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I wasn’t looking for a new duvet cover, but when I spotted the new-ish TOFSVIVA at IKEA a few weeks ago, I got heart-eyes and had to have it. The color palette is perfect, and I my affection for droplet patterns and clouds is unending. So nice! I love it against the dark wall in our bedroom.

TOFSVIVA was designed for IKEA by Linda Sjunnesson, who is also responsible for the Josef Frank-ish KNAPPSÄV cushion I’ve had my eye on.

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OK, I don’t iron my bed linens. I don’t really iron anything unless I absolutely have to, honestly. I started cloning out the wrinkles in this photo last night, but I quit after five minutes. Apparently I’m no less enthusiastic about digital ironing than I am in the physical world. So…wrinkles. Whatever.

The TOFSVIVA duvet comes in a set with two pillow shams for the alarmingly low price of $29.99. Like other IKEA bed linens it’s 100% cotton, but I must say it’s definitely on the rough side texture-wise. The thread count (144) is somewhere between burlap sack and dishtowel. That doesn’t bother me at all for the duvet cover, but the pillowcases are pretty scratchy on the face. Evan switched his to a plain white case last night. I think they’ll get softer with more washings, but I may just go ahead and turn the pillowcases into tote bags or throw pillows or something. But still, $29.99 for a really nice-looking duvet cover? I’ll take it.

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I still have not painted that radiator. I don’t like silver radiators, and this one is really peeling and icky—I have to address it. I know I won’t get to it before winter, though (what happened to summer?!), so I guess my new goal is to paint it by spring. And by that I mean spring 2016, which will likely come and go without the radiator being painted…

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That beautiful silkscreened “vu de l’extérieur” print is from Fieldguided. I love Anabela and Geoff’s work, and I think this piece is my favorite. So dreamy.

Happy Sunday…

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Last week I mentioned that I had styled a couple of rooms for the new Society6 lookbooks. They’re up now! I’ve never done anything like this before, and it was a real challenge. They asked me to pick out a couple dozen items (I was given free rein, so rest assured 100% of what’s in the lookbooks is there by my choice alone), and then I spent a weekend setting up a staged bedroom and workspace in my house. FUN!

Society6 “In Flux” bedroom lookbook
Society6 “In Flux” workspace lookbook

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Society6 has a special sale going right now to promote the In Flux collection: $10 off $75/$15 off $100/$30 off $150. The sale ends tonight (Sunday) at midnight PST, so if you’ve been wanting a bunch of stuff, now’s the time to get in there quickly.

As always, if you have any questions about the products themselves (whether they’re from my own K IS FOR BLACK shop or any of the others), please feel free to ask—I’ll give you my honest opinion about everything. Also, just for the sake of full disclosure, I was not paid to write this post (they didn’t even ask me to write a post) or to style the lookbooks, but I did get to keep the stuff I picked out and photographed.

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Society6 “In Flux” bedroom lookbook
Featuring designs by: K IS FOR BLACK; RK // Design; Nicklas Gustafsson; Kurt Rahn; Party in the Mountains; Terry Fan; Garima Dhawan; Fieldguided; Budi Satria Kahn; Beth Hoeckel; Man & Camera; Matthew Korbel-Bowers; Georgiana Paraschiv.

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Society6 “In Flux” workspace lookbook
Featuring designs by: Priscila Peress; K IS FOR BLACK; Nicklas Gustafsson; Matthew Korbel-Bowers; Bree Madden; Justin Cooper; Beth Hoeckel; Georgiana Paraschiv; Laura Moreau; Thoughtcloud; Wasted Rita; Dawn Gardner; David Olenick; Jesse Draxler; Fieldguided; Tordis Kayma; Julia Kostreva.

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This is going to sound silly, but I’ve never hung anything on a wallpapered wall before. Considering the amount of wallpaper in my house, that eliminates a lot of possibilities when it comes to hanging art! I’m not usually so precious about stuff, but the thought of making a permanent hole in something that’s bonded to my walls fills me with panic. I got over myself this weekend, though, and I’m so glad. The dressing room looks so much more finished now!

