7th House on the Left

As you may recall, last week, we hung a new light fixture in our dining area, which left us with a nice round hole in the ceiling where the previous light once hung. Our ceilings are lightly textured – not your typical “popcorn ceiling” but still textured enough to make the patching process a little different. A lot, if not most, homes built in the 70′s – early 90′s have textured ceilings, so we thought this would be a helpful process to share here on the blog. If you don’t have textured ceilings, but still have a hole to patch, the process is the same – just skip the texturing steps near the end. Let’s get started…

For this home repair process, you’ll need to gather the following supplies: a plastic shopping bag, a small piece of sheetrock, a 1/4″ strip of wood (or a thick paint stirrer), about four drywall screws (more if your hole is larger), drill, a piece of paper, pen, jigsaw, spackle (we used this), a putty knife, a small disposable plastic container, a few paper towels and ceiling paint. Note: if you have a hole saw, you won’t be needing the paper, pen or jigsaw.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Since it was going to be a day or two before we could get around to patching the ceiling, we decided to line the hole with a plastic shopping bag. This kept our blown-in insulation from falling through the hole. Even if you’re patching the hole immediately, this is a nice way to keep from having insulation fall in your face during the patching process.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

As you can see, I left my plastic bag in place. I’ll be sure to also go up in the attic, push the insulation back into place, and grab the bag – probably right after I write this post. The second step of this process was to take a piece of wood and place it across the hole. I used a strip of 1/4-inch-thick wood that I picked up at the hardware store, but you can use anything you’ve got laying around. Come to think of it, a thick wooden paint stirrer might do the trick just as well. At that point, I screwed it down with a couple of drywall screws. Make sure you get the brace flush with the back of the drywall. Otherwise, your patch might not come out level.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After you get the brace in place, grab a piece of paper and trace the edges of the hole. I actually used a piece of label paper we had laying around (the kind that has two large labels per sheet) – I’ll get to why in a second. If you’ve got a hole saw big enough to fit just slightly inside the existing hole, you’re even better off. Just skip this step, attach your hole saw to your drill, and laugh as everyone else is trying to trace. For those of us without hole saws, don’t worry about getting the tracing perfect. You just need a rough idea–the spackling compound will fill in all the gaps.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Remember how I said the people with hole saws would be laughing at those of us without them? Well, they’re still laughing in this step. All they have to do is cut a circle out of a new piece of drywall. As I mentioned, I actually used a scrap piece of label paper in the previous step. Once the circle was traced, I took the label off the backing and stuck it directly onto a small piece of drywall to serve as my guide. If you use a regular piece of paper, you’ll just need to cut out your shape and trace it onto your new piece of drywall. Once I had my shape affixed, I used my jigsaw to cut it out. Notice how I’m not calling it a circle. I told you it didn’t have to be exact!

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At this point, all you need to do is plug the hole and secure it in place. I used two drywall screws to hold my patch in place just so it wouldn’t spin or move while I was applying the spackling compound.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At this point, you just need to apply the spackling compound as normal. Make sure you apply just enough pressure around the cracks to get the spackling to flow into them. Also, it looks like I’m applying a lot here, but I actually like to apply very thin layers so that I don’t have to do much (if any) sanding.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After applying a few layers of spackling compound, this is what our patch job looked like. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s a textured ceiling. We’re about to mess it up, anyway. That said, if you’re a real neat freak, you can let the spackling dry a bit, then come back with a damp paper towel or cloth to smooth out any rough areas. It works great, and you don’t have to worry about drywall dust getting everywhere from sanding. For us, since our ceiling is pretty textured, I just left it as is.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Texturing is an art form that I’ve yet to master, but I think I do a reasonably good job for a semi-handy computer guy. The lynchpin of my process is watering down the spackling compound slightly before applying it. I added a few tablespoons of water to a few tablespoons of spackle and mixed them together in a small disposable plastic container. This part isn’t really an exact science, you just need to get it to the right consistency that it will stick to the ceiling and make little peaks. If it’s too watery, add some more spackle. If it’s too thick, add a tiny bit of water.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

At that point, I put a bit on my trowel, push it up against the non-textured area, then pull it straight off (perpendicular to the ceiling). This should leave you with a nice, random pattern of peaks across the patched area. If the peaks are too tall, scrape off the spackling compound and water it down a bit more. I ended up using a paper towel to form smaller peaks to match the rest of the ceiling. It kind of reminded me of my mom sponge painting our living room when I was a kid. The step takes a bit of trial and error until you get the right look, but this method works really well.

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I’m sure this needs little to no explanation, but you’ve got to paint the newly patched spot to match the ceiling. I suggest a small roller with a thick nap. If you use a brush or a roller with a light nap, it’ll be hard to get the entire textured area covered. Also, be sure to feather the edges with a dry brush so it blends well with the previously painted portion of the ceiling. And here’s our newly patched ceiling…

How to Patch a Hole in a Textured Ceiling // 7thhouseontheleft.com

You can’t even tell where the old light was unless you look really closely. Hopefully this has been helpful to someone out there with a similar project going on. If you’ve got any additional tips or tricks to make this process easier, be sure to share them in the comments.

