Exterior Maintenance: Clean and Brighten those Window Wells

When the rain came down and the flood came up earlier this summer, we stayed nearly dry and we are so grateful. Greta’s room was the only room that had some water damage so we moved her room up on our list. We fixed some drywall under her window, replaced carpet pad and recently tackled the source of the problem–her window well.

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There were a couple things wrong here that caused the flooding. First, layers of blackout fabric, leaves and large rocks are not ideal (not even close!) for draining. Especially when they are at and above the window itself. Why anybody would put blackout fabric at the bottom of a window well is beyond me.

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For September’s Ace Hardware project they asked us to go out of our comfort zone and there’s nothing comfortable about crawling into a 5 foot spider-infested window well–so, challenge accepted. … and precaution taken:

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I laughed for a solid 6 minutes when Chris walked out of the garage like this, but I don’t blame him one bit. It is hobo spider season here. We sprayed the window well for spiders 24 hours in advance and 6 giant ones immediately tried to crawl for dear life.

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So after spider spraying and a prayer, Chris removed all the large rocks, debris and blackout fabric and then began digging down. We didn’t have to dig far–maybe 3 inches? Just far enough so that our new rocks would sit below the window.

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While he was down there, a little cleaning was in order, too. He wiped off all the old cobwebs (while I shuddered next to him) and cleaned the windows, too.

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Even though our window well has a cover, it still had a lot of hard water stains  from the sprinkler system. Regular glass cleaner wasn’t cutting it, so we picked up a spray bottle and white vinegar while we were getting our other supplies at Ace. 1 part white vinegar + 1 part warm water did the trick. Spray it on and wipe with a wet cloth and follow up with a dry one.

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Sealing the window with caulk+silicone was another defense we took against the elements. During the process, we noticed a lot of our windows’ caulking had weathered away, so we were due.

The last step was laying new rocks. We went for “white marble chips” we found at our local Ace store (around $5 a bag) and picked up 4 bags.

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I really love how they brighten up a normally very dark space and bounce a lot of light into Greta’s room, too.

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Not the most exciting before and after, but definitely needed! Do you have window wells? How often do you maintain them? This was our first time since we moved in and we’re putting it on our Fall to-dos from here on out.

Ps. $100 Ace Hardware giveaway happening on our Instagram today! (@chrislovesjulia) See you there.

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We’re really excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel this year. Ace has provided us with compensation and $100 gift card to get the materials necessary to complete this project–we found the shovel, white rocks, silicone, spray bottle, white vinegar, and even the spider spray at our local store! All opinions and duct taped ankles are our own. 

Our Barn-Style Door Part 2 | It’s hung!

To catch you up, we found 2 of these large (two!) solid oak doors next to the dumpster–you can read the rest right here. We hung up our barn door this week and have a slew of photos to show you and probably too many words about the process, too!

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We never really wanted a barn door that looked like a barn door, ya know? We wanted something a little more modern and industrial (I think I just realized this week my style might be modern farmhouse–still looking into it!) and we really feel like we hit the jackpot here. So this set up isn’t done done, but we couldn’t wait another minute to show it to you, hung. I couldn’t even wait for a sunnier day, I guess. (Sorry about the lighting!)

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Aaaand closed. So yes. This is one area that still needs fixed. The door is so tall. 89″ to be exact, so it is much taller than our doorways. When we renovate that back area into a mudroom/laundry, we’ll tackle raising that header. Luckily the door is open 95% of the time so it isn’t as noticeable. We also plan to frost the glass in the coming week. I already bought some window frosting (sounds delicious?) but we wanted to hang it first just to double check that we absolutely wanted to frost it. And, yes. Yes we do. Especially once that is part laundry room part mudroom. In my mind it will be so functional and gorgeous it will always be neat–but I am also trying to be realistic. Maybe I’ll wait to frost it until that renovation is done. I’m torn.

We got the hanging hardware from NW Artisan Hardware. They have been just amazing to work with. Ugh, I can’t say enough good things. The hardware is well made and beautiful, and the customer service is just as brag-worthy. Isn’t that the best? We ordered vintage horseshoe hardware (that was amazing!) to fit our DIY door initially, but it didn’t feel like it went with this door. We really wanted the door to be the star and they were so good about letting us exchange it for this classic top mount after we found this door.

