February 8, 2016

DIY Plank Top Table

Life is beautiful when it's Monday morning, the sun is rising so that every tree you see is glowing pink, and your sister texts and asks if you're up for a run.  How convenient that you already had your running clothes on so of course you say YES, and that is just the best way to start the week EVER.

Today I'm going to show you the fruit of our weekend labor: the DIY Plank Top Work Table we made for the studioAlready loving this table.  As matter of fact, it currently sports three drawers I'm painting and is proving quite the workhorse.

Plus it's quite handsome-)

I painted this table white three years ago for our homeschool room.  (If I begin to recount all the work, play and creating that occurred on this table I may get emotional, so I'll move on quickly.)

I started the transformation by painting the apron and legs black using a Behr Ultra Paint and Primer quart I had on hand.  I also painted the edges of the table top since we would be using it as the base for our planks and I didn't want to be able to see white underneath the planks.

We measured the table and added 1.5" to each edge since we wanted the planks to hang over the existing table top by 1.5" on each side. I wanted the wide look of 2x8's for the finished table top, but we discovered that (4) 2x8's wouldn't be quite wide enough, and we would have to cut down (1) 2x8 width-wise if we used (5) 2x8's.  Fireman suggested we place a single 2x4 in the middle of the table and flank it with (2) 2x8's on either side, which I thought was a great idea.  So he headed off to buy the boards.

Once he cut the pine boards to length, he laid them side by side on the table and used a pencil to mark their placement.  He then pre-drilled holes down into the existing table top using the pencil lines as guides.  These holes would serve as markers for screwing the boards from underneath.

As expected, a couple of the boards did not align themselves completely flush, so we used a clamp to secure them while he screwed them from underneath.  (It also helped for me to kneel on the boards as he screwed them in to provide resistance.)  We did not use glue in any part of this project.

Once the boards were screwed down, we sanded everything smooth to prep for stain.  First, I stained the boards with Minwax Dark Walnut and let it dry overnight.  But because I was going for more of a weathered, gray tone on this table, the next day I sanded the walnut stain down a bit and went back over the boards with Rustoleum's Driftwood stain, rubbing it in with a rag.  You can see the difference in wood tones below: The right is just the Dark Walnut stain, the left is with the Driftwood rubbed over the top of the dark stain.  The two different stains give the wood more depth and somewhat of a layered look. 

While the Driftwood stain dried, I focused on aging the black table legs.  I didn't do much to them.  First, I very lightly dry-brushed a light gray paint one small section at a time, then went back over the drybrushing with a damp rag until it looked flecked, like this:

I wasn't really sure what effect I wanted.  I just kept stepping back and eyeing it.  I knew I didn't want too much gray since the black legs contrasted so nicely with the table top.  In a couple places, I even went back over the gray drybrushing with black again until it was merely a suggestion of flaking.  

Lastly, I coated the entire top with Minwax Furniture Wax in Natural.  Such a beautiful, buttery smooth finish!  

Oh, and we also added these castors to the table legs.  Not only did the castors add an industrial look, they are also wonderfully functional.  I picked them up for about $5 each at Fred Meyer (the exact same castors were almost $8 at Home Depot.)  Fireman drilled holes in the table legs, then screwed the castors in.

And here is our finished DIY Plank Top Work Table.

I hope to post more pictures of the Studio later this week.  The trim and painting are done, we ended up removing the huge theater screen and storing it so I now have a huge wall to fill with shelving, and I think I've made a decision on curtains.

Until then ~  

February 3, 2016

Studio Updates

The Studio is coming along and today I wanted to share more updates with you.  Fireman and I were chuckling over our lunch break (me more so than him, I'm afraid) that when you observe room transformations online and on tv, the time frame from the Before to the After always seems to go so quickly. Well, we're here to testify that room transformations are, in reality, many hours of often-tedious work that makes you feel like you're not moving forward very quickly at all! 

But we're pressing on.  Because in reality we've come SO far, and the little things that seem tedious are making are making a huge impact on our Studio space.

The biggest news is that we finished the diamond-pattern floor yesterday.  I'm so tickled about it I honestly keep pinching myself.   However, if you follow me in Instagram, you know that my first attempt last Friday at plotting out and painting the squares was an epic fail.

Without going into a lot of detail, I'll blame a way-too-simplistic tutorial online that recommended finding the very center of the room, placing your square exactly over the center point, and tracing all the remaining squares from that set point.

Which is exactly what I did.

I traced around my cardboard square over and over and over, then proceeded to tape my squares over and over and over.

