Manolo for the HomeExteriors | Manolo for the Home - Part 2

Archive for the 'Exteriors' Category

Wrought Iron? It’s Grate!

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
By Christa Terry

Har haw, I know. Terrible pun, but I couldn’t help myself. Growing up close-ish to some of the less savory parts of New York City, I saw plenty of wrought iron window grates, but as a child of the “safe” suburbs, I thought them a terribly eyesore. It didn’t help that many of the wrought iron window grates I saw were warped or rusted or just plain uuuugly. When you’re a builder throwing up cookie-cutter apartment blocks and houses, I suppose it doesn’t make much sense to think of the aesthetic properties of wrought iron. Can people get in via the windows? No? We’re all good.

It was only later when I lived in Costa Rica, where people coming in through your windows to steal whatever isn’t nailed down isn’t what I’d call an impossibility, that I saw wrought iron window grates that had *gasp* style! Granted, they were new, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily had to be pretty or fanciful or just gracefully curvaceous. I wish now that I’d taken some pictures of all the amazing wrought iron window grate patterns I saw, but to make up for that I found some awesome examples of wrought iron grating from around the Internuts. Enjoy!

wrought iron windows

(via Lady the Tramp)

wrought iron windows 2

(via Haddoncraft Forge)

wrought iron windows 3

(via Cor-Ten Art)

wrought iron windows 4

(via Palazzo Pizzo)

Nice, no? And perhaps even pleasantly inspirational to those contemplating buying cheap-o real estate in areas that one wouldn’t necessarily describe as savory.

If You’re Building An Apartment Block, Might As Well Make It Cheerful!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010
By Christa Terry

A block of apartments in Chartres, France — a lovely, lovely place — might have looked like any other, were it not for four months of what must have been strenuous painting.

painted apartments 2

painted apartments 4

painted apartments

painted apartments 3

painted apartments 1

Aren’t they fun? Various areas are done in differing styles so you get a little taste of everything. I sadly don’t know anything about these apartments other than their locale, but more pics can’t be seen here.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010
By Christa Terry

With The Beard gone this past week, I finally experienced the horrors of having a walk that desperately needed shoveling and a baby that refused to sleep. Karma must have been on my side, however, because when I finally gave up and decided to leave the baby in her crib (much to everyone’s dismay) a pair of burly teenagers came to the door offering up shovel services in return for a check made out to CASH. Oh, how grateful I was!

To honor all those chilly teens who walk the streets with shovels looking for a little spending money, here are two lovely photos of snow swept houses taken by my friend Qousqous. Perhaps if we all think of how picturesque our homes look when blanketed with snow, the chore of shoveling won’t seem so terrible?

snowy house

Cute, no? The snow effect works particularly well on cottages and old fashioned rectangular houses with lots of pretty trim around the windows, but no matter what sort of house you have snow can make it look a little cleaner and a little more photogenic… at least until the white stuff gets all slushy and gross.

snowy house 2

I did have one question for all my readers who live in snowy climes: Are teenagers with shovels a relatively rare occurrence these days? The pair that saved my tush the other day are the first I’ve seen since moving to the great white north. Mostly we just see construction workers with nothing better to do than roll around with snowblowers overcharging for a driveway blowout.

No Stone Throwing, Please

Friday, December 11th, 2009
By Christa Terry

Houses that are nothing but windows? Yes, please! I have a real thing for houses that are more window than wall, even if they can be hell to heat if not done right and privacy is at a premium aaand birds get bonked heads thinking they can fly right in. Glass houses tend to be super mod, but they don’t have to be. My grandparents, for example, live in a glass house that was crafted from a barn dating back to the 1700s. It’s a cool mix of modern and traditional styles, and wonderfully light and airy within.

glass houses 4

This glass house from Arquitectura X was created to mimic the feel of unlimited space. The living areas open out visually onto wherever the house sits, making the house itself feel expansive.

