Writing Shed

Writing shed. Eep. It will be tiny and free of distractions. So far:

– measured out space and stuck poles in the ground with string around it to get a sense of it
– found free shed plans on internet and sent to contractors
– went to Re-Use Depot and found some old windows and French doors (cheaper, adds character, recycling is good)
– trench dug in yard for conduit for electric and possible heat to be added later if I end up wanting to actual trek across a snowy yard to use this in winter
– four holes dug and cement filled for footings
– framing built for flooring, groundcloth laid down to block weeds, covered in gravel — contractors pointed out that I could hide things in the base if I wanted. When I said that it wasn’t enough room to bury the bodies, they said, “We have a Sawzall.”
– trench filled in (nobody fell in, yay!)

More soon!

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Door without numbers.
Door with numbers.
Numbers pretty.
Door happy.
Thanks to my in-laws for the lovely Christmas gift. It took me a while to have time to get it made, but very happy with the result. And now it should be much easier for people to find our door at night (it was something of a problem, the last eight years, because the number was only on the stair post, and was hard to see at night).
Artwork by John Curran, of Curran Art Glass. A pleasure to work with him, as always.
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Paint and Wood

Little project. Eventually, if budget allows, we’d like to do a big corner built-in china cabinet in this area. But we had a chest that we’ve used for about two decades now, and a few weekends ago, someone in a local group was selling this bar cabinet for $50.  At parties, we’d been running very short of serving space, so…

It’s not my favorite kind of wood, sort of glossy, but a coat of paint later, I quite like it. (I am not a wood purist — sometimes I like to strip paint off to reveal really nice wood, but mediocre wood, I am quite happy to cover up with paint.) I may add a stencil pattern to the top eventually, stars or flowers, but I’m going to live with it for a while first.

(Muralo Paint, 0620 Star-Studded)

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Home improvement

Two little household improvements — added a lower story to the Little Free Library, added a suet feeder to the back deck bird feeders. The idea was that the lower level of the library would be for kids’ books, but perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s also collected some spillover from the upper level, which tended to get jammed full. People in our neighborhood are big readers.

I think it’s okay — I’m assuming kids using the library will mostly be with caregivers as they walk by anyway, and I’ll try to keep an eye on it so nothing too inappropriate makes its way into the lower level. I’m generally reasonably pro-kids making their own decisions about what books they’re ready to read, but The Story of O is a bit beyond the grammar school set.


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Screen door — installed! The children have declared it “fancy!”

Next year, I’m hoping to be able to budget to get the house number done in art glass in that transom above the door (people sometimes have trouble noticing the numbers on the stair post where they currently are), and then, the front entryway will be complete, restored to its Victorian glory. 

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I am getting a screen door today! I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for a screen door. Years, I think. And finally budget and schedule and the stars have aligned, and the screen door will go in very shortly, and I will have a cross-breeze from the front of the house to the back! A cross-breeze is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

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Attic renovation photos,…

Attic renovation photos, in stages. When we bought this old house, the attic was finished but not in a way that worked for us. For one thing, it was under-insulated; for another, we were switching the whole house to forced air, which required ducts being run through the attic, and for a third, it had a skylight -- and I realize this is idiosyncratic of me, but there's something about modern skylights in an 1885 house that really bother me (even though we do have lots of other modern amenities, of course). Oh, and the carpet had gotten really grotty while the house was empty for years.

So pictured below, first stage of renovation -- we ripped out the carpet, had the drywall torn down, put in insulation and ducts, and build framing around the ducts so that we got benches at the end of each wing (it's L-shaped) of the attic. Don't mind the bathtub -- it was just being stored there temporarily while work was done in the bathroom. A lot of the old pine planks were taken up here too, stolen to move downstairs, where we were re-laying the first floor with refinished wide-plank pine from the house's origin. It had been covered over with other surfaces since 1911, according to the newspapers we found between the layers.

Attic renovation, stage two. We painted it all white, stained the wood floor dark, threw all the kids' toys up here, and lived with it like that for a few years. But the space never seemed quite as cheerful and happy as it wanted to be. Part of that was not having enough natural light and cross-breeze, and finally this past winter, we added two more windows flanking the old fireplace. Much improved. Still, it could use a bit more cheering up.

Attic renovation, stage three. Last December, after the semester ended, I painted the lower walls green, the end benches a complementary blue, and the triangles a sunny yellow. It feels much more playroom-y to me now, more like a cheerful elementary school. They'll outgrow these colors eventually, and in 5-7 years, I'll be thinking about how best to convert this into a cool teen study space / hangout, but for now, this is a much happier space to hang out in than it used to be.

Attic renovation, final stage -- for now, anyway. I wanted to add a bit of whimsy to the room, and my freehand painting skills are minimal at best, so I went with stencils. Some floaty Victorian balloons, and a castle in the clouds, using the same blue paint from the end benches, plus a bit of silver brushed into the clouds.

All done! (Although I may still paint that dollhouse at some point...)

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I have painted the bench…

I have painted the bench part a nice blue and bowed to Anand's love of yellow, and I think I'm reasonably pleased with the result. (I'd better be -- my arm hurts, so it's not getting repainted anytime soon!) It's kid-friendly, which is obviously good for a playroom, but still just muted enough that I don't mind hanging out in the space. Esp. with the new windows, it's quite sunny and cheerful up there now -- maybe slightly less open in feel than before, with the all off-white, but more cozy and fun.

Kevin gets home tonight; we'll see what he thinks, and if he agrees that the green (sampled in third photo) would be good on the rest of the lower wall. If so, that'll hopefully get painted too in the next few days.

Paint colors: Sherwin Williams Peacock Plume and Butterfield Yellow.

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Paint colors. Everyone…

Paint colors. Everyone has an opinion on paint colors, right? Here's the situation. We've added the new windows to the kids' playroom, which is a converted third-floor attic, full of steeply slanted rooflines. There are two bench-type areas (which actually conceal ductwork), and some short walls (less than 3 ft' high). They badly need to be painted -- if you could see up close, you'd see that Kavya, age 4-5, has scribbled over them extensively. Anand is not nearly as much a scribbler, so I think it's relatively safe to repaint them now.

The plan is to leave the slanted walls off-white (they're painted in Benjamin Moore's Linen White) for now -- despite my temptation to paint them a deep blue and stud them with gold or silver stars, I think that would make the space feel claustrophobic.

So for just the lower third of the room, basically, what color would you suggest? Choosing ideally from Benjamin Moore's Historic palette, because we used their Great Barrington Green in Anand's room and it looks awesome -- really suits the off-white ceiling and dark wood floors and the general 1885 Victorian feel of the house.

Historic palette here.

I had originally been thinking a green (Kavya suggested moss green), esp. since this is a third-floor room and outside the window the view is basically treetops, but note the green IKEA sofa -- I tried putting up one of the cushions against Anand's walls, and it basically disappeared into them. Not ideal, I think.

So now I'm maybe leaning towards a slate blue, to evoke the sky, which is also up there? (We used Buckland Blue for our kitchen cabinets, and while I love it, I'd rather not repeat. Maybe Phillipsburg Blue?) Don't worry about clashing with the deep blue rug -- that can be moved elsewhere if necessary. And I suppose if we really wanted green walls, we could get a new cover for the Ektorp sofa. So it's all flexible

Anand suggested yellow, of course. I did once paint an accent wall a deep gold, and I even liked it, but I think I probably would get tired of that here. Don't want to make the playroom a place I avoid

(First two pics are daytime, last three are at night, with lights on.)

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