Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

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As Winter Draws Near … and The Oil Bills Loom

It’s that time of year again.  You know, that time of year when people in glass houses start paying through the nose for heat.  We have oil-fueled radiant floor and ceiling heat, as well as oil-fueled hot water.  That’s some pricey stuff, yo.  We were forewarned about the energy costs of this particular home before we moved in (ouch), and were soooo disappointed to find we paid nearly twice that figure by the time spring rolled around after last winter (double ouch).  This could have been due in part to a particularly harsh winter — it was still snowing in April — but it was also likely compounded by the fact that we tore out all those heavy, filthy drapes the day we moved in and never replaced them.  I’d say that was a ‘whoops’ but have you ever priced up drapes for over 100 linear feet of windows?  Yeah, me neither (triple ouch).

Last fall I shared this post with you all about how we hung 14 panels from Ikea in the great room and last week we FINALLY hemmed them.  Yes, last week.  My aunt and my mom came over and we measured, cut, and sewed for TWO DAYS.  And we still didn’t even get them all lined!  I bought this awesome thermal lining (I think it’s this stuff by Roclon, but well it was a year ago so…), but it stretched when we fed it through the machine leaving nearly six inches of extra fabric across the top (but not the bottom so it wasn’t like we could just cut it off).  It was a mess.  But my aunt (aka super savvy, uber terrific, seamstress extraordinaire) came up with a solution — this double sided sticky tape she picked up at JoAnn’s.  We basically taped the liner to the panel and then sewed it so it wouldn’t get out of whack as we sewed.  I’m still sewing those damn liners on, but the hemmed curtains look fantastic!

Here’s a before photo to refresh your memory…


And here’s how they’re looking now.

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The little white squares you see is our numbering system — 14 panels of 14 different lengths (love old houses!). You can tell which ones have been lined and which ones haven’t, no?  Three cheers for insulation!!  (don’t mind the wrinkles in the linen — I just pretend they aren’t there and you should too)

Obviously, it was a ton of work to modify these curtains with the intent of saving a buck, and we’ve pretty much determined that we won’t go that route again.  It was great to save some cash, but honestly, it will have taken me over a year by the time this little project is complete — we’ll easily spend more on oil fuel in the next year than we would store bought lined curtains if we don’t just bite the bullet.  And so, for the remaining bedrooms we’ll be purchasing one-and-done, lined thermal curtain panels!  And as a bonus, we won’t have to hem them because there aren’t clerestory windows in the bedrooms — we can just hang the curtain rod high so that the drapes juuuust skim the floor.  High and wide curtain panels are in right now so that’s good.

As you can imagine, I’ve spent a great deal of time comparison shopping and finally found what I hope is the best deal on Amazon.  I bought 4 navy thermal panels for our bedroom (we needed two 100″ panels and two 52″ panels to span the wall-o-windows).  If they work well and look decent we’ll go ahead and start ordering more for each of the other bedrooms and then den — one room at a time to spread out the cost.  I just keep telling myself that the $600 we’re going to spend on curtains will come right off the top of our fuel bill savings.  It’s one design purchase that’s actually a good investment!

Navy Thermals

These are the Best Home Fashion Navy Solid Grommet Top Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtain that I found on Amazon (I also purchased two of their wide panels). They should come next week.  I’ll be sure to let you know how I like them and follow up with a photo or two of them hung!  And you can bet we’ll be using electrical conduit as curtain rods once more. :)

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Summer Planting

I know, I know.  Planting is supposed to be done in spring, or so they tell me.  At least that’s when all  the landscapers sweep in and leave overhauled and beautified beds in their wake, right?  But you know, y’all?  Not everyone has the time (or money) for that. Oh, and it was still snowing in April around these parts, so there’s that. 

Whatever our reason may be, it’s August and we’re planting.  Sue me.


