Upstairs art, an announcement and a giveaway

Our upstairs walls are no longer bare! The art that we mulled over and selected is finally hanging! Let’s take a tour.

Staircase landing:

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My desire for a huge print in this stairwell has been satisfied. I love when the light streams through the window and illuminates the detail in the sea stack.

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Long wall between the plant shelf and the TV:

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This series offers a great punch of color and really leads your eye into the space.

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Behind the couch:

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Don’t let this picture fool you. That is a massive image, clocking in at 28″ x 76″. Our 8′ couch can dwarf anything.

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Hallway:

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Master bedroom:

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The prints have actually been in place for a bit, but I’ve been waiting to show you. We received such great feedback about the images that we decided to make them (and many more) available in our new Etsy shop: Fire Pole Prints

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To celebrate the grand opening and kick things off we’re giving away a free print. We pulled a collection of our favorite images but we’d like to know which image tops your list. Hop over to the store then leave us a comment below telling us your favorite image. We’ll randomly choose one comment and that person will win their choice of print valued up to $125. Official details below.

Prize: One print from Fire Pole Prints. Sizes and prices vary based on how the image was shot. The winner can choose any image and any size up to $125.
Enter by: Leaving a comment on this post telling us your favorite print in the shop
Giveaway closes: Wednesday, November 26th at midnight CST
Number of winners: One
Prize ships: Anywhere
More stuff:  The winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Thursday, Nov 27th in this post. Please include a valid email address with your blog comment so we can contact you if you win. Immediate family members can comment, but are ineligible for the drawing. (We will, however, take those comments into consideration for Christmas and birthday gifts.) The winner does not have to choose the print they comment about (in case you want to bestow the print as an awesome holiday gift.)

So what are you waiting for? Tell us which one you love.

New electric + ipe planter

This post didn’t come together well. First, we lost all of the pictures showing the building process, and now, I’ve rewritten the intro to this post so many times that I’ve finally given up.

Here’s what you need to know. We didn’t run electric from the firehouse to the carport (i.e. future garage) before we laid the concrete for the patio/parking pad. Doh! That left us looking for an aesthetically pleasing way to run the necessary conduit across the patio. Our solution: Hide the conduit under a gorgeous, custom ipe planter.

Viola! I love it! (SQUEE!)

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First we had to remove an unnecessary fence post. (You can see it below in the middle of the fence.)

I should back up and explain that we hired a contractor to install the requisite posts for the fence. Given the sheer size of the yard and the brick laden soil, we felt it was well worth the money to farm out that piece of labor. Something got lost in translation and we ended up with this totally unnecessary and barely-bolted-to-the-ground post between our back door and the carport. We knew we would take it out eventually, and we didn’t even bother drilling into it when we installed the cor-ten. Instead, this piece of fence is attached to a post that is secured to the firehouse on one end and directly to the carport on the other.

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Anyways, back to the post. A little brute force left us with a clear stretch of fence. The ghost mark from the post will eventually rust and be less noticeable.

Then Aaron installed plastic conduit from the junction box on the firehouse (where he ran electrical outside last year), over the back door, and then across the gap from the house to the garage. Here’s where I would love to insert all of the process pictures that were accidentally deleted.  Sad face.

What’s hiding under the ipe is a box made from treated lumber that sits on legs to raise it off the ground and level. Running beneath that is the conduit, which is attached to the bottom to offer some extra support.

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The planter also has a small bump by the garage door to allow the door to open entirely.

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A middle support beam offers extra stability.

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I am totally smitten with this piece. It’s a gorgeous, custom piece that demonstrates my husband’s craftsmanship. He made this from scratch, drafting the plans, working with the slope of the patio, carefully layering on the ipe (the lines of the ipe match up to the ipe on the garage for goodness sake!) It’s not the first thing he’s constructed (or even the largest, see the viewing room) but it’s so beautiful. Honestly, I feel so lucky to have a man who can create a custom piece that would have cost thousands of dollars to have someone else conceive, design and build it. Geez! Sorry for the love fest… Long story short, I’m in love (with the planter and my husband.)

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Obviously it will make a bigger impact when everything is in place, but I didn’t want to wait to tell you about it, especially because it will be apparent in some of the wider shots of the patio. Plus, we really needed to get this project done so  we could get rid of the extension cord that’s been powering our garage doors for… um… months. #renovationrealities

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In the spring, we’ll line the inside with landscaping fabric and fill it with dirt to create a home for herbs and vegetable plants. This will give me lots of space to expand my existing, potted herb garden. Since this planter sits against the cor-ten, which gets quite warm in the summer, we’ll have to see which plants thrive in which area. We’re also considering trellising a column of ivy up the side of the firehouse. All of which will bring some life to this space and break up the brown tones.

I can’t be the only one with an inordinate amount of love for a seemingly random home project. What are you crushing on in your abode?

