Category Archives: Decorating

Posts having to do with decorating the house

History Hidden in the Walls

One of the neat things about renovating an old house is finding all of the hidden treasures. Most of this stuff can be found literally stuffed in the walls and ceiling. I imagine some of it just found it’s way in the cracks of the floor, but other stuff may have been placed there. Take for example this little item I found when tearing down the old porch. The old mason jar still sits where it was left many, many years ago.


I have never run across anything valuable, like a pot of gold, or a Bugatti Veyron, but I have found some stuff that is pretty neat. Over the years I have kept it all in a box in the hopes that one day I could display at least some of it. When we found a pair of the old auditorium seats and installed them in the mudroom, Sara and I thought it would be a good place to also display the house’s history. I don’t know exactly how old the house is, but records from the Bangor Museum and History Center point to the house being built somewhere in the late 1910’s to early 20’s. Here is a picture taken by a tax assessor during the great depression. This is the only picture I have of this house before we bought it. I would love more!


Compare that with the way that the house looks today (minus the photoshoppping of the shutters, which we will now call shutter photoshoppery).

What if.....

So what else did I find in the walls? Lots of stuff! I collected more marbles than anything else. They seemed to be in every wall I tore apart.


I also found ads for Model T’s, invitations to local events, birth certificates, pay stubs, fishing licenses, receipts, bottle caps, a chisel, playing cards, stamps, and lots more. The oldest thing I found was a receipt for a screw pulley from downtown Bangor hardware store, the Haynes and Chalmers Company. As you can see, it was dated July 14th, 1909.


The Lone Ranger


While not really “old”, I found this piece of newspaper kinda neat. Castro and the mention of a French invasion. Bay of Pigs maybe?


I also found this pay stub from 1939. This was especially cool since the address on the original envelope was our address. Since I had found other items with the name Mr. Arthur E. Stewart, I could now piece together that he worked at an ice cream factory in the late 30’s. I have heard that there was an ice cream factory in our neighborhood, but I haven’t confirmed that it was the same one where he worked. And doing a bit more digging, I found that he was one of 9 children, but passed away in 1998 in Florida at the age of 83. I would love to learn more about this family and if there are any surviving relatives still in the area.

Mr. Arthur Emery Stewart’s pay stub


Donald Everett Stewart (1924-1974) Social Security card (Arthur’s brother, and 1 of 9!)

Donald Everett

Arthur Williamson Stewart (1889-1969) hunting license, and combo hunting/fishing license. Thanks for keeping it legal Mr. Stewart!



Neat, huh?

So what do you do with all of this stuff? Frame it of course!


And here it is hanging on the wall, with the freshly painted window trim!


So, what do you do with all the hidden treasure you find in your house? Did you ever feel entitled to free ice cream for life when you found secret ice cream manufacturers treasures? Neither did I, but wouldn’t THAT be sweet!?




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Long Time, No See!

For most, a new year’s resolution involves exercising more, like once a week, or eating healthy. I myself like to keep things realistic. So I vow to try to keep up with these house renovation projects a bit better this year. In my defense, the end of 2013 was filled with lots of excitement, and writing updates on the reno blog wasn’t a top priority.

The most exciting thing in 2013 was the introduction of our new bundle of joy, Miles.


To get you caught up with whats been happening besides the baby, we finished up the baby’s room in time to welcome Miles in August, and the exterior of the addition was wrapped up just before his arrival. My original plan was to work on the addition during the 2 weeks I was off for paternity leave. Anybody that has ever had a child would have already known that this was a bad idea. I started to lay down the Hardibacker cement board, and in my sleep deprived brain couldn’t work even the most basic of math problems. So before I ruined $100 worth of product I decided to give it up until I could get some rest. 2 months later and I’m making progress. More on that later this week. I promise!

So what about that baby room you might ask? Well, it turned out pretty nice!

We decided to add chair rail to the room to break up the wall color.

Once the room was completed, we started the task of putting together baby furniture. We got our crib from Target, the rocking chair from Wal-Mart, and the credenza that we’re using as a changing table belonged to Sara’s grandmother.



And the finished room, with all of the decorations looks like this!


His closet isn’t the biggest of spaces, but we made good use of what we had. The addition of the rolling cart helps to keep his bath and sleeping supplies organized.


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I’ve Got the Whole World, on my Wall…

I get a lot of *feedback* when I want to make changes in our house, especially when it comes to walls, be it the color or what’s on them. We started off with pet pictures and God awful yellow paint…
Living Room Back

Then we went to white paint (which was an obvious mistake) and travel pictures….

Let’s face it though, the travel pictures have been up so long they’ve started to yellow. If that’s not a clear sign that you need to update the decor I don’t know what is!

The dilemma, find something that speaks to who we are, is interesting and modern, and doesn’t cost a fortune.  So, after some time on Etsy, I found the perfect project, a map of the world. It wasn’t just any map of the world though, it was the world on pallets. Since that little piece of art would have set us back $150, I decided to get my craft on and make it my own.

So, we found a pallet on the side of the street and found a free template online. Unfortunately it took us several tries to figure out the right size template, we overestimated the size and ended up going much smaller than we had anticipated.  We decided to lay the template out on the pallet before we cut it just to make sure we were close.

Thankfully it all fit!


Once we determined the template would work, we cut down the pallet to the right length and Matt nailed it together using part of the pallet on the back to secure the other pieces to.  Note, if you use a pallet you’ll end up with holes somewhere on your map.  That was okay with us, we thought it added some extra interest, but just know you’ll have to deal with it!


