Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gettin' Benched

For Thanksgiving this year, my family decided that it was the new homeowner's turn to host the festivities. My parents and brother all came in and stayed for a week and boy, did we get a LOT done.

My Dad was the last person to have seen the house (Since you'll remember my Mom's visit here and when Patrick came up here), so he had been planning his 'blog project' for a couple of months. When he saw that Scott and I had installed the board & batten entry, he knew that it was missing something: a bench.

When he first told me about the idea, I thought it sounded just right. I knew he was referencing other entries that looked like this.

So when they got here, we got to work. We grabbed the wood we needed from Home Depot (along with a new Ryobi drill and batteries!) and headed into the garage. Dad started by cutting three lengths of the pine into equal parts to create the bench seat.

We then lined them up and used spacers to make everything equal and to allow for expansion. This also made everything look even.

The two biggest problems that we faced were the cold and the fact that Scott and I don't have a work bench or saw horses. Assembling and cutting on the floor wasn't the most fun, efficient, or comfortable way to build, but we managed to get the whole thing done right as the sun went down, so at least we weren't out there at night.

To support and brace the seat, we use pieces that were almost the length of the width of the seat to hold the seat together. These pieces were glued in place using Gorilla Wood Glue, then held in place with screws.

We made sure to leave a little bit of a gap at the back of the seat so allow for the main rear support (no pun intended) to be attached. For orientation, you're looking at the bottom of the seat.

We then cut the shelf that would go between the legs of the bench to hold shoes. We cut it to fit within the outermost portion of the support slats.

We then cut and attached the legs, then the shelf, using wood glue and screws to hold it together.

On it's own, it wasn't amazingly sturdy, so we added some supports. We even added a 2x4 to really help give it some heft.

We added an extra support slat under the seat just because we had the extra wood and a little extra bracing never hurt.

When we finished, we stood back for a second and admired our work. Not too shabby!

And it really helps our entry that went from this:

To this:

Dad even gave it a first test run!

I have plans to paint it white, but I'm waiting until the weather isn't so wintery so that I can do it in the garage. For right now, though, it's a nice place to take off your muddy,snow covered shoes and be welcomed into our home.

This isn't the only project we worked on while Mom and Dad were here! Come back tomorrow for a HUGE project we did that took about 4 days!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chalk It Up To Boredom

A couple of weeks ago, I had some time on my hands and I decided that the guest room, which also acts as my office, needed a little something. A useful focal point that would both be inviting to guests, but also allow me to be creative in the space.

I knew I wanted to do something to this wall.

I had seen a couple of cool photos of people making entire chalkboard walls with white frames layered on top and I really liked the effect.

I started by grabbing my chalkboard paint and giving the wall three good coats. It covered pretty well, so this part only took about an hour to complete.

Then, I decided to use a frame that I had laying around in the garage to display some small notes that we had. I actually found this frame sitting next to someone's garbage, so it was free. It's also pretty huge.

I gave it a good coat of primer, then paint. In the end, I had a nice giant, white frame.

I then flipped it over so it was face down and started attaching my string. I used regular twine and knotted one end. I then used the staple gun to staple close to the knot so that the tension would keep the twine straight across. I repeated this step on the other end of the twine after cutting it to size.

I repeated this every 6 inches down the frame until I was left with this.

The nice part about putting a frame on a chalkboard wall is that you can use the chalk to mark where you want to put your nails. This really made putting up the frame a breeze.

I then broke out my stash of clips and cards. I happened to have had them around, but buying a pack from the store is pretty cheap. They would be in the laundry aisle of any supermarket. The cute ones with arrows I picked up last year at Target for a dollar!

Then, I just put them on the frame. I just tried to visually balance how they were placed, but they can change out easily due to how they are attached.

Since I can't have a chalkboard wall and not draw something on it, I decided a nice big tree would make it feel inviting. The nice part about the open frame is that I can also draw inside of it.

Done! Another quick one day project. It really makes the space feel more creative. Do you have a chalkboard wall? If so, where? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Something to Pine For

Now that the holidays are here, there are a ton of decor magazines and Pinterest pins full of fun crafts you can make using pine cones. Most of them tell you to purchase them from the store, but paying $5 or more for something I can pick up from my yard seems like a waste of money. Also, using my own pine cones makes any of the projects I create that much more personal.

