tiny house living

Have you been following the tiny house trend that has swept the nation over the past few years?  I am totally captivated with the concept and it seems to be making its way east.  I have been following this site and I’m smitten with the homes that are built using reclaimed materials. Surely you can see what there is to love…

Honestly, I don’t know if I could commit to tiny house living 100% because I love stuff and I’m a bit of a hoarder quite frankly.  In 2013 we downsized to approximately 1000 square feet of live/work space.  At times it can be hard.  Not so much living small but working small.  On the other hand, it presents a fun challenge allowing one to push the organizational boundaries, consider how they use and store items especially clothing and kitchen gadgets.  Clothing was the area that we purged most when downsizing due to limited closet space.

We often daydream about owning a tiny guest house at some point.  How fun would it be to put friends up in their own secluded tree house or cabin coming in at just a few hundred square feet of comfortable living space?  We have casually looked at pre-fab cabins although I’m not sure that this is the route we’d go if given the opportunity to own a tiny house.  When it comes to owning a tiny house there are utilities to consider, land use ordinances and many other legalities and associated expenses.  Spoiler alert!  That is where our dreaming has stopped at this point but never say never as this trend is becoming more mainstream and accepted.

We’ve actually had our share of tiny house stays over the years while traveling across the states.  Often I consider how the spaces were used in those rentals to accommodate two people.  I dug through my archives to share two of my favorite tiny house stays.  Both were stand alone buildings at about 300 and 400 square feet including a kitchen, full bed and full bath.  How much more do you need?

New Mexico Casita

Casita actually means small house in Spanish.  I loved the outside of this building.  It fit right in amongst the Santa Fe architecture.  When you walked into the home, you faced the sleeping quarters.  The kitchen and bath were to the right.  Another beautiful architectural feature was the brick floor.

NM casita/ tiny house

NM casita interior

Colorado Cabin

Both of these homes had distinct exterior features and private outdoor space.  The cabin just outside of Aspen was a dream mostly due to its setting.  When you walked into the knotty pine cabin there was a seating area to the right.  Straight ahead was a sleeping loft which was above the bathroom and kitchen spaces.  I like the loft for the fact that it saved space in the living quarters however I’m not sure that climbing a ladder into bed every night is ideal.  I’d prefer stairs to a loft.  The majestic view from bed was worth it though!

CO tiny house cabin

CO cabin interior Aspen, CO

Would you ever consider tiny house living?  If so, would you choose a lofted sleeping area or one in the center of the home?  Rustic reclaimed building materials or modern and new?

prepping cabinets for milk paint

It’s happening.  We’re milk painting builder grade oak kitchen cabinets, my friends.  It was only a matter of time! Here’s a glimpse of what we’re working with over at the cottage.  Don’t worry, that ancient stove is long gone.  In fact, the cabinet to the left is gone too as we made way for a dishwasher. kitchen cabinets before We removed the cabinet fronts and got to work prepping them for milk paint.  The doors have a beautiful, simple shape that will benefit immensely with a good cleaning, new paint and hardware. IMG_5799 Cooking grease, grime and residue all needed to be thoroughly removed.  I prefer to do this with a natural cleanser as to not introduce any harsh chemicals to the surface of the wood which milk paint may resist. I used a scouring pad to lift any grime while also lightly roughing up the current finish.  Then sprayed and wiped the surfaces.prepping cabinets for milk paint .. Vinegar is a fantastic natural cleanser.  But who can stand the smell of vinegar for very long?  Long enough to scrub 14 cabinets, 3 drawers and a lazy susan anyway.  There is a very easy fix for that…oranges! citrus cleanser-5807 About a year ago my friends introduced me to the simple concept of making citrus vinegar cleanser and I’ve never looked back.  I use it all over the house.  The oils in citrus peels also have natural cleaning abilities. DIY Citrus Cleanser Simply fill a glass jar with your orange, lemon and grapefruit peels and cover completely with white vinegar.  Seal the jar and allow the peels to soak for a minimum of a month.  You can shake it up from time to time.  The longer the peels soak, the stronger the citrus scent will be.  Figure out the ratio that you like best.  I let this most recent batch soak for about 3 months and it smells heavenly however the yield in cleaning solution was lower as the peels really soaked up the vinegar. citrus cleanser-5790 When you’re ready, simply funnel or strain the cleanser into a spray bottle and start cleaning.  The remaining vinegar soaked peels can be composted.  Smile because you just saved a ton of money! citrus cleanser-5794 Here’s a sneak peek of where the cabinet fronts are with one coat of MMSMP Mora and bonding agent…  To be continued. citrus cleanser-5801

