basement bar

It's been a LONG time since my last post. If there's anyone out there reading this blog, I apologize. So what could I have possibly been doing these last 5 months? Getting stuff ready for the wedding. And building a bar in the basement. We knew we wanted a bar room in the basement since move-in day. But how we'd get to that point wasn't clear. After months of keeping an eye out for the perfect bar for our space in the basement, I came to the conclusion that the best option was to just build my own. So the research began. If anyone out there is attempting the same, I highly recommend using SolidWorks, AutoCAD, or something similar to layout your design before jumping forward to the building phase. I used SolidWorks and the project went almost completely without hitch (and therefore almost completely without curse words flying from the basement).

Once it was planned and drawn up I bought the frame work and cut it down to size and began screwing everything together.
I knew we had the room for an 8' bar, so I decided to start with that for the bar top width and basically worked my way down from there. The kegerator was my grandfathers and recently passed down to me in hopes to get more use out of it. It doesn't work at this point, but we're hoping it's fixable to avoid buying a new one. Once I had the frame work finished I added a junction box for an outlet inside the bar and planned the wire run so I wouldn't hit any snags when covering it all up with plywood.

Next came the plywood. I used birch plywood you can find at most any hardware store. Again the CAD model helped immensely, as I just had to check the drawing and cut each peace to size, then screw it on.

I used 1/2" thick plywood everywhere except in the places where the plywood acted as a support for anything else (side walls for shelving, bottom shelf, bar and counter-tops), in which case I used 3/4" thick plywood. The bar-top and counter-top are double-layered (screwed and glued together) for a total thickness of 1.5".

Next came the foot-rail. I went with the cheapest method I could think of and used gas pipe from the hardware store and spray painted it gloss black. I made shelving on the back wall from the same material. You can find tutorials on this piping for shelving ALL over the interwebs.

Next, came the iron-on veneer edging and arm rest moulding. Nothing to tricky there.
I decided to go with glass shelving for the inside of the bar. Why? This thing is built into this basement, so I wanted to make it nice enough that people hoping to buy the house down the road want to keep the bar. Plus, since I'm going to add lighting to the inside, there won't be a need to put a light in each shelf.
At that point, all that was left was to stain it (two coats Walnut stain), and polyurethane (two coats everywhere except the bar top and counter top, which each got four coats).
I also made some swag lights for above the bar. Simple project of buying a decorative cord, plug, and a few Edison-style bulbs.



Last weekend Angie and I were lucky enough to be guests on a trip to visit some of her family in Hurst, Texas. For those unfamiliar, it's close to Fort Worth and Dallas. I was told not to mistake the two as Fort Worth folk don't claim Dallas and vice versa. The trip was packed with events which included a tour of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, local popular eateries, wineries, a concert at Billy Bobs, and a small local brewery festival which I can't stop thinking about.

Jerry spared no expense on that stadium. Originally planned to cost slightly over $600M, with the city of Arlington paying for half and Jerry covering the rest, the final cost surged to $1.2B!!! I took too many pictures to post, so I'll just include some of the pics people may not expect to see in a football stadium.

The last picture is the ENORMOUS screen hanging above the field from the center of the 50 yard line. 

As I mentioned before we also went to a small festival put on by Rahr & Sons Brewery. For those familiar with St. Louis breweries, Rahr & Sons is about half the size of Schlafly Brewing Co., with annual sales around 15K barrels. There are FEW things I like more in life than good beer combined with good music and good company. And this place had all three qualifiers.

The brewery was able to make quite the comeback after a snowstorm caused a collapse of the good portion of their building.

And of course we had to do the brewery tour! Unlike the Anhueiser-Busch tour, which I've been on many times, this tour was directed by one of the owners... and the tour all took place in one spot. That's him in the chicken-hat.

So if you're ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out the brewery. Texas de Brazil made some mean food so go there too. And if you like margarita's check out Joe T. Garcia's. And go to the Grapevine area for some amazing wineries... Can you tell I enjoyed the trip?


painting the fireplace

Not gonna bore anyone with a story here, because there's really nothing to tell. Decided to paint the fireplace. My only suggestion is to plan about 8 hours of work for a project like this and make sure the brick is clean before you start. We used a broom to sweep the brick off, then a damp towel to rub as much dirt off as possible. We used a gallon of semi-gloss paint on this job and it only took two coats. Done and done.

