How To Stay On Top Of Damp In Your Home

Many years ago, I had just moved into a new home.  It wasn’t the house we have now, it was a small mid century daylight rambler.  I’d been there about a week when we got a huge accumulation of heavy, wet snow.  The snow melted quickly, the ground got saturated, and my basement (which the previous owner had just finished with carpet and drywall) flooded.  What a mess!

My boyfriend (now husband) and I spent New Year’s Eve pumping water out of my basement with wet vacs.

And all the fun plans I had for sprucing up my little rambler were put on hold while I dealt with the damage and had a French drain installed.

Moisture damage waits for no one.  And, since many of us will need to deal with it at some point in our lives, I thought this guest post was worth sharing.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.

How To Stay On Top Of Damp In Your Home

If you have a damp problem in your home, it can be incredibly expensive to fix. It’s not just a case of wiping the walls down and cleaning away any black spots because it’s just going to come back again. If you want to deal with the damp effectively, you need to make a constant effort to keep excess moisture from building up so the problem doesn’t occur in the first place. If you have trouble with damp in your home, these are some of the best ways to stay on top of it. 

Do Regular Checks

If you can catch the problem early and take action, you may be able to stop the damp from setting in. When you have a bit of excess moisture building up on the surface of the wall, that isn’t too much of a problem and it should be simple to deal with. It’s when the water soaks into the wall and the damp really sets in that you need to be worried, so it’s important that you regularly check for any signs of damp around the home. If you make this part of your regular home maintenance routine, you should be able to catch it before it gets out of hand. 

Identify The Problem Areas

When you’re doing your checks, you will probably start to notice certain areas that are problematic. These might be rooms like the bathroom where ventilation is an issue or certain windows that build up a lot of condensation. If you have a basement in your house, that’s likely to be a big problem area for damp as well. You need to identify these problem areas and find ways to reduce the damp. 

Water Pumps

Dealing with damp in the basement can be tough but, if you don’t tackle the problem there, it will start to spread throughout the house. The best way to keep your basement dry is to install a Tsurumi sump pump on the property, especially if the lower floors of the house sit below the water table. The pump will divert a lot of the water so it doesn’t seep into the walls and cause damp. If your basement is prone to flooding, you need to boost the flood defenses around your home, otherwise, you will struggle to deal with the damp. 

Ventilation

Damp problems that are caused by lack of ventilation are actually a lot easier to deal with in most cases. Bathrooms and kitchens often get damp because you create a lot of steam when showering and cooking and, if that steam doesn’t have anywhere to go, it sits on the walls and starts to get damp.

 

Image by Melanie Feuerer from Pixabay

 

Sometimes opening a window and using an extractor fan is enough to deal with the issue but, if it is still a problem, you should consider getting a dehumidifier to take the excess moisture out of the air. 

The key to dealing with damp is prevention because, if you let it set in, that’s when you will have to spend a lot of money on extensive repairs.

 

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A DIY Shatter-Resistant Garden Mirror

In my previous post, I shared my makeover of a dark shade garden.  That makeover included a DIY garden mirror that I hung on the back fence to bring in and reflect light.

Ideally a garden mirror, one that will stay out all summer, or possibly all year, should be shatterproof and weatherproof.  Now I’m not sure if the mirror I came up with really hits those marks, but I do know that it is shatter-resistant.  As for the rest, time will tell.

The project started with  . . .

Finding Frames

I scoured thrift shops to find a frame made of plastic, resin, or some other weather-resistant material.

I found these frames on sale at a local thrift shop and paid about $7 for the pair.  They had cheap, ugly “art” in them, which I removed.  I was only interested in the frames.

Thrift store frames

 

I bought two frames because I had a gut feeling that I should do a small test mirror first to avoid making mistakes on the “real” mirror.

Turned out I was so right about that – mistakes were made!  Very silly ones at that.

We will come back to the test mirror later, but for now we’ll talk about my experience with the larger frame – the one I worked on after I had learned from my mistakes.

Finding the “Glass”

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

The large frame would hold a 18″ X 24″ piece of art – or, for my needs, a clear acrylic sheet.  I found one the right size at my local hardware store.

The acrylic sheet is lightweight, shatter-resistant, and non-yellowing.

Making an “Antique Mirror”

Step one of making an outdoor “antique mirror” is very, very important:  Put a piece of blue painter’s tape on one side of the acrylic sheet.

Blue tape marks the front side of the acrylic sheet

The blue tape marks the front side – the side that should not be painted.  Otherwise, things can get very confusing later in the project – especially if you’re me and you manage to find a way to lose track of which side of the sheet you were actually painting.  Since it’s a clear sheet, once you lose track it’s almost impossible to tell.

So anyway, blue tape.

 

With the front “blue tape” side of the mirror facing down, I spray painted the back side with Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect.  I chose it because I read that it gives glass the look of an antique mirror.