When we moved into this house it was pretty apparent that the hedges hadn’t been tended to in some time and little by little we’ve been working to rectify that.  Last fall ok, winter we trimmed the hedges along the right side of our home (and we could finally see out the bedroom windows!) and sometime early this year we took out the egg shaped shrub that was really all but dead when seen from the back (which is really all we saw when we looked out our large kitchen window and, incidentally, where this photo was taken from).

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Two tasks that essentially took the front of our home from this where we couldn’t see out ANY of the windows…


To this at the beginning of spring 2014.


Less green, but a little more streamlined.  The shrubs on the right did eventually grow back beautifully, I promise.

But there were several other shrub related issues that remained.  Such as, can you spot our front door?  No?  Well, neither could anyone coming to visit because it’s obscured by that colossal orb shaped bush (which I really loved in some ways, but not right there and not from the backside where, like the cone shaped bush, it looked completely dead.  And again, that’s all we could see out our kitchen window).   There was also a hedge of holly which Kirk and I both despise for its prickly leaves that are forever stabbing the unassuming gardener or small child.  Both were yanked out along with a fair amount of ground cover, some stray bamboo that had migrated from the backyard, and a bunch of roots — origins unknown.

A process which looked a lot like this.



And left us with this:


Now, in full disclosure, we did actually have a landscaper come out to give us a quote for digging out these shrubs/plants, leveling the soil and replanting, but …well he never got back to us and it was a now or never type of thing.  So I did what any self-respecting girl with a landscape architect for a father would do.  I called my dad and asked for help.  I sent him some photos and some criterion (drought resistant, deer proof, full sun exposure) and he came up with this great plan of attack.  He sent a list of plant suggestions along with photos and even sketched out a plan for us.   AMAZING.


And JUST what I needed to feel like we could tackle this on our own.  I took this sketch and his plant recommendations to a local nursery and went to town with a fabulously knowledgeable staff person.  We didn’t get all the same plants that my dad recommended because they weren’t always in stock or because I didn’t particularly connect with it in person, but he did give us a good basis for finding replacements.  His emails told us how tall he believed each row of plants should grow be and how far apart to plant which was invaluable intel for a novice like myself!

I did spend a pretty penny there (juuuust over $400), but felt pretty fortunate to find that, this late in the season, just about everything was 35% off.  In fact, the maple tree we got had been marked down from $189 just that morning to only $50!  And I’m sure the landscaper, if he ever called back, would have charged about three times what we spent on just the plants.  All told we bought:

1 Japanese Seiryu Maple tree

3 Japanese Helleri Holly (beneath the kichen window)

3 Golden Charm Cyprus (in front of the white brick wall)

3 Nandina Obsessions  (in front of the Japanese Holly)

4 Liriope Muscari (along the walkway)

3 Blue Star  (behind the Liriope)

1  Woodward Arborvitae (to pair with a lonely one we already had)
When we got home we set everything out — still in their containers — about where we wanted to plant them.  We had to make a few adjustments on the fly because we didn’t account for the buried electric that comes out from the brick wall.  We had to scoot the maple over to the right a little bit and move one of the cypress to the other side of the planting bed.


We didn’t buy as many of the smaller plants for along the walkway as we should have.  My dad’s plan shows 10 and we only bought 7 because A) I thought we could make it work by transplanting some other grasses that we have, and B) they didn’t have the variety of Liriope that I was looking for (silver dragon).  So right now it’s a little thin, but we’re going to see how it grows in and maybe do some tweaking next year.

It didn’t take nearly as long to get everything into the ground as it had to remove what had been planted there before.  We did end up digging out one more shrub at the last minute to help balance things, but in comparison, it all went very smoothly.  And a little child labor never hurt.


And here we are today, impatiently waiting for everything to grown and fill in (and hide the now-exposed plumbing lines!).  The mulch looks red, but I swear it’s brown!  And the maple is about its full height but should fill out that blank wall space nicely.  Also, we were told its bark turns red in the winter which should look awesome against the white brick!



We still need to trim and reshape the remaining mature shrubs, but we’re going to wait until the weather cools off and they go dormant for winter.


Not bad, not bad.  At least we’re not that house on the street anymore.  ;)


How Do You Measure, Measure a Year?

