Category Archives: home decor

The mutt and the pebble

We’ve hit the one year anniversary with Rocco, and it’s likely he’s hit, or is about to, his 5th birthday. He’s just finished a class for reactive dogs in which he was a decent, if not excellent at times, pupil except for a pop quiz with a stuffed (obviously fake) king charles spaniel.

Life with a reactive dog is challenging, limiting, expensive, and still far more stressful than I’d like, but he is improving.

We’re changing the shredded sheer curtains less often – and the last very mauled batch was last fall in the peak of fresh tomatoes ripening on the counter – he helped himself then became enraged at something outside the window and left evidence…

But the most distinct change is that he’s learned to, nay embraced with every last whisker, relax (at times).

He’s had full run of the house and sofa privileges for the last 8 months or so, so most days after his epic dawn hike with N until about 3:00 he rotates between naps on the sofa, his crate, a bit on the wood floors, and the cool stone hearth if he gets overheated. If he’s not too conked out, he’ll join me in whatever room I’m in and try to find the comfiest spot.

During my process of selling used/vintage clothes over the winter when I had things freshly cleaned, darned, and laid out to measure and whatnot, he selected a 90s jcrew rollneck as his spot.

(I let him have it – in the end it was mine I think – I know I thrifted one to sell too – I can’t find that one I think, or maybe mine is put away?)

His spot in my workroom is a 90s oversized sweater too.

I was hesitant to make another stuffed bed for him – the one in his crate has been mended and patched well over a dozen times…

But he leaves the pad beneath it alone, so I started browsing the clearance dog crate pads from time to time to add a few more comfy spots in the house and found one in his size for not too much. But he never used it, and seemed to go out of his way to avoid it. So I sat on it, laid on it, rolled around on it, and was mildly shocked over and over…

So that’s why a synthetic plush pad ends up at the remainder store and on clearance – and I should have known better.

But making a cover was easy enough, and I had leftover cotton fabric – the brown was the excess fabric I trimmed off of the office curtains, and the patterned one was a couple of yards I got to make the main sofa cushions before I decided I liked the yellow better (seen above – though the yellow isn’t such a good choice now with a partially black dog…).

And he took to it right away.

 

2 Comments

Filed under home, home decor, sewing

Flushed

The bathroom is finally [almost but basically] done.

I was going to wait until the last of the touch-up paint was dry, the rest of the pictures re-hung, the little vintage medical cabinet back in its spot, and new rug and towels procured, but then I saw the missing threshold and knew how long I can take with those, and I don’t have immediate plans for the new built-in cabinet, so enough already.

This is what we started with:

What you don’t see is the three broken light fixtures, a broken fan, a broken window, some broken plumbing, the big stain in the floor by the toilet, and the well-worn acrylic tub and surround.

What we did for the meantime (that was supposed to last 3-5 years) was to fix the window, the electrical (including the light above the sink), replace the rusty triptych medicine cabinet that bisected your face, and paint everything – especially the floor. And we thought we fixed the leaking toilet.

But the toilet was still very sloooowly leaking, and eventually we couldn’t ignore that we were finally stepping on a spongy oogy spot – the leak had spread in the subfloor a couple of feet.

So we committed to fix the whole damn thing ahead of schedule.

And I went a little nuts over the whole thing – not good nuts – just frustrated and confused and decisive and indecisive and then frustrated again and again. I don’t know what went wrong – I can usually bang this shit out – there were too many options but not the options I wanted. And then everything was more expensive than I wanted to pay, everything I’d picked out went discontinued or out of stock in a matter of days, I couldn’t find professional help where I needed it, and then the sewer pipe went bad too, and then I (we) changed my mind over and over again…

This shit woke me up in the middle of the night and it is absolutely something that shouldn’t do that.

But then I got what we needed and the plumber was able to book us for 5, yes 5 weeks in a row….

His first visit for the bath was the longest, and I was whirling in the throes of reno anxiety- we’d removed all of the fixtures and demoed the floor which is fun and rewarding (thank you for dealing with the toilet N since that isn’t fun) but then all of the worst is yet to come so it is a false reward, it’s the ribbon for participation without achievement. The first day of the plumber was also the first spring-feeling days and the leaves had yet to come out. Our new tub sat in the yard for hours (as did some copper pipes) and I equally fantasized about the bodies that could fit in its box and was amused that we live someplace “safe” enough that copper can lie about unsupervised…

But afterwards the real work began.

