7th House on the Left

HIS + HER FAVORITE THINGS

posted by Greg & Ashley  /  5 Comments

It’s the last Friday of November, so that means it’s time for another installment of His + Her Favorite Things. Before we get to that, we wanted to share the little bonus project we were asked to do by Home Depot (check out our main project here). Knowing I’m on the geekier side of things, they surprised us with a Christmas lawn Yoda. Seeing as how my office was the “geek domain” of the house, we thought he’d fit in better in there. After all, I don’t think there were any small green aliens with Force powers in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. So, we were inspired to put together a Star Wars Christmas tree…

We’re anxious to add more ornaments to the tree throughout the season and years to come to make it a true “Greg tree”. For more about Yoda and the Star Wars tree, check out my post over at Home Depot here. And now, on with His + Her Favorites…

Gift Ideas for Him

1 // Apple TV – Despite having featured the Roku on one of my previous lists, I ended up grabbing an Apple TV on Black Friday. Despite my initial doubts, it really has turned out to be a great set-top box. The interface is simple, easy to use, and generally slick. It also easily integrates with all of Ashley’s favorite Apple devices, so she’s on cloud nine. If you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, I don’t see any reason not to grab one of these little guys. It’s awesome.

2 // Nexus 7 – My Nexus 7 is my new pride and joy. I’m a huge fan of what Google has been doing with Android, and I’ve been wanting to pick up a tablet of some sort for a long time. When the price on the 16GB Nexus 7 dropped to $199, I knew I had to have it. I’ve had mine for about two weeks now, and it’s become a vital part of my personal technology infrastructure. (I’m totally going to coin that term if someone hasn’t already.) Books look great, it’s crazy fast, gets great battery life, and the size is perfect. (So perfect, in fact, that it fits nicely in my back pocket while I’m walking around the house or office!) If you’re looking for an Android tablet in the 7-inch range this holiday season, I whole-heartedly recommend this tablet.

3 // Big Bang T-Shirt – As much as I liked the show before, Ash and I’ve started watching Big Bang Theory pretty regularly over the last couple of months and we scored the first 5 seasons on DVD at Target on Black Friday. I think at this point I would label myself a true fan. In celebration of my graduation to fandom, I will be adding this Bazinga! shirt to my Christmas list this year. Hopefully someone I love and charish will find a way to make this appear under the tree this year! ; )

4 // WiFi Cufflinks – Anybody can carry a USB stick in their pocket. A geek with true class and style carries a USB drive and a WiFi router in his cufflinks. One cufflink hides a 2GB USB drive, while the other can be plugged into a computer to create a wireless network for file sharing. I don’t know if I’d ever buy these for myself, but it’s one of those gadgets worth sharing.

5 // Abingdon Laptop Bag – I’ve been on the lookout for a good laptop bag for work, and this one is near the top of my list. Honestly, the only reason it’s not already sitting next to my desk as I type this is my current work computer is 17″ wide, and this bag only fits 15″ laptops. However, in the spirit of sharing, I’ve put it on my favorite things this month. Hopefully, some lucky guy will find a brand new, stylish laptop bag in his office because of this!

Gift Ideas for Her

1 // J.Crew DODOcase – Yes, I’m a self-proclamined Apple fan girl, but I’m currently iPad-less. Greg and I used to share one, but that went bye-bye when he switched jobs earlier this year (even though this new job is a major upgrade, an iPad wasn’t part of the deal). Greg has a Nexus 7, and I feel a little left out when he’s reading books on it and such (which is what he’s doing right now as I type, haha). That, along with the fact that it would be really helpful for my work and the blog, put an iPad officially on my short list of “things to get”. When I’ve got iPads on the brain, I can never resist looking at iPad covers. I think I’ve finally found “the one”. I love these preppy, fun colors paired with tiny polka dots. Btw, sweetheart, if you’re wanting to get me an iPad for Christmas, hint hint, I’d like a white one. ; )

2 // Kate Spade Earbuds – We have a few trips coming up around the first of the year, and I’ve been on the lookout for new earbuds for the flights. The old-style Apple ones hurt my ears and never stay in place (isn’t that weird?), so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for some that have the “cushy” part that goes in your ear to help them stay put. The colors are what got me hooked on these at first. Then, I fell in love with the fabric-covered cord. The fact that they’re Kate Spade didn’t hurt either!

3 // Holiday Nail Polish Set – Kate Spade has officially contributed to my nail polish obsession. I’m always inspired by their choice of color combos (I actually just used them as an inspiration for a recent design client) and the fact that I can now get the very colors that I’m so inspired by in nail polish form is definitely fun.

