Whirlwind DIY Week

The friend who rents from me has gone away on vacation. Which means that I have been fully empowered to embark on one of the most exciting and landmark times here within the walls of Waterhouse—“Whirlwind DIY Week!”

(Insert maniacal laughter here.)

Yes, every time my housemate goes out of town, I pretty much host my own version of Trading Spaces/Changing Rooms, except with 100% less Astroturf in my design space, and 75% fewer cranky designers.

All those projects that I’d wanted to do, but know would be hugely inconvenient for anyone wanting to, say, sit in the living room… or use the front door… or not trod in stray mud clumps… are attacked with ferocity this energy-filled week.

Of course, past Whirlwind DIY Weeks have not been without mishap. It was this week but one year ago that I had a small issue with some mustard-gold paint, a stepladder, and my white bathroom tile. (Click here to read about that one.)

And Whirlwind DIY Week was also the week I spent digging out unwanted and stubborn shrubbery from my backyard, the Back Four, where my eye was nearly poked out because the shrub took things personally.

The eye was spared (I don’t think I could stylishly pull off the Eyepatch Look, anyway-- no matter how hot pirates are right now.)

But what I’m saying is, Whirlwind DIY Week has not been without some… tribulations. And because I am stupid enough to share stories of these tribulations upon my housemate’s return, she now leaves for her vacations with just a WEE bit of concern.

I know this, because when I explain my renovation plans-- just to brace her for change-- the expression on her face indicates how few places in Pittsburgh are actually rent-controlled, and should I burn the place down, blow myself up, or break my neck falling off a ladder, it’s going to be really hard to find a new apartment as fiscally sound and centrally-located.

Anyway. since this was the very first Whirlwind DIY Week (WDW) I’ve embarked on since running this blog, I thought you all might enjoy experiencing it with me.

Day One: My goal was to go to Lowes after work and buy a replacement topiary for one which is standing skeletally in my backyard.

I also wanted to purchase aqua blue paint for a feature wall in the white entryway, to pick up the color in my stained glass window...

This was the entry before.

What really happened: I chose an excellent corkscrew-shaped five-foot-tall topiary. I lifted this topiary about six inches and realized that even IF I got this monster into the cart, I would:

a.) never get it out again
b.) never, ever get it INTO my car
c.) never, ever, EVER get it OUT of my car.

It would have to stay there and be my very own life-sized, pine-scented air freshener.

I abandoned the tree and got a smaller one owing to sometime maybe needing the seating space. I also bought a bonus Camelot Rose Foxglove just fer because.

I spent much time selecting the aqua paint, comparing it to the handle of an appropriately-colored vintage cheese slicer which I was, naturally, carrying in my purse. I settled on a Martha Stewart shade called Celadon Pottery.

Why is it, do you think, that choosing a simple paint color always involves the thrill of potential beauty AND a certain amount of, oh… neurosis and terror?

The color, I swear, changed shades about 157 times as I took it from Lowes, to my car, to my garage, to my kitchen, and eventually to the front room where it would live.

And even then, as I looked at it, I SWORE, it went from a very nice blue-green to… green. Just green. Kermit green. Which would not do. My rug is aqua. My stained glass windows are aqua. There is no shade of Muppet frog to be had in that area of my home.

But when I opened the tin, it looked aqua again. And aqua as I tested it on the wall. And as I painted the wall, I began to feel better…

Until the sun went down and the entry light cast a weird yellow glow on the wall making it look… Surgery Room Green.

Now I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t I get a tester pot and check this all out BEFORE?

Yes, SENSIBLE PEOPLE do that. But you don’t understand: this is Whirlwind DIY Week. There is NO TIME for tester pots, people!

So by the end of Tuesday evening, the feature wall was in wait-and-see mode. I’m surprised I didn’t have nightmares about my walls being covered in frogs. Frogs being operated on.

Day Two: Goals? Out with the old dead topiary, in with the new live one!

Also plant the foxglove.

Also see if I needed to repaint.

Also touch up the paint job in entryway.

Also attach hangers to a plate rail I’d stained and sealed prior to Whirlwind DIY Week, and hang it in entry way to showcase decorative plates

What actually happened: Wednesday morning the sun rose to reveal a beautifully aqua entryway which coordinated nicely with my stained glass window. I put back some of the furniture and lamps in the area just to get a sense of it.

I wasn’t sure I still liked the reverse-painted Peruvian mirror that I’d had there for years. It looked a little busy with the new paint job. But I DID have a Victorian mirror I’d paid $5 for at Junk for Joy in Jeannette. So I thought if I had time, I might add revamping that to my To-Do list.

Anyway, I removed the old topiary and planted the new with no repeat of the previous year’s Shrub Incident. And rather than working on the shelf for the entry way, I went with the cool dry weather and did some weeding, deadheading and fertilizing.

Day Three: My goals were to remove the painter’s tape from the walls, hang the shelf and begin adding the trim and staining the two identical shelves to display plats in the living room.

What actually happened: Looking surprisingly good! I spent a ridiculous amount of time choosing the right plates to display here, and pretty much even started to annoy myself about it. But I think the results were worth it.

The trim for the other two shelves was cut, glued, and clamped.

And yes, that IS a chip clip holding the trim steady while the glue dries. C-clamps? We don’t need no stinkin’ c-clamps!..

I also began the finishing treatment on the Victorian mirror frame. It went from this...

To this...
The project involved about three different shades of gold and bronze paint, and some dabbing of the same Minwax Special Walnut stain I used on the entry shelf.

And the rest of Whirlwind DIY Week? Well, it’s not over yet, folks! I’ve got an arched garden trellis to put up, some garden work to do, two shelves to finish staining and hang, and a house to clean. So, I’d love to stay and chat but-- gotta boogie!

See you next week, my friends!