I do know better than to just pick up any ol' pine cone and start a'craftin'. There are a couple of things you can do to avoid the bugs and sap that often come with bringing in these little hedgehog look a likes.


First, I went into my backyard and picked my pine cones. I tried to find ones that looked like they were in good shape and weren't covered in sap. A little sap is okay because it will take care of itself during the processing, but you don't want to have big gobs of it. I also avoided any that had a lot of pine needles stuck to them. All of mine had already fallen off of the tree, too. I gathered them all up in my plastic bag and brought them inside.

That white stuff is dried sap. That will disappear once you're finished.

After I had my crop gathered, I covered a cookie sheet in aluminum foil. This is going to make your life a lot easier when it comes to clean up. I wouldn't us a baking mat with this project, though, because it might ruin it. Stick with something that can be thrown away.

Then I emptied my bag of pine cones onto the cookie sheet and picked off the rest of the pine needles that may have still made it inside.

At this stage, you're going to see why you need to 'disinfect' these guys. You'll see little bugs emerge from them and walk around on the foil. The oven will take care of all the ones you see (and more importantly, the ones you don't). This helps prevent the spread of things like termites to your house. It's a reason to never use a 'raw' pine cone, branch, or other piece of the outdoors without making sure that it's been baked or sealed in some way.

While you are spreading your cones evenly on the baking sheet, preheat the oven for 200 degrees. When it's heated, place the pine cones into the oven. Let them stay at 200 for 5 minutes. Then increase the temperature to 350 and let them sit for 5 more minutes.

Unfortunately, this is when you will get your first whiff of the smell of baking pine cones. Christmas candles make you think that it's a warm fuzzy scent that reminds you of snuggling by the fire. This is a lie. It is in no way based on the truth.

The truth is it stinks. Not a skunky stink, but kind of a wood-burny-green-fire stink. I recommend having a door open and a fan on, just to reduce the amount of smoke and odor. I promise that it goes away once you've finished, though.

When your ten minutes are up, using an oven mitt, take your baking sheet out of the oven and let your pine cones cool. I wanted to make sure that they cooled off pretty quick so I could start to use them right away. They sat like this for about ten minutes.

You'll notice that the sap that was previously white has now melted and created a hard, shiny, polyurethane-type coating to the finished product. This is fine to touch and craft with. It can still be covered by paint with no issue. I just threw mine into a vase that I had hanging around and put it on the table. Instant centerpiece!

Total price? Free and from my own backyard! How cool is it to say, 'Oh, those? I didn't get those from Michaels, they are from our trees out back'. Pretty cool, hu? So grab some pine cones and start crafting!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Stool Pigeon

This may not be a 'knock your socks off' post, but it still is a change around the house, so I figure it should still be counted.

I'd wanted to do something to our bar stools. We've had them ever since I moved into the old apartment with Scott, so they've seen better days. They aren't in terrible shape, but they were a little lackluster. I figured that some new fabric on the seats would do the trick. I started with these.

They were $13 each from Target when we first got them, but I haven't seen them in the store since. They are pretty simply designed, I just really didn't like the plain pleather dark brown tops.

I found a remnant at Hancock Fabric for $5 for 2 yards, so I picked it up. It is made for upholstery, so it's pretty hearty and I know it will stand up to being sat on frequently (people use these stools all. the. time.)

I started by flipping over the first stool and taking it apart. This step might not be exactly the same for every type of stool, but the main principle is still there. There should be four screws that come out and release the seat portion so it comes right off. It makes the entire process a breeze.

Then, I just used a staple gun to staple the fabric up under the cushion so it was snugly pulled across the top of the seat. Reattach the cushion to the legs and you're done! Here is a close up of the fabric I chose.

And here is the first stool next to the second. It's not a huge difference, but the texture adds just what they needed.

There you have it! A quick fix for the stools that you might have just chilling out at your home. You can go crazy with the fabric, or even take some paint to the legs and change the look entirely. With just recovering the tops (because I didn't take off the original pleather), this update only took about 15 minutes. Imagine the possibilities if you wanted to get super creative!