4 // Pavé Heart Earrings – I normally like chunky statement jewelry (especially necklaces) but when it comes to earrings, I like to keep things simple. These heart earrings are so sweet and dainty, and they would go with a bunch of different outfits.

5 // Bridal Key Fob – Even though this is technically a “Bridal” key fob and we’ve been married for four years, I love it! It’s so cute and understated, and I have a thing for gold these days. It would be a great stocking stuffer for the Mrs.

That wraps up this edition of His + Hers. Do you have any favorites these days? Oh, and while we’ve got you here, we wanted to say thanks for all of the kind words on Wednesday’s post! Ya’ll are the best! : )

Warning: We’re pretty sure this is the longest post to date, so bear with us. Alright, so the cat is out of the bag and we can finally share our Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge project (more on the challenge here, here and here. Before we reveal the project, here’s what was in our mystery box…

And this is what we came up with…

Yep, there is a huge, 7′ x 8′ vintage TV in our front yard. Before we get to all of the details, let’s start with the beginning… We really had no clue what to do with that Home Depot sent our way, so we had to think way outside the box. Our entire project was inspired by the Martha Stewart ornaments that were included in the mystery box. The colors immediately reminded me of the classic 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Once I mentioned the resemblance to Greg, even though there were some reservations as to how, he was completely on board with the idea of trying to capture the movie in a fun, vintage way. We also thought it would be fun for whatever we did to tie in with the vintage-inspiried “junk tree” we’re planning on putting together in the foyer. We’ll be sure to talk more about that when we get around to working on it next week. After a few days of chatting and planning, our outdoor Christmas TV project was born.

Before we set out to build a home for the Rudolph scene, we needed the characters. Luckily, Home Depot carries both Bumble and Rudolph outdoor Christmas decorations. We placed the order and anxiously waited for the stars of the show to arrive. In the meantime, we decided to do some more detailed planning. Bumble is roughly 62″ tall, so this is where it got tricky. In order to keep the whole thing in proportion, the overall size of the TV would have to be roughly 7.5′ wide by 6′ tall. That’s huge! We really wanted to bring home the vintage look and feel, so the proportion and attention to the small details would be vital to pulling this off. Otherwise, it would just look like a big box with some yard ornaments in it.

Because of the sheer size of the “yard sculpture”, this project wasn’t all sunshine and roses. When we started out, Greg was skeptical as to how we’d build a TV soooo large and not have it cave in on itself. On the other hand, I was totally, “We can so do this! It will be fun! Let’s get started!” So, we tackled it as we would any project: one step at a time. The first step was the frame. Our original plan was to build a frame using a bunch of 2x4s, then use plywood for the “walls”. We’re pretty sure that plan would have turned out just fine, but my dad happened to have some metal shelving he was getting rid of (which what you see in the above Instagram “hint” that I posted a while back). Being the semi-DIYers that we are, we jumped at the chance to repurpose the materials to make the structure of our giant TV. Well, Greg and my dad jumped at the chance. I was a little hesitant, but in the spirit of the Home Depot Style Challenge, I threw caution to the wind. Why not throw in another challenge, right? So we took the shelving and reconfigured it to the size and shape of the TV. It ended up coming out to about 6 inches shorter than our original drawing – which quite honestly bugged bugs me to no end – but I rolled with the punches.

Once the frame was put together, Greg attached a few 2x4s to the metal frame using some 3-inch self-drilling screws to add stability and support for the walls.

For the walls, we used hardboard rather than plywood. Ideally, we would have liked to use plywood, but hard board is a lot thinner and lighter than plywood, which made it comparatively easy to work with. We made sure to put the “shiny side” towards the outside to give the walls a fighting chance against rain and snow. For the “floor” of the TV, we used a 4×8 sheet of plywood. Since the TV is more than 4 feet deep, we cut it in half and left a gap in the middle to run the wires through. The gap would be covered later by “snow”, so it didn’t affect the look of the TV at all. Once we attached all of the walls and structure, we added a piece of pegboard for the “speaker grill” and several pieces of 1×4 trim to give the front a finished look.

You might notice that Greg has two drills in the photo above, haha. We were doing to much pilot-drilling that we borrowed my Dad’s drill and used one for pilot holes and one for fastening in screws to cut down time. Remember, time crunch!

