I think I have wanted to put a shelf above the counter of the laundry room for like 2 years. Sometimes it takes a while before my projects get realized. I wanted something that would hold four baskets with clothes in them, so it needed to be fairly strong. I also wanted it to be more of a floating shelf, so no cleats or brackets showing. My solution was to build a frame out of 2×2’s. I measured the space, leaving enough room for the trim I would add later, cut the pieces and screwed them all together. I used 5 of the shorter pieces and it made a pretty sturdy frame.
It fit like a glove in the space. And looking at this picture, I realize I should have pre-drilled some holes so that the wood wouldn’t split, at least at the ends. But, I knew it would be covered so I wasn’t too worried about it. We made sure it was level and screwed it into the wall at the studs.Next, we put on the shelf. I bought a big 4’x8′ sheet of 1/2″ particle board (for $13) and cut it to size for this shelf and the one on the other side of the room. Here is Jared nailing it into the frame. Pretty easy. Next was adding the 1×3 trim piece. I measured it, marked it, cut it and brought it upstairs only to find that it was 1 foot too short. Lame! I hate it when stuff like that happens. So I had to make another trip to Lowe’s to get another piece. This time I measured several times before cutting and it was perfect. I just tacked it up with the brad nailer. At this point I caulked around the edges and gave it a few coats of paint.
Perfect for the four baskets. Now I have room for 8 baskets. Everyone has their own spot. I love that I can fold clothes and put them in the person’s basket without having to put clothes away. It always looks neat because they all have a place. Then whenever the kids get around to putting their clothes away they can just take their basket, empty it and put it back in it’s spot. Big improvement. You can see my whole laundry system here.
So the only thing that was missing was the piece of wood on the bottom. I used it for a long time without the piece because it was functional and I couldn’t see the frame from my height. But it was bugging me that it wasn’t done yet. I found a really nice piece of wood for cabinetry in the discount pile of wood at Lowe’s. It was really thin. Almost too nice of a piece for the bottom of a shelf, but it was cheap and it was almost the perfect size. I painted that first and then nailed it to the underside of the frame. After I did that, my 9 year old said it looked way better. I’m sure at my kids’ height they could appreciate the improvement. And now I feel better about the floating shelf having the frame covered all the way.
It was my son’s 4th birthday on Saturday (oh, and my daughter’s 10th birthday this week… and my other daughter’s 6th birthday last week…and my husband’s birthday three days before that… and it was Father’s Day yesterday!) The first two weeks of June are busy, to say the least. Poor planning on our part? Definitely. Don’t do what we did. But I digress. I was having a hard time figuring out what to get my 4 year old. He kept saying random things like Spiderman gloves and Spiderman socks and a Zompire costume (?) and a vampire bat costume and a trampoline (that one wasn’t going to happen). He didn’t give me much to work with. So of course, the wheels in my head began to turn and I decided to build him a see-saw. I’d been wanting to build one for a while, but if you knew how many things that go through my head to build, that didn’t mean much. I only get to a small portion of my projects.
So a few days before his birthday I went and bought the wood and supplies. I spent the next day cutting and putting most of it together and the next day priming, painting and doing the final assembly. The plan was another one of Ana White’s. I love all of her plans. It makes things so easy.
This is the only shot I got of the building process. The base is pretty straight forward. The trickiest part was getting the holes to line up on all four pieces of wood that the bolt had to go through.
This one shows the bolt that makes the fulcrum. It is 5/8″ diameter by 10″ long. One thing I love about this design is that you can adjust the see-saw to go higher or lower. We had it on the higher setting when we first gave it to our son, but it was too high for him, and harder to get on and off. We lowered it and it’s perfect for him now. It’s not quite as fun for the adults or the older kids, but it’s still fun.
I used some leftover paint that went on part of the front of our house. I thought this would hold up well outside since it was an good exterior grade paint. And while I was in the garage I also painted the door to the house, but that’s another story. And also, isn’t our garden doing well this year? I’m so excited about it.Here is the birthday boy. I think he likes it.This was when it was on the higher setting.They all like it. The good thing about having lots of kids is you can have different configurations of kids to make the right balance of weight.Of course, against Daddy is a different story. I’m actually really impressed by how strong this is. We’ve done an adult and a kid on either side with no problem. I spent $30 on all the materials. The most expensive parts were the dowel used for the handles ($5.32) and the bolt, nut and washers ($6.13). It’s galvanized so that is won’t rust outside. I got some good 3″ deck screws ($6.47) but only used half the box. So I guess I could make another one with the rest? Or use them for the hammock stand I have planned–one of the many plans rumbling around in my head:)
Have you ever lost a sock behind the dryer? Or lint? Or anything laundry related? This used to happen to me a lot growing up. Sometimes you would even see the item fall behind the dryer but you could never quite reach that sock. And moving the dryer is way more painful than having one less sock, so you just leave it there. Here’s where having a counter over the washer and dryer come in handy (of course you have to have a front loading washer for this to work).
Right now my washer and dryer don’t exactly match. Our dryer went out first, but our washer still worked fine. The frugal person in me couldn’t justify buying a whole set when half of it wasn’t needed. Looking back, I should have told my frugal self to listen to reason and get the pair. But I didn’t and we just bought the dryer. A year later, the washer died, and wouldn’t you know it, the match for the previous model no longer existed. What this boils down to is that the washer is a bit taller than the dryer. Putting baskets on it, or anything, was doable, just uneven. Here’s where the counter idea would solve this slightly annoying problem.
I made it out of 1″ Ponderosa pine glued panels (actual thickness being 3/4″). I needed a really wide piece and they didn’t come that wide, so I bought two pieces and put them together. One was 18″ and the other was 12″
I used the Kreg jig and glue to put the two panels together. I also alternated which side the screws came from just because I thought it would make it more sturdy.After they were nicely put together, I added some 1″x2″ pieces of wood to the edges with glue and my nail gun to create a thicker look to the counter. Then I puttied and sanded everything until you couldn’t tell that it was ever two pieces. Side note: I got the belt sander and DI (Utah’s thrift store) for $5 and it works great! I found it in the shoe department of all places. I really feel like it was meant to be. I love that thing!
Also note that I cut a piece out of the back of the counter for the water lines going to the washer. Don’t worry though, this hole will be covered later.I thought I wanted a more natural wood look so I got some really light stain and put it on. Once I saw it in the laundry room I hated it. Really hated it. It looked too orang-y in some lights. So I went back to my standby, dark walnut. It matches the cabinetry that is already in there and I like it so much better. I also added three coats of polycrylic to protect it from any moisture. Next it was time to add the supports. We used 1″x3″ pieces of wood for the back and the side wall. We just made sure we used long enough screws and put them right into the studs. The picture below shows the final look without the counter top on, including the trim pieces that go above the counter. Note that we angled the support on the side wall so that it wouldn’t be seen from the front.
Jared and I had some interesting discussions about how to keep the counter in place, while still being removable. We brainstormed several ideas. We didn’t want it sliding out or being wobbly at all. There was also the issue of the wood bowing up in the middle and trying to figure out how to keep this part down. What we finally decided was that we needed to add a piece of wood going perpendicular to the under side of the counter. As soon as we did this (also with the Kreg jig), the counter flattened right out.
