Category Archives: Bargains

The Trash on My Street

As I was driving out from my house last night I spied a pair of chairs left by the side of the road.

A neighbor has clearly had enough of these Victorianesque chairs.

A neighbor has clearly had enough of these Victorianesque chairs.

I live on a dead end street of about half of a dozen houses so I know these chairs are not meant for some passer-by to snatch up.

If these were truly from a Victorian set there would be both a masculine and feminine model of the chair -- similar but not exactly the same.

If these were truly from a Victorian set there would be both a masculine and feminine model of the chair — similar but not exactly the same.

Their Victorian feeling  is not my (current) style or you know I would have dragged them home.

Pretty details that could easily be enhanced in a theatrical paint shop.

Pretty details that could easily be enhanced in a theatrical paint shop.

I also know that some theatre company would love to have these in their prop closet.  I remember designing Harvey (the play about a six-foot invisible rabbit) years ago and having to borrow some stock Victorian furniture from another theatre company with more storage than we had.

I'm guessing the vacuum cleaner doesn't work.

I’m guessing the vacuum cleaner doesn’t work.

We have some wonderful university and regional theatres here in Maryland.  Don’t overlook that avenue if you’re trying to get rid of items that might be valuable for props and costumes. (I donated some hats here.) Theatre artists and artisans are talented at renewing your cast-offs to fit their plays. And, of course, you can usually take a tax deduction if the theatre company is not-for-profit.

Do you have specific advice about passing on unwanted items? Furniture? Clothes?

I Was Sure It Would Fit

My plan was to use the bottom of our green hutch to form the bottom of our new linen closet in the master suite hallway.

The 36-inch wide cabinet should fit into the new space.

The 36-inch wide cabinet should fit into the new space.

I measured carefully and found the opening is 37 inches wide and the cabinet is also 37 inches.

The bottom of the hutch will not slide back into place. There is an overhang of about 2-inches.

The bottom of the hutch will not slide back into place. There appears to be an overhang of about 2-inches.

That just shows what a good measurer I am.  The cabinet is actually 37 inches wide but the opening is only 36-1/2 inches.

A mocked-up version of what we're going for.

A mocked-up version of what we’re going for.

Now I have to make a few more alterations than I was planning. And of course they’re more difficult than I would suspect.

The trim around the bottom of the cabinet must be removed then reattached after the piece Is set in place.

The trim around the bottom of the cabinet must be removed then reattached after the piece Is set in place.

First I need to remove the trim around the bottom — I can get a spackling knife behind it but it won’t loosen up.  It must be glued on.  I’ll let Charlie tackle that chore.

The top also needs to be trimmed down. (It will probably need to be removed to do so.)

The top also needs to be trimmed down. (It will probably need to be removed to do so.)

The top is also too wide and needs to be cut down to 36 inches max.

This cabinet will hang above the bottom of the hutch.

This cabinet will hang above the bottom of the hutch.

And I want to paint it white to match the upper cabinet.  Or maybe I should paint it grey like the cabinets in the kitchen which are dark on the bottom and white on top.

The kitchen cabinets are dark grey on the bottom and white uppers.

The kitchen cabinets are dark grey on the bottom and white uppers.

So many decisions and tasks for such a small item.

The storage on the right is actually my inspiration picture.

The storage on the right is actually my inspiration picture.

Grrrr.

What simple project are you struggling with?

It Was Always Temporary

In order to have the final inspection for the work the contractor was responsible for Charlie and I installed a truly nasty $10 lighting fixture in the conservatory bathroom.

This $10 light is supposed to have fancy bulbs -- why bother?

This $10 light is supposed to have fancy bulbs — why bother?

I had been searching for a reasonably priced fixtures that coordinate with the rustic galvanized pendant in the corner of conservatory.

A pendant light with a milk-can finish hangs over the bistro set in the conservatory.

A pendant light with a milk-can finish hangs over the bistro set in the conservatory.

We had success on our trip to Richmond finding a light that has a satin nickel finish which will go with the faucet we bought at Ikea and a shape reminiscent of the industrial vibe of the conservatory pendant.

Industrial cage vanity light from Shades of Light.

Industrial cage vanity light from Shades of Light.

This fixture comes in one, two, three, or four light models and has matching ceiling lights.  The price for the 18-inch long 2-light model is $99.

Using the cage over the bulb is optional -- I like it, Charlie does not.

Using the cage over the bulb is optional — I like it, Charlie does not.

It can be used with or without the bulb grilles.

The light I'm holding in the picture will replace the one hanging on the wall.

The light I’m holding in the picture will replace the one hanging on the wall.

Even though I’m eager to get it up we’ll wait until the vanity and sink under it are installed.

What $100 item has made a big difference in your décor?

Recycled Glass Lighting

Charlie and I headed to Richmond this past weekend with the express mission to buy some lighting fixtures for the master suite hall and bathroom.

The roughed-in lights in the master suite are simple porcelain sockets. YUK!

The roughed-in lights in the master suite are simple porcelain plastic sockets. YUK!

Our first stop was Decorating Outlet which is the discount store connected to the Shades of Light catalog/website. We found one deeply discounted fixture there but realized we’d need to visit the actual Shades of Light showroom not far from where we had stayed the night before.

Shades of Light showroom on Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia.

Shades of Light showroom on Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia.

The first fixture we installed was a flush mount ceiling fixture in the master suite hallway.

The salesperson at wrapped our lighting fixtures so we could take them home with us.

The salesperson at wrapped our lighting fixtures so we could take them home with us.

Charlie and I hung it ourselves by first looking up which wires connect to what. (Ribbed wire connects to the white and the smooth wire connects to the black.)  I ran downstairs to turn off the circuit breaker.

