Deuce Cities Henhouse

Mini Makeover : The Bathroom

Navy Cabinets and Painted Brass Fixtures
Budz, although I try, my house isn’t 100% pretty. It’s easy to lie to the world and make it seem that way on the internet though. A few of you have noticed that I never post photos of my bathroom, and that’s for good reason – there’s only shame to share. We have two bathrooms in our house, one in the basement, that for the time being consists of a toilet and a roll of toilet paper. The other is on the second floor of our house, and is used by the entire family as well as guests. Herein lies the problem. We are hosting four holiday events throughout the next five weeks, that means lots and lots of people are going to be making visits to our super-sad bathroom. They are going to see the dirty caulk that is never 100% free of boy pee, white grout that should’ve never been used in a main bathroom, dated chrome fixtures, and shiny faux-marble tile. Talk about having to put lipstick on a pig.

Thankfully, with a little nudge from the folks at Ace Hardware, I was able to finally tackle this project that had long been at the bottom of the to-do list. Ace had asked us Ace bloggers to give their color matching technology a try on our next project – I knew as soon as I heard about it, that this was a project solely meant for the upstairs bathroom.

A Mini Bathroom Makeover : Before and After
For reference here is the before and after. I had done a quick little makeover about a year-and-a-half after we moved in. It basically involved a coat of paint, a new shower curtain and some towels. It was okay. Now, after a few years living with it, that green color began to totally wear on me, and white just wasn’t a good color for a vanity that saw lots of dirty hands and little kid traffic.

Color matching using @acehardware color matching technology
My inspiration for the vanity color came from a sentimental 7″ record. The Plastic Constellations was Jeff’s band that formed in high school – they went on to be a band for 10 more years, write four more records, go on countless tours, get an 8.5 review on pitchfork, and make tons of friends. Jeff and I spent much of our early 20’s driving around the country in a touring van – it was the best. Needless to say, TPC Blue was going to be the paint color of choice.

Ace was happy to color match this sucker for me, and they can color match most anything as long as it is larger than a quarter, is opaque, and can be flattened to fit under the color matching robot machine. I thought the color would be close, but this is right on the nuts! I had the color mixed with Valspar Aspire paint in a satin finish. I’ve used this paint in the past, and I always enjoy how smoothly it goes on, and how well it covers. The walls were painted in Clark + Kensigton Linen, which I also used in the basement.

Color matching using @acehardware color matching technology

Brass and Navy Blue in the Bathroom

Navy and White Bathroom with Brass Fixtures

Using Grout Coating to Whiten Grout

Painting the walls and vanity was the easy part, and having these nice fresh surfaces gave me the motivation to tackle the real gritty stuff, like the discolored grout, and old caulk lines outlining the entire room.

Let’s start with the grout. I get that white in a bathroom makes everything look crisp and clean, but it is so hard to keep up with, especially when it’s on the floor and especially in a bathroom used by the entire family. Our wide grout lines are a constant shade of grey, and it’s super gross and embarassing. Luckily, I have found a solution that makes the best of a bad situation. There is this grout coating called Tile Guard that does a good job of transforming grey grout, back into white. It’s easy to use, you just have to make sure that you allow a four hour dry time. Liberally apply the coating to the grout lines, let it sit four hours, and then wipe the coating off the tile with a damp rag. Much improved!

Caulking Tips

Caulking bathrooms on the other hand is probably my least favorite job ever, and is why getting the bathroom shaped up continues to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. With all the potential guests about to judge me, this was the time to finally tackle this project. I put on some rubber gloves, got in there, and cleaned out all the caulk. Then, I scrubbed and cleaned all the caulk crevices with a water/bleach solution, and then reapplied new non-sanded tile caulk in a snow white.

