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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.


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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!

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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!

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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.

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healthy home happy home

From my mother, I inherited a small bum, a sweet tooth and a penchant for a squeaky clean house. PineSol, Mr. Clean, Comet, Windex, Cascade and Mr. Snuggle. Ah, the eighties! From memory, I can freehand the labels for each.

Unfortunately, mom wasn’t aware that the products she used to keep a “healthy” nest were actually quite toxic. Undoubtedly, like so many other folks, she had put too much trust in:

1. the EPA’s ability to protect the US consumer

2. the willingness of companies to properly label their products (honestly, a nice pair of crossbones should be slapped on the lot of them)

Where are we now? The EPA openly admits that it is still WAY behind in the comprehensive investigation of several chemicals – “several” meaning tens of thousands of chemicals behind. Quick history lesson: Since the passage of the Toxic Substance Control Act in 1978 only five substances have ever been banned from the US despite heaps of evidence linking chemicals to disease and illnesses ranging from asthma to cancer. Scary!

And so it meant so much to me that my mom attended my Homemade Cleaning products class at The Ecology Center earlier this month. Homemade cleaning products are truly a cinch to whip up, costs pennies to make and work just as effectively as the toxic, hyper-branded, over-packaged stuff. And, since you make small batches at a time and only when you need them, they don’t take up storage space!

homemade cleaning class at the Ecology Center

Here are three of my most favorite recipes.

Glass Cleaner

1 part distilled white vinegar

8 parts water

* Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you’d like. I recommend verbena. Just a few drops goes a long way. Too much and your windows will look streaky.

Fill a clean spray bottle with water, add the vinegar and optional essential oil. Wipe away with a rag or newspaper.

Furniture Polish

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix together and apply with a clean cloth. If wood looks oily, simply reduce olive oil.

Non-Marble Countertops

1 lemon

1/2 cup baking soda

Slice the lemon in half. Dip face of lemon into baking soda. Yes, the lemon half is your scrubber. Follow up with a few spritzes of glass cleaner.

If going homemade is not for you, there are brands you can turn to keep your cleaning habits from being, well, so dirty. My personal favorites include Dr. Bronner’s (www.drbronner.com) , Biokleen (biokleenhome.com) and Mrs. Meyer’s (www.mrsmeyers.com).

Happy (Healthy) Cleaning!


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4 cars and a jet intake.

Today is a sick day, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to be a bit lazy and grab a few pics from the inspiration files…

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First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been following the blog – we’ve grown a tremendous amount over the last several months and I couldn’t be more excited.  I love being a part of this strange and awesome internet community.

With that, I’m really excited to announce that starting this month I am introducing some guest bloggers who will be a regular part of Inspired Design Daily!  Allow me to briefly introduce these creative, talented and just generally lovely ladies who will be sharing their insight and making this blog a better place to visit.


Morgan Greenwood, Program Director of the Ecology Center and author of Grounded, a blog all about living well and living sustainably

Monica Majors, Graphic Designer and Owner of Papercut Industries and associated blog

Lauren Moss, LEED AP Architect and owner of MYD Studio and author of associated blog

image courtesy of pixelnovel.com

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