Tag Archives: paint

butler’s pantry: built-in family activity staging area

butler’s pantry: built-in family activity staging area
written by David

“The Cooke’s are an active family”. Good God, if you only knew what an understatement that actually is! Their four children, ranging in age from 6 to 11, are involved in every sport and activity known to kid-hood. It is truly amazing how they manage to schedule every hour of every day with out a catastrophic mishap, yet somehow they do. It is all mom Suzy, like the “Great and Powerful Oz”… “pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain”, working from her uber-organized post in the family’s butler pantry. Her makeshift setup of a waist-high shelf/desk with a curtained front to hide school back-packs, snacks and copious amounts of sports gear was functional but certainly not ideal. What she had in mind was a built-in, very specific and very exacting. A built-in that would utilize every inch of space that a 2 feet deep, 7 feet wide and 8 1/2 feet tall butler’s pantry wall could give. A built-in that could evolve as the children grew.

In the beginning…

the foundation…

As there will be no sitting down in this area, the “desktop” had to be at comfortable height to stand and work. Below the waist-high, two-feet wide desktop Suzy needed four “equally-sized” cubes (I know siblings and you can be sure that they will measure to see if one of the cubes is bigger.) with doors, a storage locker for sports bags, equipment and the like with a door, an open locker; with a file drawer and two open shelves and finally, anchoring one end a tall broom closet with a door and enough room for the vacuum cleaner and of course, brooms. Above it all and, across the entire wall, a cabinet with three doors for storage of bottled water, sports drinks and snacks. With regard to visual aesthetics, their home is a beautifully renovated 1900’s raised cottage-style farm-house so the finish needed to fit the style of the period. Too that end, we decided on Shaker-style cabinet doors with ” union jack” patterned punched tin inserts. The upper cabinets are hinged with three reclaimed, re-styled and very old wood sash windows. The cabinet frames, trim and sash windows are all painted gloss white and the lower cabinet doors are painted in a gloss green to match the existing paint on the walls of the butler’s pantry. The desk top and the work station surround, constructed of re-claimed barn wood, with the work surface finished with a thick coating of 2-part clear epoxy complete the functional yet eclectic look. Task lighting was added under the upper cabinets to illuminate the work surface and the interiors of the upper cabinets were fitted with puck lights that offer either spot- lighting for collectibles and items of interest or can simply be used as ambient lighting.

in the end…

In the end, the finished piece looks just like the sketch all be it with a couple of twists. It truly fits the space and the style of the house to a tee. I am always amazed how elegant and possibly even refined the very rough re-claimed wood can look and feel when paired crisp white trim, complementary paint colors and slick glossy surfaces.


monday musings: british cloakroom vs. american powder room

monday musings: british cloakroom vs. american powder room
 written by David

So, what do you call the smallest room in your house?  Growing up (a product of the Nuns and the Catholic Schools) we always referred to the small rooms in the back of our classrooms, which only held a toilet and a sink, as a “lavatory”.  Some of my friends had homes with what they call a “half-bath” (not my family…6 kids one full bath and the reason, like Pavlov’s Dogs, I still get up at 5:30am every morning).  Somewhere along the line, in deference to the fairer sex I presume, we began calling the space a “powder room”.  While I’m sure this is a reference to a softly lit room with a water closet, vanity and mirror, where the ladies could go to freshen their makeup ( i.e., powder their noses.) still, I have to say the name does give a rather quirky wink and nod toward the 1980’s drug culture, don’t you think?  Enter the ever thoughtful British Real Estate Agent, trying to make the properties seem as grand as possible and seeking to lend a more masculine reference to the minuscule room… the CLOAKROOM was born.  Previously the CLOAKROOM was reserved for public buildings, train stations or in reference to the small rooms next to legislative chambers, presumable where the legislator’s hung their cloaks.  While it may be tiny, a cloakroom can be big on style and impact.  After all, this practical room is most likely viewed by every guest you have in your home.  Let’s talk about one tiny room in the house that can exude a lot of glamour or drama.  A cloakroom is a great space to experiment with color.  These little rooms can handle dark and vibrant colors that actually make the space seem bigger in scale.

