Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Removing An Aluminum Awning: The Simple Fix

Aluminum awning frames are a big Pittsburgh tradition.

Pittsburgh is a VERY traditional town, and many traditional homes in our area have awnings that cover their patios.

The previous owners told us that the frame would need a new awning cover, so we priced them out with a few local companies.

What's that you say? Three THOUSAND dollars for an awning? And we have to pay every spring to have it hung up? And pay every autumn to have it removed?

No, thank you!

We lived with the frame in place, just to see if the awning was an absolute necessity. Maybe, just maybe, if we lived in Tucson, we would need that shade for the few hours in the late afternoon. But most of the day, the patio was nicely shaded by large evergreens.

I also had a suspicion that an awning would make my kitchen really really dark.

I don't like dark kitchens!

So we did the sensible thing. We posted the awning frame on Craigslist, and a nice Pittsburgher couple paid us for the privilege of unscrewing and removing the aluminum awning frame!

I almost felt guilty taking their money!

When it was down, I could not believe the difference! That frame had made us feel so claustrophobic and closed in on the patio. And now?

Ahhh! That's MUCH better!

The  money from the sale of the awning frame nearly paid for this lovely azure-colored umbrella from Smith and Hawken!

The umbrella provided plenty of shade for those few hours in the late afternoon sun.

And the best part? The azure blue umbrella gives the appearance of blue skies every day!

Removing the awning frame actually updated the look and feel of this patio, giving it a definite contemporary elegance.

A simple fix that cost very little money but made a BIG impact on our outdoor living space!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Folk Art Friday: Fraktur

Traditional homes have a lot of walls. And a lot of walls means you need a lot of artwork. But not just any artwork, because you live in a traditional home.

It's a catch-22.

Consequently, I am always on the lookout for new pieces of art that will fit the period of my home.

I found this piece of fraktur art at an antique store in Noblesville, Indiana earlier this month.

The simple fraktur design spoke to me.

And when I turned the piece over to read this small plaque, I knew it would have to go back to my Pennsylvania home with me!

When I bought it, I really did not know where it would go in my house, but I knew that it would "go" in my house, if you know what I mean.

I had it propped for a few days over the piano in the living room, but I knew that was temporary. In the end, I decided that it had to go in the dining room, above the antique high chair. A happy mix of wood tones and folk art florals.

Fraktur for a Folk Art Friday...say that three times fast!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How To Love Your Wood Panelling

When you purchase old houses, chances are good that you will become the new proud owner of one or two wood panelled rooms.


What's that I hear? Groaning? Grumbling?

Sorry. I already heard that from my husband when we purchased this house.

Our family room, with its built-in bookcases, brick fireplace, and all of its wood panelled glory was destined to become my husband's man cave. But my husband had visions of the room just looking like a cave, period.

I knew that with a few design and decorating tricks, this room would become the warm and cozy place where my family would congregate every night. And guess what? The dreaded room that no one wanted to spend time in is now the room where we declare squatter's rights! We love it!

Here are a few things that helped us fall in love with our wood panelled family room:

1.) Don't fill a wood panelled room with more wood!

This is not the room to display your pine hutch or your collection of cedar chests. You are already surrounded by wood. Don't become smothered by it! Keep the wood furniture to a bare minimum.

2.) Don't fight the tones in your wood! Try to complement the tones instead.

Our wood panelling has a definite warm honey undertone.  We chose warm colors to accent this feature. If we had picked a cool palette of grays, we would not have been happy.

3.) Color is key!

Once we had determined the warm colors in our wood panelling, we chose upholstered pieces that played off this color. Our furniture has a decidedly autumnal feel, which seems to work in this room.

4.) Furniture scale is so important!

When we first moved in last summer, we filled the room with our overstuffed, large scaled, and pretty old furniture. The layout of this space left us feeling claustrophobic. When it was time to purchase new furniture last fall, we opted for smaller scaled pieces that provided optimal seating for movie viewing. What a difference! Room to breathe, with a much better flow in and out of this space.