At this point, can I also blame an intriguing Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast about a woman who was part of the LGBT community, then started doing academic research on the evangelical community which inadvertently led to reading the Holy Bible through ~ in its entirety ~  FIVE WHOLE TIMES?  According to Ms. Butterfield, you simply can't spend five hours a day reading the Bible without huge transformation occurring within your heart.

And Ms. Butterfield's testimony was so extremely powerful.......

.....and I was so completely caught up in her story of forgiveness and redemption and paradigm shift....

....that I DID NOT EVEN NOTICE that every last one of my squares was off-kilter.  Until later.

I won't even show you more pictures of those off-kilter squares because I don't want to shame them any more than necessary.  Or myself, for being so naively confident my project was progressing smoothly as I listened to podcasts in lala land and traced square after square after square without checking for precision.

When I did figure it out, I was devastated.  Truly.  All that work, and all my complete cluelessness!  So I told my kids I was going straight to bed and I was not going to tell their father until morning (he was at work).  I seriously considered just leaving them off-kilter, but I knew deep-down I would never be happy if I did.  So by Saturday morning I knew what I had to do, and I proceeded to paint over the hours of work from the night before. Then, after a weekend of wrestling, and church, and Life Group, and house cleaning, and visits with friends, I enlisted Fireman's help first thing Monday morning.

Honestly, I can't tell you everything he did.  I can tell you that he began, too, by plotting the very center of the room, and from there he proceeded to plot "true" lines all over the floor, making a large grid pattern with a pencil, so that as we worked we could continually check the integrity of the pattern.  And he used math.

And he also cut out a precise 1/4" piece of plywood to use as our square template instead of cardboard. Which was probably a much wiser idea. 

The final results were SO worth all that math.

In hindsight, though, it turned out to be blessing redoing these squares because I changed two things the second go-around (well, three if you count using more math):  I enlarged the squares from 16" to 18", and I also changed the diamond color from SW Wool Skein to SW Mindful Gray.

Both of these choices made the redo worth it, and I absolutely love it.

Today, Fireman is installing quarter-round trim along the bottom of the existing base trim to cover the gap left from the original carpet.

He is not enjoying this project very much.  I keep telling him how much I LOVE it (which I do!) and I keep reminding him that in all the old homes years ago, this last trim piece was standard install (it's called a "shoe") and what a shame no one automatically finishes off millwork in new homes like this anymore.  Fireman said he, for one, can certainly understand why they don't...:-) Then I asked him if he would mind someday adding "shoe" to all the baseboards in our entire house, because in my heart of hearts I've always thought that would look SO beautiful??  (He thought I was kidding but I wasn't.)

It's important to assist him in keeping this one-room task in perspective.

Of course, as we all know, when you add trim, you also add to your workload because finishing trim involves filling all nail holes, caulking the seams, and painting it all white.  Again, tedious, but it will be worth it.

So while Fireman was working on trim, my job was to hang curtain rods and figure out what to do for curtains.  Trying to be economical, I purchased inexpensive rods from Walmart and then, because they were completely out of white twin flat sheets there, I purchased one white twin sheet from Fred Meyer, and one in a color I will call "ecru"  because it's not really cream.  (Have you ever used sheets for curtain panels?  These are $6 apiece, work great for lengths over the standard 84", and are already hemmed!)

Then I hung both colors up to consider.  First, the white:

Then, the ecru:

Unfortunately, I don't think either one will work, and here's why.

The room outside the studio is our passageway from the garage, and also our part of our downstairs family room.  The wall color is SW Wool Skein (which is why I originally chose that color for the squares) and, similar to the rest of our home, there are a lot of creamy neutrals in this space (pardon the air compressor hose).

I opted to paint the Studio white because I know I will be taking furniture pictures in there and I wanted clean, crisp light as well as an airy, open feeling.  However, I opted to paint the floor in a creamy white (SW Creamy) to tie in with the creams in the adjoining spaces.

In this photo, the light in the Studio looks very pink because of the bulbs that are in the light fixtures (those will be changed out eventually), but you can already see that the white panel is way too crisp and white to tie in nicely with the outer room.

(The creamy squares on the Studio floor are almost identical to the ivory pillow in the chair, and the door you see is also painted SW Creamy.)

For some reason, every time I look at the ecru-colored panel, all I see is women's underthings.  I can't get past it.  Furthermore, the color does not go with the SW Mindful Gray squares at all.

So I'm going to keep looking.  I had hoped to find cream-colored twin sheets because I think that would be a nice bridge between the floor, the white walls, and the adjoining space.  Today, I came across this picture of Miss Mustard Seed's drapes and I think it's a great example of mixing whites and creams.