We still needed to ensure that the counter wouldn’t move at all, but we also wanted it to be removable so that we could have access to the washer and dryer if we need to. Our solution was to add a peg to the support on the side wall that would fit into a hole in the piece of wood we just added on the under side.
If you look closely you can see the hole at the end of the board. You may also notice that the counter is smaller at that end than the middle. That’s because the wall was not completely straight. But, I wanted this to be very snug (no room for socks or lint to slide through). I used a compass to scribe the edge of the wall onto the counter and trimmed along the line with the jig saw. Perfect fit. On the other side of the counter, we needed something to give it support. I built a frame with 1×2’s at the exact height of the counter. I planned to put some sort of paneling within the frame, but haven’t done it yet. The frame holds the counter in place perfectly and the weight of the counter keeps the frame from moving around, although we still do plan on attaching this piece to the wall and to the counter top just to be sure.
With the side frame, the trim pieces above, the supports below and the peg holding the counter in place it is very sturdy. It may even fit a little too snugly. It’s a bit difficult to get in and out. The good part is that I don’t see it happening very often. Maybe once a year to clean out the dryer vent?
Here is the counter with the rest of that wall. You can see that there is a shelf that goes above the counter to cover the hoses. I love that part. Now there is no chance of anything falling behind the washer and dryer and I have a large, flat surface to fold clothes on. I love it! The cost of the counter was about $40. Not too bad considering what other counter materials cost.
Here’s what the laundry room looked like for the first two years we lived here. Tons of wasted space, not all that functional and just blah!
Here is the after shot. So much more functional and not as boring.
I have been seeing plank walls all over blogs and pinterest and have been dying to do one somewhere in the house. I really like the look of them. I had toyed with doing one in the entry or in the master bedroom. Hey, I still might. After doing this one, I kind of want to do more all over the house, but I know it would be overkill to do it everywhere. One day I was at Lowe’s for something else and I went out to their clearance pile of wood outside to see what they had. I spotted these two 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheets of 1/8 in. panelboard. I immediately knew these would be perfect for my plank wall and would give me more than enough for the laundry room wall. These particular sheets had a smooth white finish on one side and a smooth brown finish on the other. I believe these would normally be $13, but they’d probably be a bit cheaper without the white finish. Because these had been used as part of a display in the store, I got each sheet for $3! So I spent $6 on all the wood for the plank wall, with some to spare. Definitely a good deal.
I had the store cut both sheets into strips just under 6″ each (to allow for the saw blade) so that I ended up with 16 planks 8 ft. long. They were supposed to charge me for the cuts, but there was a mix up at the checkout and in the end they told me not to worry about it.
I laid them out in my still unfinished basement and painted the brown side with some white paint & primer to match our trim color. I think I did two coats.
My wall was 7 feet long so I had to trim a foot off of each plank. I also didn’t put it behind the washer & dryer, so I used less than half a strip for the bottom part of the wall. I used my brad nailer to tack the planks on the wall. No glue or anything else. I just put in a nail every 8-10 inches or so. It would be easy to take off the wall if I hate it in 10 years, but it is definitely secure.
I used pennies to create the gap between the planks, taped the boards up with painter’s tape and then tacked them up. It is such a fast process. As far as the thickness of the plank, since it is just going on the face of the wall, there is no reason that the planks have to be super thick. All you really need is to see a shadow between the boards and it will give you the look of thicker planks.
Of course, we had to do a little time capsule behind the last plank
Yes, it was my idea and yes, I kind of had to make my husband put something about how much he loved me up there. Come on, you have to do it.
Okay, so the only real tricky part about this wall was matching it up to the ceiling. Even though the ceiling looks straight, it never actually is. Ever. Just go put a long, straight board along your ceiling and you will see. In this room, there was a huge dip in the middle. I put the board up thinking it wouldn’t be that bad. But it was that bad. There was about 1/8″ gap on one side and a 1/4″ gap on the other. Totally obvious! Too bad I didn’t get a picture of it before I tore it down. I decided that I needed to trim it to match. To do this I took a compass and set it to the widest gap, about 1/4″. While holding the board up to the ceiling, I scribed along the board by running my compass across it keeping the top of the compass touching the ceiling. Once I had the mark on the board, I took my jigsaw and cut along the line. You can see in the next picture that it fits pretty nicely along the top. It’s not a perfect cut, but since I was going to caulk it, I knew it just had to be close. It was way better that leaving those gaping spaces on the sides.
At about 5 1/2 feet up, I added a shelf. The back of the shelf is a 1×6 so it is roughly the same size as my planks. Once everything was up, I made sure all the nails were punched into the wood enough and then I puttied over the holes. After that I sanded and touched up the planks.
The last step was to caulk the sides and the top to make everything look nice and neat.
And that’s the plank wall. It’s such an easy project with such a big impact. And even if you didn’t get the wood out of the clearance pile, it would still be a pretty inexpensive project. Check out how I made my inexpensive light fixture here. I have another post on my laundry system that I love. I think making your laundry room a place that you want to go helps you actually want to do laundry. I’m so glad I did the plank wall!
Let me start off by saying that I like doing laundry. I really like it. It’s true. Most people I talk to don’t share this sentiment, and I get it. I haven’t always liked doing laundry either. It can be tedious and time consuming, overwhelming or just plain boring. But, now that I have a system for doing laundry and a space that I love to be in, laundry is actually enjoyable.
For some reason, it seems like laundry rooms are stuffed into tiny, dark areas of the home, like they were an afterthought to all the other rooms in the house. If I were designing a home, the laundry room would be one area that would be well thought out, and preferably have a window. But, even if you have a small laundry room or just a laundry closet, I believe there is a solution to every space. And I feel like you should love what you see in your laundry room because you have to go there anyway, over and over again. You might as well enjoy it.
1. THE ACTUAL ROOM My laundry room is not giant, 7 feet by 8 feet, but it is a decent size. When we looked at the model home and decided to build it, the laundry room was the first thing I knew I wanted to change. They had the door at the side and when it was open, a whole wall was unusable. They had cabinets with a counter top along the window which was fine except that the washer and dryer butted up against the side making the whole corner unusable as well. I changed the design so that the door was in the middle and put in a pocket door, so that the door wouldn’t get in the way. I also moved the counter to the wall across from the washer and dryer so that I could put baskets under the window and so that the previously unusable corner would become functional. I’m so glad I made those changes in the beginning. I honestly feel like this is my favorite room in the house. I’m weird.
This is what the original plan for the laundry room looked like.
This one shows the changes we made. This is what the laundry room looked like before I built the counter, shelves and curtain rods. Still better than the model, but not quite there yet.
This is after I put up the plank wall and built the counter.
