Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dare to Door


It may seem a trite thing to say that you simply can’t stand the doors in your house but you really have no idea how outdated an old door can make your house look until, well, you’re living with outdated doors.  Our interior doors are original to the 70s and can’t look anymore archaic.  They’re hollow, flat doors.  Oh, and did I mention that what was once a white-painted surface in the 70s had become a 3 week old sour milk coloring? And what do we do with sour milk?  Throw it out!  At least, that’s the reasoning I used with Chris who complained that replacing doors was a waste of money.

I never really thought twice about doors until being given the task of picking one out to install throughout the house.  6-panel, 4-panel, 2-panel, OH MY!  Who knew there were so many variations of the interior door out there!  As much as Chris begged and pleaded to go with the least expensive option, I couldn’t resist my urge towards the 2 panel rounded-top.  What can I say?  It spoke sweet, sweet words to me.  Then came the next hurdle.  Not only were our existing doors ugly, they were also odd sizes, making it extremely difficult to find suitably-sized replacements.  We ended up driving from one home improvement store to the other and back again to find the first three doors that would work.  Along with the 32″ and 24″ doors (easier to find), we still need to find an 18″ (nearly impossible).  But, we decided to start small and work our way up to that gem.

We excitedly returned home, giddy with the anticipation of a shiny, new door to install… only to find that the doorway wasn’t square.  I would’ve loved to be there when the builder was originally installing these doors just to hear that conversation.  “Oops guys, we built this doorway crooked… oh well, let’s just go with it.”  Genius. So as Chris cursed and muttered and I crossed my fingers while doing a door dance (a slight variation of the rain dance), Chris began the tedious task of shaving off pieces of the door bit-by-bit.  I think he ended up installing it and taking it down to re-size three separate times.  But, boy, does that door fit like a glove now!  It feels like Christmas every time I slightly nudge the door closed and it shuts softly behind me.  Okay, I’ll stop door-geeking out on you!  But, really, a new door makes a world of difference.  Three down, nine more to go.


I. Hate. Doors.

Actually, let me rephrase that. I hate installing doors. If you’ve ever installed a door, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I know exactly what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not simple.

First of all, if you’re installing a pre-hung door, there are four angles to worry about and the angles in the frame have a finite tolerance defined by the permanent angles in the door. What makes the job difficult is that any change in the orientation of the door frame will drastically affect the look, fit, and operation of the door. I did this on an exterior door and it took me two days, and that was with someone experienced helping me.

Now, if you’re installing a door in a pre-existing frame, you have a completely different set of problems, not the least of which is the awkwardness of trying to bolt a door onto a hinge… straight. The problem I had, though, is that sometimes you go through the trouble of mounting the door and when you go to close it… rejected! It’s clearly 1/8 inch wider than the frame. OK, this really baffled me, because the door was exactly 24″ wide, and the opening was exactly 24.5″ wide. I’m not a math whiz, but I am quite sure this means the door should’ve fit. As luck would have it, I now needed a circular saw, which was just the tool I’ve been wanting… so one trip to Home Depot later, I was ready to rip my door.

My first attempt at shaving some width off was a complete failure. I tried using to old door to make a guide, but ended up with a jagged new door, a shredded old door, and a really, REALLY, close call involving my fingers and a blade (about which I never told Julie… but I guess she knows now). Fortunately, I had the sense to start small, so I still had some width to work with. I measured how much I wanted to shave off and marked a line the entire length of the door. I then just took my time and cut it free-hand (you know… man-style) and cleaned it up with a wood plane and sander. Success!

Oh. Wait. I still need to drill out a hole for the door knob and chisel out the hinges. On two more doors. There’s no convenient way to make a door fit, but my inner German dances like it’s Oktoberfest every time a door I installed closes ever so effortlessly. But I still swear I never want to install another door ever again. Good thing there’s only nine left.


The process begins.                                          Good-bye bronze beast of a doorknob!


Attempt number two to fit the door.           Maybe not the best hiding spot.

Voilah!  The final product!


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Filed under Before & After, Renovation

Our Favorite Things: What a Tool!


We’re going a little geeky on you today by presenting our favorite new “gadgets” we’ve discovered upon renovating our house.  It seems there’s a technological solution to everything nowadays!  Makes you wonder what they’ll come up with next!

