To recap the last couple years, off and on this blog has been a writing tool and way to journal about the home improvement and DIY projects I’ve tacked. However, these have not been on my own place. Most have documented the improvements to my mother’s home, so that she has a house to serve her long term needs and keeping in mind qualities that will need little maintenance in the future. But with my job now being full time and the desire to start roots here, I’ve been house hunting.
And so I should probably explain my choice of title. Because 4 months ago I was not even thinking about a house of my own. A spacious loft apartment, yes perhaps. But home ownership? Sure, I have the knowledge to do a lot of the work, but I thought that was years off. Now I’m not so sure. That’s why these last few months have also been head and heart “hunting.” Or maybe that’s just my way of saying, soul searching. Determining what I want in my future, and deciding that a fixer-upper house in a nice neighborhood is a plan that makes sense both in my head and heart, and in my budget. I think I’ve shown on paper that it will be a smart step for now and also for the years to come, and of course with my love of DIY, my heart was already into it.
What would I want in a house? Being single, I wanted something small and efficient. As a lover of all things old, I wanted a house with charm and character (“they don’t build em’ like this anymore”). And with a desire to do all things myself, I wanted a fixer upper (DIY or die trying). And I knew I was on a budget, looking at the middle to lower realm of the housing market in my area (including many foreclosures).
I found that homes meeting this criteria fell into 2 main categories. Either they had owners who slapped on inexpensive and crappily done “improvements” (I’m talking cheap quality, glue down flooring, flimsy paneled walls, cardboard cabinets, and plastic baseboard); or, they had gone without maintenance so long that the original character wasn’t worth saving (holes in the roof, holes in the exterior walls, windows falling out, floors falling in). I finally told my realtor; I want as authentic to the original home as possible, but in the best possible condition. And small, but in a nice neighborhood. And less than $50k. I think he was about to give up on me.
And then I found the right street. An older neighborhood of mostly large, character-rich and wonderfully loved and maintained homes. Lining the last 2 blocks are several little bungalows, all very similar in size and style. And several of them for sale. And of those, a few right in my price range!
I know they say don’t buy the first home you look at, but it was love at first sight. Craftsman built ins, small and efficient, needing DIY TLC, beautiful woodwork, stained glass details, great foundation and decent roof. So I made an offer and waited. And that funny positive feeling that said, “this is the one?” Wrong. I waited about 2 weeks, only to find out my offer was rejected, and the home was now under contract. Well shoot.
Ok, what about the second home you look at? And right across the street from the one that I was unsuccessful with? I looked at it, very similar in size but different in the types of work it needed. Roof is sagging, windows not in great shape, but the same built ins and a better layout! And a few of the neighboring houses have recently seen very nice renovations. Let’s put an offer on that one!
I finished this chair a few weeks ago, but I’ve forgotten to take photos of the finished product. But first, let me define mid-century modern. For me, mid-century modern (or mcm) is hard to describe, but I know it when I see it. The term can apply to homes, furniture, architecture, even graphic design and fashion, popular among designers and cities across the globe from the mid 1930′s to late 1960′s. Mcm furniture can be described as crisp, with sweeping lines and sharp, geometric shapes. Before the 1950s, furniture was more elaborate and involved complicated lines and adornments, mostly adopted from common European furniture styles that were still being used centuries later. Mid-century designers were modernists, and their furniture embodied their ideas of the world and society. They valued simplicity and streamlined their pieces accordingly. Their designs were high-quality, often using materials that were uncommon for fine furniture such as teak, stainless steel, chrome, and bright bold colors. Want to see more styles? A quick Google search and you’ll see the most popular designs of Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Mies van der Rohe, and Eero Saarinen. I’ll bet you recognize them, and you never realized the enormous impact their furniture has had on home and office design.
But back to my Mad Men chair. This blog post from yesterday showed the before, during, and even my inspiration photo for the finished chair. The hardest part was the upholstery. I tried to stay as true to the original upholstery style as possible, including making the cording around the top edge of the seat cushion and small pieces on each arm. Aside from a little simple sewing, it was a learning experience in how simple folding and a ton of staples in the right place can make anyone a professional in upholstery. The result? A really sleek and finished look.
