Updating our four poster bed to Black (part 2) the design ideas

Originally, when I had the idea of painting the four poster bed black, I was going to distress it, but as time passed, I began to really think distressing had become a bit passe. I want whatever finish I do to the bed to last for another 10+ years so I’m looking for a deep solid black on the bed as the final finish.

So before beginning I collected some Inspiration photos on my Pinterest bedroom board:

bassett_four_poster_bed
Basset Furniture
234f920188fd07c50f0d1d7d3312a9ed
Baker Ballard Interiors

I had a pretty good idea that the black bed would look great against the white molding wall that I will be doing behind it in the master bedroom, something similar to this feature wall.

b4a42cbb47493a392beaa37f371bb3d6
Charles Vincent George Architects

I also knew from experience that it was hard to really find bed linens that looked good with the cream white – the poster bed itself seemed to fade away in the room. However, I think black would be stunning for example against this Pottery Barn duvet:

rebecca-floral-duvet-cover-sham-1-o

I had tried a Glidden black for the television cabinet with the idea I would just be using the paint for the bed but I discovered it didn’t handle the water based poly coat that I wanted to put as the topcoat so off to Sherwin Williams where I bought another black called Tricorn.

 

Blog change and some updates

Well here I am again! You probably thought I was gone for good! hahaha no, but I have been busy and need to update the blog.

First, I’m changing the blog name to my own domain: FrontPorchCozy which was a plan of mine about 2 years ago. The new blog has NO ADS. Yep, there will NEVER BE ADS HERE. So you don’t have to wade through a bunch of damn popups and crap that you see on these other decorating and remodeling blogs. Can’t stand ads and at this point this blog remains a PERSONAL project.

As the work on our Tulsa House slows down (as we will be selling in 2-3 years), we are moving our lives into a new direction which I think will interest you as it is related to this blog but different:

A. Downsizing. We, like many in the U.S. are trying to live within a limited budget especially as we are looking at retirement in about 15 years. We have a bigger goal of saving money by cutting expenses and improving our quality of life. This means reducing the big house with the big mortgage to reduce stress.

B. Travel. We are going to be looking at a lot of travel models that would fit what we want to do in order to increase our income: buying property that we will sublet out for vacationers. With that in mind, you’ll be seeing some videos and thoughts on different places we have visited and what worked for us and what didn’t as a traveler. Most, if not all, of this will be focused on small homes, cabins, and unique getaways such as glampers or alternative built homes.

C. Building and Remodeling. We will continue to wrap up work on the Tulsa House with the goal to sell it, while we explore other ways to build a new home with methods like Cob or Cordwood, using alternative energy like Solar.

I have a lot of projects I need to catch you up on in terms of photos and descriptions, which I’ll be getting too over the next month as I have time. So while this blog will probably never be a daily blog or maybe not even weekly, I will be posting some neat stuff that I hope you enjoy.

Meanwhile, you can catch more action over at our Facebook page Front Porch Cozy and at our Pinterest page.

Houses for Sale: Common search phrases

Just looked on Zillow, and these came up as common search terms for the someone looking for a house in my zipcode:

COMMON PHRASES:

Energy efficient windows
(we have solar screens, but might want to add in the listing the additional blown in insulation)
Fridge stay homes**
Large bonus room homes
Exercise room homes
Updated HVAC homes**
Two car garage homes**
Wood floor homes**
Covered back porch homes**
Huge pantry homes**
Hardwood entry homes**

** these features are in our home!

Links to inspiring kitchen images on Zillow:

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7261969707/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-5567683432/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7323365383/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/traditional-kitchens-7439587386/

http://www.zillow.com/digs/contemporary-kitchens-5124113387/

 

New House Paint on the Exterior

The biggest cosmetic change over the last two months is that we repaired and painted the exterior of the house. Here’s some of the painting-after photos (the color is deceptive – this is gray with a brown undertone):

south_side_house_exterior_after_paint_sherwin_williams_gray_gauntlet1_simply_rooms

The house still had its original paint color of when we built it 18 years ago – a khaki green color. The trim around the windows was really suffering as well as two areas where squirrels had taken advantage of wood rot to gain access to the attic.

