dunno. It’s always been like that?”

The Deck Master: “We’ll have to start over.”

Me: “Ooook.” I’m gunna go inside…it’s hot.”

Honestly, I’m not sure how this conversation concluded…but I’m sure it was me going inside. Here’s a picture of the culprit. The death staircase!

CrookedStairs

Over the next couple weeks we discussed ideas for the deck. Our ideas ranged from simple. Aka, adding another set of stairs and rebuilding the crappy crooked staircase. To what evolved to the epic deck we have today. Whilst we were brainstorming my dad said:

The Deck Master: “You know what’s a shame? That stupid railing prevents you from actually seeing the yard.”

Me: “Huh, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about that.”

The Deck Master: “Why don’t we build it so it doesn’t have railings?

Me: “Duh!”

I mean look, he’s totally right. The railing totally separates the yard from the deck rather than them naturally leading into each other.

blockedView

So, he sketched out an idea…a crazy smart idea. Keeping the base/foundation and size of the deck. But instead of adding railings and 2 staircases, we were going to add a staircase around the entire deck. Brilliant! Keeping safety in mind, we added some built-in seats to prevent people from falling off the corners/ends.  Once we all agreed, we started building. By ‘we’ I mean The Deck Master and T. (Not me)

diagram

First things first…the boys got to destroy something. Their smiles were un-matched as they took a sledgehammer to the railings. In order to keep the deck usable while it was being built we decided to build it in 2 stages. First we’d tackle the left, then the right. Everything went pretty smoothly. I guess that’s what you get when you work with a Deck Master. The only tiny snafu occurred when they got to the corner (where the staircases had to connect). While they are building this section I came outside to check it out and here’s how it went down (some drama may or may not have been added):

Me: Uh, guys the corner isn’t straight.

Boys: Yes it is.

Me: Um, no. It’s not.  (This went on until the next day).

Dad: The next day. I think it is actually crooked. I was aligning it to the original deck.

Me: You mean the one that we are replacing b/c it’s crooked?

Dad: The stink-eye and a smile were given.

Boys: Man, we’re going to have to redo this WHOLE section. Tear it all out and start over.

Me: Um…

Boys: All that work and time was for nothing…DAMN.

Me: Um, guys…

Boys: We’ll have to go get so much more wood…

Me: Guys…

Boys: We’ll have to cut all these pieces and pull up all these boards.

Me: GUYS! Why can’t we just cut this little piece and just pivot the frame?

Boys: Huh.

Me: I’ll be inside if you need me.

mic drop

After this, the build continued on flawlessly…here are some in progress shots. Because there’s something so fascinating about wood framing. (Maybe that’s just me?)

inBuildDeck

I would have loved to say that nothing was harmed during this project. However, we did have casualties of construction. We lost three beautiful hostas, sad face. We tried to move them to another location…however we unknowingly handed them to the voles on a silver platter. Lets have a moment of silence for the plants that were lost.

Hostas

Ok, that’s enough. 🙂 Without further ado, here’s the new deck. Isn’t she pretty?! It’s so functional, incorporated, and modern. It really does link the house to the backyard. We couldn’t be more happy with the outcome! I mean look at it …

BeforeAfterDeck

Advertisements

Winter Project Mash-up

Despite the lack of activity on the blog we’ve actually been quite busy this winter. With a lot of our big projects completed, we’re finally able to start working on some of the smaller details. These details are exciting because they start making a house feel like our home. I’m currently obsessed with these “Best of 2012” lists that are all over the internet. So, without further adieu, here’s the Cashwell project mash-up.

1. Type Tray Earring Holder

EarRingImageI saw tons of photos showing how people turned old type trays into jewelry holders. Guess what? I had an old type tray AND paint. So, I thought to myself, “Huh, that looks easy!” Life Tip: When you think it’s going to be easy…it won’t be.  In all honesty, this was the most complicated and frustrating DIY project that I’ve completed. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, she’s over-reacting, it’s just a little paint.” I get it, I really do…but it’s not. Here’s what went down.