The color is Varathane Dark Walnut gel stain, the first time I’ve used a gel stain. It didn’t get as dark as I hoped for, so I built the color up by reapplying 3 additional coats. Still a bit more wood grain showing than I hoped for, but I couldn’t get it any darker without losing the chocolate color. Then 3 coats of polyurethane in semi-gloss. Typically mid-century modern wood furniture has a matte or satin finish, but I used what I had on hand. And I knew I wanted it to have a strong finish to resist wear, so the step up in level of shine will be ok for me. Can you see the stitching on the seat cushion and back? It’s subtle, but the lines are there. It might be barely noticeable, but it breaks up the large surface of the seat and back.
The fabric was in the clearance bin at Joanne’s, I bought all that was left. It’s a tweed of some sort, reminds me of ground black pepper. It’s actually a bit darker in person than these photos show.
Seven (7) nail head brads just like the original also. Except they were gold/brass originally, but that color didn’t look right with the gray fabric. I found them in silver at a big box home store and I really like how they came out. You can see the seam on the back of the cushion in the photo above, but that’s exactly how the old one was done also. So that’s what I tried to replicate.
Of the 4 casters, they don’t all match. They are 2 and 2 of the same. You can also see in this photo that each leg has a dark brown cap, originally plastic, which I believe is meant to protect the legs when you set your feet on them. Two (2) were cracked and looked terrible, so I removed them during the tear-apart. I knew I would never find anything to replace them with, so I made new ones out of walnut stained with leather dye. They match is uncanny. You can see above one remaining that has the corner slightly broken off, but I chalk that up as character.
So here is where I started (almost, I forgot a true “before” photo).
And below is my new desk chair. You can see the stitched lines on the seat and back really well in this photo. And its comfortable, oh my is it comfortable. It wobbles a little bit because of the metal structure (which I did nothing but clean really well), and it squeaks a little, but overall its a very sturdy piece.
So let me add up my expenses.
$10 Chair purchase
$ 9 Stain
$ 5 Upholstery trim
$40 Total, and probably 10 total hours.
Not bad when other similar Paoli chairs are listed for $250, $275, $365, and up on such sites as Ebay, Etsy, and Apartment Therapy. Not bad at all.
That’s what I call it, because I am enamored with mid-century modern furniture as so often seen on the popular AMC television series Mad Men, set in New York City in the 1960′s. The fashion, the furniture, and the social context they build in this series had me hooked. And now I have my own Mad Men chair.
It was probably over a year ago, shopping with a friend at a nearby independent furniture store that I first saw it. The store was having a “retirement & going out of business sale.” Lots of new beautiful furniture, but even on sale it was all a bit out of my budget. First floor, upper floor, full of wonderful items to draw inspiration and future wants. But then the basement is where I saw it. A mid-century upholstered office chair, low to the ground and on casters. It just had “that look.” But it was broken, in the corner, and probably not supposed to be out where the shoppers could see it.
So I found the owner and asked her about it. She laughed. In a store full of deeply discounted new furniture, I wanted the broken old chair in the corner that was probably supposed to be in the trash a week ago and someone forgot about it. “Yep, that’s what I want!” I offered her $10, and the owner declared, “sold!”
Turns out once I got it home, it was a pretty popular chair made by the furniture company Paoli out of Indiana. The Paoli Chair (turns out they made lots of similar styles, all now very popular on Ebay). My chair even had the original label stapled underneath, dated 1963!
Unfortunately, I started taking it apart before thinking to take photos. Can you tell I’m not a professional blogger? Anyway, below is another chair just like it I found on Etsy (with a price tag of over $250!), but in much nicer shape.
Just imagine it all scratched up, with the armrests almost entirely worn of their color, and the upholstery so dirty you want to wash your hands after just touching it. And not yellow. The chair I bought is green, not yellow like the one above.
So here is the main body of the chair, seat removed, and starting to strip the finish.
I even took photos of removing the upholstery, to make sure I could re-upholster it the same way and get it looking as professional as possible.
I also saved the fabric. Why? I knew I wasn’t going to re-use it on the chair, but by saving the pieces I have an exact pattern of each piece to use when cutting the new fabric I plan to use.
Once the fabric and all of those staples were removed, I used a liquid furniture refinisher to strip all of the stain off of the chair Then I wiped the wood clean with mineral spirits and a clean rag. This cleans any remaining refinishing liquid off the wood. Then I let the wood dry completely.
