Front Porch Upgrades

Hello, friends! I came back. I don’t see how people* can both work on a house and blog about working on a house.

* Normal full-time-job people, that is, who don’t get paid to blog. I just spent $99 to renew my WordPress.com Premium account, which includes the No Ads upgrade. That keeps WordPress from placing any ads on this site, and obviously I myself am not profiting in anyway. No Blue Apron sponsored posts here! I like that this space is commercial-free, and it’s one of the things that makes me want to continue blogging. 

Also, I am making a ton of progress on the house, in ways big and small, and I want this blog to be a record of that.

I’m going to try to be better about quick posts: the types of things I text my friends when they humor me about being interested in Phase 7 of my elaborate 10-phase never-ending basement demo. I know I need to finish the house tour with a post about the exterior of the house, but I want to start with some small changes I made to our front stoop.

Here’s the door that greeted us the first time we toured the house:

front-door-before3

I bought new deadbolts for the three exterior doors, keyed them to match one key, and installed them the day we closed on the house. When we moved in several weeks later, that was the only change I had made:

front-door-before

Scrubbing and painting made a huge difference.

front-door-paint

The cats were super curious about why the door was cracked.

cat-door-lola

Doozy’s curiosity borders on murdery.

cat-door-doozy

Working on a house requires constant decision-making and I can get overwhelmed by options, but that wasn’t the case with our doorknobs and mailbox. I ordered these immediately and love them!

front-door-after

The mailbox is the 4600 Series Black Standard Vertical Traditional Mailbox from Salsbury Industries. I would have preferred the horizontal version (easier to fish things out of because it’s less deep) but the vertical one fits better in the space available. It’s awesomely sturdy.

schlage-doorknob

I swapped out all of the knobs and levers in our house with these Bowery knobs by Shlage, in the matte black finish. They feel great in your hand.

interior-doors-before

I have the Privacy Lock Knob (#F10 BWE 622) on our bedroom and bathroom doors, and the Passage Lock Knob (#F40 BWE 622) on our closet and interior passage doors.

interior-doors-after

Pro tip: despite the name, the “passage lock knob” does not lock.

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Eventually we’ll get a new front door and, at that time, I’ll buy a really nice lever, but door hardware is expensive and I’m very happy with this set-up for now.

door-knob

I also hung a Mr. Beams battery-operated motion sensing light in the overhang (model MB980). It detects motion from about 10 ft away and illuminates the front porch.

mr-beams-light

My only complaint is that the LED light has a sharp halo, which looks a bit harsh. (And I need to move it two feet to the right so more of the light is on the door knob.) I prefer to turn on the real front porch light when we’re expecting company, but this one is nice for us when we come home late.

light-halo

That’s it for now! I’ll have the Before and After pictures see you out.

Before:

front-door-before2

After:

front-door-after2

front-door-after3

Bathroom Makeover Day 2

Day 2!  Full disclosure: this weekend won’t end with triumphant After photos because I won’t have our new shower curtain in hand until Tuesday. This is the drawback of real-time blogging.

Antique Grate and Flap Wheel

All totalled, I spent way too much time on this damn grate.  I just wanted to get down to bare metal so that I could give it a clean, even coat of spray paint.  I should have skipped the boiling, scrubbing and sanding and gone straight to the Klean Strip.  I usually don’t go all scorched earth on antique hardware but this thing isn’t precious.  It’s the opposite of precious: it’s heavy as hell and it will survive the apocalypse.  So, I shouldn’t have hesitated to strip it.  Lesson learned.  At least it was fun to use the flap wheel sander.

Antique Grate and Stripper

I also spray painted the toilet paper holder, held aloft with kabob skewers.

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Back upstairs is chaotic.  Lola finds comfort on his L.L. Bean box, which is very special to him for reasons unbeknownst to us.

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Finished painting!

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The color is Benjamin Moore’s Soot, matched by Behr – it’s the same inky-navy-black that we have on our kitchen wainscoting. Our bathroom is off of the kitchen and I like that the two rooms will now be cohesive inverses of one another.

IMG_7004

Somewhat Real-time Bathroom Makeover

Our country’s independence gave me a glorious four-day weekend (thanks, Thomas Jefferson et al.!) and I’m celebrating with a bathroom makeover.  My friend Kimberly suggested that I live-blog it.

Paint Swatches

I won’t be doing that exactly, but I do plan to post pictures each day of the previous day’s progress. I’m usually a very slow blogger (it takes me a while to get around to posting pictures of my projects), so this seems like a good challenge.

Bathroom Hinges

Vent GrateDouble, double toil and trouble.

Wall Paint

Wall Paint

 

When in Doubt, Paint a Door

Seriously, when all other projects feel too daunting/expensive to tackle (I’m looking at you, Bedroom), just paint a door or two. Enormous and immediate gratification.

Take this exterior back door, for example.

Back Door Before

Someone had even scratched their name into the paint. I corrected it for them.

After:

Back Door After

So satisfying! I sanded it a bit and then repainted with Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel in Gloss Smoke Gray.

Back Door Sanding

Door Before and After

Door Knob Before After

Another example: someone got creative with brown paint on the exterior side of our apartment’s back door (the one leading to the catio).  Yech.

Catio Door Before

Furthermore, the original brass door plate had been painted over so many times that you can hardly see the decoration.

Door Plate Before

I sanded the door, cleaned off the dust with Klean-Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser, applied a coat of Kilz and then three coats of white paint.

Catio Door Sanding

I didn’t intend to dive into restoring the door plate, but once it was in our backyard I thought “Well, might as well…”

Door Plate Stripping

It required two rounds of stripper to simply expose the screws that allowed me to pry off the plate.

Door Plate Stripping

Door Plate Stripping Second Coat

Brass Door Plate

Then it was time for a soak in a pot of boiling water, followed by a Bar Keepers Friend + toothbrush scrub, followed by a lot of toothpicks. Rinse and repeat, three times.

Brass Door Plate

Brass Door Plate

Brass Door Plate

In truth, I don’t even love the plate itself – it’s too ornate for my taste and I think the crystal knob looks we’re running a bed & breakfast – but I’m satisfied nevertheless to have recovered it from years of paint. I like seeing it when I come home, even if I’m also thinking “Man, that door needs a new knob.”

Catio Door After

Both of these projects can serve as examples of why I never feel bad for doing things to our rented apartment “without permission.” Are my landlords sacrificing a Saturday to paint a blazing hot exterior door or restore a vintage door plate? Nope. I am. So, please excuse me: while I’m up on this high horse I’m going to replace a ceiling light fixture.

One more thing, on a more personal note: Happy 2nd Birthday to my niece Cora! I’ve been trying to teach her about feminism (gotta start ’em young) but I think our cats have had a bigger impression on her. The other day when prompted to say “Bye, Aunt Marti” she said “Bye, Aunt Kitty!” I couldn’t ask for a better downstairs neighbor.

Cora

Hardware

Of all of the things I worried about prior to moving into this apartment – the window air conditioners, the absence of a washer & dryers – the thing that should have kept me awake at night is PLASTER WALLS.  I had no idea what I was up against.  $40 worth of hollow wall anchors later, I still can’t get the over-the-mantle-mirror to stay on the wall.

This apartment is UNDECORATABLE.