Reader Survey – I’d Love Your Feedback

Dear readers:

I put together a brief survey to help me learn a bit more about you, the readers of this blog. I’d love your feedback!

If none of the multiple choice options provided work for you, please select “Other” and fill in your own answer. The open-ended questions are optional: feel free to skip if you don’t have anything you’d like to add.

If the embedded form below doesn’t work for you, or if you’re on a mobile device, please go to Google Forms to fill it out.

Thanks so much! And thanks for reading this blog.

xoxo
Marti Palermo

Adding Moulding to Inside Out Bi-Fold Doors

Yesterday I shared a quick post about my new entryway chandelier and rug. Now I’m back with a long post on the final change I made in this first wave of improvements: DIY Shaker bi-fold doors for our entryway closet. Here’s where we started:

Closet Doors Before.JPG

It’s fine, but I disliked that the closet doors were as much a focal point as the front door: same paneling, same moulding, same color. The focus should be on our home’s entryway, not the bi-fold doors.

Additionally, I didn’t love the exaggerated faux woodgrain – nothing wrong with it, just not my style.

Closet Door Before Closeup.JPG

I wanted a smoother finish with Shaker-style trim, which is a better fit for our Craftsman(esque) bungalow.

Reversing the Doors

There are a lot of good guides online from people who have tackled similar projects (e.g. The DIY Playbook and Room for Tuesday), but they started with plain bi-fold doors. I wanted to make do with what I had, if possible, so I decided to try flipping the doors inside out to use of the flush backside.

Closet Door Back.JPG

I started by removing the doors. Then I removed the hinges and drilled through the existing screw holes with a small drill bit. That made it easy to know where to mount the hinges on the reverse side of the door. I flipped the door over and reattached the hinges.

Closet Door Hinges.JPG

Then I put the door back on its track to see if this harebrained idea worked. It did! The inside out door functioned without problem. So, I proceeded.

Closet Door Inside Out.JPG

I sanded the doors with 220 grit to create a nice, smooth finish.

Door Sanding.JPG

Selecting the Moulding

Next step was moulding. I went to Lowe’s and Home Depot to check out their lattice trim offerings. (Note: Room for Tuesday said she used 1 inch thick poplar boards, but that felt too chunky for these doors.) Home Depot had the best options for what I had in mind.

Lattice Options.JPG

I expected to buy pine lattice, but the oak lattice was a quarter inch wider. This small difference made the trim feel more substantial.

Pine and Oak Lattice.JPG

Oak cost about $20 more total than pine, which was worth it to me to have the proportions that felt best. For the top and bottom pieces, I went a step wider and bought 3 inch poplar project boards. (I think even wider horizontal pieces would look great, too.)

Poplar Board.JPG

Attaching the Trim

I cut the trim to size, starting with the vertical pieces and then adding the horizontal sections. I used Liquid Nails to affix the trim.

Trim Glue.JPG

I also used finishing nails at the top and bottom, and at a few points in between. I held them in place with long nose pliers to save my fingers from hammering.

Finishing Nail.JPG

I sunk the nail using a nail setter. I picked up this Kobalt 3-Piece Titanium Nail Punch Set at Lowe’s and it’s been super handy.

Nail Setter.JPG

I chose to do a simple Shaker style, with moulding around the perimeter of each door and no additional horizontal pieces, because my goal was to make the doors less of a focal point. I don’t need a fancy closet. Also, this style coordinates with our nearby kitchen cabinets, and this house is in bad need of cohesion.

Closet Trim Progress 2.JPG

You need to set the trim inside the outer edge or else the door won’t be able to open. When I first read that guidance online, it took me a bit to understand why, so here’s a visual aid that maybe (?) helps…

When the door is shut, there is plenty of space between the door frame and the edge of the door:Door Space Shut.jpg

But the angle of the opening door takes up more space. You need that extra room for the trim to clear the door frame:Door Space Open.jpg

I set the moulding about 0.25″ inside the outer edge of the closet door. The “right” position depends on how thick your trim is: the thicker the trim, the more space you’ll need. Before I proceeded with painting, I rehung my first door to double-check that everything was still functioning properly.

