Friday, November 6, 2015

Gettin' Fit and Trim

The first thing I noticed when I came to look at this house those years ago was its lack of curb appeal. It did not immediately grab me as an overly attractive or unattractive house from the exterior. Thankfully, the inside had amazing bones and I fell in love with making the inside feel like a home. Unfortunately, the outside was kind of forgotten this year between our high amounts of rain and incredibly hot days.

When we first moved in, I painted the front door to try to give the house a little character. It started out looking like this.

We added a little color with the new red/orange entrance.

Around the same time, we got rid of our old numbers and replaced them with more modern ones that I love.

This was followed by Mom and I attempting to fix some of the landscaping. Unfortunately, it's going to take much more work to get the greenery under control, but at least it became more tame.

It was about a year ago that I was at a friend's house in northern Kentucky who had just worked on the front of their house. Their trim color was a great brownish charcoal gray and I loved it. I asked them for the color name and ended up bringing home the bottom of their last gallon, which was just enough to paint the garage door, large window trim, and around the front door.

This is a color that I had seen on many homes online that had the same colors as our house. The Bedford stone made it a little difficult to color match things, so I had to go by lots of not-quite-the-same reference shots to see how it would look. Overall, they really shared the feel that I wanted to go for. A very modern, cozy vibe that was clean, but welcoming.

I hadn't touched the trim since that day. I put it off because I was afraid that exterior paint would be really expensive and that the color matching would be a pain.

Thankfully, I got a wild hair the other day, when the outside temperatures were very mild and the rain was supposed to hold off for a few days, to continue my exterior trim painting journey. I grabbed the old gallon that was empty and headed to Home Depot. I walked up to the color swatches and within three attempted samples, I had one that fit perfectly. $30 later, I had a paint & primer in one.

It's called Behr Intellectual and it's really dreamy.

 I started with areas that were nearest to that which I'd already painted. For example, the garage door had been painted, but not the surround for it, so I began by giving it some color.

I used a paintbrush for the cracks, crevasses, and gutter and a large roller for the soffit. The painting actually went pretty quickly for me working by myself, and a couple of hours later, I had a first coat on the front. I know that I need to go back and do a second coat to get a richer color and better coverage in some areas, but until it stops raining again, this first coat is going to have to do.

So here is the before.

And the after.

I love it! I think it gives a nice contrast against the stone and really gives the whole house some much needed character.

The darker color also helps our little windows stand out on the ever-forgotten right side of our house. They butt up against the roof and have almost no frame, so the previously tan trim just made them disappear.

Now it feels like we put eyeliner on and really made them stand out as features.

I really love how the yellows and oranges of Fall help bring out the dark, grounded trim color, too. Right now, with our tree bright yellow and leaves all around, the front yard is finally showing the curb appeal it's always needed.

Is it done? No, but this is a really dramatic step in the right direction. I would also love to fix some of our outdoor lighting so it's not so dark. Right now, our front door and garage only have a light that is built into the soffit for illumination.

Yes, I know that the bright yellow bush is dead.
I think that if we flanked them with some modern lanterns, it would really add some nice details to the front. It would also bring more light to our entry area.

Photoshop representation of what it might look like.
But for right now, I'm just happy every time I pull into the driveway and get to see (what feels like) a brand new house.

What do you think? Are you a fan of a bold, contrasty trim? Are you more comfortable with something that blends in or is traditional? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Welcome to the Dead & Breakfast Inn

Multi-post-splosin! I am both out of my mind AND really behind!

Our outdoor presence the last couple of Halloweens has been a little lack luster in the props department. We have our scary windows, but nothing else to really help the spook factor.

Continuing our new tradition from last year, we of course had our zombie hands and green lights.

(Image from last year)

This year, I found some inspiration that looked easy enough to make myself. The blog Daybreak Living had a post about this cool house with lots of outdoor decor. What caught my eye most was the sign post.

I knew that we had a yard light that had been ignored for a while, so I thought I could make use of it for this DIY challenge.

I removed Old Glory before attaching a scrap piece of wood to the light to make a temporary sign post. There was no other way of attaching it other than using zip ties, but this method seemed to work pretty well (I just knew it wouldn't hold much weight).

There was a small nub on the side of the light that I was able to hammer the piece of wood onto to hold it in place, too. I did have to make a hole for it first, though.

Then the wood was painted and attached. Next came the sign itself.

I purchased a $5 piece of pink 2x2 insulation foam from Home Depot and cut my shape into it. I then printed out my design for the words and laid it all out.

