Reveal – The Exterior

It started with hope and a vision. We were hopeful there were wood shingles underneath the vinyl siding and we envisioned a beautifully restored red house. We think, in the end, hope sprung eternal and our vision was executed. And more to the point, it is finished!

The colour is Benjamin Moore’s “Caliente”. We love it. We picked it out weeks before the first shingle was to be painted. You see, it took us three days, with three people and two dumpsters full to get the vinyl siding and metal trim off. After that we needed something to feed our souls so we went to House of Excellence to pick out the colour(s). Given the siding didn’t come off until the end of August and we knew we would be painting well into October, we purchased paint that allowed us to work in temperatures as low as four degrees. We did not, however, think we would be painting into November. We were.

Although the shingles and clapboard were in excellent condition when we removed them, they still required some love. After all, the vinyl siding was put on with hundreds, if not thousands, of nails. Each nail hole was filled with a special wood epoxy, allowed to cure and then sanded along with each and every inch of the exterior. Then went on the primer, the first coat of paint, the second and last coat of paint and finally, the trim.

Parts of the exterior had to be restored. You will see in the photos that thee edges of the window sills were notched out at the ends so the vinyl siding could be placed on flush with the rest of the house. Sacrilege! In addition to this, the original headers above the windows and brackets along the eves were knocked off. We had new headers and brackets custom milled to restore the exterior to its original appearance and grandeur. The window sills were also restored.

We put all new windows in the house and they are, obviously, white. The go well with the white trim. The black, we think, is a very sharp accent colour adding some drama and an “anchor” to the house.

The condition of the back deck speaks for itself. It took C and I all of an hour to rip it apart and throw it in the dumpster. The new deck was custom built by Blackhawk Custom Builders (amazing work!) and we had privacy screens added for comfort. We kept the front step simple so as not to detract from the detail of the headers and brackets however, it needed to be painted black and not kept its original colour.

The exterior doors are Jeld-Wen and purchased from Metro Building Supplies. The exterior lights are off the shelf from Home Depot and we got an AMAZING deal on them. The previous exterior lights on the front of the house were solar-powered and we needed hard-wired! All the exterior lights are the same, as are the doors, for consistency and cohesion. The mailbox is a simple black one with a brushed nickel finish while the house number above the door is a little more ornate, for character.

The exterior is finished and we are very happy and relieved. Most of the interior is finished and what’s left will be wrapped up in the next couple of weeks. Today, for the first time since moving in, the house was organized and clean enough that we were able to comfortably walk inside in bare feet. The end is near, and so is our comfort. Much the way this jewel of a house was sprung from its oppressive siding, we are being sprung from our camping-like living arrangements.

Was this hard work? Yes. Did it take more time and money than we thought? Yes. Would be do it all over again? Absolutely!



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It’s here, it’s here, it is finally here! We are so excited to be teaming up with our friends at Cottage Industry to bring you our first “Giveaway”. If you enter our giveaway draw your name will be entered to win this gorgeous, ultra-chic Johnathan Adler Christmas ornament. Anything Adler is a must have – Christmas or not. This is your opportunity to have a little bit of Adler/Cottage Industry/Ottoman Empire fabulocity in your home. WERK!

So, what you need to do is visit Cottage Industry on Facebook, by clicking here, and “Like” them. Once you’ve done that be sure to also comment on this post so we know you “Liked” them and we have your name.  In the event you should not have Facebook, instead visit the Cottage Industry website and tell us your favourite piece of merchandise found there. Hint – the blog has lots of goodies.

Our winner will be announced in a special message from The Empire, one week from today. Have fun!

*Note: This giveaway is open to residents of PEI only. The winner of the ornament will have to pick it up at Cottage Industry, in Charlottetown, PE.

Beauty and the Eye

This summer while on one of our shopping tears (in DIY Doris’ blue bullet, no less) we were at one of our favourite antique shops. This shop also has a lot of “junktiques” and just a lot of stuff in general. The lovely, older gentleman that owns it is very good to us and in turn, we are good to him… usually by purchasing large pieces of furniture. At any rate, we love him.

This particular day we were blowing through the joint like antique rockstars announcing we will take “that… That.. OOOOOHH, definitely THAT”, when I came across a piece of 70’s art glass in the shape of a bird. I squealed “I LOVE IT” and in response the owner told me I could have it for free. Score! So for the rest of our drive-by-shopping escapade I cradled my newly acquired accessory in my arm all the while musing to C and Doris “Where will I put my new phoenix… how do you suppose we can pack the phoenix in the van… I feel just like Harry Potter when he found the phoenix”, and on it went… and possibly on and on. Anyway, to me this was quite obviously a phoenix.

When we were done shopping C got chit chatting with the owner. Toward the end of the conversation the owner jumped in with “Did the other fella get his chicken?”. A CHICKEN!. Not a phoenix, a chicken. This, ladies and gentleman, is a lesson in beauty and proves the old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” because it quite obviously is, or at least interpretation is. To a thirty-something gay man it was quite obviously a phoenix while to a sixty-something, quintessential Island man with an antique/junktique shop, it was a chicken. A chicken.

The phicken is now proudly displayed in our newly arranged spare room.

Well? What is it?

Deal of a Christmas

Believe it or not, we love most things antique or vintage. No really, we do. In particular, we love antique Christmas ornaments. There is something legit, nostalgic and interesting about these little suckers. The colours; the textures; the shapes. We love them. However, what we don’t love are the prices. A set in their original box can run you up to $8/piece or approximately $95/dozen. Yes, we have (shamefully) paid that before.

