Archive for Home Decor

Tentative Tuscan Tiles: Part One – Leveling the Floor

In the previous blogs, we pretty much knew what we were doing. In this one, we’re GREEN! It’s our first time tiling a floor. We followed a myriad range of instructions from several sources. We studied. We perspired. We prayed.

Here it is . . . what we did, and even more importantly, what we learned.

PART ONE: Preparing the Floor – Floors are like relationships. If you don’t have a good foundation, sooner or later it’s going the get ugly.

Step One: Check to see if the floors are level. You could use one of those toys with the bubble in the middle (When I was a child, it was my favorite plaything. My mother was an architect. Levels were everywhere. They make useful impromptu swords and mixing spoons. They also make wonderful meditation devices- when made to sit in the corner for usingit as an impromptu sword or mixing spoon.)

OR you can put a marble on different parts of the floor and see if it rolls. Our marble rolled. Waltzed. Lindy-hopped. Jitterbugged. And finished off with two graceful spins in the next room.

Step Two: Take up the old flooring.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting There is professional equipment for this, but if it’s a small area, a flat-headed screwdriver and hammer works just fine.

Step Three: We cleaned it as best we could andsince it’s a plywood floor, we had to lay down a metal mesh and nail it down.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe metal mesh is big, awkward, hurts the hands, and is generally unpleasant.

Step 4: Primer. Just brushed on like watery paint. Easy.

Step 5: Floor Leveling Goop (a.k.a. LevelQuick, Self-leveling Underlayment) It’s a bag of gray dust. Mixed with water it becomes gray soup and is poured on the floor. It dried after 24 hours. Because our floors were sooooo screwy, we did it again. Primed again. Poured goop again. Another 24 hours. Sigh.

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This is a zen photo. Forget one hand clapping. What’s the sound of a motionless marble?

We’re hearing Verdi’s Triumphal March from Aida.

Next week . . . Part Two: The Finished Floor.

Brought to you by

Decadent Decoupaged Cabinetry

Step 1 (optional) – We unscrewed the cabinet door from the frame – and the knobs from the cabinet door – just to make the decoupage easier. This isn’t necessary – just easier. Unless you’re allergic to screwdrivers.
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Step 2: Clean it, of course, and spray paint the whole thing. We used white, although the camera insists it’s ivory.

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Step 3: Choose what papers you want to use. We’re using black and white tissue papers (some with silent film pictures on it) and a favorite chocolate cake recipe. Yes, this is a dangerous thing to do if you like cake.

Decoupage is fabulous. You can decoupage ANYTHING even vaguely like paper; handmade papers, tissue papers (which gets translucent, very cool effect), scrapbook paper, magazine and newspaper clippings, photographs, your kids report cards, fall leaves, dried flowers (flat ones), love letters, coupons, subpoenas . . .

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Step 4: Spread the decoupage over the surface. Place a paper down and smooth it until the wrinkles are out. You should use a brayer (which is like a little rolling pin), but if you’re thorough and patient your fingers will work.
When all the paper is down, slather decoupage all over the top. Let it dry several hours. Do it again. And again. Ten times, in fact. This is the KITCHEN.  It gets rough in the kitchen and the more decoupage layers that goes on, the better it’s protected – but when you DO put lots of coats on, you’ll be amazed how nice it still looks ten years from now. (Yes, we know this from experience. Decoupaging forever!).
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting(The glare in the middle is from the camera’s flash. Grrr.)

Step 5: Spray or brush on a polyurethane sealant. Screw on the knobs. Done!

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Here it is in detail. More suggestive than intended (‘suggestive’ wasn’t intended at ALL) but you know what they say about chocolate.

Now we get to do 14 more cabinet doors.  We’re doing a chocolate cake theme. One fabulous recipe per cabinet door.


1/3 cup cocoa ,  1/2 cup boiling water,   2/3 cup shortening 1 3/4 cups sugar,  1 tsp. vanilla extract,  2 eggs2 1/4 cups cake flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt1/3 cup buttermilkHeat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch pans. In a small bowl, stir together cocoa and water until smotth; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat shortening, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour baking soda and salt; add to shortening mixture alternately with buttermilk. Blend in cocoa mixture; beat well.

Pour batter into pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove pans to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened, 2 2/3 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1/3 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract. In a small bowl, beat butter. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (more milk will probably be needed). Blend in vanilla. Spread on cake.
Now here’s the clincher. Eat ONE piece. And good luck.

This creative quirk was brought to you by . . .

The Imaginary Kitchen Fireplace


We’re going to show off an old project. This is the “fireplace” we tiled behind the stove. Mirrored diamond-shaped bits of glass in red and gold from an after Christmas sale are the flames. Bits of broken plates in shades of brown are the logs. The arch is made of broken plates in ivory and green. We grouted it all in a cinnamon brown and left it rough, liking the rustic look.
If you’ve never broken a plate on purpose, we highly recommend it. Gosh darn fun. Imagine it’s your mother-in-law or an ex-somebody-or-other (although my ex is great) or the neighbor next door who keeps complaining about you breaking plates . . .

Cackling Crackled Trim

This week we’re crackling trim and yes, the house is probably laughing at us. We paint old trim to make it look . . . old. Go figure.

STEP 1: Gold paint. We used two coats.
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This is an illustration of The Midas Effect – too much gold is a bad thing. So OK, it looks bearable in the daylight. At night it looks like it belongs in King Tut’s tomb – perfectly acceptable decorating if you’re a dead pharaoh, but most of us aren’t.

STEP 2: Brush on crackle goop, a.k.a. “Behr’s Crackle”. (Other companies make a similar product).
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Scowl of concentration not required for correct application of product.

STEP 3: Apply black paint THICKLY – it crackles better. Admittedly this is difficult when the surface is vertical. Be prepared for drips. Do not rebrush or apply a second coat. Crackle is very tempermental about that sort of treatment and will refuse to crackle.
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This looks awful so wear blinders until it’s dry.

Step 4. Finished!
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Old. Crackled. Fun. Yet in the week it took to do this, I’m sure I  heard a light cackling coming from this room just before dawn . . .
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The curtain tie is just a sample of all the pretty beaded curtain ties we have at

Introductory Blog: Working on the Glintlit House

This blog is all about creating a “Glintlit” house.   The initial canvas is a 1894 Queen Anne house in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Not historically significant, but charming and a little odd.  At one time it was owned by the Glenmary Sisters and until relatively recently it didn’t have bathrooms or even a functional kitchen.  We have the impression that at one time it was more of a gatehouse than a home.

We do a lot of fun stuff to it; cement and stucco are plastered on the walls in the laundry room, stenciling, ragging, and marbleizing in the dining room, stucco and straw on the walls in the main bedroom.  We’ve tiled a fireplace design behind the stove in the kitchen with broken plates and colored pieces of glass.  The living room fireplace is textured drywall with embedded riverstones.  We get ideas from all over and sometimes we make things up ourselves.  We’ve done a lot, but we still have a lot to do.  The idea is to turn the Glintlit House into a magical, slightly quirky place.

“Menachim’s problem was this: he had more money than there were things to buy.  Menachem’s solution was this: rather than buy more things, he would continue to buy the things he already owned, like a man on a desert island who retells and embellishes the only joke he can remember.  His dream was for the Double House to be a kind of infinity, always a fraction of itself – suggestive of a bottomless money pit – always approaching but never reaching completion.” From Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Pictures coming in upcoming blogs . . .

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