And this one shows the removable shelf that covers the laundry hookup (translation: eyesore no more)
2. LAUNDRY COLLECTION My laundry room is upstairs (which I love) and is between the kids’ bedrooms, right across from the kids’ bathroom. It’s in the perfect spot for the kids to be able to put their clothes into the right hamper (most of the time clothes make it in there anyway). I have three hampers in the laundry room. One hamper is for whites, one is for darks and one is for pinks/reds. I am not too picky about the colors, and I’ve never had any problems. If it’s blue, brown, black, green, grey, dark purple, etc. it goes in the darks. If it’s white or yellow, it goes in the whites. If it’s red, orange, pink or purplish, it goes in the pink/red hamper. And with four girls in the family, we do actually have a lot of pinks. I bought these hampers at Bed Bath and Beyond in a set of two, one big one and one small one. I bought two sets and put the fourth hamper in the master closet. I had another hamper from before so I keep a hamper for whites and a hamper for darks in my closet and just carry them into the laundry room when they are full, throw clothes in the washer and take them back. Since I have a two story house, I also keep a basket in my pantry for kitchen towels and random socks and clothes that I find downstairs. I will usually just grab the basket on my way upstairs a couple of times a week.
3. WASHING THE LAUNDRY When I was buying my washer and dryer, my first requirement was that it was big. I bought the very largest capacity washer and dryer that there was. With a family of seven, I feel like size is important. I do have a lot of laundry to do. But with the large capacity, I don’t have to do as many loads. And, I do tend to stuff the washer to the brim. Maybe I’m not supposed to, but again, I’ve never had any problems doing it this way. Some people like to set aside a laundry day and get it over with for the week. I totally see the logic in doing it weekly, but personally, I don’t enjoy laundry as much if I have 67 loads to do in one day. Way too overwhelming. I spread out doing laundry throughout the week. I usually only do laundry on weekdays, sometimes Saturdays. I generally like to do one load a day, sometimes two. Occasionally I’ll do three if I feel like I have a lot to wash. And sometimes I don’t do any. So yeah, no real hard and fast laundry days or even, “I must do one load a day or I’ll get behind”. I’m not too hard on myself about it if I don’t get to it. If I’m home in the morning, I like to do the dishes first and then head up to the laundry room. I’ll throw a load in of whichever hamper is the fullest. If I have extra room I’ll throw a towel or two in. I’ve tried to keep track of how many loads I do a week, but I’m never quite sure at the end. I would say I do about 6 loads a week: 2 of whites, 3 of darks and 1 of pinks/reds. These are giant loads, keep in mind. Maybe even double a normal size washer. Having fewer loads helps me feel like laundry isn’t quite as much work and doing it throughout the week means I never get behind.
4. FOLDING LAUNDRY After I put clothes in the washer, I spend 15 minutes folding the clothes if there are any in the dryer from the day before. There usually are. For some reason, I enjoy this time in the morning. I can look out the window while I fold and I can think about what I want to do that day. Honestly, even the giant loads only take me 15 minutes. I definitely have that much time for laundry every day (or every other day). Adding 5 minutes to put each load in and transfer it to the dryer, I would say I only spend about 2 hours a week on laundry… for a family of 7. Not too bad. Here’s what really did it for me, I fold laundry in the laundry room. I used to have a laundry room in my 100 degree garage in Florida, so I would never have dreamed of folding laundry in there (not to mention there was a giant frog that lived in my laundry room–so creepy!) I always had to fold laundry on my bed, or my couch, or the floor and it made everything seem so messy, especially if you got interrupted and didn’t get to finish. Or else kids would come and mess up the piles. Or you’d get everything folded but after all that you had no more energy to put it all away. So it would sit out. Or you’d have to move the clean, unfolded laundry from the bed so you could sleep in it, only to have to work on it the next day. That’s what made me not like laundry before. Now, I only fold laundry in the laundry room. There is always some stage of laundry going: clothes in the washer, in the dryer, to be folded or already folded waiting to be put away… but here’s the important point, it stays in the laundry room. It belongs there. If I start folding and get interrupted, I can leave the clothes there and it will not affect any other area of my house. I can come back in 4 hours and finish folding, or even the next day. It’s never a problem. I realize not everyone has a space large enough to fold laundry in the laundry room, but what if you set up a space somewhere else that was just for folding?
5. FOLDING LAUNDRY: PART TWO I found that if I fill a basket with clothes to be folded and put it on top of the large hamper under the window, it is at the perfect height for me to stand and fold clothes without bending too much. Plus, I can look out the window while I do it.
I used to put four baskets on top of the counter and sort the kids’ folded laundry so that they each had a basket. But then we had a fifth kid, plus mine and Jared’s clothes and it made for a lot of baskets all over the room. That’s why I built a shelf above the counter so that I could fit four more baskets on top. Now everyone has a basket ($4 Sterilite baskets–perfect size) and a spot for it. I can easily fold and drop things into the right person’s basket.
I also have plenty of space for towels, blankets and sheets on the counter I built over the washer and dryer, space I didn’t have before I built the other shelf. Wonderful!
6. FOLDING LAUNDRY: PART THREE (really, part three about folding???) All right, so I really like laundry. I said that. And I really like my system. Feel free to stop reading. Before, I didn’t have a closet rod to hang shirts. And believe me, there are a lot of shirts to be hung. My husband has to wear a shirt and tie to work every day, and he and my boys wear nice shirts to church. I added two rods, one for long things and one for shorter (kids’) things. Now, instead of just folding a mostly wrinkly shirt and stuffing it in the basket, I can hang it up right then and there. Sometimes they don’t need to be ironed, especially if they are straight out of the dryer–hey, it happens every now and then–so I can just take them into the closets already hung up. Since I put the rods up, I’ve actually had the hankering to iron. So every three weeks I would say, I spend an hour or so ironing a bunch of shirts (I’ve got it down to 3 minutes a shirt). Ironing isn’t my favorite part of laundry, but it’s kind of satisfying being able to see all the shirts hung up in there. And I get to listen to a talk or podcast so it goes fast. I also use the closet rod to hang my jeans or shirts I don’t want to put in the dryer. Love it!
7. CLOTHES THAT DON’T FIT I almost named this one “folding laundry: part four”, but I spared you. I have five kids that grow like weeds. I feel like I am constantly having to go through their clothes to move on to new sizes. But I can’t do this every week, so I came up with a new solution. You know the shorts that your kid keeps wearing but are 8 inches too short, and you keep seeing them come through the laundry? You have to get them out of circulation, but taking them all the way to the size 3T box of boy clothes is just too much work and too time consuming at the moment (remember, you’ve only given yourself 15 minutes to fold). The solution? Designate an intermediate place for clothes that are too small. I built a shelf above my washer/dryer and put three bins up there for this purpose. One is for boy clothes that are too small, one is for girls clothes that are too small and one is for clothes I know I don’t want another kid to wear, it’s the donate bin. So when I am folding and I come across a garment such as this, I can just throw it in the right bin and move along without thinking about it. At least for a few months until I have to go through clothes again. Another bonus? The shelf is so high that my kids will never see the beloved clothes and fish them out to be worn again and again. I choose what goes out of circulation.
