Sunday, August 19, 2018

Christmas Break

Had to take a little break from the renovation craziness over the holidays. Here are some photos from December 2017.

Merry Christmas!

Fireplace Facelift

We knew that when we decided to do our living room over we would update the fireplace. Remember what it looked like before we started?

The old fireplace on D-Day (Demo Day), November 11, 2015

Once we decided to vault the ceiling, I knew that I wanted to extend the fireplace to the roof line. I removed the old mantel and the top few rows of brick that flared out at the top. I framed in the fireplace extension and then covered it with cement board.

Old mantel removed and 2x4s installed (August 2016).

Cement board installed and decorated with Christmas cards (January 2017).

We found a great arched mirror at Home Goods, and we thought that one on each side of the fireplace would look nice. It took us so long to find a match, though. None of the Home Good stores in the area had any. We found one on Amazon, but it took several attempts because each time it showed up at the house, it was broken, so we refused delivery. The third time it came, the glass was actually in tact, but this time, the frame was broken. Amazon shipped us another one, and once again, the glass was broken. I ended up removing the good mirror from the third shipment and installing it in the good frame from the last shipment. I'm glad we persisted because the pair of mirrors looks great!

Mirrors hung and new wine rack purchased (October, 2017).

Originally, I was thinking of using something like this to refinish the fireplace.

Ledger Stones

We saw these ledger stones at Best Tile, and they looked like they would be fairly easy to install. In fact, this is it what it says on the website:
"6x24 mesh mounted, stacked planks of slate or quartzite. Does not require grout because of the tight joint."
Perfect, right? Well, not really. After some thought, Maura decided that she would like a more natural looking, stone fireplace. *Sigh!*

Our search for stone veneer led us to The Stoneyard in Littleton, Massachusetts. We ended up choosing Colonial Tan and also ordered a piece of custom cut bluestone for the hearth.

First row of stone veneer and bluestone hearth installed (October, 2017)

We decided that we wanted a reclaimed beam for our mantel. We went to a couple of places and searched on-line, and then Maura found a place called Stonewood Products in Harwich on Cape Cod. We took a ride down one Sunday and found a piece of reclaimed beam that we really liked, so we bought it and had it cut to size. I believe it's from a 150-plus-year-old barn from Pennsylvania.

Our new mantel-to-be.

I was trying to figure out the best way to attach the mantel to the fireplace, and a coworker suggested a French cleat. I found this one on Amazon, and it ended up working out perfectly. It was rated for 200 pounds, which was more than enough.

French cleat attached to the back of the mantel.

French cleat attached to the wall.

Mantle hung (November, 2017).

Still a ways to go, and this is what my porch looked like.

I'm glad I ended up wiring the light fixtures for the new fireplace because we found some nice lights that worked really well with the stone veneer and the reclaimed beam mantel. (After a little reflection, we decided to move the nativity scene out of the fireplace because it just didn't seem right in there.) 😲

Lights installed (December, 2017)

Well, I didn't finish the fireplace makeover before Christmas. Oh, well. These things take time! Good things come to those who wait, right? Decent progress, anyway. Even though it wasn't complete, we figured we should do some entertaining since we really hadn't done much since the renovation started over two years ago. Check out some more holiday pictures here.

Someone is comfortable in her new spot in front of the fireplace.

It took me a little while to get back at it after the holidays.

Time to get the scaffolding out again (March, 2018).

Almost there (March, 2018)!

Fireplace Facelift Done (May, 2018)!

Okay, it's actually not totally done. We will be adding a gas insert. More to come on that later.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Odds & Ends

I figure I'd drop some miscellaneous stuff here.

Going Green

We had some solar panels installed by SunRun in August of 2017. Didn't have to pay anything up front, and the rep said that we should save about $500 per year on our electric bill, so we figured why not? Pretty pleased with them so far. They pay a referral fee to customers, too, so if you've been thinking about it, tell them we sent you. 😏

SunRun solar panels

I'll Take What's Behind Door #1

We thought it was time to refresh the front door. It's the original front door that was a hunter green color when we moved in, and at some point, we painted it red. It was still in good shape, so I decided to strip it and then figure out how to finish it afterward.

Front door with hinges and doorknob removed, ready for stripping.

Stripping underway

Slow-going, but making progress...


Dark stain applied

Crafty Projects

Maura found this old shelf in an antique store in Hudson, Massachusetts. She really liked it, but it was a sea-foam green color, and it was in rough shape. I had an idea to strip it and refinish it with that crackly-effect paint, so we got some Valspar Crackle Glaze from Lowe's. We wanted a white finish showing a dark color beneath it. It took a few tries, but it finally came out pretty nice. I found out after the first attempt that you need to apply the glaze in long, even strokes, so I had to take the shelf apart. I found out next that if you keep the treated surfaces vertical when painting, the outer layer sags. Third time was (finally) the charm.

Stripped down sufficiently to start painting.

New dark base coat applied.

Finished product hung up and decorated with Maura's touch.

Updated for Halloween!

Maybe some mini LED lights?

Maura showed me a centerpiece that she liked in a magazine, so I bought some wood, candles, candle stands, mini LED lights, florist foam, and some decorations.


I'm almost looking forward to fall again so these decorations can come back out!