Franklin – Steampunking My Bathroom 6

tiles_completeAlmIt may not seem like much, but it was a huge undertaking for me. I finally finished painting the lines for the tiles on the upper vanity wall of the bathroom. There are five accent tiles. I painted the background color on these. It is taking me so long because my health has been not so good. I had a severe TIA a few weeks ago. We thought it was another stroke. I am still suffering some deficits from it. At any rate, it landed me in the hospital. They did all sorts of poking around and found that I have some major heart valve issues. This explains why I am exhausted all the time and fall asleep at the drop of a hat.

franklin
Franklin considers his grandfather to be the wisest man he knows.

The latest cartoon character to join the collection is the Peanuts character Franklin. He is Charlie Brown’s African-American friend. He is Charlie’s most loyal friend. He admires his grandfather and considers him the wisest man he knows. He is located to the right of the clock.

Of the four remaining accent tiles, only two will be cartoon characters. The other two will be dedicated to Bethann’s and my passions: sewing for her; art for me. They will be a challenge.

Focal Corner / Steampunking My Bathroom 5

tiles_accentThere is an angled wall which conceals pipes and wires. It is right behind the toilet. It is at the opposite end from the bathroom door. I was trying to figure out how to treat this one foot surface with regard to the faux subway tile painting. I started out just continuing the normal pattern around with the two yellow rows. It looked awkward. Then it hit me. This is just paint. I don’t have to order or cut special tiles. I only need to measure, draw and paint! The first thing I decided was to move the clock onto this wall and paint it with Rustoleum’s “Hammered” galvanized look paint. It is just a $10 clock with a cheesy, faux wood frame. Next, I took the yellow and framed a large section over the toilet with 3″ x 6″ tiles and filled it in with blue and shrimp checkerboard 3″ x 3″ tiles. I hung the clock at an appropriate height on this wall. This freed up the spot where the clock had been for a cartoon tile portraying Woodstock.

A couple of the guys who work at the State Store have been following my progress. I ran into one of them at the grocery store and I told him about the cartoon characters I had added. He asked me if my bathroom would pass true steampunk muster; if Bruce Rosenbaum or Damien McNamara would approve. I replied, probably not. This is just a poor man’s version. Plus the faux, subway tiles, with the cartoon accents, are really more postmodern. So what we have here is Steampunk Postmodern Fusion. My grandchildren like it! It’s bright and cheery. It keeps me from playing on the freeway, as they used to say. Who knew this guy was so design literate? Kudos!

Sienna Mist radiator
Sienna Mist radiator

Next to the toilet is the radiator. I spray painted it with another of Rustoleum’s new paints: Sienna Mist. It was true to its name. The overspray left a fine coating over the entire floor of the bathroom and the lower two feet of the walls all around. Thankfully, most of it came off with just warm water, a rag and elbow grease. This photo doesn’t do it justice. It has a copper or bronze-like metallic sheen.

I’m into the home stretch now. I have to finish the subway tile lining here and there and four or five more cartoons. I have to paint the clawfeet of the tub and perhaps the tank and seat of the toilet. That’s right. I still have to fabricate and hang the copper tubing curtain rod for the window valance, and repaint the crates. No rest for the wicked.

Custom Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 4

tile_rubberduckyToday’s little update is that I started to paint some custom tiles. Originally, I was planning on painting graffitti rubber ducks of various colors on top of the tiles, once the walls were painted. However, I was inspired by the custom, reproduction subway tiles I saw when I was researching for this project. With all the work I’m putting into this, spoiling it with graffitti just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I still wanted to include my rubber ducks, etc., so this is a more civilized presentation.

tile_pokey
If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Accessorizing / Steampunking My Bathroom 3

DSC02910

DSC02913
Shampoo & soap dish for shower.