8. SOCKS I know what you’re thinking, “A section just for socks? Really?” Yes, but most people have to deal with socks. One reason to miss Florida, way fewer socks to fold, we hardly ever wore them. When I’m at the end of my basket, that’s when I quickly match up all the socks. When I find a sock without a match, which I always do, I do one of two things. If I don’t recognize it, I throw it in the pile to be taken downstairs because it’s one of the neighbor’s socks. I put these in a basket by the front door for them to take home. If it is one of our socks, I open the sock drawer and try to find the match. The sock drawer is right where I’m standing to fold so it is very convenient. If I find the match, which happens about 50% of the time, then I fold them over and throw them in the right basket. If I don’t find a match, I drop it in the drawer and wait till the other one comes around in a load or two. Easy.
9. PUTTING STUFF AWAY All right, so putting clothes away has always been the worst part about laundry for me. With the “system” I can finish folding, put everything neatly in baskets and walk away. I can be done with laundry for the day. Okay, so usually when I’m done with a load, I’ll take the towels and sheets around the corner to the linen closet or grab the stack of kitchen towels on my way downstairs. But I normally leave all the baskets on the shelf. All the kids are responsible for putting away their own clothes. The four older kids’ baskets are on the counter where they can reach them. They don’t have to put clothes away every day, but they have to do it at least once a week. And then they put the empty basket back when they are done. My basket, Jared’s basket and the baby’s basket are on the top shelf. Every few days when I see that the baskets are getting full, I will put away my clothes and the baby’s. It takes about 5 minutes. I can handle that. Everyone else can do their own.
10. SO WHAT’S IN THE OTHER DRAWERS? I’m glad you asked. I already showed you the sock drawer. The next one over is the drawer for clean rags.
The one after that has dryer sheets, magic erasers and other such things. It’s right across from the dryer so grabbing a dryer sheet is easy.
The last drawer is for pencils, loose change and miscellaneous items. In the first cabinet I keep diapers and wipes, because you have to have those on every floor. In the other cupboard I keep extra laundry soap and ingredients to make stain remover and homemade laundry soap. Oh, and my iron. I want to hang my ironing board on the wall, and make a new cover for it. All in good time, I suppose. The space at the end is where I put the garbage can for lint and diapers.
I can’t really think of anything else that I need or want in my laundry room. I love the look of the plank wall, the light fixture and the counter. But more than just liking the look, I love the functionality of it. Everything has a place and a purpose. Laundry is always happening around here, but it just works. And I’ll say it again, I actually like laundry.
What do you love or hate about your laundry routine?
So I’ve been working on our laundry room for… entirely too long now. It is so close to being done. I can’t wait! I will post pictures soon. As I was thinking about the room, I knew I wanted to have some different type of lighting besides the boring, builder one that was in there. Sure, it wasn’t necessary. Who cares about the light anyway? But unnecessary probably applies to about 1/2 my projects. Why? Because I want to, because I can, because I think it gives it character. Anyway, I thought I wanted a small chandelier and bought the little $40 one at Ikea. But literally as I was driving home from Ikea with the chandelier in the back, it hit me about what I really wanted to do for the light: make a globe light. (Now my 9 year old is trying to convince me to put the chandelier in her closet. We’ll see about that one.)
Here’s a little preview of the plank wall I did on one side of the laundry room. I am seriously loving the plank wall! But that’s another post.
So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought myself two 12″ embroidery hoops. They were $1.99 a piece and I had a 40% off coupon for one of them so that part was about $3.40 with tax. I put one coat of dark walnut stain that I had used for my homemade counter top and let it dry.
The other supplies I needed for the light was a cord with a light bulb screw-in ($5.00 at Ikea), a decorative plate with a hole in it to cover the wiring in the ceiling ($5.00 at Lowe’s) and of course a light bulb. I got an LED one from Ikea because I liked the look of it and because I didn’t think it would ever burn out. Pretty sure that’s the future of light bulbs. The light bulb was almost $8.00 bringing the total cost of the light fixture to around $22.00 (less than $14 without the bulb). Definitely cheaper than the chandelier, especially since I still had to buy light bulbs for it. Next, it was time to glue the globe together. I measured the halfway point of the two inner (smaller) hoops with my sewing tape measure, marked them with chalk and glued the two points together with wood glue. Then I made one of these the equator of the globe and divided each side in thirds, also marking with chalk. I measured and marked the outer hoops, matched up the chalk marks and glued everywhere except the top.
This is where my electrician came in (my husband). He hooked the wires up and made sure it worked, then realized he had to disconnect it to get the top plate on. After that was on and I painted the part that was covered by the old fixture, it was time to put on the globe. Oh yeah, did I mention that I painted my ceiling blue? Again, same reasons as before; because I wanted to. I didn’t want the walls a color, but I still felt like a little color in the room was needed. Hence, the ceiling is now blue (and I love it).
Everything else is glued except the top part of the globe. This is so you can get it onto the wire and adjust it as you need. One of the hoops will be tightened with the screw and the other will be left open. Just slide the wire into this opening and screw the last hoop closed. That’s it.
Also, don’t you just love this clock? I got it for an amazing deal. I have some plans for the rest of this wall because it looks a bit lonely, but I seriously love it. And I think it goes with the light fixture, don’t you?
I’m not sure just what inspired me to build this little step stool, other than that I was browsing through Ana White’s website looking at various plans and this one really struck my fancy. Wait, did I just say struck my fancy? Well anyway, I thought it was cute and had some interesting lines to it. And it looked pretty easy to build. Bonus: I had all the wood I needed already (Translation: free!).
I started by cutting all my wood. I just want to say how much I love my miter saw (Christmas 2012). It makes stuff like this a cinch. Just set the right angle and cut. Here’s what it looked like before I put anything together.
Next, I glued each piece and nailed it to make it secure. Back when I built this I didn’t have a finish nail gun. As of Christmas 2013, I not only have one but three (a finish nail gun, a brad gun and a staple gun, along with an air compressor). Yep, I’m a lucky girl. But back to this project. It would have been way faster with the gun, but it was definitely not the end of the world. I can use a hammer if I need to. So this is what it looked like all put together.
After that I added some stain. I used dark walnut mixed with a gray stain that my neighbor let me use that’s good for weathering. It turned out pretty dark, so I’m not sure the gray did anything. But I don’t mind it like this. Next time I think I would do the gray coat alone and then a light coat of the walnut to create a more weathered look. But it was going to be painted over anyway so it was no big deal.
After that I wanted to try my hand at milk paint. I’d never tried it before but had read about it and seen tutorials on it. I’m not sure I quite know what I’m doing with it yet, as far as consistency and such, but it was pretty interesting. It is supposed to leave a pretty chippy finish. I hear it has a mind of its own and chooses where to chip. That’s kind of the beauty of it. Here is what it looked like after I painted it on.Then I used a damp rag to do the initial distressing. I also used a metal brush to flake of some of the paint.And this is the finished product. It definitely is a weathered look.You can really see some of the chippy nature in these.