This paint has a heavy fume smell so, after a while, I decided to use a painter’s mask.  Some of the other paints and products I mention below are pretty intense too so, if you use them, be sure to read and follow the cautions on the labels.  I also tried to keep my painting project far away from things like bird feeders and bee activity.

Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect after one coat

(Please excuse my old-sheet-turned-dropcloth here which, as you can see, I have been using for years.  It’s starting to look like abstract art itself.)

It took quite a few coats of paint to actually cover the acrylic sheet.  And the paint looked a bit alarming when it was in the process of drying.

Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect dries unevenly, but not to worry

But I wasn’t going for perfection here.  I wanted it to be a bit imperfect and patinated so it would look like an antique mirror.

After about five coats, I could still vaguely see through the “mirror” when I held it up to fence where it would hang.  It needed a backing of some sort to make the “mirror” opaque.  So, after the mirror paint dried, I sprayed black paint right over the mirror paint.

Yes, I sprayed it on the same side of the acrylic sheet where I had sprayed the mirror paint.  This step was a bit counter-intuitive, and my paint-fume-soaked brain had a hard time grasping the concept.

 

I used RustOleum Engine Enamel, in gloss black, from my husband’s stash of spray paint only because I had it on hand and, since it’s intended to be used on engine parts, it seemed like it would be a durable paint.

Could I instead have used some sort of black weatherproof backing and just placed it in the frame behind the acrylic sheet?  That might have worked too. Or it might not have if, at some point, water found its way between the “mirror” and the backing and caused some sort of problem.  Since it’s an outdoor mirror, this could happen.

And this way just seemed like less work.

I let the “mirror” dry thoroughly.

 

The Garden Mirror – Or Not

I wasn’t sure how I would secure the “mirror” to the frame, but it turned out that I didn’t need to worry.  That piece of acrylic fits so snugly into the frame that it isn’t going anywhere.

If anything, it’s so snug that there is a slight bow in the acrylic sheet that, if it were any more pronounced, would give it a “funhouse mirror” look.

One reason I liked the frame that I found for the mirror was that it looked like black bamboo.  So I hadn’t intended to paint it.

But when I hung the mirror, I was underwhelmed.

DIY garden mirror

The frame looked boring and dated.

Back down it went – back to my much-used spray paint drop cloth.

Painting the Frame

It would have been really hard to get the acrylic sheet out of the frame again, so I just masked it with newspaper so I could spray paint the frame.

I used the sports section since I never read it.

I really should look through my husband’s paint stash more often.  This time I found another product intended for engine parts called Dupli-Color Adhesion Promoter.  I used it on the frame to make sure the spray paint would adhere properly to the plastic frame. (Time will tell if this step actually helped.)

Then I painted the frame with the RustOleum “Gold Rush” Metallic spray paint – which I had on hand.

The Result

Classic gold frames never go out of style.  And I love the contrast of the rustic fence against the polished gold.

Shatter-resistant DIY garden mirror

As for the mirror itself, it is not super-clear.  In fact, it is a bit hazy.  Everything reflected in it has a sort of “dreamlike” look.

 

Shatter-resistant DIY garden mirror

But I love how it brings light, interest, and even motion to a dark area of the garden.

This mirror does reflect a lot of light, so I would not want to use it in an area that gets direct sun.

Will it really hold up outside?  Time will tell.  But will a flying rock or errant softball break the “glass?”  Probably not.

The Test Mirror – And What Went Wrong

This is how the test mirror turned out.  It is the result of my doing everything wrong.

DIY garden mirror

What I think happened here is that I lost track of which side I had painted with the mirror paint.  And then, instead of painting the black paint on top of the mirror paint, I painted it on the reverse side of the “glass.”

To secure the mirror to the frame, I used a strong glue.  The glue seeped out along the sides and, when I wiped it away, some of the mirror paint actually came off with it, leaving black paint exposed.

DIY antique garden mirror

 

So this mirror has a lot of patina and looks very much like an antique mirror.  For this mirror, I used Krylon “Looking Glass” Silver paint, which to me seemed very similar to the Rust-Oleum Mirror Effect that I used on the large mirror.

I had experimented a bit by using a paper doily as a stencil, and the look is fun.

DIy antique garden mirror

 

But as you can see, the actual mirror part is very murky.  That’s because the mirror paint is sitting on top of the acrylic sheet instead of behind it.

For the right look, it’s always best to paint on the back side of the sheet.

Now I’m intrigued about the endless possibilities of DIY antique mirror projects.  I want to do a little experimenting using more stencils and finding new ways to create a patinated look.  I might even use real glass next time.

Where’s my blue tape?

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Creating A Vintage Look With Wooden Windows

Like many older homes, our little 1920s cottage suffered an unfortunate “remuddle” in the mid-1900s.  We have spent many years restoring its original charm.  But, by some miracle, most of the original wood-clad windows are still intact – and the ones that were removed were replaced with newer wood-clad windows.

