Friday, June 29, 2012

Bubba and Pop Pop's Garden

I can't resist the title of this post. My little nephew, Carter, is starting to talk and has taken creative license in naming is favorite people. Bubba is his word for "grandma" and Pop Pop is what he's named my dad. My poor mom has waited so long to be a grandmother and now she gets to be called "Bubba".

Chris and I just returned from a quick trip visiting my parents in Ohio. While there we hit two (TWO!) house tours. I'll share pictures from the tours next week, but first I wanted to show you pictures of my parents' garden.
My parents moved to a suburb outside Columbus, Ohio about 7 years ago where housing developments are the norm and privacy is at a minimum. So they enlisted the help of a landscape architect who designed a backyard for them that is distinctive and private.
Doesn't it look like a lush green oasis awaits you just beyond the stone archway entrance?
Over the years my parents have gone above and beyond what the landscape architect suggested and have made their own modifications to the property. The wrought iron gate in the photo above is an example of one of their own upgrades. 
The house sits sideways on the lot which makes their home feel even more tucked away and secluded.
Walk a little ways and you'll find yourself under a beautiful arbor filled with purple clematis. 

Then follow the stone pathway around the corner into the backyard
until you find yourself in an english garden. 

Their backyard is tiny, but there is enough room for a small lawn and a patio. I think they both appreciate having only a small yard to take care of. In fact, my dad gave up his gas mower and now tends to the lawn using a manual push mower. 
Along the side of the garage, two apple espaliers fill otherwise dead space. My dad explained that each branch of each tree grows a different variety of apple. I thought he was pulling my leg until I looked it up.
 Too bad a green thumb isn't hereditary.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Apron Edition: Finding the Perfect Contractor

Chris and I have hired our fair share of contractors in the nine or so years that we've been homeowners. Some have been fantastic and some haven't worked out at all. Why is it that finding a talented, trustworthy, and reliable contractor can sometimes be just has difficult as if we'd just done the job ourselves?

Today you can find me over at The Apron where I share how we've found the contractors that we'll hire again and again. 

What are some of your tips for finding a great contractor? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Exterior Paint Color Obsession

Twice now, I've knocked on the door of the house I'm obsessed with to ask the homeowners for their paint colors, and twice noone has come to the door. (There was a car in the driveway the second time I stopped by, so now I'm paranoid that they were actually home but didn't want to talk to me).
Yes, I know I could simply leave a note with a SASE like a few commenters suggested, but apparently I like doing things the hard way.
These are all Benjamin Moore colors. I think I came pretty close to capturing the green-gray of my inspiration house.
BUT, I'd also been collecting paint chips over the last two years of other potential colors. Sadly, I only know the original name of one of them because we accidentally left all the chips at the Home Depot paint counter where we had the samples color matched.
Any favorites?

Friday, June 22, 2012


I wish I'd known these existed before we started renovating.
We've been replacing all of our off-white light switches and light switch covers with white ones--which don't get me wrong, is a HUGE improvement. It just would have been neat to replace them with something a little more in line with the period of our home. These can be used with existing or new wiring.
The push button switch in the photo below is a good example of how well historic details can work with modern furnishings.
Houzz Kelly Donovan
We actually have an original one in our living room.
Which would look a whole lot better if I replaced the switch plate cover with something like this
Signature Hardware
or this

Have a great weekend everyone. Stay cool!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Shutters and Hardware

Chris is really involved when it comes to the aesthetics of our house, but most of the time I'm the one that agonizes over colors or fabrics or furniture selections, and I narrow them down for Chris to choose from. So I get a kick out of it when Chris comes to me with his own ideas and asks for my opinion.
The other day it was about shutters. When we moved in we discovered a bunch of old shutters in the basement and in the garage. Chris recently dug them out and found that there are enough for all of the street facing windows on our house, albeit some need repair.  He tried to sell me on having them repaired and repainted with the rest of the house, but I wasn't feeling it. There's already a lot happening decoratively speaking on the exterior of our house and surely there can be too much of a good thing.
Then he started his campaign. He wants to get hardware to match the authenticity of the original shutters.
Larson Shutter Company
He also suggested that we mount the shutters on the inside of the window frame.
Timberlane Shutters
Timberlane Shutters
Timberlane Shutters
I never really noticed that true functional shutters would be mounted on the inside of the window frame. It makes sense though. After all, the original purpose of a pair of shutters is to cover a window when drawn closed.

