Home Office Makeover – From Dark and Dreary to Light and Dreamy

Why do we wait to remodel the rooms that we spend the most time in?

Our home office had very humble beginnings. No overhead lights meant we had to use a floor lamp and table top lights to see.

The walls were a deep burnt sienna color that didn’t bounce much of that light around.

I had a big computer armoire that was dark inside. But, worst of all, Pretty Handsome Guy and I worked together in the room with our backs to one another for 3 years!

I dreaded sitting and working in that room. As a graphic and web designer, I had no inspirations, no creative energy. And being the light obsessed person I am, I was depressed by all the darkness in the room. I took frequent breaks just to escape from the office.

I dreamed of a home office with one wall of built-in bookcases and storage and a work surface that jutted out in the middle. I tried to sell the idea to my better half, but Pretty Handsome Guy just couldn’t picture it.

As luck would have it, three months later, Sandra at Sawdust and Paper Scraps just completed my dream office in her home!

Sawdust and Paper Scraps Built-in Dream Office Come to Life

She posted the pictures on Remodelaholic. Hey Sandra, thanks for taking too long to finish it. Just kidding. But, If she had posted her pictures three months ago, our office may have looked very different.

Sometimes fate is a good thing, and in this case I am thrilled with the end result of our home office and it is all thanks to an inspiration I had when I found two of these:

$15 for a pair of solid wood doors with beautiful cherry stain on one side. 
I snatched them up at a church yard sale! You can imagine the look on Pretty Handsome Guy’s face when I came home with these hanging out the back of my car. “Um, don’t we already have doors on all our doorways?”  I answered with one word, “Potential.”
We didn’t do a thing to the doors except to remove the hardware and use the hinges in other rooms of our home. The stain color was a perfect match to our existing furniture. 

If you look back at some of our earlier posts you have been privy to some of the changes we made in the office.

 

Well, we finally put the finishing touches on the room, and I’m ready to show you the results.

New window treatments, and freshly scraped and painted ceilings.

 FIVE! Yes, count them, five ceiling light fixtures.
4 can lights + 1 drum shade pendant = 5 glorious ceiling lights
where there were ZERO, ZIP, NONE before!

A corner bistro table where we can sit and have coffee.
I can meet with graphic design clients. 
But, mostly so the kids can color, work on homework or
someday start a blog called MyMomIsPrettyCrazyGirl.com
Enough about those crazy kids. This is where I blog!
So, do you see my inspiration door?
Here is a hint: There is a layer of custom cut glass on top,
and a keyboard tray mounted underneath.

Plus a hole to run the cords through.

 How about now? Do you see it now? The doors are our desktops.
This is where I blog, design, and work! 
So open and airy.

We simply stacked the two doors on top of one another.

 And bought two pedestal file cabinets from Office Depot.
(I had to cut the legs shorter on this one to accommodate for the
difference in height with the two doors stacked.)
And voila! Two desks in an “L” shape.
No more back-to-back working.
Plus, lots of natural light bouncing around.
 
In the corner under the two doors, is an $8 yard sale bookcase that holds my computer, back up drive, CDs, books, and more supplies. It is hidden underneath, which is a good thing, because it desperately needs a little TLC.

The doors may have been my inspiration then,
but having a view out this window brings me loads of inspiration now!

This room is so special to us. We can sit and work, talk, catch up, and the boys have a great spot in the corner to color or practice reading on Starfall.com

The color paint we used is: Benjamin Moore Aura paint in Hot Spring Stones. It is the perfect warm gray beige color (in my opinion). The rug is from Home Goods. Curtains from Overstock.com. And fabric on chair, bistro table, and bookshelf back is called Fermini Sky. The drum shade pendant was from Amazon.com.

Curious where other bloggers blog? Check out the “Where do you blog? Party”  at Centsational Girl’s site today!

Want to see more amazing Before and After Transformations? Check out the Before & After Competition on the CSI Project today.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Message Center for the Mudroom

If you came by for my mudroom tour, you saw this message center made from a curbside window frame.

This was a super easy project and I built it in about 2 hours.

First, I gave the whole window a fresh coat of white paint. Then, I taped off the edges of the upper left and lower right windows and used 2 coats of chalkboard paint in those panes.

