Archives For April 2012

I’ve been writing about the nursery a lot this week. First the walls, and then the curtains. You might be getting sick of it. But there’s one more item we checked off our to-do list last weekend: install a ceiling fan.

When we bought our house almost every room had a ceiling fan (including the dining room), so I’m not sure why this room was left with just a dinky little boob light. I thought maybe there might be some weird old-house reason why. You know, like there wasn’t enough structural support in the ceiling to hold one or the wiring could only power a single bulb. Who knows.

Everything I’ve read suggests keeping a fan in the nursery because good air circulation can help prevent SIDS. So even though ceiling fans are not my favorite aesthetically I decided to get one. I debated about the light kit, finding them ugly and figuring I’d want to keep the lighting dim for maximum sleepiness anyway, but the idea of cleaning up a late-night diaper blowout by lamplight convinced me that a good solid overhead light never hurt anyone.

So with that decided I thought about what I wanted in a fan. I’ve never bought a fan before, I’ve only gotten rid of them. I looked around my house and realized that all my other fans are white and I hardly even notice them. So white seemed like a good idea. And as is typical, I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on it.

Armed with my requirements of white and cheap, I turned to my dear friend Mr. Google to recommend a size and settled on this fan from Lowe’s for only sixty bucks.

I have nothing to say about the installation because I had nothing to do with it. I learned from this experience not to take on (or attempt to delegate to Nick) any lighting projects that show signs of potential complication. My dad, however, makes things like this look easy, so I asked him weeks ago if he would install it for my birthday. He went in there with a ladder and a toolbox and came out a while later saying he was done. Just like that. The only thing he needed from me was to tell him whether I wanted the blades to be white or maple. I realized later that he never even turned off the breaker. When I asked him about it he said he didn’t need to, he just flipped the wall switch. He’s like the Chuck Norris of home improvement (and cars, and machines, and basically anything requiring technical skill).

You will probably never see another picture of this fan. Our ceilings are high enough that it’s easy for me to avoid it when snapping pics and it sort of fades into the background anyway. Besides, the point of the fan is not to be pretty or to contribute to my vision for the room or anything like that. This thing is all about function. Like a big ugly muscle blowing air around.

Remember how one of the things I wanted for my birthday was a clothesline? (read my wishlist post here) I  got my wish! My lovely sis gave me the retractable clothesline and clothespins I’d picked out on Amazon (and a homemade cake made with Nutella …mmmmm).

First we had to hang this bad boy, though. It was super easy. Our house faces south, so the best way to get all day sunlight is to get out a little further into the yard. We took some measurements and decided that a diagonal line from the corner of the deck to the corner of the fence would be best (spanning just under 20 feet, the length of the clothesline). I held the reel up right underneath the deck railing and marked the location of the holes, then Nick came behind me with the drill.

A few turns of the screwdriver and voila, the reel was mounted on the included screws.

Then we went over to the corner of the fence and installed the eye-hook (also included). We were sure to screw it into a part of the fence that was backed by a wood support instead of just a thin fence board, and we tried to get it as far into the corner as possible so the line would be nice and tight.

There was still a little extra slack in the line, and it took me a few minutes to figure out how to lock it so the line was taut. Turns out it’s very low-tech–you just wrap the extra line around this hook on the bottom.

Like so.

I was so excited to get my clothes hung up out there. I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder or something. Or my elderly neighbor. She line-dries her clothes as well.

Another bonus: the portion of line closest to the fence isn’t visible to any of our two-storied neighbors, so I can hang all my unmentionables without embarrassment. Which is exactly what I did after snapping this photo.

I figure the clothesline will give me an excuse to get outside on sunny weekends, plus it saves on energy costs. I’ve also been thinking about how the dryer always takes longer than the washer. Now, if I’m washing multiple loads in one day I can have two drying at once (no more laundry traffic jam waiting for the dryer to finish).  And motivation numero tres for drying clothes the old fashioned way: I’ve got big dreams of using cloth diapers with Jack, and I hear that sunlight is a magic cure-all for unsightly stains. So imagine me in six months or so out here with a baby and a dozen poop-stained diapers. Haha.

Are you jealous of my little garden and my clothesline? There’s a compost bin back there, too. Doesn’t my yard look so quaint, like a little urban homestead? Now all I need is some chickens!

Most of the windows in our house are pretty awesome, but for some reason this one in the soon-to-be-nursery is weirdly off-center. It made my eye twitch a little every time I looked at it.

