Monday, September 30, 2013

DIY Deck Railings

We had a fun weekend, and I hope you did, too!  The weather lately has been amazing, so I have taken advantage of these sunny, cool days by getting outside as much as possible-- weeding, playing golf, and (of course) working on the deck.  After building the main platform and then the privacy screen I moved on to the railings.  

 Figuring out the right design had me stumped for a while there, since both of my books and most of what I could find out there on the internet describes how to build this one style of railing that I'm not crazy about... The advantages are that water drains well since there aren't any flat surfaces, and it's easy to build, but I just couldn't get excited about this look, so I kept searching for clues on how to build what I do like.  Here's the easy version of railings, with the posts attached to the outside of the deck. 

After digging up a few inspiration photos I worked on figuring out how to recreate this look.  I love how clean the whole thing appears with the posts set inside the frame of the deck (something I knew I wanted early on enough to install them before laying the decking boards-- you really have to think ahead on a project like this!  Makes my brain hurt...:)), and I like the wide handrail at the top punctuated by post caps.

The first step was to install the 2x6 wide hand rails on top of the vertical posts all the way around, and then for each section of railing I screwed in a 2x4 as the bottom support, making sure it was level and at a uniform height (in my case about 3 1/2 inches off of the floor).  Then the tricky and time consuming part was assembling the inside sections, each created out of a 1x2 slat across both top and bottom, connecting the balusters together.  Each section of railing varies in width from the next, so each insert had to be designed specifically for that space, which ended up being a real project of precision.  And cutting.  So much cutting.   

Building the main sections of railing actually flew by once I got the hang of things and found a system that worked for me, but the trickiest, most brain-challenging part was doing the stairs.  Checking and double checking my angles (and still having to redo a couple of things-- hey, it happens:)) was again made so much more fun by my handy angle finder tool.  This thing absolutely saved me and kept me from throwing in the towel when facing this part of the project.

I'm not quiiiiite finished with all of the railing work yet, as you can see in the photo below, but I couldn't wait to share my progress with you!



Friday, September 27, 2013

The 411 on Hosting

It is Friday, and a week ago I was hosting a party for 50. I know the number 50 may sound a little scary,  but I tell you the party can be done without breaking the bank. Here is how I approach a large parish party. 

Uno: I follow the rule 3 bites per guest, 1 bottle of vino per 6, and 1 bottle of pelegrino per 4. From there you can decide how many glasses you wish to serve per person. A little math goes a LONG way and will help you save some change. 

For last week's party, friends also brought food/prosecco to add to the mix, which I was very grateful for.  The menu consisted of a substantial cheese plate, french baguette topped with ricotta/figs/honey, Korean sushi (homemade by friends), two bite brownies, apples & honey, then a Mediterranean plate with olives, hummus, figs, and tapenade. We had plenty to eat and drink. I am pretty sure every guest left happier then when they arrived. 

 Once the table was set I placed flowers throughout the whole house. I love having a little blooming surprise throughout our communal spaces. 

What are your hosting tricks?



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fashion Discovery

So you know how once you order the first thing online and you get on one company's mailing list, suddenly catalogues of all kinds start popping up in your mailbox?  Normally I don't pay too much attention to the random ones I didn't ask for, but occasionally one shows up that makes me glad every company I do business with passes my address around.  

Boden's catalogue showed up about a month ago and caught my eye with it's colorful, tailored clothes and it's claim to offer great British style.  Aaaaaand I'm hooked.  I'm not kidding, I dogeared nearly every other page and figured out that if I *were* to buy everything I liked from there-- even though the prices are reasonable, somewhere between a J Crew and Banana Republic price point)-- it would still cost us a small fortune:)

Am I just late to the party here?  Have they been around and I've just never known about it?  Here are a few of my favorite picks.  Enjoy!



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pre-School in NYC


Do you remember what you wore on the first day of pre-school? H started school last week at Jack and Jill's pre-school. It is a very sweet neighborhood school attached to our church. So, just like S we prepared and H picked his first day of school outfit.   H selected charcoal overalls from Olive Juice.  Overalls are definitely making a come back, you heard it here first. Henry's striped shirt is from Target and Umi boots we purchased at Nordstroms.  The boots are so perfect for a preschooler, no laces required! 

On the menu for the first day of school were pancakes; Henry's favorite.  My mom always says, "full bellies, happy hearts."


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dining Room Design for Less

My sister in law, Lindsay, moved to Louisville a few months ago from New York City, and we could not be more pleased to have her so close to us!  She is one of my best friends in the world, so it's just a bonus that we get to hang out during family vacations with the Kochs:)  Last month she moved into her new apartment, and we have been brainstorming about how she wants to decorate it.  Since she came from a tiny NY apartment, she moved here with just a little furniture of her own, so we get to start from scratch and (of course) hunt for some good deals!

