Tuesday, November 30

Refinishing Floors 101

Within 2 hours of closing on our new house, we were tearing up the carpet to reveal the hardwood underneath. Mmmmm...potential! When we first peeked at a corner of the floor it look perfect, but once we got it all up we noticed some problems and realized we would have to totally refinish it.

The biggest problem was this glue that was left from some old carpet (that apparently had a flower pattern!). Everywhere the floor looks grimy there is glue, which turned out to be the whole floor and a big pain. Below is a close up of how thick it is on there. Nasty. Besides the glue there were also some scratches and gouges that needed fixing.

We waited until right before Thanksgiving to to tackle this because we wanted it to dry and air out while we were far away! We put on the last coat of polyurethane, hopped in the car, and and left the state hoping to return to a beautiful dry floor. But I'm getting ahead.... Let's start at the beginning.

When I started looking for tutorials online about how to refinish floors, I didn't find too much that was really helpful. I found tidbits here and there on what to get, what to do, how much it will cost, how long it will take, etc. but no one-stop guides. Fortunately I have relatives with experience, a handy husband, and no fear! So we took whatever advice we could get and just dove in. Hopefully this is helpful to you!

We started with a trip to Lowe's to get our supplies. We spent just under $200 on our first trip, and ended up being closer to $250 when it was all said and done because we had to go back for more sandpaper so many times. Here is everything we got for the job:
  • Rented Lowe's floor sander for $35
  • Sandpaper disks for the floor sander (ended up using 3 packs of high-grit and will be returning the medium and low-grit)
  • Sandpaper disks for our small rotary sander (the 50 pack and used the whole thing)
  • Some hand-sanding supplies that we didn't touch and will be returning
  • 2 quarts of Minwax "Provincial" stain (used less than 1, so we'll return the other)
  • 2 gallons of Varathane water-based high traffic floor finish polyurethane in semi-gloss (the biggest cost of the project, but totally worth it! It doesn't have the stink of an oil based product, recoats in only 2 hours, and cures in 3 days)
  • Applicator brush for polyurethane (attaches to an extension pole)
  • Ear plugs, masks, goggles, gloves
Once we return all the extras, we should be back down around $200 again. Not bad for a refinished floor!

Once we had all our supplies, we got to work. We knew going into it this would be a big job, but it ended up being MUCH more time consuming than we expected.  We started by covering the doorways with paint tarps to try to contain the dust. We also taped plastic grocery bags over the vents. We opened the windows (I think we got lucky and did this on the warmest day in November!) and had a fan blowing out the door.

This is just how we are living until the furniture gets put back tomorrow. That is the pathway through the kitchen. We can't get to the office at all, and the couch is in the garage! Another good reason to do this when you won't be stuck at home!

Once the prep was done we hopped right in to sanding. (When I say "we" I mean "my husband" because I pretty much sat this one out. You can do that when you are pregnant.) We started with the big floor sander from Lowe's. We only had it for 24 hours and didn't want to waste any time. The sander takes 3 disks at a time (1 pack) that come in 3 steps. The great thing about the sander is that it has a built in vacuum and we had no dust flying around while we used it. If you don't have glue on the floor, this might work out just fine for you. Unfortunately not for us. We started with the roughest grit paper and kept running into this problem:

That is glue gumming up the paper. We spent a whole Saturday with me sitting on the porch picking the glue off the sandpaper then giving it back to my husband so he could continue sanding. It was not fun, but we only went through three 50-packs of sandpaper that way and it would have been MANY more if we had just put new ones on each time. We spent a solid 12 hours sanding that day. Only stopping to eat. After that we decided to rethink our strategy. We had a good amount of the glue up, but we didn't want to pay for another day with the sander and by that point we weren't convinced it was the best way to get the glue up. We decided to return the sander and use our smaller hand held sander to finish. It gave better control at was more accurate than the big sander at getting up the glue.