Next comes sanding. You could tell where the old chair had constantly banged up against a desk or wall, it almost looked as if a dog had chewed on it. I knew I couldn’t sand those spots out completely without altering the shape of the chair, but I smoothed the spots over best I could. The rest of the chair needed just light sanding. A few spots will still show a little when it is re-stained, but that gives the chair character. It shows the piece of furniture has been used and loved before I came along. When refinishing furniture, I’m not trying to make a piece look brand new, but rather respect the craftsmanship and give it another life.
I’ll reveal the finished chair in the next post. But below is a very similar chair by the same company that I used as inspiration for the finished product.
I’ve always been a fan of monochromatic gray, and I think gray together with wood tones results in a masculine look. The gray fabric on this one is a little light, but I really like how the back rest and seat are upholstered with the stitched lines to give it a little interest. I’m not entirely sure how to obtain that effect, especially since I’ve never done anything more than a simple fabric covered board for a seat. But I strive for perfection, and I’ll post photos of the finished chair here soon, because it turned out great!
Nearly a 1 year hiatus. Yes, and although I’ve often considered updating, I’ve been learning how to manage my full time job, living with family, and keeping friends on the weekends. With quite a few projects in between also. What have I accomplished over the past two years, since I got really lazy journaling about home improvement projects? Let me think:
- Primed the entire house exterior
- Painted the entire house exterior
- Painted front & side entry doors
- Install all new window trim and moldings through entire house
- Stained or painted new window trim (the bathroom, laundry, and kitchen have painted woodwork)
- Ordered raised panel vinyl shutters (not my favorite material, but inexpensive and zero maintenance won this time)
- Primed & painted vinyl shutters (4 pairs)
- Hung shutters on front & side windows
- Blown cellulose insulation into attic (insulation value at R-60, baby!)
- Painted main living room (boring white was getting old)
- Hang living room curtains on new sturdy drapery rods
- New laminate countertops & tile backsplash in the sister’s kitchen
Most of these steps I didn’t document, but I can highlight the finished outside of the house!
Below is the completely untouched “before” picture. Other than maybe a few plants and the park bench, this is how the house looked before I started working at all. Complete with rotting windows, vintage door, and fading bland paint job.
Here is my rendered “after,” with the intention of all new windows, doors, shutters and a new and noticeable paint scheme.
And here is the “after!” All the work I mentioned is complete, it’s only taken a little more than 2 years!
Oops, apparently this was before the shutters went up. But you can see how nicely landscaped it looked last summer, with fresh mulch, plenty of rain, and such a beautiful shaded green lawn. It has definitely spruced up the entire corner. What was before an almost unnoticeable little house is now a home that just looks loved and well maintained. And a little bit of personality thrown in there too.
And here is the house (with shutters) earlier this winter, about mid January.The shutters are actually a color called Urbane Bronze (Sherwin Williams), but it is a strange color. Some days they look brown, some days they look black, and in the photo above they look blue gray. Since we didn’t replace the dark gray roof, I thought a gray/brown shutter color would help tie in the dark roof and brown paint scheme. And I think it accomplished that.
Although you cannot tell in the above photo, thanks to all that snow. NW Ohio has gotten in excess of 52 inches of snow this season, more total snowfall since the Blizzard of 1978! But the fancy Nest thermostat and medium efficiency furnace kept up just fine. Although I can’t compare until the winter is officially over (yes, I do keep utility bills each year so I can document the homes energy usage and compare it after I complete energy upgrades), I would dare to say the energy usage this winter is probably lower still than any winter before this thanks to the energy efficient and air-tight windows and doors. And you can also see how, thanks to the attic insulation, we have very little heat loss through the roof, as the heat from the house doesn’t escape from the ceiling to melt snow off the roof.
Wow; WordPress had to send me an e-mail reminding me to renew my blog subscription and domain name. That “reveals” to me how long it has been since I last updated this blog. No, I’m not proud of the 6 month hiatus. But I am proud of what I’ve been doing in this time.
This past summer and fall, the house painting project got 90% complete; but a job and the cold weather set in before I could finish. I still have the north gable and trim, as well as the east fascia boards that are primed but not yet painted. I want to use the first few warm Spring weekends to finish painting those areas. Priming and painting the front door a spicy Fireweed red should be another short weekend project. The house currently does not have shutters, but I have envisioned adding a contrasting color by introducing shutters since day 3 (days 1 and 2 were spent bringing the bathroom and kitchen up to speed in this former beat-up rental home).