In any case,  here's a shot of Chris holding a shutter next to the window so that I could get a better idea of how it would look. 

Yup, okay. Looks good.
Nice job, Chris.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Decision Time

Our big project this summer is to get the house roofed and painted. When I last discussed our roofing situation, I was debating an asphalt product that looked like scalloped slate.

Chris read that blog post and immediately nixed the idea. He said he had "his heart set on using synthetic slate". Fair enough.
With that decision made we're really excited to get started, but there's a bit of a chicken and the egg situation going on. Before we can paint, we need to have the new roof put on. Before we can choose a roof color, we need to have an idea of what we want the new house color to be.
So I've practically covered my entire house in different house paint colors. We're still working on that decision, but confident that we're in the ballpark. Close enough to base our roofing color decision on anyway.
The sample board our roofer brought over was pretty useless in determining the color selections.
I don't think it was intended to select a color from, but rather to show how realistic synthetic slate looks, so Chris called EcoStar and they promptly sent us a Majestic Slate roofing tile fan deck.

We want it to look like slate and we want it to be dark. But not too dark...I don't want it to look like black rubber. Midnight Gray is the perfect choice.
Now we just need to make a quick call to our roofer with our decision and ask him to order the materials. Jeeze, let's get this project started already!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Off My Rocker

I've been debating seating options for our front porch since we moved in almost two years ago. I considered a porch swing, bench seat, and wicker chairs until finally settling on porch rockers. A rocker for me and a rocker for the man of the house. I imagine us sitting in them rocking away during a Sunday afternoon thunderstorm.  Like old people.
I started my search a few months ago at my favorite furniture store, the Salvation Army. I wasn't looking for a matching pair, necessarily. I figured I'd buy mismatched chairs and paint them the same color. Alas, I didn't find any rocking chairs at my Salvation Army (and I should learn by now that it never works to shop for something specific at a consignment store). 
So I extended my search to Craigslist, and that's when something funny happened. I kept coming across all these bentwood rockers.
Remember these? I do. They were everywhere when I was growing up. My parents didn't own one, but I think there must have been one in almost every home I visited. I've come to associate these rocking chairs with all things '80s like big hair and parachute pants so I immediately discounted them when I saw all the listings on Craigslist. 
And then I started to come around. 
That caning. 
The bentwood frame. 
The scrolly shape would actually look fantastic on the porch of my Victorian house. 
Plus the fact that they are a dime a dozen on Craigslist meant we actually could have a matching pair. 

Within 48 hours, I'd picked up two chairs: one was $40, and the other was $50.  Not a bad investment for a couple of rockers, right? Well, here's what made one of my purchases even more interesting: 
Yeah, I'm an idiot. This isn't some dated piece of furniture, these are Thonet rockers, created by Michael Thonet who was an Austrian furniture maker. He created this design in 1860. 1860!!! Turns out Thonet is credited as the "father of modern furniture" for his innovative design and technique for bending wood into this iconic shape. I now consider myself educated.
Only one of the chairs I purchased has the Thonet label burned into the back. I have no idea of its age or if it is authentic (and who cares?), but I do know that both rockers are exactly right for my front porch. TrĂ©s vintage chic. 
Still not feeling it? Check out this painted version here by Kristen Davis.
It's like totally bodaciously awesome.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Custom Artwork

Has your significant other ever threatened to make you art as a gift?  Mine has, and I promptly told him I would not be wearing a macaroni necklace to work. It wasn’t macaroni this year.  For my birthday Chris surprised me with this lovely custom piece of art. 
 If you are wondering what this is and why it is significant (as I admittedly was when I first saw it),  it is a page from our area’s local business directory in the 1880’s where the very first owner of our house, a gentleman by the name of William Pimm, advertised his gold leafing business.     

