Chair Upholstery

I had purchased a pair Ethan Allen Josephine armchairs for cheap off Craigslist a while back with the intention to refinish and reupholster them for our dining room.They sat in my basement for nearly a year before I finally got around to them. At some point, they had been painted gold with the original red lacquer seeping through. Plus, they were covered in an odd blue-silver crushed velvet. Overall, not a pretty sight, but a little TLC would do them wonders.

I removed all of the existing fabric and spent what seems like hours removing all the old staples. Next, I started removing as much of the old paint and lacquer with some stripper and some scraping tools. After a few rounds, I sanded the less intricate details by hand to get most of the red bits out. Then, I used a Dremel to really get into the detailed flower carvings and finer details of the legs.

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I cleaned everything off and began the staining process. I wanted a darker color to contrast with our lighter oak floors, but not totally ebony. I feel that it’s better to have some contrast than be slightly off. I applied a first run of english walnut stain from the local big box store to get the depth I wanted. After letting it sit for a day, I applied a warmer reddish walnut stain to get a warm richness. I let them sit for a few days to fully cure since the humidity was high after several days of rain. I applied three coats of satin poly with light fine sanding in between for a smooth, durable finish.

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I didn’t want the chairs to be too formal (pretty traditional in shape) and for them to have a bit of fun. The winner was fabric I found from Rifle Paper Co.  because it reminded me of whimsy Scandinavian illustrations. J helped me stretch the fabric and staple it to the frame. It’s a little hard to do yourself and requires more hand strength than I have. I grabbed a spool of upholstery cording and made miles of trim. After gluing the trim on and nearly a year later, I was finally done.

Squeezing In An Adventure

J and I were invited to a destination wedding in Colorado for some friends from the Midwest. The trip was short; leaving on a Thursday and coming back late Saturday with all Sunday to relax at home. We flew in early the day before the ceremony and took the opportunity to sightsee in downtown Denver. It was amazingly hot compared to our cooler (and lately rainy) coastal climate and was much welcomed.

Our drive was the farthest west J has ever been and he was impressed with how the Rockies seemed to just suddenly erupt from the plains. After checking into our rooms, we met up with our couple and family/friends on the edge of the Rockies for dinner at a small brewpub/steakhouse in Idaho Springs.

We woke up in the dark the next day to take the auto road to the top of Mount Evans for dawn photos. The drive up was slightly terrifying in the dark, but well worth the sunrise views. Afterwords, we headed down to Echo Lake for the ceremony and breakfast.

After, we did a little more sightseeing at Red Rock and had lunch with an old friend of J’s before saying good by to our newlyweds at their cabin and heading home. It wasn’t our most relaxing vacation, but has encouraged J to try new adventures.

Happy weddings & travels.

June 2017

After a recommendation from a friend, I decided to video parts of my day in the hopes I’ll be able to look back at all the new experiences, new projects, and time spent with friends and family. Big moments for this month:

  • A first birthday for a pair of cuties.
  • A wedding in Colorado.
  • Finally have our warm growing season (it’s so green!).

Front Yard Facelift

We knew on closing that supports for the front porch were… lacking. It sagged down and to one side with the stairs falling backwards. After the snow melted, we were able to see that the whole frame still sat on original iron rods. We had a local company come by to jack it up and install new 4ft deep footers and 6×6 pressure-treated posts.

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Porch After Jacking and New Supports.

We took the opportunity of the construction zone for a front yard to start our long-term plan of making the front and side yard as low maintenance as possible. As the porch was being raised, we saw that the rhododendrons were way too big and nearly growing under the porch. J and I moved them to the side of the house to help naturalize it. (Let’s not have to mow that, please.)

After the porch was settled on new supports, we wanted to re-established the long lost flower beds. You could see remnants of mulch sitting amongst the sparse grass and sea of dandelions. After a few hours of popping all the weeds out, J began to re-level the area. We planned on keeping the existing honeysuckle, lone hosta, and lilac (needs to grow back after a previous harsh pruning), but tossed everything else. We laid down some weed cloth and applied a thick layer of cedar mulch.