I have already revealed that I enjoy hunting for old furniture at yard sales and auctions, but I’ve been really good. There have been a few items that have tempted me, but I already have several sets of chairs and a big chest of drawers waiting for a new life, not to mention 3 dining chairs to refinish and reupholster to complete my dining room set.
And the windows. That was probably one of the lengthier projects I have ever undertaken… and technically, not yet finished because I am still without woodwork. Only now I am without woodwork with new windows that are air-tight, water-tight, and so much nicer looking on the outside and soon on the inside. I’m re-using as much of the old woodwork as possible, using mis-matched pieces on the windows where the trim will be painted, and sanding down to bare wood for the windows that will have stained trim. But trimming out each window is a lengthy job; creating a new window sill (So exciting to be getting window sills! The old windows were trimmed without this much-needed ledge); lining the inside of the window opening with 1/2″ thick lumber; and finding the best pieces of used molding to complete the inside trim. To this point (4 windows of 12 total), I have been able to use entirely all salvaged board and trim.
So if you read the title, you might be wondering what I have to reveal. Well, the first hint is that I am going to have to change this blog’s tagline. I am no longer unemployed. It just so happens that I was selected as the Interim Program Manager for my hometown’s Main Street organization! You can read all about it from either our town newspaper, or our town’s online newspaper. From the first week, I have been excited for the challenges and rewards each day brings! I have so many ideas for Van Wert, specifically the downtown, and with my long-time passion for historic preservation, I know I can make a positive impact on this community through Main Street.
What does this mean? Well, firstly I am employed. And it’s more than just a temporary job. It’s an experience job, and so far I love it! The people, the multitude of tasks each day, the office, and the entire downtown district. I am still getting to know the business owners and learning about their businesses, in hopes that I can be as beneficial as possible to them. Fortunate for me, the guy I replaced was very willing to come in periodically and walk me through different responsibilities and answer the multitude of questions I need answered. No, its not as a designer; but I truly enjoy working where I can make a positive impact in people’s lives, and I get to spend my evenings and weekends doing design and construction, my other passion.
So what are my other goals for this Spring and ultimately this year? I’d like to find a nice screened storm door for the front so that I can enjoy the Spring and Summer breeze.
I have been thinking about how nice it would be to have a small gabled awning over the back door, not only to help protect the door from the elements, but to keep myself dry when I stand bumbling for the house key in the rain. And I think it would help give the side door a friendlier look. Something similar to this:
Or this one.
Similar to how ours would look, as I could easily move the light from the its current position beside the door to above. Also, our utility room window is just about the same distance the left of the door.
Yes, for the past two weekends we have been seeing and smelling portabello. And getting it all over our hands, faces, and even in our hair. No, I’m not talking mushrooms.
I’m talking paint. As in, Sherwin-Williams Portabello 6102. Don’t let this small color swatch fool you, it looks so much richer in real life, almost like the underneath side of that mushroom above. It really is a very saturated and beautiful golden-reddish-brown color. Catch up to speed on our big house painting adventure planning and how we debated paint colors at this post over here, or see the abbreviated version of the color scheme and a rendering of the finished house by clicking on this post.
Onto the good stuff. We were fully geared up and prepared to paint the house with 2 brushes in each hand. And that is exactly how we primed the entire exterior with Zinsser Peel Stop clear binding sealer. It was like painting with milk; very thin and watery, and dried to a very slight sheen over the surface of the shingles. We wondered if it was even doing any good until we had to clean a few dried drips off of a window frame. Oh my goodness was it nearly impossible to clean off once dry! So if it stuck that well to new shiny vinyl window frames, I figure it must have been a good product!
But after priming, I was not at all interested in repeating that brushing torture once again with the paint. So I began asking around and doing some research on airless paint sprayers. It turns out they are pretty affordable to rent and seemingly easy to learn to use. In fact, this YouTube video is the clip that made me say out loud, “that’s it, we’re renting a sprayer!”
The man in the video is painting the same style and size shingles as my house (pretty much the same ‘before’ color, too) and boy does it go super quick! So just like the video, we masked off all the windows and doors with masking tape and painter’s plastic. We propped up cardboard under the last row of shingles to cover the foundation, and I held a piece of cardboard attached to a handle as a long blade against the soffit above the top row of shingles. And then it was time to spray.
