Custom Details

We’ve been doing a remodel in Seal Beach, and there wasn’t much to see until recently… The finishes are now going in and I quite like two details in particular.  There is a tongue and groove ceiling in the entire downstairs, and we’re trimming out some half-walls in the master bath.

First the ceiling:

You don’t see many T&G ceiling’s this low (8 feet), and the homeowner was warned that it might look odd.  It doesn’t.

It looks amazing!  Classic and modern at once.   There is a 50′ run of this stuff from where the photos were taken and it’s really dramatic.  If you’re wondering, the paper tabs are 1/16th inch spacers which will be removed when I paint it.   Installing this was tricky.  Behind all those holes are many wavy old ceiling joists, and several new support beams that we installed.  This house is actually on its second remodel, and making this simple looking detail appear flat took LOTS of shims and patience.

(Look closely at the end of the boards if you’ve never heard of  Tongue & Groove.)

Half Walls:

Another piece of carpentry that looks easy as pie, but it is easy to do poorly.  We skinned the walls first with 1/2″ MDF (medium density fiberboard) then made a shaker frame with 1/4″ MDF.  The outside corners had to be beveled to hide the seam where the three pieces meet up, and on the other side,  all the parts were scribed to fit the wavy drywall.  Over half a gallon of wood glue was used to attach all the 1/4″ frames, along with 600-700 finish nails.  All the white dabs are wood putty that I was just getting ready to sand flat, in order to hide the nail holes.  This pic reminds me of  getting ready for bed in high school, covered in Oxy Cream.

I would say that this is going to look pretty nice when it’s painted white, but then I look at the second photo and I’m reminded of a misstep.  Purple?  Not my cup of tea in this instance, especially with the Carrera Marble. The Cinnamon colored cabinets that also don’t look so hot with the marble, may be throwing me off.  At least the bedroom color is OK.  I’ll post again when all is said and done.


This week I’m heading over to The Interior Revolution to be a guest blogger.  My series will take a look at defining what home means, hanging out at flea markets and how to start a sustainable business.  So please head over there and check it out, and stay tuned for my guest bloggers right here:

Tuesday – David’s regular series In the Workshop

Wednesday – Morgan talks about sustainable suburbia

Thursday – Lauren with another Eco-Architecture case study

It’s a guest blogger bonanza!

Happy Monday.

Between turning my home office into a workspace and warehouse, and my natural inclination to purge and refresh with the turning of weather, I’m on a serious cleaning and organizing kick lately.  Last weekend I pulled everything apart and now, well, it’s time to put it back together.

I come up with lots of ideas for organizing and categorizing (a little crazy perhaps), but I also like to check out my favorite online sources for inspiration.  Here are a few ideas I’d like to try out.

I love this alternative to the typical cork board (I loooove cork, but I also like the unexpected).  You could find these at a builder surplus or even your local home depot.  They’re not too expensive

Click Here for the how-to

This idea was originally for a garage or shed space but I think it would work great in a home office too.

Click here for the link

My favorite organizing ideas:

  • repurpose any container you can – I do this all the time.  I have an old planter with cork on the bottom (so it doesn’t scratch my desk) that I use for  rulers, scissors, etc.  I use glass jars, and old toothbrush holder and tealight holders for general office supplies.  In the supply closet I have converted sturdy carboard boxes into containers (you rarely see them so it’s perfect).  Mix that with a couple nice aluminum and wood containers and the office looks artsy but coordinated.

  • group things in like categories.  When I’m working for a design client I use certain things in the office – samples, graph paper, calculator, markers, pens, etc.  When I’m working on the store I use different items…you get the idea.  By keeping things categorized by their purpose it keeps me focused and I never have to wonder where I put something.  Which leads me to another point: put things away.  Of course this isn’t always possible.  I have a very small office for running two separate businesses and many (many) times I leave one project for another day.  So here’s my deal.  Each Saturday morning I take 15 minutes to tidy up.  It’s not too bad in a little space.  Plus it really helps me to see where I’m at in a project and I can pile things (yes, pile!) in an order that will spark my memory when I pick the project back up.
  • My favorite thing in the office is my colorful binders, greenroom from Target, which hold my library of design and life inspiration.  I have them organized by design type, art, sustainable profiles, health and well-being, and housekeeping.  These are my treasures so I treat them as such.  I love to see them as soon as I walk into the office each morning, and it reminds me sometimes to take a moment and flip through what inspires me.