To caulk, I typically tape off the caulk line. Then I apply a bead of caulk, which doesn’t have to be perfect because you’ll be smoothing it out later. Once the bead is applied, take your finger, dip it in water, and then with consistent pressure, smooth out the caulk line. Slowly remove the tape for crisp clean edges and then one more time, wet your finger, and do one last pass over the line. This will smooth the caulk nicely and make a seamless transition between the two planes. Have a garbage bag and lots of paper towels on hand!

Plants are perfect on a vanity

Marble Bathroom Accessories

Modern Navy Blue Bathroom with Black, White & Brass Accents

Painting Chrome Hardware to Look like Brass
Okay, so I kinda went nuts with the paint. I was so sick of the chrome fixtures (I can deal with nickel, brass or bronze but not this), purchased and installed by the previous owners, but I didn’t have the budget to purchase a new set. Someday this bathroom will be renovated, and making major purchases before that time happens doesn’t sound like super awesome or smart idea to me. Paint it is, and now that I know all about Amy Howard at Home, I knew that I could pull off a brass-ish look with a bit of spray paint and some wax treatments. I know, I can’t believe I’m fauxing stuff either, but sometimes, it’s just what you have to do to save a buck.

Painting Chrome Hardware to Look like Brass

After masking off the bathroom faucet, I gave it a few light coats of gold spray paint. The finish at this point is okay, but it definitely looks spray painted. After I made sure it was good and dry I applied a light coat of light antique wax making sure to offload on cardboard before applying. I let the wax come to tack (about 10 minutes) before I applied an even lighter coat of dark antique wax. I made sure to offload nearly all of the wax onto a piece of cardboard, and then I very lightly brushed on hits of the dark wax. After it dried for an hour, I buffed it out with a lint free cloth. I was surprisingly pleased with the results. The brass-ish accents give the room a bit more sophistication than it had before, and it doesn’t look entirely fake. So, yay!

Using Amy Howard Paint to Give Brass Hardware a New Life
I reused the same hardware that I had fallen in love with years ago. The enamel colors didn’t fit in with the new look of the room so I quickly painted the center of the brass circles black using my new go-to, Amy Howard chalk paint in black.

Modern Navy Blue Bathroom with Black, White & Brass Accent

I know you guys probably need to get ready for company too, together with Ace Hardware, I’m giving away a $100 gift card. Gift Card Giveaway to the rafflecoppter site to enter. Entries will be taken between now and December 4th at midnight. You can enter three ways, via facebook like, instagram follow, or just a basic entry. Happy Holidays, and good luck!

I’m excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided me with compensation and some of the materials necessary to complete this project! All opinions are my own. Thanks a biznillion, Ace!
Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Related posts:

in Around the House, Bathroom, DIY, How-To, Sponsored

Floating Shelves in the Basement

Floating Shelves on a long wall
Budz! Have you noticed I’ve only been posting once a week, maybe twice at best. Sorry if I’ve been slow to respond to e-mails and comments, I’ll get to ’em. I’ve been so busy with all of this basement stuff, it’s consuming my life and I can’t wait for it to be done. Remember, we started planning this basement around this time last year, so it’s seriously time to wrap this baby up and be done.

I’m happy that I was able to do a lot of the finishing work myself, but it’s been a life suck. It’s one of those things where you have to ask yourself was it really worth it. All things considered, I think it probably was – I’m sure we saved quite a bit of money, plus I know I wouldn’t have been able to just stand back and let someone else have all the fun. I only have a few things left to do, mostly involving paint (which seems easy). Next week I’ll start upholstering a bench cushion, and then I will be so close to done. I am so ready for this all to be over, and I’m looking forward to a big project break over the holidays.

Okay, so one of the few remaining big projects was building and installing shelving in two of the spaces. This had always been part of the plan. In the living area we wanted to include record storage for our media zone. That is where this whole shelving plan had started. Then it seemed appropriate for the size and placement of shelving to be repeat somewhere else in the space. That space would end up being the hallway starting at the bottom of the staircase. Check this link for a floor plan modeling in case you are confused as to what I’m talkin’ about. There needed to be some visually intriguing elements to this narrow space, and what better way to bring it than with some chunky shelving.