Sorry, musical theatre kid in the house, here — I lived and breathed RENT for a time.  But this post isn’t about living the alternative lifestyle in NYC, it’s about celebrating a full revolution around the sun in our new abode!  Can you believe it’s been a year already?  I can’t.  So, to commemorate, I thought we might take a tour through the house — ‘then’ versus ‘now’, if you will.

Some of these spaces (like Logan’s room) have never even been featured on the blog before.  Other spaces (ok, most) are far from complete, but have still come so far!  We still have a lot to do around here — one of the biggest items being that we need new window treatments in essentially every room (the living room/dining room has new curtains up, but they still haven’t been lined or hemmed).  We are also planning on having the entire interior of the house painted in the spring (it will all go some shade of white) which is why you’ll see paint swatches either taped or painted directly onto just about every wall.  Also, just about every piece of art in our home was hung on an existing nail — all of which are about 12″ higher than I feel they ought to be.  This is another reason I am looking forward to painting in the spring — I’ll finally be forced to rehang everything at a more appropriate height!

So, without further ado, away we go!

This was how the entry way looked when we first saw the place:78

And today (read about our planter makeover here):IMG_6089

Needs a punch of color (maybe a teal or black painted door/wall?) but overall it’s so much lighter and brighter.
  I have plans to make over that $20 vintage console table I just picked up, too (high gloss yellow?) and hang some larger art.

The kitchen then:

And now (read about stripping wallpaper, the new floors, the navy wall, and the charcoal grill):IMG_6106IMG_6105IMG_6104

The great room from the entry way as the previous owners had it:9

And the way we have it:
My fiddle leaf fig tree is still alive!! Barely — it dropped most of its leaves the week I bought it home, but it seems happy enough now — I just try not to breathe too close to it. <–I’m dead serious.

The living room/dining room with the previous owner’s furniture. And cat:IMG_0059IMG_0061

And with ours (read about the hardwood floors, the curtains, the sectional and the coffee table):IMG_6124IMG_6121IMG_3903

Sorry, I forgot to take a current picture of the blue wall — hence the old ottoman and missing dresser above.

Note: I recently moved the credenza/dresser that was in here into the guest room to accommodate a second new (to me) console table — it needs a DIY makeover STAT!  Its lower stature also makes that bicycle art look like it’s taking flight (it needs to be rehung lower).

The laundry room right after we moved in:???????????????????????????????

And today:
See? I kinda painted.  Not really. You may also notice I settled my rug dilemma — thanks, Germaine!

The half bath then:

And today:
New floors, new toilet, new bath mat, and newly painted vanity — I never blogged about any of this. Sorry!  Still begging for a new towel bar and toilet paper holder.  And a new mirror.  And light fixture.  Sigh.

The hallway a year ago:

And today:

The den as it was:

And the den as it is today (see how I updated it without spending a dime!):

The guest room back then:IMG_0050

And how we have it furnished now:IMG_6086IMG_6087
Doesn’t the dresser look great in here?  You can read more about it here.  I think this is my favorite room of the house.  It has fabulous light, and it came together with little to no effort — somehow effectively balancing vintage pieces with some modern, colorful accents.  

Logan’s room before:

And now:
This room will be getting a revamp here shortly — he’s outgrown those nursery paintings!

The yellow bath before we moved in:

And here we are now, embracing the yellow:
Still need to do something about that ancient wall-to-wall carpet.

The master bedroom before:IMG_0054
Bye, bye red carpet!

Our master bedroom today:IMG_6096
One of my least favorite rooms in the house.  If I could put my finger on it, I would change it in a heartbeat, but whatever it is continues to evade me.  (I think it might be the dark furniture, but I’m trying hard to convince myself otherwise because it’s new, it was expensive, and it’s actually very, very good quality stuff!)

The blue (master) bath as it looked a year ago:

And with some new textiles today:
Yep, still pink.