Today I added soap and shampoo holders for the shower and little trays above the sink to hold cups, toothpaste, etc. These are made of 4″ galvanized vent caps bolted together, then bolted to the wall. I was inspired to use these in this maner by the use of the PVC end caps that are bolted to the scaffolding at Home Depot and used to dispense advertising flyers and such. I failed to share a picture of my toilet paper holder until now. It is angled out for two reasons. Our toilet angles from the corner, so this places the paper in actual parallel. More importantly, this allows the holder to receive larger than standard rolls. We sometimes are given “remnant” rolls of TP by a cleaning service. This spindle will accommodate them just fine.DSC02914

If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Subway Tiles / Steampunking My Bathroom 2

I have watched a lot of those home improvement, DIY and various home makeover shows over the last 10 or 12 years. Already, some of the things they were promoting in the beginning, people are starting to turn up their noses at and feel look dated. I remember watching shows  where they painted beautiful, natural maple cabinets to “update” a kitchen. I cringed. What could be more timeless than natural wood? Then they started putting in glass tile backsplashes in almost every kitchen. The same tiles started showing up in the bathrooms, as well. Then the buzzword became “subway tiles”. This puzzled me. They were tiny compared to the tiles I’ve seen in the subways I have ridden. The only thing that made them “subway” was that they were shaped and arranged in staggered fashion, like bricks.

I am steampunking my bathroom and I wanted to paint the walls in a faux finish mimicking original subway tiles. When I began to research, the first site that came up had someone lamenting the ubiquity of subway tiles in home decor right now, and how that is going to date every home that uses them. Oh the irony of being trendy! A few sites down was a company that has just started reproducing old style subway tiles in the last couple of years. They give the history and have them available in a variety of sizes and colors. They confirmed my hunch. The tile size I was seeing on the far side of the tracks in Philadelphia was 6″x12″. That is what I wanted to go with. I also wanted to intersperse with a couple of rows of 3″x12″ tiles to accommodate two color bands. I can’t afford tiles. Time I have. Painting is like Zen. I painted our living room, hallway, steps, etc., all with a 2-1/2″ brush.

I thought I could use a white paint Sharpie to draw the lines on the walls, using a straight edge. That didn’t work on the high gloss paint. So I found my tiny paint brush and my bright white paint. Trouble is, I can’t paint a straight line to save my soul. I never could and it has gotten worse now that I have a slight tremor. Well, the colors I had chosen are on the cartoonish side of reality, so my painting will just add to the whimsy.

DSC02908Let me say something about the colors. The first time I painted this bathroom, I took my rubber ducky to the paint store. We computer matched the yellow for the walls and the beek for the trim and the tub. My wife came home from Ladies’ Night Out and hollered at me, “Can I not leave you home alone anymore?”

At least I had not painted anything Rubber Ducky Lipstick Pink! For real, the lips on the rubber ducky are pink! Anyway, I painted over the orange and took the towels back to the paint store to match the blue for the trim and tub color. Bethann was pleased. Well, at least, she tolerated it. This is the second generation: Rubber Ducky Steampunk, if you will. The egg cream paint color is chosen based on a rubber ducky fabric. The custom blue paint was optically matched from the same curtain fabric. It is an interesting, light, robin’s egg blue. It has the subtlest touch of green to it. It changes its look between sunlight and artificial light.

DSC02901
Self Portrait in the mirror of the new medicine cabinet
DSC02903
The first thing I did was GFCI upgrade to the electrical before I began using power tools in the bathroom.

The light fixtures I made from 3/4″ galvanized pipe with a black pipe transitions to a 1″. I used lampsocket plug-in adapters. I wired them with lamp cord, then inserted them in the pipes with black tool insulating coat, normally used for cushioning tool handles. The shower curtain rod is made from 3/4″ and 1/2″ galvanized pipe. It allows more room in the shower than the aluminum, off-the-rack one, plus is more sturdy and won’t fall down mid-shower.