I always try to keep negative thoughts off the blog –  goodness knows there’s enough negativity to go around for all of us on the World Wide Web. But truth is, this girl is irritated.

On the hunt for curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Rant #1 // For me, curtains are one of the hardest – if not the hardest – decor items to shop for. I’m normally pretty good at visualizing what something might look like in place and seeing potential, but when it comes to curtains, I just can’t wrap my head around them. I recently started using the mindset of “they’re just like wall art”. That thinking has helped a little bit, but we’re still working on it. Reason #326 I’d be a horrible professional interior designer.

Rant #2 // In my despair, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. When you type “modern rustic dining room” in the search box, you get huge lofty rooms with two-story windows that need no curtains – because the room is just that awesome on it’s own, and the house sits on a secluded 75-acre wooded lot. Obviously, Pinterest has been of little help. It just gives you a false since of hope for the average brick ranch.

Rant #3 // The more trouble I have finding curtains for any room in the house, the more I become obsessed with the dining room curtains. I guess these are so important in my head because the dining room area is open to the main living area and the kitchen. The kitchen is done, but the living room hasn’t been touched (though we’re planning on buying a dark gray sectional in the nearish future). Basically, these curtains have the potential to set the “stage” for not only the dining room, but the the living room, as well – and maybe even the rest of the house! Okay, simmer down there Ashley. A little dramatic.

After searching high and low for curtains for the dinning room, I finally (finally!) found some I liked and thought would look nice with the new table and light fixture while offering up a touch of color…

West Elm Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

These beauties hail from West Elm. I really loved the modern Ikat design and especially the fact they were navy (I’m always a sucker for navy blue). I was excited when I noticed they went on sale and made plans to pull the trigger and snatch them up. A few days later, I clicked over to the website to look at them again, make sure I still loved them, to get Greg’s opinion, etc and… they were sold out. I emailed West Elm to see if they were planning on bringing them back anytime soon (once in a blue moon that happens). I haven’t heard back from them yet, but my guess is that they’re gone for good. I also checked Ebay (because you never know!) and found them in the 84″ version, but no 96″. Boo. Update: Last night, they magically reappeared online. Without even questioning myself, I put 4 panels in my cart and purchased them. About 30 minutes later, I got an email saying my order had been canceled because they are out of stock. Why, oh why, West Elm must you play with my emotions like that?

So now that those beloved curtains are no longer an option, I’m trying to turn lemons into lemonade and find something even better. Well, let me tell you, these lemons aren’t making good lemonade. I’ve searched every single store I can think of. You name the store and I’ve probably been to their website in the last 72 hours.

Anthroplogie Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

I found these from Anthroplogie and fell in love with them at first click. They’re a really different from the first ones, and they’re actually not something I’d normally pick out. I really adore the embroidery detail (there’s a detail shot here) and the heavy weight of the fabric. They’re modern and fresh, and they look and feel like high-quality curtains. All that awesomeness comes at a price, though: $1,060.51 for two windows. While I’m totally down for a good splurge here and there, I just don’t think curtains for two windows justify a $1k+ price tag. So, sadly, I’m moving on.

Nate Berkus for Target Curtains // 7thhouseontheleft.com

My other thought is to go with something in the dark gray family (maybe these). I know, I know. Gray. Again. Just hear me out. Like I mentioned earlier, we’re planning on purchasing a super simple dark gray sectional (in the nearish future) and then piling it up with loads of colorful and fun pillows. So, what if… we paint the walls a lighter color so there’s a bit more contrast (the walls are a tad darker in person than they appear in photos), hang dark gray curtains (to tie in with the sectional) and make sure we add color to the dining area with art work and a table centerpiece? Or have I completely lost my gray-loving mind? I didn’t really intend for this to be a “brain dump” post, but I think that’s what it just turned into.

To Sew or Not to Sew // 7thhouseontheleft.com

For my last and final thought, I could always make my own curtains. I’m not a sewing guru by any stretch of the imagination (truth be told, Greg is better at sewing than I – oh, he’ll love me for declaring that to the internet), but curtains look pretty easy. I’m going to be checking out the local fabric stores and Spoonflower to see if I find the answer there. We shall see.

So, I’m now turning to you… what are your go-to stops for curtains? Any pro interior designers out there with some tips or suggestions? I’m all ears!

