Loving the Grey

When we moved in, our living room was a really great blue. Our friends, the former tenants, have amazing taste, but since we wanted the room to feel like our own, we decided to paint.

I came up with this two toned grey idea based on high chair rails I had seen Genevieve Gorder do on HGTV. It played in to our two toned couches and coffee table nicely. (You can check out pictures of the rest of our living room here.) Also, the height was a modern take on a traditional detail, which I love. I chose grey because it’s really warm and a modern neutral when you use it right - I love it.  The only challenge we faced with the big line is that old houses are not level at all.  In particular the windows in this room ARE level and the mantle is NOT.  How to trick the eye?…

After a lot of brainstorming, here’s what we came up with:
  1. Start the line at the windows and make sure it’s level to them on three of the four walls. We used a laser level throughout - saved a ton of time.
  2. Work our way from the door, to the windows, and around to the wall with the mantle.
  3. On the mantle wall, use string to make a line that curves ever so slightly to give the illusion of a straight line without having to follow the wonky angle of the mantle. This took a lot of experimentation, teamwork, and stepping back to eyeball things.
  4. Angle the line slightly as it comes into the door frame.  This is where the biggest jump in the line occurs. We decided to put the jump here because the break for the door is a great camouflage for the problem. Also, it’s not an area of the room with huge visual focus (ie. it’s not the first thing you see when you walk in the room).
So now I’ve given away our dirty secret.  Don’t judge us for making you believe it was straight, we just wanted everyone to feel happy and level!  You wouldn’t believe the measures we’ve had to go to to stave off vertigo in this house…


New Life for an Old Radio

This has to be one of our favorite home DIY projects so far.  We’re going to try a combined “voice” blog post here so bear with us… confusion possibly ahead…

Background (Tim): I stumbled onto this beautiful mid-1930’s Philco radio years ago at a Cape Cod antique store and had to have it. It was in rough shape. It obviously has taken some water damage over the years, the grill was torn, the knobs were missing, the speaker was beyond repair, and I didn’t even try plugging it in to see if the amp worked. But the visible wear added a lot of charm to it. I was sure it would look great as a side table in any room, and at $25, I couldn’t say no to picking it up.

The Idea (Jen): Obviously, this radio is beautiful and an amazing addition to any room. But, it’s a little sad that aging and poor care had reduced it to a decorative end table. (FYI the pic above is an after picture, we forgot to take a before picture - darnit!) Tim and I wanted to bring it back to it’s original glory, by turning it back into a sound-producing-device.

Tim’s Plan: Initially, I had all these grand schemes in place to very literally restore this radio. I read about vintage radio amplifiers to see if I could learn enough to repair the old tube amp and AM receiver that were in there, and then replace the deteriorated speaker. As a part of this, I was hoping to learn how to rewire the receiver to add an input for MP3 players or a turntable. Obviously, this would be a huge undertaking, so naturally it got put off for years and years. After a while, bringing this radio back to life seemed like it would never happen…

Jen’s Plan: Because I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to audio equipment, I assumed this would be a super easy project.  After looking over the innards, I thought we should take out the old broken speaker, put in new speakers (Tim had some upstairs that would fit beautifully), then attach those speakers to a bluetooth-connection-device-thingy. I totally didn’t understand why Tim thought things would be hard… then we realized the difference in our plan that you’ve already picked up on.

The Process (Tim): When the switch went off in my head about what Jen meant, it seemed so simple I can’t believe I’d overlooked it. And since I had a pair of small powered studio speakers collecting dust upstairs, we could get right to work on setting it up.

Here’s how we did it:
We went to Home Depot and got a couple of tiny strips of wood from the scrap bin (for $2 I think) and cut them to the right length so it would make a tiny platform inside the radio for the speakers to sit on.
I carefully removed the original speaker and placed it next to the amplifier inside the radio, so I can restore it to its original condition if I ever feel the urge (I’m big on making sure mods aren’t permanent - especially on antiques).
Then, we pulled out the torn grill and Jen stapled in some burlap, which makes a nice substitute!
For the finishing touch, I was actually able to find replica knobs for this exact model radio online.

One thing I wanted to completely avoid, though, was having to have wires running across the room to play mp3s on it. That’s where the magic comes in. I bought us one of these. It’s a bluetooth music receiver, which basically allows any computer or device with bluetooth to connect to it. Any iPhone / Laptop / iPod with bluetooth can stream its audio output over to it without lag, and from any software, whether it’s internet radio, iTunes, or youtube. It’s seriously a great piece of gear - I’ve since bought 3 more, so every room in our apartment has access to wireless music!

The Result (Jen): A video is worth a bazillion words in this case …

The Philco sings again! We love love love being able to listen to our music whenever we want, and in great style to boot.  Plus, at parties our friends can play their music from their own iphones, allowing for tons of fun and sharing of the novelty.

Hey… I think we did it… a combined post.  Hopefully you aren’t completely lost, but we had fun!

This post was liked up with a Funky Junk Interiors linky party!


Shelving with Character

Tim again.

Whoo boy. Ok. This project was a big one.

When it came time to setup a “dude room” in our place, I came across this post on a great design blog called “The Brick House”. The shelves were exactly what I wanted for the space - industrial, rustic, and classy.

At first, I had big sticker shock over the project. Turns out pipes are pricey! But eventually, I convinced myself to go for it, and I’m glad I did. In the end, it cost a bit less than your average custom modular shelf setup from a big box store, and it’s got tons more style.

To give it more of a “been there forever” look, I soaked the pipes in water for a couple days, which gave them rust spots and a cool worn finish. They look pretty well aged!

I wanted the shelves to look like reclaimed wood, so I bought the cheapest pine planks I could find, full of knots and imperfections. I stained them a deep coffee brown and put on a couple coats of poly to get the color to pop.

The structure works like this - the shelves rest on the T-joints near the front, and elbow joints in the back support them and keep them level. At the very top, each pipe connects to the wall using a flange, which secures the whole thing nicely. I used another set of flanges for the feet, with some rubber glued to the bottom to protect my landlord’s floors.

Assembling it all was a huge challenge. It went together as easy as a set of Legos, but getting them tight, level and stable while maintaining the structure and shape was really tricky. Thanks to my ever-patient girlfriend though, we got this project completed, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

Other Note: I wanted to point out two things ON the shelves in the pictures.  On the floor in the center is this great yellow box. It’s an antique tool box and guess what - I found it in the trash for free!  Lesson: always keep your eyes open, these go for about $60 or more in antique stores and they’re awesome.

The other box on the bottom right is one Jen got me from Eddie’s Furniture for my birthday. She stopped in one day with her cello to check it out.  The guy in the store offered her a discount for playing cello for them!  It’s really cool looking and from New Bedford, my family’s home town.