My baby loves to climb it. It is a step stool after all. But she likes to climb everything right now. She may spend more time on the table than the floor some days. I was going to sell this, but I kind of like it in my family room. It’s a bit of a problem I have. I use it as a side table. But, I could always make another one, especially with my new nail gun, right?
Last year I decided to make our family some stockings. My mom knitted all ours growing up and we LOVED our stockings. I guess I always assumed that I would also make some stockings for my family. Although, I wouldn’t be able to knit them like my mom, I’m not that talented.
I saw a tutorial somewhere on how to make lined stockings so I thought this would be a good, inexpensive way to make something better than what we were currently using ($1 stockings given out to our kids from a random Santa one year–nothing fancy). Then I thought it would be neat to have some sort of fuzzy fabric for the inside so that when you reach your hand in on Christmas it’s soft. Crazy? Maybe, but the idea was there and so I went about the execution.
These were our stocking last year, and the year before, and the year before… I’m kind of just done with them. And yes, my baby is really happy that we put her there to take pictures.
I found some red fabric that I liked last year, but I had some trouble trying to decide what green fabric to use. I actually bought two different greens and still couldn’t decide. I wanted to do two colors because our family is goes every other one. I was all gung ho about it last year and made the four girl stockings, but never finished the boy ones. This year I decided I should just pick one of the greens and finish the project already.
First, I traced the old stockings we had onto a big piece of newspaper to make the pattern. Next, I cut the full size in the fuzzy fabric (for the inside). You could cut the outside fabric the same size as the inside, since it would be folded over in the end, but I wanted this part fuzzy too in case I ever wanted to leave it up like on Christmas day. Either way. If you do it my way, you would end up with a small rectangle of fuzzy fabric next the rest of the outer fabric, like this. Just make sure the inside and outside are the same size.
Sew all three pieces together along the tops and do the same for the other side. I made some simple fabric loops to sew into the stockings for hanging and positioned them in place (you’d have to fold down the stocking and figure this one out to know where to put it). Now comes the part where you sew it all together. Pin right sides together as shown. And don’t forget to put the loop in the middle of your fabric facing in (I may have done this wrong before). Then just sew it all together along the edges leaving enough space to turn it on the end. I did the hole in the lining so that my hand stitching wouldn’t be as obvious. This is also the time to trim off any edges and clip the corners. I’m not sure how much this helps, but I did it anyway.
This is what your stocking looks like when you’ve turned it right side out.
Once you’ve sewn the toe up, you can stuff the lining inside and flatten everything out.
Now fold the top down and you are done. As long as you’ve done it right, the hook should be in the perfect spot for hanging.
That’s how you make soft, fuzzy lined and affordable stockings in any fabric you like. Now I’d like to find some metal letters to hang with them for each person’s first initial. I’m on the lookout.
I knew I wanted a menu board in my kitchen before I even moved into our house. I even knew where I would put it. I had the builders move our thermostat to another wall during our framing walk through so that I could hang the future menu board on this wall. Now you know what I think about as I lay in bed at night.
But having a place for a menu board and an idea for it, doesn’t mean it’ll get there any time soon. I was a bit undecided about what I actually wanted it to look like. At first I thought it would be good as a giant chalkboard with a cute painted frame. I even cut out the size and painted chalkboard paint on the board, but I wasn’t really convinced. On to plan B. I found this frame at a garage sale for 50 cents and thought it would make a great menu board, or be a good frame for another project I had in my head. You really can’t go wrong with a frame this cheap. I had some turquoise spray paint and some of this yellow chevron fabric. It was one of those spur of the moment kind of days where I just up and decided to make it. I sprayed it and covered the ugliness with fabric.
Then I did a quick design on my Silhouette, cut out the letters and stuck them on. And this is how it looked on my wall for about 6 months. It was fine: functional, a good size, so helpful in my meal planning and most importantly, in the right spot. But every time I looked at it, there was just something that didn’t look right to me. I didn’t love the color of the frame. Some tone or hue just rubbed me wrong, I guess. How else can I explain it?
So one day, when I was painting the blue part of the chevron frames, I decided to also paint this one. Instantly, I liked it so much more. While it is still a bold color, it wasn’t as bright or jarring (to me anyway). Then, since the frame had some interesting details, I glazed it. Here are some close ups. I don’t think I waited quite long enough for the blue paint to dry before I glazed it because some of it rubbed off and you can see the bad blue through. But I can live with it.
And there you have it. I like it because it is so easy to change the fabric out if (or more likely when) I get tired of what’s in there. And now, as long as I actually do a menu, everyone can see what we are having. The kids’ friends even ask to come over for dinner on certain days when they see a meal they like. My life is always easier when I see what I’m supposed to be making and it’s out in the open.
This was a project we did almost a year ago. Our mud room was not working at all. The main part of the mud room has four cubbies for shoes and six hooks above, but the kids could not even reach the hooks because they were so high. Combine that with the fact that we have seven people in our family, all with coats, back packs, bags, jackets, hats and papers, papers and more papers! Shoes would sometimes get put away, but everything else got thrown on the floor because there was no place for all that stuff. We definitely needed to do something.
I still wanted to use the hooks that we had, but there was a whole wall on the other side that was completely empty. It was screaming for a kid organization system. I had several drawings and ideas similar to this one along the way. It kept evolving as time went on. I basically derived the plan from Ana White. At first I was going to do board and batten and put each kid’s stuff in each square, but I soon realized that there wasn’t enough space for that. I also had the chalkboard on the bottom at one point, but then realized that while the kids would be able to draw on the bottom, they wouldn’t be able to reach the cubbies. So I ended up putting all of them together with cubbies and hooks on the bottom.
I wanted to try out the magnetic paint, and then put chalkboard paint on top of that. I did three coats of the magnetic paint and it is magnetic, but it’s not very strong. We have some really strong magnets, like really strong, and they work, but most don’t. I was not impressed and probably won’t be using it again.
The other thing I wish we had done differently was not used boards that were bowed. It’s not that obvious and it still functions fine, I guess I’m just more of a perfectionist about this and wish they were flatter on the top. Oh well.
Here is the shape for the sides. We made the width 12″ so that it could fit a normal piece of paper both directions.
Here’s how it looks with the kids’ stuff on it. And now the question is, do they actually hang their stuff up and put their papers/school stuff away? And the answer is yes. Okay, obviously not every time, but for the most part, everything has a place and everything gets put away. My older kids are especially great at this (not really my one year old). And the best part is that even my two year old could reach his hook when we first built it. It really is the perfect solution. I would like to add some clips to the top to display artwork or reading charts and such since the magnet thing didn’t work. Stay tuned for that.
I realize that we don’t actually need to have tags on a container that is see through, but I think it adds that little extra touch.
The idea behind the jars came from a random blog that I read a few months ago. I have no idea where it was so I can’t give them credit. Sorry. The idea is that if something is out of sight then it is out of mind, but that the opposite is also true, if something is in sight then it will be in your mind. In other words, if you want your kids to do something (or yourself for that matter), then put it out where everyone will see it and want to use it. My kids love art, but storing the art supplies was always a messy business. When it was time to clean them up, things got shoved into the bottom of a cabinet. It didn’t matter how many times I organized it, there was no way to keep it straight. And of course being a low cabinet, the baby would always come along and dump stuff out. My solution was to put everything into glass jars at a height that only my older kids could get to.
