Thursday, November 20, 2014

Have you ever wanted to stab a deck?

Living and learning is the WORST. 

I mean, can I get an amen? 

Mistakes, we all make em' and yes, they are a part of life but sometimes they can leave you wanting to punch something. This was the case a few weeks ago when we stained our deck.

It all started innocently enough; we were having a party and thought it would be nice to give the deck a refresh. There was nothing wrong with the existing deck, it was just looking a little drab especially in the presence of the newer outdoor kitchen.

Before we could dive into staining, we (Brent) first had to power wash everything to thoroughly clean the planks, railing and lattice all of which would be getting stained. That process went smoothly enough so we headed to Home Depot to pick out our stain. Let me just say, there was ZERO research done prior to selecting the stain. We literally stood in the stain isle and picked something out. If you've ever picked out stain at Home Depot, you know they have a display showcasing the different stains on wood, so you can get a better idea of what your end results will look like. We settled on Acorn Brown, which was a nice light, light brown with a natural vibe going on. Or so we thought...

As is typical when preparing for a party, the days fly by and the projects and tasks, both large and small start to add up. Before we knew it, it was Wednesday evening, 3 days before the party and we knew we had to start applying that stain. We started on the far end of the deck, the part with the swing and pergola. Brent began applying the stain to the higher areas with a roller attached to a long stick while I used a paint brush to paint the lattice. About 10 minutes in we both realized this was going to take forever and was really, really messy. The stain is really thin so in order to get coverage you had to literally slosh the stain everywhere which resulted in residual stain spray and drips galore. OK, well maybe you didn't HAVE TO slosh it on, but going all slow and meticulous would of taken days, and days we did not have. In addition to the mess and the torture that was applying the stain in all those nooks and crannies, the color was coming across pretty dark and kind of reddish.  You all know I'm all about instant gratification, so had the stain been pretty I may of been more motivated. But as the minutes passed I got more and more depressed because it was getting uglier and uglier and the ugliness was spreading with every stroke of the brush.

We forged on and finished all of the railing and pergola that first night. Eventually the sun went down, which made painting more difficult, but at least we couldn't see the red. The next day, we had no choice but to finish, an all red deck was better than a half red, half drab one.

Yeah, so it's not so much that the color is terrible in general, just terrible next to the outdoor kitchen wood and not at all what we had in mind. 

Oh, oh, oh AND as if the color wasn't bad enough it started raining just as we were finishing up so some areas ended up darker than others and some of the stain literally washed away leaving a spotty appearance. Fabulous, I know. 

Needless to say we were feeling REALLY smart right about now. The end results were terrible and we had nobody to blame but ourselves. In hindsight there are two obvious things we should of done differently: 

  1. Allotted more time to this project so we could take the more meticulous approach, we went fast and it showed. 
  2. Tested the color in a small little patch before committing and applying the stain color everywhere. 

We lived with it for weeks, trying to figure out how to fix it, remove it, change it...etc...then, one day while we were having a guy give us a quote to paint the house we asked how much he would charge to power wash the deck and re-stain. The quote was good so we decided to go for it. DIY is all fun and games until a mess up costs you too much time and $$ and then you know it's time to hire a professional. 

The guys came out and began power washing, only to find that in doing so they were messing up the wood. Because Brent had power washed weeks before and the stain was brand new, the guys said power washing the wood to re-stain was not a viable option and the wood wouldn't hold up. So, we decided to have them paint everything. After a little deliberation we decided on white for the rails, pergola and swing. 

Doesn't the white make it look 10 times fresher already?

For the lattice on the back of the deck and the deck floor we decided on a light gray. 

Clearly Luke is a fan!

The new colors work SO much better with the house AND the outdoor kitchen, don't you think? Now the deck compliments the wood surrounding the outdoor kitchen instead of fighting it. 100% improvement in my book. 

Here's a shot of the back of the house:

So fresh and classic, eh? 

It's amazing what a difference a little paint can make, both good and bad. Thankfully we are on the good side of color again, WHEW!

All photos are my own. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fireplace Refresh

White paint is my jam. 

Photo from Google.
I mean, what's not to love, right? The color white is just so easy and polished, not to mention it perfectly compliments nearly any color you put with it, near it or on it. Not surprisingly, I opt to use white paint around my house, but in doing so I've uncovered an ugly truth....

White paint is all fun and games in it's bright, light, happy glory until it gets dirty. White paint that gets dirty is no longer polished and happy, it's dingy and sad. 

I'm constantly torn, because while I love how white paint can instantly lighten up any space, making it feel instantly fresh; actually living with white paint on a daily basis, especially in areas that see a lot of traffic or get touched a lot has started to drive me bonkers. 

Exhibit A. My fireplace....

You all may remember when we purchased this house the tile around the fireplace was peach. 

I painted that tile white so fast it didn't know what hit it. In typical, white saves the day form - the tile instantly felt fresh and clean and the room as a whole felt about 100% more cohesive. All was well until I started to notice, early on that the tile on the floor was getting dirty thus looking dingy.  It wasn't so much that it was literally dirty because no matter how many times I swept or vacuumed over it the appearance was the same. The truth is, the tile is smack dab in the middle of a main traffic path and gets walked on regularly. In addition, Luke, our giant fluff ball of a dog likes to lay on the tile, especially in the summer because it's cool to him. Neither predicament is going to change so I decided it was time for the white to go.

