Archive | Outside RSS feed for this section

Old photographs

10 Jun

Several years ago, I met the children of prior owners of my house. The Nelson family owned this house and one across the street (that has since been demolished) from 1925 until the 1980s. They ran both places as rooming houses (men only, less trouble). These lovely ladies gave me a big stack of photos which I am now scanning to preserve for posterity. Here are some of the Nelsons in front of my house (29 Mattoon Street) and the since-demolished (circa 1972-4) 26 Mattoon Street. More to come in the next few days.


28 May

Here’s my new true blue stoop!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It took one weekend to fill the cracks and put on two coats of Drylok oil-based masonry paint with portland cement. This stuff was heaaaavy on the brush (due to the cement, natch) and stunk to high heaven, but it’s promised to keep things dry over there. Fingers crossed.

It took another weekend (this one, Memorial Day weekend) to paint the doors and the stoop. It might have gone faster if I hadn’t stopped to chat with everybody and their brother (and their dogs) that stopped by. As one friend said, “you’re never alone when you’re painting your stoop.” True dat. I love chatting so I had a great time shooting the breeze with everyone.

Total cost: $215 (plus 16 32 [math is hard!] hours of my labor)  

  • 2 gallons Drylok oil-based with cement: $60 (have a smidgen left over)
  • miscellaneous foam, caulk, patch stuff: $15 (have a lot left over)
  • one brush: $10 (will last a few more years at least)
  • 2 gallons Behr exterior paint/primer combo: $60
  • 4 quarts Behr exterior paint/primer combo: $70

Paint colors: Martha Stewart’s Azurite (main darker blue), Darkening Sky (lighter blue on trim) and Tailor’s Chalk (to be seen on canopy)

I LOVE the way it came out. It REALLY stands out from the others (now I can just say, come to the blue door to my guests). Nearly everyone who passed by said how great they thought it looked. Not everyone, but nearly everyone. 🙂

Stoop prep

20 May

I’ve finally started on the stoop. Here’s some stoop-n-me history: One day back in 2004, I was sitting on my stoop. I noticed a piece of paint flaking off, so I picked at it. I saw that the stoop seemed to be a nice solid stone underneath. I thought I’d scrape all the paint off and leave it bare stone. This was the first of many poor decisions.

I became obsessed with removing the paint from the stoop. I used scrapers, razor blades, and a power washer. I spent MONTHS trying to get it bare. NB: This was in the era when I had all my photos on my now-dead laptop, so no extant pictures of this long and pointless process.

Anyway, I finally got it all off and realized the “stone” was sandstone (fancy concrete, but made of sand) and was in really bad shape, plus my baring it had made it more exposed and more damaged. Sigh.

So I hired a guy to paint it over. I asked him to use some special masonry paint or something. “Yeah, yeah” he said, “absolutely.” It started peeling in two years. So it has looked like crap for quite some time, and I’m finally doing something about it. You can’t rush into these things.

So yesterday, I did my best to seal the large gaping cavernous cracks — I got some foam stuff for just that purpose, and then covered it with masonry silicone caulk. Then (after waiting 3 hours for caulk to set) I gave it all a coat of Drylok Masonry Waterproofing Paint (oil-based) in grey. This stuff SMELLS HORRIBLE, but is supposed to really waterproof. It has Portland cement mixed in, and so far, it looks pretty solid. I have to wait 12 hours to re-coat with it, and then (next weekend) I’m going to go over it with masonry paint. So let’s see what happens.

Window Boxes

20 May

The winter of 2010-2011 was the worst one we’d had around here in a looooong time. When the snow finally melted, I was seized by the need for flowers and went nuts looking for flower boxes that would work in my front windows. I finally settled on some open metal basket types with that coconut husk thing that goes inside (thinking they’d be light weight and would match the overall black metal situation). I had no way to install them properly and jerry-rigged something crazy with wires and brackets hanging out of the storm windows. I thought they were lovely and definitely gudenov, but the neighbors across the street had other ideas. “Crooked.” “Do you want me to straighten those out for you?” “Those are going to fall.” “And they’re crooked.” Whatevs.