Pretty cool, right? 
I asked Chris to give me some details on just how he made this masterpiece.
He found the source document on a website of military and civil records called Fold3.   The site allows you to download digitized records of our country’s history, but more importantly it allows you to search through the documents quickly.  Chris was able to find draft cards of our family members, census records, and of course this directory from the 1880’s. I imagine old family records would make interesting artwork as well.  
Once he found a page with images that he liked, he exported the pdf.   It looked like this:

 From there it gets a bit more technical, but basically he pulled the image into Adobe Illustrator and did a tracing of the original document. The tracing allowed him to focus on the black and white and remove the gray tones and black border from the original copy.  He also adjusted the sides where the original book was folded over. Finally, due to the quality of the original image, he cleaned up some black marks and areas where the typeface had blurred together so the final copy would be cleaner. 
Once his image was complete, he scaled it up to poster size and uploaded the file at Vistaprint.  He said that it couldn’t have been easier and for about 20 bucks he was able to get a poster size version printed and shipped. 
He even took advice from my blog post here and went to IKEA to put the poster in an inexpensive frame.  
A one of a kind gift on my birthday.  Thanks babe!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Window Shopping

It has been a long while since I posted any thrifting finds. Mostly because my local Salvation Army has been empty due to a lack of donations.

So I was pleasantly surprised at some of the items I saw when I checked in the other day.

This king sized sleigh bed would be a pricey ($500 firm) thrift store purchase, but it was in excellent condition and quiet beautiful in person.
Once you look beyond the offensive electric green & yellow fabric, this is a lovely chair. $45.
I'm sharing photos of tables for the benefit of my sister who's on the hunt for a new kitchen table and chairs. She has her heart set on a farmhouse table but...
Couldn't you imagine this one painted white with a funky fabric on the chair seats? $230 for the entire set plus an extra leaf. 
 Or this table left as is with the chairs painted red or turquoise for a rustic vibe? Also $230 for the entire set and an extra leaf.
They both make me wish that I was on the hunt for a new kitchen table...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Knock Knock

I've had my eye on a lion's head door knocker for quite some time now.
There's one on the door of one of the most famous addresses in the world: 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister.
It looks both elegant and imposing (appropriate for introvert homeowners like Chris and myself, wouldn't you say?) I'd like to take the opportunity to replace our current door knocker with something ferocious when we have the house painted this summer.

Signature Hardware
Signature Hardware

Signature Hardware

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Work Hard, Play Hard

Last week Chris and I took off to sunny Jamaica for a little break.
We went to the same resort we went to last year, Couples Sans Souci in Ochos Rios. One of the reasons I love Sans Souci so much is its nod to British Colonial architecture throughout the resort.
See those beach chairs below? This is where Chris and I spent the majority of our time. We had this little spot all to ourselves. Heaven.
Already can't wait to go back...

Where's your next vacation destination?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Backyard Before and Afters

Welcome back everyone!
Chris and I escaped to Jamaica last week during my little blogging break. We had the best time and I'll be sure to share pictures of our trip. Until then, I know you are interested in seeing the progress we've made to our backyard so I won't keep you waiting any longer. These photos are more "before and in-progress" photos than they are "before and afters", but I simply can't wait until the end of the summer when all our flowers are in bloom to show you the final results.  

Even still, our backyard has come a long way in just a few weeks. 
Here's the view of our backyard last summer.
And most recently: 
Thanks little old lady neighbor for painting the back of your garage!
Thanks Craiglist man who hauled away our old cyclone fence and removed the old fence posts for free!
Our view has greatly improved!
You may also notice how much nicer the lawn looks. That's because last summer Chris over fertilized and killed all the weeds (As well as the lawn. He said he did it on purpose...)  In the fall he laid down fresh grass seed.  This spring, viola! Green grass!
 At the border of the periwinkle and grass, I planted Impatiens in red, fuchsia, lavender, and deep peach. I can't wait until they grow in.

And now for the side yard.
This was our view last summer:
And here it is now that we decided to clear the area and lay a rustic stone patio (imagine ground cover one day growing neatly between the stones).

But here's the money shot:
 Let the barbecue season begin!

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