The print that got me to finally pick up a hammer is Animal Sounds 002 by Matthew Korbel-Bowers. I recently did a styling project for Society6 (I think it’s going up on their site today–I’ll update this post when that happens), and this was one of the pieces I chose. I ordered it pre-framed (Vector White, 26×38″) since I didn’t have much time, and it looks great. I really love the design combined with the wallpaper pattern, and the way that bright green looks with my crazy orange bench.

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Long view! The dressing room is really narrow and difficult to photograph, but you get the idea. Oh, and the wallpaper (installed five years ago) is Berry Black from Ferm Living, the fluorescent orange Offcut bench is from Tom Dixon (discontinued, sadly, but you can still get the Offcut stool), and the rug is by Nate Berkus for Target (also discontinued, argh!).

I’m still feeling really hesitant to start hanging stuff all over my wallpapered walls, but this was a great baby step. Assuming I don’t hate it a year from now (I won’t), I’ll consider the hole worth it. Otherwise, I’ll take down the frame and point out the miniscule, barely-noticeable hole to every single guest who gets a house tour, because that’s just what I do.

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Back in 2008, I blogged about a house for sale in Newburgh that was in need of a lot of renovation work—plumbing, electric, heating…pretty much everything. It’s right around the corner from my house, so I see it all the time. About two months after I wrote that post, the house was purchased by sculptor, landscape artist, and stone-cutter Christopher Lewis, who then embarked on a total restoration of the entire house. Cher from the Newburgh Restoration blog did an interview with Lewis about the massive project last year, and you can see some process photos there.

I knew the house had great potential from the first moment I laid eyes on it, and it’s been a real treat to watch it gradually transform over the years. This lovely house is now back on the market, and it looks really, really amazing. It’s not quite finished, but as the listing says, the heavy lifting is done.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love my neighborhood in Newburgh. This house is only a few doors down from one I wrote about a couple of years ago, which was collectively purchased at auction by some of my awesome neighbors, renovated, and sold. That may sound like something that happens all the time, but in a city like Newburgh where so many houses sit vacant, abandoned, and condemned while falling into disrepair, it’s very exciting to see folks occupying and caring for our grand old homes.

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The floors, the floors! I keep going back and forth between these photos and the ones from 2008, and it’s all pretty remarkable. I’m so glad those beautiful original stained glass window panes have been preserved, and that the casings and moldings that had been hidden by sheetrock are now restored. I knew this house was special!

Want to be my neighbor? This house is yours for $179,000.

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Some recent notable articles about Newburgh:
Columbia University to Conduct 2014 Urban Design Studio in Newburgh (Newburgh Restoration)
Newburgh, N.Y., Seeks Renewal Without Gentrification (New York Times)
Renewing Newburgh (Preservation magazine)
After the Crash, Banks Paid Billions. Where’d it All Go? (WNYC)

And finally, an inspiring video from Atlas Industries, explaining why they recently relocated from Brooklyn to Newburgh—and showing off their incredible warehouse space.

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It’s been a looooong time since I did a manicure post, but I couldn’t resist sharing this latest one. I’m a little bit obsessed with it! I can’t stop looking at my fingers.

I’m still really into Calgel manicures, but custom designs can get pretty expensive. Lately I’ve been getting solid-color Calgel (expect to pay ~$40 and for it to last about four weeks) and painting my own designs on top with regular nail polish. Last month I added white dots to a black base, and yesterday I took a little more time to paint black triangles on top of the palest, prettiest pink.

I wish I had process photos to share, but I did this at 1AM and I honestly wasn’t expecting it to look so nice! It’s easy to explain how to do it, though. You really just need two things: a bottle of nail polish and regular old Scotch tape! Use the Scotch tape to mask off the area you want to paint, carefully brush on the polish, immediately remove the tape (remove the tape strips in the reverse order of which you applied them so you don’t make a mess), et voilà!

