Just wanted to post some pictures of our victory garden that Brice, Melanie, and myself worked so hard to make. It has been pretty productive, but sadly our squash and pumpkins got the powdery mildew! Boo! They look very sad and snowy now. It is a learning experience. Next year I will plant fewer squash and zucchini plants, and group other plants together based on their similar environmental needs.

It was a cold May, but here we are tearing out the old raised weed garden. We moved a serious amount of dirt!

The finished garden. Looked better before the squash went south. Never mind that the lawn needs to be mowed pretty badly, but it did fill in from the spring. We had such a wet year this summer. I have never seen anything like it in Colorado before.

Although we had a lot of soil, we brought in some quality composted soil from a local business. We created a rock chip path around the beds, and lined that with brick from the hardware reclamation store. So much better now that there is less grass in the yard! We also had to move a small apple tree that is visible in the second picture. Since the cottonwood out front died, we planted it there.

Small Spaces - Tips for a Fabulous Craft Room!

I have a personal passion for tiny spaces. Lucky for me, all spaces in this house are quite small. As I worked through the design and organization of my craft room/studio, I marveled at how normal a bedroom this small would have been one hundred years ago. Barely enough room for a twin bed, this room is about 7 x 9 feet. However, even the smallest of spaces can be livable if a person plans well. The key to this room was to use the vertical as well as the horizontal space.

So without further ado, I present the nearly finished craft room...

The first picture shows the new window, which is such a vast improvement over the storm window that was in place there. That is correct, there was no window in this room. It was removed and only the thin, aluminum storm window remained. The new one opens so easily and keeps out the cold in the winter time. Plus it was a piece of cake to install. This type of window is a vinyl insert, meaning you don't have to strip the window down to the rough opening, you can simply slide the window into the existing framed and trimmed hole. The most difficult part was creating shims to level the window, since the majority of the windows were no where close to a right angle. If anyone is considering replacing the windows in their old house, do it! Window size makes very little difference in price. After replacing ten windows in this house, I spent around $2500. Sadly, I replaced my windows before the rebate was offered...

The dresser was a thrift store find at ARC. I bought it half off for a total of $15. Originally it was white laminate, but it I sanded and painted it using purple paint samples from Ace. I also repainted the hardware with a brushed nickel spray paint. I just love purple and orange together.

Above the dresser, I added some ribbon holders. I made the holders out of some scrap lumber that we had lying around from the window install. I will most likely paint them when our air compressor returns from the shop.

The cabinet in the corner, is unfortunately covering an electrical junction box. When the electricians came, we asked about moving all the wires to the outside, but they felt that would be a lot of work. So it remains an obstacle to work around in this room. I am in the process of stripping the old hinges and adding a colorful knob to it.

These are hanging glass lanterns that I have found at garage sales and hardware reclamation store. I decorated one with beads just to make it a little more fun. I can use them strictly for decoration by putting a candle in them, or I can use them for storage such as knitting needles and the like.

Peg board is critical (and cheap) for good organization in a craft room. I will be adding another piece under the cabinet. There are a lot of great peg board supply stores online.

We used a large (19.5" wide) piece of laminate for the working bench. We secured it to the walls with heavy duty brackets hung onto the studs and then added two table legs to prevent the front from sagging. The brackets claim they can hold 250 pounds per pair if hung into the studs. We used four for each side. This room only has two outlets so Brice drilled a couple holes into the bench to bring electrical cords up through the top rather than stringing them around the room.

Lots of shelving! Simple to install, but completely necessary for this room. On my shelves I keep my craft books and patterns, fabric, beads, sewing supplies, etc. using interesting bottles and baskets, any craft supply can be put on display.

Here are jars of sewing notions such as ribbon, zippers, rick rack, and cording.

Here are jars of buttons.

Here are jars with various craft supplies, game pieces, bottle caps, fabric leaves, sequins, etc.

And my favorite addition, a couple of refrigerator bins as baskets for holding my patterns and more sewing supplies (bias tape, elastic, etc.).

I love to sew, so I have lots of fabric. I decided to roll it onto bolts, since that would make it easier to view. I used to store it in a plastic tub, and have bought the same fabric twice, because I didn't know I already had it. Now it is time to use it. I still store my fabric scraps in a plastic tub that is under the bench.

Here is an up close picture of the fabric. I cut up cardboard boxes to create a 6" X 12" core to roll the fabric onto. Worked great!

Under the shelves is not the best place to work, so I use this bench space for more storage. I keep my knitting and crochet needles in a wine bottle gift box and jars, paper in a white laminate paper holder, and my bead findings in a garage organizer.

Of course you don't want to use all the space under your bench, but I found this dresser at a thrift store and knew it would be a perfect addition for the craft room. Originally it had a cracked marble top that I removed, making it fit perfectly under the bench! As I said before, I also keep a few bins under the bench with my scrap fabric in them.

I keep my paint brushes and pencils in this neat canister light (another thrift store find).

And I keep my Sharpies in this remaining vestige of my former job as a scientist, a bright green micro tube holder...