The rear yard in 2013:

And in 2014:
Still can’t access the back yard from 2 of the 3 exterior doors, but at least we got rid of that tree outside of the master bedroom!

The front yard in 2013:

Aaaand the front yard this month:
Yeah, spoiler alert.  Post on replanting coming soon.  (so not as much fun as interiors!)

Finally, just for kicks, our little guy on Acclimation Day (the day we brought in all the wood flooring the week before we closed on the house) last summer:
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And here is Logan this summer — expecting big things for the year ahead:
Yeeep.  Baby #2 due in March!  Anyone care to weigh in on where the new nursery should go? ;)

Wow.  Looking at these before pictures I cannot believe that I fell in love with this house from the MRIS photos.  I swear, I was ready to make an offer on it before we even stepped inside. That ought to show you just how crazy I can get.  Woo-ee!  Sure am glad we went with our guts though — we love this place so much!

I can’t wait to see where another year will take us!


Behind The Wood Wall

There has always been a fair amount of interest in the wood wall that separates our living/dining room and our den, but I recently received an email from a reader that made me realize I have never gone into great detail on the inner workings of this wall on the blog.  My readers clearly have a lot of questions about this wall and I’d like to answer them comprehensively in a single post so that you may find all the goods in one place (rather than getting tid bits scattered here and there as I tend to do).  And so, I am hereby dedicating this post exclusively to the wood wall!  And because reader Jean had so many well articulated questions, I will use her latest query as a basis for discussion.

Jean: Hi Olivia … I’m fascinated by the storage wall between your living room and den… have you thought of dedicating a post to it? I would love to recreate something like that in our funky (not in a good way) mid-century modest. It was built with a kinda-sorta pass-through back-to-back cabinets between the living room and kitchen. Here are my burning questions about your storage wall: Am I right in thinking the panel wall in the living room backs up to the built-ins in your den?

You are correct, Jean.  The 16-paneled wall that you see in the photos from our living room is the same wall that you see in our den.  I think it’s walnut, but I’m not completely sure.  I had a master carpenter in once to make a minor repair to one of the doors and even he couldn’t identify it (wood color changes with age, and this wall is nearly 60 years old which makes it hard to pin point), but he suggested maybe mahogany or rosewood, too.  Both sides of the wall are shown in the photos below.

From the living room:


From the den:


Jean: Does the entire living room wall have storage space behind the panels? That is, do *all* of the living room-side panels slide aside (or up and down?), with storage behind them?

Actually, no.  Only four of the panels slide to access storage from the living room (the bottom four), but 12 panels slide up and/or down — and they do so independently.  I’ve marked the photo below with arrows indicating the way the panels can move.  The X’s at the top indicate a stationary panel.

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The four smaller rectangular panels at the top are stationary.  The second and third rows can slide down to the floor (the top row sliding in front of the middle row, and both finally resting in front of the bottom row) — thereby creating a low wall even in height with the counter top in the den — and essentially creating one great big room with a bar-height console in the middle.  Alternatively, you can raise the center row to the ceiling (and behind of the top row) to create a pass-through to the den.  The lower four panels could technically slide up to access the cabinetry on the den side, but we’ve never seen the need to do that.  It’s much easier to just walk around into the den to access things stored there.  There is no storage behind the upper 8 panels — if you opened them you would just see the back of all my husband’s sports memorabilia in the next room.

On the den side, the lower four cabinets open horizontally along a track.  All four doors are movable — the center two panels can each slide behind the adjacent outside panel or the outside panel can slide over the inner door it rests beside.  Note the panel in the very upper left corner — I noticed in this picture that it’s sagging a bit and you can see light from the other room eeking through — it must not be locked in place right.  Must fix that!


Jean: How does that look up close, are the panels on a track at the floor and ceiling? If so, is the middle row of panels also on a track? The panels look flush to me (or maybe I mean all at the same depth), but I saw a track in one of your pictures.