The house was WAYY overdue for a repair and paint job! In the photo below, the paint is still drying on the left (and why it looks uneven) while the painter repairs our chimney stack. Boy, I can’t believe he got it done in 12 hours with just one helper!

house_exterior_painting_back

We had discussed possible paint colors with a real estate agent years back and she had recommended gray.  The brick on our house is a red color (no orange-red) and had a gray/smoky black accent brick. As you can see from the photos we have a unique mortar – called “weeping mortar” – it is not a mistake and some people like it (like us) and some people don’t.

We went around to some neighborhoods that were a notch above ours and scoped out a bunch of houses with brick about the color of ours that had painted the wood gray. Definitely liked it! However, we preferred the darker grays, not the light colors.

One thing we did not like was the really light color trim around the windows and roof trim. The white trim with dark color would look better in a Cape Cod neighborhood and with a house with alot more wood showing. For example, this house has a large wood facade over the garage, so the two colors of paint work! I also love the shutters!

two_tone_paint_color_exterior_house_shutter_detail2_simplyrooms

However, this style just didn’t suit or house and we both thought it chopped up the line of the house too much. Our front house profile actually has far more brick than wood and could handle a darker color in order to make a statement.

Some people make out doing exterior house paint more complicated then it needs to be. Since we are reselling in three years, I just needed a nice neutral that showed off the brick of the house, and would be acceptable to a large number of shoppers. I didn’t need the exact right shade of gray out of 20 different test paints.

1.) Drive thru neighborhoods with similar styled houses and take note of paint colors. Take photos.

2.) I had collected paint colors through Pinterest and read various blog comments etc… that were attached to popular colors in the color family I planned on using.

3.) Get some test paint samples and put on the house. Make sure the test paint is put on in a big enough area you can see it from a distance. Look at it in different lights and keep it up for a few days. See what you think.

4.) If not happy, go back to the paint store. Painting a house is a huge undertaking and expensive. Better to invest in some more test quarts than tell the painter to stop in the middle of the job!

5.) Paint!

Going darker, which we ended up doing, was taking our paint a little out of the comfort zone of many of the houses in our neighborhood. About 80 percent or more still sporting the same light taupe colors the builder had put on over two decades ago! We felt it was worth the risk as more expensive houses had gone darker in tone, and we wanted to stand out but not too much.

Our Painter uses Sherwin Williams so we tried two shades on the front entrance (French Gray was the lighter) and we decided on the darker color, 7019 Gauntlet Gray (the painter chose a Satin finish which I LOVE!). With the needed repairs, this was a $2,000 job for a professional house painter (someone we saw do a house in our neighborhood and who really impressed us with the work they did).

before_after_house_exterior_paint_simply_rooms

I’ll get more photos once the sun comes back out. The brick color in the bottom before photo is more accurate. The top after photo was taken in really strong sunlight so the color is a bit off. New photos will be coming soon.

This is just the beginning of the house exterior redo – we plan on putting up shutters and doing a hardware accent on the garage, as well as new landscaping. However, after the big expenses we have had, I’m going back to smaller projects inside the house.

8 Tips for the best DIY Orange-Oil Dusting Rags

orange_cleaning_dusting_clothes_simply_rooms

There’s a couple of different versions of this recipe floating around the Pinterest boards. Over the year of making and using these I’ve found a few tricks that I’ll share here.

Oranges or Lemons – the procedure is the same regardless of what citrus you pick. Lemons gives a stronger smell than oranges which are milder. I find it easiest to sit down with a bag of oranges (bought on sale) and just peel and keep the segments back for snacking and the rinds for the cleaning project. If you try to collect as you eat oranges through the week the project drags on forever.

Clean Rags – T-shirt material is ideal as it is thin and you want something that will soak up the cleaning mix. Another option would be microfiber washcloths and I love the price at the Rag Company. If your using microfiber cloths plan on keeping the oil in a dispenser (like a recycled condiment bottle) and squeeze onto the washcloth instead of soaking it (soaking it would take a lot of oil to gain saturation).