Finally, I bought this organizer for the closet to put my yarn in. Again it allows yarn to be displayed rather than shoved in a box so that I can see what I have on hand. I will put closet doors on the room eventually, as I am using this closet to store exercise equipment, musical instruments, wrapping paper, games, and heavy coats that won't fit in the other closet (their are only two in this house!).


How to Cover Wood Paneling

I thought that I would post a quick "how to" on hiding wood paneling. In my house, the wood paneling was on both the walls and ceiling. The addition was built at a time when this particular style was popular and the paneling took the place of plaster. Now I realize that some people really like this look, but I was not so fond of it. After much consideration, I decided that I would skim coat the paneling with joint compound and then hang a textured, paintable wallpaper on top.

Here are the steps that we took when covering our paneling. This worked for us, but modifications could make it even better.

Step one: Give your paneling a good sanding, especially if it was stained at some point. If it was painted as ours was, a quick sanding and then a wipe down with tack cloth will help the joint compound stick.

Step two: Cover the paneling with joint compound. We use the quick setting joint compound as it is structurally stronger and actually goes through a chemical reaction as it sets unlike the premixed types which merely dry. It is a pain to have to keep mixing it, however.

Step three: Sand down the joint compound. By far, this is the worst step. Be sure to wear a dust mask and tape off other connected rooms. This step is messy, hot, and allows you to breathe your own exhaust for an extended period of time. Splendid! I would never want to work as a drywall installer.

Step four: Paint the joint compound with drywall primer. Do not saturate the joint compound as it will try to come off. Several coats may be necessary, but make sure that it dries completely between coats.

Step five: This is something that we did not do, but would do in the future. Paint the room with a latex paint. We didn't do this, and when we hung the wallpaper, the joint compound would sometimes try to come off. It seems like a coat or two of latex paint would probably tack down that joint compound a little better.

Step six: Hang your wallpaper as you would normally hang wallpaper. Be careful when rolling the seams, as pushing out the paste could mean pealing wallpaper later.

Step seven:
Take care of any peeling or loose seams. We used paintable caulk around baseboards and trim, and along edges to secure the wallpaper further.

Step eight: Paint the wallpaper. We encountered some bubbles as the wallpaper became saturated again. These disappeared as the wallpaper dried, but we were worried for a while.

Step nine:
Enjoy your room. As with any wallpaper, keep some paste handy in case humidity changes cause your wallpaper to peel some. Since we live in Colorado, our problem is the lack of humidity, which creates formidable plaster and joint compound cracks.

The before and after pictures are in the post prior to this. This picture shows the "after" detail. You would never know there is deep, wood paneling behind this paper.


Another Hiatus

This time, the hiatus was from the blog...

We have been very busy since November. My parents came up and helped to install all new windows and doors. They still need to be trimmed and painted, but it is so nice to have windows that actually open! In May we tore up the backyard and put in four 8' x 4' raised gardens. We will have enough squash and zucchini to sell at the market. We also moved a crab apple tree that was under the power lines in the backyard into the front yard. I won't post pictures of all this work in this post, but I will get myself organized and enter them in next time.

However, my favorite recent project was fixing up the back bedroom as a craft room/studio. As many of you may remember, the back of the house was an addition that was made entirely of solid wood paneling. Walls and ceiling! Since the ceiling was so short (seven feet!), it felt like I was living in a motor home with siding. My brilliant idea was to skim coat the siding and then cover it with a textured, paintable, wallpaper. My mother is a whiz at hanging wallpaper, so she came up and helped me.

Zip ahead to current time, and I am without a job. However, that has given me time to think about where I am going and what I need to do to get there. I realized that I purchased this house because I wanted to have a room that I could make into my studio. For the last three years, I have put my art on hold (save for knitting, since it takes almost no room) and I have been a little depressed as a result. So Saturday, I came into the computer room and told Brice that I wanted to finish the craft room. This was contrary to everything that I had been saying the last few weeks, which was that I wanted to complete all the little things that we have left undone before starting something new. That day, we finished hanging the wallpaper. Sunday we hung up the trim. Tuesday I primed and painted the trim. Finally, on Wednesday we painted the room...macaroni and cheese orange!

Here are some "before" pictures of the room...

You can see the old window in this picture, which was an aluminum storm window. These rooms in the back addition had their "real" windows removed at some point and there was an enormous amount of heat loss in the winter time.

In the next picture, notice that there are two light switches. One was for the porch light, but we moved it into the room with the back door. It was difficult trying to figure out what all the switches were for in this part of the house. You will also notice the plug in the closet. Although not visible in this picture, there was also a phone and cable outlet in there as well. The last owners did not have a closet door, but we will be ordering one soon. While everyone wishes they had a plug in the closet, we moved it.

Now to paint it orange...or juicy cantaloupe to be exact. Orange is said to be a creative color and just so happens to be my favorite. Being native Coloradans, the orange with the blue painter's tape reminded us of Bronco colors. But once it was removed, things looked much better.

In this picture, you can see the new vinyl Pella window that we got at Lowes. More on that later...

Definitely reminded us of macaroni and cheese or maybe even a creamsicle.