If you've been following our Conservatory Renovation, you'll have seen this room transform from an indoor shed (not literally) to a relaxing, warmer (non-leaky!) space. I've built some DIY seating, I've painted the floor in a jazzy geometric pattern but it's still looking a little empty shall we say. I have lots of plans for this room (and never enough time) which will essentially turn it into a full indoor garden room. I'm talking plants galore, vintage garden plant pots, gardening tools and basically it will become an indoor forest of awesomeness. So when WallBoss.co.uk got in touch to ask if I wanted to review one of their wall stickers, I knew exactly the one I wanted and I needed it in this room.
Wallboss.co.uk is a website that sells a whole bunch of different wall stickers, basically for every kind of room in the house. Wall stickers are a great way to add some fun to a wall in an affordable and easy to-do way. If you can't already tell from the top photo and title of this post - the one I've gone for is a chalkboard calendar wall sticker. I thought the jazzy quirky conservatory was the perfect place to have a 'family' calendar (admittedly it's just me and Grant, but y'know!) as well as a great way to plan gardening too - which is something I want to get more into, and of course this fits right into my garden-themed room. It's a win win.
I've never used a wall sticker before so I pretty excited to see how it would work and how easy it would be to use. The sticker came rolled up in a tube and with some super simple installation instructions which seemed pretty much DIY fool-proof.
I planned where I wanted the sticker to go using some Tesa Tape (a kind of masking tape) so I could prop it up into position and see how it would look before I went ahead and actually stuck it down. Our conservatory is still very much a working progress (the doors to the left will be replaced) so please ignore all those unfinished bits!
I then used a spirit level to make sure the calendar was straight (is there anything worse than wonky bodge job?!) and then use the same tape to put a length straight down the middle vertically, as the instructions asked.
There's 3 layers to the wall sticker - the front see-through paper, the actual sticker and the backing. I peeled back the backing along one side of the tape, cut it off using some scissors and then smoothed the sticker onto the wall using my hands.
Yep, it's really that simple. I then went and did the same thing to the other half of the sticker, finishing off with using a flat edge (a bit of card will do) to make sure it was all pressed down properly to the wall with no bubbles.
And the final step? Just remove the front sheet of paper slowly and carefully.
And literally, that's it. It probably took me less than five minutes to do and required no prep work and virtually no tools. Well I did say it was DIY fool proof, didn't I?! The only bit you have to be careful of - is removing the front paper slowly, otherwise you can lift off the sticker. However I will say, it seems the sticker can be removed without removing the paint - which is something I was slightly worried about if I were to ever change my mind on it. But nope - it doesn't appear to ruin the actual wall beneath.
You can use either real chalk or chalkboard pens on the sticker - which I really like, cause I'm not a huge fan of actual chalky chalk. Kinda gets everywhere and leaves you with feeling like you need to wash your hands after every use. Chalk pens are so much easier to clean off too and of course, I like the fact you can buy endless colours as well. I use Chalkola pens on mine and can definitely recommend them.
I think the sticker it fab - the only thing to bare in mind is that you do need to commit to it and its location once it's stuck down. There's quite a few different 'parts' to this particular wall sticker that would be make it pretty difficult to relocate later. However, I personally wont want to be doing that and I'm really pleased with it in here. Just something worth thinking about before you go sticking it anywhere.
So here's a quick little before and after of this spot in the conservatory. You can see how it's totally changed an empty wall into something fun, useable and practical too. It looks modern and I think, fits really well. I think it'd also be great for an office or even a kids room to get them involved with planning things to do too.
This particular wall sticker currently retails at £29.99 which you can find here. But Wallboss.co.uk have a whole range of different wall stickers - from birds and trees for nurseries to Banksy graffiti style ones to worded slogans and even custom design ones. There's basically something for every room, so if you're interested in a fuss-free way to add some character (or practicality!) to a wall, then do go check them out!
Have you used wall stickers before? What did you think to them?
*I received the wall sticker in this post to feature in a review. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
One of the most hideous features of our living (aside from that floral carpet!) was the 70s style gas fireplace. It just kills the period features in the room. The cornicing, the panelling around the window; all those gorgeous original features, dominated by one giant ugly fireplace. Luckily, we had the gas to it disconnected back when we did some work in the kitchen a couple of years back (always thinking ahead!) and so now we're renovating the living room, it was finally time for this old thing to get gone. Finally! Thank the lord!
You'll remember we removed a similar old back boiler fireplace from the dining room a couple of years back, so we now have some experience when it comes to removing these things. By experience what I really mean is, forceful man power. Turns out these things aren't often held in by much and it took a mere 30 seconds to literally wrench the whole thing off the wall. Probably the quickest transformation you ever did see! It was there and then, it was gone.
(Word of caution when you open up old fireplaces - always be aware of the possibility of finding any asbestos board or insulation that could be hidden behind old fireplaces. I've written a whole post about asbestos, which you can read right here. But when it comes to uncovering anything pre 90s it's something you should always be aware of potentially coming across.)
Looking better already I'd say! But of course, we weren't stopping there. We planned on opening up the whole thing in the hope of *one day* (I'm talking years away here!) having a log burner in there. When it comes to opening up an old chimney - you never really know what to expect. There should be a supporting arch to hold the brickwork up above (fingers crossed!), but more often than not, these have usually been removed and replaced for concrete lintels. You may even find neither an arch or a lintel, which is also quite common (this is what we had in the dining room!) due to more lax building regulations in the past. You may find the chimney has been completely blocked off, or you may even find original features in there - like parts of an old fireplace. Basically - it's super exciting because you never know what you might find. The thing I was hoping for the most - was an arch.
A week or so later, we started chopping off the plaster to inspect the brickwork beneath and start opening it all back up. I say *we*, but actually Grant did all the work whilst I took a rest for the day and basically took all the photos ;) He used our trusty SDS drill with a chisel attachment which makes the job a thousand times quicker and easier..
We wanted to preserve as much of the original plaster as possible, so we only planned to go as high as we needed to - which would be as high as we could see either an arch, or a lintel. If you have an arch (in good condition) you don't need a lintel. If there's no arch, you'll need a lintel, even if there's one missing! You can check out our chimney opening in the dining room to see how we DIY fitted a concrete lintel there.
Grant chopped off the plaster fairly high and there was no arch or lintel in sight, so I convinced him to climb into the opening to have a look from the inside (after all, we didn't want to chop off all the plaster unnecessarily if there wasn't one). Thankfully, a couple of rows of bricks higher and there was one!
It was everything I had hope to find in the dining room a few years back, that had been destroyed. It was high and beautifully formed, in good condition and I was hella excited about it!