Basement hallway - Stairs, Shelves & Art

Floating Shelves Styling

Using Floating Shelves to Maximise Space
I’m still not a styling wizard by any means, but I did the best that I could with the stuff that I had on hand. We are sick of spending money on this proj, so accessories will just have to be found from what we already have or slowly acquired over time.

Here’s a little looping vid – it shows how I constructed the shelving. It’s not technically a floating shelf since there is some structural elements that can be seen from below, but the beefed up front really plays up the illusion.

In Progress : Building Floating Shelving

As I have in the past, I purchased all my lumber online at Baird Brothers. Now, my overly nosey and kinda jerky FedEx delivery guy asked me what was in the boxes, and why would I have lumber shipped as opposed to going to a lumber yard? The reason is this, Baird Bros sends me quality hardwood that is guaranteed straight, sanded to 180 grit on one side side, and cut to the measurements I specify. I don’t have to go to a lumber yard with two seriously bored kids, trying to plan what I need, finding out they don’t have all the sizes that I was hoping for, making decisions on the fly, and then figuring out how I get heavy 11′ pieces of lumber home in my station wagon. It’s worth the extra cost to me to have it shipped – sometimes you just have to ask yourself what would piss you off more?

Each shelf was made up of 3 sizes of poplar lumber, dimensions vary based on the length of your space. The supporting back and side pieces were made of a piece of 1 x 2 (which is what they call it at the store, but is really ¾” x 1½”). The top shelf pieces is made of a 1 x 12 for the record area, and a 1 x 10 for the hallway area (respectively, ¾” x 11½” and ¾” x 9½”). The front face is composed of a piece called a 1 x 3 who’s dimensions are (you guessed it) ¾” x 2½”. The side supports were cut to the depth of the shelf piece. For example, the side supports in the hallway were chopped down to a length of 9½” to match the depth of the shelf. The long support piece that runs the length of the space is cut like so: length of space – 1½” = size you cut it. The 1½” account for the width of the 1 x 2s. Get it? The top shelf piece and the 1 x 3 face piece should both be cut down to the entire length of the space. Attach the shelf to the top, securing it to the structural supports on the sides and the back with countersunk wood screws. The face should be attached to the side supports and the shelf – also taking care to countersink screws so that they can be filled in later on.

In Progress : Building Floating Shelving
In Progress : Building Floating Shelving

Finishing the shelves properly is half the battle to a believable floating shelf job. Like I mentioned above, I counter sunk all of the wood screws that I used. I then filled them in with my go to wood filler, plastic nails. This stuff dries quickly and is easy to sand down. Most holes got two applications of the filler. Everything got a decent sanding and then was cleaned of with a tack cloth before painting began. Caulking is a must, take time and care to caulk all of your joints for a tyte paint job. I applied three layers of paint, and I used Valspar optiumus color matched to Farrow & Balls All White. I sanded with 220 grit sand paper between each coat which left me with a super lush finish after the final coat.

In Progress : Building Floating Shelving

A Scandinavian Basement - Floating Shelves, Game Table & Storage

Floating Shelves Detail

Engineer Print hung using wood slats and magnets
Finding large artwork on the cheap calls for an engineer print, don’t you think? I grabbed this one with magnetic mounting brackets over at Parabo Press. Party lights represent.

Floating Shelf - Detail

Record Storage - Floating Shelves
You guys, perfectly sized record shelves – they frame the collection like I had planned it, or some shit.

In case you were wondering, cause maybe you were… The basement record situation will be for casual listening only – we plan on bringing all of our multiple copies down here (cause there was a time that Jeff and I weren’t married) as well as going buck on the used classic rock section of the record store.

