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.


magic plan

If there's one phone app I would highly recommend to ANY homeowner, it would be Magic Plan. The simple fact that you can easily get an accurate drawing of your floor plan for free with very little effort FROM YOUR PHONE shows how far technology has come.

The app is very easy to use with instructional videos built right in.

Once you've finished, it can send you a PDF, JPEG, or even a DXF (for you CAD folks) to your email.

Even before calibrating the app, the thing is pretty accurate. Even the auto-correct features work quite seamlessly. Check out the app if you have any interest in remodeling, reorganizing, or simply knowing wall lengths for paint, furniture, etc. Ever been out looking at furniture and knew exactly where you wanted to put it, but wasn't sure how it would fit. Now you have that info. On your phone. In your pocket. You'll love it.


making fire from light

We recently released a group of new lighting products at work. A pretty awesome group if I must say so myself. This group included the 40" diameter fixture you can see above. We're having difficulty getting quality parts from the spinning company, but this isn't all bad news (for me at least). We were left with several parts to scrap so I scooped one up and threw it in my car to haul home. This thing is massive. If it were ANY larger I doubt I could have thrown it in my hatchback. Anyway, I had originally planned to get it painted and complete the part as a light fixture, replacing the ceiling fan in my living room. After some thought, I decided not to go through with that plan. It's so large that even in my living room with vaulted ceilings it might look out of place. And I definitely didn't want to block any light coming in the skylights. So on to Plan B:

My back patio was in desperate need of a fire pit. It already had the perfect paver layout for one. All it took to install was digging up some mulch that was in the way, dropping this guy in and filling it with a ton of rock (scavenged from the front patio) and topped with the same white marble rock along the patio perimeter to get the fire surface about 6" from the top. I'm hoping that will help keep the heat from doing damage to the piece.


feelin' the blues

Blue has always been my favorite color. And I've always enjoyed a good thunderstorm. So when I ran across this color named "Rain Storm" it was basically fate that I would like the color enough to smack it on at least one of my walls. Just look at it. It's freakin' perfect.

beauty in simple things

I found this console table on my favorite online shopping site and was excited to see the $20 asking price. When I picked it up, the entire table had this worn, cracked finish that you can see above. I had originally planned to sand down and paint the entire table, but that distressed look started to grow on me. So I grabbed a sample size container of Tangerine Tango paint (you got me Pantone) and just painted the inner bottom surface and two inner sides. I painted the upper inside surface white to help reflect light onto the brightly-colored surfaces. Once I finished the inside I decided I'd let it sit for a few days and see if I still had any interest in doing the outside... Nope. The cracked outer finish resembling distressed wood with the black steel hair-pin legs and and bright color on the inside all seem to work perfectly together. Such a simple table that I like so much.

dining table chairs

Not too long ago I purchased some knock-off Eames shell dining chairs for my dining table. The price compared to Herman Miller retail was laughable... so after a little price comparison online and a few clicks I found myself owner of some genuine, made in China (?) Eames shell replica's. Yee-haw?

Once they arrived I just had to attach the legs to the shell. They went together easily with plenty of tolerance given for screw alignment. They seem to be holding up so far, but will they stand the test of time?

Not so much. Only a few months into owning them, the screws that attach the base to the chair are coming loose. That didn't take long. Hopefully this isn't the case with all knockoff's. For many most people out there, buying new licensed (or even some non-licensed) reproductions is not a viable option.

As much as I'd like to buy original, the price seems a bit over inflated for me. Not to mention having to choose molded plastic over the previous fiberglass models hurts a little. Most of this stuff was designed with intentions of being stylish and affordable for the middle-class mid-century family, yet the current prices don't always seem to reflect that. The best option for me (and most others) is to keep an eye on Craigslist, Estate sales, antique shops, etc. for vintage finds. In many cases, the quality is better than current reproductions. Even if you need to put a little elbow grease into it to get it looking good again.