My plan was to paint the entire fireplace the same color as the wall, Benjamin Moore's Sea Haze, but in a glossy finish. I know it's a little different, but I had a really good feeling about this idea. Brent however wasn't 100% sold so we compromised and decided to paint just the tile to start.

We taped her off and went to town. 

Unfortunately I don't have a picture with just the tile painted in the Sea Haze (bad blogger, bad) because it only stayed like that for 2.4 seconds before....SPOILER ALERT....... the rest of the fireplace got painted as well. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad look it just came across a little too choppy for this space. I was looking for a quieter look, something that was pretty but subtle.

So, I forged on and painted the rest of the surround and mantle. With every stroke I became more excited. My vision relied heavily on the glossy finish and it did just what I had hoped - it accentuated the heck out of detailing around the fireplace. Little moldings I'd barely noticed before now popped and the whole piece felt more architectural.

It seems weird,  but believe it or not the fireplace being the same color as the wall, albeit a darker color than it was originally, actually makes the space feel larger.  The living room is long, but narrow, which means when you walk through the front door you can see the room in it's entirety right away. Spaces like this can easily become too busy,  with too many different colors for the eye to take in, especially once we add a rug, curtains, an ottoman and more art. Having the fireplace blend right into the wall adds a quiet drama to the room while increasing the interest and texture.

I love projects like this, because sometimes you get a wild hair, go for it and fail, but that's OK because it's only paint. Other times you get a wild hair, go for it and it's AWESOME, in which case you feel like a genius. I'm hoping you all see this as an example of the latter..............yeah, me too.

Unless otherwise noted all photos are my own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Kitchen Part 3 - Backsplash

Remember that time, I designed my own kitchen and then took F O R E V E R to show it to you? Yeah, sorry about that! Good news, I'm back today to tell you all about how Brent and I DIY'ed our backsplash.

So, last we talked our marble countertops had been installed and the space was really coming together.

The finish line was in sight and with 3 weeks left until our wedding we were grasping for that light at the end of the tunnel. If you've ever renovated a space before, you know that the whole process goes really fast and then really slow and then really fast and then really slow. It's the whole hurry up and wait scenario. So, we demoed, which wasn't exactly fast, but fast-ish compared to the 6 weeks we waited for cabinets. Then, the countertop people rushed out to template the tops and then we waited for a week for the install. Once the tops went in, it was time to put rush into overdrive and get the backsplash installed. We had from Friday afternoon until Sunday, exactly 2 1/2 days to install our backsplash before appliances went in on Monday. 

We had long ago decided we wanted a brick backsplash. We planned to paint it white and take it to the ceiling. Because the space is small and we already had some focal points in the yet to be revealed refrigerator panels and the veining in the marble, we wanted the backsplash to be powerful, but quiet.  So we researched around and ended up purchasing brick pavers from a local tile store.  

All green space (in the first picture above), aside from inside the refrigerator opening, would be getting bricked. Looks simple enough, but there were a lot of cuts to be made, around the window, at the ceiling, where the brick would meet the underside of the cabinets, around the vent opening, etc. There was a lot to consider and it is at moments like that when I am SO thankful to be married to a brain. A brain that rises to the occasion during uber technical situations like this. Brent took measurements and began cutting the bricks with his wet saw.  Because we have neighbors and the wet saw is loud, we didn't want to be cutting too late into the night, so Brent made sure to get a lot of the bricks cut before the sun went down so we could get them installed as late as we wanted. Once the bricks were cut and ready to go, we applied thin-set mortar, like butter to the back of each brick

and stuck the bricks to the wall. 

Initially we had planned to grout in-between the bricks, but after lining it up, we decided we liked the look of the bricks butted together with no mortar lines between.  The process was messy, but thankfully there was a clear film on the countertops which protected them from the brick dust and thin-set mortar drips. All brick had to be installed by the end of the day on Saturday so the thin-set mortar could set up and dry and we could begin painting on Sunday. It was late and we were tired but we got it up there.

Bright and early Sunday morning we got out the Benjamin Moore White Dove Paint (same color as cabinets and wall) and went to town.

Because we didn't have mortar lines between the bricks, there were gaps where many of the bricks met, as many of the pieces were not perfectly rectangular.  We liked this look because it gave the wall depth and texture. However, painting these little nooks and crannies was THE hardest part. Trying to push paint in tiny little holes, with no drips and without getting paint all over the other finished parts of the kitchen was challenging to say the least. The painting literally took hours and a few coats, but the transformation was so powerful it was incredible watching it come together right before our eyes. 

Standing back and looking at our work that Sunday night was SO satisfying. Every step of this project was fun and important, but for some reason these bricks really made the space feel alive. As I've said before, anytime you design a space with a reoccurring color (for this space it was white) it is imperative to mix up the textures to create interest and depth and the bricks did just that. Once it was all said an done we were SO happy we skipped over the grout because the spacing between the bricks (the black part) creates the perfect amount of drama.

The next day the appliances rolled in and our renovation train kept on chugging along, but that's a story for another day, another blog.

All photos are my own.