We then had to go about removing the bricks beneath the arch - which needs to be done really really carefully to ensure you don't go destroying the arch. We recommend doing it by hand rather than power tools and just take care to carefully chisel out the mortar, rather than go bashing your way in. The arch after all, is supporting all the bricks above so it needs to be solid and free from movement. So you don't want to be causing any movement with lots of heavy bashing. Take your time and just go about it with some care.
Slowly but surely, starting right underneath the arch we could see it all open up. And it is beaaaautiful!
When Grant got to the 'mini opening' (the bit that had the metal sheet over it) we discovered a rather unusual lintel.... A metal pipe. Yep, a pipe to support those bricks above it. Well I did tell you builders were more lax back in the day didn't I?!
And just like that, we now have one giant arched chimney opening in our living room. Isn't it glorious?! It's made the room feel so much bigger now there isn't a giant gas fireplace sticking out from it. It adds depth to the room, has given the chimney breast a focal point rather than just being a giant box in the room and the sooted up bricks show off the age and character of this building. Needless to say, I love it!
The plan is to keep the brickwork inside the chimney exposed although it will need to be cleaned up a little so the soot isn't constantly staining everything or falling off. But generally speaking, I like it rustic just as it is, imperfect mortar and all. We'll patch-plaster around the opening where we've chopped off too much plaster and we'll also fit a new hearth (plans for that will be revealed soon!) so that it will be log-burner ready for the much distant future.
So, from 1970s fireplace back to Victorian style in all in a matter of hours. I know which one I prefer! How about you?
Subway tile is one of the staples of kitchens and bathrooms in historic homes. The clean simplicity of 3″ x 6″ ceramic rectangles harken back to the early 20th-century like nothing else. It has been around comfortably over a hundred years since it began covering the walls of the brand new New York City subway system in 1904 and while it has had varying degrees of popularity, it has always been a heavy hitter in the design world.
During the sanitary craze early in the 20th-century, subway tile was the perfect fit because it was easy to keep clean and its sparkling white appearance convinced people it was always clean. New York city choose the standard brick laid white subway tiles because they implied this same clean feeling and they brightened the poorly lit early subway stations.
It was a match made in heaven and people took notice. It wasn’t long before subway tile started showing up in all kinds of catalogues for homeowners. Once the craze hit, subway tile was cemented into the public’s mind as the premiere choice for a clean and upscale bathroom or kitchen.
How To Install Subway Tile
Installing subway tile in a new house is not terribly difficult with the right tools, but installing it in a historic house where nothing is plumb or level can be treacherous. Getting the layout right and accommodating for a room that is out of square is imperative and requires careful planning before you start. Speaking of getting started, I’ve included a list of the tools you’ll need before you get started.
I’ve put together the video below to walk you through the basics of subway tile installation as well as to show you some of the tricks I use to accommodate the challenges that come up with tiling an old house. Anyone can put up tile on a perfectly square wall with nothing in their way. This video will show you what to do when it’s not quite as simple as HGTV makes it look. And let’s be honest, it never is as easy they say!
It’s a pretty basic thing, but getting the right saw blade for the job is an important part of getting the job done right. The wrong blade can tear up your material or make the job so much harder. Choosing the right saw blade really is pivotal to doing quality work, and that’s what the saw blade guide is all about.
There are so many blades today and so many options like tooth count, diamond tipped, carbide or steel, tooth design, etc. It can be daunting! Most folks don’t need all these variety of blades, and this guide will help you find the right mix of saw blades you’ll need for your project. In the end, I’ll help you find the best all around arsenal of saw blades that have great versatility for multiple projects so you aren’t changing blades every 15 minutes.
While there are specialized tools for cutting nearly every material, you can usually simply switch the blade on your saw to cut wood, masonry, or metal without any modifications to the saw. We’ll talk about each material and the saw blades required, and then I’ll give you some suggestions for a good all around arsenal of saw blades that will allow you to do most jobs without another trip to the hardware store.
Wood Saw Blades
Most of us are cutting wood, and because of that, there are a ton of options for wood blades. These can work on mitre saws, circular saws, table saws, and others. There are three general setups for wood cutting blades; cross cut, ripping, and combination. The category they fall into is all about the tooth design.
Unless you are doing a lot of very specific work, I find that choosing a combination blade is almost always the best choice. Most of us do a combination of tasks with our saws and unless you can dedicate a particular tool to only one operation, stay with the combination blades.
The more teeth your blade has, the finer the finish you will have. Blades with fewer teeth create more tear out and splinters. So, why would you want to use a blade with fewer teeth? Because the more teeth your blade has, the slower your cut rate is and the more friction and heat you generate.
If you are cutting 2×4’s for framing, speed is more important and you don’t care about a fine finish, but trimming high-end veneer is almost impossible to do without a fine-finish blade. Here’s a quick and dirty list of different tooth counts and their typical use:
Masonry & Tile Saw Blades
Masonry and tile saw blades are not at all like wood. Most have completely smooth edges with no teeth and the options are far fewer in design. They vary from short-lived and inexpensive blades (called cutoff or abrasive wheels) to long life diamond tipped blades. Here are the three main types of masonry and tile saw blades:
Cutoff wheels are made of an abrasive composite that eats itself as you cut, so they are inexpensive and run out very quickly. Segmented and continuous rim blades are typically diamond tipped and can be used to cut wet or dry. Cutting wet extends their life greatly because it keeps the blade cooler.
Segmented blades have small cuts (gullets) in the edge, allowing faster cutting of material but this results in a final product that is not as smooth as the slower cutting continuous rim blades, which are typically used for fine tile work or stone countertop fabrication.
Depending on the type of metal you are cutting, these saw blades are a combination of the wood saw blades with teeth and the cutoff wheels used on masonry. Though they may look the same, metal blades are much more expensive than their wood cutting cousins. There are two main types metal blades:
Just like masonry cutoff wheels, for cutting thick metals there is nothing cheaper than a cutoff wheel designed for metal. For serious metal cutting the carbide tooth steel blades can last a long time and cut just about any type of metal.
The tooth count on metal blades starts higher than it does for wood, with the fastest cutting blades being closer to 38-teeth, and the finer blades being only in the 60 to 80-teeth range. For metal blades, you want a lower tooth count, for thicker materials and a higher tooth count for thin metal sheets or fine work to avoid tear out and denting of the material. Your feed rate will also be significantly slower with metal than with wood.
What Blades Should I Get?
So, you’ve read my saw blade guide and you’re looking for the best mix of blades for your work. That depends on what kind of work you’re doing, largely. I’ll give you what I have on my tools, which works pretty well for the general renovations and old house restoration that I do every day.
You will notice my preference for Diablo blades below and that is mainly because in my experience, they have a longer life, and are readily available and create less kick-back due to their friction reducing coating. Everybody’s got their favorite, and these just happen to be mine.