Enter Sunday. Went to church and then spent the rest of the day (a good 10 hours) sanding with the hand sander. And Monday. After work we finally finished with the rough paper! Then we used a fine grit paper (80) to smooth everything out. And finally my husband stained before bed. He probably spent about 7 hours on it that day. That's right, about 20 hours of sanding. What a trooper! After a thorough sweeping and vacuuming to remove sawdust, he used a rag to rub the stain on, going with the grain. Remember that any overlapping of staining areas will make the overlap slightly darker...so if you do 5-foot sections at a time like he did, you will notice a darker line between the sections. You may be able to avoid this by staining entire lengths of the floor at a time. The next day he used the applicator we bought to put 3 coats of polyurethane on the floor. One at breakfast, one at lunch, and one after work. It was finally done! So we headed out and hoped to come back to a beautiful floor...

... And we did! Like I said before, it is supposed to cure in 3 days, but we are waiting a full week just to be safe. We don't want to risk messing it up after all that work. The only bummer is that I'm waiting that long to put up my Christmas tree too!

So shiny! So to sum up floor refinishing: it takes a long time, keep your receipts so you can take back all the extra stuff you buy,  sand the floor starting with your roughest paper (the smallest number), apply stain, apply polyurethane (at least 3 coats!), and then get out of there and wait for it to dry! It is actually a very simple process, just time consuming. And totally worth it to save thousands of dollars!

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Wednesday, November 17

A Dresser Makeover - And Some Changes!

It's been a while, and we've made some changes! First, we bought a house which means I have plenty of projects to come, many of which are started but not finished. Oops. Second, we have a baby on the way! Which means even more projects! So you could say we've been a little preoccupied as of late.

But I have one project finished! This is a dresser that used to belong to one of my aunts who passed away when I was little and it has been passed down to me. Side note: her name was Linda Lou, but everyone called her Boo Boo. I know, you wish you had an Aunt Boo Boo, too. But back to the dresser! I thought it would be perfect for all the little clothes we'll need for baby-on-the-way, plus it's short enough we could let it do double duty as a changing table.

 As you can see, it's not too pretty to look at, though. But that is fixed easily enough! I decided to stain the bottom part of it darker and paint the top a nice glossy white (to match the white crib). The veneer on the top had cracked and peeled so I ended up pulling it all off and sanding it down before I painted. You can see in the picture that the top looks different. That's why.

Here is a progress picture showing the newly stained base next to an unstained drawer. Big improvement, huh? I don't know why this picture is sideways. I can't figure out how to make it straight! After I stained the whole thing I added a coat of polyurethane all over, and a coat inside the drawers to seal in any old dresser smells. I used a great water based polyurethane from Lowe's that had the faintest smell while wet, but was totally odorless as soon as it dried. No stink in my baby's room, please!

This project didn't really take long at all. I spent more time waiting for it to dry than I did working on it.

I think it turned out beautiful and will be great in baby's room. I like that it looks completely updated, but still has a traditional style. Plus I love that it has a story behind it. 

Here is the pretty white top. And since I always learn important lessons when I do new projects, here is my lesson from this one: If you are painting bare wood, use a primer! The wood bled yellow through my paint pretty badly. It took four coats to hide it.  But in the end it worked out okay, and I know for next time!

The last thing I did was replace the old hardware with some new brushed nickle knobs from Lowe's. I went a little modern with the knobs, but it works. This is all we have done for baby's room so far, but we have big plans so I'll keep you posted. We have plenty of time to get it done, right? :)

Tuesday, August 10

Bulletin Board Makeover

I love this organizer by Pottery Barn, and I think it would be perfect for our office/guest room in the making:

The Bad News? It costs almost $200. So let's just make our own! "Dollar Store Crafts" inspired me to give it a try when they made a similar piece using several small cork boards. (check it out here)

I've had a bulletin board sitting around for awhile and didn't know what to do with it until now. I'm totally bummed, though, because I took before pics this time so you could see the total transformation, but my SD card is messed up and I lost them. Along with all the other pictures I hadn't downloaded yet. Bummer. So just know that is was painted white with red and blue flowers, okay? Got the mental picture? Good. We can continue.