At this point in the process, we’d been working on the giant TV with it laying on its back. As we were getting closer and closer to the painting process, we started wondering how in the world we were going to set it right-side-up and be able to move it once it was finished. This is when I got smart – and I haven’t let anyone forget it since, haha. Casters! We had about eight casters in our “future project stash” in the shed, so we attached them to the bottom. Then, with my dad’s help, we set it right side up. With the casters on, we were able to roll it around the carport as we worked on it. It also made moving it to the front yard a tad easier – but we’ll get to that in a minute. Now for painting…

This was our favorite step in the whole process because after this, everything felt like it was falling into place. We painted the outside of the TV Behr’s Bison Brown, followed by Martha Stewart’s Cloudless Day for the inside. The bezel and speaker grill were painted Martha Stewart’s Carton Interior and we used Martha Stewart’s Vintage Gold Metallic paint for the “cloth” texture behind the “knobs”. Finally, we painted the “snow” on the background using matte white spray paint.

Here’s a quick iPhone photo of what the TV was looking like during day two mid-way through painting…

Here’s how the TV looked late at night on day two…

To get the “TV glow” on the inside of the “screen”, we put a few short screws around the inside of the “screen” and wrapped the four sets of mini white lights that were included in the mystery box.They gave off the perfect amount of “glow” to make the TV look more realistic. We also opted not to plug in Bumbles and Rudolph. They looked much more realistic without spots of bright light throughout their bodies.

While Greg finished up the painting, I worked on making the “knobs”. To make these, we bought two buckets in the painting section and cut about two inches off the top of each bucket using my dad’s grinder. Then, I spray-painted them using RustOleum’s textured metallic black spray paint. Once the paint was dry, I used a metallic silver Sharpie marker to make the “grooves” around the knob and the details on the front. We attached them to the TV using six-inch bolts.

As for the other details…

1 // What’s a vintage TV without an old-fashioned bunny ear antenna? We needed it to be heavy enough not to move around or get knocked over in the wind, so we used an old light fixture and two pieces of electrical conduit. My dad, being the ever-vigilant problem-solver, came up with this idea and already had the parts on hand (yay for dads!). To add a bit of large-scale Christmas decor, we added the wreath that came in the mystery box from Home Depot around the antenna. (It was way too large for our front door.)

2 // These snowflakes were included in the large box of Martha Stewart ornaments. I painted them using Martha Stewart’s metallic silver paint and hung them from the “sky” using some fishing line. We love how the light makes snowflake-shaped shadows on the walls of the TV!

3 // Bumbles needed something to put his star on, so we made a Christmas tree out of a wire tomato cage, the multicolored-lit garland in the mystery box and a few wire ties to hold it all in place. It was super easy, and we were able to make it the exact height we needed for bumbles by putting it on a box which was covered by “snow”.

4 // Speaking of “snow”, we simply used a white drop cloth from the painting section. We used this rather than batting (which looks more like actual snow) because if leaves or other “yard debris” make their way inside the TV, all we have to do is move our characters and the tree, take out the drop cloth, shake it out and put it back.

5 // Like I mentioned earlier, the knobs were made using plastic buckets, spray paint and a metallic Sharpie. We didn’t plan it, but you can totally turn the knobs just like a real TV, haha!

6 // The final finishing touch, the legs. I wanted them to be a slightly different shade than the rest of the TV, so we left them the natural color of the hardboard. To give them a classic “retro” look, I painted the bottom of the legs with the same metallic gold paint we used for the speaker. We attached them using some scrap lumber and a couple of screws. We actually waited to cut them out until we got the TV in place because we weren’t sure exactly how long they needed to be because of the grass. The right leg is actually a bit longer than the left. Needless to say if we’d used real legs like this, they wouldn’t have held up the gigantic TV, so we sat the TV on some cinder blocks that we painted with some matte black spray paint. They blend into the shadows at night, so you can barely see them.

Truth be told, there are some things that I would do differently, like paint a more detailed backdrop on the interior walls, add a little fake logo under the knobs and add some wrapped presents around the tree to add a bit of color. Knowing me, I’ll probably get around to making those additions over the weeks to come. If I do, I’ll be sure to post updated photos!

Getting the TV from the carport to the front yard was tough. Like, OMG-we-might-have-to-park-it-right-here-in-the-driveway kind of tough. With the help of my dad and one of the kids from down the street, we were able to get it from the carport to the front yard, down the walkway and on top of the cinder blocks. Getting it down the driveway was the easiest part because of the casters. (Yes, I’m still patting myself on the back for that one!) After that, we used some leftover vinyl siding my dad had to slide it into position. Once it was out in the yard, we put a flood light in front of it to light everything up – as well as two other flood lights on the house.

