I am obsessed with front doors. It is the place where a home’s personality is most projected outwards. My favorites are ones that are painted a bright color so they POP and let you know that something fun and quirky is within. This dandy door is in Hudson, New York, where we are lucky enough to hang out a weekend or two a month. Isn’t it perfection? The bright teal complements the gunmetal gray building color just right. The well tailored checked curtains are masculine and slightly retro. It’s also geniusly unsymmetrical: with a large potted plant to one side and a classic doormat on the left.
Have you seen a front door you love? Please let me know! We’ll do a series and show them off here.
I’ve been absent from these pages for a while, and here’s why: we just moved 2,000 miles from Seattle to Chicago! What a change – the biggest part of which, at the moment, is our living space. We went from 880 square feet in a 1940s cottage to 2,000+ in a giant 1800s-era two-story house. (Lest you think we suddenly came into some money, we’re renting.) When I first saw the house, the previous tenants were using the dining room as a living room.
I just chalked that up to their age – guys in their 20s don’t tend to value décor, in my experience. But now that we’re in the house, I confess we’re considering doing the exact same thing. Despite all the space, we’re having trouble setting up the living room to comfortably watch TV (and I can admit: we like TV). There’s a huge open archway, an awkward room off the entry through another archway, and a three-window nook. The only wall big enough for the TV is also the only wall big enough for the couch. Putting the couch against the windows looks weird. I am adamantly against putting a TV in front of a window. And floating the couch in the middle of the room messes up traffic flow. The dining room, on the other hand, has two good-sized walls for both TV and couch, as well as a lot more electrical outlets. So, what do you think: have you ever switched up the layout of the house like that? Will we be risking the wrath of the feng shui gods if we do?
This post is sponsored by Lowe’s.
We firmly believe in being your own handyman. Whether it’s installing our own back splash tile in the kitchen, renovating our backyard deck or giving a staircase a ombre hue, we regularly roll-up our sleeves and tackle little projects all over our homes. Sometimes things go wrong. Paints drip on the floor. Tiles dry crookedly. Equipment gets rusty. We pull our hair out. No one is happy.
Luckily, there’s a little help to be found via Vine and these handy D.I.Y. videos produced by Lowe’s. The wonderful thing about Vine is that the videos are super short — 6 seconds! — and loop over and over. So if you miss something the first time, don’t sweat it, you can catch the second or third time around. Here are six cool tricks we learned from watching these Vines — though if you start playing around on the social network’s app you’ll find many, many more.
Six Handy Tricks We Learned From Lowe’s Vine Videos:
1. Potatoes aren’t just for dinner — or making crafty stamps! The next time you are dealing with a broken lightbulb in lamp, use a potato to unscrew it without risking a finger cut.
2. Rubber bands have many uses (besides being woven into colorful bracelets for grade-schoolers). You can use them to catch paint drips from a can, or twist out a stripped down screw.
3. For your next colorful paint project, don’t mess with a new paint tray for each color. Simply line your old ones in aluminum foil and reuse.
4. Take the guesswork out of picture hanging. A piece of tape can help measure the distance between holes and get things picture perfect.
5. You don’t need luck to make your tiles line up perfectly. Pennies placed in between the rows of tiles will do the trick until they dry nicely.
6. What could be more dull than a rusty knife? Dip your cutters in some lemon juice for 15 minutes and see how they shine.
Have you discovered any great DIY Vine videos? Let us know and we’ll feature them on Shelterrific!
This is a sponsored post.
Even though our team is no longer in the running, it’s still fun to keep up with what’s going on in the Re-Energized By Design competition. This week, the remaining three teams made over their laundry rooms.
In addition to $500 and energy efficient lighting from GE, the homeowners each received an brand new set of Frigidaire Affinity laundry equipment. These are not your average high-efficiency washers & dryers — this is serious technology in action here. The Affinity dryer will dry a full load in less than 30 minutes, and the washer features allergen reduction and sanitizing features along with having the highest energy star rating. And aesthetically they please, too (though I have to wonder why no one picked the red option).
Love what those scrappy Sayers did in their space with that upcycled laundry drum light fixture. Their creative approach is always surprising, and will be tough to beat in the final round. In the end, the Mendes family’s pastel laundry room didn’t make the cut — that leaves the Sayers and the Reillys to duke it out in the kitchen challenge! who do you think will win?!
This is a sponsored post.
What is Re-Energized by Design, you ask? Well, it is an awesome web series that Shelterrific is excited to be participating in — produced by Puget Sound Energy, it’s all about incorporating energy efficiency into home design. The challenge is this: six teams of homeowners are paired with design coaches and together they compete to re-design 5 rooms with a focus on saving energy with a small budget. Cameras are documenting each leg of the challenge, and with every room one team gets the boot! The prizes are great: a home full of new LED and CFL lightbulbs from GE, a full suite of kitchen and laundry appliances from Frigidaire, and $5000.
