Monthly Archives: April 2010

A Simple Change

I think our Flickr sidebar may have given us away on this one, but earlier this week we moved from having a block for our knives…

…to having this magnetic knife rack.


It really frees up counter space and was an easy install. Upgrade?




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Dining Chairs for Sale

Back in March, we picked up a set of six dining chairs, and we told you about it here. We had plans to paint them and recover them; we even bought the fabric for it. But, with all the projects we’ve had going on and with summer creeping up on us (please!), we never really got around to working on them, and before long Catherine actually found a set of chairs on craigslist that she liked even more.

Last week, we picked up the new chairs. They’re actually in really great shape. We just plan to recover them soon, which should be a fairly simple task. We’ll show them to you soon, but for now – anyone want to buy a set of six dining chairs (a little work included)? SOLD!


We posted them on craigslist, and actually they could be pretty cool as is. They’re in good shape – we just wanted to paint them to match our dining room.

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Adventures in Carpeting

I was going to title this post, “How to Carpet Stairs,” but I’m not so sure that this should be a real resource for the DIY’er on that. Actually, I’m not so sure this should be a DIY project at all. If I were going to do this over, I wouldn’t! It would probably be much simpler and completely worth the few bucks necessary to simply hire a professional carpet installer. But, for the compulsive do-it-yourselfer (which I somehow seem to have become), maybe this will prove helpful. Before starting, I did as many Google searches in as many different combinations of useful words I could come up with to no real avail. There’s not a lot of good resources for how to carpet a staircase. There were plenty of “how to install a carpet runner on stairs” posts, but my staircase is winding and requires “wall-to-wall” carpeting, as it were.

So, to begin, we bought a large remnant of integral pad carpet, which is just carpet that already has the padding attached. This way, we wouldn’t have to stretch the padding and carpet as we would with traditional carpeting. The positive is supposed to be that it’s easier to install.

First, we started by creating a pattern for each stair out of newspaper.

We just wrapped the tread of each step with newspaper and cut it to fit. Then, we made a separate pattern for each riser (the vertical part of the stair). NOTE: A couple of things here – 1) make sure you include the bullnose (the lip of the stair) if your stairs have that, and 2) if I were doing this again, I’d make the riser pattern after installing the carpet on the tread.

After making a pattern for each step (which we numbered according to the stair it came from), we took each pattern and traced it onto the back of the carpet.

Make sure you flip the pattern upside down, of course, if you’re going to trace onto the back of the carpet, and be sure to label each tracing.

When all the tread patterns have been traced onto the carpet, cut them out, leaving about an inch of space all around the perimeter, so you can trim it to the exact size later. Oh, and important to note here – when tracing the patterns, make sure you space them enough to take this one inch trim into account.

Now, all that’s left is installing the carpet onto the steps. Like I said, I installed the treads and the risers separately. I have no idea if this is how a pro would do it, but it worked best for me. I think the seams look a little tighter and neater this way.

Take each tread piece and lay it over the step, allowing the overhang on the perimeter to stick up, not down (like in the picture below).

Then, I lined up the bottom of each carpet piece under the bullnose and stapled it in place, first in the center, then all the way across, making sure throughout that the piece was still lined up properly.

Make any trims around the edges at this point, making sure that there’s still a little bit of overhang. This is the tricky part. On my stairs, there’s not a baseboard – only stair meeting wall. So, the edge of the carpet runs right up to the wall. To create a nice edge, I decided to turn under the ends a little bit. To make sure it doesn’t bulge too much, though, you’ll have to leave only a little.

After trimming the edges to fit, lift the carpet off the tread and apply a carpet paste to the stair to adhere the carpeting down. Then push the carpet back in place, making sure the edges are still turned up.

To finish the edges, use a straight edge (there’s a special tool designed for this, but I just used a paint scraping tool) to shove the edges into the seam between the carpet and the wall.

I didn’t worry about a nice seam at the back edge of the tread, and I simply stapled it onto the riser. My plan was to cover that edge with the riser. To apply the riser, I put the previously cut piece into place and trimmed it to fit. Then, I applied a little adhesive to the back of the carpet and pushed it into place, overlapping the back edge of the tread carpeting, then pushing the seams into place with the paint scraper.

This is still very much a work in progress, and I might change my approach a little. Like I said, there’s already a few things I’d do differently, like make the riser patterns after installing the treads. Also, I’m not saying this is THE way to carpet stairs, it’s only the way WE did it. It worked for us, so maybe it’ll work for you too if you should need it.


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Bottle Cap Tripod

That’s it! I’m getting one of these. No more stacking books or putting pages of a magazine under the corner of the camera to tilt it down for that perfect shot. This is genius.

found here.

I know this isn’t really house-related, but it could make for some better pictures of our casa someday (which we’ll get right back to posting!).


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Vintage Galewood

I ran across this set of pictures on Flickr. They’re old photos of our Chicago neighborhood – Galewood.

This is the major intersection just south of our house: Oak Park Avenue and North Avenue. This picture was taken in the late ’70s, I would think. Funny how none of this is really the same except for that big brick building on the far left; that’s still there.

And too bad this movie theater is gone. It would be only a few blocks away from us.

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Loveless Cafe and Motel

This weekend, we made a very quick car trip down to Nashville for a short visit with my younger sister. The visit was so short, we actually spent the same amount of time IN Nashville as we spent GETTING to Nashville. But, it was a great trip nonetheless. Nashville is really beautiful this time of year – all of the dogwood trees were in bloom, as were the redbud trees, pear trees, and azalea bushes.

On Sunday, before our long drive back to Chicago, we stopped at Loveless Motel and Cafe. This place is legendary in the Nashville area, and for good reason. They have amazing biscuits, hams, and jellies as well as a lot of other great foods. It’s a classic roadside motel and cafe now used exclusively as a restaurant and small shops area.

photo from williamohare’s flickr

It’s a great space with amazing charm and appeal. The buildings scattered around the site that used to house motel rooms have been converted into artisan shops. One is a pottery store, another an art gallery, candy shop, gardening store, and a few others.

from blatantgizmo’s flickr

Too bad we didn’t get any good pictures of the space, but several of the funky shops offered a lot in the way of gardening inspiration. Scroll through a few of these pictures on flickr to see what I mean. And if you’re ever in the area, definitely check out Loveless Motel and Cafe.

from jglsongs’ flickr.

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The Back Steps…Again

This project has dragged on much longer than we anticipated. It’s a combination of several things: it became a lot more involved than we thought, and the weather got suddenly beautiful, so who wants to be inside scraping floors?

But, this past weekend, we did make some progress. We’re really going to get to it in the coming week and hopefully wrap this project up soon. We pulled all the staples and scraped the top landing.



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