7th House on the Left

A while back, I posted about organizing our linen closet (see that post here). Since then, one of the most random, yet frequently asked, questions I get is, “How do you get your fitted sheets to look so neat and tidy?” I always try to explain it as simply as possible or reference the “Martha method”, but I still feel like it might be a little too confusing.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet (the easy way) / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I don’t know anyone who loves folding fitted sheets. If you do, you deserve a gold star sticker. But yesterday, I finally came across a super simple and short video that perfectly went through the same steps I go through to fold the oh-so-dreaded fitted sheets and – oddly enough – it makes folding fitted sheets… dare I say it… fun.

I got a little nerdy and watched the video about 5 times just because I thought the music, videography and styling was so perfect. Well done, West Elm. You just gave me yet another reason to love you more than Kanye loves Kanye.

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.

NOVEMBER TO-DO LIST

posted by Ashley  /  24 Comments

It’s no secret that we love Christmas around here. Last year, we even built a huge Christmas vintage TV for the front yard – which we won’t be doing again. Ever. But yeah, we’re that kind of crazy about Christmas. We typically start putting out Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving. A day filled with hot chocolate, tree decorating, internet shopping and pajamas followed by a night filled with Christmas movies is our kind of Black Friday. While it’s not time to start decking the halls just yet, it is time to start thinking about it.

November To-Do List // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Being a fan of lists – I’ve even been known to make lists of lists – the other day, I put together our to do list for the month of November (some house-related, some not). Things are bound to get hectic once Thanksgiving rolls around and it will be here before we know it. As Christmas is getting closer and closer, I really want to get our proverbial ducks in a row enough to really enjoy the Christmas season and breeeeeeathe. Sure, we’re still going to have house projects to work on and work stuff to finish up before the new year, but having a few things out of the way will help turn the crazy into, well, not so crazy. Here’s what’s on our list of to-dos…

01 // Deep clean the entire house. We like to give the house a really deep clean every few months or so. Doing it in November, before the Thanksgiving prep begins, is (in our books) key to a peaceful and clean holiday season. If we spend a day (or two, or three) giving everything and every room in the house a good and deep scrub down, that will make regular house cleaning a lot easier and faster during the busy season.

02 // Clean the windows. Around our neck of the woods, Fall is a great time to clean exterior windows because the bugs are dying and pollen season is over. Yeah, it’s not fun, but once it’s done, it’s really nice to start off a new season of snow weather with sparkly clean windows. Speaking of window cleaning, click on over here to win a Professional Fish Window Cleaning Kit.

03 // Schedule our get-togethers. This year, we’re headed to Florida for Christmas to hang out with my side of the family. Since we’ll be out of town, we’re going to schedule other times to exchange gifts and do the Christmas thing with Greg’s family. Needless to say, everyone’s holiday calendars tend to fill up fast. In that case, even though we’re weeks away, we’re currently tossing around a few dates to set in stone on the calendar – which will make this the first thing we’ll be knocking off our to-do list.

04 // Design, Print, Address + Stamp Christmas Cards. Last year… let’s just say we were a “little” late when it came to sending out our Christmas cards. So late in fact that we didn’t even send them. So, I was left with three sheets of custom-printed mailing stamps with Bentley’s photo and “2012″. Yeah, go me. Lesson learned. This year! I’m going to be on the ball and get these little suckers designed, printed, addressed and stamped before Thanksgiving. I know that seems super early, but once Thanksgiving has come and gone, all I have to do is pop the cards in the mail and I will have conquered the world. Okay, not really. But you know what I mean.

05 // Stock the pantry with baking essentials. Something about the smell of something yummy baking in the oven gets you in the holiday sprit, right? I’m not really an avid baker throughout the year, but I like baking with my family around the holidays. Since I’m pretty sure we don’t have confectioners sugar in the pantry already, I’m going to go ahead and start stocking up on the essentials. On that note, one year, every single area grocery store in our area was sold out of canned pumpkin. Seriously. So, I’m going to be sure to pick up a few cans just in case.

06 // Hang the Christmas lights on the house. Last year, we had to decorate the outside of the house the week before Halloween because we were taking part in a “holiday style challenge” for Home Depot. We definitely had a few weird looks from people driving down the road, but it had to be done. This year, we’re still planning on hanging the icicle lights on the house early, but not until about the third week of November. That way, the weather won’t be unbearably cold yet. We won’t turn them on until Thanksgiving night (that’s kind of a tradition around our area of town).

07 // DIY an Advent Calendar. I’ve wanted to do this for a while now, but when I think about it, it’s always too late. This year, I’m determined to get that baby done before the first. Now, let me pause while I go put numerous reminders in my iPhone.

08 // Start (or finish) buying Christmas gifts. I’m one of those people who think about gift ideas for people in our life year-around. I’ve found that a private Pinterest board is the best way for me to keep track of them without running the risk of someone seeing it. So around this time, I have a pretty good idea of who’s getting what from Greg and me. In that case, now is the time to start buying gifts. That way, we don’t end up spending a lot of money at one time and it’s all pretty spaced out and we can save money of expedited shipping. I keep all of the gifts we buy on the top shelf of the guest room closet (we actually already have a few gifts stashed away in there). So, when it’s time to start wrapping, I know where everything is.

09 // Make a Christmas activity to-do list. If you live in Richmond, you’re well aware of the awesome Christmas lights downtown. They have the entire James Center Plaza decorated with gobs and gobs of deer with little white lights. If you search long enough, you can find Rudolph! Our wedding reception was at the Bull & Bear Club, which is on the top floor of the James Center. Since we got married right after Christmas (on the 29th), all of the lights were still lit. For that reason, it’s always a special thing for us to go downtown to see the lights. Since we got married, Greg and I have wanted to go to the Grand Illumination that takes place the first week of December, but it’s always too late to schedule it in our calendar once the ads start popping up on the local news. Which is why, a to-do list for Christmas activities is a must. If we schedule things far enough in advance, we’ll hopefully be able to get around to everything Christmas-y we’ve been wanting to do.

10 // Break out the Christmas music. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear”. As far as the Christmas music is concerned, I actually started listening to it a few weeks ago. Yeah, I told you we were crazy. Our cable company has a group of music channels that are actually pretty good. We like having it on the “Singers and Swing” channel throughout the year, but when Thanksgiving gets closer, they break out the Christmas music on the “Sounds of the Season” channel. As the music is paling, the screen displays Christmas photos and fun Christmas trivia. They have a great mix of mostly old classics (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc) mixed in with new classics (Mariah Carey, Lady Antebellum, etc).

That about wraps up the gist of our To D0′s. We’re hoping by slaying this list over the next few weeks, our holidays may be a bit merrier and brighter. How about you, do you have any November to-do’s to add to the list? When do you start decorating for Christmas? My BFF is married to “Mr Christmas”. After agreeing that if he got 100 likes on his Facebook status, she’d let him put up the Christmas tree. Well, after nearly 200 likes, they now have two Christmas trees up in their house. At least we’re not that crazy ; )

Altered image from here.