Shocking, Surprising, Shady – another weekend project done…

Woo Hoo!  Another weekend project off the To Do List!

Shades have been installed and…

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2 more LEDs have replaced incandescent flood lights at our house.

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Less than a month ago (the day of my “weekend project” idea), I ordered up the honeycomb shades for 11 of our windows that have been shadeless for 2-15 years.  What you say – in a high pitched voice?  15 years?!  Yes – I answer with my head slightly bowed in shame – 15 years – remember – I am a bit of a procrastinator.  Well – no more.  It’s done after 15 years.  The dining room has shades.  It is shocking, surprising and shady in there.

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I want to put in a plug for honeycomb shades here.  I believe I mentioned previously that I think honeycomb shades get a bad rap.  I think honeycomb shades are often considered the ugly duckling and least decorative of all the window treatments.  I don’t agree.  I think the honeycomb shade is perfect for windows with great window trim detail that begs to be out there.  We have great window trim and we want to keep our trim out there to be seen and enjoyed.

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I like that the shades are minimal and pretty much un-noticeable when open.

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I like that they are cordless.  Cordless is important in our household so the cat, Hanna, doesn’t get entangled.  She really can’t be trusted to not get into trouble when we aren’t home.  Quite frankly, she can’t be trusted when we are at home either.

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I like that the color and pattern are neutral – it looks good during the day and at night.  I like the linear pattern created when the shade is closed.  It is interesting in a subtle way.  I might even call it borderline architectural.  I like subtle and architectural – so these are perfect for my design sensibilities.  Ha ha – I don’t know why I said sensibilities.  I don’t really have any sensibilities.

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Tad’s favorite feature is that these shades provide some energy efficiency in keeping the cold from intruding during the cold winter nights and shielding out the heat during the hot summer afternoons.  Finally, we both like that these shades are easy to install – once you figure out how the brackets work.  The brackets were a bit intimidating at first…

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The process is pretty easy:

1. Measure your inside window dimensions – with a tape measure.  Be detail oriented here – it matters.  I believe they recommend measuring at the top, the bottom, and the middle to make sure the measurements are all the same.  If the measurements are not all the same, go with the smallest measurement for the best fit.

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2.  Write your measurements down.

3.  Measure your inside window dimensions again. Remember the old saying “Measure twice, cut once”?  This is seriously true here because a mismeasurement is quite costly – these things aren’t cheap.  This is obviously the same picture as above, but I am presenting it again for affect.  Measure twice people.

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4.  Order em up.  If they send you an email confirmation of your order, check your measurements again just to be safe.  Seriously. This seems like overkill, but it isn’t.  You won’t be sorry.

Ready to Install:

1.  Mark your pilot holes.

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2.  Drill your pilot holes.

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3.  Line up the bracket.  Secure the bracket with the provided screw.  The bracket has a sliding hole so it is pretty easy to line the brackets up in a straight line.

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4.  Click the shade into the brackets.

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5.  It’s done.

So, the only tangent (as in sudden digression) to this “easy weekend” project is that 3 of the shades are over the stairs to the basement.  Tad had to rig up a platform over the stairs so we could use our handy step stool to reach the top of the windows.

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It was nerve wracking – for me – not so much for Tad and Hanna.  It is about a 9 foot drop to the bottom.  I think it is something that is more difficult to watch than to do?

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Since we didn’t want to have to rig up the platform again anytime in the near future, we opted to change out the lightbulbs above the stairs to LEDs as well. We hope to not have to replace the shades and/or bulbs for a few decades – at least…

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As you will recall,  I talked about the retro fit type LED for recessed fixtures when we were replacing flood lights in our kitchen with LEDs.  In the kitchen, we had 5 inch fixtures so the less expensive LEDs look and work great.

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In the sunroom/over the stairs, we have 6 inch recessed fixtures so the inexpensive LED doesn’t look as good.

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We decided to give the retro fit LED with trim included a try.  Tad did some basic research and decided that this was the best price for lumen output.

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 It was a good choice.  It looks nice – clean, smooth – and it is plenty bright.

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Who knew that just putting a few little projects on a list would actually help get some stuff done around here.

This is a lesson for those of you that don’t believe in lists :)

The Kitchen – it’s done – thanks to a little weekend lighting project…

As Tad likes to say (and did say this weekend) “It’s not a project without at least 3 trips to Home Depot”.  Our weekend only included 2 trips to Home Depot, but there was the initial trip a week ago for a total of 3 trips.  So, we’ve got a project to report here – we installed a recessed can light in our kitchen – or pot light as the Canadians like to say.

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Trip #1 (just me – a week ago because I thought I was doing this project last weekend) – I picked up the supplies.  A recessed can fixture that was the right size and IC rated – check.  The trim piece that was the correct size – check.  I figured we had everything else already – tools, wire, stuff – this isn’t the first recessed fixture we have installed.

