The Outhouse Gets a Makeover

Yes, you read that correctly. The Outhouse is getting a makeover. Not my second floor bathroom, but…the Outhouse. If you’ve recently stumbled upon my blog, let me introduce you to the Outhouse. A random disgusting toilet in the basement, surrounded by an odd wooden (at one point blue) structure. It got its name because that is exactly what it looks like…an outhouse.

IMG_4302

I preferred to fix up the second floor bathroom before the Outhouse, but a half bath would be much cheaper, and I’m not as picky when it comes to this particular bathroom. Its a spare half bath in an unfinished basement.

Last year my parents remodeled their guest bathroom, and asked if I wanted their old vanity and sink. Free construction materials? Um…yes please! So I’ve had a sink sitting in my basement for the past year. Next, I came into some tile. You get the picture. Over time I hoarded enough materials to renovate the Outhouse at a minimal cost.

IMG-0566

The surrounding blue structure was torn down and the old toilet taken out. The 2×4 framing and drywall were put up, and electric and plumbing installed.

IMG-0568

IMG-0567

IMG-0571

The Outhouse renovation was coming along smoothly, and then I went out of town for a week. Why is this relevant? Well, Baltimore got a lot of rain while I was gone…and so did my basement. I was aware my basement had a moisture problem. The water usually isn’t that bad, and only comes in on one side of the basement. Over the past two years I’ve tried to fix the leak. I replaced the old gutters. The original outdoor plumbing was replaced. Dirt was brought in to fill in the space near the pipes. Nothing worked! Finally we came to the conclusion that I would have to install a sub-pump to fix it. Hmmm…spend several thousand dollars to install a basement sub-pump or dining room trim? Install a sub-pump or landscaping? Install sub-pump or put up a fence? It seemed there was always something else (and in my opinion, something better) to spend money on. So I put off installing a sub-pump.

Well, the joke’s on me because I wasn’t there to mop the water up it almost reached the Outhouse. There is no point finishing the half bath if it could get water damage down the road. Renovations are on hold until I put in a sub-pump, and this “cheap renovation” is now going to cost me a lot more. Lesson learned.

 

Advertisements

Kitchen Nook Reveal- Part II

The kitchen nook was like the rest of the kitchen…a disaster. The kitchen’s avocado green walls and wood paneling continued throughout the nook. The former owner decided to mix it up a bit with striped wallpaper and a green radiator.

IMG-4288

This picture was taken before the termite company ripped up the floors for treatment. There was a huge swarm under the floor, and you can actually see termite mud pushing up some of the laminate tile. By the time I closed on the property, the nook’s flooring was gone and a temporary piece of plywood was put in its place.

IMG-4289

The wood paneling was removed, and new drywall and flooring installed. I continued the white walls and porcelain gray tile into the nook. The lovely green radiator was painted white. Surprisingly, the sliding glass doors were in decent shape, and I decided to keep them for now. Eventually, I would like to replace them with French doors, but that’s low on my list of priorities at the moment.

IMG-4857

I loved the marble kitchen table. It was similar to the tables I saw in design magazines.

pottery barn

swomad
Using it for inspiration, I decided to keep the table and fix it up myself. It was dull and had some scratches, but I was able to get most of the scratches out with a little light sanding. Next I gave it a good polish using car wax. I painted the wooden base black.

IMG-4859 (1)

The chairs left behind consisted of a wooden bench and mismatched vintage ice cream parlor chairs. I sold the chairs at my yard sale, and temporarily replaced them with metal chairs from a Pier One outdoor patio set I had. I was contemplating purchasing acrylic chairs, but didn’t see any I liked in my price range. Several months passed, and I decided I preferred the metal chairs to acrylic and kept them.

IMG-4290

I didn’t plan to keep the original light fixture. It was old fashioned and not at all what I was envisioning. Over time it grew on me. I can’t explain it. It’s old fashioned and weird, but I just like it. I painted the base black and switched out the light bulb for a large round one.

IMG-4861

I kept the slate piece on the radiator for my DIY planters and milk glass containers I found around the house. In the office filing cabinet, among the playbills and files full of joke clippings, I found the original advertisement for my neighborhood from the early 1920’s. I framed it and hung it in the nook.

IMG-4860

IMG-4862

Since the kitchen nook overlooks the garden, I used a 1950’s flower guidebook for wall décor. The colorful pictures pop against the white walls, and a perfect transition to the view of the garden.

