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Dealing with Lead Paint and Other Hazards in Your Mid-Century Ranch

23 min read One consideration in dealing with older buildings is that they may have lead paint on walls or trim.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control website recommends assuming any house built before 1978 has some lead paint lurking around.

Lead won’t do you any harm while sticking to the wall, but it has a nasty tendency to flake off into tiny dangerous dust particles, especially when the paint is in poor condition.  Ingesting lead paint dust or chips is not good for adults and extremely bad for children.  

Per the CDC:

 “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected.”

For Mid-Century Homeowners, lead is one of the most common house hazards to watch out for.

Lead Paint in Mid-Century Homes

In fact, if you live a mid-century home, you want to be on the lookout for issues with lead paint, asbestos glue, tile and fiber products, mold in the walls or roof or structure due to long standing or newfound water issues radon seeping into your house and old hinky wiring. More on that next week!

Today though I’m going to walk you through what to know about lead paint and how it might show up in a mid-century home. Plus, the risks it poses to you and your family, and some advice on how to find it in your home and what to do about it when/if you do!

Continue reading “Dealing with Lead Paint and Other Hazards in Your Mid-Century Ranch”

Easy Summer Projects to Tackle This Weekend

16 min read Easy summer projects can help you kick-off this year’s (mid-century) home improvement season! Here are a few of my favorites.

What feels like the true beginning of summer to you? Memorial Day weekend? Seeing the first lightning bugs? The last day of school? For me, my birthday in early June is the real start of summer!

It kind of feels like we just dived into the middle of summer in the last week or two and I have a feeling you might be in exactly the right headspace to take on some easy summer projects to make your mid-century home a little more your own. 

So, grab your lemonade and a lawn chair and listen in for a few fun (and, okay some less fun but more necessary) summer project you can tackle right now to kick off your mid-century home improvement season!

Continue reading “Easy Summer Projects to Tackle This Weekend”

What’s the Perfect Mid-Century House Color?

17 min read How do I choose the right mid-century house color for my house? The short version is that many colors work but here’s how to choose the right one for YOU.

The right Mid-Century House Color isn’t one that’s specific to the period or style of your house. It isn’t the color that looks so great on the house down the street. It’s the color that expresses the feeling you want your home to create in you and in others. 

Choosing a color scheme for your home is one of the most effective ways to put your stamp on a house and start the process of making it your home. But before you “pick” the “right” color for your home … I want you to ask yourself a few more questions about what you’re trying to make happen here.

Don’t panic. This is part of the fun, I promise! Because today we’re going to talk about how to apply the Master Plan Method to help you confidently update your mid-century house color scheme.

Oh, and you might want to grab the free guide before you get started …

Mid-Century House Color free guide
Continue reading “What’s the Perfect Mid-Century House Color?”

Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox

2 min read One of the most fun (and easy) things I did to the house last year was painting the front door. Here’s how I exactly matched the mailbox.

This is one of those curb appeal updates that gets tossed around when thinking resale.  For me, it is just too-long-delayed improvement for every day life.Granted, part of the reason it was so satisfying was that I’d devoted countless hours to fixing up the rest of the exterior, but this felt like the element that tied everything together.  Continue reading “Micro Update: Matching the Front Door to the Mailbox”

The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry

4 min read The components elements of an American house entry are fairly consistent, country or city, large or small.  Ranch entries are even more consistent: Door, Lights, Mailbox, House numbers, Wall and Overhang.  If you have your own door (and maybe even if you don’t) you have most of these to play with.

You probably have the ability to fix up each and every one of them (except the overhang) in a weekend project.  Here are a couple overarching ideas to bear in mind when you go to work.  Continue reading “The Six Major Elements of (Nearly) Every Entry”

Progress: Miscellaneous Exterior Painting

2 min read I took advantage of the last few nice days of fall weather to do a few outstanding paint tasks.  

The last of the peeling green paint was hiding out in a small strip of wall between the garage and house roof lines.  It was a little awkward to get to and I never really felt up for climbing around on the roof when no one would be around to call 911 if I took a dive.  Wednesday and Thursday I scraped, then painted and primed the wall and soffit while my folks were around which upped the safety factor of sliding around on a roof slope with a bunch of painting supplies to juggle.  Continue reading “Progress: Miscellaneous Exterior Painting”

Progress: Basement Bedroom Window Well

3 min read We made  big jump forward in basement progress this week with the jump start on the new egress window.  From first thing Monday morning to late Wednesday we made some pretty dramatic changes to the south side of the house!

The basement currently has five small windows just at or below grade.  In the new design, two will be in the unfinished basement – and we’ll just pop in some better insulated replacements, two will be in the den and they will get new deep window sills set in with the vent soffit running around the ceiling edge and then there’s the bedroom window … it needs to be expanded dramatically to allow the required amount of air ventilation, natural light and a safe way to escape the house in an emergency.  Continue reading “Progress: Basement Bedroom Window Well”

Exterior Progress: Nearly done with North and South Gable Ends

6 min read I spent the (spectacularly hot) week of my birthday pushing forward on the painting progress.  Knowing I’d have someone around to spot me, I planned to do the high-up, platform work on the south gable. 

I got started on re-painting the house last fall right after we the sale closed.

The tired green color and peeling paint were about equally unappealing to me and I wanted them gone.  Plus I wanted to get some plantings in to replace the hedge I tore out and I knew that new plants wouldn’t appreciate drop cloths, ladders and the general tramping around that painting a house takes.

I knew it was going to be a tough job, made a little tougher by the lead paint underneath the green – which meant I’d need to follow proper safety procedures when scraping and sanding and the year was getting cold fast so I committed to just doing the front face of the house – the east – for the fall and coming back to the rest this year.

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And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere

3 min read Because, come on, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve spent the last two weeks struggling through the muggy heat to de-lead and prime the north and south walls of the house and prepping for my upcoming talk at the MREA Energy Fair but when I think about design, I’ve been thinking about concrete and wondering what I can make from it.  Pavers?  Planters? Benches?  The possibilities are endless.   Continue reading “And now I’m obsessed with concrete and want to use it everywhere”

The Tools You Need To Scrape and Sand Exterior Wood Siding

4 min read Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house is not a job for the faint of heart but with these tools you can get the job done!

Scraping, sanding and painting your wooden house (especially if it’s in rather bad shape) is not a job for the faint of heart.  It’s hot, sweaty, dusty work that requires at least SOME ladder work.  If you like pinching pennies and feeling a sense of accomplishment, by all means take it on.  If you are looking for easy, fun DIY that people will admire … maybe choose another project.

For me, painting a beat up wall in an ugly color into a new smooth color of my choosing is about the most fun I can think of, and is well worth the labor.  Stay tuned for my discussion of how high on ladders you have to climb to paint a single story ranch in an upcoming post!

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