Visualize Your Idea: Build a Quick Model

Here’s a tip: If you have a design idea floating around in your head – a new deck, staircase, fence, arbor, etc… build a quick model from cardboard or balsa wood. You don’t have worry about being too precise or neat – it just helps to see your idea in 3-D so you can see it from various angles.

Below are a couple of prototypes we’ve made – as you can see we weren’t too worried about fine craftsmanship, but it gave us an excellent idea of how things would work together and what modifications to make to the final plan. Continue reading

Tigerwood Deck Finish

This post has been updated 9.03.14, see final paragraph.

We learned something useful this week about finishes for tropical hardwood decks.

The typical deck finish is made to absorb into wood, but when used on a really hard tropical wood, like Tigerwood, (not to be confused with Tiger Woods), it just sits on top of the surface and eventually looks bad.

Like this:


We visited Daly’s, our local expert on wood finishes, and were recommended to use their product, Ship ‘n Shore, an oil-based waterproofing sealer. Continue reading

Chair Update or Bun Feet Be Gone


Ugly bun feet. Why??? And why have I put up with them for SO long?

This is a short story about a chair we bought about 20 years ago that has always had some “bun-ugly” feet. Not only are they bun-shaped, but they are fabric-covered bun-shaped. I’ve always meant to replace them with square wooden feet, I even bought some years ago, but they’ve sat in the closet ever since. The chair is dated/worn and in an ideal world, we’d get a new one. But since this isn’t an ideal world, we will make do with a face/foot lift.

I bought the new feet (brown, but I spray painted them black) at a fabric/upholstery store, but you can also buy them online. The ones I got have a little threaded rod that is made to screw into a hole in the bottom of the chair frame. I twisted the existing feet off (with a little persuasion). The remaining hole was larger in diameter than the threaded rod of the new foot, so I cut a dowel into 3 inch lengths and pounded one into each hole. It was a tight fit so I didn’t use glue. Then I drilled the appropriate size hole into the dowel and screwed the new foot into the hole. The most fascinating aspect of this whole project was what fell out of the chair when I turned it up-side-down – a remote control, hair clips, candy wrappers, a very small pink plastic bear, fingernail clippers, a magnetic refrigerator letter Y, a chain, pens & pencils (pictured), and lots of crumbs (not pictured). Yuck!


New feet on an old upholstered chair!

Yay! No more bun feet! It was so easy, why did I wait so long?!
p.s. If I have offended anyone who really likes their bun feet, I apologize.

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Monica had quite a few yards of beautiful, roughly woven, natural, cotton fabric which she inherited from her seamstress/weaver great-aunt. She kept this in her basement waiting for inspiration to strike.

In an unrelated post a while back, we wrote about some cool brass stencils we found at Earthwise. They were originally from an old granary in eastern Washington. Monica talked about waiting for inspiration to strike before doing something with them.


Inspiration did indeed strike Monica, genius that she is, and she put the two together and came up with the idea of making stenciled pillow shams. Continue reading

Planting Trees Correctly

We recently planted some new trees. We worked with a local certified arborist and garden consultant, Kyle Henegar (206.293.1270), who taught us some really important facts about planting trees so that they grow well and are healthy & happy.

Image used by permission by International Society of Arboriculture.

Things we learned: Continue reading

Plant tags from sticks!

All you need are sticks (8-10″), a potato peeler/knife, and a fine felt tip pen! Really, for the rest of your life this is all you are going to need – no plastic, no $$$ fancy tags, no disintegrating popsicle sticks…

A few tips:

  • Let the sticks dry out a bit before peeling
  • You can re-use these year to year– just peel again, and again, and again
  • Eat more veggies ;]

many thanks to Martha Stewart for the original idea!

Have Color Palette will Travel – Steal this Idea!

This simple tip saves a ton of time in the long run.

My kitchen color palette is portable and ready to go!

Keep your overall paint color palette handy and top of mind.  Grab a couple extra paint stir sticks the next time you are at your local hardware or paint store. Use one stir stick per paint color/finish.

You’ll have your full color palette handy and ready to travel with you as you find and select future paint colors, rugs, flooring, furniture, towels, shower curtain, bedding etc. You see where I’m going here, right?

If you are really disciplined you could write your color formula, paint store name and phone number on the sticks, as well. I’m not that far gone (yet), but I know there are those of you out there so, knock yourself out! :)