Friday, August 29, 2014

One Year Anniversary in our New House

With August coming to an end, it's hard to believe that we've already lived in our home for a year!  Sometimes it feels like we haven't made any progress at all, but when I look back at photos, we really have come a long way.  Slow progress can sometimes feel less noticeable.

Here's some shots from the first couple of months in the house.


Things sure have changed!  We've completed (or in a lot of cases simply started) simple projects that have hopefully had high impact in our spaces.

Here are some before and afters of the rooms that have undergone the most change over the past 12 months.  Although they've undergone definite progress, we still have quite a way to go.

The Entryway and Stairwell
The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

"Formal" Living Room Turned Playroom
Then, there are other rooms in our house that haven't really seen any change at all (like our basement for example) - Yes, we have an untouched kitchenette down there.  One step at a time right?  I've really focused most of my attention on the main floor since that's where we spend most of our time.


When you first move into a new space, what rooms do you tackle first?  What projects in your opinion make the most impact?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Budget Kitchen Renovation: Nearing completion for Section One

Budget Kitchen Renovation: Nearing Completion for Section One

Last weekend, we started to make some more progress on section one of the budget kitchen remodel we've started.


Here's what we've got checked off of our to do list now for the cabinet frames.

Sand Doors
- Drill holes for new hardware
- Sand drawer fronts and cabinet frames
- Add decorative moulding to outside edges of cabinet frames
- Add decorative moulding to base of the frames (i.e. feet to make more furniture-like)
- Apply one coat of gel stain
- Apply two coats of Carrington stain
- Apply 3 coats of some kind of poly

It turns out that the frames and drawer fronts didn't sand as well as the door frames, but when using gel stain you actually don't need to to sand all the way down to the bare wood. For the drawer fronts I needed to sand off the dirt and grime that had accumulated as well as the finish.  After sanding everything I wiped it down with bleach wipes (it's probably not good for the wood, but I felt like it cleaned everything well).



Then I applied a coat of General Finishes gel stain in Antique Walnut with a foam brush.  It already started to make a big difference!





After that dried, I could apply the regular stain (Rustoleum's Carrington) using a small craft paint brush.





The second coat was good for touch-ups.

I'll be holding off before applying any poly, so for now I installed the new hardware once the frames were dry.

In the meantime, I also started on the doors.



Once the doors were dry, I installed the new hardware and hung them.   Section one is nearly complete!

Here's our progress ( I seriously need to get a better camera):




I haven't decided what I want to do with the sides and bottoms yet in terms of trim.  I know I want to add trim and some sort of feet to the cabinets, but I've discovered a couple of options and haven't decided which one to use yet.  

What do you think?  Have you added feet or decorative moulding to your cabinets before?  Do you have any lessons learned?




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Can I Claim Temporary Insanity?!

I believe that if you are 9 months pregnant, then you should be able to claim temporary insanity, which gives you the immunity to do crazy things without anyone questioning or judging your actions.  I say this because my husband was certainly thinking that I'd lost it tonight when some crazy nesting instinct kicked in.  However, the plus side is that not only is the main floor cleaned and decluttered, I also got the curtains up in the playroom.  Here's a little peak.
They're not ironed yet, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about the white.  I think I need to wait until we decide on a final color for the walls as to whether these will remain plain white, or if we'll take on a little project to add some color to them.

But seriously, I am so ready for this baby girl to be born!

I've also got some changes going on in the kitchen (normally I'd say it's because I'm the most impatient person in the world - but for today I get to use the "pregnancy brain" excuse right?).  I've divided the kitchen into three manageable areas for the cabinet portion of our budget remodel.


I decided to start with the bottom cabinets since the doors are smaller (meaning I could finish them faster and feel like I was making more progress).  Next would be the uppers on the right side of the kitchen.  Our top cabinets are about 42" high so the doors will take much longer to sand than the bottom doors did.

As for section 3, I'm considering taking out the two left most cabinets and installing one large floor-to-soffit cabinet to be a second pantry (since ours is so tiny).  I have to stop by the local Habitat Restore to see if they have any cabinets that look like they will match the ones in our kitchen.  But since that will require the most work, I've decided to leave that section for last.

Here's a little peak at the status of section one.  These doors are seriously ugly in this middle stage, but they are 1000x cleaner!!  I cannot even begin to tell you the layers of gunk that I had to scrape off each door frame before I could even start sanding!! But they are going to be so beautiful and clean when they're all done.



