Monday, November 14, 2011

Hallways 11-14-11



What better way to begin the Holidays 2011 than with a new project? The hallways were in dire need of a new paint job and some decluttering. There are three hallways with two sets of stairs. Lots of spackling and sanding was needed on the old plaster walls, and two coats of Lemongrass covered beautifully.

The trim remains to be done, and that will require some more patching, and perhaps even sanding off the multiple coats on paint in some specific areas.

One problem area was scraping off the cracked caulk I had put along the baseboard running up the 1st floor stairs. After scraping it, I saw why I had done it in the first place - there were huge gaps at the top. The new remedy is to use wood putty to close the gaps. It's drying now and looks like it will work just fine.

Another problem area is this very old paper that is covering almost all of the walls in the house. It's not normal wallpaper. The house is 125 years old, and I believe this wallpaper is not much younger than that. I painted over it almost 11 years ago, and now I have painted over it again. That in itself is not a problem, but there are spots where the paper is cracked or ripped or buckled. I hesitate to remove all of it, because I assume it was put over the paster for a reason. The places where I did peel it off revealed a brown paper backing that very easily comes off with a damp rag. And a little joint compound over the peeled paper worked fine. I've never seen this anywhere else.

I will take my time with the decorating, as the walls look really good, and I want to enjoy them before I clutter things up again. I admit it, I have a tendency to do so without really realizing how cluttered things become.

This batch of home improvements is all about minimalism. Well, my kind of minimalizing anyway.

I had a mirror put on the back of this salvaged window and added hooks from IKEA. I need to paint the risers of the stairs and add large house numbers as the decorative element.

2nd floor landing with an old rotary phone that came with the house. It still works and can be reached from the shower just inside this door.

2nd floor hallway with a quilt made from men's suits that I got at an auction.

Steps to the 3rd floor

3rd floor hallway looking south

3rd floor hallway looking north

Monday, April 5, 2010


In hopes of getting my mojo back, I am posting a few pictures of the things I am most proud of and happy about in our home.

February and March were a little rough for the Mulvi-sheims, but Spring has sprung, and all good things lurk just ahead. April's plan is the backyard - utilizing our outdoor space as it should be used. Problem is the cats, and their insistence on getting out of open doors. I think it actually hinders us from going outside. So that "issue" has to be part of the plan.

Pictures (clockwise):
-This cabinet was built for my bedroom when I was about 10 by a high school kid my Mom worked with. It was his final shop project or something. I chose my kitchen colors around this cabinet. The bottom shelving was trash-picked, painted, and tiled to match the island.
-My step-mother had two of these old ladders. My brother fashioned a pot rack out of one for her, and when I saw it, I decided to to the same thing. It's perfect above the island.
-These kitchen drawers that had to be removed when we installed a dishwasher. They are painted and now in my room on the 3rd floor.
-I made this TV stand from an old cabinet that was in the basement when I bought this house. I built the shelves and gave it a distressed paint job (not my favorite technique, but it was right for this piece).

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010

On the last day of the first month, I completed the first of 12 projects - my room on the 3rd floor. Ok, there are some tiny, tiny things left to finish, but the main project is done, and I am very happy. The remaining tiny, tiny things - put a latch on my closet door, wire management for my computer, hang/find some art, and buy a stool for the drawing table - these will roll over into February when Chris' room is on the slate. There is not much to do for his room, so I feel okay adding these things to the list.

The main thing I wanted to do in my room was hang the new worksurface and tackboards. The surface was a panel bought at Lowes that I painted white to match the trim and the drawing table. It sits on two large brackets that I screwed into studs. My stud finder was broken, so I had to use the old timey method of starting at the corner and measuring every 16". Surprisingly, it worked perfectly. Chalk it up to construction standards from 120 years ago.

The tackboards I trash-picked from a job site, and covered them with the curtains that were in this room when I bought the house. I love being able to use this stuff that I salvaged nine years ago. Bones of the house, if you will. I knew I would never be able to hang the tackboards straight if I tried to attach some hanging device to the back, so I bought large screws and washers and screwed the boards to the studs from the front. I got the idea from a friend who told me she did something similar, and it looks very cool. And was very easy.

On this last day of the first month of my projects goal, I am very pleased with myself. And I am feeling very motivated to continue.

Next up for February - Chris' room. Nothing major on the docket - just some organization, hanging art, and patching a big spot in the ceiling where the plaster peeled off when we got some leakage from the rain. And whatever else he may decide he fancies in the next week or so.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Inspiration & Ideas

Some things that inspire me, past and present:

JunkMarket Style ( - Sue Whitney's web site devoted to transforming junk into eclectic, fun stuff. "Reduce, reuse, recycle, and repurpose."

Auctions, flea markets, trash-picking - Anyplace where things can be found cheap and loaded with potential.

HOBNOB Design ( - My friend Angela's company that began with making one-of-a-kind handbags from vintage materials, and has grown to a full-service design business. She has inspired me in many ways over the years, and I admit I have copied a lot of things I've seen in her home into my own home. Her sense of color and style is impeccable.

Robert Redford's Sundance Catalog ( - I love everything - the clothes, the jewelry and the home stuff. It's pricey, but very cool.

Uncommon Goods ( - Unique items made from artisans and crafters, much of it recycled and repurposed.

Catskill Farms ( - My brother's company that builds homes in the Catskills. He started his company from the ground up, and he continues to grow and expand each year. His designs are simple with a clean aesthetic, and strict attention to detail. My dream is to live in one of his homes, but I have to convince my husband to move to the Catskills first. I'm really proud of him. He's an amazing visionary and artist.

Herman Miller Classics ( - These pieces work no matter where you put them. Yes, I work for Herman Miller, but I love the Classics on their own.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

3rd Floor - My Room

January's goal is my room on the 3rd floor. The room houses my artsy stuff and my computer. For some time, I have wanted to mount a standing-height worksurface to the wall beside the drawing table, and make a new tackboard. I've used this picture from Pottery Barn Bedrooms (2003) as inspiration.

The worksurface is a solid pine panel from Lowes, which I painted last weekend. The tackboards are old modular office furniture tackboards that I re-covered with the curtains hanging in this room when I bought the house. All will be ready for installation this weekend.

Home Improvement Plans for 2010

This year, I am making a concerted and ambitious effort to make some changes and improvements in our home. Almost all of these projects are relatively small and things I can do myself. Not many will require hiring professionals, but then again, you never know. I have a huge book full of ideas and pictures from magazines, as well as a notebook with lists of things that need to be done. Some are decorative, some are necessary maintenance, some are both. I love working on our house, but I have a little problem with follow-through. The last 5% is the hardest for me to finish, no matter how big or small the project.

Our house is about 120 years old, and in the middle of a row of four in Phoenixville, PA. It is 1600 square feet, 3 floors, 4 bedrooms, one bath, a basement, and a nice backyard. I bought the house in 2001, and it was a complete fixer-upper. Three years later, Chris moved in, and we have been there ever since.

In 2010, I am starting from the top, and completing each room before I move on to the next.

12 areas of the house in 12 months. Yikes!