Trip #2 (both of us – on Saturday afternoon – after I had lunch with friends, and Tad went to work for a bit and then the grocery store for some pop in preparation for the project) – We picked up a hole cutter that attaches to the drill even though we had a hand drywall saw at home.  I like to say “It’s not a project unless Tad convinces me that another tool is needed”.  We also ended up with an unplanned purchase of 8 LED bulbs because the ones that I like had a huge price drop – down to $12.97 each – more on that later!

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Trip #3 (both of us – on Saturday night at 8:30pm in the snow) – As we were excitedly finishing up the project, I discovered that I had bought the wrong trim piece – it was the right size, just not the right style.  If we were in The Amazing Race, this lack of attention to detail would have likely gotten us eliminated:(  On a side note, we tried out for The Amazing Race a week or so ago.  We love “The Race”, as we both like to call it.  The chances that we will get picked are pretty slim since we are pretty normal and happy, but at least we can say we tried.  Anyway, if we do make it to The Amazing Race and we have a task that involves installing a recessed light,  I will make sure the trim piece is the right size and style.

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It is hard to believe – but – we have a room in our house that is completely finished,  The reason I say it is hard to believe is because this is the only room in our house that is finished or has ever been finished the entire time we have lived here – in over 15 years.  So, in the famous words of others, it is “done”, “good to go”, “the final piece of the puzzle has been placed”, “the fat lady has sung”, “the curtain has dropped”, “it’s a wrap”, “the last chapter has been written”, “the sun has set”, “the last word has been spoken”, “that ship has sailed”, and simply “it’s over”…

Our kitchen is officially off the To Do List!  Well, really I left it on the To Do List, but crossed through it – to highlight that we have successfully completed everything in one of our rooms – at least for now.

The last light fixture has been recessed!

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You might recall (or not) that our open shelving/dish storage area was a bit dark.  I was too lazy to go to the store to get another fixture when we were installing the electrical during our kitchen renovation.  I knew I was going to regret that initial decision.  At the time, I insisted that all the other lights in the room would be enough to illuminate my open shelving nook.  I was wrong.  The lighting in the majority of the kitchen is so great that it really highlights the fact that the open shelving area doesn’t have it’s own light – and it really should.

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Well, this weekend project idea of mine got me motivated.  As I mentioned earlier, I had actually gathered all the supplies last weekend and was ready to knock this out.  Then, Tad was all wanting to be involved, but he was working last weekend.  So, I had to postpone the event until this weekend.   Then, Tad asked me several times if I really wanted to do this. My answers were yes, yes, and yes – I still want this additional light.   Then, he mentioned that his electrician friend – who helped us with the electrical when we first renovated the kitchen – doesn’t really like recessed lights because they are task lights.  My comment back was that I want some task lighting in my dish nook area so I figured Joe, the electrician friend, would have to agree that one more recessed light was in order.

The first thing we did was check to see where the ceiling joists were – to make sure we could get this light somewhere in the general vicinity of where I wanted it.  We used the stud finder for this.

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We then measured out from the wall – with a tape measure – to determine the center of the open shelves.  We also measured out from the back wall in an effort to locate the light right in front of the shelves.

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Then, Tad pulled out the plumb-bob so we could see where the center of the light would shine below.  Tad also quizzed me about when we last used the plumb-bob.  I couldn’t remember.  He reminded me that we last used it for our center surface mounted kitchen light fixture – to make sure we had that fixture centered in the room.  Then, Tad mentioned that a laser level or some such thing would be better than the plumb-bob.  I ignored this comment.  The plumb-bob did the trick – no need for a laser on this project, Tad.

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We drilled a small hole in the ceiling where we wanted the fixture to go.  Tad then headed up to the attic (the photo is blurry because Tad was moving at lightning speed – he doesn’t like being in the attic).  I offered to go instead, but he reluctantly said he would do it.  I say this to get it on record – that I did offer.   He pulled back the insulation and checked to make sure there wasn’t anything in the way of our next light fixture.  There happened to be a wire right in the area where we wanted the new fixture, so we had to adjust and move our new fixture out about 1-2 inches, which wasn’t a problem.

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Next, we cut the hole for the fixture – after Trip #2 to Home Depot for the hole cutter, and a stop for an early dinner, and a stop at Enstrom’s for some Almond Toffee Popcorn.