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We tried to find as many free plants that would be suitable for a west facing house. J split several of the irises from around back to line the walkway. A neighbor stopped by to admire our work and he let us have some of the baby hostas his plants has spawned. In the end, I only ended up getting the peonies for either side of the steps. They’ll grow to a nice height, plus they’re pretty low maintenance.

The porch itself looked pretty shabby. There was lots of loose paint, alligatoring, and a multi-colored chipped floor. I spent a week scraping down all the painted surfaces and pulling out the old caulking. After, I re-caulked all the crevices and J repaired a few boards before covering everything with Kilz oil based primer.

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I wanted to break up the white on white on white look the house currently had and the existing navy shutters were a bit sun-faded. We picked up a gallon of Behr’s satin exterior paint in both Polar Bear (the white we use for interior trim) and black. I picked the black to give our front door a more formal feel and to contrast all that white. It took me a few days pressed against incoming rain, but I made it.

Our local big box store was always out of the standard tan porch paint, so we had them tint the stock white to a tan we picked out (Behr | Egyptian Pyramid). I did the edging while J rolled the floors. We let it sit for the full 72 hours before putting anything back on the porch.


In the future, we plan on extending the flower bed to the neighbor’s bed and grabbing a high bush blueberry from a friend to shield the side. J wants to redo the crush stone on either side of the house with some drainage pipes, but for now it’s in a better place.


  • Porch Jacking Labor & Materials: $3,100
  • Paint and Supplies: $100 (we had some already)
  • Peonies: $30
  • Planters (Target): $13 on sale
  • Potted plants: $40 (local grower)

Total: $3,283

May 2017

After a recommendation from a friend, I decided to video parts of my day in the hopes I’ll be able to look back at all the new experiences, new projects, and time spent with friends and family. Big moments for this month:

  • SIL’s graduation from her Master’s program at BC.
  • Finally planting season.
  • Getting our front porch and yard into shape.

Winter Is For Wallpaper (Removal)

Since all of our bigger tasks were on hold for winter, we decided to start removing the painted wallpaper on the the first floor. Thankfully, the kitchen and family room seem to have escaped the layers on wallpaper, so we started with the formal living room.

It looked okay in photographs, but in person, the speckled texture was less than pleasant and was barely hanging on. J could simply pop the seam with his fingers and pull most of the run down in one go. Underneath was 2 layers of half removed old wallpaper that had been smoothed out and painted. You could see the discoloration of the paint where the wallpaper was leeching through.


We got a steamer along with along handled 4in. scrapper at our local big box hardware store and started scrapping it all off. The plaster was in over all good shape. We needed to patch all the nail holes (one wall looked like it had a pox), repair the rounded corners, patch an few larger holes, and reattach two loose plaster spots.

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Reattaching Plaster with Adhesive and Screws with Plaster Washers.

After, we caulked all the edges of the trim. We primed with some Kilz oil-based primer seal the discoloration from the glue and tannins of the wallpaper. Plus, the plaster itself just eats paint. We committed to Behr’s Polar Bear for all our white trim and picked a shade called Almond Kiss for the walls. It’s a light warm pink that will compliment the greige we plan to use in the hall/entry/utility spaces.

We intended to address the stick-on tile of the fireplace at another time. (I think it probably once held a mirror since the inset is vary shallow.) However, the stick-ons did not take kindly to the steamer (humidity) and a few popped off. After, prying off all the rest, we started looking for some real tile to put in it’s place. We really liked this black marble herring bone pattern, but stone is too thick and it had a minimum order requirement.


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We ended up choosing penny tile in antique gold so we wouldn’t need to buy a tile cutter. I really liked the green version, but we decided to go more neutral since it can’t be easily changed later.

It’s hard to tell in photos, but the space is much brighter and feels larger. J and I curled up on the couch to watch a movie the Friday after we moved our furniture back in. He started dosing off because it felt like home (best compliment ever).



April 2017

After a recommendation from a friend, I decided to video parts of my day in the hopes I’ll be able to look back at all the new experiences, new projects, and time spent with friends and family. Big moments for this month:

  • Finished the wallpaper removal, plaster repair, & painting of our bedroom.
  • Working on and enjoying our plant-lacking backyard (plus fire pit!).
  • Game night!