I’m not done yet. I have custom tiles to paint and the soap holders to install; not to mention what I may do to the sink and toilet.DSC02878DSC02872

Left end of shower curtain rod
Left end of shower curtain rod

DSC02906
If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Steampunking my Bathroom I

grab bar
grab bar

This all started because the towel bars kept falling off the wall. Those silly micro-screwdriver pegs to tighten the bar ends onto the cleats never quite properly grip into the drywall. It was alway a gamble whether or not the towel was going to hang or fall. Things came to a head when Bethann used my bahroom for a month while I was renovating hers. She said I needed a “grab” bar for the tub. I have a clawfoot tub. We are now 60 and washing our feet standing up in the shower can be a dangerous thing. She found it precarious just climbing out of the wet tub onto the floor with the added height of the claw feet, with nothing solid to hold onto.

towel rack with wrench still tightening
towel rack with wrench still tightening

If you know me, you know I generally jump in all fours. It will not just be a grab bar and towel rack. I want the whole theme! I loved Warehouse 13. I want that computer keyboard! I am typing on a keyboard with six keys missing because I melted them off attempting to dry them off, after spilling my water on them when falling asleep one night. This is one the $100 replacement computer after I fried a better computer the same way. That steampunk mechanical keyboard would so solve my problem! So, I started with the grab bar and the towel bar that was falling off. Then I moved on to the lights and the medicine chest/mirror. Next, I will take on the toilet paper holder and the shower curtain rod. Ther bigger challenges will be the sink, the toilet and the shower control. I have ideas for those.

DSC02863
Medicine chest made from an old 99 cent suitcase, LED Edison lamps & towel bar. Medicine cabinet is lit inside, as well.

A more extensive article or articles will follow explaining the process. I’m just posting this to share some photos for now. I need to clean up the bathroom and steam this punk, now! I stink.

If you like what you see and you want to continue seeing progress reports, please help us keep our home.

Our house is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Living Room Makeover

Our 50 cent couch against the newly painted wall
Our 50 cent couch against a newly painted wall

We were told by our realtor to just let the house rot. We are in the process of foreclosure. The odds are we are going to lose the house. We are trying to negotiate a refinance, but PHH, the mortgage handling company, has never been honest, even to the point of lying to me about who owns our mortgage while I was looking at a letter I had just received from them which told me that it was HSBC, the Scottish drug dealing bank that the US Senate bailed out with no strings attached. It makes sense that PHH represents HSBC. One criminal organization represents another. I digress.

Entertainment Stand painted with Behr Ancient Pottery (N250-5) Premium Plus satin
Entertainment Stand painted with Behr Ancient Pottery (N250-5) Premium Plus satin
50 cent couch covered in beautiful throw I sewed with pillows I covered with excess fabric from the recliners.
50 cent couch covered in beautiful throw I sewed with pillows I covered with excess fabric from the recliners.

We still live in the house. I am on disability due to my six strokes caused by migraines, more than 40 TIAs, and innumerable prolonged (at times, 20 days long) debilitating migraines that mimic strokes. I asked the ALJ, “Would you hire me?” He granted my Social Security disability immediately. We are losing the house because the lawyer I used screwed things up and I still haven’t received the two years’ back pay. (Somehow, he got his full fee based on it, though. A lawsuit may be pending. I digress again.) Back on track. Bethann and I decided that we wanted to paint the living room as a gift to each other for Christmas. This was a first for us in our over 40 years of marriage; to have that sort of idea at the same time, with neither of us having to persuade the other.

Laying out fabric on the kitchen table, to cut and sew for the couch throw and cushion covers.
Laying out fabric on the kitchen table, to cut and sew for the couch throw and cushion covers.

Normally, I would just pick the colors and paint. Bethann would learn to like it. I know that is unusual. I have always been the color person in our house. Only once did I have to retreat on a color. That was the Rubber Ducky’s Bill Orange for the trim of the upstairs bathroom that I painted while she was at a Ladies’ Night Out several years ago.  She let me leave the walls Rubber Ducky Yellow, but shook her head and said, “What? Can’t I leave you home alone anymore?” I said, “It’s only paint! These colors were big in the ’60s.” Just brings back images of a young, perky Judy Carne saying “SockItToMe!”

