Thursday, June 27, 2013

Good-bye Yellow Beach Shack

Mustard yellow on a nice Cape Cod or colonial house with white trim and black shutters is OK.

Mustard yellow on a 1950s trailer is not, especially when the color covers almost EVERYTHING--window trim, steps, landings....

Actually, that's not true--the previous owners finished off the living room addition with roofing-type shingles, which added a nice contrast to the mustard:

Last weekend, we finally covered most of the mustard.

First, we power washed and scraped.  And scraped some more:

Then we primed:

The last photo is a preview of coming attractions because it includes all three of the colors we plan to use:  aqua, coral pink, and bright white.

As of tomorrow afternoon, I have nine days off, and we hope that by July 7th--three weeks before our one-year anniversary of purchasing the place--we'll have a cute beachy-looking cottage, complete with T-111 plywood to replace the shingles and new Sunbrella awnings on the trailer windows.

Well, the awnings might take a little longer, since they have to be special ordered, but maybe they'll be an anniversary gift, marking the day when the little cottage completes its journey from "Trash to Treasure."

Hmmm, we might have to get a sign made too.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Getting Past an Impasse

Doug:  I'm so tired of coming down here [i.e., to our beach cottage] just to work--I want to be able to enjoy it.

Diane:  Well, now that the inside's done, why don't we slow down and just hang out for a weekend or two?

Doug:  No, I want it done, so I can stop thinking about the work.

Diane:  OK, well then if you want to just blitz the rest of it and get it out of the way, let's do that.  I can take some vacation days and we'll just work on every day for a week and finish it.

Doug:  No, I'm too tired to do that.....

After several rounds like this, Doug finally realized that I was in a tough spot--a slave driver if I pushed him to finish quickly but a source of continuing frustration if I advocated for taking a more measured approach so that we could "stop and smell the roses."

And that's what we've done for the past two weekends.

We still made progress on the outside of the cottage (more on that later this week).

In the meantime, we may not have smelled any roses, but we have admired a beautiful jarful of hydrangeas:

Roasted giant marshmallows on our new grill. (Doug also cooked a steak and thinks I should have included a picture of that instead...)

Sat on the porch at dusk with no lights except candles:

Watched Pax enjoy the porch for the first time:

Stopped at a thrift store and bought a giant bowl to be turned into a birdbath using the bottom of a broken wicker chair as a base:

The work will still get done.  But in the meantime, we're enjoying what we've already accomplished, savoring what we already have.

Life is good.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Porch Re-Do Take 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about our beach shack porch being finished.

Well, it was, kind of--the new floor was in, the walls were covered with T-111 plywood, and bead board was installed on the ceiling.  We had some chairs, a dresser, and a table for two.

But the furniture wasn't the "lay-back-and-take-a-nap" kind of stuff that a screened porch cries out for, and the walls were still pretty bare.

Since that post, we were very fortunate to acquire two pieces of high-quality, albeit aging, wicker furniture--a sofa and a love seat.

When I took the cushions off so that I could unzip the covers for washing, we discovered that the webbing holding them up was dry rotted.  So we gave the two pieces a makeover.

I washed the covers, we installed new webbing, and I repadded the cushions using spray adhesive and a huge roll of dacron. My blonde assistant was here helping, but she was just out of range of the camera:

I wasn't thrilled with the covers that were on the sofa and love seat--they looked more tailored than beachy--but they were in good condition, and we didn't have the money to get 10 new covers made.

So I splurged on these grain sack pillows at Pottery Barn, which do a great job of integrating the covers with the rest of the porch:

We also added the striped rug from, which Jodie thinks is much more comfortable than bare boards.

Doug painted the window in the corner and rigged up a chain so it would stay open and give us great cross-breezes through the bedroom:

I found the clock online at colors of the reclaimed wood were just perfect for the porch:

The chalkboard was a found item after the UD students moved out:

I found the float on our beach one day a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, it got my hopes up, so now every time take Jodie out to the beach to play ball, I scan the shore, thinking I'm going to find another one:

We scavenged this little wire table from my former in-laws' house.  Painted pink and outfitted with two of Doug's tennis press trays, it's a handy little end table:

And on our way to the beach this weekend, we spotted this little mission table at a yard sale for $4.  With two coats of sea-salt paint, it was ready for service at the other end of the sofa by Saturday evening:

With a throw over the back, the love seat is ready for cool nights:

The table I scavenged from last year's UDon't Need It sale is in a perfect spot for us to look out on the wetlands while we eat:

Jodie seems to be in every picture--I guess that's because she's seldom more than two feet away from either of us....

