Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photo arrangement

I know you've seen this photo arrangement if you use Pinterest at all but I'll share it here in case you don't have that particular addiction. I can't nail down the original source but my pin comes from Martha Stewart and her team may be the first to think of this.

I have been planning to do this for awhile and originally had planned to place it in the hallway but ended up with a large blank wall in the living room that I painted orange. Orange does not look good at all with the large painting I had been planning to put on that wall so it was a lot of blank space next to a busy built in shelf. Along came the photo arrangement.

I thought I was going to be able to put far more photos up above and below the first rows but it got way too cluttered looking very quickly so I ended up taking down five more frames that I had up. So much better this way! I sort of wish I had bothered to evenly space the frames left to right but things shouldn't be so perfect all the time. I also need to put up some more recent photos one of these days but since the youngest two look identical as babies, we can just pretend some of those photos include baby W.

I tried to put the center line of the arrangement around my eye level. I'm about 5'5" so this leaves all the photos at a comfortable viewing level for most people while being high enough to be out of the reach of little fingers. It also leaves me the potential to put a console table on this wall below the photos if I wanted to.
Please ignore the blaringly obvious vaccuum handle there. I'm too congested to care at all about moving it out of the way or editing it out. Again, this paint color looks sickly green on my screen but I promise it's a very warm orange. I'll color correct next time I take photos so I can stop apologizing for it. The first photo looks a lot truer to life than this second one.

Would you have taken the time to space them evenly? What am I going to do with the thirty or so frames I have left? Oy! There are way too many choices in weather stripping.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spackle is one of my favorite words

I did not get much accomplished over the weekend. I've been in a funk partly because the husband has been sick and partly because I'm coming down with the same cold but I think mostly because this house isn't HOME yet. The kids and I spent a lot of time staying with my parents over the summer and this feels a lot like that. At their house I had free reign to use all the appliances and throw my stuff wherever (not that they loved that) and was very comfortable but it never has that feeling you get when you walk into your own home.

I know that moving 1000 miles and into a new house takes a little time to adjust to and I didn't expect it to happen over night but I guess I expected my furniture and my stuff to carry some of that feeling of home along with it. When we're in the house, it really doesn't feel like we're so very far away from where we came from because our routine can be very much the same. But this place just isn't ours yet. We haven't made memories here yet and we don't have traditions here and I have no clue where we'll put the Christmas tree. So that has led me down the rabbit hole of depression and crippling anxiety. But enough about feelings, back to the projects.

This morning I went around filling all of the many larger holes in the walls and ceilings with spackle. I used smart brand non-shrink wall fix because they didn't have my regular brand and type in the smaller container I wanted. I purchased it because I liked that it advertised itself as zero VOC (go here to see why this is preferable) and virtually odorless. The husband has issues with fumes and so I try to go with low odor products whenever I'll be working on something indoors. Because it sounded like such a wonderful product, I was very sad to find out that I didn't like it at all. This could be that fact that I have years of experience using Dap CrackShot (Dap 1 Quart CrackShot Spackling Interior-Exterior 12378 (Google Affiliate Ad)) and it is what my dad always used. No matter the reason, I felt that this Smart spackle was too fluffy and lightweight. It felt very dry to the touch and didn't really stay in the holes as I tried to fill them. I'm used to something much more sticky that stays where you put it. Also, I thought it smelled terrible but that could have something to do with my cold.

I need to do a second coat on a few of the holes so I'll let you know if I change my mind, but at this point I would recommend CrackShot, not this garbage. I also noticed that Dap has a newer spackle that goes on purple and dries to white. I'd be interested in trying that one but I wonder if it would make it harder to tell when the hole is well filled.

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have a different spackling compound that you like better? I have a little decorating project to show you tomorrow and then I need to work on weather stripping my exterior doors.

*I should note that the links that say (google affiliate ad) would potentially make me a few sheckles if you bought something but none of my posts have been sponsored and, even if they ever were, all of my opinions are going to be as honest as it gets. I only post the links so you can see a picture of what I'm talking about so it's easier to find at your hardware store.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Making a cheap curtain rod shorter

Part of owning two houses, however temporarily we hope it may be, is learning to use what you have even when it really doesn't work. In other words, make things work. I used this philosophy while hanging the curtains from our old house in our new living room. The windows here are shaped differently and there are three here compared to two at the old place but for whatever reason it worked out perfectly that I didn't need to buy any new curtains at this time. Eventually I will either need new curtains or new blinds as these are only sheers but having an 8 ft fence around the house helps a little.