 OH and P.S. - Angie and I are now engaged.


yet another eames shell restoration

A little back story to get us started here:

About a month ago I came across another great find on Craigslist. The owner of a music shop nearby was trying to clear out the storage area in his basement under the store. He told me about a guy who used to rent his space as a place to store antique finds and old audio equipment. The guy moved to California without notice and left a few items behind, so up on Craigslist they went. For $125 I walked out with an Eames tandem shell chair bench, a black Saarinen Executive leather/fabric upholstered chair, and the shell you see below along with an H-base I am not using... yet.

Before I get started, I want to thank Morgan at The Brick House, the people at Chairfag, and the guys at Manhattan Nest for posting extremely helpful tutorials on fiberglass chair restoration. Hopefully, I can add a thing or two that can make things easier for anyone else out there about to tackle this project.

So here's what I was working with. Black naugahyde upholstered shell with cream-colored fiberglass. The cover had several scratches, stains, and cigarette burns, and the shock mounts were missing completely.

First step: Rip that shitty upholstery off. Grab a dust mask and go at it like you're pissed. You can be pretty rough on these things with fiberglass being a pretty strong material. Once you get the upholstery off you'll arrive at the smelly, frightening sight below (left).

Mold. Cigarette burns. The smell of 40-year old industrial strength adhesive. As tempting as it may be, don't give up now! To get down to the adhesive, I found once again that simply using your hands is the easiest and quickest way to get results. Forcefully rub the foam with your fingers starting at an edge where there's little to no foam. Once you get the right technique it'll start coming off pretty quick... Then you arrive at the scene above (right). I found that using an orbital sander worked GREAT for getting the dried-up glue off the surface of the chair.

Now, so I don't get sued for some idiot getting cancer: Be sure to where a face mask to protect your lungs, along with long sleeves and pants to keep from getting itchy. Fiberglass isn't something to play around with. Have you ever installed or removed fiberglass insulation? Same stuff floating around in the air here.

NOW, you can start seeing the light at the end of the dusty, smelly tunnel. I found that using 120 grit sand paper seemed to work good for removing the adhesive on the front, and previous finish on the back side. I tested coarser paper, but noticed that the fiberglass was starting to show the patterns of my sanding. Once the first round of sanding was done, I traced my steps with a finer (240 I think?) paper, then again and again with 400 and 600 grit wet sanding. 

Since this was an upholstered chair, I needed to decide to either leave the riv-nuts in the seat of the chair, or drill them out and be left with holes. I decided to leave the riv-nuts to keep more of a finished look. This decision required me to get rid of the nubs you can see below in order to attach the shock mounts to the chair.

I used my battery-powered Dremel (I really need to trade this thing in for a corded version) with a sanding wheel attached to knock these down level with the bottom surface of the chair.

Next comes the Penetrol! You can find it at almost any hardware store. Try to apply it in a dust-free area. Once you put some gloves on, soak a lint-free rag in the Penetrol and wipe down the surface of the chair. After a few coats, you'll be left with this:

Once it's completely dry, you can use a fine grade (#0000) steel wool to knock down and smooth out any imperfections in the finish without getting rid of the shine.

Now for the shock mounts.

Shock mounts are pretty easy to find on eBay and run right at $20 for a set of four. JB Kwik Weld seems to be the popular choice for mounting these to the chair. If you attach these after applying Penetrol, be sure to roughen up the small area where you're mounting each one with some sand paper. As the name says, this stuff sets quick, so don't lolly-gag around during this step. Get them on and make small adjustments if necessary by holding the base to the mounts and making sure things align. Another way to mount them would be to attach the mounts to the base, then stick the entire thing onto the bottom of the chair, and remove the base. Either way should work fine.

Now even though the epoxy sets in four minutes, don't go tightening the base on just yet. The pressure on those shocks would probably still pull them off the chair if the base isn't perfectly fitted for the chair.

