Saturday, January 24, 2015

Theater Seating

We have always had an issue with seating in our living room. Even with two full sized couches and two chairs, we always still end up with people sitting on the floor. As comfortable as the floor is, I have always had it in my mind that a sofa table with some bar stools would solve this issue swimmingly. I had been looking around online when I found this inspiration picture on Pinterest.

I liked how it had an interesting yet clean bar top and fit at least two people. I looked around and most of the tables were the wrong size for our space or they were really expensive. Most of the time, they were both. I decided to take it on as a project and just build one myself. How hard could it be?

I kept looking around Pinterest till I found this post by (a fellow) Caitlin over at Desert Domicile. She had built a console table for $18 and I liked the look as well as the cost.

 I used this as a rough guide, then drew out my plans.

I just used a tape measure and stood behind the couch and...measured. I figured that I didn't want it to go all the way to the ends of the couch because people walk around the corners a lot and that would make for smacked elbows. I also measured that a width of around 14 inches would be wide enough for people to lean on and place their beverage or food, but not stick out into the room too much. I used the same height as my kitchen counters for my vertical measure.

Next, I ran to the Depot and grabbed 8 of the $1.95 2x2x6s. I ended up going through all of them to get the straightest ones possible, but I only used 6 for this project, so I returned the other two and got my $4 back.

I started my cuts by cutting my four 3ft pieces.  I stood up my two saw horses and set up a makeshift work table. I then measured and marked my cut. I attached The wood I was cutting to the table with a clamp to keep it still. It makes a huge difference.

After I cut all four 3 ft pieces (which would be the legs), I then proceeded to cut the 5 ft pieces (the long cross supports).

When I had by four 3ft and four 5ft cuts made, I was then able to begin assembly. I used my same clamp system to pre-drill my holes. I absolutely recommend pre drilling, especially using the 2x2 pieces. This will help prevent splitting and splintering. It takes a little longer, but honestly, it makes the whole table go together like it was from Ikea if you do it right.

I lined up my first attachment point as the top of one of the 3ft pieces. They were going to be the legs, and screwing it to a 5ft piece at the very end would help create the base for the table top.

See the pencil lines? That's how I marked the area I had available to attach to. I just took a scrap piece, lined it up, and marked it. the image above shows how I used my cutting rig to hold the wood still to predrill holes.

For the bottom of the legs, I wanted to allow for some feet. I measured two inches from the bottom of the 3ft piece and predrilled my holes. Once everything was attached, I had half of my table base finished.

Before I built the other side (which is built exactly the same way), I wanted to make sure to catch any measurement mistakes. I took my half-a-table-base and brought it into the living room to see how it fit against the couch.

Since we seemed to have a winner, I returned it to the garage and assembled the other side.

Once you get to this point, you can make it as wide or skinny as you would like. Keep in mind that this is pine, though, and it doesn't weigh much. This base can easily fall over if you make the table too thin. I ended up using 11in. horizontal supports to finish my base. This seems like a good go-to size for our living room, so you may have to change that number if you build this yourself.

It fit really well, so I was pretty pleased with it so far. The optimum table top size was going to be 64"x15", so I wasn't able to grab a single board from the Depot for my top. Fortunately, they had two pieces of pine that were 6ftx7in that worked well when placed on the top together.

Here the boards are just placed on top of the base. I kept them separate so that it would be easier to finish them and so that it would be easier to replace later. Dad and I might have some ideas for a table top that will really pop and make for a more interesting piece of furniture, but that's not going to happen till later (maybe when there isn't 4 inches of snow on the ground).

For finishing, I pulled everything back out to the garage and took them apart again. I screwed a couple of shallow scrap piece of wood in to hold the table top boards together and flipped it over.

The base is meant to look slightly metallic, so it has three coats of the Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze. I thought that it would be better than black because the added metallic adds a little depth to the paint. For the top, I used one of my favorite go-to stains because it both

1. Makes cheap wood look much nicer and
2. Was already in my house so I didn't need to buy it

These are factors that I like to live my life by.

The trick to the 'burled and intense woodgrain' look with pine is to paint the stain on, then immediately wipe it off. This keeps the lighter areas light while highlighting the woodgrain. Some people will add stain and then just leave the entirety of the stain on the wood. This works okay, but it will take forever to dry and won't show as much dimension on the boards. I personally like the swipe and wipe look.

It really gives it that pub feel that I was looking for in my temporary top. When the new top is built, I'll probably turn this guy into a couple of end tables.

For wear and tear, I added two coats of Poly to the whole thing. The top could probably stand to have another coat, but with temps dropping outside, I'm putting that off for a sunnier day. I also ended up using a high gloss because it will more than likely see its share of spills. Hopefully this will make it easier to just wipe off and not worry about.

Once everything was dry, it was time to bring it inside. It looks really good in place, now it just needs its own stools.

I love the way the wood contrasts with the base.

But I especially love the view. I can see playing video games up there while drinking something from the bar. Or playing some of our party games like You Don't Know Jack with teams Couch1, CouchA, Chairs, and Sofa Table.

Most of all, I am glad to have it in place before the Superbowl next weekend. Having space for people to sit and eat comfortably has always been on of my greatest goals with this living room.

I can see someone using this basic table design in an entry or even as a bar in of itself. It's simple to build, inexpensive (ours cost around $30), and is an awesome beginner build for anyone wanting to give furniture a try. This is the first thing I've built on my own and I am pretty pleased.

We know that we need to buy barstools next, but those aren't as cheap. I am thinking that since this is going to be an area that people will be seated in long term (a couple of hours at a time, to watch movies or TV), they should be upholstered chairs, like these. I'm not in love with anything yet, but I am liking the grey already.

Let me know in the comments if you're considering this project and I'll try to answer any questions I can!

Dinga Linga Ling

To start this year, I decided to do an easy fix that would improve the look of our hallway. I really like the fresh, crisp white edging against the cool green walls, but there was always something that was a bit off.

Off white, that is.

I decided to fix this the easiest and cheapest way possible. I just took the face plate off the wall.

A quick primer and paint, and it was fixed.

It's amazing how such a little project can have a big impact. The off white color always drew my eye, and now it just blends right in.

It was also kind of fun seeing its inner workings (and previous paint colors).

White, pink, yellow, and finally, green.

So there you go. The whole thing took about an hour (including dry time), but I love how it turned out. The doorbell still works fine, so we didn't want to replace it anytime soon. I think this little fix will last for years to come.