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The prep on this door was kind of a doozy. We decided not to touch the wood itself, and I gave the backplate a quick shine, but left enough so it still felt vintage-y (although in these photos the light on is making it look extra shiny!!). The main task was removing the hinges and prepping the door for hanging.

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After we removed the hinges, we were naturally left with big indents and screw holes in the wood. Luckily the door was solid wood so instead of filling the gouges, we planed off a little over 1/8″ so it was smooth again. And then filled the holes with wood filler.

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We sanded it smooth after that dried which left hardly any evidence that hinges ever existed!

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Before Chris planed it, I shaved off a piece of wood to bring to the hardware store with me so I could get a matching stain.

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English Chestnut was the winner and a seamless match. Here’s a shot of that side of the door…that also shows off the hardware a little better.

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The top sliding rail is secured into 5 studs and the rolling mechanism is attached to the door 3 times on each side. It is so secure! To keep the bottom from swaying out and the whole door steady, the hardware came with, basically, a 2 inch L-bracket (I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo!) that we screwed into the tile floor–which maybe was the hardest part of this whole thing. The L-bracket slides through a groove that Chris sawed through the bottom of the door with a circular saw.

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All the hardware together makes moving this 150+ lb door easy. In fact, even Greta can do it. And she does, quite frequently.

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The door has transformed our great room once again and inched us closer to making this home feel more like us. I wish you could all see it in person–the pictures just don’t do it justice. It feels so grand and massive and really makes the room feel taller. Have the best weekend, you guys! We’ll be working on Greta’s room some more and enjoying the fall weather, too. Yesterday it was in the 50s here!

Bright Lab Lights | An Unsolicited Review

As soon as Bright Lab launched, I knew that I wanted a strand for Greta’s room. Ca-ute! Their “Sorbet” strand matched her floral duvet almost perfectly. Sold. I thought I’d give you a little unsolicited review since they are new and a hot item.

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The strands come in 2 different sizes–24 balls ($29.95) and 48 ($49.95). Initially, I admit, I had a little bit of sticker shock, especially with the $10 shipping on top of that. But (!!), once I looked at it as a sort of piece of art for Greta’s room, I immediately sprung for the 48 ball strand which is 10′ long with a 5′ cord.

My box arrived within a week, and that was even with my second guessing. Oy. I originally modified my strand, which is a really great feature of the product. They have 38 different colored cotton balls and you can make a strand completely your own or modify one of the pre-made designs. Initially, I modified the sorbet strand swapping out the pumpkin orange for ruby red. Submitted my order and then the next day unpacked Greta’s duvet to see it definitely had orange in it and not red. Curses. I sent a quick email to see if I could possibly change it back to their perfectly pre-designed strand, as it were, and Erin emailed me with a, “No problem! It’s on its way!” Whew.

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So they arrive and I was expecting to just pull it out of the box and drape it in Greta’s room, but there is some assembly required. You see, there’s a small hole (too small on purpose!) in the back of each ball for each LED light to fit into. The instructions say to snip each hole 1/4″ and the ball will pop in. I found snipping a little tiny bit on each side of the hole to be most effective. Easy enough to get my light in without denting the ball, but still tight enough where the ball won’t come off. I did this successfully 47 times. Snip! Slide on! Tug the strand a little to make sure it’s not going anywhere. The 48th time (which was really like the 19th, but still) I snipped a little too far. The ball went on really easily, and, well, it has fallen off a couple times too. A touch of sticky tac is holding it in place.

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The wire is clear so it really disappears (much more in real life than in that iphone pic above!) and it is also a circle, instead of a straight line–which makes draping so much more natural, but also has been a little bit of a challenge trying to make sure the cord leading to the plug stays put while I am trying to drape it. Could just be me?

There is no one more excited about these lights than Greta. She has already flicked the switch on (no need to unplug! woot!) in broad daylight and at night–which gives off the prettiest glow–and just smiles and talks to them.

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They are positively sweet and I am so glad Jordan Ferney (of Oh Happy Day!) started this company to bring designer lights to our corner of the world. 4 and a half stars from me–I do wish they came pre-snipped–I would buy them again in a heartbeat. :)

Anyone else trying out Bright Lab? Greta’s room is coming along and I can’t wait to show you more next week. :)

Ps. This was unsponsored and unsolicited. With such a new product, it always helps to have a few of those kind of reviews, right?