I gave a full day for the epoxy to harden, then attached the base. I got the base from Modern Conscience. I've heard mixed things about them, but their price was unbeatable. It would have cost $65 more to order the same base from Modernica. I went with the black painted base with walnut rockers. I thought the cream-colored fiberglass along with the black steel, and darker wood would have a nice warm vintage feel to it. Here's the final product!

Hopefully, this was helpful to anyone out there about to restore an Eames. The final product is well worth the time!


we miss you, Eero

Febraury 2012 - June 24, 2012

Our time together was definitely short but sweet. Couldn't have asked for a better puppy.

For those of you curious, the story of Eero passing was (and still is) a bit of a mystery. Angie and I went to the grocery store one Sunday morning and left Eero outside on his leash in the yard. When we arrived home, around an hour later, the first thing I noticed was his collar, still attached to his leash, lying in the yard. This was the first alarm that something was wrong. The last time he got loose, he did what any faithful dog would do and just waited by the door until I returned home. Anyway, we immediately jumped out of the car and started calling for him. As I walked around the corner of the house I turned and saw him lying in the corner next to the back door. He didn't move a muscle when I ran up to him, but his eyes were open and he was able to look at me. He was breathing, but it was pretty clear that he didn't have much time left. The only thing that I could think of was a possible heat stroke so I immediately carried him to the garden hose to hose him down and try to get his temperature back down. If I had calmed down to think about the situation I would have immediately ruled that out considering the temperature that day (still warm, but not near hot enough to cause heat stroke in one hours time). After hosing him down and a few minutes of trying to cool him down inside, he stopped breathing. I then started CPR and we contacted a local emergency animal hospital. He gave a couple grunts and twitches during the CPR, but never fully recovered. We rushed to the animal hospital as quickly as possible, but he never started breathing again. The nurses at the hospital weren't able to give a definitive cause of death. They did however bring up the point that he may have found a mushroom or mole killer in our yard or a nearby neighbors yard and ingested it.

It's tough not knowing what happened to him, but we're glad we could see him (and he could see us) before he passed. One thing we've learned is to simply be aware of what is in our yard. Hopefully, this story can help others out there be more wary of things that may not cross their mind. And even more importantly, be an example of how quickly pets can be taken away. They're loyal little (or sometimes big) creatures and basically worship the ground you walk on. Don't forget that.


popcorn ceilings

Look at it up there. It's like guano all over the ceiling.

If there's one omnipresent feature of the house that doesn't fit in with the look I'm going for, it would be popcorn ceilings. Ugly popcorn ceilings. Luckily, this isn't a big issue cost-wise. It does, however, create a HUGE mess when removing.

The above picture doesn't show it well, but my ceilings also have blue sparkles in them. Not even lying.

I've already removed the popcorn ceiling in the side entry "foyer", the laundry room, and on the soffit in the kitchen that's directly over the peninsula (for some reason that's the only place it existed in the kitchen). Next on the list is the hallway. If you can't tell, I'm doing all the small spaces first. It's a confidence thing... The clean freak in me is scared to start on the larger rooms. I just know I'll be finding pieces of the ceiling in the carpet for months to come.


ceiling beam dilemma

Don't get me wrong, I love the vaulted ceiling and exposed beams in our living room. It adds interest to an otherwise boring, white ceiling. What I didn't love was that dark stained color. I considered the two options of painting over them or covering them with a pre-finished plywood more to my liking. I took the cheap route figuring, if I didn't like the painted beams, I could still cover them in the future. Here's a before shot to jog the ole' memory.

Sorry it's not a wider angle shot. This was taken on move-in day before I had this plan. After four coats and several nights spent on a ladder, this is how it turned out.

You might notice the front door and trim on the door and closet also got a few coats. That happened during the baseboard project. Also, the wall leading to the basement sucked up almost a whole gallon of Chartreuse paint. ALWAYS use a gray primer when going with a bold color like that. You'll save a ton of paint.

I like the new look. Much brighter. I'm considering painting the living room walls a light shade of gray to make the newly painted beams stand out a little more... and possibly painting the fireplace white for a more minimal look. That ceiling fan needs to go too. Either switch it out with a better looking fan, or I might try to do a home-made Moooi Random Light pendant. But that's for another time.

