Master Bedroom Overhaul, Part 3: Odds & Ends

New Closet Interior

After the dust settled and the paint dried (in Dolphin Fin grey, per my earlier mention that all of our paint color selections have names that “speak” to Dede), I finally got busy with outfitting the interior of the new closet with a ClosetMaid shelving system.

I was able to make use of nearly every square inch of the space inside the new closet so I ended up with almost 20′ of angled shoe storage, about 20′ of hanging clothes rod space, and almost 14′ of open shelving. The shelves up top are a bit of a stretch to reach and only have about 12″ of clearance below the ceiling, but there’s a ton of storage inside that small space! Here’s a peek:

ClosetMaid angled shoe shelves   ClosetMaid hanging rods

New Fan Control Knob

One of the more bizarre things left behind by the previous owners of Kirkwood Manor was the big honkin’ circa 1970s ceiling fan control box in our Master Bedroom. Since we were going to have to do some re-texturing anyway with the new closet construction, I took the opportunity to replace that limping scrod (Thanks, Rich!). Extending and snaking the wires for this through the wall stud just to the left of the original switch was a real challenge, but the end result was certainly worth the effort:

new ceiling fan control knob


Knowing that our door project was coming up, I had intentionally neglected the flowerbed/planter off of the patio area just outside the Master Bedroom. Once things were wrapped up with the new door install, I was ready to spring into action to rehab this area:

flowerbed before planting

With some expert guidance (Thanks Dave!) I settled on a interesting mix of perennial plants that seemed like a good fit for the area, given its size and the amount of direct sunlight it receives. So here’s what we ended up with:

flowerbed after planting

Door Hardware

As is often the case, once I had found a terrific deal on a handleset for the new Master Bedroom patio door, I couldn’t just let it go at that single purchase…

While researching about the best deals, I happened to come across the USDA home loan rates and was glad that I have found such a good home loan which is going to save me from spending a ton of money at one go.

brass handleset   new nickel handleset

nickel handleset detail photo

So since I had found the Kellington double-cylinder door hardware at for a fraction of what the local home store charge, I opted to also replace the brass lever/deadbolt combo on the other patio door as I saw at (coming out of the kitchen) and the brass handleset & kickplate on the front door with matching nickel handlesets so they’d all look and be keyed alike. And I got all 3 for less than what I would’ve spent for a single handleset at retail price!

I ran into a slight problem with the new brushed nickel kickplate looking much more “aluminum-y” than “nickel-y” and therefore not quite matching the finish on the handleset. But I’ve since seen some other homes where this is slightly off too, so that’s kinda comforting. And most people may not even notice the difference…

Be sure to also read parts 1 and 2 of our sprawling Master Bedroom overhaul project!

Want to find more ideas go to Elizabeth Gordon Studio.

Master Bedroom Overhaul, Part 2: New Patio Door

Although I mentioned the new closet first, that was really the lesser of the changes to be made with our overhaul of the Master Bedroom. No, the big ticket change, the driving force behind the whole thing, was all about a new door.

Our bedroom had a large 6′ x 9′ bank of old windows that looked out onto the patio. Since we spend a great deal of our time during late-Spring to early-Fall out back, we longed for direct access to the patio. The windows were original to the house (meaning they were the old, inefficient single-pane variety) and looked like this on the exterior (apologies for the late-night, low-quality photo):

Exterior view of Master Bedroom windows

…and on the inside they were covered with the same terrific and affordable windows Plantation shutters that the home’s previous owners had installed on the guest bedroom, den, and living room windows. They knew when to hire a Buffalo window replacement specialist.

Plantation shutters on Master Bedroom windows

Earlier this year, we got kind of serious about this project and started calling around for estimates from “window and door” companies. We also decided to buy timber blinds online for the new windows we would be getting. But we ultimately discovered that we could get exactly what we wanted at a much lower price by purchasing the door independently and paying a contractor to install them using our friends at 740 Designs Staging. We had found a contractor thru our friend Donna P. who we felt we could trust to do the job right and I lucked into a great sale on a Jeld-Wen fiberglass-clad unit that featured two fixed panels and one hinged door in the middle (all with integral mini-blinds within the panes of Low-E glass) at Home Depot.