C gets his love of antiques from his family, in particular his mother and grandmother. A few years ago I was telling C’s mother (Mama Jane) about our love of antique Christmas ornaments – she has quite a collection herself. She listened quietly and said she would keep her eyes and ears open for some. A few weeks later a “surprise” showed up in the mail from Mama Jane. Taking our love of antique ornaments under advisement she was able to secure C’s grandparents entire collection of antique Christmas ornaments – talk about legit! This collection is in pristine condition with many boxes having their price tags still on them (Stedmans, $ 0.10). What treasures to receive; our first year of having a “real” tree and it was covered in inherited Christmas ornaments that have a special place in C’s heart.

Now, after having such a vast collection, our pursuit of them in shops was less so. However, we still look, pick up and discuss. A few weeks ago we went to a local craft and artisan fair and we hit the mother-load of antique and vintage ornaments. We have NEVER seen so many in one place. Wow. It was a Friday night and the fair ended on Sunday. The table belonged to a husband and wife duo and the wife announced to us “He is not taking a single one of these back home with him so if you boys want to come back here on Sunday evening we will give you a smokin’ deal”. You don’t have to tell us twice.

When we went back on Sunday evening the husband wasn’t there, but the wife asked us to wait.  She told us if he wasn’t back by a certain time she would make us a deal. Well, he didn’t come back so we started making deals. However, in the middle of our deal-makin’, out of nowhere, he appeared.  He looked at us, then he looked at his wife, then he looked back at us and said “You can have this whole God damned table for $x”. OMG! Deal of a lifetime.

C countered with a price and he said “Don’t be an asshole. Go to the ATM, get the money and get these fucking ornaments out of here. This is 20 God damned years of collecting and I am done. Sell these fuckers on Ebay and make a fortune”. OMG. So C went to the ATM and now the collection of four large boxes of antique/vintage Christmas ornaments are now ours. All shapes and sizes, colours and textures. One of the boxes was so large it had to go in the front seat while C sat in the back. #shoppingproblems

So now we have an enormous collection of antique Christmas ornaments. What will we do with them, you ask? Well, we just bought a 7ft white Christmas tree that comes prelit with 500 lights. It will need some ornaments along with our “real” tree in the living room. Merry Christmas to us. Oh, and if you are interested in some of these “God damned” ornaments, let us know and I am sure we could work something out. We will not, however, be selling “the fuckers” on Ebay.

DIY Doris – “Little Girls’ Room”

Dear Doris,

I have two rooms in my home that I need help with.  One is referred to as “the little boys’ room”, the other, “the little girls’ room”.  They are, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, bathrooms.  The little boys room is a small half bath with a baby blue toilet and baby blue sink.  The little girls room is a full bath with all pink fixtures, big pink tub and all!

I am working on a VERY small budget, everything must be DIY, and I am stuck.  I can’t replace the fixtures at this juncture, but I must do something!  Any suggestions for  paint colors that will play up the quirkiness of these two rooms?  There’s no way to disguise them, so I might as well embrace what I’ve got.  Right?

Thanks so much,

Bathroom Boondoggle


Dear Boondoggle,

Wow. That is a lot to take in. Well…let’s just dive in. Let’s start with the pink room.

Pink bathrooms were made fashionable by First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower in the 1950s. “Mamie Pink” was the colour to have in bathrooms of homes built at that time. If you are interested in a little more history, check out It has lots of little factoids about this phenomenon.

A classic colour combination in bathrooms with pink fixtures was creamy white tiles and walls, with black accents, either in the wall tiles in a border, or in the flooring. I think that one way for you to go is to embrace the era, and go for a retro or vintage look in your bathroom, but do it in a more modern and stream lined way…I am not going to suggest crocheted doilies to cover your toilet roll, or macramé wall hangings.

Looking at your pictures, I am tempted to say PAINT THE WOOD, but I know that may be a touchy suggestion at your house. So, I won’t say PAINT THE WOOD, but rather suggest that you PAINT some of THE WOOD. Perhaps painting the wood cabinets around the shower a creamy white would calm things down a little, and give the eye fewer things to look at. There are so many different surfaces and patterns in that small space, the eye has nowhere to rest.  I am also going to make the radical suggestion of painting the tile on the walls. There is paint for almost every type of surface, and tile is no exception. It requires a special primer, but the results can be amazing at a fraction of the cost of re-tiling, or a complete bathroom renovation. One surface I don’t suggest painting is the countertop. I know it can be painted, but it never looks as great as it promises to, and one little chip is all it takes to look wretched.

I kind of like the wallpaper…but it may just remind me of my Nana’s house. It is quite tender, with those little birds, but if you are going to embrace the fixtures, that means embracing the fish and bubbles shower door. Birds and fish? I don’t think so. I could suggest removing the shower doors ,a task I took on in my own bathroom one week-end when my husband was away, but I would not recommend it. It did look as good as I had hoped it would. It may be time for the wallpaper to go, and for the walls to become the backdrop to showcase the amazing colour of the fixtures.

Once some of the surfaces are painted, some cream and black accent pieces would be all you would need to set the stage for your vintage bathroom. I also suspect that perhaps once some of the wood was painted, an argument could be successfully made to paint the rest…and the closet door!

If you decide to embark on this adventure in painting, ask the advice from the professional at your paint store. They will have all the information on how to prepare the surfaces you are going to paint, and what types of paints and primers you will need to use. Plan your project carefully, and allow the appropriate times for drying, as recommended by the manufacturer. This will ensure that the paint cures properly, and will not lift, bubble or peel in the moisture of the bathroom.

More to come for the “little boy’s room”.

In design,

Doris ♥