A few things:
1. Painter’s tape doesn’t work well for this. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t. Stick with regular Scotch tape.
2. You can definitely do this on top of a regular nail polish base, but it needs to be really dry first. I’d suggest waiting at least 4–6 hours.
3. If you have a little smudge to clean up, just carefully use a clean orange stick dipped in non-acetone nail polish remover. Yes, even if the smudge is on the actual nail.

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Today I’m small on words, but big on pictures! After putting together my previous post about that amazing Swedish apartment, I got to thinking about how nice square tiles are—whether aligned in a grid or in a running bond pattern, and especially when paired with a dark grout. It’s a much more contemporary look than subway tile, isn’t it? So fresh.

Here’s a little collection of favorites…

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Skåne home styled by Lotta Agaton and photographed by Pia Ulin for Residence Magazine (see more)

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Photo from a real estate listing at Stadshem (now sold)

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Photo by Lönngren/Widell for Lovelylife

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Photo by Michael Graydon for House & Home

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London townhouse interior by Charles Mellersh Design Studio

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From the Country Road 40th anniversary lookbook

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Interior designer Nanna Lagerman’s home, photographed by Marcus Lawett for TrendHome

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Skåne home styled by Lotta Agaton and photographed by Pia Ulin for Residence Magazine (see more)

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Yeah, I could live there is an occasional D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. Today we’re spying on real estate firm Stadshem’s listing photos (oh, those Swedes and their awesomely stylish real estate listings…) of an already-sold apartment in Gothenburg. I spotted the apartment on Stadshem’s excellent Instagram last month and have probably looked at the photos at least once a day since thing. Pining. Longing.

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The bedroom is the least remarkable room in the apartment, I guess, but it’s perfect. That gray linen bed skirt! And the hanging bulb next to the bed, too. I like seeing how people deal with not always being able to hardwire sconces or ceiling lights. Bonus points for the above-bed skull, and extra bonus points for it being a black skull.

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OK. OK. OK. Scroll up, scroll down…KITCHEN. I could’ve just made this post about the kitchen, because I would be totally happy curling up next to those cabinets and just making a home right there. The best thing about these cabinets is that they appear to be homemade—or at least home-refaced. I’m pretty sure they’re just clad in pre-fab softwood panels, like the ones Daniel used in his office and kitchen. I think even the countertop is made out of the same material.

By the way, did you know you can stain wood with India ink? I guess that seems pretty obvious, but I never thought of it before until I saw someone stain their butcherblock countertops black. Amazing! The pulls look like they’re made out of simple strips of leather fastened with brass-head bolts. So smart.

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Forget the apartment, forget the kitchen, I just want to live in the sink so I can look at that FAUCET all day long. I have Googled and Googled, and I can’t find a raw brass faucet just like that. Plenty of things like this, but not that. I want that. If anyone has any leads, please share!

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who identified the faucet as being the EVO 184 by Tapwell! You guys are awesome.

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HEART-EYES. I’ve never really thought much of square white tiles before, but seeing them in a running-bond pattern with dark grout in this bathroom and kitchen puts them in a new light. Maybe it’s that large-scale hexagon floor, too. I dig the combo. I could most definitely live there.

All photographs via Stadshem, Gothenburg, Sweden. View more of this home (including the living and dining areas!) here.

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To the non-New Yorkers (non-Brooklynites, really) reading this, I apologize in advance. This is a location-specific lament and farewell that I don’t expect to resonate with you. I’m writing this for myself, and for my Brooklyn neighbors—past and present.

Yesterday, workers started dismantling the Kentile Floors sign that has risen eight stories above the Brooklyn neighborhood of Gowanus for the past 65 years. The demise of the Kentile company itself in the mid-’90s is its own story, and this isn’t about that. This is about that sign.

Seventeen years ago, I graduated from art school, got a job at a publishing company, and moved to Brooklyn. It was a love affair I tried to shake, but which was eventually rekindled. I love South Brooklyn, and for all the years I’ve lived here, the F has been my subway line—first in Cobble Hill, then in Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, then DUMBO…and then back to Cobble Hill. The F train, for all its problems, is great for me. It stops under my office building (literally—I don’t even have to go outside to get to my desk), and it’s a 7 minute walk from my apartment. It also makes stops in the West Village and on the Lower East Side! It’s my favorite train line.