While the paint dried, I cut two pieces of foam core to size for the upper right and lower left panes. Then added some batting and wrapped the fabric around. I used a hot glue gun to attach the fabric to the back of the foam core. Then positioned the black ribbons on top and glued them to the back of the foam core as well. While the glue gun was still heated up, I ran a bead of glue around the edge of the window panes and inserted the two upholstered foam core pieces in place. (Pictorial directions for the upholstered foam core can be viewed here.)

Next, I had some leftover cheap mirror glass* that I used for the the mudroom coat rack. I used my glass cutter and cut those two panels down to size. Then I put some E-6000 onto the window pane and inserted my mirrored glass. To seal and hide the edges of the mirror, I used white bath and tile caulk around the edges of the mirror.

* Cheap Mirrored Glass Source: Find those $10 back of the door full length mirrors. Buy one at Walmart, Kmart or Target. Just peel off the glued frames and paper backing and cut your mirror pieces from it.

To build the little curved shelf, I actually already had the curved board leftover from another project. But, you can cut a piece of 1″ x 6″ with a jigsaw. Then use a router to give it a decorative edge. Then sand it, prime it and paint it.

To attach the shelf, I used 3 L-brackets on the underside and painted them white to be less noticeable. I also nailed a piece of 1″ x 2″ (painted white) to the bottom of the window so I could screw the brackets into it.

Once the message center was finished and dry, I located the studs on our mudroom wall and hung the window with two L- brackets on the bottom (see pictures above) and one on top.

Now I have a cute place to welcome guests, hang postcards and birthday invites, and check for ORT (object remove from teeth) before heading out the door.

Installing the Antique Heart Pine Flooring

Welcome back! If you are just joining us, we are on the fifth step of a five part series on our living room. A living room that started out as a dark cave of a room:

Before picture shot during daytime with a lamp lit. VERY DARK!

Previous steps can be viewed here:
1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)

It has been four days since Christmas and we’ve been working like busy beavers on our living room. Only a few more days until Pretty Handsome Guy has to go back to work. Our boys are getting antsy and tired of being shooed from the living room.

Keeping the troops from getting restless:

I came up with a spur of the moment idea to keep them busy for a little longer! Painter’s tape and a coin made for an instant hop scotch game on the kitchen floor!

I quickly duck into the living room and start the installation process.

When choosing the direction to run the boards, I had to look under the house from our crawl space to see which direction the floor joists ran. We wanted our wood floor to run at a 90 degree angle (or perpendicular) to the joist direction. (This isn’t a rule, but it helps with the stability of your floor.) If you can’t get under your house (or want no part of that underbelly) then study the nail pattern on the plywood subfloor. The nails that are nailed into the floor joists will be in straight lines across the floor.)

To lay the flooring straight, I drew out guide lines in the living room.

Marking Start and End Lines:

  1. Mark the green line first (with chalk line) as your starting line.
  2. Measure the width of the room at the top and bottom.
  3. If these values differ, choose the lesser amount or close to it and mark that distance at the top and bottom of the room.
  4. Snap your chalk line between the two points.

Figuring First and Last Board Widths:

Before you nail in that first board (because I know you are itching to get started). You will need to do some math to figure out how many board widths you will use across your room. Take the total width of your room, divide it by your floor board width.

For example, our room is 187″ wide. My board widths are 5.5 inches wide. So, here is my equation: 187 ÷ 5.5 = 34″  Oh happy day, a whole number!!! I have room for 34 full width boards in our living room.

This very rarely occurs! Normally you end up with a number that has a fraction, let’s say .3 for example. You will be left with 1/3 of your board width at the end. This board won’t look good being so narrow, and it is harder to work with. If you had .5 or larger, you might be fine depending on your board widths. You will need to be the judge.

So, in the case of the .3 excess, you will need to split the difference between both your starter and end boards. Find out what .3 of your board widths is: 5.5 x .3 = 1.65. Then you will add that width to your standard board width: 1.65 + 5.5= 7.15″. Now divide the 7.15 in half: 7.15 ÷ 2 = 3.575. So, now you know that you need to rip your start and end board to be 3.5″ wide. I hope you followed that.