So 18 days later, the custom-ordered “triple” arrived—in one piece that was too big to even fit through any of our gates to get to the back of the house. So thanks to my contractor Roger, his helper Caleb, and two very cooperative & helpful Home Depot delivery guys, we brought the 81″ x 110″ door unit over the fence instead:

new patio door arrival

Once eased off the forklift and brought gently to the ground, we wrestled the behemoth to an area just beside the existing windows:

new patio door staged on site

In a single, action-packed day, the guys tore out the old windows and bricks, a plumbing contractor capped off the exterior hose bib that had been just beneath the old windows, and for a harrowing couple of hours, there was nothing but a huge hole in the side of the house:

hole in the wall

But by late that afternoon, the new door was tacked in place. The following day, they secured the unit, added casings to finish the exterior, and added tile to cap off the bottom row of existing brick and dress up the threshold area:

hinged triple patio door

What a thing of beauty! And we were especially pleased with the very budget-friendly and sturdy Kellington Double-Cylinder Handleset door hardware from!

Finally, they trimmed out the interior in a regal fashion befitting such a king-sized door and I got busy with more Behr Azul Tequila paint:

Be sure to read part 3 of the Master Bedroom overhaul to see some of the odds & ends finishing details.

Also learn more from Arizona Door Store.

Master Bedroom Overhaul, Part 1: Closeted

Almost from the very first time we toured Kirkwood Manor in December ’09, one of the “somewhere down the road” wishlist projects was to convert the unused home office space (a.k.a. reading nook) in the master bedroom into some valuable closet space. As a part of another big change to that room, we’ve finally brought that little vision to life.

The reading nook had a built-in desk and bookcase that may well have been original to the house. So out those went…

And to make the most of the space, we opted to bump the ceiling in that area back up to the same height as the rest of the room…

A wall was built to box in the closet, complete with a pocket door that slides back into the wall so it doesn’t eat up any space within the closet nor does it swing out into the room.

(We used a Johnson Pocket Door kit that’s available via hardware stores or online retailers like or and a stock interior 6-panel door from Home Depot.)

Of course, with the new wall and texturing to blend in with the existing walls—and given the thoroughly-unmatchable custom faux finish that the previous owners had applied—I had to repaint the entire room.

But luckily, my ever-eager assistant was there to help with the painting…You should visit to find out more information on the best painters.

Liam Painting

So here’s the end result, complete with trim and the new paint color (Azul Tequila) for the room:

You may be noticing a trend here—all of our paint colors at Kirkwood Manor have names that “speak” to Dede. (Just wait ’til you see the Dining Room re-done in “Dolphin Fin!”)

Keen observers will also catch that we dressed the room up with crown molding but you’ll see more on that in the next part of the Master Bedroom Overhaul!

Big thanks go to Donna P. for the contractor referral!

Be sure to read part 2 of the Master Bedroom overhaul to see details of the new patio door install!

Two For Tuesday: Painting Tools

I’ve done a few Tuesday Tool Twofers posts in the past to highlight software or web-based apps that I’ve come to rely upon. But this time, I’m breaking out of the digital realm and showcase a couple of “real” tools that I’ve been using lots lately.

Not long after we moved into Kirkwood Manor, we asked the trusty handyman near me (Truett) to replace a few of the old, cruddy interior doors. (The guy is a wizard, literally replacing a door, hardware and all, in less than 30 minutes!) Well, he took it upon himself to do all of them. Right, he swapped out every interior door in the place except for the bi-fold closet doors in our master bath! Now, the new 6-panel doors do look fantastic, and we were very pleasantly surprised to discover that he’d done them all, but it did leave us with one small problem…

Painting all of those newly-hung doors!

Months later, I’m finally getting some traction on that project. Painting is a bit of a chore anyway and the raised panel styling of these doors made that even more tedious a prospect. Add into the mix an eager-to-help 4 yr old, and you can begin to see why I dragged my heels on getting this started for so long. But I splurged on a tool that’s making a huge difference: the Graco Spray Station 2900.

Graco Spray Station HV2900

The Graco is working very well! I do have to thin out the latex paint to get to a viscosity suitable for spraying, and this took a little trial & error to get just right. Otherwise though, I’m very happy with this! It’s an easy-to-use paint spraying system that requires minimal adjustments. And cleanup—the thing I feared the most—is much easier than I had imagined.