5.) Add texture!

This is important in just about every room of the house, but it was essential in our wood panelled family room. We mixed pebbled leather chairs with a nubby sofa, and added a woolen ottoman. Then we layered pillows and soft blankets for even more texture. We mixed different metals, too. Brick, wood, metal, fabric. Over all, it makes the room a lot more interesting.

6.) Contrast dark and light!

If your wood panelling is dark, try adding some lighter elements for contrast. We added a lighter colored accent chair, along with the lighter colored ottoman to balance it out. We also have a light colored carpet in this room, which is great for brightening a darker room, but not so great when you have a black labrador retriever. Our Dyson does double duty in this space!

7.) Lighting is important!

In a wood panelled room, the lighting plays a key role in balancing the darker walls. Our room has two east-facing windows that provide a lot of natural light during the day. At night, when we want the room darker for optimal movie viewing, we've got it.

Now that being said, we still have eighties-style HUGE white track lights highlighting the fireplace wall. We also have some pretty old table lamps that need replacing, and a dark corner that really needs a floor lamp for the accent chair. It's not perfect, but it's getting there.

This wood panelled room is finally living up to its name: FAMILY room! It's a warm, wonderful space to watch movies, play board games, have a foosball tournament, or just read a book. In the fall and winter, our wood burning fireplace crackles with warmth while we eat big bowls of popcorn paired with mulled cider.

We love our wood panelling...in the family room.

But did I mention that we have TWO wood panelled rooms in this old colonial house?

Our first floor den is also covered in wood panelling...dark, dark, panelling. In a few days, I will show you how we learned to love this room as well. (Clue! It involved a lot of primer and paint!)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Before and After: The Yellow Bathroom!

The first time we toured this house with our realtor, I thought the main floor bathroom was adorable.

Our realtor thought I was nuts.

"It's so dated," she kept saying.

Yes, but look at that adorable chrome pedestal sink!

"Yeah, and a yellow toilet to match!" she said with just a little sarcasm.

Yes, the fixtures are originals, but they are in fantastic shape! The tub (which is also yellow, of course) is made of the old original ceramic. These old tubs retain the heat so much better than today's fiberglass models. Every tile was perfect, not a single crack or scratch.

The decor in the bathroom was a little dated. Okay, a lot dated. I could not understand the dark mirror and light fixtures in this little room. And the truth is that even though I like wallpaper, these butterflies were more than a little scary.

I had a vision for this room that would turn it into the sweet little jewel box of our vintage house.

And as you may have figured out, when I have a vision, it is my husband who comes to the rescue, making that vision a reality.

He made me a deal.

"You remove the wallpaper, and I will paint."

Piece of cake!

After a few hours of peeling and scraping and smelling like vinegar, we then primed the walls with a nice coat of Kilz before adding the new paint.

Are you ready for the Big Reveal? Here it is!

The paint color we chose is called Woodlawn Colonial Gray, and it is one of Valspar's selections from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

I know what you are thinking.

"Gray, gray, everybody is using gray. It is so trendy."

I thought that, too. And normally, gray is the last color I'd ever pick for a room in my house. I tend to pick warm colors over cooler tones for almost every project. But the tiles and grout had just a hint of gray in them, and I knew that this was the only color that would "make sense" of the yellow in this tiny little bathroom.

This shower curtain (Threshold from Target) was the inspiration for this makeover. It had so many pretty tones of gray, and just enough of the yellow to tie in with the fixtures. Here is a tip: It is so much easier to match a fabric to paint than it is to paint a room and try to find a fabric to match.

The bath mat and towel had a fun paisley pattern that brought a little more retro flair to this retro bathroom!

I really wanted a new chrome medicine cabinet for this room, but it turns out that it would have taken too much retrofitting to make it work. A simple solution was to paint the medicine cabinet white and call it a day. We replaced the brown light fixtures with chrome fixtures to match that vintage chrome pedestal sink.