I attempted to use some wax paper to keep the pencil from going through the paper, but was less than successful. I ended up just being careful and tracing my words lightly after lining up the paper with the edges.

When it was completed, both sides had been dented with my lettering.

I then used a ballpoint pen to retrace them quickly so they were easier to access later.

The next parts of this sign making journey were inspired by a post that my friend Ann did. She gave me some tips and a step by step on how they created really cool realistic tombstones for her front yard. I used parts of her technique to complete the sign.

She had mentioned using a wood burning tool to carve in the letters (or any images) that you might want set into your foam. I used a wood burner and very carefully went over my words. I followed this up with a paint brush and a nice coat of white paint as a primer. I had been warned against using spray paint directly on the sign for fear that it would eat the foam, so I wanted to try to add a protective layer of an acrylic paint first.

I then proceeded with a stone texture spray that you can purchase at any hardware store. Casey had mentioned that it would probably work since I wanted to use a spray paint anyway, so I gave it a try on a piece of scrap before giving the sign a once over with it. It worked beautifully and gave me a very satisfactory look.

The only thing left were the words.

They were given some detailed attention with some black acrylic craft paint and a craft brush. Being inset already, they were not difficult to color in. This only took one coat.

Remember, all of these steps are for both sides since it's a swinging sign, but one side if you're making a tombstone.

As with many of my projects, this one did not need to be perfect. The imperfection of the letters and numbers gave this an old, worn feel that I was really jiving with. I covered the whole thing with three coats of clear spray poly on each side to help defend it from the weather.

I then used two small eyelet hooks and screwed them into the bottom of my wooden arm. The sign was hung with a couple of black zip ties (that took the form of a chain). This was nice because it was adjustable and it also kept the weight down.

When it was hung up, it really looked awesome.

I was a little fearful at first. What if the wind grabbed it? What if some neighborhood hoodlums decided to destroy it? What if the zip ties ate through the foam and dropped it?

Thankfully, none of those things happened. Here in Kentucky, we get some pretty big rain storms in the Fall, but the sign stood strong. I had a couple of compliments from the neighbors on it and it seemed to do really well all 30 days it was outside.

I feel like a lot of these techniques can be used for all kinds of Halloween projects, from creating a fake foam stone wall to some tombstones for your yard. You could get really skilled and probably pull off a pretty convincing wood grain, with the right paint job and wood burning pattern. The possibilities are endless!

Does this inspire you to open your own Dead & Breakfast next year? Hopefully so! Make your reservations today!

The Case of the Killer Plant

Yes, I know.

Halloween was Saturday and these posts are a bit late.


But I didn't have any time to write posts during the spooky season because I was too busy creating new and fun things to hopefully inspire your next Halloween!

The first project for this year was probably my favorite. I had seen inspiration picture on Pinterest and thought that it looked both really easy and really spooky. This is the image that caught my eye from the Hometalk website.

Pretty cool, right? It was an awesome basic form, but I thought it needed a little sprucing up. I did some more image searches for reference and came across a couple of examples of desk top versions of the killer plant idea on the blog 102 Wicked Things to Do.

I used the same basic concept as the Hometalk one. I started with a $5 paper mache pumpkin from Jo Anns.

I sketched out the teeth and cut them out. I then painted it all green and the inside red. I found a stick in the backyard and attached the pumpkin with screws so it would stay on reliably. I then "rooted" it in an old flower pot with some expanding foam with rocks on the bottom as a counterweight. I covered the foam with Spanish moss from the dollar store.

It was looking okay, but I needed leaves. I ended up at Hobby Lobby where I found three large leaves that were a great canvas to add some fun color detail. I attached them with wire and by drilling holes in the "stem" and inserting them.

I painted it with regular spray paint, but then realized that it wouldn't show up under the black lights that we had all around the house. I turned to florescent spray paint for the added color I was looking for.

Obviously not the colors I used, but the same brand and type for reference.

When it was finished, I was pretty impressed with myself.

Just life-like enough to make people hesitate, but fantastical and kind of goofy at the same time. I was pretty happy with how the leaves turned out, too, considering it mostly involved spray paint detail that I'm not used to doing.

I made the sign using Photoshop, then mounted it on a piece of cardboard to keep it stiff. It is hung with twine just draped over the teeth so it can be taken off for storage.

In the blacklight, it looks even cooler.

Using the florescent paint really helped him pop in the dark. There are no extra effects on the paper, though it is printed linen paper left over from our wedding.

Extra detail shots:

He ended up greeting people next to our bar for our Halloween party and the reactions were pretty wonderful.

Did you create any monsters of fancy or fancy monsters for your Halloween holiday? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to see pictures!