Olive Oil – it is not necessary to use the expensive kind. Cheap is fine.

Vinegar – I prefer White Vinegar as it doesn’t have as strong a smell as Apple Cider. If using ACV it will overwhelm the citrus scent, FYI.

Essential Oil – optional for those who like a stronger citrus smell. I’ve added about 1 teaspoon per one batch (as described here). Luckily, citrus essential oils are some of the cheapest EO’s. Orange and Lemon are very affordable.

Containers – I started out using recycled glass spaghetti jars with lids but I’ve switched to quart or gallon sized, Freezer bags as I really like to tuck a baggie of dust rags in my cleaning bucket – one upstairs, one down, for quick access.

Solution:

1 c. water

1/2 c. vinegar

1/4 cup Olive Oil

10 Citrus fruits – trim off for the rinds – they should be dry – not wet! All pulp should be removed.

TIP #1: Cut your rinds into thin strips. This shape is easier to wrap cloth around and to tuck into the bag over the quarter/wedge size.

TIP #2: If orange peels are damp or wet, pat dry, and stick in a low temp (150 degree oven) to dry out for about 10 minutes. Let them cool before using.

TIP #3: Oil and water will continue to separate so whisk your liquids between each rag you are soaking.

TIP #4: If you mix in one large batch and dump in a rag, it will soak up ALL the oil, leaving you only with vinegar and water for the subsequent rags! Get a shallow pan, pour in a quarter cup or less of your mixed/whisked solution and put in a rag to wipe it up. Wring out the rag, wrap up your orange rinds inside and tuck into your plastic bag. Repeat. This way oil is spread evenly throughout your batch of cleaning rags.

TIP #5: Do not put used rags back in with the clean as this brings in contamination and starts mold. From my experience, these should last (unopened/unused) for at least 6 weeks maybe longer.

TIP #6: Once used these rags start to dirty up fast! Rinse in the sink and you can re-use immediately about two more times before there is no more oil in the rag to collect dust.

TIP #7: For best results, wait to use for at last two weeks after setting up. My only problem with these is I go through these very quickly and it takes so much time for them to set up. If you need dusting rags right away skip adding the fruit rinds and just go with the oil and vinegar to use immediately.

TIP #8: When wiping furniture, if you find it leaves too much oily residue to your liking, than go back over with a clean and dry microfiber cloth and next time you make the recipe cut the oil in half.

EXTRA TIP: A week after setting up a batch, doublecheck that nothing is molding. Sometimes despite your best efforts, mold enters and starts to spoil your batch. If caught early you might be able to save the rest by removing the offender.

I prefer these soaked cleaning rags over dusting spray. They work best over flat wooden surfaces like bookshelves, dressers, nightstands, sideboards, dining room tables, bed frames, etc… For my own cleaning routine they really work out for what I clean and how I do it!

My Favorite DIY Glass and Mirror Cleaner

DIY_glass_cleaner_simply_rooms

Most of these DIY cleaners simply don’t work (for example the popular Goo-Gone recipe of cheap oil and baking soda simply is not Goo-Gone and will never be). However, this is one recipe I came across that I’ve tested over the last year that is excellent for cleaning mirrors and glass. I’ve used it to bring a shine to my stove top too.

I mix it up at a gallon at a time in a clean kitty litter jug (with handle and lid properly labeled).

1 gallon of Distilled water (I use distilled because the water at my house is heavy in mineral content)
2 cups of Rubbing Alcohol
2 cups of White Vinegar (you could use Apple Cider but it increases the vinegar smell)

When I’m ready to finalize the mix into spray bottles I put 1 Tablespoon cornstarch to 2 cups of solution. Be sure to shake well before using as the Cornstarch likes to settle.