I’d researched some of the new waterproof wall systems and was planning to use one of them, but to save money in the end, we used backerboard and a paint-on membrane. By then the membrane fumes and the project crazy converged and I think I vocalized a few of the redrums shouting on repeat in my brain.

But once the bath tiles were up, I cooled down to a workable, only slightly unhinged, state.

The wall color choice was a bit of an issue – I wanted to repeat one we already had in the house, and we loved the kitchen’s mint, and online polling voted overwhelmingly for the mint, but it was just too intense (as was the yellow).

(I don’t wear make-up and the two of us have yellows and greens in our skintones, so I wasn’t worried about looking in the mirror in a green room.)

But we fairly easily agreed the dusty/dirty “champagne glee” pink would be the best – and we’re happy with it.

And then it was time for floor tile – I’ve used a similar one to this before, and our half bath has a mosaic pattern too.

I knew I needed to spend the time to dry fit it to make sure that the pattern was right and to make some of the cuts beforehand.

N numbered the tiles and made a handy chart for me to use – it was foolproof.

I thought the layout was perfect – N found a flipped tile, and we didn’t see any manufacturing flaws.

But there was one.

And we didn’t spot it until it was grouted.

But it was barely an issue and now I can’t believe we were willing to put up with the almond plastic bathroom for another couple of years – that old bath had some sort of stockholm hold over me…

The elements are both a bit more vintage than the ’50s, and contemporary – but it isn’t out of place with the rest of the little house.

And the tile feels so nice on my feet…

And the shower is roomier and brighter, and the tub worth taking a lingering bath – thankfully we got it in springtime when the well is full.

(And yes, we really need that threshold).

 

2 Comments

Filed under home, home decor

In the meantime

Spring is well underway without me.

The garden is far more behind than I wanted it to be (the late blizzard snowed in my very early plans), but last autumn’s late spinach that didn’t do much then, came back in green glory, so I’m quite pleased about that. The garlic is doing its thing and the rhubarb, gooseberry, asparagus, and blueberries all have leaves, blossoms (where applicable), and new growth. I need to look into more of these sorts of perennial edibles – I love establish and maintain gardening more than plant and re-plant and tear out at the end of the season gardening… not too much of a veg option though? But more fruit and herby things at least.

(The poor magnolia has its glorious blossoms frozen off, so sadly we didn’t get a show this year.)

The seeds that started indoors did disappoint somewhat – the peppers and tomatoes likely just didn’t have enough/right kind of light (or attention), but the squash are robust and will hopefully be the strong beasts they need to be to fight the beetles and borers. Other veg and herbs are puttering along, and I’ll try some more herbs and flowers next.

Sprouting (a couple of weeks ago). Autumn's spinach in garden now. #organicgardening #seedstarting #growyourown

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I’d like to get rid of at least 40% of our lawn – the priorities being the most annoying places to mow or whack, and first up is a little hill on the west side of the house. I’ve been ridding it of Chinese wisteria, and left a bit in one place to train and braid (and it has started to grow together) but it still wants total domination, so it will go, and hopefully the little hill will accept a couple of fig trees and a mess of woody herbs that the deer won’t touch.

N finished breaking up all of the front sidewalks to nowhere and dug some expanded beds. Those now have a mess of perennials we somehow managed to finally plant, and in a few weeks or so we’ll be able to dig up all of the bulbs (mostly hyacinth – achoo!) that have clumped together and on top of one another and re-distribute them better and throughout the yard.

And the bathroom?

We’re finally on the other side – the plumber is here now for his (fingers crossed) final visit and I’ve got a mess of grout sealing and paint touch-ups to do later today.