For me, it was important that my board had a wooden frame so I could beef it up a little by adding 1x2's around the edges to create the depth the inspiration piece has. I started by sanding all the paint off the frame, then added my 1x2's. If I did it over again, I would stain the pieces BEFORE I attached them to the frame. But oh well, we learn as we go! I cut out stencils resembling the prints on the inspiration piece, and used black spray paint to paint them on (click here to find the stencils I used, courtesy of Dollar Store Crafts). I used dowel rods as the bars across (they seem a little flimsy, so if I did it again i would probably look for something metal) and used a large drill bit to drill through the frame and slid in the rods. The last thing I did was make a fabric pocket to hang on the board. I think it turned out pretty good, even though I made a few mistakes! :)

And this is it hung above my newly refinished desk, which you can read about here. We still have a lot to do in this room, but it has a nice start and I like where it's headed. :)

And here's one more quick project:

I got a scrabble game for 50 cents at a yard sale and turned the letter tiles into tacks for my board! I put a dot of  E6000 glue on the back of each tile and attached a flat heat tack to each one. Easy and super fun to use!


And there you have it. Rustic Wall Organizer & Scrabble tacks to keep our office space neat and tidy. I can't wait to use it!

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Wednesday, August 4

Pillow Cover Tutorial

These are the pillows I made for my living room before I got the new curtains:

And I still completely love them, but they don't match the colors of the new curtains. Don't worry, they will take center stage in the office/guest room I'm working on. But the living room is going to need something new. I have made several pillows, but I always have two problems with them. 1) Fiber fill is more expensive than I think it should be, and although it's usually cheaper than buying pillows, it still makes me cringe just a little. 2) They always come out lumpy! Which probably means there is some secret to pillow stuffing that I don't know about, so if you have any tips I'd be happy to hear them! :) Fortunately this time around I found a way to avoid both of those problems with these:

These pillows were from the bedding set we got for our wedding. When I changed our bedding, I was planning to get rid of these but I'm glad I never got around to it! I saved some money by using these as pillow forms and just making covers for them, and got the fabric on sale for even more saving. I also don't think they will get lumpy, especially if they haven't by now! Ready for the finished product?


Ta-da! It was so easy to do and I think they turned out really well. 
Want to make your own money-saving pillow covers? Here's how:

1) Start by figuring out the size of fabric you need & cut it out. This is how I figured it: the width is equal to the width of the pillow + 1" for seams. The length is equal to double the width of the pillow + 2" for seams + 3" for over lap. So this is how it worked out for my square pillow it was 17 x 17" so my total width was 17 + 2 (for seams) = 19" total, and my length was 34 (17 doubled) + 2" (for seams) + 3" (overlap) = 39" total. So the fabric I cut was 19 x 39" Hopefully that makes sense.
That was the hard part. :)

 2) Hem one of the shorter sides by folding the edges under 1/2", then 1/2" again and sewing along the fold (shown above). Repeat with the other short end.

 3) Lay your fabric right side up, then fold the short ends in toward the middle (shown above) until they overlap about 3" and the overall length is down to the actual size of your pillow (17" for me).

4) Sew down the two unfinished side with a 1/2" seam allowance (shown above as the right & left sides).

5) And that's it! Just turn you cover right side out. The back will open up to fit your pillow, and the overlap will keep your pillow from peeking out.

And here it is stuffed with a pillow.

And this fuzzy picture shows the red pillow hiding inside.
And there you have it. A cheap & easy way to change up your pillows.

Oh yeah, that's much better.

Sunday, August 1

Changing a Room with Curtains

I think curtains can really make or break a room. They are one of the best ways to incorporate colors & textures that will set the tone for the rest of the room. These are the curtains I put up when we got married:

and they have been great for the last 2 1/2 years, but they just don't give my living room the feeling I want it to have. I want it to feel light and airy and comfortable. Our living room is small and I just felt that these curtains weren't making it feel any bigger. They were too dark and hung too tight to the window (I didn't know better!). So I saved up some dollars and splurged on these beauties at Ikea!

Aaaaahhhhh..... I love them. Light. Fresh. Natural. And with hints of muted color to keep it interesting. You may be thinking, "White curtains with white walls?" I know, I thought the same thing before I bought them. But remember my living room is small, and softer transitions from one surface to another will make it seem less crowded (since your visual line isn't broken up by drastic changes in color). So these are actually working out PERFECTLY.