My recliner in rust fabric, with my cat, Skittles in the foreground.
My recliner in rust fabric, with my cat, Skittles in the foreground.
Bethann's recliner in chocolate brocade. We bought this for $10/yd.
Bethann’s recliner in chocolate brocade. We bought this for $10/yd. The walls are painted with Behr’s Brazilian Tan (N250-2) Flat finish

At any rate, for this project, I actually went to Home Depot and got paint chips and little samples to try; an absolute first for me! We agreed on the colors, adjusting one, with no argument with each other. We wanted to respect the age of the house (new part: 1845, kitchen & bedroom above: 1700s) without leaving it moldering in its antebellum past. Bethann and I went to Joann Fabric with a great 50% off upholstery fabric coupon and selected fabrics for throw covers for the couch and our recliners, for about $80. It was like an ultra low budget Trading Spaces room makeover, only done right.

Bathroom to the left, Den/Office ahead, Basement to the right. I rehung that door with new hinges and reset the surface mount lock.
Bathroom to the left, Den/Office ahead, Basement to the right. I rehung that door with new hinges and reset the surface mount lock. This is all in Behr’s Clay Dust (N250-1) Premium Plus Eggshell finish

The job included the tiny entryway, tiny back hall, stairway and upstairs hall. The job included 9 doors, 15 doorframes, and 3 windows. We have reconsidered what we hang on our walls and have opted for less. I eliminated the shelves over the windows that the former owner had incorporated into the frames. They weren’t level, and we wanted a cleaner look. I had to replace the top piece of the frame on two of the windows, because the way the shelves were installed destroyed the antique parts of the frames.

I am still repairing sagging  accoustic tiles in the ceiling in preparation for painting it with high gloss, ultra bright white paint. The tiles are faux stamped tin style. I am using high powered glue in a dispenser with a long, narrow spout. I insert the spout between the tiles, at the corner where they are sagging to deliver glue on top of the tiles. Then I tighten the tiles to the frame above with a screw through a piece of stiff cardboard and leave it there long enough for the glue to dry. Then I move on to the next spot that needs to be repaired.

We would like to keep our house. If we lose it, we still don’t want to leave it a wreck. We don’t want someone to come in and say, “How could they live this way?”

I am working on our house against hope and professional advice. It is not just our house. It is also the base of operations for The King’s Jubilee to which we have dedicated our lives and resources for three decades. It is also a small native plant refuge for birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals in the middle of an old borough in part of the urban sprawl outside of Philadelphia. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



My 11 Step Program

Measuring pad to mark for center
Measuring pad to mark for center

It started with my wife and I deciding to change the color of the living room as our Christmas gift to each other. It is the gift that keeps on giving. The living room color determined the stairway color and upstairs hall, that is, since we changed the color of the woodwork. I had painted the steps before. I wanted them to hold up better this time. Bethann thought it would be nice to soften the noise a bit and make them easier on stocking feet.

Step painted & taped. 1 strip of paper to be removed yet.
Step painted & taped. 1 strip of paper to be removed yet.

Our house is old. Of course, this staircase is in the “new part” which was built in 1845 to be the hotel for the railroad when it came through Souderton.
It is narrow at 30″ at the bottom and less than 29″ at the top, in just 11 steps. We have 7′ ceilings. I had painted the first coat on the floor, before I decided the ceiling needed repainting. That white paint really drips! At any rate, I found a simple and economical solution in carpet pads at Home Depot. A pack of 13 sold for under $11. They came with no installation instructions. They were being sold near the large area rugs and window treatments, not near the stair runners. I found a pack. I wasn’t sure if they were dark olive or gray. The Home Depot is only a mile and a half away, so no big deal, if they ended up not looking right in the stairway. (It turns out, in context, they appeared to be dark olive.) Almost all of the tape at Home Depot or Lowe’s is in their paint departments, with certain exceptions. How consumers are supposed to keep track of all the ins and outs of capitalist, retailer, marketing manipulation, I don’t know. Half of the employees don’t know. They learn as they go, as training is minimal. So I went to the paint counter to ask where I could find a fairly agressive, double-sided tape. The man showed me to that expensive, thick 3M stuff, that never comes off, leaving a foam residue, or removing part of the substrate if ever removed. I told him that was too aggressive. I was taping down carpet pads. Gravity and regular foot pressure were on our side. He begrudgingly told me they sold carpet tape two aisles over, with the flooring, but that it was thin and not very aggressive. You could easily remove and reposition the carpet pads with that. He was disgusted as he said it. I said that sounds like just what I need!