I’ve always loved wood-clad windows for their timeless appeal, but they have a few other virtues that I hadn’t thought of.  In this post, brought to me by a guest writer, we learn about the advantages of wood-clad windows.

The following is a contributed post.  For information on my contributed posts, please click here.

Creating a Vintage Look with Wooden Windows

The design of your property’s windows is important. This is because they have the capacity to dictate the overall style of your home. After all, they are a dominant feature when it comes to both the interior and the exterior of a building. When determining what option to go for, there are many things to consider. Do you go for something contemporary or conventional? Which material should you use? Should you bring color into the equation? This post  reveals more about the option of a stunning vintage wooden window design. 

Vintage styles are undoubtedly on trend at the moment so, if you want something that is going to wow, this is certainly the option to go for. Nevertheless, by opting for a traditional design you are also going to reap the rewards of timeless beauty.

You don’t have to worry about the window style ever being viewed as unfashionable or outdated. You have selected a design that transcends the barriers of time.  Whether it is 2019 or 2030, your windows are going to look just as beautiful. 

Wood is such a versatile material to use and it is probably the only option you can go for if you are trying to create a vintage look at your home. Other materials used today, such as PVC, have a contemporary feel. Wood, on the other hand, has been used in homes for years.

In fact, if you look at old heritage buildings you will see that the windows have been made from wood.

Yes, it may have been a different type of wood than used today, and construction methods may have improved, but it is still the same material – wood. If you are trying to emulate a traditional feel in your home, nobody can deny that wood boasts a rustic and authentic feel. 

Nonetheless, despite the evident benefit of achieving the perfect vintage style with wooden windows, there are other benefits associated with selecting wood as your material of choice.  Wooden windows from the likes of Reece Builders tend to represent good value for money.  Nowadays you can generally have them installed at a more reasonable cost than you were able to before. Moreover, value is also achieved via the fact that wooden windows tend to last a lot longer when compared with other options and therefore you need not worry about replacements.

In addition to this, wood is efficient. It has a very low level of thermal conductivity and acts as an effective insulator. Wood windows also have the lowest environmental impact of any material used for window construction. 

To summarize, there are clearly many benefits associated with using wood as your material of choice for window design. Nonetheless, the true benefit lies within the fact that you will be able to generate that fantastic vintage feel; beautiful and traditional windows which will stand the test of time.

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Brightening Up a Dark Garden

Recent I shared my Mom’s garden corner makeover, where she transformed a tangle of overgrown shrubs into a seamless part of her lush and serene “secret garden” backyard.

Every time I visited Mom, I would marvel at how quickly that space was evolving into something so beautiful.

And then I would come home to this.

Cottage Garden Gone Wild!

This was the little space between our plum tree and our garden shed.  With the neighbor’s garage directly behind it, it doesn’t get much light.

 

Shade garden before cleanup.

This horrible photo, taken with my aging cellphone, still makes the space look more attractive than it actually was.

 

 

Weedy perennials and suckers from the plum tree had swallowed up a potted hosta, a potted ligularia, and even a mature rhododendron.

 

Shade garden before cleanup

It was a real mess, and I could see it every time I looked out the kitchen window.  And every time I looked, the little voice in my head said “Heidi you slacker!”

 

Shade garden before cleanup.

It was time to clean up this area and make it fun.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in my posts.

The Cleanup

Of course I was hesitant to remove blooming perennials.  After all, I told myself, this is a cottage garden which by definition is not expected to be perfect. But that reasoning is why the area had become so chaotic in the first place.

So, with my heart in my throat, I removed violets, poppies, feverfew, and even a few foxgloves – for now.  I’m sure they will creep back next year, but hopefully with a little less enthusiasm.

 

Shade garden after cleanup

 

Shade garden after cleanup

The poor, neglected rhododendron needed pruning.  So I did what I usually do with shrubs its size:  I limbed it up.

 

Hosta, rhody, and ligularlia

Limbing up gives the plant a little more air circulation – and also a tidier look.

I added a layer of mulch to the soil, and the cleanup was done.

And now the fun could start.

 

Adding Light and Color

I wanted to add a little light and color to this dark area, but I didn’t want to add any self-seeding or spreading perennials.  So I decided, for the most part, to stick with annuals since they die away in late-fall.

I planted a drift of trailing lobelias in front of the potted hosta ( which is actually two different hostas in one pot).

 

Potted hosta

I’ve never planted lobelias in the shade before, so we will see how they do.

I brought in a footed urn that I had on hand and planted it with a sweet little Himalayan maidenhair fern.

I chose this particular type of maidenhair fern because in time it will grow enough to drape over the edge of the pot (as opposed to growing upward), and hopefully it will look amazing.

 

Himalayan maidenhair fern

I rescued a few white impatiens from the discount rack of a local store and planted them around the urn.

I had moved a heuchera in from another area, but it was drooping and too sparse, so I bought a fresh citronelle heuchera to group with baby tears and a fuchsia (yet to bloom).