This bathroom makes me so happy!  I love the retro vintage style, and I am so glad that we managed to give it a mini makeover while retaining all of the original charm.

Total expenses: 2 new light fixtures (Lowe's), a quart of Kilz and a quart of paint (Lowes), new curtain rod and curtain (Target), new bath mat/shower curtain/hand towels (Target).

Grand total for this bathroom remodel: around $150 dollars.

That beats a gut job any day of the week!

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Give it a makeover and love it instead.

Friday, July 18, 2014

New Feature! Folk Art Friday

A house has a lot to say, if you will listen.

I've been listening to my fifty- year old Pennsylvania colonial house a lot this year, and it has had more than a few things to tell me.

For starters, it told me this:

"You don't live in an open floor plan house anymore. You live in a traditional house now, and we have a lot of walls. That means you will have a lot of walls to decorate."

"And speaking of decorations, you will have to be pretty particular about what you hang on these walls. If it doesn't fit the era and feeling of this house, it's going to stick out like a sore thumb."

"About those sore thumbs, these are plaster walls. Thick walls. You won't be able to pound a nail in willy nilly. So when you find something you like for this old house, make sure you are putting it in the right spot, too."

I have been collecting some pieces of folk art and a few antiques this year, and wow! Do they ever belong in this house! That is not to say that I am living in a museum. Far from it. I've learned to mix a lot of contemporary pieces with folk for a combination that speaks to our family and the era of this colonial.

I decided to make Folk Art Friday a regular feature here at This End Up so that I can share the decorating decisions that have worked, and the choices that didn't work and had to be remedied.

This Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign was actually purchased from an antique shop in Indiana just before we moved. I knew it had to come home with me!

Did you know that the Pennsylvania Dutch were not dutch at all, but Germans? As in "Sprechen zie deutsch?" Duetsch/Dutch. My family is German on my mother's side, so this period really speaks to me.

These hex signs can often be found on Pennsylvania homes and barns. The symbols featured on them all have meanings. This sign features a double distlefink (that is Pennsylvania Dutch speak for "thistle finch").

A little Pennsylvania Dutch sign to say "welcome"!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Finding New Doctors and Dentists Post- Move

When you move to a new city, it is imperative that you find new doctors and dentists right away.


 Right away!

Or you could be like me, and finally get around to making those appointments a year later.

Ugh! Finding new doctors and dentists is just not fun.

We had a fantastic doctor in Indiana. We called him our concierge doctor because he would take so much time with each of his patients. He would even make telephone calls himself to explain test results to you. I was one of his only patients with Lyme disease (lucky me!), and he would research new treatment methods in between my visits. I was truly blessed to have him as my physician.

Well, here I am in Pennsylvania, a year later, and I still do not have a primary care physician.

It is on my TO DO list, people!

I did, however, make appointments for my family at the dentist office today! Yea! Feeling very proud of myself, thank you very much! {patting self on back as I type}

Yes, the school nurse at Sam's school has been hounding me about it for all of fourth grade.

And yes, maybe it is time to make an appointment when your son asks you this:

"Mom, is it normal to have a tooth growing in your gums ABOVE the other tooth?"

No, son. That's not normal.

Sam has a mouth full of crazy happening right now. I'm expecting orthodontics in his future!

So how do you go about finding medical professionals after moving to a new town?

1.) Check your insurance provider to find a list of the professionals that are covered under your plan.

2.) Ask new friends and neighbors for a referral.

3.) Cross reference those referrals with your list from the insurance provider.

4.) Mapquest the offices in your area to find the practices that are nearby. (Trust me, you do not want to drive ten miles away when you are sick with strep throat!)

5.) Try to find doctors BEFORE the situation becomes urgent.

6.) Understand that you can find a different doctor if you do not feel comfortable with the practice.