So far you’ve seen the easy stuff.  I’m not going to lie, transferring the template to the wood was a pain.  Be prepared to spend several hours doing it, we did.  I’m sure there are easier way to do this,  we used a pencil and traced it onto the wood.  The lead didn’t always transfer that well and several times we ended up having to freehand it a bit.  Eventually it came out really well, but it was much more time consuming than I had anticipated (hence the $150 price tag to buy one).


This was pretty early into the tracing and I’m already a little annoyed.  Patience is not one of my virtues.  If it’s not one of yours I suggest you abandon this project immediately.

Once the stenciling was done we moved outside and started staining.  I suggest you stain outside like we did unless you a) have no sense of smell or b) really want a buzz.


The painting was pretty easy.  We bought a small paint brush and some dark stain and just painted away.  This part went pretty quickly and easily, just make sure that once you get to the lines you have little stain on your brush or it will bleed.  Other than that, not a tough job!
I’m thinking it came out pretty well…maybe you’ll see me on the next craft wars. I’ll give Tori Spelling a run for her money.


What do you think? Would you do it in your home?

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Repurposing an Ottoman

Anyone with a pet knows that often times you have to make some tough decisions…either your furniture or your pet.  We chose to keep our dog Charlotte but that meant going through countless pieces of furniture that her little dog claws tore to pieces.  It took us a while but we finally figured out that any furniture with looped fabric would quickly become torn after being subjected to puppy feet.

At some point you invest too much money to keep throwing furniture away,  and we reached that point.  So,  after nearly a year of having stuffing tracked around the house after Charlotte slept on our ottomans, we decided it was high time we recovered them.  The process of covering the ottomans had several iterations.  First I tried to sew a cover for one,  but my sewing machine kept snagging, and being of little patience I just gave up.  Plus the fabric I chose was an off-white.  Not sure what I was thinking on that one.  So,  there they sat for another 6 months until the urge to cover hit me again.

This time I decided that sewing wasn’t in the mix for me and decided that a staple gun was a better option.  We picked out fabric online and several days later the box was at our door,  and we were ready to go!

Once we took the tops off we stuffed the holes with padding.


We chose the kind that was cut primarily because it was cheaper and really just Charlotte was going to use the ottomans,  so it really didn’t matter.  If you’re planning on having your ottoman be used for humans you might want to go the solid route.

We also put batting over the entire top and stapled it the the underside so that it would look less puckered after we covered it with fabric.


Then we covered the tops with fabric.  The fabric was stapled to the inside cover of the top.  We had a bit of a problem with our staples not going all the way into the cover,  but after  a few times we got the hang of it.


Next we covered the bottom of each using the same stapling strategy.  We weren’t quite sure how to make it all work together on the sides,  so we ended up just folding one of the pieces of fabric over to create a clean edge.  I’m not sure if that’s technically the correct way to do it, but it worked well enough for us, and quite frankly I’m not all that much for looking at directions.  It took us a couple of hours to complete the project.  It might have gone faster however, had we known what we were doing!

All in all I’m happy with the way they came out.   Charlotte and her cat sister Norma seem to agree.


All in all I’m calling it a success!

Have you ever recovered anything?  Do you have any tips for our next reupholstering project?



Filed under Decorating, Furniture

Hallway Gallery Wall

I heard somewhere that your hallway is always the last place you renovate, and whoever that was is right. The first thing you see when you enter our house is the hallway and stairway to the second floor. Last summer we ripped out the old handrail and parts of the stairway to give us a bright shiny new space. Unfortunately that space was finished, but never decorated.

As avid travelers we have more pictures on flickr than we have places to places to put them. So, we decided to highlight some of our travel pictures and memorabilia on our hallway, now called gallery,  wHallway with picture framesall.  It may look easy to put a bunch of pictures up on a wall at different heights, but let me tell you, it harder than it looks!  We started in the hallway with three pictures, and therefore three sizable holes, already there.  We knew these pictures would stay since they were memento’s of a trip I took with my Grandmother to Kenya and Egypt in high school.  There was no way the banana paper animal prints or the papyrus map of Egypt were not going to be in the hallway.

We may have started our process backwards, but our first stop was to find frames.  We knew we wanted to have a mix of large and small and different colored frames.  We were lucky enough to find a number of frames that suited our needs on clearance so in total the whole project probably only cost us $50.  The three pictures previously in the hallway had already been framed professionally, so we didn’t need to worry about those.

The next step was finding pictures, and this was more difficult than anticipated,  especially when you have upwards of 20,000 pictures on flickr to go through.  We narrowed it down to a few trips that we wanted to highlight and started in going through the sets.  We decided on the giraffe from South Africa, winter snorkeling in Iceland and people we saw in Morocco.  Then we grabbed a pillow we’d framed and had hanging in the kitchen from our honeymoon to Thailand and gave it a new home in the hallway.

Once we decided exactly what pictures we wanted to put up, we tried to lay all the frames out on the dining room table to figure out the best placement.  We didn’t want a wall full of holes as we moved things around.  After several attempts to find the perfect location for each picture,  the planning stopped and we just decided to put them up on the wall.  It’s hard for those of us who are spatially challenged to be able to visualize how everything will look without actually seeing it.  It turns out that holding the pictures up on the wall works pretty well.

Luckily, we’re both pretty happy about how the gallery wall came out. We have however left enough space at the top to add other photo’s as they come up.  There are plenty of other vacations we’d like to highlight, it’s just finding the exact pictures to display.  But, when we find them, we’ll be ready!  What do you think?  Are you planning a gallery wall or other hallway renovations?

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