  • Step 1 – Clean the tray. Using warm, lightly soapy, water I rubbed down the whole piece. Making sure I got all the dog hair, dirt, and dust out of all the nooks and crannies.
  • Step 2 – Paint coat 1 of the tray. Since, I decided I wanted a simple glossy white I didn’t need to prime it. Thank God. Do you know how long it takes to paint all those little boxes? They each have 5 faces that need painting. Lets do a little math shall we: 1 tray back + 4 tray sides + (96 boxes x 5 faces) = insanity, epic hand cramps, and tears.
  • Step 3 – Paint coat 2. Yep, you gotta do all that again!
  • Step 4 – Have a mini melt-down because you realize it needs another coat.
  • Step 5 – Paint coat 3.
  • Step 6 – Have a drink during this phase of false security while you watch your handy paint job dry.
  • Step 7 – Simply screw in the eye-hooks and hardware. I thought those little screws would just…oh I dunno, SCREW IN? Nope, they did nothing. I had a perfectly painted tray box silently crushing my will to live.
  • Step 8 – Give up. Contemplate throwing it out the window.
  • Step 9 – Get mad. Become determined to finish this stupid project because you’re not a quitter and you can’t let the tray beat you.
  • Step 10 – Drill TINY starter holes into all 96 boxes.
  • Step 11 – Buy another tiny drill bit. Why, because you snapped that drill bit in half. Yep, those spaces are small and apparently drill bits don’t bend. So….
  • Step 12 – Drill holes in all the remaining boxes.
  • Step 13 – Screw in all eye-hooks by hand. Not skipping a beat when you completely destroy your manicure.
  • Step 14 – Be half-excited when you’re done because you know it’s tainted your soul.

Even though this project wasn’t fun to complete. It’s actually really fun to use. It does exactly what I thought it would do. Having all my earrings and bracelets in one place I can quickly choose a look for the day. However, I do give it a good stink-eye from time to time.

2. Necklace holder

NecklaceImageHi, my name is Christine and I’ve got a necklace problem. I’ve got a really nice acrylic box from the container store; however, I could only fit 1/3 of them into that space. Therefore, I was only wearing the baubles that were easy to find. I knew I needed a solution that allowed me easy access to all my necklaces. After a lot research I decided on a couple of things.

  • How do I organize them? Currently, I had them organized in a box placed into individual sandwich baggies. Even though they weren’t tangled I knew that if I couldn’t see them I wouldn’t wear them. So, I decided that I’d need to hang them up some how.
  • Do I want the necklaces to be decoration? My bathroom only has one wall. So I had to choose between displaying my necklaces or something else. I decided that I didn’t want the necklaces to be on “display.” I wanted to save that precious wall space for other décor (link this to floating shelf post).

My mom found this Elfa tie organizer and I knew it was the way to go. It has tons of hooks for future purchases, the hooks are deep giving my bib necklaces plenty of space, And it was SUPER easy to hang. I decided to hang it in the closest so I can see all my necklaces but they don’t have to be the only décor element in my bathroom.

3. Stair Rail

StairRailImageOur home was built in 1984 (coincidentally the same year my hubs and I were born). It’s common for homes built during this time to have natural, or dark stained trim. Luckily, the previous owners decided to paint all the trim in the house glossy white before we got here.  However, they neglected to pain the stair rails. I’m assuming they didn’t attempt it because they are against the carpet, thus making it difficult to paint. However, I’m not thrilled with the carpet anyways. It’s rather old, lumpy, and otherwise gross. So, getting a little paint on it was the least of my worries. It was a quick win in my opinion.

We already had all the supplies:  paint, brush, and drop cloth. I gave it a few coats of high gloss white and it really makes a difference! The railing blends into the room rather than sticking out…which was my goal. We’ve still gotta paint the long hand rail up the stairs…but we’ve have to wait until it stops raining.

4. Closet Shelves

closetImageThe closet in the 3rd “bedroom” is the second largest closet in the house. So, it was pivotal for it to be functional and be able to organize our stuff. It originally only had 1 shelf about 5 ft. up with a clothes poll below it. Can you say useless?! So, we took that out and measured the space. We decided that we wanted 4 shelves total … because we’re short people and we didn’t want things on the top shelf to be literally out of reach.

Ideally there would be an Elfa shelving solution in every closet in our home. However, this is real life and I had a coupon to Lowes so that’s where we went. We spent WAY too much time deciding, changing our mind, and circling back to the beginning. We decided to go with wire shelves because:

  • Almost no need to clean
  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Hold a lot of weight

Not to mention that we know we wont be in this house forever…so I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on closet shelves when we’ve got other important things to take care of. The shelves came with all the necessary hardware and a detailed instruction guide. We were able to finish the project in about an hour.

Afterwards, I popped over to Target and gathered up some clear bins. The clear bins make it really easy to find what I’m looking for. It’s not the most beautiful closet system, but it’s got great personality.

5. Coffee Table vs. Ottoman

ottomanIt became clear that we needed something in the living room. But what to get? Taylor grew up with an ottoman and I grew up with a coffee table. Talk about lives divided.
So, we talked about what we wanted our new addition to do. At first I was weary about an ottoman because I feared that it wouldn’t be as functional as a table. However, after a lot of research it turns out that I was wrong… yep, I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong.