 

Baby tears, citronelle heuchera, and fucshia

 

Adding Something Unexpected

Gardens are always more interesting when there is a little human touch to contrast nature.  And I needed something to lighten up the super-dark area at the very back, near the fence line – something to define the boundary of the space.

So I came up with this DIY shatter-resistant garden mirror.

 

The faux “antique glass” softens the reflection and gives it a dreamlike look.  When there is a breeze, it’s fun to see the movement of the plants reflected in the mirror.

 

DIY garden mirror

I still think this area could use something large-scale, so my only regret is that the mirror is not larger – a lot larger.

Even so, it is a fun addition, and it brings in some light.

 

DIy garden mirror

 

Shade garden after cleanup

I feel like I could do more with this area, but for now I’m going to give the new plants time to settle in and then see what happens.

 

Garden Mirror How-To Post Coming Soon

The DIY shatterproof garden mirror, with its “antique glass,” was the result of a fair amount of trial and error on my part – and a few happy accidents.  I’ll be telling you all about that in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

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Good Night, Great Morning

I never truly understood how frustrating it can be to have trouble sleeping.  But just recently, I’ve started to notice that it’s not as easy as it used to be for me to get a good night’s sleep.

I have found that getting enough exercise during the day usually helps, but that doesn’t always work with my schedule.  So I’m looking forward to trying a few of these tips brought to me by a guest writer.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please click here.

Good Night, Great Morning

Getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge for so many people. With our busy, connected lives, we’re often rushing around and fall into bed exhausted at the end of a long day – yet unable to switch off.

The problem might be environmental, physical, or simply a poor routine. In this guide, we take a look at what you can do to get your best night’s sleep ever.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Get Ready

Cut out the caffeine after midday and stick to water and non-caffeinated drinks. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so it might be worth experimenting and going without to see if that makes a difference.

Even as much as two hours before you normally hit the hay, think about powering down your body. Keep your ambient lighting turned way down to help rest your eyes and let your body know that bedtime is right around the corner. While many people fall straight to sleep after drinking alcohol, very often that sleep is poor quality and they wake up in the middle of the night feeling thirsty, so try to avoid excessive alcohol before you go to sleep.

Make sure that the television, tablet, or mobile phone is switched off at least one hour before bedtime – even earlier if you can. This helps your brain to slow down and stop processing information. The blue light of a mobile phone is known to trigger brain activity, so make a rule for yourself that you won’t take your phone up to bed with you but rather leave it off, silent in another room.

Think Bed

If there’s one thing worth investing in for your home it’s a great bed with a mattress that’s just the right size and firmness. Find a mattress size guide to determine which size bed is best for you.  And always buy the best quality that you can afford. You spend a lot of time on your mattress, so choosing a good one will go a long way toward getting a great night’s sleep.

Your pillow is also important, so figure out if you need one or two for a more comfortable position and then buy good quality ones – hypoallergenic if necessary.

Create a Restful Atmosphere

When you’ve got your bed ready, the light blocked out with lined curtains, and the heat turned down to warm rather than hot, you’re ready to go and get the rest your body deserves. If you need to, use earplugs, eye covers, or whatever helps you block out any excessive noise and light from your room.

Getting rest and restoring your brain and body is exactly what you need to take on the challenges of a new day. Make sure that you make sleep a priority so you’ll be functioning at your very best the next day. Get your head down for a good night and prepare for a great morning.

 

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Keeping Your Home in Tip-Top Condition

As usual, my spring cleaning regime has spilled over into summer.  Just last week, we got our windows washed.  And I finally climbed a high ladder to clean the chandelier in our bathroom.  I clean that chandy about every five years whether it needs it or not!

Do you keep a list of spring cleaning to-dos?  I keep my list in my head – a scary place to store it.  One task that’s been on my mental list is to actually sit down and write a list.  So when a guest writer brought me this nicely organized outline of home cleaning/maintenance tasks, I thought it was worth sharing.  I may even use it as a starting point for the [long] to-do list that I need to write!

The following is a contributed post. For more information on my contributed posts, click here.

Keeping Your Home in Tip-Top Condition

When you buy a home, you have all the best intentions of making it perfect and keeping it that way. But finances and time often dictate what you can and can’t do. Usually, after a while, the sheer amount of things that need to be done can be overwhelming to the point that nothing gets done. 

If you are a homeowner, the number of tasks that fall to your shoulders can be a heavy burden. But if you make a list and get those maintenance items done on a regular basis, they will take less time to do.  And in many cases, regular maintenance can stave off having to pay for significant home repairs.  

You will ideally want to get a list put together to make sure that you don’t lose track of what you should be doing.  Many home maintenance tasks don’t require a professional.  If you get stuck, you can turn to Google – or an article like this to help you through it. 

The following list is broken down into monthly, quarterly, and twice-yearly tasks. Many things will be season-related, but generally you can do most jobs at any time. 