I mentioned that I splurged on these, but for such an important item like this I want to make sure it's something I love because I know I won't want to shell out cash to replace it any time soon. I was looking into making curtains, being thrifty you know, but once I saw these curtains I couldn't find any fabric that I like as much. AND when I counted the cost of buying enough fabric to make curtains & line them (these are lined) it wouldn't be much cheaper than buying them. That is one of my favorite things about Ikea. Low prices!
I got the rods at Ikea and chose wall brackets that can hold two rods so I can add a layer of sheers later if I want to.

Don't the windows look bigger? And bigger windows make any room feel bigger! The difference is the way I hung them this time. High & wide. These panels are long enough that I could hang them right up at the ceiling. I also extended the rods about 1 1/2 feet past the window on each side so when the curtains are pulled open they cover just past the window frame, leaving most of the window exposed so it feels bigger. And it made such a difference. I also like the look of them hanging straight instead of being tied back like they were before. A little more contemporary, maybe?

I love the way this room feels now! And that's the most important thing. Making it feel like home.

Wednesday, July 7

Easy Art Ledge

Sometimes I get bored with the things I put up in my house. I've done plenty of patching holes and drilling new ones so I can hang something different. And I'm a little tired of it. So I've started looking for things that can be easily switched out when I want a different look. How's this for easy?

I love these little picture ledges at Ikea! My favorite thing about them is that you can mix it up and move things around easily whenever you want. You never have to worry about getting tired of what's on your wall, because you can just switch it out without having to drill any holes!

These short ledges sell at Ikea for $9.99, which isn't bad, but I knew I could build one for less. It's basically just 3 boards in a U-shape. Here is a pic of the Ikea version:

And here is a close up of the one I built for about $6:

So simple, it doesn't even need plans!
You just buy two 1x3s and one 1x2 (I used 8' long) and you'll need screws, wood glue, & putty to fill your holes. Then just glue and screw them together as shown above, fill your holes, and finish! It seriously took me less than 10 minutes to build it, then it was just a matter of waiting for the stain & poly to dry. I used screws with drywall anchors to attach it to the wall.
This shelf is 4' long to fit above my entry table, and had enough left over for another of the same size. So I got a total 8' of shelf for only $6! Of course, you could use longer or shorter boards to get the size of shelf you need. :)

I'm loving it! It works perfectly over my entry table. And it makes the space feel much more like it's mine.

I like the layered look because it feels more comfortable and lived in. I'm by no means an expert, but I think this turned out pretty well. I just tried to get a mix of things I liked: a painting, photograph, book, and a few vases with flowers from my new flower bed! The beauty part (did I mention this already?) Is that I could try as many different items and layouts as I wanted without having to make any commitments or put any new holes in the wall!
And I just have to say fresh flowers are my new favorite thing! These are the first cuttings from my garden, and I cannot believe what a difference they make in my home! I like the way these little yellow blooms work with the yellow trees in the painting.

And I have some great hostas, so I decided to give them a try on my entry table. And I think I'm in love. So simple, so fresh, so beautiful.

So there you have it. Fresh flowers and an easy art ledge to help make this place feel like home.

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Saturday, June 12

Plans for an End Table Knock-Off

This will probably be my final plan from my favorite PB collection. It's the end table that matches the coffee & console tables I've made plans for already. I love how these pieces combine hidden storage & open shelving, and I love the clean modern lines (especially combined with a traditional finish). And I totally dig those ring pulls. I probably spend more on them than I should, but they really make the piece!
A word of warning though, like the console table I haven't actually built this yet and so I don't make any guarantees. I'm just getting my plans in order before I get started. Now, down to business! These plans are actually slightly different from the dimensions of the inspiration table, but they use standard lumber sizes. This is built in essentially the same manner as the coffee table with a few changes, so I will refer you to those plans for some of the details. Once I build it myself I'll let you know if it all works out. Or if you build it first, please let me know! :)

Please read all the directions before beginning, and cut your pieces as you go, measuring before each cut. Use 2” screws unless otherwise indicated. Always use glue. Pre-drill and countersink your screws. And don’t forget to check out Knock-Off Wood for more tips!

Here are the dimension. Like I said they are a little different than the PB version, but it uses standard lumber sizes.