glass houses 1

A glass house found in Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen exemplifies modern “architecture without architects.” It appears to be literally all window. (Photo by seier+seier)

glass houses 2

It’s more common to see glass houses around the ocean, especially in warm locales, where you get beautiful views year round. The downside is cleaning the salt spray off of all those windows, though presumably if you have a glass house like this one, you can afford to pay a window washer.

glass houses 3

Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut was Johnson’s own residence. As glass houses go, this one is superlative.

glass house 5

The beauty of glass houses, of course, is that they let the outside in without actually letting the outside in. In tropical climes or mountainous areas or in the woods, having a glass house is one of the best ways to appreciate nature’s splendor. (Photo by Ah Hman)

First Impressions

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
By Christa Terry

A house nearby to my own up until recently had the most atrociously painted electric purple door. I’ve nothing against electric purple doors, mind you. Rather, I am anti-DIY when DIY is done badly. If you’re going to attempt to fix or refresh your home, why not do it right the first time? And really now, painting a front door is not all that difficult, and it can add a lot of personality to an exterior for very little money.

blue front door

So how does one paint a front door? First things first! Take off the door — as tempting as it is to glop on paint without taking off the door, you’ll end up with shite results. Corral any pets as necessary. Once the door is off, and keep in mind that it may be heavy so be careful, you’ll need to remove all the hardware, e.g. the hinges, the doorknob, a door knocker, or peepholes. Oh, and any screws that were holding those things on will need to come off, too.

Next step, prime! And when I say prime, I mean the whole thing, including the inside edges and surfaces that will be under hardware. Once that’s done and dry, check for things like cracks. If you see any, fill ’em up with caulk and then prime over the caulk once it’s dry. Unfortunately, painting doesn’t come next — sanding does. But as much as sanding can suck, sanding with a fine grit sandpaper will make the finished door look polished and professional.

Finally, it is time to paint. Um, once you’ve rubbed off all the dust from all that sanding. I recommend using a roller on the flat bits of the door. Part of the reason that the electric purple door looked so awful was that there were brush strokes over brush strokes, and the door’s original color was showing underneath. Not very polished looking at all. As you paint, try not to let the paint pool or drip because, yes, it will dry that way. Finally, apply as many coats as you need (when the previous coat is dry) to get good coverage and a uniform hue.

Now that’s not so hard, right? As for the electric purple door, the owners of said door eventually did take it down and paint it correctly, and now it looks absolutely stunning.

(Image via)

The Bells, the Bells!

Friday, March 6th, 2009
By Christa Terry

When The Beard and I first moved into our little house, I remember waking up to the sound of a summer breeze blowing through our next door neighbor’s wind chime. It was a gorgeous day, and the tinkling of tiny bells just added to the ambiance. Even though our home was filled with unopened boxes and half-painted walls, those ringing chimes spoke to the beautiful life we were going to have.

Cut to me trying to work on some very, very hot summer days with the dingle-dangle of that dang wind chime clanking away in my ears for hours. It wasn’t quite as beautiful then! In fact, it was downright annoying.

Temple Bell (large)

The thing about wind chimes and bells is that as much as you or I might adore the sound of them, our neighbors might prefer to listen to the wind rushing through the trees or even silence. I always feel a bit wary of hanging anything outside my home that is going to make noise, simply because I know how I respond to unwanted sounds… and, hint, grinning and bearing it is not my way. On the other hand, maybe everyone who objects to chimes and bells that ring-a-ding-ding at a reasonable volume should just chill the heck out. What say you?

Blogwatch: Ugly Mailbox

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008
By Christa Terry

I love niche blogs. Back when Manolo for the Home was just getting off the ground, I posted about a blog devoted entirely to faux bois and another that concerns itself with nothing but Ikea hacking. I just recently came across another such blog — this one a tribute to ugly mailboxes.

Wil it ever make it over the fence?!

Where I live, no one keeps a roadside mailbox. All of ours are attached to houses or porches, and some people even have slots in their front doors, as I’m led to believe is quite common in England. My father, mother, and grandparents all receive their mail in regulation-height boxes located on the very edge of their properties so the mail person needn’t get out of their truck. Now and then, jerky teens with driver’s licenses whiz by with bats and knock them over. Perhaps this is simply one of the perils of suburban living?