Closet Trim Progress.jpg

Then I spackled the wood seams and nail holes, did a final sanding pass, and caulked any gaps between the moulding the door. Finally, it was time to prime and paint. Painting is, as we’ve established, the worst task in the world. I got through it, but I failed to document it.

Trim Spackling.JPG

The Finished Product

We went from white bi-fold doors:Bifold Doors Before.JPG

To slightly different white bi-fold doors! DIY Bifold Door Moulding.JPG

I used the same knobs I bought for our bathroom vanity upstairs: Amerock’s Blackrock 1-1/3″ Cabinet Knob. I may eventually swap these out for a black metal pull, but I decided to start simple.

Closet Trim and Knobs.JPG

As for cost: I could have purchased new, totally plain bifold doors for $45 each. By flipping the doors, I saved $90 and didn’t waste otherwise-perfectly-fine doors. All totaled, the wood trim cost $60, which is at least half the price of any comparable craftsman bifold doors I found elsewhere. And, I like these more than anything I found: the style is exactly what I wanted.

Bifold Doors with Trim.JPG

So, we went from this:entryway-before

To this:entryway-before-2

To this:Entryway Rug and Chandelier.JPG

But I’m not finished yet. There are three major changes left on my to-do list for this area, and they need to happen in this order:

1. New front door: I plan to hire someone to install a new door – likely this JELD-WEN Craftsman 6-Lite Primed Steel, which I’ll likely paint black.

2. New moulding: I’m going to replace the moulding around all of the doors with something Craftsman-appropriate. I plan to do this myself, and I am dreeeeaaading it.

3. New coat rack: Finally, I’m going to build a simple hook rail. I might run it across the entire length of the wall, right up to the moulding around the living room entryway. So, it makes sense to hold off on this until the new moulding is in place.

Monkeying with an external door in the middle of winter seems inadvisable, so I’m going to put a pin in the entryway for now and focus on the other projects in my 2017 House Goals list.

One Last Thing: Upcoming Reader Survey

I put together a reader survey to help me better understand who reads this blog, and how you do, and why you do! I’ll return later this week with a link to the survey and a plea for your participation. Thanks in advance, buddies.

Entryway Progress: New Chandelier and Rug

We have a side-entrance bungalow with a nice central entryway, opening into our kitchen on the right and our living room on the left. I suppose you could call it a foyer if you’re feeling fancy. It was far from fancy when we bought the house, though: it was super gross.

Entryway Before.JPG

I made it not-gross with cleaning and painting, and I made it functional with Flor carpet tiles and a peg rack (both leftover from our apartment). Otherwise, I didn’t spend much effort to make it look nice until recently.

Entryway Before 2.JPG

Here’s where we started. I can do better than just not-gross!

New Light Fixture

First up, I added a new ceiling medallion and light fixture: I bought the Mid-Century Long-Arm Chandelier from West Elm.

mid-century-long-arm-chandelier-o.jpg

You guys, when I first start dating Jarrod (13 years ago!) this tiger blanket was his actual bedspread. Not in an ironic way, either. He’s had it since he was a kid, and now it’s an excellent moving blanket / project cushion.

Tiger Blanket Light Fixture.jpg

The chandelier is super heavy and was a challenge to install but, ultimately, nothing insurmountable. I’m really happy with it now that it’s up there.

Hanging Light Fixture.JPG

The adjustable arms work great here because the closet throws off the center of this space. I was able to arrange the arms to balance out that corner.

West Elm Mid Century Long Arm Chandelier.JPG

New Rug

I also added a new rug: a Mazlaghan Persian rug found on eSaleRugs.com for $250.