I first used water to familiarize myself with the airless sprayer. I ‘painted’ water onto a large piece of cardboard so I could see how thin and even of a spray the machine produced. By spraying in about 3 – 4 foot lengths and overlapping each path by half, I got the hang of it really quick. So I primed the sprayer with paint and gave myself one more test run on the cardboard. Time to hit the house. I don’t know why I was so hesitant, the paint sprayed out so thin and evenly, filling all of the grooves in the cedar shingles effortlessly. By overlapping each length of spray, I was left with a smooth finish and a solid cover of paint. No need for two coats!
Check out the white primer polka dots, no? You have no idea how glad I was to paint over them and rid the house of its primer pox epidemic. And now for a close up comparison of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ colors for you to eat up (yes, that was a pun on the paint color name).
The only caution I would give, and I was fairly warned by the managers at the Sherwin-Williams store, is to be prepared to back-roll (or in my case, back brush) the paint after spraying a large section. Anywhere that I overlapped more than a half stripe or even sprayed a second coat would begin to run and form drips. These areas just need a once-over with a paint brush, hence the term back brushing, to even out the spray.
I actually painted the house in 2 Saturdays, partly because I started later in the day (masking off windows takes for-ev-er) and partly because I ran out of paint on the first Saturday too late in the day to run out and get more. But after it was all painted (even before it was completely finished), I was ecstatic with how it looked! I am in love with the deep rich color, and so pleased with how well the paint covered. We painted with Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Acrylic Latex , known for its superior color coverage and long lasting paint performance.
So how far have we come? Here is the original before photo, house circa summer 2009; aka, boring beige (although it has a slight pink tinge in that particular photo).
Here is the house before we painted. Yes, it is looking a little poka-dotted or zebra striped or something in between as a result of different color shingles around the windows, tinted primer under the picture window, and tons of primed areas around the single windows. As people would walk through the neighborhood in the evenings, you could see them point and look, and looooook. Probably wondering what in the world we were doing. At least the sky is beautiful in this photo.
And here is the house after a super rich paint job of Portabello. I was going to say what percentage of an improvement the new paint is, but the actual number is off my scale. Probably something like a mbajeelion (silent m) times better looking. (Click here to see how closely this real photograph compares to a rendered image I created at the beginning of this painting project).
Improvement? I think so. I am still in the process of painting the fascia boards and soffits bright white, and then will be painting the gables. All by hand, brush and roller. I decided that with the amount of overspray produced by the airless sprayer, it would be nearly impossible to spray the gables and have a clean crisp painted edge when done without using 20 miles of painter’s tape. Which isn’t cheap, by the way. So up and down a ladder with a paintbrush in hand I will go. And hopefully I will finish before the snow flies.
Ok, so it wasn’t actually playdough. But it looked just like it, felt just like it, and I may have sculpted a dinosaur before using it for its intended use. So what in the world am I talking about?
It all began when I removed an old exterior floodlight. The light was intended to illuminate the walk between the house and the detached garage. It was attached to the end of a length of fascia board in the back of the house. The light was also ancient; it was heavy, had 3 heads, exposed wire connections, and didn’t even work. One bulb was missing, one was broken, and the other didn’t work. It was an eyesore. And I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t do anything about it for the past 2 years.
Well, this past weekend I went about scraping the trim and gable on the back side of the house. This meant finally removing this dark (pun intended) blemish once and for all. I just capped the wires once I detached them from the light, and began to unscrew the fixture from the fascia board. I should have been wary as the screws came out of the fascia board a bit too easily. Sure enough, the old light fixture was a water trap and the end of the fascia board was badly rotten. Far to rotten to just paint over. But that one board was almost 18′ long along the length of the gable, from the end where the light was attached up to the peek. And there was no way I wanted to remove and replace that entire 8″ wide board.
Confession: I failed again at the idea of taking a “before” picture. I am too much of a doer that I often forget to document each step. So this photo of some other home’s damaged fascia board will have to serve as a “before” picture. Just ignore the brick.