Still to do to complete section one:

- Sand Doors
- Drill holes for new hardware
- Sand drawer fronts and cabinet frames
- Add decorative moulding to outside edges of cabinet frames
- Add decorative moulding to base of the frames (to make more furniture-like)
- Apply one coat of gel stain
- Apply two coats of Carrington stain
- Apply 3 coats of some kind of poly

Although I've only got one thing marked off of my list, it was probably the most time consuming portion.  Whenever I walk into our kitchen now I take a look at the island and I'm, so excited for the final results of the cabinets with the granite and backsplash all installed - I can see it all in my head but boy will it be awesome when it's all complete.



What kinds of projects have you done to update your kitchen or home?  Do you like to break it into smaller sections to feel like you're making more progress?  Do you have any techniques to attack a project?




Friday, August 8, 2014

DIY Custom Wood Wall Art

Do-It-Yourself Wood Wall Art

Looking to add a custom and unique piece of art to your walls?  Check out my tutorial for custom wood wall art that will perfectly coordinate with your decor.

The walls in our playroom have been sort of blank (especially without any curtains up yet), but I didn't want to wait until we could splurge on curtains to add interest to the blank walls.  So, I decided to take a stab at some do it yourself wood wall art.



Since our playroom incorporates a dark brown recliner and gray couch, I wanted something that would combine the colors in both (warm browns and cool grays) to make the furniture choices in there look more intentional.  Here's the finished product and I'm going to share how you can recreate the look for your home.




If you’re not yet comfortable with DIY projects, do not fear! There are plenty of places you can purchase wall art; Shutterfly is one of them. You can create custom home d├ęcor products with their different layout templates and themes. Their Design-A-Wall section is pretty neat too.

Now let's get down to the details on how to recreate this piece of art,  yourself.

Supplies Used:

12 - 3/4" thick  3"x36" pieces of craft wood
4 - 1/4" thick  2"x36" pieces of craft wood (for the frame)
Valspar High Speed Steel Paint
Valspar Mark Twain Gray Brick Paint
Rustoleum Dark Walnut Stain
Bristle or foam brushes (to apply finish)
Wood Glue
3M Wall mount strips

Note:  I used paint and stain colors that I had already used in the room or planned to incorporate in the future.  You can use any variety of stains, paints and colors in your piece to customize it.


How to:
To start off, lay out all of your pieces of 3"-wide wood and create the pattern below.  Then lay the 2"-wood on top to create a "frame" that is about the size of the artwork you want.  Once you've done that, draw a line along the inside edge of the frame and begin cutting the edges of the wood at a 45 degree angle so that they meet up with the edge of the frame.  Work one section at a time.




Continue to work your way around section by section.  Don't worry about your edges lining up perfectly because the 2"-wood pieces will be placed over them as a frame to hide any imperfections.

Note how the above wood is obviously uneven/slightly jagged.
As I continue to build, the right side also becomes slightly unaligned. 


Voila! Those imperfections are now hidden by the 2” framing pieces I was talking about earlier.

Now it's time to apply the finish.  I used two different shades of gray paint and a dark brown stain.  Randomly finish each piece of wood with wood stain or paint until you are pleased with the results. I separated my pieces out into workable chunks, so I didn’t accidently lose/mess up my design.



When you've finished painting and staining everything, let your wood dry.  This is what my finished design looked like while it was still wet.



When everything is dry, it is time to assemble your artwork.  I glued all of my pieces of wood together by placing a thin line of glue between each seam and pushing them together.  Let the glue dry overnight to make sure it has a firm hold.  You could also glue all of your pieces to a piece of plywood if it makes you feel better. :)


Next, make your final cuts and glue the 2"-pieces of wood to set over the edges of the wood design.  Glue the frame in place.  I recommend clamping or placing something heavy on top of the wood to help create a strong bond.  Finish the frame as you wish.  I decided to paint just the top surface in the dark gray color.

Lastly, flip it over. Make sure that everything was assembled well- I glued all of the seams on the back of the piece like so.  This created a very sturdy final product.



Once everything is dry, you're left with a unique, custom piece of wall art for your room.  To mount ours, we used a couple of large 3M mounting squares.  You could also purchase frame mounting hardware to hang your artwork from your local hardware store.

Here's the finished piece in the room.