Let There Be Light

posted by Greg  /  21 Comments

Do you know what’s awesome about having a father-in-law that lives right across the street and is an electrical expert? He can come over and help you hang your new dining room light fixture on a Wednesday night. I would say that I don’t know what I’d do without his help in this sort of situation, but I know exactly what I’d do: end up with several holes in the ceilings, electrical burns and maybe some bumps and bruises to boot. All joking aside, this process wasn’t really rocket science, but it was extremely helpful to have his know-how to guide me through it – and his muscle power was completely necessary for this beast of a fixture.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

We went with the Eldridge Rectangular Chandelier from Ballard Design. This light fixture isn’t technically “new”; Ash’s parents gifted it to us the Christmas before last – as in Christmas 2012. It has been sitting in a box in the corner of the dining room, waiting patiently until we had a new table. Even though Ash hasn’t decided on chairs, we wanted to go ahead and hang the light so we can get this ball rolling a bit more quickly toward to the finish line.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The issue with hanging this light fixture – and why we had to enlist my father-in-law’s help – is because the previous light fixture in this room (which we just replaced with a plain light bulb when we removed the 1970′s ceiling fan), was about two feet and a few inches over from the center of the dining room table. That meant it was going to take a bit more than screwing a new bracket onto the box and hanging the new fixture.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

To start out, we first had to decide where exactly to hang the light. We used a combination of a laser level and a tape measure for the majority of this process. (Step 1) The first thing we did was measure the distance from the wall to the middle of the table. (Step 2) At that point, we moved the table out of the way and measured halfway between the two windows. (Step 3) Then, we used the laser level to make a mark on the ceiling that was perfectly centered between the windows, then placed the laser level on the ceiling to make a mark in the middle of the room. (Step 4) Next, we made marks on either side of the ceiling exactly the distance we measured in step one. (Step 5) Finally, we shot the laser level across the room, lining up the two marks made in step 4, across the mark made in step 3, and made a faint line with a pencil on the ceiling to guide our placement of the new bracket.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

After the measuring was done, we used a 2 inch hole saw to make a hole where the wires would come through the ceiling (the rod in the above photo is the vacuum attachment to catch some of the dust). Since (with this particular fixture) we were making the junction inside the new bracket, we didn’t use an actual box. In retrospect, I’m not sure if that was the proper way to do things, but it worked really well for us. If you’re hanging a light fixture without a bracket, this is where you would install a junction box. Here is a great tutorial on how to do that.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once we found the studs, we realized the bracket’s pre-drilled holes weren’t going to line up exactly on one side. That being the case, we drilled two new holes using a titanium drill bit. Titanium drill bits are high-speed steel drill bits (sometimes called HSS bits) that have a titanium oxide coating and are great for drilling through metal.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Rather than using the provided mounting screws, we decided to use some heavy-duty 3-inch screws that would really hold tight to the ceiling joist. Seriously, we could probably hang an engine block from this bracket.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

The fact that the old fixture was so close to the new one really helped us out with this next step. We were able to take down the old box and push the same wires over to our new hole. Of course, this left a nice, round hole in the ceiling where the old light was. I laid a plastic shopping bag inside the hole to keep the blown-in insulation from falling through it. We just hung this light fixture last night and haven’t gotten around to patching it up just yet but I’ll explain how in a later post next week for anyone curious.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Here’s when it started getting dark outside so the photos look a bit wonky – but Ash is calling the above photo of me “artsy”. After putting the fixture together, all that was left was the usual wiring and screwing the fixture onto the bracket. I’d say this was the easy part, but this fixture is heavy. I ended up standing on the floor with the fixture resting on my chest/shoulders while Kevin put the screws in and Ash held a flashlight so we could see what we were doing. Once it was up, we actually had a hard time getting a couple of the screws in all the way, so we placed the card catalog and the packing material from the light fixture underneath for safety while we backed the screws out and put them back in.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Once the heavy lifting was done, we cleaned the glass and screwed in the light bulbs. Considering how much of an undertaking I expected this to be, I don’t think things could have gone better – mainly due to the help of Ash’s dad. We read some reviews of this particular light fixture (after we bought it out of curiosity) and some people mentioned that it look 3 people to hang it. Well, they were not wrong. So, if you’re planning on hanging this light fixture, or one similar, make sure you have some extra help.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Aside from my love of cup pull handles, I’m not much of a “decorating enthusiast” (I leave that to Ash), but I really like the clean lines and how it doesn’t take up too much “visual space” but still makes a statement. The vintage-looking bulbs really help “make” the fixture.

Great Vintage-Looking Light Bulbs with "Candle Light" Type of Glow // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Speaking of the bulbs… We purchased these from Restoration Hardware the same time we ordered the table. The bulbs are 60 watts, which means this fixture puts out a pretty decent amount of light. They’re very much on the “warm” side, which means the light they cast is pretty yellow (Ash mentioned it was a lot like a “candle light glow”). It’s a great, vintage look, but it’s definitely a mismatch for the rest of the lighting in our house (most of our bulbs are halogen or LED). We’re going to keep our eyes out for a vintage style bulb that matches our existing lighting a little better, but in the mean time, we’re happy with these.

How to move your light fixture placement and install a new one // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Ash and I both love the new light fixture. When we first got it out of the box, we’re a little concerned it wasn’t big enough for the table (which is 112″ long). Now that is up, we think it’s the perfect size and will look even better once we hang curtains. The addition of art, etc it will also balance everything out accordingly. In the meantime, we now have a proper light fixture and this place is looking a little more like a real dining room. Now, if Ash would just decide on chairs…