Rega Turntable

Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Related posts:

in Around the House, Basement, DIY, How-To

Make It : Swing Arm Lamp

DIY Swing Arm Lamp
Hey Guys! I’ve been drooling over the lamps at One Forty Three for what seems like years now, and every pic I see come through my pinterest feed featuring a swing arm lamp I automatically pin. I’ve just been waiting one to add one to the almost-finished-basement, and then I saw a recent ASK This Old House episode where they walk you through re-wiring an old lantern into a electrified lamp. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be electrifying any lanterns, but I realized that the basic technique could be applied to any lamp easily. All of a sudden electricity wasn’t so scary.

After snooping around the internet a little bit, I was able to find this site: Grand Brass Lamp Parts, the site looks like it was made in 1998, so I was a little hesitant, but I began looking around and quickly realized all the parts I needed to make a pretty cool looking swing arm lamp were right at my finger tips. Granted, the look I admire often features some bent tubing which really speaks to that clean, modern, look, I didn’t have a tube bender and I opted to use a simple wing nut toggle to achieve my angles. I actually really like the look, even though it would have not been my preferred method originally.

Anyway, I wanted to share this with you guys, because making a lamp is fun and it costs half the price of buying online. Plus, the possibilities seem endless. I can easily see adding a telescoping feature to a swing arm lamp, OR make a string of lights, OR creating a sweet pendant, OR making a bad ass ceiling fixture. Endless. Possibilites.

DIY Swing Arm Lamp

DIY Swing Arm Lamp

Parts List

Brass Coupling – 1/4″ Female to 1/4″ Female
Six Inch Brass Hollow Threaded Pipe – 1/4″ Male to 1/4″ Male
Threaded Coupling 1/4″ – Female to 1/4″ Female
Two inch threaded hollow pipe – 1/4″ Male to 1/4″ Male
Twenty Four Inch Threaded Hollow Brass Tube – 1/4″ Male to 1/4″ Male
Adjustable 90º Swivel – 1/4″ Female to 1/8″ Male
Antique Brass Socket Cup with 1/8″ hole
Porcelain Socket – 1/8″

Total = $56.46


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions

When building your fixture, you basically want to start at the socket and then work backwards. Strip your wires and attach them to the screws on the insulated socket – one wire for each screw.
Working backwards snake the wire through the socket and socket cup. Next snake the wire up towards the 90º swivel (straighten the swivel when snaking).
Continue connecting the tubing in order. Pieces 9, 8 & 7 seen here. I painted the brass black using some matte chalk board spray paint.

Tip: When painting tubing, use a 3″ screw drilled into a sturdy board (seen here). Sink the screw about 1/2″ deep and then rest the tubes on the screws. This way you don’t have to worry about the tubes rolling around and ruining the paint job.


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions


DIY Swing Arm Lamp Instructions

Note, The bar does not come pre drilled, you will need 1/2″ metal bit to drill two holes. Connect piece 4 to piece 6 sandwich the bottom of piece 5.

Now you’re ready to add the toggle switch. Cut one of the wires and lay it inside the toggle housing.

Tip: When drilling the bar (piece 5), use clamps to hold it down so it doesn’t jump around (seen here).

Strip the cut wire on both ends, carefully insert the wire into two holes (one end of the cut wire for each hole – (see diagram here). Tighten the screw to keep the wires in place insuring a strong connection.
Lastly you’ll need to attach the plug. Simply remove the two screws, and remove the plug cap. Thread the wire through the cap and then strip both ends of the wire. Each wire connects to one of the screws. Put the plug back together using the screws you had previously removed.

DIY Swing Arm Lamp
That’s it you guys. It’s so easy. I’m already scheming for my next lighting project. You know there will be more!