from snow to sun

Ryan and I recently went away to beautiful Vermont.  I really, really love New England and our increasing trips north.  That part of the country boasts so many beautiful old homes brimming with character and antiques.  No wonder I feel right at home there.

Vermont snow

We stayed in a circa 1900 home that encompassed the style of the region so well.  It was at the end of a snow-covered mountain road within walking distance to town.  Every detail was perfect from the stacks of old books to the antique church pew and area rug.  I had serious rug envy!  I’m also coveting French doors.Vermont cottage

While Ryan skied in the below freezing temperatures, I explored back roads, dug through little shops and read. I had very limited access to the online world.  Sorry friends but it was great to disconnect for this vacation.

However, it is always nice to get back home to our own routine.  So long for now, Vermont!

Let’s talk New Jersey for a minute.  Cape May specifically.  A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was milk painting a cedar closet a rich navy – Artissimo.  Well, here it is!

Artissimo closet-5764

This started off as a generic old thrift store cedar closet.  They’re a dime a dozen.  I particularly liked the size of this one as I had a space for it in the cottage we’re working on.

closet before

The closet required very little prep work as the wood was mostly raw.  I used two coats of Artissimo without bonding agent.  I love the richness and depth in this color.  I probably could have gotten away with just one coat since this wood soaked up the paint so nicely.  I anticipated some chipping milk paint where there was a bit of varnish left but only one area across the front chipped.  I couldn’t have planned the placement better myself. The entire piece was finished with furniture wax.

Artissimo closet-5768

I took this opportunity to hand paint the “on the way to Cape May” lyrics across the flat closet front which is always a hit in these parts.  We finished off the front with a new glass knob.

Artissimo closet-5774

I left the inside unpainted and I swear it is not that orange in real life!  We get beautiful natural light in this room which is mostly a blessing but in this case, a curse.  This closet will function perfectly for guests to use.  I can’t wait to pull the rest of the room together.  The room will have a bit of a mid-century vibe.  You’ll die when I post pictures of the beautiful vintage dresser…

Artissimo closet-5772

 

 

an empire table

We had a great group turnout for the milk paint demonstration on Sunday. They left me inspired and ready to tackle some of my own projects!  As a result, I painted the day away yesterday using the new European colors.  Everything is “in progress” so today I’m sharing a December project that I’ve yet to post.

This table was nearly a goner.  The veneer on the base was chipped and needed some repair albeit not perfect.  We needed new molding around the column to secure it too.  It just needed TLC to inject some life into it again.

lucketts green empire table-5608

Empire style furniture dates back to the 1800’s.  Often pieces are identified by that round, circular-like foot.  I have seen dressers like this but this was the first table so I snatched it up.  Those curved feet were what attracted me to it in the first place.

lucketts green empire table-5612

The wood was very worn and raw – a perfect match for milk paint without any bonding agent.  I applied 2 coats of Lucketts Green followed by furniture wax with a little bit of antiquing wax to add depth to the color.  This table has so many possibilities for its next life.  A dining spot in a small kitchen.  An entry table in a large foyer.  You name it.  It is for sale at The West End Garage.

lucketts green empire table-5613

And these arrows.  I can’t get enough of them.  The colors are so bright and cheerful.  I’ll tell you, I become a real hoarder this time of year.  Constantly editing and re-editing vignettes at home.  It might be time to thin out this collection though.