I keep a 7 1/4″ 24-tooth Diablo Blade on my circular saw all day long most every day. It is long lasting and since my circ saw is used for rough cuts like for sheathing, framing, and basic repairs, the rough cut doesn’t bother me and helps me get through the work quickly.
I also keep a couple 7″ Dewalt metal cutoff wheels handy in case I should need to cut through some metal, which comes up occasionally. Since cutoff wheels are brittle, I keep them safely in a case so they don’t end up crumbled at the bottom of the tool box.
I keep my mitre saw ready to go with a 12″ 60-tooth Diablo Combination Blade since I use this mostly for trim and finish work. I could upgrade to a 80-tooth without much change and it might be a consideration, but I still do a decent amount of cutting of siding and occasional framing lumber, so 60-tooth has been the sweet spot for me.
Like most people, I have a 10 blade on my table saw, and it is used almost exclusively for ripping lumber or sheet goods. I have found that a 10″ 50-tooth Diablo Combination Blade works well to get through the material quickly and still keep my finish sanding to a minimum. There should always be some sanding after milling, so why spend the extra money and time for a super high tooth count blade to get an immaculate finish when you are going to sand it away anyway?
That’s it. I don’t keep any crazy unique saw blades- just these basic few cover most of my needs with an occasional specialty blade to supplement my work. I hope this has helped you find the right stuff to get the job done! Bookmark this page and feel free to come back to it as a new project comes up so you can find the right blade for the job. Good luck and happy cutting!
I wrote a post a while back about how to make your home smarter which included all the stuff we have within our home, as well as some stuff we don't have. Smart lighting was on there, something we didn't have and something I've never been *too* sure about. As much as I love the idea of it; it's pretty expensive to buy and is it really worth the money or is it just *another* gimmick? Well having now finally tried it out, I'm sharing my thoughts...
What Is Smart Lighting?
I'm fairly sure everyone knows what Smart Lighting is by now - but in case you don't (where have you been?!) - it's basically a special kind of light bulb that not only allows you to control it remotely but it also gives you more control over the type of light it emits. So there's no need for dimming switches or deciding between "cool" or "warm" light bulbs - you can have both and oh so much more, and you can also get bulbs that emit colours too. And of course if you have one of these fancy Home Hubs (Alexa or Google Home etc) you can usually control them through voice commend too.
Every Smart Light Bulb on the market is a little bit different - but the one I've been sent to review for the blog is a pair of bulbs from Wiz.World (you can find them on Amazon here) which I've been trying out over the last month. The thing that makes THESE bulbs unique is that you don't need an additional hub in order to connect them to your wireless network. It's all done in the light bulb itself.
I have to say these are THE most luxurious packaged lightbulbs I have ever seen. It felt like I was opening up a new iPad or something; it felt like a cool technological gadget. The kind of thing you put on a Christmas wish list (speaking of which - I reckon with a box like that, they'd be pretty gift-able too?!).
So the bulbs I'm trying out are B22 bulbs (the kind for bayonet fittings) but they do also sell screw-fitting bulbs and even spotlight bulbs as well amongst a few others. These are also the coloured versions of the bulbs and I have the two-pack set which very handily also comes with a little remote. This set retail for £69.95 at the time of writing this blog post.
You can see how they visibly look different to standard bulbs. They're a little chunkier and of course they have no filament, being LEDs.
How Do They Work?
Simple really; they just connect to your wireless network. So as long as you have a router or the like (doesn't everyone?!), you can have these smart light bulbs. Unlike other brands, you don't need an additional 'hub' in order for the lights to work which makes these a whole lot simpler to set up; it's all built-in right inside the bulbs. Genius! In fact, it even claims to have a 30-second installation set-up, which to be honest, I thought was going to be a tad exaggerated - but actually other than taking 15 seconds to type the Wi-Fi password into the app, there was literally nothing else to do other than turn the lights on and off five times. It's technophobe-fool-proof. Literally.
I've been trialling these lights in both the dining room and the home office, because I wanted to get an idea of how they're meant to be used around different rooms in the house. When you download the app, you can add each light bulb to its own room and you can also identify each bulb within the room with a different icon that correlates to that light fitting. From hanging bulbs to pendants to table lamps, there's enough icons to clearly identify each light fitting. You can even identify one table lamp for another. For the sake of this blog post, I'm photographing the office light fitting only - purely because it's much prettier and shows off the effect of the bulb much better. And I'm sure you'll agree!
Yep it's a giant ball of fluff on my ceiling and I love it. For anyone interested, it's a Amazon bargain find of just £33 which you can find right here. Being white, it also means it's the perfect shade for showing off the light bulbs infinite range of colours. And speaking of which - there's 16 million of them to choose from! Maybe you want a light pink hue to fill the room..
Or even a darker hot pink..
OR a cool blue..
OK, I'm sure you get the gist by now. Literally, I kid you not when I say the options are endless though. With 16 million colours available, it's doubtful you'll ever use them all. But, you could, in theory. Coloured lights may not necessarily be for everyone - but if you have young kids, it's a great way to add a bit of sensory stimulation to their rooms. And it's also a fun way for older kids to change the entire feel of their room at the drop of a hat. They can hit up FLAME RED as they pretend to be Fireman Sam (Or is he so 90s now?) or even COOL BLUE as they pretend to be at swimming in an ocean. You get my drift. I think it'd also be wicked for parties, adult ones as well as kid ones. Or it'd even be fab in a cool man-cave or cinema room. I also know lots of people who love the odd spot of colourful LED strip lighting throughout the home too - so I'm certain they'd love this in a table lamp!
Aside from having a bit of fun with the colours, it's also said that the colour of light can affect our moods. If you're feeling anxious, a calming mint green light is meant to be best. If you need cheering up, for yellow. For each colour you pick, you can also alter how dim/bright you want it to be too. It can be as gentle or as vibrant as you want.
But if colour isn't your thing, then perhaps 64,000 shades of white will make up for it instead? I know what you're thinking "HOW?!" I thought that too. Turns out there's orange white, yellow white, blue light, bright white, dim white, barely there white, bright as the freaking sun white. More whites than I ever deemed possible!
As much as I love the coloured aspect of the bulbs, I think the different white lights excite me even more. You can even simulate 'daylight'; which, being a blogger and needing to take a lot of photographs - is blooming' amazing! No need to plan my photos around daylight hours, I can now get a good shot whatever the weather. I also work night-shifts as my *day job* so it's also a great way to simulate daylight hours during the nighttime, so not to mess with your internal body clock so to speak.
