Deuce Cities Henhouse

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

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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


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

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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!

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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
▼ Glass Niche Shelves Installed
▼ Make a Pendant for over the Table
▼ Artwork for behind the sofa
▼ Paint Doors Black

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.

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Fall Landscaping and Garden Clean-Up

Hello Friends! You know it’s that time of year when you’ve got to starting thinking about all that boring, tedious, endless yard work you’ve got comin’ at cha. That’s how most people see it anyway, but I actually find a lot of satisfaction from getting my garden in tip-top shape. It helps knowing that that extra effort will give your garden and lawn the best shot at a great spring. Here’s a few of the things that are on my fall check list every year. Happy end-of-year gardening, to ya.

Lower Mower Deck

Give your lawn a good trim before you put it to bed for the winter. For the last mow or two set your mower blade low, cutting the grass between 1″ and 2″. Cutting the grass short prevents disease from setting in over the winter. It also allows that last little bit of sunlight to get to the roots. An additional benefit, leaves have less of an area to imbed themselves on.

Consider renting an aerator or having someone aerate your lawn this fall. Aerating your lawn allows oxygen and water to get to the grasses roots and also prevents against thatch.

Continue to rake the leaves as they fall. You don’t want the leaves to become matted on the lawn as they could create perfect environment for fungal disease.

Divide & Cut Back Perennials

In general, it is best to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall, and fall bloomers in spring. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go to root and leaf growth. There is always lots to consider and edit during this process. If I have a plant that did not do well in one location, now might be the time to move it to a new spot. Also, consider the size of the plant before dividing, I only divide a plant every few years or when it becomes to large for the space that it’s in.

If you have an interesting plant that winters well, such as sedum of echinacea, feel free to leave it in your garden. This fall I left the stems on all the sedum and phlox. The sedum were left for visual interest and the phlox were left because I lost many of them last year, and I want to a visual marker of where they are located for when the spring comes next year.

Take care when pruning and winterizing roses (reference the internet for specifics on roses) and heuchera (only remove leaves that look damaged) and make sure not to cut back woody plants such as hydrangea and clematis.

This is also time to cut back your perennials, do this once the foliage begins to die as this is a sign of the plant getting ready for winter. Cut the foliage back to 2-3″ from the base.

After your gardens are winterized add a good layer of mulch or leaves are added to help protect the perennials over the winter months. Don’t remove the mulch until after the frost has left the ground in the spring.

Here are a few perennials that can be divided in the fall:
Daylily | Peony | Phlox | Hosta | Ornamental Grasses | Cone Flower |Astilbe
Here are a few perennials that can be cut back in the fall:
Hostas | Daylily | Iris | Peony | Sedum | Salvia | Astilbe | Coneflower | Ferns | Ornamental Grasses | Asiatic Lilies | Phlox | Bleeding Hearts | Dianthus

Winter Summer Bulbs & Tubers

If you live in a cold climate you better consider wintering your bulbs and tubers if you want to plant them again next year.

After the first good frost (usually when you lose blooms and the leaves turn black), cut down your bulbs and tuber plants back leaving only a few inches of stalk remaining. Using a gardening fork or a small shovel, dig up the bulbs or tubers.

Store the bulbs or tubers in peat moss away from frost for the winter. I put my Dahlia tubers in the back of my kitchen pantry.

A list of bulbs or tubers you may want to consider saving this fall:
Dahlias | Cannas | Caladiums | Callas | Gladiolus

Harvest Seeds

Hey! Did you know you can collect seeds from your annuals to plant again next year? I am big fan of planting zinnia’s and impatiens by seed, usually sowing in doors in late February.

It’s easy to collect the seeds. All you need to do is collect the flowers, wait for them to dry out, seperate the seeds from the flowers and husks. Store your seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry location. Make sure to label the container with the variety of seed and year.

Here is a great resource for collecting seeds from annuals.

Common annuals you can collect seeds from:
Impatiens | Petunias | Marigolds | Coleus | Zinnias

Water Trees and Plants

Give your gardens a good drink of water before the frost and snow comes, and don’t exclude trees, they might need it the most. Make sure to water deeply and slowly making sure that you are getting the root zone. I set a sprinkler at the base of the tree to make sure that the roots are getting a good drink.

As a general rule of thumb, apply ten gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree will need twenty gallons per watering. Make sure to get each tree one to two good waterings before the winter frost. Mulch will help the soil moisture.

Here’s a great tip: Hoses emit water at different rates anywhere from 1-6 gallons per minute. To test the emission rate of your hose, fill a garden bucket to measure your amount per minute.

Plant Spring Bulbs

Fall is the prime time to plant spring bulbs! In general you want the evening temperatures to be between 40º and 50º degrees to ensure the ground is cool.

You can plant bulbs just about anywhere in the garden, just make sure to read the label when planting to ensure proper planting depth. Bulbs don’t like to be too wet so make sure the soil you’re planting has good drainage. Loosen the soil before planting so the roots can easily grow throughout the winter.

For high impact in the spring, plant bulbs in clusters!

Protect Vulnerable Trees & Shrubs

If you’re like me, you may have a few tender plants, trees or shrubs in your garden that need a little extra loving to get through the winter. For me, it’s my Japanese Maple. Zone 4 is an iffy climate for a Japanese Maple, but if you baby it a little in the fall, the tree will be much more likely to survive the winter.

Burlap is recommend for protecting these sensitive trees. Burlap is eco-friendly, biodegradable and strong. It is ideal for protecting newly planted trees, and trees subject to powerful winter winds, sub zero temperatures and hard frosts.

image credit : found it on da net.

Trees and Shrubs you may consider protecting:
Flowering Dogwoods | Paperbark Maples | Japanese Maples | Ornamental shrubs and Connifers
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