Bold wallpaper is another way to make a grand statement and impact.

A cloakroom is a great space to create a gallery wall of photographs or mementos.  In our next home (unfortunately our log cabin doesn’t have a cloakroom although it does have a nice under-the-stairs pantry complete with plumbing rough-in), Stephanie has visions of a gallery wall consisting of framed front covers from found vintage comic books.

Even a simple printed roller blind can add a punch as in this girly cloakroom…

I for one intend to always and from here on out refer to this potentially spectacular room as the CLOAKROOM!  Lets face it, if the CLOAKROOM is a grand enough space for Kate Winslet to display her Oscar’s, it’s clearly a space that could add a dose of glamour to all of our lives.

If you are in need of a CLOAKROOM makeover, PlanetDwell is here to help.   We would be happy to design and build a space that suits your musing.

…what have you mused about lately?  Happy Monday!

powder room: an unexpected treat

powder room: an unexpected treat
written by David

Karen and Joe Durishin purchased their 1970’s era Reston, Virginia townhouse in the late 1990’s.  Over the years they have added unique and amazing touches to their super cool home with its modern floor plan and the awesome flying metal and wood stairs.  In fact, the only untouched original space on the main level was the powder room…and what a sight it was!

The room is large 3 feet by 8 feet and  the ceilings are a full 9 feet.  The funniest thing in the room, the existing toilet.  It was laughably miniature, bordering on child-sized. The vanity was not much better, a low pedestal-style sink that stood lonely and small at the opposite end of the room. On the floor, an uninspired crème marble tile with red veining.

Clearly time had come for a fresh new look.  Something more in-tune with the rest of the place, but…something seriously unexpected!  That something that makes you stop and say “WOW!” when you open the door.  Our vision, a Zen-like space with a built-in vanity featuring a log from an old log home and some reclaimed barn wood. The whole thing would be sanded smooth, stained very dark and finished with a thick shiny coat of lacquer.  The Homeowners where sceptical, but game.  So, the powder room was gutted!  Striped down to its bare bones of drywall and sub-floor, a veritable blank slate.

Off to Home Depot to shop.

After looking at some seriously expensive Special Order sinks the in-stock Kohler Archer® practically jumped off the shelf.  The Archer®, actually just the top of 2-part pedestal-style sink system, at only $115.00 was the perfect shape for the aesthetic we were trying to achieve.  Although not specifically designed for it the sink could be installed on a deck and the resulting low square profile would fit perfectly with the overall design.  For the faucet the Homeowner choose the very cool Moen “Banbury” in brushed nickel.

The floor absolutely had to make a statement so we suggested a large glazed porcelain tile “Onyx Sand” by MS International with a crossing border pattern of a “Montagna Belluno” Porcelain Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Tile by Marazzi Tile.  As a bit of serendipity we also used the Montagna Belluno Mosaic Tile coupled with a Natural Travertine Pencil Border to create a backsplash surround for the vanity top.  Finally, for a toilet, the Homeowner selected the Sterling Stinson® Elongated Toilet with Pro Force® Technology.  Not only is the Stinson a full-sized “throne” but it is also a full 2 inches taller than the standard.

With material shopping out-of-the-way it was time to transform the space.

So, what do you think?

sunroom: library built-in

sunroom: library built-in
written by David

There’s an old saying, “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure” and it was never more true than during the construction of this very unique sunroom library built-in.  The Homeowner’s wanted to remove a short section of hand rail that ran between two pilasters at the entrance to their sunroom and replace it with a “lawyer’s case” style built-in bookcase.  The built-in was to have glass doors on the sun room side and a simply finished recessed panel on the dining side.

After several sketches it was decided that the entire wall on both sides would be finished with recessed panels including the inside surrounds of both sunroom entrances and the surround above the built-in.

Enter a curb-side trash pile complete with an intact vintage Mission-Style  L. & J.G. Stickley Curio Cabinet.