While others were sleeping, I started at the top and worked my way down. I centered a pad and marked both ends’ location on the step with pencil. Then I painted up to those marks and roughly just within where the pad would go. Next, the tape was applied to the step. Then the pad was pressed into place. I did five steps one night and the remaining six a few days later.

Completed Step
Completed Step

My 11 Step Program was completed for a total cost of just under $20 plus the paint.

I am working on our house against hope and professional advice. We are facing foreclosure. If you want to help us save our house you may make a donation via The King’s Jubilee using the Paypal button below or go to GoFundMe and help us out there. Thanks!



Today’s Window Installation

DSC01788Today I finally installed the last replacement sash kit on the first floor. I still have to finish some of the exterior trim and install two screens. and paint. It’s kind of an involved process for each window. The sashes are painted on the exterior sides and varnished on the interior sides. I apply adhesive lead to the interior side of the glass in a craftsman pattern that I devised. On the lower sash, I add faux stained glass paint in the corner squares. Then I add the hardware. I remove the old sashes and combination storms and add wood to the sides to make the opening exactly 28″ wide. Then I attach four cleats to each side to attach the sash tracks. The tilt in sashes then snap into place.

Our house should be cooler next winter. You read right. The thermostat is in this room. It will be less drafty, so now the heat should not come on so often, and the rest of the house won’t be so hot.

DSC01786
Skittles, job supervisor
DSC01784
cleats on spacer wood
DSC01785
The awesome tool was used to trim the bottoms of the sash strips to fit the sill.

DSC01783

My First Front Door Designs

Years ago … Scratch that. Decades ago I read several books about building energy efficient homes. One of the authors said that if you don’t do anything else on your home yourself, you need to build your own front door. This led me to buy another book all about doors. Your front door is your greeting to the world; the real world. (For you computer geeks: It is analogous to the introduction to your blog in the cyber-world.)

I built two front doors for our last house, in East Greenville, PA. I built a door out of 7/8″ thick birch lapped and pegged at the corners making a 1-3/4″ thick door. I divided the middle space with the same type of construction from the bottom hinge side bottom corner to about door handle height, then 90 degrees back up to the hinge side. The outer boards were 1/2″ wider than the interior in order to receive the glass. I ordered three pieces of glass from the local, old style, independent hardware store on Main Street. I needed two right triangles and one right trapezoid. Gordy, the owner, said he didn’t know an hypotenuse from an aardvark; so I would have to come over and cut the glass myself. I set the glass in a small bead of clear silicone caulk. The pieces fit with just the right amount of expansion space. I tacked quarter round strips on the inside and varnished the door with three coats of marine spar varnish. It had too much glass for my wife’s comfort with our newsy neighbors. It sat in the basement for a couple of years until it ended up as the back door when we enclosed the back porch to be the new laundry room.

That house was brick and had 34″ wide doors. There are  32″ and 36″ wide exterior doors available commercially, but 34″ would be a special order. The front door continued to deteriorate to the point that it was no longer a question of style or principle that it needed replacing. It was just plain breezy. It was the early 1990s and a halfway decent looking door with glass in it would have cost about $2,000. And it still would have been a cookie cutter, manufactured door. And it would not have included the transom window above it.

So, I set about to design and build a new front door and transom window. It started with the choice of a native wood: poplar. I love the grain with its random green and darker areas. There was a wonderful, family run sawmill just six or seven miles away in Trumbauersville, Carl Hunsberger. Doug Hunsberger let me select the 2″ thick boards for the stiles and rails and the 1″ thick boards for the panel and the trim.