{friday finds: how to photograph a before and after room}

It’s not as easy as it seems to photograph your home. More goes into it than a click and a flash. If you’re trying to show home improvements in before and after shots, it is especially important to photograph the room in it’s best light for the after shot. There are some tips to accentuate the positive changes you have made. These photographs are meant to emphasize what a wonderful job you’ve done transforming the drab to fab!

A side-by-side comparison shows the vast changes you can make to a room.

A side-by-side comparison shows the vast changes you can make to a room.

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{friday finds: decorating with red, white, and blue}

The party’s over. Or is it? Mosquito bites and a flag plopped in the hallway are my reminders of the gorgeous Fourth of July we had in Minnesota yesterday. Thank goodness for no rain! As a tribute to the colors of Independence Day, here are some red, white, and blue rooms for your viewing pleasure.

sarahsmasterSarah Richardson’s Master Bedroom at her cottage. Read the rest of this entry »

{interior paint solutions: caulk failure}

Caulk failure is the loss of the protective moisture seal due to the loss of initial adhesion and flexibility.

Caulk failure is the loss of the protective moisture seal due to the loss of initial adhesion and flexibility.

Good caulk will help you save energy, avoid moisture damage and prevent pest problems. The best caulk for the job depends on the situation. If you didn’t get it right the first time around, there are ways to improve and fix caulk failure.

There are three types of caulk failure: adhesive, cohesive, and substrate. Simply put, the bond between the caulk and the substrate can fail, the caulk itself can tear, or the substrate can break. Problems with caulked joints are commonly due to one of two errors. Either the substrate was not effectively prepared, or the wrong product was selected. Consider how it will be used before choosing a product.

First, consider what materials the joint is made of and how much movement it is likely to encounter. Silicone, for example, adheres well to glass and tile but poorly to wood. Paint won’t stick to pure 100 percent silicone caulk. Although products with different chemistries claim to be flexible, some are better suited for frequent joint movement. For most interior painting, 100 percent acrylic caulks, are recommended. They will seal cracks and adhere to most surfaces, even when moisture is present. Remember that caulk generally is not recommended for gaps that exceed .5″ wide at their midpoint.

To spearhead the problem from the beginning, try priming. Priming is essential for better adhesion, sheen uniformity and durability. The following Hirshfield’s products will ensure the caulk will have the best chance to succeed: #88-1250 Drywall Primer for the interior, Hirshfield’s #88-4250 Latex or #88-6050 Oil for exterior. Then select a top quality Hirshfield’s interior paint in the color and sheen of your choice.

{scuffs, chips and nicks – quick fixes to get your home ready for guests}

How is it that scuffs, chips and nicks can stay hidden, completely invisible to the naked eye, until you decide to have guests over? As soon as the RSVP’s start showing up so do all of those imperfections; the scratch on the coffee table, the nick in the banister, all of those scuffs on the kitchen floor. If you’re looking to take care of these tiny little eyesores before holiday guests arrive, here are some quick fixes that will leave your home scuff, chip and nick free!

Cleaning scuffs off of linoleum floors
Wash away scuff marks by rubbing them with a sponge or soft brush (nothing abrasive) and a solution of dishwashing detergent and water. You can also rub a pencil eraser over scuff marks to make them disappear.

Removing scratches from wooden surfaces
For scratches that have penetrated beyond the finish, try rubbing a pecan or walnut gently across the surface of the scratch. You’ll fill the wood naturally, quickly and cleanly – and the natural oils in the nut will ensure that it lasts.

Read the rest of this entry »

{friday finds: remodelers showcase & parade of homes}

Remodelers Showcase
86 remodeled homes throughout the Twin Cities
Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2011
12:00-6:00 p.m.

With a click here search by remodeler name, project type, or location to plan your tour.

This is also the final weekend for the 2011 Fall Parade of Homes.

278 new homes throughout the Twin Cities
(including Hudson, Wisconsin)
Friday, September 30 – Sunday, October 2, 2011
12:00-6:00 p.m.

You can search for Parade Homes by clicking here.

Have a fantabulous weekend doing…It’s your thing, Do what you wanna do!

{transforming an unfinished basement into a comfortable living space}

You may have seen the recent article in the Star Tribune about Dan and Bridget Smith’s quest to turn their unfinished basement into a comfortable, stylish living space. You can read the article here, but for a more behind the scenes look at the transformation, keep reading!

Dan shared with us the colors he chose and some insights into the renovation.

Entertainment Room
Dan used AF-375 Rattan (Aura Matte) in the entertainment room. He said the Rattan really changes color in different light.  Sometimes it almost looks olive, and other times very golden brown.

Bar Area
For the bar area, Dan used AF-220 Masada (Aura Matte). He really liked the way the Masada looks with the cherry bar. The bar and cabinets are Cinnamon Stained Cherry.  Doors and trim are Poplar that were stained to match the cabinets.

Exercise Room

Two colors were used in the exercise room area, HC-8 Dorsett Gold  (Natural Eggshell) was used as the primary color and BM2172-30 Mexicana (Natural Eggshell) served as the accent color. Dan said,  “We went for something vibrant for this room as ‘inspiration for perspiration’, without overpowering the rest of the basement.  The Dorsett Gold and Mexicana are very ‘Spicy’ and blend well together without looking too ‘Golden Gopher-ish’.  Both colors were done in Benjamin Moore Natura as a healthy alternative for the room.”

Hallway and Stairway
In the hallway, Dan used HPM 0259 Persian Fable (Platinum Ceramic Matte) and AF-280 Salsa Dancing (Aura Matte) as the stairway accent. HE chose Persian Fable for the hallway as it is very neutral to tie everything together, yet not so light that it comes off as an off-white next to all the other rich colors. Salsa Dancing, on the other hand, is a terrific accent for the cherry and wrought iron bannister.  Even though it is only on one wall, it is the first color your eye is drawn to when coming down the steps from the main level.