Here’s what the TV (and the house) looks like from the road all lit up…

I’m not very good when it comes to taking night photos of Christmas lights, so bear with me! We finished off the house with eight boxes of icicle lights, candles in the windows, wreathes on the windows, pre-lit garland around the lamp post (We snuck in the LED ribbon that came in the mystery box over on the lamp post – making it the last item included in the mystery box. Yes, we used all of the items! Mission accomplished!) and a wreath on the front door. You can’t really see it in this photo, but the topiaries that we bought a while back (more about them in this post) came pre-lit with little white lights.

The wreath on the front door is from the same Martha Stewart line the inspiration ornaments are from. I like how it brings the look together and ties in the original inspiration.

There are so many details that went into this project, so we’re sure we’re forgetting a thing or two. Plus, this post is already over 2,000 words – which I think makes it the longest post to date! So, if you have a question or wanted to know about something we didn’t cover, just let us know in the comments.

Overall, the project took us about a week or so of brainstorming and three solid days of blood, sweat and tears. Yes, there were tears at one point. At 2:30 am in 32 degree weather, an exhausted girl can get a tad emotional! Now that it’s all said and done, we’re glad it’s over and we pushed through to the end. Our house as been decked out for about three weeks now (yes, we’re those crazy people in Hanover who were all decked out for Christmas the day after Halloween), and so far we’ve seen about twenty or so people stop their car on the side of the street to check it out (or laugh at us, one of the two!), five people get out of their cars to take a photo, four comments from the UPS and FedEx guys and a nice note in our mailbox from someone who passed by. Oh, and one neighborhood kid ask if he could get inside.

One night a UPS guy who was dropping off a package said, “I like your Christmas TV”. Greg said, “Thanks!” and signed for the package. Then the UPS guy said, “It really brings back a lot of good memories.” When I heard him say that, I thought, “That’s it!” Even though we like classic movies and vintage-inspired things, I think deep down the reason we liked the idea of this project so much was because it represents a simpler time when we were kids (even though we’re cassette tape kids rather than records or 8-Tracks) and things weren’t as “complicated” and Christmas didn’t come with the hectic hustle and bustle it sometimes brings along with it. Every time we drive home and see the gigantic TV sitting in the yard, it gives us the Christmas warm and fuzzies.

****THIS GIVEAWAY IS NO LONGER ACCEPTING ENTRIES****
Scroll down to the giveaway widget to see who won!

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday! We had a great long weekend spending time with friends and family, eating lots of turkey, being thankful, playing cards and facing the crowds on Black Friday until 4am. (Yes, we’re crazy.) All in all, it was a great Thanksgiving. Today, we’re back in the swing of things and kicking off the week with a giveaway!

I always think of the time between Thanksgiving and December 1st as “Operation Christmas Prep”: a time to get the house organized, finish up those lingering projects and get the house ready for overnight guests and Christmas parties. If you’re hoping to spruce up your kitchen before the holiday rolls around, today’s giveaway will help you do just that. Meet the Encore Countertop Refinishing Kit!

Frank Fontana Countertop

You might know Frank Fontana from HGTV’s Design on a Dime. Frank uses the Encore system to give tired countertops a facelift in a lot less time, mess and money than demoing old countertops and replacing them with new ones. Encore is a complete DIY countertop refinishing system that transforms lackluster countertops into sophisticated cement-based finishes in just three easy steps and three days. The all-inclusive kit includes everything you need and results in a stain-, scratch- and wear-resistant countertop surface. Check out more info, videos and color options here.To see it in action by a fellow blogger friend, check out this post from Katie Bower where she refinished her mom’s basement kitchen countertops.

Encore is giving one lucky winner an Encore Countertop Refinishing Kit along with a copy of Frank Fontana’s “Dirty Little Secrets of Design”. A $300 value!  Here’s how to enter… Scroll down to the giveaway widget below and log in with your Facebook account or enter your email address. (As always, your information is kept private.) Once you’ve done that, you’ll be shown the entry requirements set by yours truly. Click the “Do it!” button, type the required phrase in the blank in the widget, then click “Enter!”. Now that you’ve entered, you’ll see some optional entry options. To gain additional entries and increase your chances of winning the prize, you can do one or all of them. If you already follow Encore Kit (or us!), go ahead and enter your Facebook or Twitter info, and you’ll be automatically given the extra entries. As usual, the winner will be chosen using Random.org. Good luck everyone!

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