Just past my stop in Brooklyn, the F train goes above ground as it approaches the Smith & 9th station, the highest point in the entire NYC transit system. It runs above the Gowanus Canal, and, if you stay on it long enough, you’ll eventually wind up in Coney Island. As someone with a tendency to fall asleep on any form of mass transit (except airplanes, annoyingly), being awakened by daylight suddenly flooding my subway car means one thing: I missed my stop. The upside of going a little too far is that I get to see the Kentile Floors sign, which is, if you pardon my many tangents, the subject of this post.

I’ve taken many, many photos of the Kentile sign (including the one at the top of this post) over the years, as has just about everyone else with a camera or phone who’s found themselves in its presence. As hyperbolic as this might sound, it’s a majestic sight. Brooklyn isn’t as tall as Manhattan (though it’s definitely getting taller), and when you look across the industrial landscape that is Gowanus, the Kentile sign lets you know you are in Brooklyn. You’re home! It’s a symbol of place. And yes, it’s beautiful—those huge slab serifs, that extended T, the steel support grid that looks like a line drawing against the sky…

The Kentile Floors sign is going away. The owner of the warehouse beneath the sign believes that doing the work necessary to ensure its stability isn’t worth the the cost, so he’s getting rid of it. The DOB issued a permit, and that was that. Fortunately, the owner has agreed to donate the sign to the Gowanus Alliance, who have pledged to find a new location for it. Fingers crossed that it’s visible from the F train.

There’s a been some talk out there over the past couple of weeks about how the upset over the demise of the Kentile sign is nothing more than some kind of forced, misguided nostalgia for a time when Brooklyn factories made asbestos tiles that killed people. You know what? That’s a bunch of nonsense. There is nostalgia involved, yes, but it’s not about the Kentile company or about a yearning for the past. It’s a very real sadness that an iconic part of the landscape of South Brooklyn is going away, and that our journeys home will never look the same. It’s an aesthetic sadness, too, as we say goodbye to more and more of these giant steel and neon beauties every year. It hurts… and the world becomes a little less beautiful. I love old signs, and I’ve been documenting them for a couple of decades now. They are everyday examples of how design relates to environment. Signage is an enormously important part of the industrial history of this country, yes, but also of the changing aesthetics of commercial design.

Later tonight, my friend Jill and I are heading over to the Smith & 9th station for one last Kentile hurrah. Creative agency Vanderbilt Republic is going to project video onto the sign (what remains of it, at least—could they really not have waited one more day?), making it appear to be illuminated one last time. They did the same thing in the spring, and Barry Yanowitz made this great video.

Goodbye, Kentile Floors sign. Thanks for welcoming me to Brooklyn so many times. I hope I get to see you again someday, even if I have to sleep through my stop to do it.

I know, I know. Actually, I don’t know. I don’t know how people manage to keep themselves together and get things done when they’re overwhelmed. It’s been more than a month (!!) since my last post, which is totally absurd. I don’t know what happened to the month of May. It just…disappeared. And now it’s the middle of June? 2014????? I can’t keep up.

The past month has been tough. A lot of special people in my life—friends and family—have been going through bad stuff, and I’ve been trying to cope with some ongoing health problems and trying to figure out how make things better. I wish I felt like writing when that kind of thing is going on, but it always seems totally impossible—not so much because of time, but because slowing down enough to collect my thoughts feels way too overwhelming. Everything feels too overwhelming.

One thing I noticed this past month is that I’ve really come to rely on Instagram as a visual diary and not just a collection of images. So many of the photos I take are connected to moments in ways that don’t make it into the captions—but that shot of cracked floor tile is enough for me to remember where I was and why I was doing whatever I was doing when I took the picture. I’m so glad to have that. Pre-iPhone, I never felt inclined to record memories that way. For someone who sometimes has a hard time finding the happy medium between wanting to document everything and never wanting to commit anything to paper/screen again, it’s exactly the right solution.