PersionRug.jpg

It was the first time I’ve purchased from eSaleRugs. I appreciate that they post a lot of photos of each item, and their free shipping and free returns policy suits me well, too: I’m prone to buyer’s remorse, so it made it easier to pull the trigger. Thankfully, there was no need to make use of that return option – their photos are remarkably accurate.

Rug 1.JPG

That’s all for now! I’ll return tomorrow with a post detailing the final change I made in this first batch of improvements: new(ly altered) closet doors.

Entryway Progress.JPG

Update: see Adding Moulding to Inside Out Bi-Fold Doors

2017 House Goals

In 2016, our house saw many sweeping, expensive changes. 2017 isn’t likely to be quite as dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down. I’m excited to tackle a lot of projects throughout the house – here’s a rundown of everything on my docket.

I’ve listed the projects in order of “This will definitely happen” to “I hope this will happen but who the f knows what the future holds.”

1. Fix Up Mantle and Bookshelves

Our fireplace mantle and bookcases are in poor shape: the mantle is flecked with paint, the shelves look parched, and the stain is inconsistent. I threw our books up there when we moved in, and now it’s time to fix up and thoughtfully arrange this area.

Living Room Fireplace

I got a jump on this project in 2016 by painting the previously-painted-red brick.

Cat Fireplace.JPG

2. Spruce Up Entryway

I hadn’t put too much effort into our entryway until just recently. Now I have a new light fixture and a new (old) rug, which I’ll share soon. Left to do: buy/build a hook rail, upgrade our closet doors, and improve the closet storage situation.

3. Finish Mudroom Interior and Exterior

I spent a hundred hours on the mudroom in 2016, but never showed you any of the interior and never reached a point I’d call “finished.” (You saw the exterior in the backyard post.)

4. Improve Attic Insulation and Circulation

One not-fun but important thing I need to figure out in 2017 is our attic insulation. During our pre-closing house inspection, our inspector noted that it could stand to be improved. But it hadn’t really caused any problems* until this winter, when we witnessed the symptoms of and then learned the term “ice dam.”

Ice Dam Diagram.png(Diagram from the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association’s Bungalow Maintenance 101 guide, which I highly recommend.)

In short: heat in our attic causes snow to melt off our roof, which refreezes in and over our gutters. It also creates a murderous slick of ice on our front walk and stairs.

Gutter Ice Dam.jpg

* Though our second floor bedroom can be chilly, our 2016 house utility bills were virtually identical to our 2015 apartment utility bills, which was a huge load off my mind – I had really stressed about heating and cooling costs when we first moved in. This winter is expected to be brutal, however, so I’m sure that will change.

5. Figure out Bedroom Storage

The IKEA storage drawers you saw in the bedroom post are wearing out their welcome. We need better storage solutions inside and outside the closet. I also hope to install new bifold closet doors (bifold doors are shockingly expensive, by the way – I don’t really understand why).

bedroom-ikea-dresser

6. Buy a New Sofa

You’d think this would be easy. It’s not.

7. Install New Doors

I’d like to replace:

  • Our front door with a craftsman door (painted black)
  • Our back door with a glass door (so we can see our garden from our kitchen)
  • Our half-bath door with a craftsman door, if I…

8. Renovate the Half-Bathroom

If I tackle this project, it will be my very first floor-to-ceiling renovation! Given its small size and my modest ambitions, I think (fingers crossed) it could be in the budget this year.

Bathroom

I’ve ordered a few wallpaper samples, picked out a toilet*, and started to get quotes from contractors. It will be a mix of DIY and hiring out.

* If you’re worried that I may have selected a toilet that won’t be able to flush 3 cell phones, 40 cigarettes, 20 golf balls, and 56 chicken nuggets: stop worrying. It totally can. The product video on the Home Depot site kills me. Such peppy music! Such ill-advised flushing challenges!

Toilet Nuggets.png

Those 8 goals should keep me plenty busy, and keep this blog filled with content. There will be other smaller scale projects along the way as well, including decorating our guest bedroom and adding planters to our front stoop. Stay tuned!