(And I’ll probably get some new towels and a rug since our “nice” ones don’t really look it anymore, and some others may have gotten encrusted with mortar and caulk schmears…)

It's still not finished… #renomadness #tiling #hex #whenwillitbeover #bathroom #floor #diyfatigue

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I was a bit cocky about the floor – I thought it would be easier than the walls, and in some ways it is, but there are some seriously wrong joints despite a meticulous layout. And I was tired, and I’d had an aural migraine, and I just wanted to get it done, but for something basically permanent in your house, you need to take care and have a better attitude…

And of course I’d finished the grouting before noticing a defect on one of the tiles – a black hex in the wrong row – I was going to leave it for character, but it was in a prominent spot for viewing while on the john, so I pried it up and re-set it.

The whole room has enough “character” as it is…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, home, home decor

Still in the bathroom

Another day, another day without plumbing…

(And of course I’ve got to pee – I thought this plumbing visit was going to be just a couple of hours, but it’s another all-day affair).

The bathroom saga is finally well underway, and long, and tiresome, and not yet done…

Sometimes I think I wouldn’t mind having a cabin way off the grid and without most plumbing. You’d be prepared for it, and most of the time the weather would be warm enough for an alfresco splash down, and composting toilets aren’t that bad if not shared by too many. But not having a fully functional bath/shower in your everyday home sets my nose out of joint. I’m one who must shower every morning to wake up, open my sinuses, de-creak my body and to get clean at an even rate. For most of the four years I worked from home, I tried every variation of less-often hair-washing, no-‘poo, some ‘poo, conditioner without ‘poo, cooler water, etc., etc., but in the end, I could never get used to feeling unevenly clean.

So today I’ve had the last shower I’ll get for the next week (hopefully), or two (likely).

We de-almonded the room first with joy and abandon I later regretted (from pain, not fondness), repaired the rotten subfloor – opening it up brought forth such an intense stench – thankfully like a rich, deeply composted forest floor rather than an excrement-soaked one, but mildly gag-inducing just the same, and after the plumber puts in the new tub, we’ll be tits deep in the most difficult tiling job I’ve done. I’m sorta kinda looking forward to doing the floor – hex tile is easy to work with – but the shower walls have got to line up, and straight lines aren’t in my playbook.

The paint ended up being the dull pink “champagne glee” to be exact, and yes, the name partially sold me on the color the first time around. We loved the mint, it is perfect in the kitchen, but it was too intense (as was the yellow) in this small dark room.

*****

It is now a week later and I’ve got the sink bath down to an art as well as a science, and neither of us smells too much, though maybe we’re nose blind.

And yes, the plumber is here again!

But I won’t blather on about my bladder again.

Tits deep in tiling… #tiling #bathroom #subwaytile #iwannabeinthistubnow

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

The tub/shower is tiled and grouted and has fixtures – the grout is still curing though, so no shower for a few more days…

There is wonkiness of lines, of course, but less than I’d feared – the ceiling is nearly 2 inches higher on the one side than the other, so it is what it is.

Next up more wall repair and painting – not in love with the color yet – it’s leaning a bit beige (NO NO NO!!!!) but not enough is on yet to tell.

This weekend will be for tiling the floor.

Hopefully my fingers will be healed in time…

Leave a comment

Filed under home, home decor

Dyeing for a new bathtub

The days of our shitty acrylic almond bathtub are limited.

And I remembered just in time that I had a pound or so of dye to yellowize an old rag rug.

Last Saturday N was out, all current and terrible big house projects were waiting for the plumber first, the dog was deep snoozing, and it wasn’t raining.

I could tell a story about the rug, but it probably wouldn’t be very interesting. But the short version is I got it in 1996 after moving to my former city and setting up an apartment with a few new things from Ikea when all I had before was used – some good used, some pathetic – and it was my first adult-looking space (I later regressed). The rug was originally very peach – in the store it was pale orange, and in my sunny apartment, it was very peach. It was too close to the ’80s and I didn’t want a peach rug, but the room was warmed up for it and I wasn’t going to return it – and – it quickly began to fade.

It was in another apartment, then a house, then in storage, and back to a house – since the first house, it was in my workrooms or places where dripping things on it didn’t really matter. I had been eyeing it for the basement lounge area, but we managed to find a few others new and used and besides, by then it had faded to beige or beige-ish and I had it folded up for a dog bed, but then the dog got furniture privileges and didn’t need it.