I also add 10 drops of Essential Oil. Some of my favorite cleaning EO’s include: Pine, Lemon, Lemon Eucalyptus, Orange, Lavender, and Rosemary. Be aware that some Essential Oils are packaged in oil (such as Vanilla and Rose) do not use these – as it will make your final solution oily.

Often most of these ingredients can be found on sale; here is an average cost of raw ingredients:

Distilled water (1 gal.) = .88
Rubbing Alcohol (16 oz) = $3.50
White Vinegar (1 gal.) = $2.50
Cornstarch (16 oz.) = $1.70

Essential Oils range from cheap (Orange at $8 a bottle) to expensive (Lavender at $35 a bottle) so that price is not included. Of course if you don’t use distilled water the price comes down a little more.

Homemade DIY cleanser is $.52 cents (2 cups) versus the same amount in Windex is $1.30. As I’ve gotten older I have found the smell of Windex more pungent. Not sure why that is but if you don’t like the smell of chemicals, going DIY on your cleaning solutions is smart.

I have three bathrooms so I leave a small spray bottle in each bathroom so mirrors can be cleaned whenever I grab a moment instead of searching around for cleaning solution downstairs when I’m upstairs.

Not all DIY cleansers are made equal. I’ve found many of these recipes don’t measure up but this one is easy, quick and effective! Great stuff!

Love this Quickie Steam Mop for hardwood and ceramic floors

On my quest to get the house into some sort of order – from the shambles it usually looks, the next cleaning tool I bought was a Bissell Powerfresh Clean Mop. There is a Sharp version in this price range, but Bissell got overall better ratings. I especially liked that Bissell fluid container could be re-filled and that it stands upright when not in use (the Sharp does not).

PRICE

It was initially listed cheaper at Target than Bed Bath and Beyond, and it was on a 10% off sale so purchase price was $90 with free shipping. Bissell routinely goes on sale so keep an eye out for deals. Again no freebies on this AD FREE BLOG! 😀

This was my first time ordering from the Target website and sorry not impressed. After buying, the only email I received was one telling me I would be told later when it would be shipped so two days later I have only a delivery range of dates and no tracking number. Not cool, Target.

USING IT

This is not a broom or vacuum – floors need to be swept clear of debris for this machine to be effective in cleaning your floors. Also, it does not suck up water like my old Hoover Floormate did although it would be effective on small liquid spills but so would a dishcloth.

It is easy to assemble – takes one screw and you are ready to go.

One thing I liked about this steam mop was I could fill it directly from the sink (or in my case, a distilled water jug). From reading the Sharp reviews you had to Jerry-rig the canister to be able to refill it. This wasn’t something I wanted to bother with doing. Remember, I hate housework and need quick and easy.

Heats up fast! You’ll be ready to go in less than 2 minutes. It has three options on how hot the mop can get – experiment and see what works best on your floor. I use a light or middle setting for my wood floors and use the hottest on the ceramic.

Unlike the Sharp steam mop, this mop can sit upright when not in use, so stores better. Always be sure to turn it off when done to prevent heat damage to the floor where it is sitting.

WATER TANK

I personally love that it uses water – not chemicals – to clean my floor. Distilled water prolongs the life of the machine and the cost is minimal if you compare it to floor cleaner. My area has heavy mineral content in the water, so I definitely want to use distilled water.

There is an option for a scent disc to be put into the mop head but I found it gave minimum scent (if you love heavily scented products like Febreeze or Lysol, this product is not like that) so I doubt I’ll buy that product insert again.

I’ve started using a suggestion on an Amazon review: to one gallon of distilled water I add 1/4 teaspoon of Essential Oil (Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Rosemary, Pine, Tea Tree oils are good ones to try as long as they are not blended in oil – check the label), with 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Shake the jug well before pouring into the tank. It should release a nice scent into the air as you clean!

CAUTION: Do no overuse or you could get streaking. Do not use essential oils containing oils like Jojoba (such as found in Vanilla and Rose Essential Oils) or you can clog your machine and streak your floor.

MOP PADS

The mop comes with two cleaning pads which can be washed and reused. One pad is for hardwood floors (100% white) and the other pad is for ceramics or where you want to scrub (it has a blue chevron pattern on the bottom).