I look for a few important factors in a new practice:

*friendly staff, both in person and on the telephone.

*a good office manager that does not schedule patients on top of each other, thus keeping you waiting interminably in a room full of sick people.

*a clean, cheery office space that is nearby.

*caring and engaged medical professionals.

Dental appointments?


Optometrist? General Practitioner?

Working on it! Got any good recommendations in the Pittsburgh North Hills area? Let me know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Can't Go Home Again

Last week we returned to the small town in Indiana where we had lived for five years.

We visited the historic square and shopped at the local establishments.

We ate at our old favorite restaurant.

We drove past our old house. Yikes! What did they do to my poor roses?

We even worshiped with our former church family.

It was all the same.

And it was all different.

Heraclitus of Ephesus once said "No man ever steps into the same river twice."

So true. Many things had changed in just one year's passing. Shops had closed. Restaurants had changed ownership. It was familiar, and yet unfamiliar at the same time.

I think the biggest changes were the things that you could not see. Internal changes. I've learned a lot about myself with this corporate relocation, and I've grown in areas that were a little stunted. And with this new maturity comes a comfort in my own skin.

I spent five years in Indiana trying to fit in and never quite succeeding. I was the perpetual "newcomer" of the neighborhood. On my last week there, one of the neighborhood women said to me "I can't believe you're moving already."

"Already!? I've been here for five years!" I said, exasperated.

It just wasn't home.

But here, in Pittsburgh, in an old town steeped in tradition and history, I feel a sense of connection and community. I belong here.

It was nice to visit. But it was even nicer to turn that car around and drive home.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The First Impression

Good morning!

Today, we begin our home tour at the front door!

I believe that the front door is one of the first impressions you will get from a house. It tends to say a lot about what you will find once you open that door and step inside.

Here's what our front doors (yes, we have two!) had to say about the house when we first moved in.

Hmmm. It's hard to see the front doors behind the tree. They used to be painted the same soft mustard yellow of the shutters, and they faded in to the background.

Well, that won't do!

Within the first month of our move, we painted the doors a vibrant shade that said "Hello, neighborhood!"

We chose the color "La Fonda Teal" from Valspar's Historic Home collection. I love how it complements the brick and the color of the shutters. It's a wonderful shade that works in all seasons. With autumn wreaths, it is stunning!

Spring wreaths? Stunning again!

And speaking of wreaths, I found that I had to purchase two new wreaths for every season because we have double front doors. Two autumn wreaths. Two winter wreaths. Two spring wreaths. Two summer wreaths. It's been an investment this first year, but it will pay off in the fall when we begin pulling out the previous year's wreaths again.

So what do the front doors tell you about what you will find inside of our house? Colorful? Yes! Seasonal? Of course! A spin on traditional? Definitely!

Most importantly, I hope these doors say "Welcome!"

And welcome is always a good first impression.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

One Year Later...Our Pittsburgh-a-versary!

We recently celebrated our Pittsburgh-a-versary!

One year in our new town, which is weird because in some ways it feels like we just moved in, and in other ways it feels like we've always been here.

If I could sum it up in one word, I would say "comfortable". We've grown really comfortable in our new town, comfortable in our routines, comfortable with the topography of western Pennsylvania. (Seriously, would you look at those beautiful mountains? Who could get tired of views like that?)

And most importantly, we've made our home a really comfortable place to be.

As you can imagine, we've made quite a few changes to this fifty year old colonial over the past year. I have a lot to share with you, my blog readers! Painting projects. Room re-dos. Renovations. Updates. I will also have a new Friday feature that will spotlight my new passion in home design. (Curious? I hope so!) And of course, lots of Before and After photos! (Don't you just love those? I can never get enough of them!)

I will also share my thoughts on the home relocation process, with some insights on the things that worked and did not work for our family.

We will be gathering at the front door tomorrow. Hope you can make it!

Keep this end up, friends!