Anyway. I’m putting this here mostly for me, because I know when I look back on May–June 2014 sometime in the future I’m not going to want to face a void. I’ll be back with a real post tomorrow next week. Until then, thanks for indulging me.

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1. Morrissey’s US tour started. 2. Bruno!! 3. I bought a bunch of ’70s-looking plants for the apartment (still haven’t potted them, though). 4., 5., 6. I spent a lot of time in Red Hook. 7. I finished fixing a window! Still gotta blog about that. 8. Summer kinda arrived and I kinda put on summery shoes. 9. I checked out the Navy Yard/Wallabout neighborhood in Clinton Hill, and went to Brooklyn Roasting Company while I was there. 10. I first moved to Brooklyn 17 years ago, and I’m still totally in love. 11., 15. My friends Lisa and Clay came to visit, and we had a great time. 12. We went to Opus 40, one of my most favorite places in the world. 13., 14. We went to dia:Beacon, too—another of my most favorite places!

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1. I really like Red Hook. I wish I’d appreciated it more when I lived there. 2. Evan and I got dressed up for Tina’s 1992-themed prom. This is pretty much exactly what I looked like at my actual prom in 1992. It was fun to wear that much eyeliner and to bust out the rat-tail comb again. 3. My subway went out of service, so I walked home across the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight. 4. I went to Makeshift Society’s Brooklyn launch party, but I was so riddled with anxiety from being surrounded by strangers that I left and ate pizza alone instead. 5. The honed marble hex tiles at One Mile House are very beautiful. 6. We went to see Sean Lennon and his band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger. It was a great show! Yoko was there, too. We didn’t hang out. 7. Bruno!! 8. We went up to Kingston to visit Daniel and Max. Their house is so beautiful…even the parts they haven’t fixed up yet. 9. I’m always the first one up. Always. 10. Fritz!! 11. We went to see Peter Murphy again! Wonderful as always. If you can go, go. 12. Alas, we did not and will not go to see Morrissey this time around. I took that photo the morning the inevitable sadly happened, hoping beyond hope that I would be proven wrong. Get well, Moz. See you again when you’re ready.

Now that I’ve collected these pictures and gone through and captioned them all, I’m starting to question whether I was right when I said that Instagram serves as a visual diary. Maybe it doesn’t…at least not accurately. Where is my angst? Where are the sleepless nights and the tears and the worry? Where is the uncertainty and anger? It all gets washed away in favor of aesthetics, I guess. Maybe that’s a good thing. When I look at this list of events in my life from the past month, I feel like it’s all going to be OK.

It’s good to be back. xo

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I continued with my ambitious back-garden to-do list over the weekend. The last project I tackled was painting the vinyl basement window, and now I’ve moved on to the much more complex, fun, and slightly overwhelming task of repairing and restoring the original wood sash window above it. Window repair is something I’ve talked about before when I showed off the guest bedroom window and the work I did with the three in the living room, but this multi-part project is going to be a little bit different as it concerns the outside of the house. While all but four of our windows look pretty good from the inside at this point, NONE of the windows (or their casings) have been touched on the outside—and they’re all in pretty rough shape.

In an ideal restoration situation, a window and its components would be repaired on all sides at the same time. Because our house is in an historic district, any alterations made to the exterior of the house need to be approved in advance by the Architectural Review Commission. We couldn’t afford to take on the major exterior renovation work our house needed (like repointing the brick, repairing the cornice, and rebuilding the porch roof) when we first became homeowners, so it didn’t make sense to go through the approval process (and pay the $100 fee) just to be able to paint the windows. Also, time is always as much of an issue as money, and with only two days a week to devote to fixing stuff, we’ve tended to make the inside more of a priority than the outside.

Anyway, back to the window repair! The first thing I did was take care of the aluminum storm window. As much as I would LOVE to ditch them and bask in the beauty of exposed sash windows, the reality is that we need them. Our house has 125-year-old single-pane windows and no insulation, and we get a lot of precipitation in the Northeast. For the sake of our comfort, our wallets, and the health of our windows, we need them to be protected. I would LOVE to have custom hanging-style wood storm windows made (like the ones from SpencerWorks…so nice), but that’s beyond our tiny budget, so I gotta make the aluminum ones work for now.