Even for normal day-workers and non-bloggers it's fab though. A brighter light in the morning gives you punch of waking up you need, a more relaxed calmer light in the evening is perfect to chill out under before bed. You can select the perfect working light for cooking in the kitchen, or the perfect 'calming' light for doing a spot of yoga. In a nutshell, you can literally always create the *perfect* lighting for a room depending on how you're using it that day. I think it'd be awesome for mood lighting during a dinner party!
Features Within The App
Along with the bulbs and remote, there's also a free downloadable app which has a few additional features which I thought was also worth a mention too.
Fade In, Fade Out - Need I say more? Love it!
Wake-Up/Bedtime Lights - This one is actually amazing! You can set the lights to slowly come on/off within a 30 minute period, depending on whether you're dozing off to sleep or waking up. It in effect, acts like a Lumie Bodyclock (or similar) without the extra cost. I love it!
Schedule Your Lights - Doesn't need me to say much more, does it? Perfect for holidays or arriving home in the dark and having to stumble your way across a shite-tip of a hall to find the light switch (if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know what I mean!).
Plant Growth - Once I saw this setting, I was pretty sure I'd seen it all. Yep there's a light to help your plants grow! It's insane. And it's brilliant. And perhaps I should have bought this much earlier and I could have saved a few plants!
Night Light - This one is basically like those plug-in night lights you can buy. It has a very gentle glow that means you don't have to stumble across a dark room to find the toilet, or subject your eyes to a hard blinding wake up call by turning the lights on. We've used this feature every single night in the dining room. So handy!
Themes - There's a whole range of different pre-set 'themes' depending on how/when you're using your lights. From the perfect light to watch TV with, to a 'Party' theme, a 'Romance' theme and even seasonal themes.
Adding 'Moments' - If you want to save a certain light setting and remember it as a particular event (say Valentines Day Meal) can save that 'moment' with a photo and re-create that exact light at a later date at the touch of a button. I think that's a really thoughtful addition which is great for special occasions.
Everything in the app is really easy to use and it's really well organised. I didn't have any problems with connectivity or any problems in general. It's simple and it works.
With the two-bulb set, you get the handy remote too, which allows you to pre-set your four favourite themes, instantly turn the bulb into a night light, as well as alter the brightness at the touch of a button. One remote can control every bulb separately - you just need to point it at the right one. Brilliant!
How Long Do They Last?
That depends on how often you use them. But these bulbs claim to have a lifespan of 25,000 hours which is equivalent to around 10 years if the bulbs are used for 6 hours every day. Which is better than any energy-saving light bulb I've ever used! And at £69.95 for the pair, I think that makes these a pretty decent investment!
So I think I've covered the main features and the only thing I haven't tried out myself is connecting it to a home hub, as we haven't got one of those. In the last month of testing these bulbs out, I haven't honestly used the colours that much. I think they're fab and whilst I'm quite partial to the hot-pink look in the office; most of the time we've used the bulbs in different white settings. I can totally imagine myself using colours for a party or special event, but for day-to-day use the colours aren't seeing much action from us. That being said, we did have a disco theme going whilst drinking prosecco a few weeks back. It's something that's nice to have from time to time, but not necessarily for everyday use. Unless you're totally into that!
For us, it's all about the white settings. Going from daylight to a working light to a dim evening light has really been amazing. I've found it easier to get to sleep after being underneath a dimmer relaxing light in the evening and I've also felt so much more awake in the mornings after using the daylight settings. I wish I had used this during the winter months as getting out of my bed in dark hours is something I quite often struggle with! We're currently renovating the lounge at the moment and planning our lighting for the room - and I will be definitely be purchasing a couple more white ones for table lamps in here.
So, would I recommend? Absolutely, yes! As long as having changeable lights is something you would use, then I think it's a serious worthwhile investment. It's certainly not necessarily for every single light fitting (I'm certain still a huge fan of the Edison bulbs!) but where it's useful - it's absolute brill. It's a bit of fun and at the same time, it's surprisingly useful in ways which you wouldn't expect, until you use one.
Do you have smart light bulbs? What do you think to them?
*The Smart Lighting featured in this blog was sent to me to review. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog! :)
Want to learn historic restoration? I may have a lot of posts and videos on this site to help you learn the skills you need to restore your old house, but sometimes you need a little bit more. Sometimes you need someone to hold your hand and walk you through it in person. With that in mind, I felt it would be immensely helpful to share some of the places around the country where you can get that hands on training in the dark arts of historic restoration.
These classes and workshops are usually not available at your local community college, though that may be the case. You will likely need to travel to find the classes that meet your needs, but there are a lot of great schools, instructors, and workshops to choose from depending on what you want to study. I have met most if not all of these teachers and personally recommend them. Their knowledge and curriculum is top notch!
In addition to learning some great skills, taking a class like these will hook you up with other folks in the restoration industry or other homeowners who have been where you are. Fast and long lasting friendships often result from these too!
Coming up March 9-11, 2018 in Greensboro, NC, you can come meet and learn from window restorers from all over the country. This conference is geared toward professional window restorers and there will classes on topics like lead safety, OSHA, running and growing a restoration business, and more. There is a also a Glaze-A-Palooza competition where you can show off your glazing skills for some great prizes!
This is not only a great way to meet and learn from other window pros, but it caps off with a charity project where you’ll get to work along side other pros from all over the country as we donate a full day’s worth of window restoration working on a historic building to help a local charity. Find out more here information here!
Coming up soon (Feb 23 – March 2, 2018) this workshop is near and dear to my heart since it is right here in my backyard in Tampa, FL and I’ve been involved with it for the last 5 years. Steve Quillian at Wood Window Makeover puts on a great weekend workshop and you’ll get a chance to learn a ton with lots of different classes on Saturday, and then work alongside window restoration pros on an amazing charity project restoring the windows on the historic May-Stringer House in Brooksville, FL.
Professional window restorers from all over the country show up for this event and they will teach those willing to learn. There is also a good focus for those interested in how to start their own window restoration business. Check out the website here to register before its too late!
In Hannibal, MO Bob Yapp runs a great school that has a variety of classes on historic preservation ranging from How to Make Wood Storm Windows to Masonry Restoration and everything in between. Bob is one of the most respected preservationists in the country and has worked tirelessly to not only restore our greatest landmarks like George Washington’s Mount Vernon, but to also teach the next generation his venerable skills.
The classes are small and intimate, which means you get great instruction. While Bob teaches most of the classes, he also brings in other extremely talented pros for specialty classes. Top it all off with a stay at the Belvedere Inn while there and you’ll get the royal treatment from his wife Pat who is quite the hostess. Check out their 2018 schedule here!