 

“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” Marie Kondo

Photo by Rustic Vegan on Unsplash

Biannually

These are jobs that just need to be done twice a year – or more often if necessary.  

Pest Check

If you are seeing droppings or hearing scratching noises, then it is time to take immediate action.  If you have a crawl space under your house, a basement, a loft space, or an attic, you should do an inspection for pests. If needed, there are a lot of different pest control options to take care of everything from wasp nest removal to pest control for raccoons. And these problems can be taken care of quickly. 

Batteries

Don’t wait for your smoke alarm to start chirping its low-battery warning. Put it on your list to change your smoke alarm batteries every six months. You should also change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and emergency flashlights. 

Deep Clean

Yep, it is that time of the year. The deep clean needs to be done. And, while you probably clean house weekly, you need to put more effort into the big deep clean. Book one Saturday in with your family, and give the whole house a deep scrub. Pull drawers out, move the couch, clean all of the appliances, windows, shelves – the works. This will be more of a chore if you aren’t cleaning regularly other times of the year. So do yourself a favor:  Clean once a week and do a deep clean every six months (at least). 

Monthly

Kitchen 

The kitchen sink disposal probably sees a lot of action. The quickest way to clean it really thoroughly is with vinegar ice cubes. Simply make some ice cubes out of white vinegar and freeze them. Then pop them in the disposal and run it. The ice will sharpen up the blades, and the vinegar will kill off any lingering smells. 

Your range hood filters could become clogged and begin to smell if you don’t add this into your monthly cleaning routine. You will need to take the filter out and use a degreaser to lift the caked-on grime. Then you just need to use some good old-fashioned elbow grease and give it a good scrub. Once dry, put it all back together. 

Carpets

They hold on to a lot more dirt and dust than you might think. While a quick vacuum once a week is okay – every other day is probably better – you are going to need to get heavy-handed once a month. You can rent heavy duty carpet cleaners or get it done professionally.  Keeping up on this task ensures that your carpet stays odor free and comfortable to walk on.  

Windows

A once-a-month scrub with vinegar and newspaper will keep your windows gleaming between deep cleanings. Or you can use chemical-based cleaners if you prefer – they both do the same job in the end. 

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Upsplash

Toilets

A weekly clean is great, but a good, thorough scrub once a month really gets into all the nooks and crannies. You don’t have to use bleach-based chemicals if you don’t want to, but a disinfectant is advisable. Clean in and around the rim, behind the lid, and underneath. This helps prevent odors from taking over.

Quarterly

Alarms

Although you will be replacing the batteries in all of your alarms, you still need to check periodically to make sure that they are all working. Most have a ‘test’ button that makes this an easy job – although you might want to pop in some earplugs to dampen the noise slightly. If there is no sound, it could be that light corrosion is causing the battery not to register.  So just take out the battery, give it and battery terminal a good wipe, put it back in, and re-test it.

Water

Take a walk around the house and check all of the taps and toilets for leaks – and shower heads too. Run all the faucets for a few minutes (this is a great time to add cleaner to the sinks and toilets) and see if anything is going on. Fix any leaks as you go. 

Ongoing

As you walk around your house, you might find other things like peeling paint, stains and creaky floorboards. Whatever problems you find, add them to your to-do list – because tackling all those little jobs that your home needs helps keep it in tip-top condition. 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Taming the Monster: A Garden Corner Makeover

Most gardeners will tell you that there is always some small part of their garden that gets neglected.  It’s usually a tangle of shrubs so seemingly overwhelming that they don’t even know where to begin.  And so they ignore it – maybe work on other areas of the garden – anything to avoid having to tackle it.  I certainly can relate!

Recently my mom, Erika, tackled and conquered an overgrown corner in her own garden.  And it looks so much better now that I thought this would be a great time to head over to her garden for our annual field trip.

We’ve been to Mom’s home and garden several times before and, in case you missed any of our previous field trips, check out these posts:

 

Taming the Monster

I wish I had a before photo to show you of the area that Mom conquered. Tucked away in a corner, it was a dense thicket of shrubs under a tall pine tree.  Decades of falling needles had accumulated in this thicket to create a huge mound of debris.

In this photo, taken after Mom had cleared most of the debris, you can still see what was left of the mound.  (Please excuse the poor quality of these photos which were taken with my cellphone.)

Garden makeover: clearing the area.
The low branches that Mom unburied from the mound were twisted, crazy, and interesting.  So she decided to keep them!

She pruned some shrubs from the thicket and removed others.

Adding Structure

Now Mom needed to bring structure to the corner.

She terraced the soil and added a short retaining wall and walkway, repurposing stones and pavers that she already had onhand.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

She brought in pieces of garden art, including an old chimenea that she had painted red and placed backwards to look like a large urn.  The paint was already starting to chip and, as you’ll see in the later photos, the chipping continued.  But it actually gives the urn a fun look.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

 

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

 

My brother Dan jokingly said the area looked like a shrine.