I think the picture you’re referring to was of the Lazy Susan on the den side of the wall — more on that in a moment.  On the living room side the panels are on four vertical tracks.  There is no track in the floor.   Below is a photo showing the depth of the panels in relation to the track — see how each row overlaps the one below it? They are not the same depth — each sticks out about an inch further than the one below it.  All the panels are held in place by brass latches at the top corners of the panel that slide snugly into the vertical supports.


Jean: The cabinet in the picture showed a lazy Susan, which is just about the best thing ever. Do all of the cabinets have built-in accessories, like the lazy Susan, the glass holder and the LP slats? (Utterly cool!) Or are those things just at the base, on the den side? Are the cabinets accessible from both sides? (Are you able to select an album and nab a drink from the living room side?)

The bottom four panels on the living room side can technically open to access the rear of the den cabinetry — which, yes, house a dry bar with a Lazy Susan and vinyl storage.  There was once a built in turn table too, I hear, but sadly it is long gone.  But like I said, it’s a pain in the butt to yank those lower panels up just to grab a glass — they’re heavy!  We walk around.

Here is a nice uncluttered view on the day we moved in.  The counter is a couple feet deep and below it is the only storage this wall offers — aside from the shelving, obviously.  Note that it also has a built-in florescent light that runs the length of the wall on this side.


Below is a photo of the dry bar with the Lazy Susan as seen from the den — it’s in the cabinet closest to the window.  You can see that the panel seen from the living room is slightly raised and someone is standing over there. Our neighbors still have all the original glassware.  #envious


When I ripped up the carpet I found half a dozen drink stirrers underneath!

This photo shows vinyl storage and space for a turn table and speakers — it’s in the cabinet farthest from the window. Again, you can see that the panel is raised in the back because light is shining through.  We took these pictures during our home inspection so we had everything thrown open. This particular cabinet has a plywood backing and so while the panel behind it does lift, you cannot reach inside to grab a record — I image this was to direct sound forward from the stereo?  Not sure.  The two cabinets in the center just have standard shelving.


I always envisioned this wall being lowered to the floor for parties — In my mind, the bartender or host would stand in the den serving drinks across the “bar” to guests in the living room.  Or maybe it was just lowered to the floor for a more open flow and guests would help themselves.  Who knows!

Jean: Could you post some pictures showing the panels open? Close up pictures would be wonderful! I’m sorry to be such a pest, but I love this concept and I’m excited to learn more! I tried Googling, but after an hour or two I gave up in frustration there are lots of sites with storage-in-walls ideas, but nothing quite so fab as your wall.

I’ve tried to Google this wall type to no avail as well, so I feel your pain!  I actually have no photos of our wall with the panels open because we’ve never fully opened it.  I very nearly opened them solely to take pictures for this post, but I was scared.  You see, our neighbors have the same feature wall in their home, but it has several broken panels and they’re struggling to find someone who can repair it.  Their house lies just behind ours and was on the market at the same time — in fact, we almost put in an offer!  This photo below is of their wall when the house was listed for sale — see how the panels are all resting at various heights?  Apparently they are still stuck like that.  That’s the den you can see beyond the open panels.  I think the horizontal stripes are shelves mounted to the other side of the wall — just like the ones we have in our den.


Sweet couch though, right?  But hopefully, you can see why I’m a bit reluctant to open it at all anymore — what if we can’t get them latched again?

The only other place I’ve seen a wall like this is in a couple other homes in our neighborhood–all the homes were built by builder/developer Gordon Sugar who once lived two doors down from us.  He’s now deceased. 

This house down the road has a similar wall with what appears to be only 8 moving panels — they are larger.  It’s been painted white and it looks like they keep a couple panels partially open to the den to display knick knacks.

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See the light shining behind the vases at the top right of the wall?  That’s the same corner that’s open in the previous photo.  Our good friends across the street has a feature wall like ours once too, but it was removed by the previous owners when then converted the den to a fourth bedroom.

Anyway, I hope this helps clear the mystery surrounding the wood wall!  And, Jean, I hope you are inspired to do something fantastic with your own storage wall.  If anyone else has questions — about the wall or about something else — I’d love to hear from you!