Hope some of these ideas help you with your spring cleaning and organizing too.  I’d love to hear what tips you have!  Happy Weekend.

How to paint.

Yes, Really.  I know it’s not hard,  but I have been in home remodeling for a few years now, and I’ve picked up a few tips to not only get it done quickly, but done professionally as well.

Linsi wanted a wall in our office to have a little color for some upcoming product shots.  We ended up getting a couple quarts of this low VOC paint at Home Depot.  I swear, Martha has her hands in everything.  Anyway, it didn’t smell, and went on the wall in one coat without using a primer.  It’s good paint.  BTW, we didn’t end up using one of her colors, we picked a Behr chip, and they matched it for us.

Tip #1 Get one of these!  (seen ready to use in the second pic below)  The edges are always done first.  Corners, the ceiling and around trim should be done first and you roll the wall last.  Professional painters will “cut-in” the ceilings and trim, but in my opinion this $2.50 tool is faster, and does a better job.

Load the edger with paint, scrape off excess on the edge of the paint tray, then “sneak up on” the edge that you will be trimming.  See pic below.   If you smash the edger straight into the trim or ceiling, it will ooze out where you don’t want it.  Always go in one direction, because backing up mid-pass can have its consequences.  I go left to right.  I then make another pass over the same area if it looks like it needs it.  If you practice on an inconspicuous area, you can get a feel for what is the right amount of paint to have on the pad without fear of seeing your mistakes for the next 10 years.  Be gentle with it and use a light touch.

The 2nd (and last) tip is about using a roller.  A regular size roller will cover about a 3′ x 4′ area before it runs out of paint.  If your walls are 8′ high, you start at the ceiling, do your 3 x 4 area and do another one below before moving over again.   The trick is to put the freshly loaded and dripping roller  about 3′ away from the area you just painted and work your way back over to the wet area.  See pic below.  You then blend it all together with a pass or two and move on.

I painted a 14′ x 8′ area in 45 minutes and didn’t use any painters tape.  I covered the carpet with a tarp and kept a wet rag around to clean off the few drips that did hit the baseboard.  Have fun!

With my background in architectural design I naturally have a special place in my heart for blueprints.  I remember the ‘good old days’ when I had to stand in a line of students at midterms, waiting my turn to use the blueprint plotter.  The smell of ammonia would overtake the cold, dark room and I was always nervous that I would forget exactly the right order of operations and have a lot of angry kids behind me…

But the outcome was always amazing.  No matter what was plotted it just looked so interesting, so professional.  There is nothing quite like a blueprint, which is why I love these blueprints we found of an old lighthouse, a boat, even a vintage Vegas slot machine!

Shop table.

I bought a shop  table, on an online auction, from a place that liquidates old school supplies.  It must have sat in some wood, metal, or ceramics shop for quite some time of judging by the, ahem, “patina” on the butcher block tops.  They are thrashed.  The 1st pic shows two tops and the one on the left is beyond hope.  It will be cut into smaller sections and used for some upcoming tables.  The “good” one has already received several hours of love on the top side, and while improving, it has a long way to go until I am happy.  I would’ve just gone to town with a beltsander and been done with it, but I’m trying to salvage the character of it.  This is a fine line I’m walking here.  With the right combo of cleaning, stains, and waxes it will look like a beautiful old table, instead of a piece of trash best left in the junkyard.

I hadn’t paid any attention because it was so filthy, but once I cleaned it I saw beauty in the bottom of the table. I’m going to put a protective coat on the bottom of the “good” top, and have the option of going black.

Twelve lockers in all.  Imagine all the kitchen gadgets we’ll be able to buy now!!  I am probably going to paint the base.  I had planned to leave it for the sake of originality until I looked inside and saw that it been repainted before anyway.

found 03.08.10

This is the biggest (literally) purchase we’ve made yet!  It’s about the size of a dining table and twice as heavy.  But it’s super cool.  David is working on refinishing the top (and possibly repainting the lockers, but we’ll see) so be sure to check out the progress in the workshop.

Happy Monday!