FullSizeRender (47)

IMG_5516

I think the white and gray tones brighten up the space, and with ample views of the garden from the side window and sliding doors, I wasn’t concerned about the lack of color.

IMG-4858

I love to spend lazy Saturday mornings drinking my coffee watching cardinals, robins and butterflies enjoying the berries on my shrubs and flowers in the garden.

Key Lime Pie, Classic Cars and Six-Toed Cats

Last month I escaped the endless winter and took a trip to Key West Florida. The drive down the keys is absolutely beautiful. Stunning blue water, white beaches and large iguanas sunning themselves on the side of the road. There was still evidence of Hurricane Irma damage, mostly between Sugarloaf and Marathon. Abandoned RV’s were scattered about, the sides completely ripped away, and pieces of boats lay along the road.

IMG-0461

Luckily, Key West avoided the worst of the storm and was in good shape. We stayed just off of Duval Street near Mallory Square. I loved Key West’s atmosphere and laid back attitude. We rented bikes and spent the first day riding around and checking out the sights.

IMG-0409

I visited the Hemingway House, and was surprised that the entire place smelled like cats. Upon discovering that 52 cats lived there, I understood why. I also learned way too much about six-toed cats.

IMG-0418

IMG-0414

The cool thing about the Hemingway House is that the patio and surrounding brick wall were from Baltimore! I spied several of these bricks around Key West.

IMG-0421

I also visited the Little White House and took a Conch Tour Train ride, which gave a really great overview of the architecture and history of Key West.

IMG-0422

Seventy miles off the coast of Key West is Fort Jefferson National Park. You can only get there by airplane or boat, and takes several hours. Around the time I was booking my trip I just finished a book about the assassination of Lincoln. I recalled that Fort Jefferson was mentioned as the prison several conspirators had been taken to. The most notorious prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd. I wasn’t sure if I would ever come back to Key West so I figured I’d take the day and visit Fort Jefferson.

IMG-0445

IMG-0442

I enjoyed the park tour, and walking around the fort. It was pretty cool to stand at the top of the fort and see nothing but water all around you. It’s so incredibly quiet and still.

IMG-0452

Only five park rangers and the occasional camper live there. I enjoyed the peacefulness, which was a nice break from Duval Street, but I understand how it could be isolating.

IMG-0458

The fort is known for its snorkeling, but it was windy that day and visibility was poor, so I relaxed on the beach until the boat left. I thought this would be my only trip to Fort Jefferson, but camping there is now on my bucket list.

IMG-0449

After four days in Key West, I had my fill of key lime pie and tropical drinks. We hopped in the car and headed to West Palm Beach and the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction. I didn’t explore Palm Beach that much, but relaxed on the beach when I wasn’t at the car show.

IMG-0466

IMG-0472

I loved driving around and admiring the flora of Key West and Palm Beach. It was inspiring and I was itching to start working in my own garden. By the time I got home, the weather had FINALLY started to warm up a bit. Let the planting begin!

Laundry Tub Installation

Several months ago, I scored an awesome (practically brand new) laundry tub with a faucet and hookup at a community flea market in Parkton for $15! The tub alone costs $110 at Home Depot. My current laundry tub was old and covered in paint, so I figured why not replace it?

IMG_4943

The new laundry tub is deeper, and doesn’t take up as much space. You can see where the legs of the original tub stood.

BB64DEA0-B95E-4F12-95AE-D3ED14DCE6B1

Plus, its great having a new faucet with a pull down spray.

C51D1934-9AD0-4BC7-A5EA-67AE5D1627AF

I found this picture of the laundry corner the other day and thought I would share. The difference between the before and after makes me laugh…well that and the random crab pots in the corner. Project by project the basement is slowly coming along!

DB570E2C-10CB-40D2-B4ED-9AA75F3DE4B8

Secret Garden Overhaul Part II

Last summer I took on the challenge of the overgrown garden. Check out my Secret Garden Part I post if you missed the before/after. By the time I got to the back portion of the garden it was August. It was hot and humid, and I was over landscaping and yard work. As much as I was dreading it, I could not leave it alone. The overgrown mess was such an eyesore, and I suspected it was the cause of my cat problem. The pictures are from mid March. It was so overgrown in the summer that it was hard to see the space. So imagine this, but ten times worse in August. Ugh!

3EA7F215-62A3-40BE-B06E-ABD31F91C65E

535AFD51-F10A-4FDD-B224-8F1FCC7FBDB0

IMG_3204

BDDF56C2-36FB-4EEA-949E-E3BF6C5EC74D

EFA6C07D-5066-47EA-9A18-E89BDCE315CB

 

1E859A7E-A354-4993-97BA-821EDF2B7E5B

I decided to rip out the overgrowth, tidy up the area, and focus on planting shrubs the following year. Just removing the ground covering made a huge difference.