LED can lights

Ever since starting my career in the architectural lighting field, I can't help but look at lighting everywhere I go. It was one of the first things I noticed when walking through our house for the first time. So once we moved in, it was decided that every fixture in the house will be replaced... in time.

So why not start with the easy ones? There were three 6" recessed can lights in the kitchen and one at the bottom of the stairs. None of these locations were suitable/appropriate for replacing with a pendant or flush mount ceiling fixture, so I just replaced them with more up-to-date LED can lights. After arriving and browsing the selection at the nearest Home Depot, I went with these guys.

EcoSmart 65W equivalent (575 lumens) 6" recessed LED can lights. Didn't do much research on the brand, but the LED is manufactured by Cree so I figured it was a decent product.

Sorry for the lack of install shots. The blog didn't exist when I did this little project. You REALLY don't need instructions if you're just replacing existing can lights like I did. You just unscrew the bulb, pull out the trim ring, unattach the socket from the inner mounting bracket, remove that bracket, then screw one of these dudes right into the socket and push it up into the can. Done. I also replaced the switch with a dimmer switch for the three lights in the kitchen for some sexy mood/cooking lighting.

The end result was quite pleasing. Much cleaner looking. No more cream-colored trim. No more staring directly at the bulb with it's stupid watt rating right where you can see it. Who the hell decided that was the best place to put that?! Probably some dumb lighting engineer.

saarinen chair

Another score on CL (for future reference I abbreviate Craigslist). I've had a boring old standard office chair (I think from Wal-Mart) since college. It served it's purpose, but it was time to find something that fit in with my style, so when I ran across a vintage Saarinen Executive Conference Chair I moved pretty quick to get my hands on it. Sure it's that drab bluish-gray color that all office furniture was upholstered in up until recently, but the shape is great... and I could always get it reupholstered... I don't know, maybe I'm partial to some of Saarinen's work since he was the architect responsible for the local St. Louis Arch. Anyway, here it is.

It's surprisingly comfotable and supportive. It also just happened to be the exact height necessary to slide up to the desk without the arms bumping the edge of the desk. Also, I really need a better camera. The iPhone 4 doesn't do great in anything darker than daylight. Sadly, I'm sure my next upgrade will simply be the iPhone 5 or whatever they decide to call it. One day though. One day I'll have a dedicated genuine photo shootin' machine.

The lamp is an Etsy find that I admittedly paid too much for. But I justify it by thinking of all my other great finds. Plus I was specifically looking for a vintage yellow Luxo clamp mount lamp, so I didn't really think twice about the decision to pull the trigger when I found it. It probably deserves it's own post, but this is all you get since I'm still playing catch-up from not starting the blog until four months after moving in.

The desk is the "fold desk" purchased online from CB2. We really need a CB2 in the St. Louis area. An Ikea wouldn't be too bad either. Then I'd be happy. The desk was the closest thing I could find to the Herman Miller Airia Desk (see below) without spending a ton of money.

That's pretty much it for the office though. I need to get some stuff on the walls and then it will be the first "complete room in the house! At which time I'll be sure to post some updated pics in the "TOUR" tab... unless I find something else to change. Let's just act like you never read the last paragraph. Move along, nothing to see here.


meet Eero

Please join us in welcoming the newest member of our household, Eero!

Angie and I have been dog lovers our entire lives. I signed up months ago with the Kansas City Dane Rescue, but nothing ever turned up from it. Angie was skittish to the idea of having such a large dog, but once she spent some time around a couple different great danes, she fell in love with their calm, laid-back attitudes.

I started checking PetFinder at random intervals to see what the local shelters had taken in. Last week, three great dane/lab mix puppies from the same litter were transferred to a nearby shelter. I grew up with labs almost my entire life, so I figured a mix of two great breeds would be a great addition to the fam. We jumped into action immediately and that night, on the way home, I picked up Eero. Within hours there was vomit in my car console and urine on the kitchen floor... Couldn't be mad, though. I mean look at him.