I was fortunate to be paired with the Bedford family, who are just delightful. Kristen and her husband Slade have a great contemporary house, fun design aesthetic, and are really willing to completely put themselves into every challenge. This experience for me has literally been re-energizing to me as well, ending a year-long creative rut and getting me back into blogging and crafting and having fun again. I can’t wait to share what we’ve created together.
But as of today, I won’t have to wait much longer, as the first webisode is available at 6am PST at the Re-Energized By Design site — this week’s is an introduction to all the contestants. And stay tuned each week as we reveal another webisode. Also be sure to go to the Re-Energized page on Facebook, where you can enter to win a new Frigidaire appliance like those featured in the challenge!
Chances are, your yard work stories are a lot like mine:
Part 1: I know! Let’s plant some heather along that awkward retaining wall in our front yard. It will soften the wall and give the dogs a visual clue not to fall three feet into the gully behind it.
Part 2: Hmmm, now that we’ve dug out a planting strip along the wall, I am reminded of how uneven and lumpy we left our yard from the last big project. Maybe we should just level out this part a little bit…
Part 3: We are now digging up and leveling our entire yard. This work will never end. Ever.
The good news is, this story has a very happy ending: the broadfork. After spending hours using shovels and hoes to level out just a tiny section of yard, we decided to a tiller would make the work go faster. The tiller was already checked out of our local tool library (more to come on those), but the volunteer suggested we give this big, heavy, slightly ominous looking steel fork a try.
I’m not kidding when I say, the broadfork completely rocked our yard work world! This one in particular is one piece, forged from steel by Meadow Creature on Vashon Island, a charming island 15 minutes off Seattle’s far southwest shore. You can find them in a combination of steel and wood, but the one-piece construction will no doubt last longer, and the heaviness (although it was NOT too heavy for me to lift, and my upper body strength is pretty pathetic) made the process super easy in breaking up hard-packed dirt and grass:
First, lift the broadfork up about a foot (being careful of your own feet — those tines aren’t exactly friendly) and then drop it down, letting gravity do the work.
Second, step onto it and wiggle it back and forth in the dirt — this is the fun part.
Third, push down on the handles, lift dirt
Then move the whole thing a half-step over and repeat.
Using the broadfork was a revelation: in just three hours, we’d completely leveled three times what we’d struggled with the day before. Once the dirt was loosened, it was easy to rake it into our yard’s lower section.
Best of all, using the broadfork was fun and gave me some exercise, too — kind of like doing light step aerobics, only with some upper-body work involved.
At nearly $200 each, broadforks are not exactly cheap, but if you have a lot of tilling work to do each year, they do come recommended. Or you can look into joining a local tool library like ours! — Mary T.
In a blink of an eye, spring is suddenly in full bloom! Blossoms are on the trees, the bulbs have all sprouted — even the mosquitoes have come out. Hopefully it’s not too late to get my act together and prepare for the growing season ahead. Last weekend I gave the grasses in our front yard a haircut, and this Saturday it’s time to prune the crepe myrtles. I also want to get some herbs and veggies growing inside the house. I love this idea from Cottage Hill blog: recycled newspaper seed pots. They’re made using a tin can as a mold. Once the pot shape is formed by the folded paper, fill it with soil and compost. When the seedlings are ready to be planted, you can put the whole thing — newspaper pot and all — in the ground. Genius!
What are you doing to get your garden ready? I need tips!
A few weeks ago, an article making the Facebook rounds caught my eye. In it, author Laura Vanderkam asks “Are you as busy as you think?” Now. To hear me answer that the way I’d like to, you’d think I was giving the President a run for his money in the overburdened schedules department. I always feel busy, often without respite. And the truth is, I am busy. At least in recent years, I haven’t come face-to-face with a block of time I couldn’t fill, but it’s how we choose to use that time, and how we talk about it that matters. For starters, according to Vanderkam it’s our perception of what we’re busy with that could use some work. Most American sleep more and work less than they believe they do. And, we also fill those remaining hours with tasks that may not be in line with our true priorities. To get a better handle on what really fills our days, she suggest three simple things: keeping a time log to help really understand exactly where the time goes, to be honest about how we want to fill that time and to change the way we speak, reminding ourselves that our priorities should dictate our schedules, and not the other way around. For me, it all comes back to a quote by David Allen, (author of this insightful book on the subject): “You can do anything, but not everything.” We have to choose. It seems simple, but in reality proves difficult to put into practice. Do you agree? Do you feel like your days are packed with no escape? Let’s chat!