The cabinet’s frame, top and doors are all solid wood.  The doors contained their original glass and ALL of the original hand-forged brass hardware; including hinges, pulls and locks, was still in place.  The veneer on the sides and back had started to de-laminate, but that didn’t matter as I planned to remove them before installing the cabinet into the space.  After looking the cabinet over and hearing how it would be included as an integral part of their built-in, the Homeowner’s readily agreed to the change.

The addition of an awesome antique cabinet resulted in several simply killer upgrades that truly completed the project.  First, the height of the cabinet left the resulting top at bar height… so, I cantilevered the top into the dining area creating a space just begging for some bar stools.  Then I trimmed the entire top with a wide band of custom-stained, to match the floors, oak that encloses a bar surface constructed of salvaged Ipe’ decking.  The entire top is finished with three (3) hand-rubbed coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish .

Finally, I added three (3) low voltage dimmable puck lights in the recessed panels above the bar and another pair in the top of the cabinet.  The upper lights cast a dramatic glow across the bar top while the cabinet lights throw a soft wash of light across the floor in the sunroom.

monday musings: math lesson 101

monday musings:  math lesson 101
written by Stephanie

Farm House Stairs Makeover

One day, in our former farm-house, I was looking at the stairs and was alarmed by what I saw.  Peeking out from the plain and boring white paint on the risers was hints of 1970’s avocado green paint.  To my horror, I realized this awful paint color had begun rearing its ugly head via shoe scuffs that had chipped away the white paint.    I decided it was time for a change before the ugly green paint took over.   My first plan of action was to prep the stairs with a little sanding to the areas with chipped paint and then followed by a thorough cleaning.  I decided on a dark oil-based paint color (sorry, I needed heavy-duty traffic paint) for the risers and chose Deep Space by Benjamin Moore.   After 2 coats of Deep Space and good 24 hours of drying time for each coat of paint, I took out my trusty set of stencil brushes and a set of number stencils (found at AC Moore) and got to work.  The process was easy and the end result was playful. The numbers made for such a fun design impact. My kids thought the numbers were great and avoided step number 5 like the plague. Why you ask? Well, during their times of unruly behavior, step number 5 became the “time-out” seat!

“Oooooh… step number 13!”

…. but wait, I didn’t stop at the stairs.  David had built a bench for the kids to use in the kitchen as a step stool.  The bench had been sitting in the kitchen unfinished and screaming out for me to paint it.  I decided to paint the bench as step number 13 as a humorous nod to the unlucky number 13.  Ever notice in some elevators there is no “13th” floor?  Me, superstitious ….obviously not!


Sorry folks, I didn’t do this as a DIY.  The stairs and bench were done way before this blog was ever envisioned.  If you have any questions on how to complete this project, send me an email or leave a comment and I will be happy to answer them.

basement: over-the-top gaming room bar rail

written by David

Homeowners, Jess and Eric Marshall have a warm, comfortable and inviting esthetic that leans towards vintage Americana and the finish and feel they wanted for their basement gaming room bar rail was the rich natural patina of reclaimed barn wood.  That was all the direction I was given… the rest was up to ME.

The chosen wall was 20 feet across with a ceiling height of 9 feet and oh yeah, just to make things interesting, there was a 5 feet 6 inch wide by 22 inch deep, bumped-out, utility chase in the northeast corner.


As luck would have it, I had already secured the barn that I would be dismantling for the project so I knew the color, texture and dimension of the wood… and for the record, the stuff is absolutely fantastic!  Rough cut  American Oak board and batten exterior had originally been painted with fence black.  The paint had, over the years, faded from black to this magnificent hue of mottled brown, black, purple and gray (a perfect complement to the two (2) different tones of purple paint already on the basement walls).  The area where the battens had covered remained natural giving the wood an appearance of stripes.



My original design sketch was based on the classic lines of an old-time saloon back bar.  The finished product with its epoxy coated bar surface, bent copper rail face, spectacular light fixtures (Restoration Hardware) and art piece that includes a custom designed and constructed one-of-a-kind 6-cue rack, assembled from the barn wood and a piece of the barn’s metal roofing, is a sight to behold.