DIY Swing Arm Lamp

Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Related posts:

in Around the House, Decor, DIY, How-To

Sorry (not sorry), More Stair Stuff

Hi. I know, another stair post, but this is my life, and you get to hear about it. I finished the lower half of the basement stairs almost a month a go to the date. We have been so happy with the new stairs, that I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t refinish the upper section of the stair case and the landing off the side door. I was at the point where we had put so much into this basement remodel, that it would be so dumb to leave the upper staircase the way they had been. Granted, the upper stairs had been the nice part of the staircase pre basement renovation. Someone had made a decent attempt to cover the very dated linoleum with a pergo faux wood tread in the same color as the hardwood floors on the main floor and second story of the house. It was okay.

Because we had finished the basement floors with a dark brown “luxury” vinyl tile that does a pretty decent job of representing itself as wood, and because I think a white stair case with dark treads is just so striking, the basement stair case just had to have dark treads, both upper and lower. Now, if you’ve been following along you will remember that the lower section of the staircase was a bear. I had to rebuild half the staircase, replace all the treads and risers, and trick it out with a new skirt and trim molding. The upper stairs and landing were in much better structural shape, they just needed a facelift. So instead of doing the whole shebang, I opted to remove the layers of pergo, linoleum, and a thin plywood subfloor and refinish the original pine treads and maple hardwood landing.

Guess what? Equally as hard, maybe even more so if you lack a bit of patience as I seem to.

As you can see from the photos if you look closely, these stairs aren’t perfect. There is just no use in trying so hard to make things perfect when you are dealing with 105 year old house parts. Each tread has a rubbed down part from the years and years of going up and down, and the paint along the trim was never kept up well, as these were just utilitarian basement stairs. I had to call a spade a spade, and deal with the cards I was dealt (Brandon Flowers would appreciate these gambling references).

Okay, the before pics. Took me a bit to get to this point, I was just having so much fun sharing the end result. So, as I said, light blonde pergo on top of linoleum on top of plywood, finished with a nice brass edge.

The demo took me less than 2 hours and I was able to do it all in my slippers. I was relieved to see that there weren’t any major problems under the layers of stuff. I only had to compete with removing a few layers of paint and glue. I didn’t realize that was the hard part. I’ve seen so many DIY shows were the paint stripper just removes those layers like nobody’s business. No one on those shows ever has to add many, many applications of stripper, it always just slides right off. I don’t know what I was doing wrong, but this paint was obsessed with staying on these stairs.

Transforming a Small Staircase


Demo existing surfaces. That means have your crow bars (yes, have multiple sizes) and hammer ready. These have been my go to tools when dealing with stair parts.


For me, I had to strip the paint and glue that were on the stair treads. To do this I taped off the area, so that I wouldn’t expose other surfaces to stripper. I tried all the strippers – this paint was stuck on good. I started with the environmentally friendly orange stripper – that didn’t work, even after I let it sit for hours and hours it was barely effective on these materials. Next I went for the Klean Strip, although this worked better it was slow going. After working through that can (yes the entire can on four stairs), I went back to the hardware store yet again and got a giant container of zip strip. This also was not that effective, but at least I had a lot of stripper, so no more trips to the hardware store. Do yourself a favor and buy the stripper clean up product as well.


Sand your surfaces to prepare for stain. This was also a pain, I hate sanding. I have no patience for it, like none. Also, not all my paint had been removed by the strippers, so I just sanded it off. Use a low grit sand paper (80 or less). Have a face mask ready so you’re not breathing in bad stuff and be prepared to be frustrated by how dusty your house is getting.


I added a little trim molding under every riser, to beef them up. Then finally, I made it to staining! This is when all the hard work pays off. My stair treads weren’t into accepting a lot of stain. I don’t know if it was stripper residue or not enough sanding, or both. But this took lots and lots of coats to get the stain this dark. I used Kona by Varathane (FYI). After the stain was thoroughly dry I added two coats of satin poly.

Transforming a Small Staircase
Transforming a Small Staircase

I love the landing! I was happy to discover maple hardwood under all the layers, just like the wood in the rest of the house. I gave it a good sanding and stained it to match the staircase. I really love the age that the stain helps to emphasize, it’s really beautiful.