You can study where I did by heading up to Vermont’s Mad River Valley and studying at Yestermorrow Design/Build School! I loved my time at Yestermorrow and learned a ton from their huge group of talented teachers. You can take everything from a weekend class on plastering to a full semester in Sustainable Design/Build. The classes are plentiful and the schedule is pretty good with a lot of 3-day to 2-week workshops to help you learn the skills you need without having to quit your day job.
In addition the great classes, you can’t beat the scenery since it is located in an old ski resort on the side of a mountain. The meals are provided and the housing is a choice between dorm like accommodations or cabins and yurts built by formers classes of students. Check out Yestermorrow here!
PTN is a great place to meet others in the preservation world. Their annual conference brings together people who are versed in almost any discipline of historic preservation to show what they are working on. Attendees will learn new and innovative techniques for hands on preservation. Their annual workshop is usually in the fall, but check out their website for other events around the country that may be of interest as well.
If you didn't catch my last blog post - then the breaking news of the blog the week, is that we've finally started our living room renovation. Yep, almost four years in - and it's begun. Luckily this room is in fairly good shape so doesn't require too much work - it's just quite dated; as in, it hasn't been revamped since the 60s. Eurgh!
I've spent the last couple of weeks stripping wallpaper, repairing the old ceiling and patching up the wonky and damaged walls. We're already beginning to see a fair bit of progress in this room and if you're following me on Instagram, you'll have seen all of this already. I was asked a fair few questions about how I remove wallpaper and how I'd be repairing the old walls. I'll be explaining the later soon, but I thought I would write a post specifically about removing wallpaper first.
Removing wallpaper is such a simple straightforward process that I didn't really think it was something worth writing about. But that being said, if you've never done it before - then it's something you may not know much about. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. So I thought why the hell not write about it! I've removed wallpaper from around 10 different rooms throughout two houses and my techniques are ever-evolving to perfect the quickest and best way to remove wallpaper. If my knowledge can help anyone out there, then why not! So, these are just my personal tips for removing wallpaper the easiest way I know how. If you'd like to add any further advice you have to share, then please do leave them in the comments below!
Removing the Top Layer
There are so many different types of wallpaper out there - from textured ones to more vinyl-feeling ones and even the dreaded wood chip ones (I've never removed this though - so I have no tips on that front, sorry!) and all wallpapers are different in how they come off the wall. Some come off so easily, you can just pull them straight off, others take a bit more work. The type of wall or plaster they're attached to also makes a big difference and the more wallpaper you remove, the more you'll notice this.
Usually wallpaper has two layers to it - the top layer and an underneath layer (you may even find multiple layers different types of wallpaper - in which case, unlucky you!!). The top layer is usually much easier to remove and once you've got a corner unlifted, you can usually pull this off in large sizeable chunks with your fingers. The underneath layer is the bit that's glued onto the wall - the harder one to remove.
Using a Wallpaper Steamer
I didn't invest in a wallpaper steamer until about two years ago when I stripped the dining room and kitchen. Until then, I had used either a combination of hot water and a sponge, or a steam mop (yes really!). Both of which did work and you can most definitely remove wallpaper without the aid of a steamer; but a wallpaper steamer is THE quickest and easiest way to remove wallpaper. Our steamer cost just £25 from Screwfix (here) and I definitely wish I had purchased one sooner.
The way a wallpaper steamer works is to heat the glue behind the wallpaper enough so that it softens and can literally be wiped off the wall. The downside to steaming, is that it does cost a fair bit to run (think kettle constantly on the boil!!) and it can leave the room quite wet and with a lot of condensation. Having a window open is definitely recommended and taking a fair few breaks to let the steam disperse helps quite a lot as well. As I said, you can soak the wall with hot water instead, but I definitely find using a steamer much easier and much quicker - and it's definitely my personal recommendation for wallpaper removal.
I generally hold the steamer to the wall for around 15-20 seconds before stripping the wallpaper off. If the paper looks wet, then you know it's ready to go. It's important not to hold the steamer onto the wall for too long as it could cause damage to the plaster beneath. It's a bit of trial and error thing to know exactly how long to leave the steamer up for - as I say, all wallpapers are different - but once you get going, you'll know.
Buy A Quality Stripping Knife
Having a decent stripping knife will make your life SO much easier. Imagine trying to strip wallpaper with a spoon - you'd be there all day flaking off bit by bit. Having the right tool for the job, really does go a long way.
The first thing to look for in a wallpaper stripping knife, is that it's nice and wide. This will cover more area at once and cut your time in half! The second thing you want to look for, is one with replacement blades so that you can ensure your stripping knife can always stay sharp. A blunt knife will miss bits of wallpaper and take much more effort in pressing it to the wall to get underneath the paper. This is the one I have, and I definitely recommend it, although it's best when it's blunted just a little (otherwise you have to be careful not to scrape up the wall!). It has a long handle for harder to reach areas and it's also soft to grip, which stops you getting hand blisters. You'll know what I mean if you've spent days on end painting with a roller!! Ouch.
Master the Art of Using Two Hands
If you're on a mission to strip wallpaper in a speedy time - then you'll need to master the art of using both hands. I use my left hand to hold up the steamer until the wallpaper is wet enough to remove and then relocate the steamer to another position whilst removing that wallpaper with the stripper in my right hand. It keeps the process constantly going and your left hand will always be one step ahead ready for your right hand. Does that make any sense?
It means you never have to put your tools down and once you've got a good system going - you can just keep going until you need to re-fill the water tank of the steamer. It's the most efficient way to work as quickly as possible when it comes to stripping wallpaper. Or at least, it is in my opinion. ;)
Once you've gone over the walls once and removed all the wallpaper, you'll inevitably find the wall will have a sticky feel to it (if it's still wet!) or it may otherwise have solid chunks dried to the wall. This is because in the steps above, we've been removing the wallpaper and not specifically the residue, which a lot of always ends up getting left behind. I've tried a few different techniques to remove the residue, but the quickest and best in my opinion is to use the steamer again.
I go back over the walls with the steamer, holding it this time against the bare plaster and then I use the stripping knife to scrape away that residue. You'll see it gather up in a really sloppy gooey slimy chunk (nice!) and you can lift it straight off the wall and wipe it onto a towel (or floor if you're lazy like me!). I do this over the whole wall and it removes the gunk in no time at all.
I have also tried scrubbing hot water and fairy liquid onto the wall, which also works but takes much longer. But if you don't have a steamer, this is definitely another option though!
Sanding the Walls Smooth
The very last thing I do is to quickly run some sandpaper over the whole wall. There's a good chance you may have missed the odd bit and there's still a slightly rough texture to the wall in areas. Having a smooth wall is especially important if you're plastering back over the wall and the last thing you want is anything being dragged through fresh plaster - your plasterer WILL NOT thank you for that. Likewise, you don't really want to be painting over chunks and having to scrape them off later either. A quick sand and feeling the walls with your hands will identify any bits that aren't perfectly smooth. It shouldn't take too long as you'll find it's really just the odd bit that needs attention.