Getting a handle on the garage door

It’s interesting to discover what we can live with through the course of this renovation. Future living room in constant state of chaos? Check. Stairs that are prepped for paint for months on end? No big deal.

We can add “missing handle on the door to the detached garage” to the list. After we finished the ipe wrap on the garage, we added hardware to the door and then promptly got busy with life (and vacation.)

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It only presented a problem when it rained and the wood swelled ever so slightly. But with the impeding return of the House Hunters crew, the courtyard area got a lot of attention, including this minor update.

Perusing the interwebs offered a host of fairly ugly and fairly expensive door handles. So we turned to steel pipe, which is a go to material for us. The industrial aspect fits well with our style, and we’ve crafted everything from a floor-to-ceiling wall shelf (in our previous condo) to curtain rods out of metal pipe.

For each end of the handle, we screwed together a base, a nipple (this always makes me laugh, because apparently I’m 5), and a 90 degree angle.

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One of the great things about metal conduit is that you can get it cut it to any length. Home Depot will do this for free and even add in the requisite threads for screwing pieces together. For this application, we wanted to keep it cheap and easy so we opted for a standard size pipe in the middle.

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We auditioned two sizes to see what would work best. 004garage_door_handle

We liked the weight of the longer option, but we worried that it was so big that it would distract from the ipe, which we all know is the star of the show back here.005garage_door_handle

The short option felt way too small. 006garage_door_handle

So we tried positioning the long option over the hardware and it felt just right. The depth of the handle allows ample room to work the hardware. The straddle maneuver also ties the pieces together visually.

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After a quick cleaning with an orange degreaser, Aaron gave the winning handle a coat of black spray paint. 008garage_door_handle 009garage_door_handle

Now getting in and out of the garage through the human sized door is much easier. If only cleaning our downstairs living room (and keeping it that way) was as easy!

From bread rack to bar cart

Apparently if I see an old, rusty metal shelf on casters in an antique mall, I will pay all the money for it.

Ok, that’s not totally true. But I will rack my brain trying to figure out how to use it in our house, remove the tag (so no one can claim it while I walk) and visit the front desk to inquire about a discount (Hello easy 10% off!), and then somehow convince my husband that said rack can be a belated birthday gift for me (my birthday was in January and we bought this in March.) Long story long, we bought a bread rack.

When we found it, it looked like this:

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But in my head, it looked more like this:002industrial_bar_cart

After a year of collecting, our decanter collection outgrew our petite bar. We’ve been casually looking for a different bar set-up. This cart totally clicked for me. The only problem (and the reason it was stored in the captain’s bedroom for many months – you can see it hiding in the corner in this post) is that the grated metal shelves offered an unstable surface. Great for bread, not for bottles.

House Hunters 2.0 gave us the boost to get this bar built. First that required a trip to a hardwood lumber place Aaron has been stalking on Craigslist. It’s a small shop filled with lots of wood, including some exotic options. While we have a serious soft spot for zebra wood, we thought it would be too loud and too pricey for this application. We mulled over the selection and almost settled on some basic poplar before noticing a pile of ambrosia maple. We learned that the discoloration and holes are caused by ambrosia beetles that burrow in and bring fungus. Those splotches definitely stole our heart. We dug through the pile looking for the perfect pieces and chose some of the “buggiest” (according to the wood shop employee.) We left with 4 boards (30.5 board feet) for a total of $91.50.

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The boards weren’t wide enough to span a shelf, so we needed to join them. The boards were rough cut and only square on 3 sides so Aaron started by trimming the rough edge off 2 pieces.005industrial_bar_cart

Then he used the biscuit cutter to create some grooves.006industrial_bar_cart 007industrial_bar_cart 008industrial_bar_cart

Biscuits + glue + clamps 009industrial_bar_cart 010industrial_bar_cart 011industrial_bar_cart 012industrial_bar_cart 013industrial_bar_cart 014industrial_bar_cart 015industrial_bar_cart

Once the glue dried, he made the final cuts to make each shelf the right length and width. 017industrial_bar_cart 018industrial_bar_cart 019industrial_bar_cart

He also removed the excess glue drops and gave everything a light sanding.020industrial_bar_cart 021industrial_bar_cart

While the boards dried, Aaron tested some oil options on a scrap piece of wood. 022industrial_bar_cart

Black walnut023industrial_bar_cart

Tung oil024industrial_bar_cart

Light walnut025industrial_bar_cart

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Originally we thought we would want a darker tone, like the dark walnut. But after we chose such a pretty, defined wood, we were torn. We popped the test piece of wood onto the cart with a few bar accessories to help make the decision. But we were still torn. We worried that the light walnut would make the wood stand out too much. And we worried that the dark walnut would hide it too much.