Front Yard Painting and Landscaping

My 2016 exterior blitzkrieg concludes here, in our front yard. When we bought the house, it looked dated and lifeless. The awning darkened the front (both inside and outside), the bushes didn’t offer much curb appeal, and the siding and stucco were in bad need of paint. Oh, and a section of our roof was on the walkway.

house-front

Julian Collins has been our go-to guy for several projects since buying the house. He demoed our basement and hauled it away, he painted our exterior, and he helped us remove this hideous awning. I highly recommend him anytime you need extra muscle – he’s fast, affordable, and insanely hardworking.

Awning.jpg

Jarrod and Julian conquered this awning – my contribution was suggesting they use a board to hold it up and push it away. What I lack in muscle I make up for in smarts.

IMG_0766.GIF

Removing the awning made a huge difference in our living room and sunroom.

Awning Before.jpg

Sunroom.jpg

Our landscapers dug out the bushes in early spring, and then it was time for house painting. (The landscapers took out that dead light post as well, after I had an electrician sever the power connection.)

Front Yard Progress.jpg

I came to a decision on the exterior paint color quickly, which isn’t usually like me! I tried three swatches and had a clear winner: Gunsmith Gray from Benjamin Moore (the bottom swatch). It’s a gray-green; Benjamin Moore calls it a “deep, blackened gray.” The color is from their Williamsburg Collection. The historical vibe works well on our 1913 bungalow: it contrasts the red brick really nicely, and I feel like it adds some much-needed life to the front of the house. The white is off-the-shelf Benjamin Moore white. We used MoorGard Low Lustre Finish in white for the trim, and MoorLife Flat Finish on everything else.

Paint Swatches.jpg

Julian power washed the exterior and then returned the next day to paint. He charged around $800 for everything: the siding, trim, stucco, and back mudroom. He and a helper knocked it out in a single day, working from early morning until after the sun set.

Siding Washing.jpg

When Julian found out I had bought Benjamin Moore Regal Select paint, he said “Thank you, thank you.” Apparently the coverage is significantly better than Behr, which makes his job easier. I definitely noticed the difference in quality when we used it on the garage. So, I’d recommend it and will use it again. If you’re on the north side of Chicago, JC Licht on Irving Park is a great paint store.

Painting Progress 2.jpg

After painting came landscaping. Here’s the plan Monica from Red Stem put together:

Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 1.36.31 PM.png

We used all native plants and shrubs, as we did in the backyard. We disconnected our northern gutter downspout from the city sewer system, extended it to the garden area, and buried it so provides water to the garden area. (“DS” in the diagram above – we didn’t end up doing the southern one because we didn’t want to dig under the sidewalk.) This guide was helpful for us as first-time homeowners: Understanding Your Sewer: An Introduction to the Chicago Area’s Combined Sewer Systems. Did you know there are no ninja turtles in Chicago’s sewer system? That’s unique to New York.

Serviceberry Planting.JPG

Of all the things we planted, I’m most excited about the multi-stemmed serviceberry tree. It flowers in the spring, produces berries in the summer, and turns bright reddish-orange in the fall. It will grow as tall as our front porch roofline. The cranberry viburnum bushes flower and berry as well, and they’ll grow at least 6 feet tall.

Landscaping Front Yard Progress.jpg

The Red Stem crew was great. Really nice guys, who shared a meal on our new patio and were so considerate of our yard. I love this photo with Doozy overseeing the job from the window.

Front Yard Before 2.JPG

Landscaping Front Yard Progress 2.jpg

Plants and sedges are interspersed between the bushes. Everything will fill in and fill out in the coming years. I will also replace and enlarge the windows someday with something more bungalow-appropriate (similar to this).

Landscaping Front Yard Progress 3.jpg

One last before and after:

House Front.jpg

SnowyHouse.jpg

And that is where I’ll leave you for now. I’ll return in early January with a list of everything I hope to tackle in 2017. Happy New Year!