I bought two extra pads as this will give me the greatest flexibility in having one clean as I don’t do a white-wash every day and I have over 1,000 square feet of floor I use this on. Be sure to buy the Bissell brand for the correct steam mop type (the Freshmop doesn’t fit the other brands of Bissell’s steam mops). People have complained about Bissell look-alike pads so buy the Bissell brand for the best fit.

When finished do NOT leave the covers on the machine! These become very damp after use and need to dry out or be washed or it develops a mildew smell.

mop_pad_covers_bissell_steam_mop_dirty_new

Remove the cloth, mop head cover and immediately rinse and squeeze until water comes clear. Spray with a Resolve carpet cleaner, and set aside to be tossed in the washer with Oxy Clean. Don’t use bleach. After use, they will never be white again. If this bothers you go back to the Swiffer with disposable mop heads (which I think is like taking a huge step back in technology, like forgoing an oven and using a camp fire to cook).

mop_pad_covers_bissell_steam_mop_new_cleanedThey can pick up a lot of lint so if washing with other items, you might want to tie them up in a pillowcase or use a mesh laundry bag like you find for washing lingerie.

PROS

Very lightweight and easy to use. Would be perfect for someone with disabilities, back issues or someone who is restricted in their ability to move about. Because it is lightweight, I found it easy to take it up and down the stairs.

The cord is crazy long – I was able to do the huge L-shaped area of laundry room, bathroom, kitchen and breakfast room from just one plug in. The cord is not retractable but winds on the exterior of the unit.

The mop head swivels 180 degrees. It makes it fantastic for moving in and around baseboard, cabinets, furniture etc… It even moved around the toilet for me to clean most of that floor! LOVE THIS FEATURE!

The water in the tank goes a long way! I was really pleased at how much floor I got done and even went two sessions before having to refill it.

Floors dry really fast – ceramic floors faster than hardwoods.. It will leave some dampness on the floor and maybe because the water was hot, but the floors dried faster than just traditionally-mopped floors. If you live in a high humidity place it may take longer (but so would mopped floors) to dry.

TIP: On hardwood floors I found it streaking when I had it on the highest steam setting and when the mop head was saturated with water. If you find it streaking, try a fresh mop head cover that is dry and/or go back to the lighest steam setting.

TIP: if you need the floor to dry fast use the lightest steam setting. The higher you go on the steam, the more water that is applied to the floor, the longer it takes to dry, and the more chance of streaking on hardwoods. I had no streaking on ceramics and even at the highest setting, the ceramic dried fast.

CONS

HATE that there is no power-down switch and you have to unplug from the wall to stop the power. HATE, HATE, HATE! Before unplugging, move it back to the original light setting as it does seem to power it down somewhat on the top setting.

Trying to pull out the water tank can be difficult. It fits in snuggly and it can be hard to get enough grip to pull it up and out.

Some people have reported floor streaks after using. Use the lighest steam setting on hardwood floors to reduce or eliminate streaking (see Tip above). Another problem is your mop head cover may just be too wet, especially if you are doing a lot of floor on the heaviest steam/wet setting. Try a fresh pad and return to the lighter steam setting and see if this eliminates the problem.

Overlap the paths of your travel and go with the grain (if doing hardwood floors). Also, if your floor has a product on it (wax, chemical cleaners) it may remove this and cause streaking during the first few cleans.

While this has a carpet feature, I wouldn’t think this would be very effective in cleaning a deep pile rug. Without a scrub brush and a chemical tank, I don’t view this as a rug cleaner despite the water and steam. Might be okay on low pile carpet and rugs.

Overall, on clean-ability, this is a great steam mop to use on a regular (3x or more a week) basis on mildly dirty floors. While it doesn’t “scrub” your floors (so heavily stained floors may need more) I found it a great mop for keeping the kitchen tidy on a daily basis.

Between the Sharp Navigator cordless vacuum and this little baby, the floors have already started looking so much better!