IMG_5564

IMG_5565

Next, I took on the task of digging out rocks and the rest of the bricks. Rocks. There were so many rocks in the garden! Oh, and let’s not forget the occasional seashell of course.

shell

I dumped the rocks in my alley and posted a free notification online for my neighbors. Twenty minutes later, the rocks were gone. I did this FOUR times! Apparently, rocks are a hot commodity and I received several e-mails requesting more rocks. I’m happy they were put to good use, and more importantly that I didn’t have to haul them away!

rocks

I laid down weed barrier fabric, and mulched the flowerbeds. I planted hostas in-between the three camellia bushes. I also planted ferns I had found growing among the ground covering at the end of the flowerbed.

IMG_5566

976A46FC-F56E-4076-8D26-8D432C457EA4

I put weed barrier fabric across the middle of the space and dumped over a ton of pebbles on top. This will help keep the ground covering from growing back. Yay, more rocks!

CF73483A-249C-4435-B746-F752C754F0CC

6943C9B0-D346-42FF-87C5-216BAF938BF2

38C575CE-4485-4D0F-B520-C7419AA7D980

3DB9F64E-9C4C-46E4-AC14-BD982C1607C5

20103540-A1CD-44FF-94C7-4FC26FEB59BF

A fence was installed for more privacy, and the wrought iron entrance gate removed. I used the entrance gate for decor since it matched the rest of the fencing scattered throughout the garden.

B2EF5DD5-7810-4215-A683-61CF53B8C08B (1)

6E03394F-857F-4301-B637-E42AF91ADF58

Now that the majority of the work is complete, this spring I plan to rip out the Japanese laurels and plant hydrangeas all the way across the back. I’ve also purchased some astilbe bulbs to plant in the empty spaces and between the trees.

I’m happy to report all of my fertilizing and pruning last year paid off. My neglected camellias have more buds then ever! I can’t wait to see how they look come spring!

Gunther Brewing Company Crate

Cleaning out the basement I found two wooden crates. I sold one, and kept the Gunther crate to restore. The George Gunther, Jr. Brewing Company was founded by George Gunther Sr. in 1900. It was the second largest brewing company in Baltimore.

IMG_4556

A wire brush was used to scrape off the paint, and the bottom nailed together and reinforced. Linseed oil was rubbed over the entire crate to preserve the wood and enhance the Gunther logo print.

CEEDEA53-6F58-423D-8995-62383801BB3B

543ADA2B-736C-4B24-9E35-3D880DA41822

I repurposed my own little piece of Baltimore history, and use it to store my Architectural Digest magazines.

Francois Carre Sunburst Garden Chair Restoration

The house was full of amazing antique treasures, many of which were falling apart. It wasn’t discouraging, but inspiring. I didn’t see trash, I saw potential and projects!

My favorite find is the Francois Carre Sunburst Garden Chair, which I mentioned in my Picking for Smalls Part I post. I discovered this style chair was designed and manufactured by Francois Carre for parks in France in the 1860’s. In 1866, he filed a U.S. patent and they began manufacturing the garden sets and chairs in the United States. They became very popular in the 1920’s and continued to be manufactured through the 1940’s.

IMG_3561

8D902A45-2C32-47BC-AED3-C3BDC1D7CE48

After my research, I noticed Sunburst garden sets and chairs on several historic house tours. Unlike Alfred duPont’s beautiful set, my chair was falling apart. Several seams on the seat were rusted and threatening to break. It also needed a fresh coat of paint.

1E3B506A-C790-4549-A71A-34AEDF6F3797

A family friend welded and fixed the rusted seams on the seat. Next, it was sanded and painted black to match the rest of my outdoor décor.

2655C11A-BF25-440D-A488-12691079B2D5

BFD8D476-F06D-4D18-B106-5B036F237C54

I would like to have a few more Sunburst pieces to go with my chair, but haven’t had much luck finding any in my price range. Sets and chairs tend to sell for $1,000 – $3,000. I did spy two chairs on a porch in East Baltimore a few weeks ago. They were rough, but salvageable. I stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes thinking about knocking on the door and asking if they would consider selling them. I decided that a total stranger knocking on your door offering to buy your stuff would probably be unwanted and rude. I wrote down the address though…just in case.