A certain Tim Morris wrote about suburban mailboxes, and I found his description of the average specimens to be apropos.

I began to look at everyone else’s mailbox on my walks. Were they as nice as mine? Did they have the E-Z Up construction? How did the neighbors manage to attach those foot-thick oblong cedar braces with the provided “Self-Tapping Wood Screws”? I certainly hadn’t been able to do that. Mailboxes were worth another look.

There are two kinds of mailbox: the ugly, and the hideous. Ugly mailboxes consist of a rounded steel box mounted on a plain length of pipe. Hideous mailboxes try to look like they are not mailboxes. Or rather, they try to look like mailboxes that are attractively shaped unlike mailboxes. No one wants to camouflage a mailbox so well that they hide its purpose completely. In this respect, mailboxes are like lamps. You know the lamps that purport to be coffee grinders, clocks, Chevrolets, Elvises, objets d’art, cigar boxes, stumps of petrified wood . . . each one with a lightbulb coming brazenly out of the top of it. So it is with hideous mailboxes. They flaunt their obvious disguise of their own obviousness.

The mailboxes I like least are the ones embedded in the chests of half-sized concrete manatees. It’s a Florida thing, I think. What did the ugliest mailbox you’ve ever seen look like?

There’s never enough summer, in my opinion

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008
By Christa Terry

The Beard likes to say that his birthday — July 21 — marks the beginning of the end of summertime. I swear I can already tell that the days are getting short, and nighttime around where I live has been pretty chilly for the past week. I’m not saying I’m a huge fan of the humid summertime weather we get here in the northeast, but it sure as heck beats the gigantosnow we deal with for what seems like seven months out of the year.

Okay, I’m playing the weather up just a tad, but I do sometimes wonder how a sunbird like me ended up living in an area where snowblowers are de rigueur. I can legitimately blame The Beard for that one, because he adamantly refused to move down to Florida where it’s nice and warm all year round. Now I find myself tethered to a house we vowed we will keep until our future children have moved out. Then, perhaps, we’ll move to Costa Rica where it’s nice and HOT all year round.

Before that happens, I get to do things like winterize the house. Yes, it’s still summer if you live where I live, but up until about five minutes ago, I was entirely unaware one is supposed to prepare one’s dwelling for cold weather. It’s never too early to learn about these things, right?

Please no snow, please no snow, please no snow!

So what are we homeowners supposed to be doing when autumn rolls around? Here are just a few of the things you should be checking:

THE ROOF: Look for leaks around eaves, vents, skylights, and chimneys. While you’re up there, have a peek at the gutters, the downspouts, and the attic, if you have one. Repair and clean as necessary. Better yet, get down off the roof, call a pro, and enjoy the last of Indian Summer with a nice mojito.

YOUR HEATING SYSTEM: It wouldn’t do to have the burner peter out on a cold winter’s night, so vacuum baseboards or register grills, check the thermostat, change your furnace filter, oil the motorized bits, bleed the valves, and if it’s been a while, have a HVAC guy come in and inspect everything. Obviously, some of these recommendations apply to certain furnaces and not others, so do only that which applies to you.

DOORS AND WINDOWS: Do you feel a draft? Look for flattened weather stripping, and replace it. Seal any holes around windows with caulk, replace broken windows, and cover basement windows with plastic shields. Swap out screens for glass in exterior doors, and put in those pesky storm windows if you have ’em.

PROTECT YOUR PLUMBING: Frozen pipes suck bad, so trust me when I say it pays to give them a little love before the mercury plunges too far. Have a look at the lines you can see, and ensure they’re cozy all season long by wrapping them in pipe jackets or fiberglass insulation.

Naturally, that’s not all you should be doing. Nothing’s *that* easy! Check out the winterizing how-tos at Paradoxpro and to find out just how much work goes into homeownership. While you do that, I’ll be here daydreaming about living in a tropical clime…which of course are associated with a whole different set of problems.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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    Christa Terry
    (a.k.a. Never teh Bride)


    Manolo the Shoeblogger