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We painted the guest bedroom last weekend.  Still need to paint the trim, but here’s some before and afters.

I can’t decide if I like it.  Initially, I thought it was pretty.  Now I’m afraid it’s too blue.  Why didn’t I go more gray?

I figure if I bring in some glossy black accents it will counteract the nursery feel.  Like this:

Or browns and creams like this:

Or this:


Photos:, Linda Banks via

I got a little sidetracked with my last attempt at listing my non-resolutions for 2010.  As much as I wanted to turn the page on 2009, I guess reflecting on the good things that came out of the decade leading up to (and even including) it was sort of a healthy way to do it.

Could it be argued then, that rolling over unaccomplished to-do’s from 2009 into 2010 is an unhealthy way to start the year?  Call me sickly then, ’cause herewith is my list of home improvement goals from last year, with short status updates.  I figure it will give me equal parts satisfaction for completing the things I did, and incentive to finish up the things I didn’t.  Updates will be in blue.

  1. make a home improvement binder that includes measurements for each room, including windows, closets, floors, etc.  Also include contact numbers for repairmen, hardware store, etc.  (note: this is separate from my magazine ‘inspiration’ binder –  alright, binders.)  Haven’t done yet.  Still a great idea, though.
  2. strategize about deck issue (ugh, long story) No money in 2009 put this off.  Right now we’ve got about 1-2 feet of frozen snow on the deck, which should put the issue off for another few weeks if we’re lucky.

3. add post to top of driveway with better address signage.  Nope.  Not yet.

4. mudroom – a place to sit/put on boots/store hats.  I put a folding chair out there this year.  It seems to be working fine, though it’s only helpful to one person at a time.

Update: this comment was supposed to be funny, but it didn’t translate.  I really DID put a chair out there this year – a folding chair, at that – but the idea that I would count that as some kind of accomplishment is funny, right?  Or…maybe just pathetic.  Um, I’ll work on my delivery.

5. living room – couches? Yeah, what about those couches?

6. dining room – reupholster & reglue chairs.  I’m still holding out for Annie Selke.

7. dining room – table.  I did actually speak to my furniture-making friend about this.  It will be great when we have the money to commission him to do it.

8. living room/loft – tv solution. Anuj flips through the Best Buy flyer every Sunday remarking how flat screen prices are coming down.  That’s about as far as we’ve gotten there.

9. master – bed and mattress –  no more sleeping on the floor! Wait – we really did this one!  We got a Malm bed frame and mattress from IKEA in New Jersey, squeezed the boxes and plastic into the Subaru and drove it all the way up here only to discover the headboard was busted when we opened the box.  Nice.  A week and one hellacious trip to the IKEA returns department later, we got a new one back up here and put together.  Killed my back putting the damn slats together, but we got the adjustable ones, so that’s the price you pay.

The latex Engenes mattress is a bit firm for my taste (were we gonna have to return that, too?), but Anuj needs it for his back, so I’ve thrown a camping pad under my side of the bed and I think we’re all good.

10. master – paint. This is really going to happen.  I mean, look at that yellow.

11. upstairs bath – sconces. Another task accomplished!!  Anuj installed a double sconce in the Jill half of the Jack-n-Jill bathroom last fall.  Look out, 2010, ’cause Anuj might just do the Jack half next.

12. upstairs bath – solution for storing towels, etc.  Um, we’re gonna stick with what we’ve got for now.

13. upstairs hall – clean and line drawers of dresser.  Someday, someday.

14. upstairs bedroom(s) – replace trim. Anuj will do this in 2010.

15. upstairs bedroom(s) – paint. Our painter will do this in 2010.

16. basement bedroom – bed. The room is empty now because of the water damage from all the rain.  My Dad says he’ll show us how to make a french drain in the driveway this summer which should prevent any further damage.  So, no guests, or bed, down there until then.

17. basement bedroom – paint. See #15.

18. all bedrooms – update window treatments (IKEA?).  This is still on the list.  Our windows are the original awkwardly sized from 1975, which makes finding a solution difficult.  I’m either going to follow Anna’s lead and cut the Enje shades, or buy roman shades to size from Target.  There’s no way we’re going custom.

19. water heater – wait for it to die?  replace? Good question.

20.gutters?  repair? Dad fixed this for us this year.  Thanks Dad!  No more water running off the roof onto the side of the house.  Unfortunately, we still need to repair the chipped paint.

21. document improvements more regularly, and more professionally (my photos err on the blurry side)  Yes, we need a better camera.  Anuj has finally come on board to the idea, so we’ll see what 2010 brings.

Wow.  Did I mention that 2009 sucked?  Clearly we didn’t get a lot done.  Though as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a few small (cheap) projects I completed but never blogged.  Maybe I will.  ‘Cause this feels pretty sad.  I know, we did a lot of entertaining, and hiking, and cooking this year, and that’s all really really good.  But our home is important to me, feeling comfy and happy and inspired inside it.

So I resolve to create more reasonable to-do lists in 2010.  And not publish the lists for all to see, so I can avoid embarrassment this time next year.  I’ll just post the projects as I do them with a big “ta da!” and you can all be impressed.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I discovered two other Columbia county homesteaders last year that I’d like to introduce you to: Ann at A Chicken in Every Granny Cart and Christine at Just off the Taconic.  Take a peek at their upstate/downstate adventures if you have a moment.  2009 hit them hard, too, but that doesn’t take away from their charm.  In fact, I find it slightly comforting to know that we’re not the only ones desperate to turn the page.

I’m not one for resolutions – I don’t make them, so I can’t break them.  I do, however, keep a running home improvement to-do list in my head, and I figured getting it down on paper (or .php) might help me visualize the extent of the projects – and the reality of completing them in the next 11+ months.

