Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Butler's Pantry: How to Clean & Restore Old Wood

I finally get to show y'all the "butler's pantry" today and the work I've done so far to clean and restore it!

This room, along with the entryway/vestibule, makes my heart go pitter-patter. Both these rooms hearken to a bygone time that I want to bring back to its fullness in this home. They also help set the tone for how the rest of the house should feel as we restore it.

The ceiling-height wood cabinets are simply beautiful, and I am still so over-the-moon that they were never painted or replaced for newer cabinets. The old cabinets make me want to tear out the current badly-painted white kitchen cabinets and replace them all with cabinets like these. Something like that sadly won't happen anytime soon as we have other major priority projects to tackle first, but it may happen.

Let's take a moment to just look at the details in even the cast iron latches and drawer pulls:

You'll probably hear me say this a lot in posts to come, but they just don't make things like this anymore. Everything has a more tactile look and feel compared to the fixtures of today. When you think about it, do they even make cast iron fixtures anymore? You certainly won't find anything like them in big box hardware stores.

Which is another reason I'm saddened by the bottom drawer's handle, as the front face of it looks like it got somehow knocked out. Anyone know of a way to restore it to match the others once again?

The drawers are also missing chunks of wood on their fronts, which I may leave them as they are or I will have to figure out how to fix them up. (epoxy? Does expoxy take stain?)

Otherwise, the cabinets are in a great untouched condition, and so cleaning and restoring them wasn't a difficult task.

As you can see, the shelves had been lined with a plastic sheeting. They came up easily and did not leave any sticky residue (woohoo).

All that was left now was to clean and restore the original raw wood, which looked dull and dirty even after I had taken a dry rag across them to get any dust/dirt.

Out came my new favorite weapon to the rescue: lemon oil!

I had learned from Nicole Curtis from the tv show Rehab Addict (my old house hero) that she used lemon oil to clean and restore wood in her houses. So I gave it a shot.

Tip #1: when you open a new bottle, push a pin through the seal that's under the lid - this will help you pour out only what you need onto your rag and save you from any spills. 

Tip #2: I would not recommend lemon oil for wood with a finish on it, and most especially not on antique wood furniture. Please see this article for more info.

Take a cloth rag and dab a little bit of oil into it. Swipe your rag with the grain of the wood. A little oil goes a long way, so really spread it out and work it into the wood.

Ten minutes later, this is the difference of the wood with lemon oil worked into the bottom shelf, and none on the upper.

Think it's just a trick of the lighting?

Well, another ten minutes and here's the upper shelf now also with the lemon oil:

See how much the woodgrain just pops and the healthy color it gave back to the wood?

Each time I used it I couldn't help but gasp as the true beauty of the wood started to show itself. This lemon oil stuff is magic I tell you. Magic.

Here is one of the drawers as I started to rub the oil in the middle. It was so cool to see the wood jump out like this each time.

Another comparison using the wood drawers:

It's been a little over a week now and the wood still shines and looks just as healthy and has a light lemon smell. I know that lemon oil is extremely slow to evaporate, so I'm curious to see how long the oil stays in the wood before I have to go back and give it a little spiff-up.

Want to join us in our passion for old home renovation, diy, and design? Subscribe via bloglovin' and follow along with Karl and myself as we lovingly restore our early 1900's dream home.

Note: I am still and always will be learning about methods for restoring wood, so I am in no way an expert. As Reading Rainbow says, "Don't take my word for it". ;) Please research and feel free to let me know anything you may have learned through experience. Thanks!

Shared On: thatdiyparty, makeitprettymonday, totallyterrifictuesday

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That Time We Bought A House...

Yup, you read that right! 

If you've been here a little bit, you knew from this post, and this, and this...that Karl and I have been searching for our first home for a loooong time. This home was truly worth the wait though. 

It is our dream home that we never thought we would be able to have. Completely unexpected. 

We first saw this home online just a day after it was listed and "oooh-ed" and "ahh-ed" over the pictures. Built in the early 1900's (the exact date is still not determined, but somewhere between 1905-1907 seems to be a safe bet given the dates on the newspapers in the walls) it has seen a lot of history and changes. We love old homes, and this home's features and location was beyond perfect.

pic snapped on the fly this past summer - better shot to come once I get my own computer back up and running ;)

One problem: it was above our budgeted price range.

Despite that, we asked our realtor if we could see it along with some other homes we would be visiting on one particular evening. This home was the last one of the night to see, and oh goodness, once we saw it, there was no going back. It was an immediate feeling of "we're really home" for Karl and I and made me blink back happy tears as we stood in the kitchen. 

Oh but the blasted listing price...

With a little research we learned the owner was definitely on the high end. With that, we made an offer that same night that was more in the area it should be priced and also comfortable for our budget. The owner, having just put the home on the market, rejected our offer.

That was this past May.

Over this past summer we kept looking at more homes but nothing piqued our interest, and always we were simultaneously still keeping a close watch on our "dream home" for any changes. 

It went down in price mid-summer. But not enough. There were a number of open house showings, but no interest (to our relief).