Doug still needs to do some wiring so that we can install lighting, but with daylight lasting until 9:00 this time of year--and lots of candles--who needs electric lights? For now....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Design as Process Not Product

In their blog This (sorta) Old Life, Cane and Rita talk about a concept they call UnDesign.

Here is a summary of what they mean by the term in their own words:

As self-proclaimed UnDesigners, we value the process of creating our home more than anything we put in it. More often than not, we don’t quite know what we’re going to end up with until we are nearly done with a project. And “done” is a constantly moving target. Because the “product” reveals itself slowly over time, there are ample opportunities to make changes and do things differently than we originally thought we might.

I think they're on to something.  

When we moved into our little cottage almost six years ago, we knew that our extra bedroom would have to be a workhorse.  

And a miniature one at that.

At the beginning, it housed Christine's queen sized bed, which completely overpowered the 10x11-foot space.  Here's her bed in her new apartment, where she actually has room for it:

After she moved into a house with other students at the end of her freshman year, the bed went with her, and we decided to buy a futon.  It seemed like a good idea at the time--all the advantages of a double bed without taking up bed space.  So we bought a high-quality futon from LL Bean and then splurged on a custom denim slipcover for it, complete with round bolster pillows to make it more like a couch.

Except it wasn't a couch.  It wasn't as comfortable as a couch, so I rarely sat on it.

And it wasn't as practical as a bed because even though it didn't take up as much space while it was in couch position, I still had to find room to store four pillows, a set of sheets, and a thick mattress topper to make it even remotely comfortable for someone to sleep on. Then it had to be opened and made up if someone wanted to sleep on it.

So a few weeks ago, I traded the futon to Alex and Ashleigh for a double bed, which is now ready for them if they come to spend the night.  I think they made out like bandits on the deal because they have an expensive futon AND a comfortable bed to sleep on when they spend the night at our house.

On to the workout part of the room.  We had our exercise bike in there, which I ride maybe a dozen times a year in bad weather, and Doug might use about half that often.  I wanted it in the basement because I don't care whether I'm surrounded by wet laundry while I ride it, but Doug fought me on it because he wanted it where there is a TV he can use to watch The Price is Right during his hour of stationary cycling pain.  I just couldn't justify that thing taking up prime real estate for a few rides a year.

I finally won that battle, but I lost the war because a few months after we wrestled the bike down to the basement, we got Jodie. The extra space was quickly consumed by a dog crate large enough for a Labrador retriever.  

And now for the sewing corner in the room.

I was originally sewing on a little linoleum-topped table that I got for free at the UDon't Need It sale a couple of years ago.  But then we needed the table at our beach cottage, so I piled all of my sewing stuff on the floor and moved the table to its new home on the porch:

With this year's UDon't Need It sale right around the corner, I was pretty sure I could find a replacement for it.  

Maybe not.  

I found four chairs, a salad bowl, measuring spoons and cups, and a fleece throw for my daughter and her roommates to use in their new apartment.

But no tables that would work in the space that I had.

I went back on the last day of the sale and searched again.

Still no table.  But then I saw a desk--a solid wood desk in perfect condition that was exactly the right size.  And it was only $1.  

Why had I ever thought I wanted a table?  A desk offered storage for all my sewing stuff instead of just a surface for me to work on.  So $24.09 later, I had new bin pull hardware to replace the 1960s scroll-y pulls.  I also painted the top to cover some scratches and make it look less like a 1960s desk:

I think this is an example of what Cane and Rita mean by UnDesign.  My decorating is as much about process as product, things evolve as I see how we actually live, and sometimes I don't know what I want until I see it.

Sometimes you win--with free vintage tables and dollar desks--and sometimes you lose...with expensive futons.  But I'm starting to realize that you can't always use money as the basis for deciding whether you've won or lost.

It has to be about whether it works for you or not, and--at least for now--this is working....  

But maybe someday Jodie won't need that crate, and I'll have about 8 more square feet to use for something.....