The bullnose edge was just another one of those large cans of worms that I keep running into. They were beyond repair and needed to be replaced. I chopped down a tread with a bullnose to match the shape, but because there was a layer of tongue and grove flooring, sub floor, and the riser edge to the lower staircase it would involve some speciality carpentry to have it fit just perfect underneath. I don’t have a table saw, but I do have an Ace Hardware. My guy, Steve was able to cut the piece to match the original edge for a few bucks. The new piece fits like a glove.

In the end, I would’ve been happier if I just replaced the treads with new ones. I was trying to save a little cash, but I spent nearly as much on paint strippers as I would have on new treads.

Having the new stairs has changed the way we use the house though. We never, (I mean never!) used the side door before. Now we are using it all the time. I updated the lock with a key pad so the kids can let themselves in and out, as well as be responsible for locking the door when they leave – no key required! The side entrance is located in the middle of the house, and although it won’t make a lot of sense to use it in the winter (we’ll still primarily use the mudroom entrance on the rear of the house), I did add a few hooks so that coats didn’t pile up on the floor. A bonus is that our shoe cabinet was already located in the nook at the top of the stair case.

So glad to be able to cross this one off the list, it’s all down hill from here!

Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Related posts:

in Around the House, Basement, DIY

Final Basement To Do List

Hey! Where have you been? I mean where have I been, ur? I’ve been right here, wrestling with the last of these basement projects. Remember, the basement? I called it quits for awhile because I needed a rest both mentally and physically. After getting the house back in order post-major-remodel everything is kinda starting to feel normal again, and it’s time to finally put the finishing touches on the basement, especially with the holidaze right around the corner. I kind of informally started fixing things up when I repaired, re-treaded, re-risered, and trimmed out the lower level of the basement stairs earlier last month. They look so so good that I couldn’t help but begin refinishing and repairing the upper section of the stairs. More on that after my almost realized to-do list (see below).


Final Basement To-Do List

Due By November 30:
▼ All Stairs Entirely Refinished
▼ Radiator Painted
▼ Last piece of Counter Top Installed
▼ “Floating” Shelves Installed
▼ Cushion for Bench Upholstered
▼ All Windows Cleaned, Holes Patched, and Painted
▼ Touch Up Paint
▼ Last Door Knob Ordered and Installed

After the New Year
▼ Have the Vintage Swivel Chair Upholstered in Dark Blue
▼ The Entire Basement Bathroom
▼ The Laundry Room

Not sure if doing upholstery work is my favorite thing, but after reupholstering our sunroom sofa in simple box cushions, I know that I can upholster this bench. I gave Jeff two choices for fabric, either a wide black and white buffalo plaid print (which I was secretly rooting for) or this soon-to-be iconic (if it’s not already) Gran pattern from Fine Little Day which I’ve loved for years. He choose the pine trees, so here we go. Fabric and foam ordered, check.

The elephant in the basement is that it’s missing all sorts of things from the wall and pretty stuff from the invisible shelving. Having shelves is crucial to the feel of the basement and I am looking forward to getting these floating-ish shelves installed right away. I am going to be building them by hand, so I’ll have a post with all sorts of details right around the bend. The lumber is ordered, my drill is charged, and my saw if raring.

What do you do when the normal looking part of your stairs becomes the ugly looking part of the stairs after you make the broken part of your stairs look amazing? You go and refinish that okay looking part, because why would you leave it half done? Are you following me here?

That’s where I am with the unending stair project. I’ve been refinishing the upper section of the stair case for nearly two weeks, I’m days from being completed! As opposed to the lower section where I replaced the fronts of the entire case, the upper case I am refinishing and repairing as they were in much better condition. What does this mean for you? You get to see how to make a stair case look pretty using either method. Hopefully I will be able to share the completed stairs in the next post by the end of the week.

Pin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Related posts:

1 comment
in Around the House, Basement