So herewith are my 2009 home improvement goals, in room/area order (score on already achieving my first goal of writing it down):

  1. make a home improvement binder that includes measurements for each room, including windows, closets, floors, etc.  Also include contact numbers for repairmen, hardware store, etc.  (note: this is separate from my magazine ‘inspiration’ binder –  alright, binders.)
  2. strategize about deck issue (ugh, long story)
  3. add post to top of driveway with better address signage
  4. mudroom – a place to sit/put on boots/store hats
  5. living room – couches?
  6. dining room – reupholster & reglue chairs
  7. dining room – table
  8. living room/loft – tv solution
  9. master – bed and mattress –  no more sleeping on the floor!
  10. master – paint
  11. upstairs bath – sconces
  12. upstairs bath – solution for storing towels, etc.
  13. upstairs hall – clean and line drawers of dresser
  14. upstairs bedroom(s) – replace trim
  15. upstairs bedroom(s) – paint
  16. basement bedroom – bed
  17. basement bedroom – paint
  18. all bedrooms – update window treatments (IKEA?)
  19. water heater – wait for it to die?  replace?
  20. gutters?  repair?
  21. document improvements more regularly, and more professionally (my photos err on the blurry side)

You’ll note that many of these goals are simply furnishing rooms.  It’s true; though we’ve had our place for almost a year, there are still rooms that are nearly empty.  The hand-me-downs have been great – but they only took us so far.  That, and, well, we’re looking forward to replacing some of the pieces we inherited with pieces we choose.  That came out wrong – I love my inherited furniture.  I just mean a girl can aspire to having actual dining chairs and table instead of folding chairs and folding table (remember: those Queen Anne chairs aren’t safe to sit in).

So I guess I’ll check back in around say…December to see how I did.  Works done, right?  I set my goals?  Kudos to me and now all the above will simply fall into place?

We had family at the house this weekend to celebrate an ‘early Thanksgiving’, and needed more proper sleeping options for everyone, so last weekend, we bought a bed off of Craiglist. Despite the great finds on Craigslist NYC, in 16 yrs I’ve never taken the leap and bought anything. Figures than when I finally do, it’s Craigslist Albany.

The bed is full-sized, shabby chic (read: painted white), with metal rails connecting the wood headboard and footboard. The detailing at the headboard is lovely – sort of a lattice look. Cons: it had dirt and finger print stains all over, it was missing slats to hold up a mattress, and the metal rails had a dark faux-wood design that needed to be painted. Still, it was nothing a little DIY couldn’t pretty up, and a steal at $100.

With the bed in the back of the car, we stopped by our local lumberyard to buy wood for the slats. This was the same place we bought the trim for our living room/dining room/upstairs, and since the summer, they had been bought out. ‘Oh no!’ Our knee-jerk liberal imaginations went wild: ‘the little guy was forced out! What’s next, Starbucks?!’ The staff wouldn’t have it. They were happy about the new ownership. They said the stock was much better and the company that bought them was another local lumberyard with a handful of locations in the Berkshires. We needed 3 10-foot pieces cut to size, so I called my Dad for suggestions and he said we needed a hardwood, not something soft (and cheap) like pine. That meant oak or poplar, and the oak was an insane $3+ a foot: there was no way we were spending over $200 on slats (at IKEA the strong ones are wood glued and about $50-70), so we ended buying poplar, which my Dad says is used as treads on stairs. We had the guys cut the wood down (they remembered us from our visit last winter) to six 55-inch slats.

Next we hit the hardware store for spray paint, thinking it would be easy to apply and cover both the metal and the wood surfaces. I’d been harboring a fantasy of transforming a piece of furniture with spray paint since seeing it done to great effect in magazines and on Apartment Therapy. We bought 2 cans of Ace brand white matte and a 1 can of primer. The bed was now running about $150. Still a steal.

We got home and things immediately started to go wrong. We laid the six new slats over the rails to find they were about an inch too short. Unbelievable. First lesson in measuring/cutting wood: go for more than you need. After a burst of mild expletives, Anuj trekked back to the lumberyard and laid down another $40 for 3 more 10-foot pieces of poplar. Meanwhile, I was back home ‘priming’ the metal rails with spray paint. It was a disaster. Not only did it drip everywhere leaving Pollack-esque splotches all over the rails, it stank. I closed off the basement and let it dry for 2 hours. I figured it would look fine once I got 2 coats of the regular white spray paint on. Anuj came home and I held my breath as we slid the new slats into the rails: success! Phew. I went back downstairs and applied the first coat of regular spray paint. Same problem. It stank and was dripping everywhere. I even had the rails going vertically this time, and it was still splotchy. I don’t think it was the metal that was the problem. It was the paint. I was standing in a toxic cloud of god knows what, cursing my fantasy. This stuff was so toxic, the smell permeated the entire house for 24 hours, even with windows open and fans running. The top it off, it looked terrible. Thank god I had the sense not to use that crap on the headboard and footboard. The next morning after some brainstorming, we decided to finish the job by painting the headboard and footboard with some of the remaining paint we had used on the trim in our upstairs Jack-n-Jill bath. It’s a sort of dusty white (Old Prairie – BM) that has some age to its look. I ran a coat over the rails, and it covered the splotchy spray paint beautifully. I thought latex wouldn’t wouldn’t stick to metal, maybe the spray paint acted as a primer…then I ran a coat over the headboard and footboard. It looked gorgeous: the finish was nice (semi-gloss), and the color was much more elegant than the Ace white.

Me painting the footboard in the final stages of the bed project.


Dirty headboard and proper sized slats.


Spray-painted side rails…yuch!


The bed all set for the fam.  Anuj implored me to mention that the art is temporary.


The fantasy is realized for $190.


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