But we all knew it would not look that way for long.  As always, Mom had a vision.

 

Adding Beauty

It was still early in the year, and she planted small plants and spread mulch over the soil.

DIY garden makeover: adding structure

Since the area is mostly in shade, she planted hostas, ferns, primroses, baby tears, and shade-tolerant sedums – most of which would emerge later as the weather warmed.

And Mom didn’t go out and buy these plants.   She separated and transplanted plants that were already in her garden.  This little garden rehab project was costing her next to nothing.

These transplants would work nicely with the azaleas and rhodies that were already there.

The Result

It’s amazing how quickly the plants have taken hold – and how happy they look.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

This rehabbed corner already looks like it’s always been this way, and it has the same relaxed “secret garden” style that I love so much about the rest of Mom’s garden.

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

The area is behind her gazebo so, coming around the corner from the gazebo, this is what we see now.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

There are so many interesting little details to catch the eye yet, with its limited color palette, this area feels serene and uncluttered.

DIY garden makeover: After

 

Sedum

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

DIY garden makeover: After

 

DIY garden makeover: After
A maidenhair fern holds pride of place behind a rustic pot.

 

While we’re here, I want to show you Mom’s gazebo.  It’s so beautiful right now with everything in bloom.

Gazebo

 

Roses on gazebo

 

Roses and petunias
Roses and petunias

Thanks for coming along on our field trip.  Mom’s project has inspired me to tackle a problem area in my own garden – one of these days!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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Easy Tips for Keeping Your Home Fresh This Summer

Like many old houses, our 1920s cottage can smell a bit sour in the summer heat – especially when we’re on vacation and it sits closed up for days or even weeks on end.  Opening the windows is usually a quick fix, and I also use low-tech methods of dehumidifying to keep rooms smelling fresh.

Seems I’m always striving to keep our house as fresh as that elusive summer breeze.

So when a guest writer brought me this piece, with a few simple tips on freshening up around the home, I thought it was worth a share.  If you have your own tips for keeping a home fresh in summer, I would love for you to share them in the comments!

The following is a contributed post.

Stress-Free Home Hacks for Summer

Summer can be such a fun time with great weather and lots of exciting things to look forward to. But with so much going on, from vacations to the kids being off school, summer can fly by so fast. So it can sometimes be tricky to really be able to savor the season and enjoy the days of summer fun.

Plus, there are regular things like chores and housework to be getting on with, even if all you want to do is to head to the local swimming pool. So with that in mind, here are some of the ways that you can keep on top of your household chores and cleaning over summer. 

 

Keeping your home fresh in summer

 

  • Deodorize Trash

When the weather is warmer, it can make your trash smell more, as bugs and mold love the warmer temperatures. So for your large trash can outside, or the one in your kitchen, think about using some baking soda to help clean it. Sprinkling baking soda at the bottom is something that really helps to keep the bad smells at bay.

 

  • Bathroom Freshness with Essential Oils

If you have children, they will be home much more in the summer.  Friends and family might come calling more often during the summer.  And this means your bathrooms will get a lot more use than normal. So in order to keep smells at bay, add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to the inside of your toilet paper roll.

 

  • Keep Bugs at Bay

Bugs are much more likely to creep into your home in summer, because doors and windows are open more, and they want to cool off from the heat. Plus, drips from ice lollies and other food can be really attractive, especially for things like ants.

General household cleaning can help to keep pests and bugs at bay, but if you want to save yourself some time, call an exterminator. You might need a specific one, like a bed bug exterminator, for example. It all depends where the problems are in your home. Just keep an eye on things over the summer and call for help when you need it.

 

  • Microwave Cleaning with Lemon

With the kids being home over summer, especially with teens, the microwave is something that is much more likely to get used. And is there anything worse than coming downstairs in the morning to find that your teenager has used the microwave to heat pizza, leaving it smelling and dirty. So a quick hack that you can try is slicing a lemon and putting it into a microwavable bowl, and filling the bowl with water. Then pop it in the microwave for three minutes and see what happens. You can remove the bowl and it will make wiping down the sides much easier.

Using a bowl of white vinegar in the microwave and leaving it in there for an hour, with the door shut, can help to get rid of bad smells.

Hopefully these tips will leave you with more time to enjoy your summer fun!

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

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Dan’s Garage Rebuild

Today I have two exciting announcements.  The first is that I’m introducing my new Summer Guest Writer series.  This summer, from time to time, I’ll be handing over the keyboard to some talented voices who will be giving us fresh home and garden inspiration.

Secondly, my dear brother Dan (aka “The Mad Scientist”) is our first guest writer!  I cannot think of a better way to kick off my new series.  Besides always having a DIY project or two going on at his own house (including his amazing dining room remodel), Dan did the window trim in Mom’s sunroom, built my beautiful vintage-inspired greenhouse lights and, more recently, built the perfect corner cabinet for our laundry room remodel.