I love how it really ties together the different colors in the room.  This goes to show that decorating a home can be fun, easy and inexpensive.  What DIY projects have you done lately? I’d love to seem them! Let me know if you have any fun tips? How do you decorate a space?


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Picking Paint Colors

If you've been following along, you'll notice that I've been slowly redoing our dining room.  And by slowly, I mean indecisively.  A couple of weekends ago, I picked up some paint chip cards from Lowes and started to sift through them to see which colors I really liked for the walls in the dining and playroom  I think at this point I've narrowed it down to two, but first I'll share with you what I started with.

Just to remind you, this is what I'm envisioning for the dining room (one dark accent wall and the remainder of the walls a lighter neutral).


Most of the main floor of our house is Montpelier Ashlar Gray (it's a warm gray that takes on either a beige or gray hue depending on the lighting).  I love how versatile this color is.  For the lighter color in the dining and formal living room, I'm thinking that I want to use Woodlawn Bedroom white - the lightest color on the same color chip.  I'm not usually a white wall person, but I think that painting the whole room a deep blue/gray will make it feel too dark.  But we'll see once the color starts going up on the walls.

Here are some of the color swatches I came home with.  I know what you're thinking - these all look pretty much the same right?


Wrong.  After spending some time with these colors, I was able to weed out the ones that were too blue or had green undertones and ended up with my final two choices below.


I am planning to either go with Mark Twain Gray Brick or High Speed Steel.  After examining them in different lights and over a couple of days (to make sure I really did like them), I brought the chips into the dining room to make sure that they didn't clash with the art work or the curtains already in there.



To my surprise, I found that the artwork was the exact color scheme I was looking to implement in the house.


I guess that says I'm on the right track as to what colors I like. :)  I'm fairly certain that we'll end up with Mark Twain Gray Brick (the darkest color).  I think it will add a really nice rich accent against the white walls.

What do you think?  One extra dark accent wall, or one shade lighter and paint all of the walls that color?



Monday, July 28, 2014

Budget Kitchen Renovation: Upgrade Builder Grade Island with Moulding and Stain

The budget kitchen remodel has begun... sort of.  We'll call this a mini-kick off since most of the work won't really begin for a couple of months.  However, I do want to share with you how we have started making plans for upgrading our builder basic golden oak cabinets using some cheap and simple methods.

Here's a before shot of our kitchen (and island).  Essentially it is exactly what you would expect to see in a home built in the early 90's.


Note the island.  It is predominantly made from wood veneer and has absolutely no architectural detail or shape.  It's also really beat up, worn and dirty looking.  What I am going to show you is how to take your worn old island from that... to this:


Let me show you one more shot as a close up of the island cabinets.... gross right?  See how dirty they are?



Here are the supplies we used to achieve these results.

Supplies:
1 3/8"" PVC lattice in clearwood
2 1/4"" PVC base moulding in clearwood
hacksaw (or other tool to cut wood)
construction adhesive
painter's tape
caulk
General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain
Rustoleum's Carrington stain
foam brush

Hint: If you're going to replace your hardware and need to drill new holes, I recommend filling any old holes or drilling new ones before you refinish the cabinet.  We had to do this for our new drawer pulls.



First, Little Man helped me tear off all of the quarter round from the base of the island.  I also cut the toe kick so that it was flush with the side of the cabinet.



Then use the 1 3/8" lattice to create a square frame around the outside of each side of the island.  I used  construction adhesive and painter's tape to adhere the pieces of moulding to the island.  Then cut and adhere the baseboard moulding around the base of the island.  



Once everything is dry, remove the tape.  This is what you should end up with.   I also used white paintable caulk to fill in any big gaps - which is easily covered by the gel stain (a perk of using opaque gel stain).




For the veneered sides, I just wiped them down and lightly sanded the surface.  For the wood frames, drawer fronts and doors, I sanded them first with 60 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit.

Before Sanding
After Sanding
 Now it's time to apply your first coat of stain (click here for our more comprehensive staining tutorial).  Apply the gel stain using a foam brush.  Don't worry if it looks streaky... this all evens out with the next coat.  Just make sure you get even coverage.  I used General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut.




Once it's dried, now you can apply your stain.  I used a foam brush for this as well.  The stain is Rustoleum's Carrington.  Apply an even coat and try to avoid over brushing and creating streak marks. You can always go back to touch those spots up later.




Once you've achieved a finish you're happy with, apply two coats of finish (we used polyacrylic).  Then reapply the hardware.

Voila! Here's your final product!






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