But wait Laura, you really put your crayons in a glass jar? Aren’t you afraid your kids will break it? Come on.
Good Question. I agree that it’s not the norm to store anything that kids use in glass. But, we’ve been using these for several months and they’ve never gotten dropped. And believe me, my kids probably use at least one of these supplies every day. The younger kids ask me or an older child to get the jar down and put it back. This system seems to work a whole lot better than the stuff everything in the cupboard way and I like the look so much better!
1. Chalkboard paint: I’ve had it forever and have used it for so many projects, and I still have about half a can. That’s why I prefer actual paint over spray paint. It lasts way longer.
2. Basswood: I had some left over from architecture school. This one was 1/8″ x 4″ x 24″. I just used my miter saw to cut tags about 2 1/2″ wide. Then I changed the angle to 45 degrees and cut off the two corners. Last, I drilled a hole in the top. I’m sure you could use plywood or any other scrap wood too. Once I finished painting them, I sanded the corners to give them some definition.
3. Twine: Just make sure it’s small enough to go through the hole.
4. Glass jars: I bought these at Ikea for I think $4 a piece a few months ago. (Okay, so the project wasn’t all free, but the actual tags didn’t cost me anything.)
5. Chalk: So I have white vinyl in this picture because I originally cut the words out of vinyl and put them on the tags, but I didn’t like the look as much as the actual chalk writing.
And there you have it, a good looking display of art supplies that you can actually display. We put this in the space leading into the mud room on top of an Ikea shoe storage chest, about 4 feet high. You can see it from the dining room which is where the kids do their artwork. Next up in that space, a nice piece of art/print/sign to go above the jars.
I’m very excited to be done with my living room. Almost two and a half years ago, we came to Utah to look for a new house. When we saw this model, we kind of fell in love with it. Dream house? Well, no. A dream house would have to be one that I design. But, is this a good house for us? Absolutely! A great house actually. It fit all of our criterion: two story home, four bedrooms and laundry room upstairs, unfinished basement (project potential), a 3 car garage, scissor stairs, a floor plan that wasn’t like everyone else’s, and it had a separate living room for our piano. The model had some beautiful white board and batten in their living room, so I knew eventually I would want to put it in our house too. Eventually… we seemed to say that about a lot of things when we built our house. And after two years, most of those things are still on the list. But at least for our living room, eventually actually did come.
It all started when I made the goal to “hang pictures”. With 9 foot ceilings, the pictures we had on our wall always looked kind of small. My idea was to build some bigger frames with a pattern on them and then put the smaller 8″x10″ frames on top. That way I wouldn’t have to order giant prints, but it would still look balanced on the wall. Here is what our living room looked like right after we moved in. Cream walls and too small pictures. Apparently the kids made some sort of cave with a shoe wall around it?
Once I made the frames and held them up to the wall, I knew I had to paint. They looked horrible against the cream walls. Why did we choose cream walls in the first place? The builder only had 5 options and I wasn’t in love with any of them. We choose the lightest one so that at least the ceiling would be light when we painted the walls. Since I was going to paint anyway, I decided it would be a good time to finally do the board and batten in there. That’s kind of how this all came about. Here is a shot of the room right before we started working on it.
We started by taking off the baseboards and replacing them with 1″x6″ boards. We used pine and made sure that all the boards had nice square edges. I wanted to prime and paint all the boards before hand, but my paint sprayer stopped working just before this. Grrr… I am now in the market to get a new one. Instead, I primed and painted just the baseboards first so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting paint on the carpet.
We measured everything before to make sure that we weren’t going to cover up any outlets. We decided on 18″ on center spacing and it seemed to look like a good distance. Of course, every room would be different based on different dimensions. I would say that whatever looks best in the space is what you should do. Our room was 12′ x almost 12′, so almost square. Here is my little sketch of where the boards would go. The vertical pieces are 1″x3″, the middle horizontal piece is a 1″x4″ and the top horizontal piece is a 1″x 6″ (just like the baseboards). The height of the middle piece was measured so that it would be right under the light switch. That made the bottom vertical pieces 36″. The smaller vertical pieces on the top are 18″, making a square on the top and 1/3 to 2/3 ratio for the overall look. It ended up being as tall as me, 5’6″, leaving 3’6″ left on the top. Incidentally, this is almost exactly the golden ratio. It is something we studied a bit in architecture school and it really is amazing how this ratio applies to so much, including the human body. Without really thinking about it, this ratio makes things look balanced, not symmetrical, which is more pleasing to the eye. Interesting, right?
All right, enough about math. This is my amazingly handy husband helping put the boards up. He has learned to just go with all my crazy ideas and always helps them come to fruition. We borrowed a nail gun for this project and pretty much love it! It made things go so fast and hardly left any marks. We have to get one (along with that new paint sprayer:)
It took one and a half Saturdays to put up the boards and a couple more weeks to caulk, fill holes, sand and prime. And then there was two coats of paint. The white is the same color as our baseboards in a semi-gloss and the gray on top is Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray in a satin finish. I was liking the look, but… (you know there’s always a but)…it really didn’t look good with the ceiling. Again, that cream! So before I put the furniture back, I decided to paint the ceiling white. This picture shows the gray with the cream. My kids still had to practice piano while we were doing this project, and here is one of them practicing through the plastic. Funny! She was actually so helpful in this whole process. I did most of the painting while my husband was doing a racquetball tournament, so I had Erin make the kids dinner or make sure Hallie didn’t get in the paint. I love having older kids! And by the way, the baby did ruin an outfit by getting into the paint when I was trying to finish before the kids got home from school. Ugh. Sometimes I wonder why I try to do anything with babies around.
I have painted a few ceilings in my day, but I had never tried the kind that paints on purple and then dries white. I guess the idea is that you can see where you’ve painted if you are going over an already white ceiling. I was only slightly skeptical, but it definitely works. Funny thing, my husband came home while I was doing the ceiling so I told him I was painting it purple. I mean, that’s what it looked like at the time. He didn’t even question it, but instead commented that it kind of looked white when it was on the ceiling (the part that had dried). I think that I’ve shot out so many weird ideas to him that nothing surprises him anymore. Even a purple ceiling.
Anyway, I love the way it all turned out! I’m so glad that I finally got around to this project. I’m thinking the entry way may be next up with some matching board and batten, hooks and a place for shoes.
I’m excited to show off the chevron frames that I made to hang my kids’ pictures (and yes, as you can see, one of my kids was not happy about getting his picture taken–but we’re hanging it anyway:). This is something I’ve been envisioning and working on for quite a while, so I’m glad to finally get them up on the wall!
I started by cutting 5 pieces of 1/4″ plywood. I did 17″x17″ squares so that I could put an 8″x10″ frame either direction on the front. I thought this would leave a good border. Then I cut some 1″x2″ pieces for the frame. I took some scrap pieces of wood (mostly 1″x5″‘s or 1″x4″‘s) and tacked them to the back of the plywood with glue and 1″ nails, long enough to get to the plywood and short enough to not go through it. Once those were secure, I nailed the frame pieces to the scraps on the back. It made for some pretty sturdy frames.