And that's it! I hope that helps anyone who's new to wallpaper stripping, or if you're just looking for some new/different techniques to try. As always - I'm no professional, this is just the best way I've personally found to strip wallpaper. If you have any advice to share or alternative ideas, then please do! I'm always open to new techniques :) Here's a few shots of the living room under work and how it's looking now it's fully stripped of wallpaper.
Pretty right? I'll be sharing how we're patching the walls (and ceiling) in my next blog post, so stay tuned for that ;) Until then, happy wallpaper removing!
New year, new room! Well, sorta. I mean technically speaking, we're already a month into 2018 so I'm not tooooo sure we can still this part of the "new year" timings... BUT, we are now finally starting a new room renovation for 2018! And at long last, it's the living room that we're tackling next.
Our living room has been an absolute mess since.. well, since we moved in. It started as a place to store all our moving boxes whilst we moved in, then somewhere to store DIY tools as we renovated the kitchen, then it became a dumping ground for all the stuff we needed to take to the skip and now finally, almost four years later - it's empty and ready to renovate!
The photo above is how the room looked the day we moved in (before we moved in, I should say!), so it's not really a true representation of how it's looked as we've used this space. And truth be told, we haven't really used this space. The gas fire proved to be handy during our first year in the house as it was the only source of heating, but since that first winter we've barely used this room and very rarely spent time here. What the room has actually looked like...
You see what I mean? Not exactly a practical room for chilling out in, is it? This room is also massively chilly thanks to its ill-fitted windows so even at its emptiest, it's just not somewhere anyone wants to be and generally speaking, I'd rather chill out in bed than in here.
BUT after a good old clear out earlier in January, we finally have a room that's empty - and all that hate for the room is soon about to change. So I wanted to share some 'before' shots of the room before we get started on the demolition work and also explain some of our plans for this room. So without further intro, here's what the room looks like pre-renovations...
As you can hopefully see - it's quite a large room. Or at least, large by my books. But the room has no substance; not much furniture, no life, no soul. It does however have quite a bit of character - from the panels around the window to the cornicing at the ceiling and these are the things I absolutely LOVE about this room and can't wait to celebrate in here. And then of course it also has a rather dated fireplace and half the floor is still covered in hideously red floral carpet (under the sofa!), which I can't wait to destroy. We have lots planned and work has actually already begun.
Light and Bright
We're keeping this room as light and as bright as possible. I can't stay away from grey, but I want plenty of lightness to this room. A light grey, white woodwork and pops of colour. Nothing dark (we have enough of that in the kitchen and dining room!) and as much as I love dark spaces - I want this room to feel as though it's filled with light and punches of colour.
One of the main things I want to do in this room, is to build alcove cabinets either side of the chimney breast. I love how sophisticated and 'formal' these make a room feel and they're a great way to make alcove space more usable too. It'll also double-up as a way to hide the electric fuse box and provide us with somewhere subtle to hide the TV and all those hideous on-show cables. We also plan on using it to store plenty of books and I'd also like to incorporate another (smaller!) log stack within this too. Basically - this is going to be the feature of the room!
You guys know how much I love the period features of this house and floorboards are included in that. So we'll be stripping them back and putting them back on show. It's a much cheaper option of flooring than carpet and probably much more practical with two dogs as well. We've restored the floorboards in every room we've tackled so far, so why should this one be any different?
I can't begin to count how many rooms I've said we'd be *eventually* buying window shutters for - and we still haven't. Let's face it - they're a bloody expensive investment! I would LOVE to have some shutters in this room, but if budgets don't allow (they definitely wont allow!) then I'm thinking of DIYing some full panel block-out shutters in here instead. Admittedly it wont quite be the same, but I'm determined to have something similar on the cheap.
We'll be opening the chimney breast back up so we can make use of the space in order to make some heat for this room! Initially we thought about adding a period fireplace to use an open fire with, but I'm now collaborating with a company to add something a bit different to this room. It's not a fireplace and it's not a log burner - but it does make heat. All will be revealed soon!
So we already have one sofa - a dark grey number we bought from Made.com when we first moved in, but this room is huge and we absolutely need another sofa in here. I quite like the idea of non-matching sofas so I'm after a secondhand colourful sofa instead. Something pink or purple-y ideally and similar in design to the Orson sofa. I'd also love a cushioned footstool to use as a coffee table, but I think that one might be a DIY - we'll see!
I haven't used ANY wallpaper in this house yet, so I'm thinking of incorporating a 'feature wall' opposite the alcove cabinets in here. I want to do something a bit different and something stand-out that doesn't involve using dark colours - and I think wallpaper might be the next go-to option. It'll be light in colour and fit in the 'light and bright' theme, but just provide a bit of extra interest to the room.
And that's about it! I'm keeping the room pretty classic and traditional with a sophisticated feel. If you want to see some of the inspiration behind my plans, then feel free to check out my boards on Pinterest. Here's a little sneak peak of one of them!
So there's not toooo much heavy renovation work required in here, although we do need to fix up the walls, fix up the ceiling, relocate electrics and chase wires into the wall. But there's nothing drastically structural that needs work (or at least nothing we've discovered yet!) so we're hoping this will be a fairly easy six-week renovation and will hopefully be nice and smoooooth. Famous last works eh? Anyway - watch this space! ...Literally.
Way back when I started planning the conservatory I decided we needed another pallet seating area in our life. Yep, you may remember the one I built in the garden way back in 2015 (jeez has it really been that long?!) well this time I'm building something a bit different, but at the same time, very similar (makes sense right?!) and this time, it's going in the conservatory.
Having learnt from my experience the first time around, I knew exactly what I wanted to do different and how I could improve on my initial design. This time around I wanted to make use of the space underneath the seating - that is to say, I wanted to include some storage space. And I also decided I wanted to tone down the full rustic look too. Instead of just using pallet wood and nothing else - this time, I wanted to use some panelling as well. This way it would be less rustic and a bit more refined and bespoke looking.
So if you're interested in making your own - than stick with me, because I'm going to do a full tutorial to show you just how easy this is going to be.
Things You Will Need:
Step 1 - Remove Slats from Pallets
In order to make the wood you have go further, you'll want to remove almost all the top slats of the pallet. Depending on how your pallet is built, you will probably find the two end ones (and maybe the middle one) are integral to the structure of the pallet and these can't easily be removed. The others however will pop right off. You can do this with a crow bar but if you're struggling I highly recommend getting yourself a lifting bar. It's basically a giant crowbar but it enables you to have a much greater leverage and it pops the slats right off without any of the hassle. Removing all these slats is also vital if you want your bench to include some storage space as well. We removed all the slats, apart from the two end ones.