The biggest problem I ran into with using the items I already had on hand was that I had several of the cheap metal curtain rods and two of them were so long they would have fit windows twice as wide as what I needed them for. Now some people would have just spent a few dollars to buy new ones that were the right size but it was raining and I didn't feel like leaving the house and I had sheetrock dust on my pants so I decided to make it work.

 I used a wire cutter snippy tool that MAY actually be a tin snip but not a very good one if that's what it actually is so I'm going to call it a wire cutter. It takes a little muscle and a lot of wiggling with each tiny tiny snip you make but it worked well enough to eventually get through the metal and then bend the end back into shape. I had to take quite a bit off so I needed to cut both the inner and the outer rods but there is a small plastic piece on the outer one that you can see in the first picture that hides any ugly ends. Slide the two pieces back together and you're in business!

This would have been even easier with an actual tin snip like this one Great Neck Saw 10in. Aviation Tin Snip 17623 (Google Affiliate Ad) so if you have access to one, please use that for heavens sakes. My second picture shows how bent out of shape the excess piece got and how ragged the end of the actual rod was and I think these would have been better with a sharper tool but it really didn't matter in the long run.

Have you ever fabricated a curtain rod to fit your space? Have you seen the pinterest photos using pipes and fittings for curtain rods? I wish I didn't have curtain rods on hand so I could do something like that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Couch shopping

This is my very first attempt at a mood board and I obviously need a little more time to make them look as nice as the ones I've seen on other sites but you'll get the gist of it. I recently painted my living room with Valspar Pronghorn. Although it looks terrible on my screen right now, it is a warm gingery orange that we have all been loving. Unfortunately, we sold a lot of our living room furniture before we moved and we have not closed on the sale of our old house so we aren't in a position to buy new furniture right now. So I'm sitting on a 20 year old love seat looking at our old nursery rocker and my husband's recliner which may or may not have to go eventually. It's not pretty but it gives us a place to sit until we can find something new. These are far prettier!

The biggest factors in our search for new seating are going to be comfort versus looks. We like to watch tv and we like to be comfortable while doing it. The last sectional that we purchased, mostly because it was inexpensive, never really worked out like we had hoped. We bought it thinking that the whole family would be able to sit there and hang out and in reality I was the only person who ever sat there. Also, it was not very comfortable and compressed where you sat so there were distinct butt prints all the time.

We won't be going for another sectional because it just didn't work out but also because it wouldn't work with the layout of our living room. I'm considering a couch, a chair, and either a loveseat or a chair-and-a-half. We're planning to look in our town because we prefer to spend our money locally but we'll probably end up making a trip to a couple larger towns nearby just to make sure we're not settling for something we don't love.

Are you shopping for furniture? What are your biggest considerations when looking for a couch? We know that scotch guarding pays for itself many times over when you have kids so we'll for sure be going with something similar again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Living in a flipped house

The house we recently moved into was purchased inexpensively from HUD and then remodeled and resold to us in less than 3 months. We have heard from neighbors that the man who flipped the house has done work in a few different states on similar projects and that doesn't surprise me. In many ways he did a good job at what he was trying to do.

The neighbors have told us that the house was all but destroyed before he purchased it. All the windows were broken and the walls had holes in them and I can only imagine what else. Our house is in a nice neighborhood surrounded by well kept homes and yards so it was the perfect opportunity for a flipper. I understand that his goal was to get the job done quickly and make as much money as possible on the deal and that leads to a certain degree of carelessness when it comes to finish work.

All of our interior doors are hung incorrectly and are difficult to close. The tile work is sloppy around the edges and either has missing grout or has excess and looks messy. The trim and doors were all primed (I assume they were purchased that way) but it doesn't appear they were painted at all or caulked at the joints. The wall painted was only one coat and was applied poorly so there are white spots and the edging looks streaky and there are even spots that weren't painted at all.