Dan was looking for a cool, soothing color to help relax after a workout for the bathroom. So he went with Devine Hosta. It’s not cold, but definitely cool in comparison to the colors in the workout room.

To see more of Dan and Bridget’s before and after pictures, check out the album on Hirshfield’s Facebook page!

{update: china shepherdess}

Have you ever started a home-improvement project thinking it would take about two weekends and it ends up taking about, ohhhhh….. six?

Every good DIY’er knows to expect the unexpected when it comes to projects around the house, and our blogger friend, Amy (@teruterubouzu) at China Shepherdess, is no exception! She has been working hard on her latest project – the living room – overcoming challenges and choosing paint colors. But we think the end result has been worth the wait, and we hope she does too!

Check out her latest post here.

Thanks for the update, Amy!

{how to remove wallpaper}

When it comes to removing wallpaper, everyone seems to have his or her own theory about what technique works best. But Jon Lovejoy at the Edina Hirshfield’s decided to put the four most common techniques to the test; vinegar and water, fabric softener and water, plain water and DIF Wallpaper Remover concentrate and water.

And this was no easy test; the room Jon was working on had wallpaper that had been painted over. And any true do-it-yourselfer knows this is one of the ugliest jobs to tackle. For his experiment, he used each of the four wallpaper-removing concoctions on each of his four walls. Any guess as to which one worked the best???



Even Jon was surprised to find that the DIF and water combo reigned supreme. “I was really expecting the fabric softener and water to be the best since I had always heard so many success stories from others. But if the DIF and water can remove wallpaper that has been painted over as easily as it did, I know it can remove just about any other type of wallpaper.”

DIF is a liquid wallpaper stripper, available at Hirshfield’s. Just buy a spray bottle, mix the DIF liquid with very hot tap water, according to directions, and spray it over the wallpaper that’s being removed. Let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes, reapplying if it begins to dry out.

Using an inexpensive tool, such as The Paper Tiger, to lightly score the wall surface before applying the wallpaper stripper will improve the penetration of the solution and speed up the process.

For extra hard jobs, Jon recommends covering the wall with plastic after you have sprayed the DIF and let that sit for about two hours to contain the moisture and let the mixture soak in longer. Then use a stiff, non-flexible scraper to remove any lingering tough patches.

After fully removing the wallpaper, take medium sandpaper and use it like a washcloth over the walls and rinse well with clear water so they are completely clean before painting or, dare we say, re-wallpapering!

{decorating differences}

One of the challenges of living with different personalities under the same roof, whether it be siblings, spouses or friends, is coming to an agreement on how to decorate.

It’s possible to make everyone happy, with a little compromise and some basic principles.

Choose a common color: Find a color you both (or all) like, and let that color take a primary role. Whether you make it the wall, furniture or accent color, everyone will be delighted in seeing it take center stage in the room. You can even add this favorite color to an existing room with wall art, decorative pillows or a new item of furniture.

Don’t be afraid to mix styles: If your husband doesn’t want florals in the bedroom but you just can’t live without them, try a small amount instead of making them the focal point. When you mix floral with some more masculine colors or prints – like leopard or dark furs, you can find a balance that both can live with. If it’s a contemporary v. traditional argument, choose key elements of each that complement. For example you might choose a contemporary style couch, but then choose a traditional fabric to go on it. Eclectic style allows for more compromise to accommodate varying tastes – just remember not to be too rigid.

Try something new: If you really can’t agree on a plan, head to a furniture or paint store together and look at room styles you like and color groupings on display. Perhaps something will spark your eye that is palatable for all parties – and maybe it will even be something new and different than what you had in mind originally. Don’t shy away from the new, especially if everyone agrees!

{making old furniture new again}

Most people love the distressed style furniture they see in store catalogs, but often don’t want to afford their hefty price tags.  Myself included.  Always looking for a bargain, over the years I have found many inexpensive pieces of furniture and then done my own distressing.  And what’s the worst that could happen if you don’t like what you’ve created?  You have only spent a fractional amount of money, so you’ve really got nothing to lose.

One of my first such projects was a darling coffee table I found at an antique store.  It was $10.  There was a crack along the top (adds character!) and it had a brown, dirty watermarked top.  It needed a face-lift, but overall it was a sturdy, durable, perfectly sized table, and I knew with a little imagination and some spray paint it could be transformed.

Spray paint became my new best friend!  First I sprayed the whole thing deep red.  After it was fully dry, I rubbed a bar of soap along the edges of the table – legs, top and shelf.  Next the whole thing received a new coat of black, satin spray paint.  The final finishing step was to rub off the black paint where I had applied the soap – to create a two-color layered distressed effect.  (I saw this technique on TV) It worked like a charm and $20 later ($10 table + $10 in spray paint) I had myself a new table for my sitting area.

I also love spray paint to revive old light fixtures – try layering brown and black to create the ever-popular antiqued color.  Simply begin with a can of brown paint in one hand and black in the other.  Lightly spray brown, then black, layering the color lightly as you paint.  Be sure not to “over paint”, you’ll get a goopy result.  Amazing how an outdated brass lighting fixture can receive a second chance…and save you $400-500 in the process.  Even exterior light fixtures can benefit from this technique, just use outdoor paint.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to reuse your “old” things and make them shine like a ‘new’ antique – and you can even add style in the process.  Don’t be afraid to try it – you’ll be surprised how quickly spray paint can become your new best friend and the character added to your home.


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