But right now he is sharing the DIY rebuild of his vintage garage – which he did on a budget with reclaimed materials.  Don’t miss the before and after at the end!

So without further delay, here’s Dan:

My Garage Rebuild

My sister thinks of me as somewhat of a mad scientist, but I’m also a homeowner and occasionally I find myself mired in the tedium that all homeowners face from time to time.

So one day I saw what looked like a little dry rot at the left corner of my garage door frame. Upon closer inspection, I realized the whole front facade was rotting and had to be replaced.

I was looking at two months of nights and weekends working on this. I could have just hired someone but, knowing I was handy enough to do this myself, my frugality won out.

Also I thought it would be fun to give the garage a facelift rather than just replace the rotted lumber.

Garage before rehab.
What I had to start with.

I began searching the web for images of late Victorian and early Craftsman style houses and garages looking for designs or specific design elements I liked.

Once I had several ideas in my head, I started sketching them up. After several re-designs, here’s the plan I came up with:

The Plan
The Plan.

 

Once I had a plan I liked, it was time to develop a shopping list and see what building materials I might already have left over from previous projects.

The plan changed a bit when I realized the old garage door was a custom size. Rather than spending extra on a custom door, I decided to adjust the size of the opening. Losing only 6 inches on each side saved me about $350. I can live with that.

 

 

With all my building materials and a new garage door ready for installation, it was time to start the demolition. Some people love demolition, but I find it irritating and hazardous. But the dry rot hadn’t evolved into toxic mold yet, so…yay!

After relieving the tension on the old garage door counterbalance spring (those suckers could take your hand off if you’re not careful) and relocating a light switch, it was time to put on a dust mask and go at it with a sledge and crow bar.

Sometimes you find interesting things while doing demo. I discovered that the original door spanned the full width of the garage. The previous owner probably had to replace the door, and in doing so made the opening more narrow. It was this previous remodel that was rotting away.

The original lumber that the garage was built with was still in pretty good shape after 110 years. Only the old door trim was beginning to rot. It was pretty easy to replace.

Originally it was probably a double sliding door or a pair of bifolds, maybe something like one of these:

Old garages
What the old door may have looked like.

 

I also found copper framing nails in some places. I never knew such a thing existed.

Wood with a copper nail
A copper nail!

 

After doing a little research, I found out that, decades ago, copper nails were recommended for use in pressure treated lumber, although none of the lumber I had to tear out was pressure treated (which was why I had to tear it out).

Old garage door
Broken, rotting garage door

 

I kept the garbage pile neatly stacked so as not to annoy the neighbors.

 

Assembling the new door sections, tracks and tension springs turned out to be a two-day project. The assembly instructions said I should expect it to take 5 hours.

The amount of hardware that comes with a new garage door is incredible.

 

Garage door hardware
Box 1 of 3!

 

 

With Fall rapidly approaching, I decided to turn my attention to getting the siding and windows installed.

I needed two different kinds of siding, two windows, a little bit of tongue & groove beadboard, and some trim. I decided to go with PVC for the beadboard and trim. That stuff never rots. But I wanted the windows and siding to look like they were original to the garage.

Time to start poking around the salvage shops.  I wanted traditional lap siding for the sections on either side of the door, and cedar shingles for the gable section. I found both for less than half the price of the big box stores.

The shingles were unused, unpainted leftovers from a job someone over-estimated. The lap siding had nail holes and peeling paint but, for the price, I was willing to do a little sanding and scraping.

I bought about 25% more than I needed but, due to splitting and other flaws I didn’t see when I bought it, it was just barely enough.

reclaimed lumber
Needs work, but you can’t beat the price.

 

reclaimed lumber
Here you can see where there was ivy growing.

 

I also bought two windows at the salvage shop. They needed to be trimmed down a bit to fit between the existing studs, but they were in fine shape and required far less work than the siding.

Even the old paint color worked for me.

Reclaimed windows
Just a good cleaning and trimming down to size was all these windows needed.

 

It’s starting to take shape!

 

DIY garage rebuild
It really comes together with the trim in place.

 

DIY garage rebuild
I used a straight edge to keep everything level.

 

Now I had to do the beadboard at the gable above the windows. I made a template out of scrap wood to make sure the fitment was spot on. Then I glued the sections of beadboard together.

Once the glue set, I marked it with the template and cut it down to size. It fit perfectly!

Gable template

 

Gable template

 

DIY garage rebuild
Success!

 

The weather took a turn, so I had to put off the spackling and touch-up painting, and instead work on installing the garage door opener.

I was blown away by the features available on openers these days. I didn’t need WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth, or alerts sent to my iTelphone, but they still make good old fashioned “push a button and it opens and closes” garage door openers.

They just make them better now.

I got one with a DC motor so it can open slowly at first and then speed up instead of just jerking the door open.  That’s easier on the mechanical components of the opener and the door. It’s tiny but powerful.

 

garage door openers - old vs. new
Garage door openers: Old vs. new.

 

garage door opener hardware
Great. More hardware.