A lot of these things aren't an issue because I am planning to paint most of the walls but it would be nice not to have to paint ALL the trim work. I did that at our last house and it is not awesome. Many of the doorknobs were loose and that only took a few minutes and a screwdriver to tighten up. The exterior doors do not have any weather stripping which might be a regional thing but will need to be remedied before we get pests or snow in the house where they don't belong.

I guess the point is just buyer beware. If you aren't DIY inclined and don't know enough about home improvement to tackle fixing the things that get skipped during a flip, you'll need to figure the cost of repairs into your purchase price. When you are interested in a house, ask your realtor to check when it was last purchased and the price paid. If the house has brand new finishes and was recently purchased for quite a bit less than the asking price, you are most likely looking at a flipped house and, with all the flipping shows on tv these days, you might be getting someone's first attempt which may mean less than stellar work.

Have you considered flipping houses? Have you ever lived in a house that was flipped? I am planning to test for my realtor's license and my father builds houses so it's something we've talked about many many times.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Removing sliding glass shower doors

One of my first projects at the new Tull house was to remove the glass shower doors in our hall bathroom. I have never liked how sliding glass shower doors look and they are impractical for many reasons. I do like the newer style frameless glass doors but those are not what I had here. My biggest concern is that they made things difficult for the kids. Our 9 year old struggled to open and close them. Our 3 year old hurt her feet getting into and out of the tub. And our 1 year old splashed water into the bottom track which made me cringe at the thought of how disgusting it was under there. So they had to go. I wish I had pictures of this process for you but didn't decide to write a blog until after I was mostly done with the project. Oops! Have I mentioned that my planning often leaves something to be desired?

The first step was to take down the sliders. It's best to stand inside the tub while doing this. On my doors, the inner door was attached at the bottom by two small screws and once these were off it was easy to lift the door off the upper lip and then tilt it out. The outer door was only hanging on that upper lip so it just lifted and tilted out. Once the doors are removed is when the actual work begins.

Most shower doors will be attached with either small screws or some sort of adhesive. In my case, the installer used a boatload of silicone which made things difficult. First you will need to remove the top of the door frame. For me, this meant using a sharp utility knife to slice through the silicone that attached this top bar. You will want to be careful not to scratch the finish on your tub and tub surround. Once you've sliced through the sealant, just shove the top rail up and off. I used the top of my hammer to push it up part way and then had to twist and turn it a little to get the silicone to let go.

The next step if to remove the two side rails. I needed to remove three screws from each side, slice through the silicone carefully, and then pull and twist. The bottom rail should be attached with just the sealant.

The next step is to remove all the sealant left on your tub and surround with a scraper or razor blade. My biggest problem with this project has been the fact that silicone is a tool of the devil and does NOT want to come off anything. Whoever installed my shower door used way too much and spread it really thin to disguise the excess, making it super hard to remove. I have scraped until my hands bled and googled solutions for hours. I tried using magic erasers which helped a little but after I had gone through two, I wasn't making any significant progress. My next step is to try using acetone and then WD40. If neither of those work then I might try a silicone removal product from the home improvement store. I'm hoping I don't have to go that far because it sounds like the products made to remove silicone will ruin my fiberglass tub. My tub is discolored and scratched up from the shower door and, I assume, the installer so this isn't the biggest concern I've ever had but I'd like to keep the damage to a minimum if possible.

Have you had any luck removing silicone? Anybody out there updating a bathroom? I'd love to hear any solutions you have for me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

About me

So you'd like to know a little about me? I feel like this post could change on a weekly basis but we'll start with some things about who I am today.

I'm in my mid-twenties, married, mother of three. I had my first baby as a single teen mother and my experiences as a mother have been different in many ways with each child.

I enjoy home improvement, decorating, acting, modelling, reading, and sometimes cooking. I listen to country music, but please don't hold that against me! I am very particular but also super lazy so life annoys me but I struggle to do anything about it. I regularly run into walls and trip over my own feet. I try my best to be as eco-friendly as possible while not spending too much money or putting forth too much effort.

My family and I just moved 15 hours away from everyone we've ever known and are figuring out how to get around in a new town and trying to make our new house a home. Hopefully you'll enjoy following along as I do just that.


Welcome to the House at Tull Corner. I'm Heather Tull and I'll be your flight attendant for today. I hope that this can become a place where we can trade DIY advice and ideas, have conversations that start with "I saw this on Pinterest", and share some ideas on raising better kids in a better world.