Charlie removed the temporary fixture.

Charlie removed the temporary fixture.

We took apart a fixture the electricians had hung in the conservatory to see exactly what to do--then Charlie screwed the metal plate to the blue electric box.

We took apart a fixture the electricians had hung in the conservatory to see exactly what to do–then Charlie screwed the metal plate to the blue electric box.

After removing the temporary bare light bulb socket we attached the plate of the light to the electric box.

The cover screws on with tiny metal balls -- one of them dropped into no man's land.

The cover screws on with tiny metal balls — one of them dropped into no man’s land.

Charlie matched the correct wires and covered the connection with wire nuts. Then the decorative coverplate was attached to the plate in the blue electric box.

The wires are tucked into the ceiling.

The wires are tucked into the ceiling.

We screwed in a light bulb, turned on the breaker, turned on the switch and it lit up.  Woo-hoo!

The slightly green fixture looks nice on the pale pink ceiling. (Walls are still unpainted.)

The slightly green fixture looks nice on the pale pink ceiling. (Walls are still unpainted.)

We didn’t have enough of a spirit of cooperation to hang the second twin fixture but this one gave me a good idea of how they’ll look.

We will probably replace the bulb with clear flame-shaped bulbs.

We will probably replace the bulb with clear flame-shaped bulbs.

They have a classic shape with a twist of recycled glass. The photo of this recycled bottle glass shade appeared pale aqua in the catalog but in real life it is Coke bottle green.

Do you risk electrocuting yourself to do your own wiring? How about flooding the house to do your own plumbing?

Get a Room

Very rarely when Charlie and I travel do we stay in a hotel.  We usually rent a flat, apartment, or cottage for our lodging which, in the past, we have located on VRBO.com (Vacation rental by owner).

Living room of "Marais Saintonge" in Paris

Living room of “Marais Saintonge” in Paris

For our trip to Richmond I also wanted to locate a room not in a hotel.  For one thing the price is almost half of the cheapest hotel/motel and the accommodations are generally far superior.

Last year we stayed at a small cottage in a marina in Florida.  This was our view.

Last year we stayed at a small cottage in a marina in Florida. This was our view.

Recently I have been introduced to another website: airbnb.com.  This site allows people to offer rooms in their own home as a short term, as short as one day, rental. This is the service where we found our Richmond, VA, rental.

Our host posted an interactive map that shows his personal recommendations for shopping, eating, sightseeing, etc.

Our host posted an interactive map that shows his personal recommendations for shopping, eating, sightseeing, etc.

Much like the bed and breakfasts in Europe, the owner can offer a single room in his/her own house in a regular residential neighborhood, although larger spaces are also available and usually you have use of other parts of a house. It’s very low-key.

For our first try with airbnb.com we tried a Superhost with a verified ID and lots of good reviews that fit our lifestyle.

For our first try with airbnb.com we tried a Superhost with a verified ID and lots of good reviews that fit our lifestyle.

My advice for first time users is to choose a price range, read the reviews, and contact the host. How do you like to travel?

Dear Valspar

I told you I had had a problem with some interior room paint a while back in the comment portion of the post. So, as I said I would should, here’s my letter to Valspar. (Because they have a form on their website and not an actual email address I couldn’t send the photos.)

Valspar's customer service form.

Valspar’s customer service form.

Dear Valspar,

Recently I painted a ceiling with your Aspire paint in the color Hydrangea purchased at Ace Hardware.  I loved it.  It both brushed and rolled on beautifully.

Valspar Aspire

Valspar Aspire

One week forward I went to Lowes to buy gallon of eggshell paint in the color Seed which could only be mixed in your Reserve formula for almost twice the price of the Aspire.

Lowes had to mix the "Eddie Bauer" color in the expensive paint; Ace didn't carry the "Eddie Bauer" line so could mix it in a less expensive base.

Lowes had to mix the “Eddie Bauer” color in the Valspar Reserve.

I used this paint to paint both the walls and ceilings of a small bathroom.  What a chore! The paint was thin and runny; not at all what I expected.

Just wanted to let you know I won’t be using your “top of the line” formula in the future.

Sincerely,

Jo

How do you handle product complaints?

Sink or Sink?

Now that the conservatory bathroom has been painted it’s time to think about fixtures. I know I would like a rustic vanity in the space between the walls but which sink should I choose?

The area set aside for the sink and vanity is 43-inches wide.

The area set aside for the sink and vanity is 43-inches wide.

The space for our vanity is exactly 43-inches and we’re planning to fill it.  I’m considering 2 different sinks.

The Ikea Odensvik is 39-3/8 inches wide and 19-1/4 inches

The Ikea Odensvik is 39-3/8 inches wide and 19-1/4 inches

The first one is a fully ceramic sink from Ikea with a rectangular bowl and countertop attached on either side.  Right now it’s on sale for $102.  It would leave me with approximately 2 inches on either side that would be a space between the edge of the sink counter top and wall.

This solid surface integrated sink and countertop is an exact fit at $150.

This solid surface integrated sink and countertop is an exact fit and a bit deeper front to back.

The second sink is a solid surface integral sink with a 43-inch overall width including the countertop found at a local discount warehouse.  The bowl is rectangular.  The only thing I really don’t like in the built in rear backsplash, but I could live with it. The price is $150.

Don't forget I'm planning a tall spigot like the ones we liked in our Paris apartment.

Don’t forget I’m planning a tall spigot like the ones we liked in our Paris apartment.

I’m committed to a rectangular bowl to go with our rustic vanity. The Ikea requires a one-hole faucet, the solid surface 3. I’m deciding soon.

Do you like a built in backsplash? (Charlie does.)