We waited until at last at the beginning of Autumn the price was dropped significantly. We pounced and made another offer, this one lower than our first. 

There was a little back and forth with the seller, but in the end we got an even better deal than our first offer! *high fives*

Very quickly we found ourselves in the crazy under-contract purgatory of "offer accepted but still not homeowners" area. Which hopefully explains why the past two months have been so quiet here on the blog as we worked with the bank, seller, appraiser, inspector...any of you who have been through it, you know what I'm talking about: it's a lot!

Six weeks and a hundred signatures later, we are officially homeowners!

I am so thankful those other homes we put offers on did not work out! For all those searching right now for a home, take heart that rejected offers can be a good thing - it may lead you to the house you truly are meant to be in.

The entire home needs work, but it's livable at the same time, so we've been sleeping with our mattress on the floor and living out of boxes since day one of closing a little over 2 weeks ago while taking on projects (some of which was posted on Instagram if you'd like a peek).

I don't have access to my photos (borrowing hubby's laptop for the time being), but here's a quick tour of some of the home from when the former owner was still living there (I'll be showing a lot more in the coming months!):

This is the small living room that we're converting to be the dining room.

The large dining room that will work better as our living room. This is one "keeping the historic accuracy" I'll make an exception for: the reasoning for the switch of the dining/living rooms is that we entertain and use our living room much more than the dining room, so to have the living room in the bigger of the two rooms makes more sense for our lifestyle.

A look through the doorway into our kitchen. Dontcha all just love that faux brick...? (please hear my sarcasm). Through the glazed glass door on the far left is the original butler's pantry. Technically it's not a "butler's" pantry as it isn't between the kitchen and dining room, but it's so fancy in there that I can't bring myself to simply call it "the pantry". I'll also be stripping the paint off of the beadboard around the wall, which will be a task-and-a-half. The owners who painted these (and so many other things) applied the paint sooo thickly and every paint-stroke shows - it looks bad. Additionally, if the wood beneath this ugly paint job looks as good as the untouched beadboard in the butler's pantry, I'll be re-staining it.

the formal entryway
This formal entryway just killed us when we first saw it. It was definitely one of the features that made this home stand out to us.

It's also the room that needs the most work:
  • the floors need to be sanded and re-stained (whoever did it before used an orbital sander and left tons of rounded marks in the floor where they let it stay for too long).
  • stair treads need sanded and re-stained
  • the dark stain on the stair sides (not sure what that area is called - anyone?) was applied with a BRUSH and shows all the brushstrokes. Has to be stripped and re-stained.
  • The stair banister needs to be stained to match the rest of the stairs. 
  • the spindles are in no way original to the house and we want to replace them with historically accurate spindles. They would have been either a simple 4-square or turned/rounded. The ones in place right now have all sorts of squared angles and cuts. The problem we face with removing them though is the person actually chiseled grooves into the banister to fit them in *facepalm*. It's gonna take some work both to get them out and to repair what the owner did.
  • walls need painting. The cold white is too much of a contrast and I'd like to soften it up a bit.
  • it's the entryway - we need some glam! Need to find a beautiful light fixture for both the entryway and the vestibule.

what we've dubbed as the "wallpaper room", soon to be guest room

the "blue room" - to be the office

the "angry bird" room, which is the smallest bedroom. Not sure what we're doing with this room yet.

the "red room", to be the master bedroom
all of the upstairs rooms have their own transom window!

I absolutely love the radiators! Learned that these are referred to as "dog-earred" radiators because of the "ears" on each row

closer look at the detail in the newel

Close-up on the details on the vestibule door - yes, a vestibule! As you can also see from this pic tho, the former owner/s once again didn't do such a hot job painting a lot of the doors (and I have to also ask why would you paint them?!), so lots of time will be spent correcting this and bringing the doors back to their natural beautiful wood, which I'm excited for.

the mudroom and laundry

This old home has so much potential, and we're excited to unlock it and bring it back to its historic roots. It's gonna be quite the ride! Reinforcements and opinions will be more than welcome as we tackle each room. Be sure to subscribe and follow along! :)

Shared On: thatdiyparty

Friday, October 2, 2015

Life, Rummage Sale Madness, & Tool Hauls

Life. Life has been busy and full of some crazy ups and downs this past month!

What do I mean? All in good time... ;)

I'll be able to divulge some of what has been going on, and other things will have to remain private from blog-land, but there's beginning to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm excited to have the last pieces fall into place in the next few weeks so I can spring the news!

If you have been following me on Instagram, you may have been seeing these last few snippets from when hubby and I were in Pittsburgh for a weekend visiting my bro and sis-in-law:

My sis-in-law C and I share a love for a bargain, negotiating, and anything yardsale/estate sale/sale-sale. She is also an amazing detailed planner, and had all sorts of fun bargain festivities planned out for us to go check out that weekend. One of them was a barn sale:

The fact that they actually call it a barn makes me question everything I've ever known about barns.