So I will keep looking and keep you posted.

Lastly, we are simultaneously crafting a work table to go in this space and I wanted to show a few progress pictures before I go.

I originally bought this handmade table locally for $40 for use in our school room (this is an old picture...the table's been painted white for awhile now):

Last week I painted the apron and legs black, and this week, Fireman added castors to the legs.  Next, he cut  (4) 2x8 and (1) 2x4 pine boards to fit the top of the table (overhanging just over an inch on each side) with screws from underneath.

Now the table looks like this:

Next I plan to do some gray-washing over the black to give it an old, layered look, and I will stain the boards on top, too.  I'm so excited about this table!  Fireman told me today he's already loving the castors feature since he's been using it in the garage today as he's measuring and cutting "shoe." 

More details on the table to come, but it's always fun to see in-process pictures, isn't it?

Happy Wednesday to you!

January 29, 2016

A Studio for Mom ~ Part 2

I'm back today with Part 2 of A Studio for Mom.  Yesterday I shared the history of this former theater room in our house and the process we went through to finally decide to make this space a studio for my creative endeavors and future growth.  Although I am entering unfamiliar territory with this step, I am filled with anticipation as to where it may lead.

Three hours ago I finished applying the final base coat on the concrete floor.  I'm now itching for it to dry so I can begin marking and painting the diamond pattern I'm eager to try (product recommends 4 hours drying time between coats.  I turned a box fan on to ensure thorough and efficient drying.)

But before I get too ahead of myself, I need to go back in time to the day this floor was a LONG way from paint-ready......back to Martin Luther King Jr. Day when the kids were home from school and I woke them bright and early, served them an enormously delicious breakfast, and excitedly announced, "Today, we are ripping out carpet together!  It will involve demolition, and mayhem, and all kinds of dirty!"  

I think the demolition part was the greatest motivator.

My oldest has a passion for video production, so he agreed to video us ripping out carpet for the very first time.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, he is still at school and I cannot find the mini-recorder he used for the video.  So you will have to trust that all went well with our carpet removal endeavor, and I may post a video later today when he gets home to help me do so.

The biggest lesson we learned about carpet removal was that it was, by far, the easiest part of the job. Because right after we rolled up the carpet and tore up the carpet pad, we were left with this mess:

Carpet strips glued around the perimeter of the floor and carpet adhesive left behind under the pad.  The GOOD news was that the adhesive was not applied to the entire floor, only around the edges of the two carpet pads.  Whew.

The kids and I got right to work with chisels and hammers removing the carpet strips.  Prying the edge of the varied-size chisels underneath the thin wooden carpet strips and hammering the end of the chisels worked well to pry up the strips.  Although it wasn't extremely difficult to do, it was time consuming.  A couple of us wore ear protection, too, because the hammering became very loud in the now echoey room.

The next morning, the kids headed back to school, Fireman came home from his 24 hour shift, and we headed right to Home Depot to rent a Floor Polisher with an attachment designed for removing adhesive and prepping concrete for finishing.

The round attachment that secures to the bottom of the Polisher is called a Coating Removal attachment.  It costs $75 to rent the Polisher with the attachment for four hours, so we got right to work.

I hung plastic over the doorway to keep dust down in the rest of the house.  (Warning: Even with this dust barrier up, my entire downstairs needed to be vacuumed afterward.  I highly recommend ear and breathing protection throughout this process.)

Here is Fireman going over and over the floor to remove the adhesive.  It took every bit of four hours, and you want to know a secret?  I may or may not have sat my hiney down several times on that thing in order to apply more pressure to stubborn spots.  I do NOT recommend this method, but you do what you gotta do, folks.  After several jolting, vibrating, kick-back rides, there is no doubt I'm now qualified to place in a mechanical bull ride at the county fair.

As we neared the end, I followed Fireman around with our shop vac to suck up as much dust as I could.

Once the floor was completely ground down, the dust all vacuumed out, I used our multi-surface floor shampooer over the entire thing to wash it down and remove every last trace of debris.

To begin the painting process, I purchased a Bonding Primer from Home Depot along with 2 gallons of Concrete and Garage Floor Paint.

I asked the paint people to tint the Concrete and Garage Floor Paint to match the other white in my house, SW Creamy, which they do for no extra charge.

The Bonding Primer was extremely liquidy and didn't take much to apply.  I doubt I even used 1/2 a gallon.  I used an extending rod on my roller to save my back.

After letting the bonding primer dry four hours, I feather-brushed around all the edges of the room with the Concrete Paint, then applied my first coat with a roller (again on an extending rod), letting the first coat dry overnight.