The ottoman was actually MORE functional than a table. You can sit on it comfortably, you can rest your feet on it comfortably, they prevent clutter, and you can easily put a tray on it to accommodate the need to place something on it. Once we decided upon an ottoman I began searching for the perfect specimen. I had size, price, color, weight, comfort, and design mandatories. Me have mandatories…shocking.  I ended up deciding on a beautiful ottoman by West Elm, who in my opinion can do no wrong. It was perfect!

  • Size: Perfect 3ft x 3ft size for our house
  • Price: affordable and within budget (It helped that Christmas was around the corner)
  • Color: They had multiple colors and fabrics to choose from. I ordered swatches to help me decide upon the color
  • Weight: Not too heavy that I can’t move it and not too light that it slides around
  • Comfort: Very cushy and comfortable
  • Design: Modern with a flair of Moroccan in the leg style…love!

They didn’t sell the ottoman in stores because of the fabric options. So, I ordered her online and would be shipped between 8-10 weeks. WAIT WHAT? 2 months….sigh. It arrived in about 4 weeks…and we love it.

DIY Custom Frames

You wouldn’t be able to tell based on my excessive “DIY” pinboard. However, this project wasn’t actually meant to be a DIY project. I fully intended this to be a simple purchase, enjoy, and move on sort of thing…but sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

Now that we’ve completed most of the “big projects” I’ve started to focus my attention on adding some flair. I’m starting to think about photos, art, collectables, and decor to define “our look”. The first thing I wanted to add was a small collection of prints. My grandparent’s purchased them at the 1947 World’s Fair and I’ve been dying to display them. They are bright watercolors depicting foreign cities across the world. Out of the 9 photos, I chose four vertical photos that I wanted to frame.

A friend of mine mentioned that she was going to IKEA so I asked her to pick up some frames for me. I measured the photos and decided upon the 19×24 inch frames. I wanted a thick mat and these frames would allow 5-6 inches around the photos. I was so proud of myself. I’d decided on the artwork, I’d picked out the frames. All I had to do was pop the prints into the frames then I’d be done! We’ll, I was wrong. However, the good news is that you get to benefit from my ignorance. Let’s begin shall we?

Once home, I promptly opened the frames to lay my photos in and finish this project. However, I ran into a problem. Three mattes were white and one was off-white, WHAT THE? Not even 2 and 2! ARG. This threw a wrench in my OSD world. On to plan B.

  • PLAN B: Go to Michaels to buy mattes using my coupons.

*Skip to me rocking back-and-forth in the fetal position in Michaels* 



Of course they don’t carry metric sizes. Darn you IKEA! I love you, but this is America. Where we have measurements that make sense. I digress.

  • PLAN C: Buy mattes that are close to the correct size. Then cut them to fit.

Yes, mattes. I ended up having to buy 2 mattes for each frame because of the frame sizes. I got really large frames because I’m a fan of expansive matting. So, instead of buying 1 very expensive “custom” matte, I bought 2 so the small photos would fit in the big frames! Here’s what I did to customize my store bought mattes.

  1. Flipped the frame over and popped the backing out of the frames. **Careful not to break the thin glass. Not that I did that…ever.
  2. Using the backing of the frame, I traced it on the back of the larger matte. This showed me where I needed to cut the matte.
  3. With a nice pencil line as my guide I cut the matte by laying a large metal ruler next to the line and following it with an XACTO knife. **Note: This method won’t give you an angled look. However, I’m not a huge fan of angled mattes anyways because they seem a little outdated. Plus, they are wicked hard to cut.
  4. I cut the inner matte in the same manner because my OCD wouldn’t let me have a matte that was thicker on the sides. Right?! … anyone?
  5. Once I had both my mattes cut, I taped all three pieces together on the backside. This way I could check to make sure everything was centered and otherwise gorgeous.
  6. Once I was satisfied with the placement I popped all three pieces into the frame.
  7. Bam done!  Unless you have multiple frames…**Repeated this 4 times…fun.

The end result was well worth the effort. (As a side note…my walls are not actually indigo as these poor photos depict. They are more of a navy and I’m baffled by where this blue is coming from.)

Additionally, can you spot the dog in the photo above?! I didn’t event know she photo-bombed me until I uploaded the photo. She’s such a ninja. Below is a closer photo of the paintings which are still a bit blurry. I’m working with an iPhone camera people … cut me some slack! Aren’t they amazing?

Anywho, I decided to group the images in a block of four. Why? One being that I only had one wall that was only so big. And adding them in that arrangement made the room look taller. Bonus! So, the room that Taylor and I decided we’d decorate last is now the closest to being done.