Then there was another day for a church's "day on the lawn" rummage sale in the town of Sewickley. Sewickley could be described as the Main Line of Pittsburgh, comparable to Phila's Main Line. Thus, there was bound to be some awesome finds at this sale!

It was raining the morning of the rummage sale, so as we rounded the last bend with umbrellas bumping each other on our walk to the location, I was expecting there to not be as many people as my bro and C were describing from past years. 

I was mistaken. 

A HUGE crowd was waiting around the taped-off (yes, they had tape up) perimeter before the 10am start time. There were different tents for different items, such as a furniture tent, book tent, outdoor gear tent, etc. - It was a lovely sight for these bargain-loving eyes.

[All pix of the rummage sale hence are from the Church's FB - credits to whoever took them, as I was busy scoping out the sale & forgot to take my own!]

people lined up around the perimeter
 Now I've been to years of Black Fridays at 2am with people pressing into you when the doors open, and library book sales where you are packed like sardines and squeezing by people in tight aisles and fights have broken out to the point that police have not failed to henceforth have a presence at these book sales each year to monitor (don't mess with bookworms?).

This was even more intense.

On the awaited day at exactly 10am, they cut the tape, and...

...madness ensued! It was a mass of bodies rushing into the lot and hands scrambling to grab the item they'd had their eyes on.

how did I miss this room?! 

Unlike the wild-eyed masses, we four had come just for the fun of it and walked leisurely in, though I do admit that once in I made a beeline for the furniture tent. It was hard to even see what was there for all the bodies there. 

For good or bad I didn't find anything that I had to take home with me in the whole of the sale (and I made several loops to be sure), but it was certainly an experience!

Once back home, I've been having some good fun at a few recent estate and yardsales and scoring some awesome tool hauls. We've been in need of expanding our tool-set, and at an estate sale I found a circular saw with charger & 2 batteries, Craftsman tool box, sander & sandpaper, all for $55!

All this for $55!!!
Last weekend I also attended an auction and nearly broke the bank when I won this fantastically large steamer trunk for...$9.

You guys, I wish there were more auctions like this one. Desks, hutches, tables, and chairs were all going for mere dollars. As in $5. Or even $2. I think the most expensive thing there was a tall and beautiful custom hutch that went for $175! It was nuts.

At another sale, got these 2 wooden-handled shovels (my preference over fiberglass), 2 new brad nailers & box of nails, and mouse sander with a lifetime supply of sandpaper for a total of $15!

Oh and fun fact - the same weekend that I bought the steamer trunk and the yardsale haul of tools for $15, I also sold some things and made $35. Yup, I actually made a profit, lol. I'm still grinning about that one.

Updates will likely be sporadic still this month because of the earlier-mentioned event/s taking place right now that I will spill the beans on soon.

Till next time! :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Featured Site: Knockoff Decor

Hi guys! Wanted to share a great way to both get inspired and increase your blog traffic.

No, it's not Pinterest.

Beckie of Knock Off Decor has a great resource for finding DIY knockoff projects for just about any brand you can think of: Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, Crate &'s a treasure chest of goodies.

She also provides an easy way for bloggers to share and submit their own knockoffs to be featured on her site. Simply find "submit a knockoff" on the top menu and follow the directions for the submission form.

That's it! In usually less than 48 hours you'll hear from Beckie if your project meets their qualifications and to let you know it's live on the site.

Knock Off Decor has been kind enough to feature several of my own knockoffs through the years, such as...

West Elm Tall Tufted Headboard

RH Wood & Metal Bookcase

RH Antique Grey Dresser 

Every time one of my knockoff projects have gone live on her site, I've received a nice amount of traffic, and they continue to residually bring in monthly traffic as well, which is the best thing for a blog.

Have fun on her site, and enjoy finding new bloggers through her as well!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Tale of Two Rose Headboards

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

Dramatic, yes?

This is a tale of two headboards.

...and why custom paint colors and wind don't play nice.

Indeed, they had their share of highs and lows, glamour and woe.

It all started off innocently enough.

The headboards were destined to be rose-colored. They just were. It was a matter of fact.

So that is what I did.

I whipped up a custom color of my own combining General Finishes milk paint's Red pepper with Snow White to get the light rose hue, perfect for making the headboards into a sweet pair.

They turned out awesome.

However, their rosey happiness was taken away all too soon.

The headboards had just been beautifully finished. Leaning them against some tables outside on the driveway, I was able to stand back and admire the handiwork. As fate would have it, I had just temporarily given my attention to something else when out of nowhere a sudden gust of wind swooped in and knocked them both carelessly face-forward to the ground.

They got royally scuffed by the pavement.


Cue despair.

How was the custom color ever to be found again?

Admittedly, they were left in the garage in that state for a few months before I could muster the time or will to try again.

Somehow, surprisingly, amazingly...I was able to match the former color. 

Here they are, looking once again like the charmers I remembered them to be.

They'd look so dear as two twin beds for two sisters, or for when a friend comes for a sleepover, or for when one has grandkids visiting. 

I do hope to see them in a good home. So-so-so happy that they turned out the way they did again!

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