  1. Custom Fabric.  I’m on a fabric kick right now because I’m about to make curtains for our bedroom and a few throw pillows for our living room so I constantly have fabric on the mind.  I stumbled upon this site, Spoonflower, where you can create your own design and they will print it on fabric for you.  The fabric’s a little pricey ($18-32 per yard) but what a cool way to put your unique mark on a room!  Once I find the right use (and can justify that price per yard), I’m definitely hitting up this site!  So many ideas, so much fabric!
  2. Mood Board: This isn’t a surprise to all of you who know me, but I’m a huge organization freak.  Everything must be in its place or I can’t focus.  The same goes for when I start on a new room.  I like to see it laid out before I get to work or I just feel overwhelmed.  Well, fear not.  There’s a solution and for all of you fellow HGTV freaks, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  A mood board.  A mood board allows you to layout the general feeling and style of a room and highlight certain pieces you want to add.  If you’re not a Photoshop or Scrapbooking-pro, you may be at a loss of how to assemble one of these.  Well, have I got the best site for you!  Olioboard allows you to create an online mood board in a drop-and-go format.  It’s easy, quick, and the end product always looks clean and professional.
Speaking of mood boards, I’ll leave you with a little treat.  See below for the mood board I created for our master bedroom makeover.  We just started on the room but we’ll share pictures of the finished product in the weeks to come!
  1. Miter Saw: My dad taught me how to use a lot of really dangerous tools when I was fairly young, the most invaluable of which being the saw. He also taught me how to use a miter box, and I quickly learned how worthless they are, which brings me to one of my favorite tools: the miter saw. My first experience with a miter saw was pretty magical, and I was hooked. When we bought a house that we knew would need work, I immediately ran out and bought my own. The idea that you could get such a clean, precise, and perfectly angled cut with so little effort instantly sold me, and the sound they make lets you know you’re dealing with something really manly. Just be sure to count all your fingers when you’re done.  Here’s one I would recommend from Home Depot.
  2. Cordless Tools: These days, everything is wireless, including power tools. If you’ve ever tripped over your own power cord, you know how stupid you feel, and battery-powered tools have eliminated at least one way to look like you don’t know what you’re doing. What’s more is that technological advances have allowed for higher-power, longer-life batteries, so you’re not recharging your whole tool cabinet every time you need to pilot a new hole. While they’re still no match for the 120v variety (I could bolt my hammer drill to the floor and spin the house around if I wanted to), the latest cordless tools can really simplify a DIYer’s life.  Check out this cordless drill at Amazon.

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Filed under Favorite Things

The Bold and the Very Beautiful


Chris didn’t bring much along with him once we got married.  There was a guitar, an entertainment center, a lot of dirty laundry, and his great grandparents chairs.  The list sounds like a version of “Which of these things is not like the other.”  When Chris’ mom told me the chairs were ours but needed a lot of TLC, I wasn’t sure what to think but I knew that I loved the idea of the chairs being passed down three generations.  The chair made its big journey from Tennessee to Houston then Houston to Dallas.  The chair didn’t look so bad… until I saw the big stain on the seat cushion.  We needed to find an upholsterer.  Fast.  The chair had great lines and is hands down the most comfortable chair in the world (Chris and I are in accordance on that one).  It just needed a little help (in the form of an awesome fabric print) to bring it back to the glory days.

After browsing hundreds of fabrics, going back-and-forth between samples, and finally getting the much-needed stamp of approval from my mom, I purchased a bold blue fabric called Lisbon Linen from Calico Corners.  And by bold, I mean very bold.  Our living room needed a punch of color but I wasn’t sure if I had gone too far.

Waiting a whole week to get the chair back killed me.  And then I was faced with the debate of the century.  The upholster called to say the chair was ready one afternoon.  They could deliver that day but no later than 5:30 pm.  I couldn’t get home that fast meaning if we wanted the chair that day, Chris would have to accept it.  So… do I wait and have the chair delivered on another day when I’m home or do I have Chris accept the chair thus seeing it first?  I didn’t really have much of a reason to be there when it was dropped off so I told them to go ahead and deliver it.  As I made the journey home, I called Chris to ask his thoughts on our newly recovered chair.  His response?  “I dunno… it looks different but it’s still the most comfortable chair in the world.”  Well, thank you, Captain Obvious.  Seriously.  I soon arrived home, took a look at the chair, and immediately swooned.  The fabric was perfect and the chair is now the lovely accent it was meant to be.


This is the most comfortable chair in the world. With a bottom slope of 17* and a back arc length of 24″ coming together at a base angle of 98*, it’s made to hold you up in an excellent TV watching position with absolutely no effort on your part. I don’t really like to recline but I do like to lean back a bit, so I find it ideal. It’s also quite supportive, so it’s not a workout to get out of.

