Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Thrifted Find

Though this post isn’t directly house-project related, we did pick up this great pack of cards at one of our favorite local thrift stores. It’s the same spot we picked up the table and chairs in our kitchen (for $10 – total!), a chair in the living room, the headboard in our guest bedroom, and countless other things over the years.

It may not be readable, but it says, “Gallaher & Speck, 516 W. Harrison Street, Chicago.” This great double pack of cards has a cool velvet cover, sliding gold tray and sailing ships cards inside. I love that it’s from a local store, which is less than a block from where I work. It’s definitely not there anymore – I think a Holiday Inn sprung up in its place.

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The Back Stairs – Finally Finished!

So, we’ve been stringing this project out for quite a while now. Last weekend, we hosted a party in our backyard, and people would need to use the back stairs to access it, so we kicked it up a notch and finally finished this space. We still need to get a set of hooks to hang jackets on and add some art back here, but the majors are done. As a refresher for what the old space looked like:

That’s the stairs after we ripped out the linoleum, which looked like this:

Like we said previously, we had planned to paint the stairs, but what we found underneath (see above) didn’t really lend itself well to that idea. So, we carpeted…ourselves!

After a lot of sanding, carpeting, painting, and general fixing-up (including a small carpentry job), we were done. Here’s the space now. Note: it’s hard to take pictures in such a small room where the only floor spaces is stairs, but this gives you an idea anyway.









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Flower Garden

Just to document the abundance of lovely flowers we have growing out back:


All kinds of annuals we just planted this year plus gobs of roses and white and pink peonies.



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A Built-in Mudroom Bench

To finish off our back steps, we decided to build in a mudroom bench. For one, it was necessary to cover the hole (laundry chute) in the floor. And secondly, we thought it would be nice to have a place to park while taking off muddy boots. Also, we can store winter items in the second half of it.

Luckily for us, we already had three sides of it sort of built into the back steps. The North wall provided one side, while a built-in railing of sorts made of beadboard provided the other two sides. But, this plan can really be adapted to any mudroom. As long as one wall provides the back of the bench, the other two sides can be added on with plywood. Regardless, here’s how we went about building a mudroom bench.


That’s the space we started with. The hole on the right is the laundry chute. We started by attaching 2x4s to the sides to create a frame. In the corner, where we had 4×4 posts, we used 2x2s to buttress the existing frame. If we were making this on a wall, we could have simply attached the frame to studs on the wall side.


Then, we attached 2x4s across the vertical supports on the sides and across the back.


Next, we cut plywood to fit the new frame and attached it to the supports.


We then added a middle “wall” to separate the storage area from the laundry chute. We just cut a piece of plywood to create this and attached 2x2s to the floor to brace it. You can see down into the nearly completed frame here.


This “wall” was also going to be adding support to the seat, so to reinforce it, we added little L brackets.


We wanted the top of our bench to open up, of course, so we added these hinges to the back, then cut a piece of plywood for the top and attached it all together.


Next, we primed the nearly completed bench…


…and finally trimmed it all out with some moulding to create a finished look. All that was left was to paint it the same glossy white as the trim, and we were done!



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A Shade from a Mini Blind


We used a tutorial found here to make this shade out of a vinyl blind for our back stairs area. Including the piece of fabric, this project cost about $15.00. Not bad for a custom-made shade.


Also, all glue…no sewing.

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And Speaking of Planters…

Late last fall, we picked up these stained concrete planters at Lowe’s for about half price. We were looking for something just like this for a while to go on the brick posts at the foot of our front steps. We put mums in them right away, and when those died, they just sort of set empty all winter.


Last weekend, we decided to fill them up again. We could have gone for one of the pre-made mixes you can just plop down in your planter, but we decided it would be more fun and cheaper, actually, to do our own. We looked to the pre-made planters for inspiration, and this is what we came up with. Humor us here, this “recipe” is also for our sake. We like how they turned out and want to write it down so we can repeat it next season.


We started out with two sweet potato vines. Those are the deep purple and bright green vines on the side. These grow pretty quickly and fall over the sides of planters. They’re used a lot in the planters lining the streets downtown. Then, we put an English ivy in the back. In the very middle, is some version of a dracaena, or spike, plant, I believe (a little help here?). It’s for height in the middle. Around that, we just grouped some colorful annuals: two geraniums and a few moss roses.


I think the key is to pick a few low plants that can drop over the edges (sweet potato vines and english ivy), some mid-heigt plants (the flowers) and something tall (spike) for variety. Now, let’s hope these make it through the summer.

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Swing-Arm Plant Stand


A Swing-arm plant stand from Jarrett’s Great Grandmother. It must be 60+ years old, because Jarrett’s mother says she remembers her grandmother decorating it and using it as a Christmas tree.

We were going to paint it, but we decided we liked the worn look, so we simply brushed off flaking rust and coated it with two coats of clear Rust Oleum.


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