Firehouse front cleanup 3.0

It’s hard to imagine, but when I go out of town on the occasional work trip, Aaron actually works HARDER.

I was out of town for a few days last week. His “wife’s away boredom drive” kicked in to over gear when the weather gods decided to bless us with unseasonably cool temperatures. He needed to work OUTSIDE and eschewed further progress on the viewing room for Operation Clean up the Front of the Firehouse: Painting and Flags Edition.

We actually bought the firehouse with a fully red(ish), poorly painted and slightly damaged garage door. A previous occupant managed to damage the door by (we assume) backing into it from the inside, leaving the bottom two panels dented and with broken rollers. The door didn’t actually work. We called in the pros for an inspection and they determined that the panels could be replaced. Can I get a “Woohoo” for avoiding the expense of a whole new door?

That’s how we got to the two-toned look that you may have noticed when we moved the trailer.


We also inherited a few flags that had seen better days.


This used to be a St Louis City flag.


Old Glory looks good here, but she was pretty faded.


Before painting, Aaron removed the flags so they wouldn’t whip into the fresh paint.



The door soaked up 4 coats of paint before it became shiny, monotone goodness.


We opted to stick with red, but wanted it to be brighter – much more “I AM A FIREHOUSE!” red. (Note: This is not the actual name of this color, but it should be. Please petition Porter Paints.)



Next up, let’s address this flag situation.







Bright, shiny and new:


More gratuitous flag pictures… (Thanks Mom and Dad for the housewarming gift!)





We’re marching down the list for this mini update!

  • Give the garage door a new coat of red paint so the new panels blend in with the old
  • Replace the flags
  • Replace the light fixtures on either side of the garage door <— Scheduled to be delivered this week!
  • Upgrade the bulbs in all the fixtures to LEDs <— Already in the works and it looks AHmazing. It’s only adding fire to the LED obsession.

In other news, if you’re jonesing for faster updates (like a peek at the outdoor LEDs in action) and behind the scenes pictures (read: way too many pictures of Mojo) we started up a Instagram account! Find us at afirepoleinthediningroom.

Guest post on Yellow Brick Home

Kim and Scott at Yellow Brick Home are in the process of moving from their adorable, but tiny Chicago apartment to much larger, but needs work single family home. We can’t be there to move boxes, but they asked us to help by keeping their virtual home going in their absence. To this request, Aaron said, “Cool.” I said, “OOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGG YES! THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!!!” … or something like that. I blacked out for a little bit so there was probably more excited squealing than I care to document. Suffice it to say that I’m very (not) cool when faced with exciting events, and we’re both excited that they gave us the chance to chat about what we love about where we live. Hop over and check it out.




Viewing room – this will make sense when it’s done

In this post, we ask you to trust us. It may not make a ton of sense now, but it will when it’s done. It will be awesome.

First you should know that the floors in the studio are not level – mostly (entirely) because the space was intended to be a garage. The floors slope toward the drains, which is ideal for washing fire trucks but not for housing furniture that needs to be on a level plane. This prompted a design for the space that included raised platforms so clients can sit comfortably when they visit. Then Aaron had the inspiration to take it one… Ok, maybe it’s really 12 steps further and actually build a viewing room. This down-sized space will create an intimate meeting place and serve as a rad architectural piece in the room.

Let’s get into the nitty, gritty. First Aaron notched 6×6 posts to support the weight and level the frame.






He nailed them in, leveling off each corner.




Then added top braces.


Once everything was up he added lag bolts to make sure this thing was well on it’s way to becoming a tank.



Then he added joists, using joist hangers – similar to what he did when he filled the pole closet holes. This is basically like creating a free standing deck.




Next came the framing. Oh, I didn’t mention that. This is basically going to be like a cube with two open sides. So he framed both ends, leaving space for a TV to be hung and sit flush with the finished wall.




Next he laid a plywood floor.



Then he added joists to the ceiling, roughed in electrical and installed can lights.





Confused yet? I promise it will make sense once it has some drywall on it.



The latest installment of Clean up the front of the Firehouse

We’re not dead. I know you were worried because a week in blog time is like a year. We’re still here, kicking and working on the firehouse. We (really Aaron) are in the middle of a huge project in the studio, which I’ll give you a sneak peek of in the next post.

We’ve been a little slow with posts because we actually had two weekend off weddings and chose to spend the majority of the time relaxing and hunting through all of the St Louis antique malls we’ve been too busy to visit. We scored a few items that I need to shoot and also landed a sweet deal from Craigslist. (Future posts!)

The only thing we’ve completed is removing a sign from the front of our building. It’s been a little obscure in the images, but there is a dedication sign on the front of the firehouse.