EDIT:  In the comments it was asked that I post a close up photo of the latches used to secure the panels in place.  I finally remembered to take a picture at about 10pm last night so please excuse the lighting–I swear the wood doesn’t look that parched in the daylight!  I think the black strip that you see is a piece of the banding from the pulley system.IMG_6458


We Got an Arc Lamp!

Remember when I posted that I wanted to find an arc lamp that didn’t cost an arm and a leg for the den?  Well, wouldn’t you know the same afternoon that post published I found the perfect lamp for $120!   Please note that I still had $128 left after selling off the old den furniture so, really, it was free.  At least that’s what I told my husband when I showed up with it in the truck of my SUV one night. ;)

Either way, it retails for $420 (currently on sale!) so I feel like I got a great deal — Craigslist of course.

You’ll remember that I wanted a standing lamp in this corner so that it might better anchor the chair and incorporate it more fully into the room.   That teeny tiny light wasn’t cutting it.


It took us a while to get it assembled and it’s still not perfect, but at least it’s up.


At full extension the arc gets long and low.  The globe will reach all the way to the couch and all but touch that pillow there on the end like this one (source).


That wasn’t really the look we were going for.  This room is just not big enough for that  and we’d like to sit on our couch without getting physically attacked by the lighting source.  After futzing with it for a while we finagled it into this most upright position.  Better.   Ish.

For a few anxious minutes we thought that full extension was the only setting it had and, if so, we figured it might be better suited for the living room.  So we hauled it in there and set it up behind the couch.  It’s heavy!  It looked pretty awesome in there, but an electrical source would have been an issue.  We would have had to run a cord somewhere and neither of us were on board with that.  So I guess it was lucky that we figured out that it could telescope in.  I wish I’d remembered to take a photo of it in the living room, but as you can imagine, tensions were … high.

I was holding off on posting this on the blog just yet because in my opinion the lamp is now too upright and has lost some of it’s arc-ness, if you will.  I wanted to play with the telescoping some more before debuting it, but well, you know how that goes.  We’ll get to it when we get to it.


We may have to play around with the furniture placement or something.  Sigh.  At least we’ve got a cool lamp!

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Quick Questions

My post about the rehabilitation of our indoor planter yesterday really spurred some questions from you folks so I thought I’d pop in a write a post that would answer them publicly for all.

1. Why did you decide to use boxes to fill the empty space in the planter? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable building a platform out of something more substantial?


In short, yes! I would feel better with a more permanent solution there. And eventually we’ll upgrade the boxes, I’m sure. I wrote in my original post that I chose to use cardboard for this project because it was free, which is true, but what I neglected to mention was why it was so important to me that I not drop a lot of cash on this little rehab. The thing is, I wasn’t certain I would really like having real plants in there. We had a lot of options for redoing this space. We could have retro-fitted it into a bench or a fish pond (or as some of you more ballsy readers suggested, a ball pit or a sand box!). My gut wanted to keep its original  purpose — although none of the options I considered couldn’t be undone. BUT because I wasn’t sure I was going to love it or hate it (I’ve never been resposible for so many plants before!) I didn’t want to drop $$ on the wood framing to do it right. Long story short, when the boxes fail (which they will) and if we’re still on board with the live plants when that happens, we will likely replace them with a simple wood framed thingamajig. Feel better? ;)

2) What is that incredible/amazing/fantastic geometric creation hanging on the wall?!


Would you believe that I made this out of coffee stirrer? It IS incredible and amazing and fantastic and I thank you for noticing! I, however, cannot take credit for this work of art. If you would like to make one of your very own please click over the Vintage Revivals where Mandy shares a great tutorial that is super easy to follow. Here’s a better picture taken right after it was completed. Took a couple hours.


It was centered on the blank wall space before we removed the fake ficus, but now it’s decidedly off to one side.  I kind of like it that way — I’m a little kooky myself, you know.