Step 2 - Position Pallets And Screw Together
Now we're getting to the fun bit! So you want to position your pallets as you intend the seating to be. Once this is all built it's going to be pretty heavy, so it's easiest to build it in position rather than trying to move it at a later date. The idea is that it's going to appear as a "built in" piece of furniture anyway - so you really do need to think about its positioning before you begin because it may not even fit elsewhere later on. The layout I'm going for is an L-shape, however you can of course just have it as a single straight length of pallets instead, if you want. If you're going for built-in storage too, you need to leave a small gap between the back of the pallets and the wall. This is so that the lid wont hit the wall and prevent it from being fully opened. My gap is around 2cm. You may also find some pallets are a little lower in height than others - you can use a plastic or wooden wedge to prop up any pallets if needs be.
You may also want to chop some pallets in half to get the exact size you want. We actually have a vent between that needs to be kept clear (for the log burner) so I've cut a pallet in half to ensure it's not blocking it.
Once the pallets are all in position, you then want to take the time to ensure they're all flush with one another at the front and the side. Pallets are never perfectly matching to one another in how they're built, but generally speaking they're usually close enough. A giant spirit level or straight piece of wood helps well in achieving this. It's a little fiddly, but a super important step because this will affect how you attach the panelling later.
You may find that not all the wood matches up against one another perfectly and as I said, this is perfectly normal when it comes to pallets - they're not made exact. You can see below in this image the top slats on the pallet all line up and match well, but the bottom slats don't. That's totally OK. As long as none are sticking further out and at least half are flush and in line then you're winning.
After everything has been perfectly positioned, you can then screw the pallets together. To do this, you want to screw through the bottom slat of one pallet, into the top slat of the pallet into beneath it. You'll need to make sure you use screws that are long enough to go through the top wood and into the second, and you want to do this across every slat possible. In my case, that's 3 slats on each pallet. This is going to pinch the pallets together, essentially so they're all connected and become one giant stack of pallets.
Hopefully you're still with me and I'm still making sense. The next step is then to connect each stack of pallets to one another, side by side. In order to do this, you'll need some very large screws to go between the larger chocks of wood from one pallet to another. These bits.
I've had to go through the sides of these at an angle because my screws weren't quite long enough (major rookie error and I couldn't get out to buy more!) but ideally you'd just want to go in straight from the side. If you do have to go in at an angle, you can drill out a bit of a hole to get the screw in deeper, as I've done here.
Now you can see there's a gap between these chocks of wood (which yes, isn't ideal!) but even with the gap, it's most definitely enough to hold the pallets firmly together. If you can though, I would cut some pieces of wood to size to fit into the gap. This will just ensure the screws are pulling the blocks together nice and tight, which obviously isn't happening with a gap. I however didn't have enough wood for that and decided that since there was virtually no movement anyway, to just roll with it. You can also add some cable ties around these if you want to ensure it's even more extra secure, which I also did instead.
Step 3 - Attach Top Trim
Now that the bench is all built and connected together, you can begin to make it look pretty. So as I said before, I'm using panelling to make it look a little more refined and it's also really cheap too. But to make it look even more professional, I'm also adding both a top and bottom trim to just "finish it off" so to speak. As a quick guide, this is basically the look I'm going for..
The top trim is just using a very thin piece of timber, which is around the same thickness as the panelling (mine is slightly thicker - but that's OK). I've used a mitre saw to cut it to size, making sure to give the corners a 45degree angle for a more professional finish.
I've then used some loose head nails to nail it into place, lining it up to match in height to the top of the slats (the seating bit).
Step 4 - Attach Panelling
The next job is to attach the panelling. The one I'm using is this one from B&Q which is just £3.15 a pack (seriously, bargain!!) and they're tongue and groove made, so each one slots into the next one which makes it so easy to fit. I've cut the panelling to size using a mitre saw (always!) and since the panelling I've bought is 89cm in length, I've managed to get two bits from each plank. I absolutely love this stuff and we've also used it in our bathroom too. So cheap, so good!
It's important that the first bit of panelling you affix is spirit level straight (both horizontally and vertically), otherwise you'll end up going off at an angle and have a huge gap between it and the top trim. Once the first piece is perfect though, you can't really go wrong with the rest as long as you make sure the panelling is properly pushed together each time. I've used panel pins to affix the panelling and these are just nailed into the wood on the side of the pallets, which you'll remember we aligned to be flush at the beginning.
Starting to see how it'll look? My top tip for using super small panel pins is to hold them between your fingers like the photo beneath, rather than pinching them. It helps massively when nailing them into position! I've used four pins per each slat of panelling, which seemed to be enough.
When it comes to the corner bits, I personally leave these till last. You can measure up the cut you need and I've used a jigsaw to cut these to size. It doesn't matter if the cut isn't perfect because we're going to use some corner beading over it anyway. This is the last step, but you'll see what I mean in a bit!
Step 5 - Add Skirting and Corner Beads
Once the panelling is nailed into position you can then add some skirting. I've gone for a very basic 'D-finish' skirting (because from the side it looks like a 'D'), which is quite short in height, so it doesn't swamp the panelling. Again I've used a mitre saw to cut to size and affixed with yet more nails into the larger chocks of wood on the bottom pallet. Can you see how easy this DIY is?!
After the skirting is done, you can then add the corner beads, which will butt up onto the top of the skirting and beneath the top trip. These will hide any imperfect corner cuts and they'll just make the inner and outer corners look a bit more 'finished' and sleek. Since these are quite thin, I didn't want to chance nails splitting the wood, so I've simply glued them into place instead.
Step 6 - Recess all Nails
If you haven't already, you'll want to go back over each nail and recess them into the wood. This will enable the nails to be hidden so that you can fill over it before painting and they'll become completely invisible. To do this, you'll need a nail punch set. Simply line it up over the nail and hammer into it, until the nail is completely sunken into the wood. It's kinda therapeutic, I think!
Step 7 - Caulk & Fill
So you might find you have some little gaps here and there - which is no problem at all. Since we're painting this (or at least, I am!) you can just caulk any gaps up, because once it's painted you'll literally never know.
You'll also want to put some filler over all the nails (yep, there's going to be a lot of them!) and once it's dry, sand it back.
Step 8 - Paint!