Shopping List:
3 2x2 @ 10’
2 1x10 @ 10’
1 1x2 @ 8'
1 1x12 @ 6’ OR a few scrap pieces
2 1x6 @ 8'
1 1x5 @ 6'
Several small L-Brackets OR Scrap wood
2 Sets of Drawer Glides

2” screws
1 ¼” screws
Wood glue
Wood filler
Finishing Supplies
Kreg Jig would be handy-dandy

Cut List:
A) 4 2x2 @ 26" (legs)
B) 12 2x2 @ 18 1/2" (rails)
C) ½” strips of scrap wood OR several small metal L-Brackets (shelf supports)
D) 6 1x10 @ 18 1/2" (shelves)
E) 1 1x2 @ 18 1/2" (stile, mounted horizontally)
F) 6 1x10 @ 12 1/4" (side panels)
G) 4 1x2 @ 18 1/2" (drawer support)
H) 2 1x12 @ 19 1/4" (drawer bottom)
I) 2 1x5 @ 19 1/4" (drawer bottom)
J) 4 1x6 @ 19 1/4" (drawer sides)
K) 2 1x6 @ 17 1/4" (drawer backs)
L) 2 1x6 @ 18 1/4" (drawer fronts)

Before we get started, the shelves & side panels on this table are going to be two 1x10s side by side (shown above). The combined width of the 2 boards should be 18 1/2" (9 1/4" per board). You should measure first to make sure this is the size of your boards, and if it's not adjust the plans accordingly. Got it? Okay, let's begin!

Step 1:
Attach rails (B) to the legs (A) to form 2 sides of the table as shown above. The first rail should be flush with the top of the legs, then leave 7 1/4" before the middle rail, then 12 1/4" before the bottom rail. This should leave 2" below the bottom rail. Be careful when you screw through the legs into the rails so you don't split the wood. If you have a Kreg Jig, use that instead and you shouldn't have any problems.

Step 2:
Now attach the rest of the rails (B) between the side pieces as shown above, carefully screwing through the legs into the rails. Be careful not to hit the screws you used to attach the first rails.

Step 3:
Now install the bottom shelf. For directions on creating the supports (C) for this shelf (and the following shelves) refer to step #5 of this post. If you have a kreg jig you can attach the two shelf boards together (D), otherwise just set them in place separately.

Step 4:
Attach the stile (E) between the legs on the front of the table (since all the sides are the same size, you can just pick one to be the front!). The stile will be centered between the bottom & middle stiles, leaving 5 3/4" above & below the stile.

Step 5:
Next install the side panels (F) between the bottom & middle rails. If you have a Kreg Jig, attach the pair of boards for each side together, otherwise set them individually. Set panels flush with outside edges of the table and screw through legs and rails to attach. Do this for the 3 sides of the table that don't have a stile.

Step 6:
Put in some supports (G) for the drawer glides to attach to. You'll need a set for each drawer, and they need to be installed at the proper height for you type of glides. An example is shown above.

Step 7:
Install the next shelf (D) like you did the first. You may want to go ahead and build the drawers & install the glides before installing the shelf so you can get to the supports more easily.

Step 8:
Install the top shelf (D) like the first two shelves.

Step 9:
To start the drawers, attach the 1x12 & 1x5 together as shown above to create the drawer bottom (H & I). Use a Kreg Jig if you have one, if not I would glue them together and let the rest of the drawer box hold them together.

Step 10:
Attach the drawer sides (J) as shown above. Screw through the sides, into the drawer bottom. Keep edges flush.

Step 11:
Attach the drawer back (K) as shown above. Screw through the back, into the drawer bottom & sides. Keep edges flush.

Step 12:
Attach the drawer front as shown above (L), keeping top & bottom edges flush. There will be a 1/2" overhang on each side to accommodate the drawer glides. Screw through the front, into the bottom & sides.

Step 13:
Insert drawers and you are done with the construction!

Step 14:
Fill all your holes, sand, finish.

Our first finished end table was submitted by Tim - He used an oiled walnut finish with a solid walnut frame and walnut veneer on the sides, door, and top. He swapped out the drawers in favor of door. He used a Kreg Jig for all the construction (check out the second pic for and inside peek at his pocket hole construction) and says that he didn't need any extra supports for the shelves because the Kreg Jig system is strong enough on it's own! Thanks so much Tim, your work is beautiful!

Enjoy! And be sure to check out Knock-Off Wood.