 

My original design called for a lantern on either side of the door, but those lanterns would have been right at eye level and kind of blinding instead of shining the light down onto the driveway where I needed it.

So I decided instead to look for something like this:

 

The price for one of these new would  break the budget so, once again, my frugality is getting the best of me.  I’ve decided to make my own.  In a previous post, I made a rustic pendant barn light out of a $14 heat lamp, so maybe you’ll see this build in a future blog post.

But right now, summer is starting to roll around again and I have other projects needing my attention. A homeowner’s work is never done.

In Summary

I wasn’t really looking for a late-summer remodel project, but all in all it went pretty well and there weren’t too many unpleasant surprises. Plus I learned a few things along the way, which is always fun.

Let’s take another look at what I started with.  This was the garage before:

Garage before rehab
Before

 

And here it is now:

After

My design also called for a trellis over the door, but I’ve gotten so many compliments on this from neighbors and passers-by already that I’m going to leave it as-is. Maybe at a later time, if I feel the design is getting stale, I’ll add a trellis and a wisteria to grow on it.  But for now I think this is fine.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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Releasing My Air Plants into the Wild – And a Spring Garden Tour

A while back, I briefly mentioned my current plant crush:  The air plant called Tillandsia usneoides (or live Spanish moss).  I’d been admiring these plants for some time, and recently I broke down and bought a few.

They are very versatile.  I even used one as the outer ring for my elevated tulips arrangement.

Elevated Tulips

Spanish moss is the mystical-looking stuff that hangs from live oak in the South.

At my house, it just hangs from a tall vase and resembles a beautiful sorceress.

Live Spanish moss
Fun trivia: Spanish moss is not really a moss, nor does it come from Spain.

 

Caring for My Spanish Moss

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Every couple of weeks, I soak the plants in water for six to eight hours.

Live Spanish moss soaking in water

Sometimes I toss a couple of small drops of plant fertilizer into the water.

After their long bath, I hang them to dry.

Live Spanish moss drip drying after soaking in water 6-8 hours
Live Spanish moss turns a beautiful shade of green when it’s wet.

Alternatively, I could mist the plants every 3 or 4 days.

This plant loves filtered sunlight and good air circulation.  In my climate, it yearns for the outdoors in spring and summer.

So recently, I decided to give the sorceress what she wanted.  I would release her into the wild.

 

Releasing My Air Plants Into the Wild

Of course it’s safety first for my beloved Spanish moss.  So the sorceress went only as far as my front porch, but at least she’s outdoors.

Live Spanish moss

 

She hangs from a potted corkscrew willow branch where soft breezes and morning sun can caress her.  My thought is that this closely resembles what she would be doing in her natural habitat.  And here, I can make sure she gets enough mist to (hopefully) stay happy and healthy.

Live Spanish moss

Kidding aside, I’m hoping to see this plant grow and multiply this summer.  With more of it, the decor possibilities are endless.

Will the birds try to use the Spanish moss for nesting material?  We will find out.  I’m whisking the sorceress indoors at the first sign of trouble.

But right now I think the lion likes her.

Front porch decor

 

porch

 

A Spring Garden Tour

These photos might have you thinking that I have some tiny modicum of  control over the garden, but don’t be fooled.  As always, chaos is winning.

So I have decided to just go with it.  If something wants to form drifts and take over, maybe that actually means less work for me?  I can kid myself anyway.

Urn in garden drifts

 

After all, it’s hard to get mad at the adorable sweet woodruff that has taken over my patio garden.

Sweet woodruff

 

Patio

 

Patio

 

Or the poppies that are everywhere.

Poppies

 

This time of year, everything is so fresh and green.

Birdbath

 

It’s amazing what a difference a couple of months can make.  Here is our front birdbath now.

Birdbath and peonies

 

And this is what it looked like during “The Big Snow” in February.

Birdbath in snow

 

And now in the shade garden, where the snow had flattened the undergrowth, the tiki is being taken over by hardy geranium.

Tiki
This Easter Island-inspired tiki was carved by Chris’s brother.

 

Over on the fence line, the bees are crazy about the blooming hebe.

fence

 

I am a pushover for topiaries because they can help bring a little structure and order to the chaos.  Recently I pruned this succulent (which spent the winter in the greenhouse) into an orderly shape.

Succulent

 

The peonies I planted last year are still scrawny, but I did get a beautiful blossom from one of them.

peony
The packaging for the peony tubers simply said “pink.” Imagine my surprise at this beauty.

This time of year, there is always plenty to do in the garden.  You could probably tell that I still have a lot of work left.  Gardening (or “taming the beast,” as I think of it) is the main reason that my blog posts are so few and far between in spring.

Thanks for visiting today and coming along on my spring garden tour.  If you get a chance, check out my Summer Gear page – one of the new “rooms” in my updated Shop.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

Sources

Live Spanish moss  can be found in better plant nurseries or on Amazon.

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel
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