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I will admit that this little tool was a pretty good thing to have.  It was $20 so we could have saved by using our hand drywall saw that we already had, but it made the project a lot quicker.  It’s adjustable so you can cut any size hole you need.  It fits onto the drill like a drill bit without needing to purchase additiional adaptive accessories.  It comes with a plastic bowl that catches the majority of the drywall dust.  It took about 1 minute to cut a perfectly sized, clean edged hole.  If only I had been the inventor of this thing…

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Tad wired up the new fixture, turned off the breaker to the kitchen, and headed up to the attic again.  This time it was in the dark so I couldn’t get any photos.  The new fixture was to be tied into the center fixture so work in the dark attic was minimal.  Tad just had to secure the new fixture to the ceiling joists and thread the wiring through the box of the center kitchen fixture.  The rest of the wiring was done from the kitchen.

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We replaced the center light fixture without any problems and turned the breaker back on.  It all worked!

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The final step was to put up the trim.  That is when we discovered I had purchased the wrong trim piece…

Back from Trip #3 to Home Depot – we’ve now got light shining down on our open shelving/dish nook area – and we’ve got a completely finished room at the old bungalow!

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Time it took:  3pm to 9pm – not including trip #1 to Home Depot – but including the 2 additional/unplanned trips to Home Depot – and a dinner break – and some Almond Toffee Popcorn snacking.  So, not totally quick and easy, but not too bad either – and we’ve got a completely finished room at our house.  Sorry, I can’t stop thinking or talking about that.

See the entire kitchen project or any part of it below:

It was totally worth it.

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Very Bright!  Very Exciting!

Zebras will frolic…

So, we’ve got some frolicking zebras around here :)

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Now for the real reason we are talking about zebras.  My desk.  It’s made of zebrawood.

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My zebrawood desk was a DIY project.  It was a really easy, weekend DIY project. I didn’t do it this last weekend, but still.  Maybe, it will inspire you to make your own desk?

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My workspace is pretty small at 6 feet deep and 6.5 feet wide.  It is located in a corner of our sunroom.  The evolution of my workspace location is a bit of a long story – and a story for another day – maybe, another day this week.  In the meantime, back to the zebrawood desk.  Considering the small size of my workspace, I figured I had to get creative in order to optimize the area.  I only need a desk, a chair, and a bit of storage.  So, I got my favorite tool out.  As you might know, my favorite tool is the tape measure.  You might think a 6′ X 6.5′ area doesn’t really need much measuring, but a few inches here or there can make a big difference when you need to fit 3 pieces of furniture within that tiny space.

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I decided a table type desk, no drawers, long and shallow would be best for my work habits and the space.  The reason I chose a table type desk was that I wanted to keep the space feeling open and roomy.   I think a big block of a desk would have overwhelmed the space – especially since I wanted to face the center of the room rather than the wall.  I also decided to keep an existing storage cabinet.  This storage piece is a bit bulky so not optimal for my small space, but I am happy with the function of it for now.  It holds a big work printer, all my paperwork, and some miscellaneous things.  I am hoping to downsize someday.

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Anyway, I searched around for the perfect desk.  I was not successful.  So, I figured a custom piece of furniture was in order.  I also wanted to do something unique – something a little industrial and a little rustic.  I asked the welder who created our stair railings to make a base for my desk – inspired by conduit and piping – taking care of the industrial part.  The rustic part is accomplished by the rusty looking finish.  I like the combination – it’s unique.

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I debated the table top options for some time.  Finally, I went to the lumber yard and checked out their inventory.  I ended up with Zebrawood.  I wish I could say that it was salvaged or vintage or something other than “exotic”.  I can’t.  The amazing contrasting grain is what snagged me.  It is like nothing else we have in our house.  I like to buy local products.  I struggled with the whole idea of buying wood from across the globe.  And – they couldn’t even tell me that the wood was FSC certified.  I thought about it for weeks.  Eventually, I gave in – obviously.

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The lumber yard cut it to my specifications, planed it smooth, and glued the 2 pieces together to create the width I wanted.  I just had to pick it up, pay for it, and apply the finish.  Zebrawood is very heavy, very dense, and very hard.  I wasn’t quite sure how to finish this sort of wood.  So, I did some internet research.  Wow – there are a ton of extreme opinions out there about finishing zebrawood.  My internet research only resulted in confusion.  So, I went with what I knew.  Watco Danish Oil.  We used this product for all of the cherry and maple woodwork around our house and we like it.  I ended up using Watco Teak Oil for dense woods when I accidentally discovered it while shopping for the original stuff.  It was a good discovery.  I applied multiple layers of the finish, sanding between applications until it was velvety soft and well sealed.

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The final measurements of my desk ended up being 6.5′ long by 22″ deep – it is very functional – and quite dramatic in appearance with it’s highly contrasting grain.  A welder to make a base, a slab of interesting wood, some Watco finishing oil and the desk is done.  It was one of the easier DIY projects I have tackled.  It was significantly easier than I expected.  That never happens with my DIY projects.