This chair originally belonged to my great-grandfather and was, admittedly, in rough shape when we first got it. It was some sort of white that had a good 50+ years of wear on it, nevermind the weird stain (I assume it’s either tea or moonshine, or possibly both). When Julie suggested we recover it with a “loud blue pattern,” I was somewhat apprehensive. When the upholsterer (who looks exactly like Kahn from King of the Hill) dropped it off, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the stain gone, but it looked like something you’d find in one of those trendy high-end furniture stores that I have to keep my hands behind my back in.

Most importantly, it’s still the most comfortable chair in the world.


One last note, for those of you wondering how precise those angle measurements are that Chris provided above, let me say this:  I walked into the room to find him, measuring tape in-hand, calculating the exact angle of the chair’s slope.  Enough said.

I’d like to say that we spend a ton of time lounging in our fabulous chair… but unfortunately, someone else usually beats us to it.  Meet Chloe, our cat.


Filed under Before & After

Canton Oh Canton!


Sunburnt, exhausted, deliriously happy.  That pretty much sums up my post-Canton feelings.  Chris and I traveled to the bustling town of Canton, TX (a whopping population of 5,000) this weekend to check out First Monday Trade Days.  I’ve been wanting to head down there for over a year but always seemed to have something scheduled for the one weekend the event occurs every month.  Finally, Texas spring ends, the 100-degree weather starts, and one of our weekends finally clears up.  I decided not to mention to Chris that a majority of the event was non-air conditioned and outside… oops.

The heat kept the crowds away, which was nice, but, boy, was it hot.  I’ve been told by everyone and their mothers (especially their mothers) what great deals and unique items you can find at First Monday.  I wasn’t let down.  Not only was it fantastic people watching, but I stumbled upon the greatest finds.  The long drive and sweltering heat was so worth it (no matter what Chris says).  I am now, however, at the mercy of Chris’ continuous banter of “you owe me’s.”


This was the most miserable experience of my life.

If you’ve ever been to a swap meet, you know what Canton is like. The difference is that instead of old car parts, people are hocking “antiques”… or at least stuff that’s manufactured to look antique. I suppose I should clarify by saying that there are two distinct areas in Canton: 1) the true antique booths, which is where you’ll find these fabled “good deals” if you have a few hours on your hands and can muscle your way past the white trash and 2) the retailers, which is more like a disposable shopping mall filled with overpriced junk (complete with groups of weirdos that wore matching t-shirts to commemorate the event). And guess where Julie wanted to shop.

There’s not actually enough bandwidth on the internet for me to explain exactly how much I hated this sojourn, so I’ll simply say that despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions (Julie claims she “didn’t realize” it would be so hot, nevermind she’s spent the last 23 Junes in Texas), I consider this trip to have been a success for two reasons. First, we actually did get some decent junk, including an old milk pail from a gentleman claiming to have eaten dog (see above swap meet reference) and second, I finally got Julie to shut up about going.

P.S. If I hear the phrase “shabby-chic” one more time, I going to punch someone.

Check out some of our loot!  More pics to come as soon as we figure out where to put everything!


I love this flower pot made from an old aluminum bucket.  This would be an easy, inexpensive DIY project.  The vendor selling these simply spray painted the lettering onto the bucket and added chains to turn the bucket into a hanging flower pot.  As I type this, I can’t help but laugh remembering the vendor recount the tale of eating German Shepherd at a fine dining establishment in China.  In case you’ve ever wondered what dog tastes like… apparently it tastes like alligator but not as tough.  Noted.

I found this rickety, old, wooden stool and immediately fell in love.  It wasn’t until we got home and placed the stool in the entry of our bedroom did we notice just how rickety… and crooked… this old stool was.  It doesn’t get shabbier than this but, hey, it still works as filler for a space I wasn’t sure what to do with.

If you don’t already know my affinity for letters, you soon will.  They’re scattered all over our house.  Chris jokes that if strangers came into our house not knowing our names, they soon would after taking a look around.  I even managed to pilfer one from Chris’ parents’ house (thanks Mrs. Weber!).  As I walked into this one adorable shop called The Gypsy Pearl, I knew I had met my Canton soulmate… a set of black block letters.  It look awhile to locate a J, C, and W but once I did, I knew it was fate.  They look great on our new stool!

I stumbled upon this mirror in a stack in the corner of someone’s booth.  Although I have an insane number of mirrors sitting in rooms waiting for a home, I knew I had to add this one to my collection- I mean, it’s white, distressed, and sheer perfection.  It could work in a variety of rooms.  Now, I’m just stuck with the dilemma of which room will be the lucky home for this treasure.  It may live a nomadic life for the next few weeks until I figure it out.


Filed under Deals & Finds