The next day, I applied a second coat.  Because I could still see some uneven spots after the second coat of paint, I went ahead and applied a thin third coat this morning to even everything out.  There is a trace amount of paint left in my second gallon pail...just enough to store for touch-ups down the road.

It's drying beautifully after the third coat.

It is now time to head downstairs and begin measuring for my diamond pattern.  I fell in love with this two-toned floor at Thistlewood Farm last year and it's been in my head ever since.  Would you believe this is a painted plywood subfloor? 

Painted Sub Floor

Wish me luck!
January 28, 2016

A Studio for Mom ~ Part 1

After shuffling three children out the door at three different times this morning, I spent 30-45 minutes walking through the house finally putting things away from last weekend.

Take down the birthday banner?  Check.  Put away string, scotch tape and push pins used to hang banner (stuffed behind coffee pot ever since)? Check.  Re-shelve Chip Ingram curricula from Sunday's Life Group meeting?  Check.  Go through mail and determine if I'll really take the time to browse through PBTeen or should I round file it?  Check again, (and yet I did move the PB Teen to my nightstand where my chances of browsing its funky new ideas are greater.)

I've been holding out on a big project we're undertaking, primarily because Before pictures aren't very inspiring.  Our family also celebrates numerous birthdays in January, making for a hectic time even without a big DIY project.  But today I thought I'd update you on our progress because it's exciting on a few different levels.

Below is our theater room the week we moved into our house almost six years ago.  The screen, sound system, projector, and seats all came with the house. Notice they didn't pay much attention to wiring details....

I know that to many homeowners, a room decked out like this would be a dream come true, and it might have been that way for us, too, at a different stage in our lives.

But the truth is, the projector was outdated and rarely worked well, and to replace the projector meant we would need to update the whole system.  A couple years ago, Fireman even went so far as to visit a local electronic shop that sells theater systems along with installs.  The man there proceeded to quote Fireman a sum of several thousand dollars to bring this room up to date.

Each year we would re-evaluate our family priorities, and each year we would decide NOT to spend thousands of dollars on updating the theater room.  As much as we occasionally thought it'd be cool to have one, and as many times as other people told us we'd never regret decking this room out as such, the truth is we kept coming back to this:  It just wasn't that important to us.

(I should add here that we have a very large tv in our upstairs living room which we use to watch occasional movies, to surf Netflix, and to play video games.  Fireman and I also have a smaller tv in our room which we use to watch things together from the comfort of our delightfully cozy bed.  We love our bed...!)

I pondered the idea, off and on, of turning the theater room into a studio for my painting projects and creative endeavors.  With this in mind, I even added "Studio" to my Sixteen Days of Getting My House in Order.

The Little Miss and I optimistically tackled painting one wall a few months back, and then it sat through November and December unfinished.

(I love this little bug.  She has a spelling test at school today and asked me to pray she does well.  My heart is with her!)

Here's a view of the other side of the room.  Yes, we use the treadmill and weights regularly, which is another consideration as we pondered how best to use this room.  Should the exercise equipment stay?  Should it go?  What about Amaya's amazing balance beam?

The bottom line was this: The blue-gray paint color and old carpet had to go, the room had become more of a catchall than anything user-friendly, and quite frankly, I was growing tired of our indecision.

Did I mention that my word for 2016 is Initiative?

That may or may not have had something to do with what came next.

Two weeks ago, I sat Fireman down and said, "We need to put the theater chairs on Craigslist.  Today."

Fireman has made it clear over the years that he likes the bottom line first, so I always blast him with the idea first and explain later.  This system works well for us, although it took me awhile to adjust. I used to build up to my main point by explaining and justifying first.  All that talking plumb wore him out! 

Surprisingly, even after my blasting and explanation, he wholeheartedly agreed that it was time to sell the chairs.  (I think his acquiescence had something to do with the fact the chairs had been stored in his shop for almost three years and he was tired of working around them.)

The theater chairs sold in four days.

Which meant we were a go for carpet removal and fresh paint in the theater room....

....and full-speed ahead on a new Studio for Mom :-)

I will share Part 2 of this story tomorrow, but will leave you with a few in-process pictures from last week.  Let me just say.....floor adhesive and glued carpet strips take a LOT of Initiative!  Am I ever grateful for family participation on this project.


And finally, I'll share an inspiring Studio photo that keeps my little heart beating as we move slowly through the stages of this room transformation.  If my final Studio looks and feels anything like this room when we're finished, I will be a very happy and inspired momma :-)