One major purchase she's been planning on making is a dining room table, and after checking out some options at Restoration Hardware that she liked, she figured she would probably end up investing close to a thousand dollars on a new one.  Before she took the plunge, though, I offered to look around at some of our local antique warehouses to see if I could find something close to the look, but for less, and yesterday I hit the pavement on the hunt for just the right thing. 

She knew she wanted something good quality, with classic lines and a little rustic-- but not as far as a straight farmer's table look.  Here is one of the Restoration Hardware picks she made:

After hours of searching and not finding much with either the right price tag or the right look, I checked out the clearance section of one of the warehouses-- and stumbled on this table.  The color of the wood is frankly a little homely in person, which is probably why it's on clearance, but it's a well made, sturdy table with some decent detailing and two extra leaves.  And the best part is that since it's been sitting there a while, it cost us $65.  No joke.  For the whole table.

To freshen it up and give it an updated look we're going to paint it, although I'm not exactly sure what color we'll use yet.

For projects like this one, I love Rustoleum's line of oil based enamels.  This stuff covers so well and resists chipping and scratching like no latex paint could.  So if we can find a color we like in their lineup, we'll do it-- otherwise we can have regular oil based paint tinted a custom color at Home Depot.

What a happy find, don't you think?? And now she has all that extra money to spend on dining room chairs:)



Monday, September 23, 2013

Paint it GOLD

When Jake and I returned from the country I had a few nagging ideas on my mind. As soon as we returned I got to it.
 When I was selecting lighting on a budget I had to choose wisely when it came to accents. In the living room I was hoping for something gold and regal. BUT with our time constraints and budget we settled for silver RH sconces. The bronze options were way out of budget. The ones we got looked just fine, but I could not get the gold sconces out of my mind. Our living room is large and calls for a little bling. That is when I was tempted to paint our sconces gold. 

 I am so happy the result turned out just what I hoped for. Just a caution: you need a steady hand when painting with gold leaf, and I know it is tempting to paint two coats, but you must trust one coat is sufficient. If you over coat, you arer left with streaks, DIY in a bad way.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A little red goes a LONG way...

After two years you begin to get a little tired of you same old pillows. This is why I love whipping up new ones. Your home feels fresh without having to break the bank. Last week we received our RH oversize chairs. They are very comfy and just the right pieces for someone like the Rev. I would have preferred something more petite, but that's more to do with aesthetic then function. So, to brighting up my new chairs, I decided to bring in a little red and pink to the mix. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Building the Deck Stairs

We have been hard at work around here lately!  Still working on the deck... and we're getting close to the end now, which is so exciting.  The next phase after completing the surface and using what we had already finished for entertaining was to create the wide steps leading down to the back yard, but first we needed to install a landing at the base to support the stairs and transition the whole thing to the yard.  We picked up a load of bricks, gravel, and sand and headed home to start the demo.  

Our yard had a yucky, utilitarian concrete walkway leading back to the garage that was an eyesore, so we (by "we" I mean Jady:)) took a sledgehammer to it, smashed it up and carried off the remains.  I'm so glad that thing is gone! Next up, we marked off our dimensions and dug seven inches down into the dirt where we wanted the landing to be.

After raking and somewhat leveling the dirt underneath, we poured in bags of gravel about four inches deep, which is supposed to help with drainage so you don't have water collecting on the surface of the bricks.

Next we dragged bags of sand over and dumped those in, using a tamper to pack it all down and a 2x4 to level the surface (after the dog had finished tracking through to check out our work:)).

Laying the bricks was the fun part, and it went really quickly since we had decided not to do a more complicated herringbone pattern I was planning, which would have involved some time consuming cutting.  This way we just put them in place and made sure they were level-- pretty simple.  Once they were all in place, we brushed in a sandy concrete mixture that you spray down with water to harden and prevent weeds from poking through.

I measured to figure out how many stringers or support beams we would need for our nine foot wide staircase, bought them at the hardware store and spaced them the recommended 16 inches apart.  Once they were attached to the frame of the deck with special metal hangers, nailing in the stair treads and toe kicks was a breeze, especially with the huge nail gun:)

Once we got the bulk of the stairs in place we realized that the whole thing would look better if the brick landing extended out farther on the sides, but thankfully adding a couple of rows of extra bricks isn't too much trouble.  I'll get to that eventually!

Next up: creating the railings.  Stay tuned for more progress!


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