Archive for ‘Observations’

A-door-able?

I’d like to introduce you to my new dining room table. This project began when I replaced the front door, the first week of October 2020 (yes, that’s over a year ago – don’t judge).

As a single female, I didn’t feel comfortable with that much glass in the front door. Add in the incredibly disconcerting fact that the door was hung inside out, meaning the hinges were on the outside. In case you don’t know, any door can be easily removed with a hammer and a screwdriver as long as you have access to the hinges (you just tap on the screwdriver to push the pins up and out). It wouldn’t matter in the slightest if you had the deadbolt engaged or not.

So, before I moved into my house I replaced the front door. The old one had so much character though that I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out. Not only was it solid wood but the glass inserts are molded in the shape of bamboo – I’m sure it was a very expensive door (best as I can tell the door would’ve cost at least $1000 new).

So, I kept the door and eventually it occurred to me that I would need a new dining room table, one that was a better match for my house than the country-style set I had purchased used for my little rental. I hadn’t rushed into buying a new set because I lacked a clear vision (and I thought the prices were ridiculous).

One day a neighbor placed an old brass and glass storm door out by the curb for trash day. Knowing that I would need a glass top for my table (since the inserts are inset in the wood), I walked over and carried the storm door home. I leaned it up against the old door and ignored them both for a couple months.

I couldn’t decide on how to assemble my table so the project sat on the back burner until late this summer (and I was busy with other projects, too). Inspiration comes to me in the strangest of ways, I saw some bamboo poles for sale on Facebook Marketplace and realized that those would be perfect for table legs since they’d mirror the glass inserts.

Finally, with a design idea in mind I started working on the table: I stripped off the multiple layers of paint, cut it to fit the glass from the storm door, sanded (and sanded and sanded), and painted. Once I was satisfied with the outcome, I repeated much of that process with the legs.

Since bamboo is mostly hollow (except at the growth joints) I screwed PVC plumbing end caps to the table. The bamboo slid over the caps snugly and were glued and screwed into place. I repeated a similar process on the bottom and attached felt pads to the feet. In addition I mounted brackets to each leg for extra support. To highlight the glass bamboo inserts, I hung mini lights on the underside of the table.

As I was nearing completion of the table it occurred to me that I’d need things to sit on. A few days later I picked up 4 metal chairs for free. A bit of paint, some new cushion and fabric and I was in business.

Shortly before Thanksgiving I sold my old dining room set (for $10 more than I paid for it) and moved the new table into place. Total project cost: $40 (I had to buy the bamboo, lights, brackets, PVC, and fabric – everything else I already had or was free). Actual cost? Priceless! I’m delighted with it and it is definitely one of a kind!

Note: I will be making a bench for the far side of the table (again using bamboo legs) at some point in the future.

25th Annual

Took advantage of the relative calm before the storm this past Saturday and wandered out to the Treasure Island Kite Festival. When my friend Katie and I arrived at noon the wind was fickle at best, not ideal conditions for flying.

Thankfully, the wind picked up as the afternoon wore on. The bright sunshine highlighted the colorful banners and kites in the sky. While there were hundreds of kites aloft, hands down my favorite was the massive blue whale.

A fun way to spend a winter’s afternoon, especially since a cold storm blew in that night and dropped our temperatures about twenty degrees!

Child of the Sun

Over the holidays, a dear friend gifted me a set of handsome Frank Lloyd Wright Waterlilies tumblers. Not only do they class up the joint but they reminded me to visit the campus of Florida Southern College which houses “the largest and most fully articulated collection of Wright’s work in the world”.

The college sits atop the rolling hills along Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, about an hour drive east of me. I had two other reasons to travel to the aptly named city this past week since that is the location of the nearest Discount Tire (to resolve a warranty issue) and a good friend lives near there.

I distantly remembered my aunt taking my cousins and I to visit Fallingwater in Pennsylvania when I was a young teenager (though I recall little of the visit). So I was looking forward to learning more about one of America’s most influential architects.

I couldn’t have picked a more beautiful winter day for my visit, especially since the famed architect’s buildings are strewn throughout the sprawling campus.

I was fascinated to learn how Wright’s involvement with the college evolved. Founded in 1885 the college finally set down roots when it moved to Lakeland in 1922. In 1938 the president of the young campus telegraphed the 70 year old Wright and requested his help planning an “education temple” in Florida.

Both men were eager to showcase an American aesthetic, incorporating the natural elements of the site with a modern yet organic design. Over the next twenty years, Wright refined his “Child of the Sun” master plan and supervised the construction of twelve of his eighteen proposed buildings.

In 2013, a thirteen Wright-designed building, The Usonian House (originally intended as a faculty residence) was built just off campus to serve as the Frank Lloyd Wright visitor center. A fitting tribute to the pioneer of “organic architecture”.

Oyster Balls

This morning I joined a dozen other volunteers to help create oyster balls at Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting our local watershed.

I had volunteered for an oyster reef restoration project back in Texas so I was curious to learn about Florida’s methods. The underlying problems are similar, oyster populations have taken a hit from over harvesting as well as pollution and other human-caused disturbances.

The main difference in this area is the amount of boat traffic in the waterways, from not only recreational vessels but also cargo ships and cruise lines. The oyster shell bags we used back in Texas wouldn’t stand a chance against the larger wake, which is where the oyster balls come into play.

The balls, made with marine-friendly concrete, are placed side by side in the intertidal zone and help dissipate wave energy. Oyster shell bags are tucked in behind the balls to add additional habitat (for oysters and other small sea creatures).

We carefully assembled 28 oyster ball forms and once they are cured they will be utilized in a restoration project at nearby Lassing Park. It was a wonderful way to spend a beautiful morning!

Doin’ Laundry

While most of my house has the original terrazzo floor throughout, for some reason the laundry room had a bare concrete floor. I decided on vintage wood vinyl plank flooring awhile ago but never got around to purchasing it. My procrastination turned out to be a good thing.

I’m always on the lookout for items by the curb (people place stuff out that they no longer want and it either gets picked up by someone who does want it or by the garbage truck). So I was delighted to find a stack of planking curbside recently.

Yesterday I tackled the floor. As usual, it was not as simple and straightforward as I had hoped. Which reminded me of the t-shirt my friend Karen recently sent me:

My walls are uneven, the concrete wasn’t level, and I had to cut around the water heater (it’s too old to move). Regardless, I finished the floor today. I’m pleased with the outcome and I am relatively unscathed.