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In the end, we decided that we loved the wood too much to tone it down. Both sides got a coat of light walnut danish oil.  027industrial_bar_cart

This involves 2 coats of flooding the board with oil and spreading it around with a brush. The second coat is applied within 30 minutes of the first so that it is still wet.

030industrial_bar_cart 028industrial_bar_cart 029industrial_bar_cartOnce the boards were prepped, we turned our attention to the cart. I gave it a good wipe down with soapy water to remove any loose dirt while keeping the rusty patina.

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Then Aaron made some vital repairs to the shelves, tightening the bolts and replacing a few lost ones.034industrial_bar_cart 035industrial_bar_cart 036industrial_bar_cart

We laid the wood in place and it really started to come together.037industrial_bar_cart

The wood adds so much warmth to this piece. 038industrial_bar_cart

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We pulled out all of our full decanters, all of our empty decanters and all of our bottles of booze. Then I uttered words I never thought I’d say: “We need more alcohol.”

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The overall effect is nice, but it’s a touch barren. I guess that’s what happens when you install 24 square feet of bar…041industrial_bar_cart

We opted to keep the styling really simple, focusing on the decanters and mixing in some bottles for interest. 043industrial_bar_cart 044industrial_bar_cart

We pulled out a wine infograph poster to add even more height to this corner of the room.045industrial_bar_cart

And we kept a little space for actually mixing a drink.047industrial_bar_cart

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So, I guess we’re just down to the super hard task of collecting more bottles of alcohol. Woe is us.

The stairwell is (finally) painted

Is there some sort of bad DIY-er award for the longest time something has been prepped for paint but ignored? If so, we should submit our stairwell. I think we would win. Remember when we painted the living room way back in March? Well, the stairwell was part of that major project too. Here’s the best before shot I have. (I didn’t know the stairwell was on our to do list. So it was not properly photographed before.)

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Just like living room, it had a lot of areas that needed patched and an awesome (sarcasm) paint job that combined fire engine red (irony?) bits of tan and primed walls. 002stairwell 003stairwell

Oh and it was sporting an awesome (sarcasm) commercial-grade exit light system.004stairwell 005stairwell 006stairwell

Aaron turned to Hyde Wet & Set Wall Repair Patch to make the necessary patches on our plaster-with-metal-lathe walls.

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Once the walls were white the treads started to look quite unfortunate. We had already decided to to paint them glossy black to offer some contrast to the walls. We thought it would add a huge amount of polish to the space, kind of like putting on eye liner (my reference, not Aaron’s.)

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Because this is an industrial staircase, and one that gets lots of use, we opted to not spend any time trying to make the treads perfect. There are paint drips and rough spots and that’s fine. We just wiped everything down and accepted the imperfections.

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Then, Aaron carefully taped all four sides of each tread and along the wall. The warm weather rolled in shortly thereafter and the carport turned garage took over our spring… and our summer… and our lives…

Sometime in July, I decided to be helpful and start working on the stairs. Wielding a paint brush is not in my skill set as I’m the paint roller in the family. So I  carefully, painstakingly outlined each step and filled in each riser. I spent four hours on the lower treads and another four on the upper – just for the first coat. By my estimation, I was going to spend a total of 40 hours OF MY LIFE painting the stairwell.

Then House Hunters: Where Are They Now decided to pay us a visit and the stairwell painting shifted back to Aaron who knocked out ALL of the remaining coats in under 4 hours total. He’s a whiz!

That included some necessary touch ups due to the oil paint seeping under the tape.

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And so, finally, here are way too many pictures of our FINISHED stairwell!

At the top of the staircase:015stairwell 016stairwell

P.S. Don’t those plants make such a difference? I forgot how cold and sterile that corner felt.

Looking down (before anything, after wall paint/before tread paint and donezo):

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On the second landing looking up:019stairwell 020stairwell

That bright blue blob? That’s our awesome, shiny treads reflecting my blue dress. This is also as close to a “selfie” as I get…

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Note the light fixture, which we re-purposed from Aaron’s office at our last studio. It lived in the living room for a while and is now providing a lot of light in the stairwell (after we changed the bulbs.) We have plan for a more permanent fixture in this space, but this works perfectly for now.

On the second landing, looking down:023stairwell 024stairwell 025stairwell 026stairwell

So fresh! So clean!

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On the first landing, looking up:029stairwell 030stairwell 031stairwell 032stairwell

I LOVE the contrast of the black against the white. The whole space feels so modern.

From the bottom, looking up the side:

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From the downstairs living room:034stairwell 035stairwell

The stairwell also got the first piece of art that didn’t come from our camera. This etching stole our heart at the St Louis Art Fair. It’s perfect in this space – simple and complex, black and white, sweet and creepy. Plus I love that it signals that you are entering into a finished space (and leaving the perpetual chaos in the downstairs living room.)

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We’re both SO glad to cross this project off our list! What home improvement projects have been hanging over your head?