We be Plantin’ Fools

Alert the media — I now have five indoor plants.  Five!!!  For those of you wondering what the big deal is, that’s five more than I’ve ever had before.  So, fingers crossed that I can keep them alive.

Anyway, I’ve told you all about the indoor planting bed we have just inside our front door.  When we bought the house it was filled with musty bark and a bunch of fake plants that were heaven knows how old.  Not the most appealing entrance for sure, but we had other things to worry about so it took us almost a year to tackle this corner.


It took about five hours over two weekends to completely clear it out and fill it back up again — this time a bit more tastefully.   Kirk spent nearly two hours one Saturday hauling all the bark out and depositing it at the rear of our property.   I was aware that the bed had an odor — one that had definitely become more pronounced as the temperatures rose with the onset of summer (thus why we finally decided to tackle this project), but it wasn’t until we started shoveling all that bark out that the smells became completely overbearing (or we had just grown used to it. I shudder at the thought!).  Some of  the bark seemed to be perfumed.  Some of it smelled like cat pee.  Maybe it had been sprayed to cover the pee smell?  Not sure, but it was gross.


I started off with scoops. It became rapidly apparent that scooping with Tupperware would take me DAYS.  After I filled a garbage bag or two and had barely made a dent, Kirk got smart and grabbed a shovel. I think he filled that bin a half a dozen times.


Also gross was the thick coating of black dust that covered every surface in our home in the aftermath.  Oh my goodness.  If we would have had any idea that the dust from the bark would travel like that we would have set up some plastic protection over the doorways or something.  Instead I spent the next several hours sweeping, mopping and dusting.  My least favorite activities.


But at last the bark was removed, as were the yellow plastic bags that the bark was once packaged in that appeared to be lining the planter.  The original metal liner was still in place — well, about 20% of it anyway, the only pieces that hadn’t rotted away.  Kirk took it to the dump along with the eight faux plants.


One of our biggest surprises was how huge the fake plants were when viewed in perspective!  I mean, really!


They don’t look that bad in this photo, but they were.  I briefly considered posting them on Craigslist, but I just wanted them gone. They were gross.

When all was said and done, we were left with this stinky, cleaned out pit.  I sprayed it down heavily with Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover and that seemed to get rid of any lingering odors.


The next weekend my mom came down and we hit up the local nursery.  The staff was very helpful and, after asking all the important questions, like, did our planter have drainage (No) or natural light (Not really), and was I interested in annuals (Hell, no) they recommended a few plants for our space.  We went with two Chinese Evergreens and one Dracaena, some new pots with built in saucers (important since our planter has no drainage), and finally a bag soil and a little fertilizer.

Back at the house Mom and I worked on preparing the planter for our river rock.  There was no way we were filling the entire planter with river rock (that would have cost somewhere in the vicinity of $800-$1000!) so we started brainstorming how we could eat up some of that unused space.  I originally thought of Styrofoam, but it was also much more expensive than we anticipated and the stores didn’t have nearly enough in supply anyway.   On a whim I drove around behind the store and, by the dumpster, I found dozens of discarded boxes.  Free boxes.

It took a while, I ain’t gonna lie.  My mom and I cut down six giant boxes and refashioned them into 22 custom cubes. It took a lot of patience, a good bit of math, and a roll of packaging tape, but eventfully we had raised the bottom of the 11″ planter a full 9″.   See?


We also pulled an extra shower curtain that I had in the closet and laid it down over the boxes to prevent spills from soaking the boxes when we water the plants.  Where each plant would sit I cut an X into the plastic then lowered the plant into the hole I made.  These plants are not full grown — they will nearly double in size over the next several years — so it will be nice to watch them fill in.


Finally, we poured 250lbs of Mexican Beach Pebbles over the top and called it a day!


I still need to touch up the paint from the rim where we pulled the rusted liner out, but hey, we need to paint 98% of this house so that little bit doesn’t really bother me.   I’m calling ‘er done!


I love how much more light comes in through this sidelight now that the fake ficus is gone.  This space was so dark and dank and now it’s bright and welcoming … as an entry ought to be, yes?


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