It looks like this. It’s some sort of printed sign adhered to plywood that has warped and installed with 4 screws. IMG_4738

We could tell there was something behind the sign. On a whim when we were out front measuring for new lights, Aaron grabbed a ratchet. In a few quick twists of the wrist the sign came off and we were left with this:


Um, yeah that’s exactly the same sign. Ok, that’s not entirely fair. Mr Sestric’s name is completely illegible and the concrete version was harboring at least 4 spiders (which Aaron dutifully killed). This is probably the most anticlimactic project at the firehouse to date. Still we love the charm of the weathered concrete so the newer sign is getting chucked.

If that didn’t feed your need for awesome renovations, you should hop over to Yellow Brick House or Manhattan Nest. Kim and Scott are in the demo stage of turning a two-apartment house into their single-family dream space. They are facing seriously saggy floors, an extra kitchen and more smells than I care to imagine. Meanwhile, Daniel is also tackling a 2-turned-back-to-1 space while being his usual witty self and uttering many Nicole Curtis-isms. (Ok, it’s only one. “Why would anyone cover that up!?” Which, really, is the only one you need.)

Before the firehouse, we bought a vintage camping trailer

We spent half of Sunday on Operation: Make the Front of the Firehouse Look Presentable. We had a few consultations with prospective photography clients last week and about 5 minutes before the first one, we realized how bad the front of our firehouse looks. You all have been very polite not pointing out the tarped, work-in-progress trailer that’s been hogging half of our driveway since February.


I appreciate that your chiding looks and “what are they thinking?” thoughts are hidden away behind a computer screen. The fact is the ‘hillbilly chique’ look probably isn’t going to help us convince people that we should take pictures at their wedding.

I really should back up, though, and tell you that in a time before the firehouse (last summer) we bought a vintage camping trailer to refurbish and use for cheap and relaxing US getaways. The search alone was a saga in which we bought 2 OTHER trailers in the span of one week and made TWO trips to Iowa (chronicled here and here on my paused/defunct/I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-the-status-of-it food blog) before we found “the one.”

True to all renovations, we thought we were buying a trailer that needed some work (mostly inside, mostly cosmetic) and once we started opening it up we found more and more work that needed to be done to make us feel like the trailer wouldn’t fall apart in the middle of the highway. The “this will take a few months” project quickly spiraled into (literally) a former train tunnel at a defunct brewery that became Aaron’s leaky workshop… and many months… and then winter hit… and then we bought a firehouse. You can see most of the progress on the Hawes Photography blog in the Trailer category or in order through these links: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

One week into owning the firehouse, we woke up early on a Sunday (because no one is out in St Louis on Sunday morning and we needed light traffic), unfroze the lock to the tunnel (there was snow on the ground) and slowly drove the partially finished trailer to it’s new home. When I say “partially finished” I mean it is missing windows, has no marker lights or turn signals and, for good measure, no license plate. Once it arrived, we settled it in with a trailer cover that weeks later we discovered offered ZERO water protection when, in the midst of a rainstorm, we found water pouring in through every open window and the unfinished roof vent. That sad, soggy day included a trip to Home Depot for a tarp and rope and ended in a trailer that looks straight out of Hickville.

We have plans (oh boy do we have plans) that include a home for the trailer. Originally, we wanted to store it on Right Lot, but when things changed, we decided the back of the alley was the perfect location. Remember the alley? You can see it just to the left of the firehouse.


Maybe this will help?


At the back of the “alley,” there is a huge fence (one of the many reasons it’s bizarre that this is called an alley).




~2 hours after chopping and pulling and sweating more than a lady should, I was down to some really serious hunks of vine.


I called in reinforcements and, luckily, he brought a sawzall.


After one final pass with the weed wacker, we were able to roll the fence back.


Then came the easy part: un-tarping, unwrapping and moving the trailer to it’s new home. Ultimately, we’ll pour a concrete pad or lay down some gravel and possibly build an overhang to offer some protection from the weather.

So here she is: partially finished and finally home.



Nothing against the trailer, but she looks a lot better when she’s not in front of the firehouse.


Obviously we have some other work that we’d like to cross of the Make the Front of the Firehouse Look Presentable list:

  • Giving the garage door a new coat of red paint so the new panels blend in with the old
  • Replacing the fixtures either side of the garage door
  • Upgrading the bulbs in all the fixtures to LEDs (obsessed much? maybe) (yes)
  • Replacing the flags


That was our “easy” Sunday project that turned into 5 hours of pure sweat. Did anyone else spend this holiday weekend in DIY mode? Also, does anyone know a weather dance that will give us temperate Midwest weather so we can keep working on the exterior of this place with minimal sweat? I’m willing to trade baking secrets or bottles of wine.