After consulting with an expert carpenter, aka my grandfather, I went in search of a product he knew existed but had never used himself before. Some sort of super hard-drying wood putty made just for repairing rotted wood. Sure enough, the home store had it! I bought a large enough kit to repair not only this area, but any others I might find before this painting (scraping, sanding, washing, brushing, priming, ladder-climbing) project is over.
It turns out it is an epoxy hardener. The kit I bought had two ingredients and came with plastic gloves and a plastic scraper. The instructions said to mix an equal 1:1 ratio of the filler putty and hardener putty in your hands (while wearing gloves), or knead together on a non-stick surface. I used a small putty knife to spoon out equal amounts of each putty, about a golf ball size of each, and began mixing them like playdough in my hands. I wore latex gloves like the instuctions said, but I could still see the two different colors weren’t entirely mixed yet. So I began to knead the putty on a piece of glass, almost the way a baker would knead bread dough. This seemed to mix the putty quite well, as it became a solid yellow/beige color. The instructions said your working time with the putty after mixing is only about 10 minutes, so I began right away. I had already used a wire brush on the rotted fascia end to remove all the loose wood chips, peeling paint, and earlier attempts at repair with silicone. I applied the epoxy mixture first with a putty knife, but it was too difficult to smooth out. The box said you could increase the working time by lightly dampening with water. So I filled a plastic pail and dipped my fingers in water to smooth out the epoxy on the end of the board. I got the putty as smooth as I could, and used the putty knife to create a sharp corner and end to resemble as closely as possible the original shape of the board. Then I waited.
The box said ready to sand in 60 minutes. I got busy painting some other area and forgot about the putty for a few hours. When I returned to the spot, it was hard as rock! I broke out my old school sanding block and tried to get the spot perfectly smooth, but it was tough to sand. It actually started to shred my sandpaper before it created any dust. Good thing I mostly got it smooth before it was dry.
For this step I did snap a photo. The yellow patches near the gutter are the epoxy putty drying. Just like the box promised, the putty did not shrink or crack while it dried. Those two capped wires are the house wires which originally powered the old fixture, probably 50 years ago.
I primed the spot, and brushed on 2 coats of super brilliant white paint. The next day I went about putting up the new light fixture.
This is the light fixture we chose from the home store. I wanted something white to blend in with the white trim board, but something fairly petit looking. Security floodlights often look huge and alien in shape with their multi-directional cone heads. I liked this one because it felt simple and compact, but would still be powerful enough to light the small space between the house and garage. It’s 150 watts and an Energy Star Qualified product; it’s motion sensor doesn’t turn the light on during the daylight hours.
It was super easy to put up. I marked the spot for the outside junction box with a light pencil line and drilled two pilot holes for the screws. I ran a thick bead of paintable caulking in a circle behind the junction box and screwed it tightly into place. After wiping away the excess squeeze out of caulking, I plugged all but one of the outlets with the included plastic plugs. I ran the electrical wires from the house through the remaining outlet opening and began to twist them together with the wires from the new light fixture. Twist black wire with black wire, white wire with white wire, and attach the ground wire from the new light around the green screw of the junction box. Put the foam seal in place between the new fixture and the junction box and tighten into place.
How does it look? Compact and simple, not too flashy (once again, pun intended). Pay no attention to that new paint color on the house shingles… post coming soon about that!
When I turned the power on, bing! The new halogen light came on super bright, all 150 watts. It can be set for 4 minutes, 12 minutes, all night, or all day and night. We are going to use the 4 minute setting. That way if I pull into the driveway at night, I have plenty of light to find my way to the back door, balancing the bag of groceries and gallon of milk, dig the keys out of my pocket and get into the house safely. And then the light turns itself off automatically. Not that we live in sketchy neighborhood (actually, its a very quiet and safe neighborhood comprised mostly of senior citizen homeowners), but I definitely prefer to walk from my car to the house at night with a light on. Here is a photo of it at night, plenty bright enough!
So the first night. The roaming cats must have been having a dance party in the backyard. Pretty sure that light was blinking on and off all night. Hopefully the neighbors will understand we are adjusting the sensitivity of the motion detector… I didn’t realize I had it on high sensitivity the first night. After that, I turned it down to about half way and it seems to be working all right. The squirrels and other suburban backyard creatures don’t trip the sensor, but if I walk to the garage after dark, I have plenty of light to find my way (a whopping 20 steps) without having to worry about turning a light on or off. Success.