So, I’ve got a makeshift assembly-line setup (complete with Dexter-inspired plastic sheeting) in the fenced off carport behind Liam’s room where I’m knocking out the doors 2 or 3 at a time:

spraypainting interior doors

Wooster Painter's CombIn keeping with the painting theme, the 2nd tool that’s become an essential part of my toolkit is a very inexpensive gadget I read about in Family Handyman magazine (a very practical Christmas gift, courtesy of my bro Rich!) called a painter’s comb.

I found mine, a Wooster brand, at Home Depot for about $5 and it makes cleaning out paint brushes a breeze! The stainless steel pins work paint out of the interior of the brush and reshape the bristles after washing so they dry straight & flat. This tool will help you get lots more mileage out of your brushes!

Some painting tips we’ve picked up along the way:

  • Splurge on better brushes. They yield much better results when painting, clean up easier, and hold their shape better if you clean them thoroughly (with a painter’s comb, of course!).
  • If you’re going to leave your brush idle for even 5-10 minutes, toss it in a ziplock baggie and squeeze out as much air as you can. This will help prevent the paint from setting up within the bristles, which makes cleaning all the more difficult.
  • Forget the evil blue masking tape and instead go green! Get some Frog Tape for masking off areas when painting around trim molding, cabinets, etc.
  • You can keep your paint cans clean, dribble-free, and easy to reopen by snapping one of these inexpensive spout stretchers on the inner rim before pouring the paint into a tray or other container. These little gems are only about a buck at nearly any home improvement store and while they call them “disposable,” they’ll last forever with a little care.

After the entire painting process, I would suggest you book Maid2Match house cleaning services to help you get a spotless house and remove the unwanted paint stains off the floor.

Have any tools that you find indispensable? Let us know about ’em! Any painting tips you’d care to share? Please leave a comment!

Leaping For the Frog

Y’know how suddenly, you (or more likely, your better half) decide that you desperately “need” to redo a wall with that trendy new “Frosted Mojito,” “Dried Plantain,” or “Hula Blue” color? Yeah, those diabolical little paint swatch strips practically leap off the endcap featured prominently at the home improvement store to snare you as you unwittingly try to make it to the checkout with wallet intact.

Ok sure, a couple of your walls could use a little freshening up, but it’s such a hassle because you don’t want new paint slathered all over your pristine door trim, crown molding, or cabinetry. So what do you do? Well, you could try to be like those smarmy designer guys on HGTV and just cut in free-hand to get that perfectly clean, straight edge. Um, yeah. No, you grit your teeth and reach for the dreaded blue tape.

Oh yeah, we’ve all been there—you lay on the blue painter’s tape with meticulous precision to mask off the baseboards or windowsills, only to find that when you peel off the blue tape, the new paint has seeped right unerneath it in spite of your good intentions and tedious prepwork. Worse yet, as you’re removing the blue evil, you find that it has latched onto the trim paint that it was supposed to be protecting and peels chunks of it right off! You can almost hear the wicked cackle of the evil scientist who brewed this stuff up.

Well, good news is, you may never have to buy another roll of that aggravating adhesive tape from Hell again. Forget the blue, think green!
FrogTape logoFrogTape is a new painter’s masking tape with ‘PaintBlock Technology’ that activates When latex paint comes into contact, creating a micro barrier along the edges of the tape that helps prevent paint from bleeding underneath. No, really. In fact, the “sodium-based super-absorbent polymer” in FrogTape creating that barrier is the same chemical compound that causes diapers to gel when wet. No, really! And FrogTape won’t tear off the paint it’s protecting when you remove it. No, really!!

Just smooth the tape down as you apply it and you’ll end up with clean, crisp paint lines afterward. Yup, it’s that simple. Okay, it is a bit pricey at $5 for a roll (wider widths ratchet the price up another buck or two). I know, I know… You’re screaming “$5 for some masking tape?! What kinda crack ya smoking over there?” But this stuff is fantastic! Splurge on a roll and you’ll never go back to the blue junk again.

Note that FrogTape comes in a plastic canister and it’s not just for looks. You want to keep the tape stored there to help maintain its freshness and keep the roll from getting dinged along the edges. And when the roll is all gone, the empty container can be used for storing spare parts or pitched in your recycle can. (You do have a can in the garage for recyclable plastics, doncha?)