Fireplace reno project nears a close


By Elle

Oh, friends, it’s been a long time, I know. We’re awfully preoccupied with taking care of elderly family members right now, so thank you for your patience as we try to carve out time for blogging…and for finishing some of our long-abandoned home reno projects such as our fireplace.

The fireplace feels done enough to reveal photos. First, the before. When we ripped out the dining room carpeting and completely replaced the floor with hardwood, we also tore out the fireplace hearth, the bricks from which now live underneath our backyard patio extension, photos to come. (Recycle, reuse is our motto!)

We felt the hearth took up valuable real estate, and it was certainly a hazard for our many grandchildren, one of whom I miraculously saved once from a probable cracked skull as she careened, head first, toward the hearth’s sharp corner. So out it went.

We still wanted a hearth, just one that was flat, so we carved out a spot for it and installed the hardwood floor around it, which you can see on the left in the photo below.

We knew we wanted to update the brick somehow so we’d applied a limewash to it and didn’t love the outcome. Eventually, we just painted it with three shades of copper paint, and that did the trick.

While we were renovating the dining room, the empty fireplace made a great storage spot for all our tools and supplies!

Because the hearth extended about 16 inches up the face of the fireplace, we needed to deal with that mess. We tossed around several ideas and finally settled on facing it with the same porcelain tile we would use for the hearth.

For uniformity, we also lined the inside floor of the fireplace with the tile. We then installed a wall-mounted electric fireplace that offers flame, heat and Bluetooth capability so that we can play music from it. The sound quality is perfect for the room.

The porcelain tile has a metallic finish, which complements the copper color of and gives a modern feel to the traditional brick. One warning though: Although gorgeous, the tile is tricky to cut because of its metallic finish — they have a tendency to chip. Let’s just say it’s a good thing we bought extra.

What’s still undone? Grouting the tile, touching up some of the copper paint and replacing the wood trim around the brick.

I especially love how the metallic tile looks against the cherry and maple floor, and, best of all, no one can trip over or fall into it and get hurt! That said, I’m updating this post to note that I’m not fully in love with the entire look. I feel like it’s what you’d get if a fireplace and a farmhouse sink mated. What do you think?

Although January is nearing a close, please accept our best wishes for a happy, healthy and magical New Year!

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The unsolved mystery behind my latest acquisition


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design antique painted shade lampBy Elle

I work hard at not acquiring too much “stuff” — would you believe my beloved just laughed at that? — but every now and again something tugs at my sleeve and won’t let go. Case in point: this lovely antique brass table lamp with a parchment paper shade depicting four Parisian cityscapes that I found, naturally, at the Craft & Antique Co-op in Painesville.

My maternal grandparents were huge collectors of “stuff;” their basement was, quite literally, covered wall-to-wall (including ceiling!) with finds from “rummage” sales, and much of what they collected was high quality, thanks mostly to my grandmother, Rose. She had a good eye for quality glass; my grandfather, Wally, on the other hand, had a good eye for the ladies, and he liked to collect naughty things. I remember being horrified the first time I peered into one of his tiny handheld viewers and discovered a smiling topless woman. I vaguely recall asking my mother why Grandpa liked those things and getting a giant eye roll and sigh in return.  Continue reading

Deck reno, part 2: Extension and slide!


By Elle

You might ask why we’re installing a slide from our deck. Because I sometimes have crazy ideas, and my beloved typically goes right along with them, that’s why. I used to think it was because he absolutely adores me (which is true), but I now know that if the idea requires something to be built, it sparks the Boy Who Likes to Build inside him.

Here’s a story: When Arkady was a wee lad, his parents were still in the process of building (mostly themselves) their brick ranch in a far eastern suburb of Cleveland. He watched as his dad, working on two-story scaffolding, finished the brickwork in the back of the house. He helped his mom shovel backfill, and he probably wanted to help his dad install the oak floor that runs throughout most of the house.
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Our big, fat kitchen renovation — the madness begins


By Elle

Spring is around the corner, and we have house renovation on our minds! Since last fall, we’ve been planning our kitchen renovation — no small task and kind of scary, too.  So because we are the quintessential DIY’ers (and quite frugal), we’ve been making trip after trip to the Kraftmaid Outlet in Warren, Ohio, to buy our kitchen cabinets for a steal.

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I did not build this…


By Elle

My 8-year-old granddaughter, Kiera, and I recently attended the Wick Juniors Writing Club Summer Camp, where we “camped” in our local national park inside a lovely brick dormitory, complete with indoor plumbing — can I get a hell yeah! I stayed on as a parent chaperone, helping to keep an eye on 10 elementary-aged girls, who, on the first night, refused to sleep. Because, camp.

By the next morning, Kiera had made friends with the other girls, and she was no longer acting like my shadow.  By afternoon, I got the feeling she didn’t want me around much. She now had the protection of an entire army of girls and didn’t need me anymore. My heart felt a little heavy, but I know how these things go. As long as she acknowledges me at our mealtimes together, I thought, I’ll be satisfied. By evening, I barely existed. I WAS the shadow. Continue reading

A hair-raising deck raising


Abby & Elle Upstairs Fashion & Design deck renovationBy Elle

I was under the foolish impression that raising our deck about three feet to meet the patio doors we installed in our dining room would be a cake walk, especially because we were going to use the existing support structure. Well, I reckon it would have been except we got all fancy, adding two rows of storage below the deck, installing the field of the deck on the diagonal, and adding perimeter boards treated with a  technique called Shou Sugi Ban, and we needed to get the deck done ( done enough, that is) to host our Fourth of July family picnic. Tall order!

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