baseboard bliss

Bliss my a**. Angie titled this post. Had she spent as much time on this project as I did, the title wouldn't sound so pleasant. Anyway, I had an extra gallon of white paint lying around so I decided on a whim to start painting baseboards this past week. Had I known how little fun it would turn out to be I may have never started, however the end result is well worth the trouble when trying to update outdated boards to something more modern. If you're considering taking this on, here's a few pointers that may help.
  • If possible, paint the baseboards BEFORE painting the wall. Save tape and time touching up the top of the boards.
  • Use a semi-gloss or gloss paint. I tend to lean towards the  more matte look. For baseboards you want something easy to clean when it gets scuffed. IT WILL GET SCUFFED, whether it's your shoes or your vacuum cleaner. The problem with using a matte paint for baseboards is that once they get scuffed, the only way to fix it is to apply more stupid paint. Using a semi-gloss or gloss paint provides a better surface finish for cleaning.
  • Use a 3" or smaller roller on the main face of the baseboard to speed up the process, and follow in behind with a 1" or 1.5" brush on the top and bottom.
  • When painting baseboard on carpet use a 3" tape and place the tape so that 1/4" of the tape is on the face of the baseboard. Then use a credit card/drivers license/something else thin and rigid to slide the 1/4" of tape under the baseboard.
  • There's a chance that when the baseboards were initially nailed to the wall no one came in behind and filled the finishing nail holes with wood filler. Instead of filling the holes before your first coat, try putting one coat of paint on first. If you try filling them first, you're bound to find more holes once the baseboards are a lighter color. Then just hit the spots with a light sanding before you apply the next coat. I applied 3 coats total.
Hope this helps. All in all, the project really wasn't that much of a pain. Just some carpet burns on my knees and elbows for a week. Keep the end result in mind and you'll get through it just fine. Sore back and all.


hidden treasures

Since I'm a bit late starting this blog I'm just going to post a bunch of stuff I've found/restored (all from craigslist) to play catch up.

This dresser was something I couldn't pass up. I started throwing money at my screen the minute I saw it, but nothing happened! It's still one of my favorite CL finds to this day. Incredible wood-work and detail. I couldn't find any markings or company names to track it's origin and the sweet old lady I bought it from was oblivious to the info as well. Any ideas?

I was able to get a pair of these vintage orange-leather upholstered Eames shell chairs from an estate sale that was posted on CL. Neither were in great shape so I sold one and did the best I could at restoring the fiberglass shell on the one I kept with a rigorous sanding and many coats of penetrol.

I had to argue, lie, and use a fake name to land these Bertoia knock-off's for $200. 

On a side-note this pic was taken in my basement, which was our first big painting project. I wanted something dark for the man-cave. Something bar-ish. Something manly. Something made by Disney. The color is galaxy-black from the Disney paint collection. The picture doesn't do it justice. It's literally the same color as staring up into the clear night sky far from any city lights. If I had to describe it I'd have to say it's black with a slight green-blue tint.

Blue-upholstered Herman Miller DCM chair for a measly $60. Not much of a story here. Standard CL transaction. 


my weakness for craigslist

Think somebody can't/shouldn't furnish a house entirely with Craigslist finds? Watch me. No matter what the day entails, how late it is, or how tired I am, I ALWAYS make time to check Craigslist for random finds before I pass out at night. Take the item below for example.

Found this IKEA PS Cabinet on Craigslist. I definitely went through an IKEA phase. It doesn't hurt to have some Ikea pieces here and there, but I don't want my room to look like a page out of the Ikea catalog. Lucky for me, I was able to get the outer shell of this dude powder-coated for free through my job. Then just a can-o-spray paint later...

Total cost: $20-25

hi, my name is tyler, and i'm addicted to eames

Thanks to Herman Millers generous discount offered to the architecture/design field, I can FINALLY afford to buy some furniture I have had my eye on for years. Not to mention, maybe get rid of all these foreign-made cheap knock-offs. You will come to see that I have an obsession with mid-century modern style and furniture. One guy I've been pining over is the Eames LCW. Feast your eyes on this sexy beast.


If interested in architecture, product design, etc. I would HIGHLY recommend researching the history of Charles and Ray Eames and their impact on not just the furniture market in the 50's forward, but also movie production and even the armed forces.

let there be light

One evening while walking back to our vehicle after a baseball game *GO CARDS* I spotted these guys hanging in an office building. This was probably my first realization of the impact a lighting fixture can have on its surrounding environment. It's one of those things that I never thought about until these guys slapped me across the face. You can check more of them out here.


move in day!

We closed on the house January 27, 2011. As we took the last load from the apartment we sadly said goodbye to the place we called home for almost 5 years... Just kidding! I packed up as fast as possible, squealed the tires out of that parking lot and gave them a farewell finger. That place was MISERABLE. But that's a another long story. Onward and upward, right?

So upon arrival to the new place I ran inside to take some quick "before" pictures before we threw our stuff everywhere. So without further ado... here ya go (in no particular order). Please excuse the noisy, cool-toned pictures. All I had available to take pictures with (and still) was an iPhone.

Laundry room right inside side entrance. Gas hook-up for dryer.

Kitchen was recently remodeled. Also, new windows throughout the house all with almond-color framing...WHY?!

Kitchen from living room. Those cabinets are going to need some handles.

Living room from kitchen. Paint the fireplace and mantle? And again with the almond windows...

Front door and window in living room.

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2

Master bedroom

Cramped master bath

Main floor bath

Basement sink... outside the bathroom. So I can make sure you wash your hands?

Basement closet

Basement bath

Storage room/soon to be shop