When we first bought our house there were no curtains. Nary a stitch of privacy to be found. Since we live in an old neighborhood with very small lots it was like living in a fishbowl. So priority número uno for me was getting something up on those windows ASAP. I scoured the internet for the cheapest curtain hardware I could find and ordered 19 of these (we have a lot of windows), then paid a handyman to hang ‘em all. I had the foresight in this room to have him hang the rod so that it was centered on the wall, rather than the window. Bee tee dubs, the handyman was SO worth it. I still can’t figure out how he hung the rod above the stairs.

I whipped up some curtains really cheaply (you can read all about my curtain technique in this post from way back in my first month of blogging), but it’s slow going when you’ve got that many windows to cover and I lost motivation pretty quickly. I never got around to making enough panels to really look good on this window–just three that I stretched across to block peeping neighbors. But this weekend I was dying to do at least something for myself, and I figured the doctor wouldn’t be too upset about me spending thirty minutes at the sewing machine. In no time at all I’d sewn three more panels for in here, and once all six had been run through the wash (to shrink the new ones and just refresh the old), I had Nick hang them up and stood back to admire my genius.

You can still see the off-center window pretty clearly, but I think the curtains go a long way toward helping it feel more balanced. I moved the dresser so that it’s centered on the wall, which I think helps trick the eye a little more. In person the look is even more symmetrical, since the brightness of the windows is less noticeable behind the white drapes.

I’m thinking the look could be enhanced even further if I added some decorative panels that blocked more light to the outside edges. That way it wouldn’t be so obvious that the area all the way to the left doesn’t have a window behind it, but the middle area would still have plenty of light coming through the thin white muslin. The panels would have to be pretty thick, though, and super cheap if they’re going to fit into my budget for this room. If it hadn’t been such a pain last time I tackled it I would try dying drop cloths dark gray and hanging them up, but I don’t know that I’m willing to go through all that trouble again. In reality, this look is a major improvement and I’m inclined to keep it this way. Next, I’d like to put up some adjustable blackout shades to hang out behind those white drapes so that I can darken the room for naptime, then raise the shades back up to let the light back in. One step at a time, though, especially since I’m back to work today after a five-day weekend. Good thing I’ve still got 13 weeks until little Jack makes his arrival!

While I wasn’t able to do much besides sit around and look pregnant this weekend, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to have an expert cutter-inner help me knock out the nursery. My friend Lauren was here from Atlanta and had offered months ago to tape while I rolled during her next visit. When the doc ordered me to rest, I was pretty annoyed. I had plans! Then I remembered that I also have a husband. So I sat in a chair providing moral support while she did the edges and he painted the middles. I’m such a lucky gal to have so many people willing to help me out!

I don’t have many before pictures of this room because it’s always been a bit of a hot mess. Here’s one I dug up from back when I used it as an office. The creamy yellow color on the walls was here when we bought the place. I’m pretty sure it’s a common neutral used in older homes, as our rental house had it in the living room and I’ve noted its presence in several other houses in our neighborhood. Notice that canvas hung above the desk? That’s the same one I painted over to make the You Are My Sunshine sign for this room’s second life as a nursery (I originally purchased it as a blank canvas for half off at Hobby Lobby and painted it up for some DIY abstract art).

The room still has a long way to go, but the yellow is gone! And I think a tour is in order. This is what you see straight ahead when you stand in the doorway. An off-center window and a door to the bathroom (the downstairs bath has two entrances–one from this room and one from the guest room).

Turn your head to the right and you see this wall, which is where the desk used to be. See that painter’s tape on the floor? I’ve been using it to mark out possible crib locations. I originally was going to have it centered on this wall but I’m thinking of moving it to the wall just to the right of the door instead.

To your left when you walk in is this wall with an old coal-burning fireplace and a small closet. The brick around the fireplace is still painted the same yellow as the walls, but I’m planning to hit it with a few coats of white semi-gloss (just like I did in the front room).

The closet is modestly sized, but in a house this old any closet is a thing of beauty. The cabinet on top is about twice as deep, making me wonder what’s behind that closet wall. You can see it’s just got some random crap stored in there for now, but I plan to clean it out and make some tweaks to get the most out of the space.

Do you remember me mentioning in a previous post that the light switch is really inconveniently located behind the door? This is what I mean. I plan to use the switch as rarely as possible.

The new color on the walls is Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray (color matched to Olympic Premium no-VOC paint in a satin finish), and it’s exactly what I envisioned. I wanted something very neutral and soothing that would also reflect a lot of light, and this did the trick. I also love love love how it looks against the white trim. It’s hard to capture it perfectly on camera, especially with no curtains to filter the light streaming in from those windows, but I think the last picture of that little nook behind the door is most accurate. It feels so good to have it painted! Getting a color of my own choosing on the walls really goes a long way toward making it feel like a part of our home, rather than the random pass-through/dumping ground it’s pretty much been for the last two years. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the room comes together!