The last time we tried to install two part crown moulding, I think we almost got a divorce.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating a little, but it wasn't pretty. The first time we tried to install two part crown was in our living room project, and it was ugly. I'm talking ugly on both the initial work on the install, and our frustrated communication with each other.

At one point in the process Wendy got so frustrated with me (which was likely well deserved as I had gotten very frustrated with the crown moulding) that she had to walk away and cool off, lest she end up maiming me with my own nail gun. The problem was that she chose to walk away to take a walk around the yard (and out of ear shot) without realizing I was standing on a ladder and holding the crown in place above my head...with one end already nailed...and my nail gun out of reach. I ended up holding that piece in place for nearly 20 minutes until Wendy returned. Upon her return, I politely asked her to hand me my nail gun before my arms fell asleep.

Though we really love how the crown turned out in the living room, the strife it caused during the process had us a little gun shy when it came to doing the same in our dining room project. Two part crown helps mask wavy plaster walls, and provides a great nailing backer for crown when studs aren't predictable or available, but the difficulty of install when your ceiling and walls are not consistent (because you live in an old house), certainly makes it tricky. But alas, we want to be cohesive on the first floor, so two part crown it is!

One thing is for sure, our dining room project is humming right along! We last gave you an update on our Master of Plaster base coat. The next time we were back at the house we followed the base coat up with a quick finish coat of plaster to complete the room. The finish coat goes on smooth and easy, and is very thin. The best part is that you can work really fast with the finish coat, so the whole room only took a few hours.

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We're making huge progress on our dining room, especially in our plaster restoration efforts!

A little while ago we gave you all an update on the plaster restoration progress on our Foursquare's dining room walls. We'd successfully patched missing sections, rolled on the Plaster Weld bonding agent, and applied the base coat of Structo-Lite plaster with embedded fiberglass screen. In short, we had a solid foundation on which to launch our Master of Plaster restoration process.

We last used Master of Plaster's restoration plaster in our living room renovation project a few years ago, and we loved it back then. Now, a few years later, we are giving it a go again to see if we still feel the same. 

We ordered and had all of the product delivered to our local Old Town Alexandria Ace Hardware. Since they are a commercial location that regularly receives large shipments, this saved us a good amount of money on shipping. The whole pallet came in at about 600 pounds, so we drove down and loaded everything up in the back of our car to get it to our project.

The order was for more product than we'd need for the dining room, as we also plan to use it on the hallway walls later this year. For our dining room space we'd really only need about four buckets of the base coat and less then half of the finish coat.

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What happens when cutting edge technology is at odds with spousal aesthetic approval? Well...you need to get creative!

The more ubiquitous modern home technology becomes, we're seeing two very distinct styles and integration approaches from the manufacturers. 

On one hand, as components shrink and become more low profile, some companies are attempting to make their products essentially disappear, designing them to seamlessly blend with their surroundings. Digital assistant microphones/speakers like the Echo Dot and Google Home Mini jump to mind.

On the other hand, much has been the tendency for cutting edge technology in homes for centuries, these cool modern devices are apparently intended to be put on display (just look at visible heating and plumbing lines in Victorian homes). All too often, the current trend is to embrace the tech in a utility meets modern art hybrid, the design of which is meant to resemble sleek monolithic cubes of digital sculpture on a stage for all to see.

While this might be the look you're going for in a modern loft space, or geometric minimalist environment, this tends to simply look out of place when it comes to trying to integrate it with an older home. It's tough to mix an upscale and comfortable yet antique aesthetic with a sterile glossy white or black plastic cube.

But all of this being said, the solution isn't just to forgo the modern tech in your home. I mean, I'm certain there's almost always a solution that can be found. Take for example the Sonos home theater package, with sound bar and subwoofer.

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Our basement may be a complete disaster, but dammit, we want it to be a well lit disaster!!

Ever since we bought our house in 2003, we've been fighting a bit of a losing battle in our basement. This narrow but long space plays quintuple duty on a daily basis. Storage, laundry, utility room, server closet, and shop. Oh how we long for the early days of a nearly empty basement area.

Though it may have been virtually empty when we bought our home, we quickly took care of that quality of the space and built some shelving for storage and a little work bench from plywood and 2x4s.

 

In the years that followed we've ended up with so much stuff down there that, at times, we can't effectively get around without having to act like we're on American Ninja Warrior! Wendy accuses me of treating it as my hoarder's lair. At times, she's not entirely wrong.

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Antique cast iron architectural hardware is beautiful, but what's the best way to protect it from rusting? Would you believe it may be as simple as giving it a bath?

I picked up this method of treating cast iron many years ago while working in a window restoration shop. It's a tried and true method for protecting cast iron from rust, but there isn't a whole lot of information about it on the Internet. So it's our hope this will go a long way to helping others looking to restore their windows or other cast iron hardware in a classic and lasting manner.

We're very fortunate to have several of our original windows almost completely intact. This means that our original cast iron sash pulleys are also in place and fully functional. However, they were all creatively disguised by many layers of paint, hiding their utilitarian beauty.

As beautiful as these original architectural details may be once stripped, they're also made of cast iron and are prone to rust. A few years ago we stripped and reinstalled several of our pulleys without protecting them from the elements. Even though they aren't directly exposed to water, the humidity in the air and blowing rain or snow is enough to leave surface rust on exposed portions of the iron. The end result after a few years in the window frame is a fine coating of the orange-brown patina we'd like to avoid, especially since it begins to stain the sash ropes.

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