Onto the good stuff - painting! I know some people hate painting, but personally it's my favourite bit. I'm using Valspar's wood paint in an eggshell finish, colour-matched to 'Downpipe'. I haven't bothered priming and I'm not even sure you even need to with this paint. I have however given it a quick sand between coats and with this Valspar paint, I only needed two coats to get a full coverage finish. I think the dark grey it looks awesome against the pink wall (also Valspar, read about that here) and it's made the seating look all the more quality-finished and expensive looking.
Step 9 - Make Hinged Lids
You might have noticed we haven't got any actual seats yet - well this is the very last major bit of DIY and we're almost done, I promise! If you removed all those slats at the beginning, now is when they'll be put back to use. If you're not having storage, you can simply put the slats into position and nail them on the top. But, if you're going for storage like us, then instead of nailing them on, we'll be attaching them together so that they're all connected together to open as one.
To do this, you'll want to cut a piece of timber to size that will cover all the required slats and then screw it into the slats. Kinda hard to explain, but like so...
I then used a combination of a belt sander and a hand sander (actually a multi-tool with sanding attachment!) to sand back all the slats so they looked a little less rustic. I do quite like a little bit of a rough rustic look though, so I haven't over-sanded mine.
I then used flush hinges to attach the lid to the seat. This was pretty difficult to do alone, considering you need about four hands to hold the lid into place whilst screwing the hinge into position, so you might want to find someone to help! You want to make sure you're using flush hinges if you don't want to have to chisel out any wood.
I then lined the inside storage area with some fabric, just to give it a bit more of a finished look. I have to admit, I'm not the best when it comes to fabric related DIYs (oh so fiddly!) so mine is a little rough and ready. But hopefully you get the idea and you can potentially improve on it, if you can. I've just used stapled to hold the fabric into place.
As for the handles, I've just used a little bit of a ribbon-type material folded in half and stapled to the end of the slats, to use as a kind of tab.
Step 10 - Sit back and Admire
Aaaaand you're done. Throw in some pillows, cushions and maybe a blanket for good measure. AND CHILL.
It took me a few days to build, although obviously being a blogger and taking photographs, I could only work during daylight hours aaaaand taking photos took up a huge part of my time. Yes, all these photos have been taken via tripod and timer which is quite a large faff to deal with on-top of the DIY.
This room is most definitely still a *working progress* and you'll know all about my plans if you follow me over on Instagram. But it's definitely now a useable space, rather than just four walls and my vision for the room is coming together more and more every week.
So I would love to know what you think, and I hope this inspires you guys to build something similar! And if you do, please do tag me in your pics - I would love to see!
Strip Wood £3
Corner Bead £8
All Nails, Screws etc were free from previous DIYs.
Paint kindly provided by Valspar
Watch the Video....
*Paint was kindly provided by Valspar for this project. As always, all words, thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
It’s true that I have a problem with fake shutters. If you follow my instagram page you’ll see a healthy spattering of shutter fails. They give me a little bit of rage that no other architectural element does (I’ve written about the other design flaws that drive me nuts here). The purpose of this post isn’t just to vent (though it will be therapeutic for me!), but rather to explain why something as insignificant as a fake shutter flies in the face of almost every rule of design.
My hope is that more people will see the mistake that fake shutters are and it will prevent even just one more house from giving its windows a black eye and making me that much crazier. Beware that once you read this post, you will likely be cursed like me in noticing the world of fake shutters on buildings everywhere. It will be like when the lights come on at the bar at closing time and you realize exactly what that person you’ve been dancing with all night really looks like. Be frightened!
Why Fake Shutters?
Why do they exist? I guess because real shutters look so great that a lot of other people wanted to jump on the shutter band wagon but couldn’t afford real shutters. If your shutters don’t operate, you won’t realize just how bad they really are.
You see, real shutters…shut. It’s that simple. If your shutters don’t shut, they are fake. Shutters were designed to cover your window for a multitude of reasons. They protect against storms or other inclement weather. The provide relief from the hot summer sun and cold winter winds. They keep rain, hail, sleet and snow off your windows, and extend their life. They can provide privacy or help to darken a room for sleep. Shutters are immensely practical and useful.
But when you take a randomly sized piece of plastic and screw it to the siding next to your window and call it a shutter, you are fooling yourself and a few others, but no one who reads this blog anymore. In the title of this post I promised you the reasons why they get my goad, so I might as well dig into the details.
Reason #1 They Don’t Fit
This is the most obvious and makes it easy to spot for just about everyone. If your window is 6 feet wide and your shutter is only a foot wide, who do you think you are fooling? You may not think it’s a big deal, but proportions matter. Putting undersized fake shutters on your house is like driving a big rig with 18 donut spare tires. It’s awkward and ineffective.
Real shutters are designed to be exactly half of the window dimension so that when you close both sides they cover the window precisely. Too small and they leave the window unprotected, too large and they won’t close. If you are going to get fake shutters then at least make it hard enough that my kindergartener can’t tell.
Reason #2 The Slats Are Wrong
This one is a little harder to see when flying by in the car but walking the neighborhood it’s abundantly clear. Here’s the deal: the louvers on shutters are designed to shed water…when closed. When they are open the louvres would be angled so that they are channeling water back onto the siding instead of down and away from the building like on fake shutters.
I can only assume that the genius designers of fake shutters did this because fake shutters only have one position they can be in and that is open. You’d think that before they designed their fake shutter they would have looked at how real shutters were, but apparently that was too much to ask.
Reason #3 Wrong Design
Not every house style was intended to have shutters on it and certain house styles have shutter designs that are distinct to them. Shutters with pictures cut into a top panel were usually for Colonial and Colonial Revival houses. Board and batten shutters fit well on Mission and Spanish style homes, plantation shutters belong on southern plantation homes. When you take any random shutter design and put it on a house at random, you’re playing shutter roulette.
Just like kids need Garanimals to help them pick clothes that match, adults need a similar system for shutters on their houses. If you don’t know what style belongs on your house, then ask someone who does like.
Reason #4 Wrong Place
Not every window fits the same kind of shutter, and not every window was designed to accommodate a shutter. Just because you want a shutter on that window, doesn’t mean you should have one. Every shutter gets a window, but not every window gets a shutter. I should make that into a T-shirt.
Now that you know, start looking around your neighborhood. Are they too small? Too big? Are they permanently fixed to the building or worse yet, a part of the actual building themselves? Are they upside down, the wrong size, the wrong style? So many questions and so many fake shutters that it’s like a shutter-pocaplypse outside.
It may seem ugly out there, but now that you are aware of shutters you can truly appreciate a beautiful pair of historic shutters. A pair of real shutters added to the right window adds so much charm to a window it’s unreal. And I guess that beauty is what the fakers tried to duplicate. The truth is, nothing compares to the real deal, but you already knew that didn’t you?
And I went even further by making you guys a fun video! Check it out below for some great “advice” about vinyl shutters.