So this year I decided to reinstall them more securely (last year’s method was in danger of popping out the storm windows). I got some big eyes (from hook and eyes) and carefully (ha ha ha) installed them in the wooden frame. put some black metal link chain on s-hooks and roped it around. The screens don’t close all the way, but they’re much safer and I don’t have all that wire everywhere. I left them a little crooked anyway. 🙂

Fence: Finished (finally!). Phew! (File under “eff”)

1 May

Ha! The fence painting is FINALLY finished. Here are a few final photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okay, I’ll stop with the fs. And for all you members of Flaw Pointers International, the inside fence shots with the one brown and unpainted plank were taken before I painted the outside part of the fence and it’s all nice and blue now. So zip it.

I used Behr exterior satin paint and primer in one and it took 2.5 gallons. That was some thirsty wood! I had it mixed up in the Martha Stewart “Kerry Blue Terrier” color. Home Depot is no longer carrying her paint — why?? — but my local store had the display with her colors still up, so I swiped a couple of color charts for future reference. They’re such good colors. I wonder why they don’t carry her paint anymore. Oh well, I really like the Behr paint + primer for awful surfaces like brick walls and fences.

Next up in my adventures in outdoor sprucing up is the little hosta garden behind the fence. I have it piled up with broken crockery and accordian hose and am hoping someone will respond to my free ad on CL for all of that. If not, it goes in the trash on Thursday. The goal is to have the hosta area all clean and tidy this weekend.

New lights for front entryway

23 Apr

I really liked my old front door lights, but they were disintegrating. They were probably 30-40 years old, which isn’t such a bad run for something electrical and outdoors. The electric part still worked fine, but the brass plate finish had all gone (and it was copper and zinc underneath — impossible to polish) and the decorative bottom finial (this possibly has a real name) on one had come off and couldn’t be re-attached.

One of the best/worst things about the Internet is how many choices there are. I went over to Home Depot and some local lighting places to see what they had in the outdoor lighting department, and really any number of those lights would have been just fine. But seeing as the Internet exists and I have access to it, I spent days (okay, weeks) frequently (okay, obsessively) searching for just the right light. The perfect is the enemy of the good enough, (next search is to have that translated into Latin and created as a family crest), so I finally got disgusted with myself and settled on these:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They are Hinkley Trafalgar lights in Museum Finish. They are good enough. They’re not cast iron, just some sort of aluminum, but from afar they look iron-ish. Changing the bulbs may be a bit fiddly, because there is a little screw cap to remove, but it should be okay. If I had seen them in a store rather than on the Internet, I might not have gotten them, but they’re there now. Also, a piece on the top of one was broken, but I wanted them up, so I just said basta.

The light looks yellow in the photo, but that’s the photo — I’m using ugly spiral bulbs in them, and think I’ll switch to either flickering gas-like bulbs or low watt yellows.

I was disappointed to see no gas line where the electricity came out — I had thought it had once been gas, but it seems not. Alas and alack.

So this is step one (step two if you count the planters with anti-theft mechanism installed) on stoop renovation. Step two (or three) is going before the Historical Commission to get my paint colors approved. A big palaver, but there we are.

Garden updates

18 Apr

Lest, dear reader, you think I’ve been twiddling my thumbs, please re-think. In addition to working three jobs (to pay for home projects), I’ve been fiendishly painting the garden fence and was able to complete the inside portion on Patriot’s Day (hooray for Massachusetts with its million paid holidays!). Feast your eyes:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have also received the lights that will go on the stoop, but need some help installing them, so the projects are flying fast and furious around here. I’m laboring under the belief that all the work I do to the house will be tax deductible now that I’m earning money as an host. Let’s see…..