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Not so pretty! The worst thing about bare aluminum storm windows is, well, the aluminum. It’s prone to pitting and oxidation, and even on its best day it looks drab. Time for paint! Assuming the aluminum doesn’t have any kind of coating on it and the finish isn’t high gloss, it’s very easy to paint. You do need to clean it well, though. I don’t like to use steel wool on aluminum because of the risk of galvanic corrosion (yes, I had to look that up), so I cleaned all of the parts of the storm window first with a Scotch-Brite scouring pad and dish detergent/water, and then again with TSP substitute. I left everything in the sun until it was completely dry, then got my tarp set up.

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Not the most exciting set of before and after pictures, but the difference in person is pretty remarkable. I used my old favorite Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer spray paint (aluminum doesn’t rust, of course, I just love the finish of this spray paint when I need a durable, matte black surface), and the aluminum took it beautifully. I should note that I only painted the exterior side of the frame and the bottom the inside—I didn’t want to paint inside of the tracks themselves since that’s a high-friction area.

You don’t have to use spray paint, by the way! You can use the same exterior paint that’s on the rest of your house. I’d suggest using a good spray primer to make life easier, then apply your finish paint with a small foam roller.

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I also gave the screen inserts a full makeover! I did a little research into the Tek-Bilt brand, and as far as I can conclude, our storm windows are about 60 years old. Kind of crazy, right? I think of them as being new and ugly because they’re newer than the house, but no, they’re old and ugly (still half the age of the windows they’re protecting, though!). Aside from the holes, the metal screening has gotten pretty oxidized, which looks crappy from the outside and obstructs the view from inside.

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Removing the screening is really easy. Find the end of the rubber cord (it’s called “spline”) that holds it in place, use a screwdriver to get it started, then pull the whole mess out. It makes sense to do this before you paint, obviously! If the spline is in good condition, save it. Mine was pretty dry and brittle, so I tossed it. TIP: Bring a little piece of the old spline with you when you go buy more. I didn’t realize spline comes in different diameters until I was at Lowe’s looking at a WALL OF SPLINE and trying to guess which size I needed. (I guessed wrong. Womp.)

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Supplies! Here’s what you need: Scissors (not pictured), spline, a spline roller, a flat-head screwdriver, a utility knife, and a 5-in-1 tool (totally optional, I just like to have mine handy for most projects). Oh! And screening, of course! I went with charcoal fiberglass screening, which is nearly invisible—and very affordable. If I had buckets of cash lying around I’d go with bronze screening, but you can’t have everything. Charcoal fiberglass is just fine for me.

(Actually NO, if I had buckets of cash I most definitely would NOT being using it to put bronze screening in my 60-year-old aluminum storm windows. I’d use it to have custom wood storms made. DUH.)

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Do a rough cut of your screening, leaving about 1.5–2″ of overhang on all sides. Fiberglass is easy to cut with just scissors, it’s like cutting cloth. You don’t need it to be perfect, so there’s no need to use a straight edge or anything like that.

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Use the convex side of the spline roller to press the screening into the channel on the frame, then use the concave side to roll in the spline. When you get to the corner, use your screwdriver to make the turn. I found it easiest to do one side at at time: Press, roll, turn. Repeat! When you’re all done and the screening feels nice and snug, trim off the excess with your utility knife.

It did take some finessing and re-doing a couple of times to get the screen to fit smoothly and snugly, but it’s not rocket science. This was the first time I’ve rescreened a whole window, and I didn’t find it difficult. Next time, it’ll go even faster!

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Here’s a terrible picture of the end result! I can’t show you what it looks like on the house yet because I still have several weekends’ worth of work left on the window itself before I can reinstall it, but you get the idea. It’s going to be a HUGE improvement, from both inside and outside the house.

Next up…sash window repair and painting!! Yayyy!