Next, I painted them all white. Here’s a lovely picture of what my paint room looks like mid-project. I used to put cardboard or a drop cloth over the floor, but after a while I just started painting right on the floor. It kind of gives a history of what I’ve done. The next step was to paint the chevron pattern. My original idea was to do regular 1″ painters tape and cut it in the chevron pattern, but my friend told me about a new Frog Tape product that is out right now called Shape Tape. They have three shapes: wave, scallop and chevron. It made this project so much easier and it worked great!
I evenly spaced the tape and peeled the backing off the tape (another reason my paint room was such a mess). Then I painted on the gray. I definitely recommend this product! It was a bit pricey, at around $14, but way worth it. It gave me the look I wanted without bleeding. When that was dry, I took some stain and wiped it along the whole frame. If I could do it over, I would probably have watered the stain down or used a wet cloth on it right after because there were some really dark spots. I wanted it to look weathered, so I took my orbital sander to them and gave them the look I was going for. This also toned down some of the darker spots. Once the back part was done, I got some thin picture frames from the dollar store and painted them. Blue for the boys and magenta for the girls (the benefit of having my kids every other one).
I added some glaze to the frames so that the details would pop a bit more. This is what I used. It was my first time using glaze and I like the look. I’ll have to do more with glaze on another project.
And here is the finished look with all five on the wall.
My next post will be about my living room. Once I had these frames made and I held them up to my cream colored walls, I knew that I had to paint the walls gray. Trust me, it looks so much better now. And then I did the board and batten too. That’s kind of why it took me so long to get these hung. Hey, the pictures are only 4 months old. It could be worse.
I finally got around to finishing this huge armoire that has been sitting in our garage for over a year. Someone was getting rid of it and so we got it for free. I could immediately see potential and had the finished look in my head forever. Whenever people would come over and see our old entertainment center, I would always wish that they could see what I imagined the room to look like instead of what it looked like then.
This is the only picture I can find of what we had going on for our TV before the armoire, behind the miter saw. I think I hated it so much that I avoided pictures of it at all cost. Not horrible back in the day, but I wanted something brighter and more modern. I’m thinking about making that entertainment center into a puppet theater/dress-up closet. It’s kind of way down on my list right now though.
Here is the armoire before picture. This was one heavy piece of furniture! And in case you are wondering, it is laminate. Gulp! I really wanted the paint job to look good on laminate and not peel off like I’d seen happen before. I used a primer that is supposed to go over laminate without sanding, but I gave it a good sanding before just to be safe.
Here it is when it’s open. And yes, our TV is really, really old (but interestingly, newer than both of our cars). And yes, people make fun of us about it. But it still works and now it can be hidden, so I see no reason to get a new one just yet.
Here is what the bottom looks like when it’s open. There’s tons of storage in this thing. There were also tons of pieces to take apart, paint and put back together. And tons of hinges, handles, magnets and screws. I’m actually amazed that we figured out where everything went again.
Anyway, I’m so glad that I finally just bit the bullet and did this project. It makes a huge difference in our family room. I love it! Now on to refinishing our dining room chairs.
This is the play house bed I just finished for my 4 year old daughter. I never planned to build this, just to be clear. Rewind a year or so ago. That’s when I had the idea to build my son a castle bed. That one had been rumbling around in my brain for a good couple of years. When we finished it (four months later), my daughter asked when I would build her a bed. My thought at the time was, “Umm, never!” because it was such a big project. Fast forward a few months… I had a baby, my 2 year old was refusing to sleep in his crib and my 4 year was still in a little toddler bed. It really was time to get her a new bed. Sooo, one day in January I was searching some plans and willy nilly decided to build her a bed instead of buy one. And I made the mistake of showing her the plan, which meant that she asked about it daily until I finally bought the wood. Lovely persistent child. It took 2 months to complete, about 8 different trips to Lowes/Home Depot and cost about $250 for wood, screws, hinges, paint and filler.
I actually combined two different plans to make this bed, the bones of one and the character of another. I found both plans on Ana White’s website. Seriously, this website is so awesome! There are tons of free plans to just about anything. I liked the simplicity of the first bed, and I liked the idea of using boards for siding instead of big sheets of plywood. I took the rounded windows, the shutters, the pergola, the window boxes, the heart cut-outs and some color inspiration from the second bed.
So, I asked for a miter saw for Christmas. The guy my husband bought it from was baffled that it was for his wife and not him. I love it! I feel like I have more freedom to do projects on my own with this saw. And that was my goal with this bed. I wanted to do it on my own. I would say that over 95% of it was done by me–all the cuts, painting, sanding and most of the assembly. Jared helped with the final assembly and of course bringing it upstairs.
I built the bed in our unfinished basement. Last year we were building the castle bed in the garage in January and February. It was cold, but it would have been way colder in the garage this winter. It was a brutal one. Even the basement got really cold (note: my sweatshirt). My neighbor got a scroll saw for Christmas (I love my neighborhood) and she let me borrow it/break it in for this project. And yeah, it was loud so I wore ear protection.
There were A LOT of hearts to cut out. Fifty, to be exact, times 2 for both sides of the heart and, well, it was a lot of cutting! That part took me a few days. Keep in mind, that I have 5 kids, so it was really like a few random hours that I managed to squeeze in throughout each day.
I spent another day or so just drilling all the Kreg Jig holes. You can see them in the next picture. That’s how I put it all together after it was painted. I love the Kreg Jig! Then it was on to painting. I used to care if paint got on the floor of my paint room, but now I feel like the floor is an art piece of its own, or at least a history of what’s been painted in there.
More painting. I used my spray gun for the blue and white parts, but spray paint cans for the pink. I totally regret that part! It ended up costing way more because I used like 5 cans. And it gummed up when I sanded it later (after filling holes). Such a pain! But I learn as I go.
After assembling each side, next up was filling all the holes. I went through almost 3 things of wood filler, all different brands. The second kind I used was horrible! I think it was called Plastic Wood. It was hard to work with and didn’t leave a very good look in the end. Another learning experience: don’t go for the cheap stuff!
The shutters are operable, but the wood was slightly warped so they don’t look perfect when they are closed. But, they look good open and the kids don’t care in the least. One of them wouldn’t stay open all the way so Jared niftily put a magnet on one of the shutters and now it stays open. That’s why I keep that guy around. Oh, and also because he lets me do insane projects like this.
One of the best parts about the bed is that my 8 year old now gets her own room. We moved Marissa, and soon the baby, into the bedroom we were using as a play room. It still has all the toys in it so there’s a good amount of organization ahead, but things are way better with the girls having separate rooms. I’m so glad I got to make something special for Marissa, and I feel pretty good knowing that I made this bed myself!