lucketts green empire table-5616

cottage chic

My parents recently bought a quaint cottage in our bay side neighborhood.  They’re thrilled to finally own a vacation home which has been their lifelong dream.  They plan to spend as much time here as possible and more than likely retire here one day.  Bonus, it’s just a few blocks away from us (and has a huge garage!).  Never did we imagine that we’d all end up as neighbors just blocks from the water.  Actually I guess we did imagine just that but never thought it would happen so soon!

vintage cottage treasures-5641

The three bedroom cottage needs some TLC to bring out its fullest potential. Right now it is basically just a blank canvas, inside and out.  Over the holiday break we made decorating plans for each room beginning with the living areas.  And of course, my mom and I cut to the fun stuff and bought a few accessories although we’re obviously nowhere near styling just yet.

vintage cottage treasures-5643

I’m very excited about the feature wall my dad and I are collaborating on in the family room.  This wall had a terrible texture and not in a faux finish way but more of a botched up drywall tape way.  There might even be some wallpaper under there too.  Who knows.  The home is 50-60 years old.

cottage plank wall before 5548

We decided to go cottage chic and create a horizontal plank wall using packaged white wood tongue & groove shiplap from Lowe’s.  After the wood was acclimated to the home’s environment, it was time for installation.  There is not a level surface in this vintage cottage so leveling the first panel was tough.

cottage plank wall-5549

Subsequently each board went on smoothly using liquid nails to attach it to the wall and brad nails to secure it.  Now that the entire wood wall is installed, it’s time for paint!

driftwood look milk paint wood plank wall during-5654

It is tempting to paint the plank wall bright white and call it a day but you probably guessed that I’d have another idea.  This is raw shiplap wood paneling.  Raw wood is the best kind of wood for milk paint.  It will absorb into the wood like a stain.  Currently we are experimenting with different finishes and techniques to create a look similar to driftwood. Here are a few of the samples.

driftwood look milk paint wood plank samples

I think I am leaning toward ‘linen over curio’.

linen over curio milk paint for a driftwood look

‘Linen over typewriter’ isn’t bad either but more gray than tan.

driftwood look milk paint linen over typewriter I’ll have to check in with my clients and see what they think.  Which is your favorite combination for a beachy, driftwood look without going too dark?

winter blues

I’ve got the winter blues, my friends.  Not so much in spirit.  I’m actually really enjoying this stretch of dark, dreary winter this year surprising even myself.  In year’s past, I would typically be very disappointed when it came time to put away the Christmas decorations and accept the stillness of January.  This year is different though.  I’ve found solitude knowing this period is brief which has led to productivity and organization on the project front.  You’re in for a real treat around here as I share all of the details of each project as they unfold!

french enamel table-5551

As for the blues, that’s all in the paint colors I’ve been gravitating toward.  I’m in the midst of completing a large cedar closet in moody artissimo – a deep midnight blue. Today though, I’m sharing a French enamel end table – more of a cheerful beachy blue.

french enamel table-5559

This table is solid oak and isn’t too old.  It feels very 90’s which reminds me that the 1990’s can technically be classified as vintage already!  Shocking to think that my high school era is basically vintage.  As if!

90s end table before

The decidedly 90’s table has great lines, subtle curves and an inlaid oak grain on the top.

french enamel table-5565

I painted the 1st coat with lucketts green with bonding agent because the table was very shiny to start.  The 2nd coat was painted French enamel without bonding agent.

french enamel table-5568

I often get asked whether you need to use bonding agent in both coats or not.  Here is the correct answer:  For best adhesion, it is recommended that you use bonding agent in all coats.  With that said, I like to walk on the wild side and experiment a bit therefore chose not to use bonding agent in the 2nd coat.  Also, I’m not a perfectionist.  The 2nd coat lifted the paint in some areas creating a distressed, chipping look.

french enamel table-5556

I decided to accent the chipping grain by using white wax liberally.  First I sanded it smooth using a fine grit sandpaper. I blended the white wax with furniture wax and buffed.

french enamel table-5561

This table is the perfect addition for someone’s beach cottage!  Now available at The West End Garage.

french enamel table-5552