It has been washed many times in the big machines at the laundromat, and was still mostly clean, but it still bled a tinge of peach when I tossed it in the tub. (When wet, it was a nice color again…) I thought I had iDye for cotton in a mustardy/saffrony/ochre color, but I think it’s “sun yellow” – not a lemon, but not an ochre.

I didn’t measure the dye, just dumped 3/4 of it in, and I didn’t measure the salt, but it definitely wasn’t enough – maybe just a bit more than a cup, and the water was far from simmering, just tap hot which is almost tolerable to the skin.

It looked like a very terrible chemical spill.

And I muscled it around once in awhile and left it in for a few hours.

I liked the school bus yellow-orange of the water, but knew that could be a bit deceiving.

Then a sloppy cold wash with a little detergent, and likely not enough of a rinse, but that shit was heavy – the water was running a pale lemon though, so it was mostly washed out.

And lugged it out to hang dry off of the high stoop stairs (it’s going to take days to dry).

It turned out both darker and brighter (more intense) than I expected, and it likely could bleed more, but it will most likely end up on the basement laundry floor so that doesn’t matter (but what might matter is that it’s probably too big – 5′ x 7′ in more of a 4′ x 6′ space…)

And since it’s in the basement, it doesn’t really matter that it is a revived yellow instead of just faded beige/peach, but whatever, it will turn any area sunshiney.

(And the tub was actually a bit cleaner in the end, not yellow, but I wouldn’t risk my luck with dyeing in the new bright white tub…)

Leave a comment

Filed under dyeing, home, home decor, recycling

Addendum to the end of March…

I’m still waiting for the tiles to come in – I got the call that they came in, but when I went to pick them up, they had cancelled the order instead…

Not sure what happened there, but hopefully there’s still a bit of a time buffer…

Which is good because I can’t decide on the paint color.

This was the “temporary” fix – grey and pink – but the grey is much too pale for the soon to be mostly white with a bit o’black (bye bye almond!) tile and fixtures.

The three colors in the top pic are already in the house – I like repeating things for some degree of continuity – but these are all love it or hate it kind of colors.

Well, every color is really I guess…

The mint is in the kitchen.

It was our first, first choice, but the bath is pretty dim, so I’m afraid of it falling a bit dull – it didn’t work when we tried it with the almond fixtures.

The yellow is in the living room.

It’s been my current leaning-to color.

And the dull pink is in the guest room (doesn’t photo well, but it’s pink enough to not be band-aid, but it’s on the earthier side).

This was our choice for a good bit of time, partly because it’s already in there a bit and I could keep the curtain.

Which is another choice…

There’s just the right amount left of this vintage fabric that could work if the tree-like things were on their sides instead of upright – that might drive me nuts, but it works for all colors…

Opinions?

(I should have saved peach for it, but it’s already in the bedroom and half bath…)

 

4 Comments

Filed under home, home decor

End of March

Things are still busy and will be for the next few weeks, month, some period of time that will perhaps never let up.

The premature spring followed by the belated winter has messed with my head, but the extended daylight makes things a bit more correct again.

First day of Spring brought out the yard wrecking crew. #thosearentdogs #deer #snow #yard #youwontletmehaveniceflowers

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

A small herd of deer has taken a fancy to the yard.

The dog absolutely does not fancy them.

He starts a new class for complicated dogs next week – fingers crossed he’ll soon learn to cope with other four-legged, or rather, all, creatures soon.

Fiber-wise, I’m still finishing up several things and resisting the temptation to start anything new.

I’ve started the garden seeds, and N has started to break up the concrete walks to nowhere in the yard.

Blooming and busting (concrete)… #moregarden #garden #yardwork #breakingrocks #hyacinth

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

It’s sucky work, but he’s an ace with a sledgehammer and we’re saving a good chunk of money on the deconstruction.

We need a helluva lot of plants – ones not delectable to deer – but I’m happy to reduce the lawn as much as possible.

The bathroom reno is finally starting, well, scheduled.

After looking at hundreds of tiles, various solid shower wall options, and green resilient flooring, we settled in our comfort zone – all tile, tiles we’ve used before, ones that are very affordable, and fit into the vintage cottage vibe going on in the house already.

First we have a bit of an emergency with  having to replace the basement sewer line though… a rather shitty situation.

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, home, home decor