This was a little piece that I scored while looking at the free section of KSL.com. An antique desk was actually the one listed, and not this one. I called and the lady said I could come and get it. I was even debating whether I should go right then because I had three kids in the mini-van and not that much room in the back. But I went because an antique desk is just plain awesome. When I got there the lady asked if she had just called me, which she hadn’t. “Uh oh,” she said, “I think someone else is coming to get this right now too.” As it turned out, she had told three people to come on over and pick up the desk. Really? It was like 20 minutes away on the other side of the lake. But anyway, I got there first and therefore got the desk. I do feel bad for those other people because it could have easily been me. After literally wedging it into the back of the van she said, “Hey, do you want this one too?” Uh, yeah! Luckily one of my children was at school at the time so I was able to perch this one on her seat. The woman asked me how I even had time to redo furniture with so many kids. She has a point, you know. But I need some creative outlet, and right now, this is it.
…okay, a lot more color. This is how it turned out. It was the first time I had actually used my spray gun on a piece of furniture and it worked out really well. There were no brush strokes and it was way faster. Painting is so satisfying because the transformation is immediate. The only issue I ran into was that the spray gun was too big to get inside the top shelf, so I ended up having to paint that part by hand. I love how it has a lock, and that the key was actually in it when the lady gave it to me. I took that hardware out and sprayed it with some oil rubbed bronze. I love the contrast between the blue and the black. I taped off the legs to spray the bottom metal part. I think the legs are really cool, mid-century looking. That’s probably how old this is anyway. I started taking the hinges off to spray those too, but after getting the screws out I realized they were glued on, like really good. I would have ruined the wood if I’d tried to take them out. I ended up having to paint those by hand by spraying some spray paint into a plastic tray and brushing it on. I was originally planning to sell it when I was done with it, and I still might. Do I really need all this furniture that I keep redoing? Probably not. But I kind of like it too, so we shall see. Right now it’s got a happy home right next to our piano in the front room.
Last summer, we had just moved to Utah and were living in a basement apartment while our house was being built. There wasn’t exactly much space to work on projects, let alone pick stuff up off the road. I was also kind of bummed about not having bulk pick up like we did in Florida, so I couldn’t pass this one up when I saw it. We were working outside on the car when we noticed a neighbor three houses down having a garage sale, and that’s when I saw my next project. This one was in such bad shape that they weren’t even selling it. I could totally see the potential with this one and it took a while to convince my husband that I should cart a broken down, useless piece of furniture to our already cramped basement apartment. He did have a point, after all. We had no space and no workshop, but I wheeled it home anyway.
I knew this would be perfect for my daughter’s room. On the little patio outside our door I sanded it, scraped off the warped veneer on top, sanded some more and then painted it blue. I love the color! My daughter loved it, until I started to distress it. She just couldn’t understand why I would ruin a perfectly good paint job. But the distressing really brought out the details of the piece. I put a couple of coats of polyurethane on and spray painted the hardware oil rubbed bronze. This is seriously one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever done, if not my favorite. I am so glad I went with my gut and scooped this desk up before it went to the landfill.
This is a close up of one of the drawers.
The Oxbow Eco Center was my final comprehensive design project, my last project of architecture school! This represents 6 1/2 years of work and literally countless hours and all-nighters along the way. Looking at this brings back a lot of memories. I was not even pregnant with my first child when I started, and by the end of it all I had three kids… with one on the way. I found out I was three months pregnant at the end of this semester! So crazy. I don’t recommend it to anyone!
At the beginning of the semester I took a short Revit training class (a 3-D modeling program), so this was my first shot at using it. There was definitely a learning curve involved, especially creating all the curved elements. But with the help of one of my Revit experienced classmates, I figured a lot out. It is definitely a powerful program once you know how to use it.
The Oxbow Eco Center is a nature preserve in Florida with an existing building already on the site. Our assignment was to expand the building to include more classrooms, canoe storage and an amphitheater while incorporating the existing building. Being a nature preserve, we had to be sensitive to the environment, use solar power and collect water. While on the site, I noticed that nature creates varying degrees of obstruction through branches, vines or thick forests. My concept was to design space using obstructions, similar to the nature I observed. The various layers (the wood slats running along the second level, the fabric shades and the green screens) not only provide shade from the harsh sun, but give definition to each space. Walls in the spaces were designed to unfold completely, as well as sliding glass roofs in certain locations to allow natural ventilation into the building while still being protected by the thin, fabric outer layer–a good way to bring nature into the building.
This project actually won the best Comprehensive Design Project that semester. I felt so honored! Then the next week I graduated Magna Cum Laude, which is saying something because I never got that good of grades until I went to architecture school. I guess it was meant to be!
This desk was the first furniture makeover I ever attempted. When we first got married, we had a giant computer desk with a giant computer to go with it. But as the years went by, our computers got smaller and our family got bigger… thus necessitating the removal of the giant desk from our small house. Since four kids filled up all the bedrooms, there was no place for our computers anymore. They ended up on our dining room table every day and then cleared off when we ate. We were tripping over cords and I couldn’t stand it anymore! I had to do something.
I searched and searched for a simple, two laptop desk and couldn’t find one anywhere. So I drew up the plans for a desk to go at the end of our dining room. We were about to go out and buy the wood for it when we spotted this dresser sitting on the side of the road just waiting for our monthly city wide bulk pick-up. The thought had never occurred to me that I could find something old and remake it into what I needed. I didn’t pick it up then, but I kept thinking about the dresser. I went over to measure it at 1:00 am–because I was too embarrassed to go in broad daylight–and, amazingly, it was the exact height, width and depth of the desk I had designed. Talk about fate! I convinced my husband to help me lug it home where we took out the drawers, added two shelves, sanded it and painted it until it was a functional and much needed desk. Three Saturdays working on it in our hot garage the middle of summer in Florida were miserable, but so worth it in the end!
You can read about the chair transformation here.
I was so excited about my first project that I found on the side of the road–a dresser that I transformed into a useful and much needed desk for our laptops. Once that was finished I jokingly said that I only needed to find some cool chairs to go with it. Not too long after I was dropping someone off in a new neighborhood and right across the street were two cool chairs. Okay, definitely not “cool” at the time. They were sitting in a pile of someone’s bulk pick-up (a.k.a. garbage pile), and they were not pretty. “Perfect,” I thought, although at this point in my dumpster diving I was still a bit wary of taking someone else’s trash, especially in broad daylight. But, nonetheless, I loaded them into the mini-van as best I could. The back of the car wouldn’t close and popped up a couple of times on my way home. The things I do for old furniture..
I started by spray painting the chairs yellow and then purple so I could sand parts to expose the details in yellow. You couldn’t even see the details before. The purple spray paint I got was a little too bright so I ended up getting a slightly more muted tone of purple and I love them now! I got the fabric at JoAnn’s.
I used the french natural nailhead trim for the front. It comes in a long strip that you hammer a tack in at every fifth nailhead. I wouldn’t say these are exactly easy to work with, especially if you have curves. And they are extremely sharp on the edges, as my hands would attest. I got some blood on the front of one of the chairs. Oops! Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking getting white material, especially with kids. But I like the look anyway.
Here they are with the desk.