Time to learn two new glossary words:

 

  • Rip – ripping a board is cutting with the grain along the length of a board. This is usually done with a table saw, but can be done with a circular saw and a straight edge.
  • Cross cut – a type of cut that is perpendicular to the grain or along the width of your board. Cross cuts are usually made with a miter saw or circular saw, but can also be made with a hand saw. (I’ve been known to make this cut using my band saw before I had either a miter or table saw. Okay, I’ll have to give you a lesson on types of saws at a later date. I promise!)

Remember how I said we had a whole number, meaning our room will take full width boards. In other words, no ripping needed (guess we didn’t need that table saw after all. But, no way was I returning my Christmas present!)

Cutting and Dry Fitting the floor:

I started by laying out all the boards across the room. Sounds easy right? WRONG!!! It wasn’t really difficult, just time consuming. I had to cut each board to size with the miter saw (this is where I really learned the value of the old adage “Measure twice, cut once.”  Then, I moved to the next board. Several rows took two board lengths. I was careful to stagger my seams randomly. I also had to take more time to cut the profiles around door jams, fireplace, heating vents and bookcases. Also, be sure to cut a hole where your heating and A/C vent is (more detailed information on cutting profiles can be found in this post.) Cutting around a vent instructions can be found at OneProjectCloser.com here. Measure, cut, check fit (and repeat about 100 times).

I chose to create a mitered frame around our fireplace. This took a little more measuring and time, but the results were well worth the effort.

Phew, that only took a day and a half! I laid out ALL the floor boards without nailing. Moved a few to stagger seams or put prettier planks in a more prominent spot. When everthing fit, I lightly numbered each board with chalk and stacked them up near the end side of the room.

FINALLY! Install Your Floor:

Okay itchy fingers, now it is time to install that first board! Grab that huge pneumatic nailer, right?! What? No?! The nailer won’t fit close enough to the wall for your first (or maybe even second or third row.) Time to bust out the power drill and predrill your nail holes. I put holes approximately every 18″ about an inch in from the edge. Then hammered the nails in using a nail set to countersink the nails. Before you sand, you will need to add some wood putty to fill and hide the nail holes.

Ah ha, NOW you can grab that nailer! I have to admit I was a little nervous. I had never actually used a floor nailer (although my Dad has pictures to prove otherwise).

 

Please, please, no comments about my topless internet photo!
I was 5 people! And a tomboy, what can I say.

It is true, I had watched my parents lay wood floors. But, that was many many years ago. Luckily times have changed, and the tools are better. We rented a pneumatic nailer with a compressor so that the nailer would do most of the driving with forced air.

We lined up that second board. Used a scrap block of wood and a hammer to tap it firmly against the installed board. Then Pretty Handsome Guy gave me the nod letting me know I could proceed. I trembled a little as I lifted the rubber mallet. Then stopped, moved my feet wider and clear away from the nailer. Then raised the mallet. It was now or never! And {{WHAM!}} The mallet hit smack in the middle of the black button and a loud bang filled the room. Woot! What a rush! I just love power tools :-).

Back to work, one floor cleat in and about 400 more to go. Plenty of {{WHAM}} for me and Pretty Handsome Guy to share.

When we reached the end of the room, we had to ditch the nailer and predrill holes and hammer in the nails by hand again.

Ooo la la! Step back and admire that beautiful floor!

Because our floor planks were custom planed, they had varying heights. But, that wasn’t a big deal because we were planning on finishing our own floor.

Well, at first we were so scared of ruining our beautiful wood floors that we almost paid a professional to come finish them for us. But, Mark Kegler (the guy who planed the wood for us) reassured me that I could definitely do it myself.

He gave me a few tips on Refinishing Your Own Floors:

  • Rent a drum sander (rented at Home Depot.)
  • Watch some videos on YouTube for using a drum sander.
  • Practice on a sheet of plywood to get the hang of it.
  • When you reach the end of your row, gently raise or rock the sander up and of the floor.
  • Whatever you do, DO NOT stop moving while the sanding drum is in contact with the floor.

 

  • Rent an edge sander (rented at Home Depot.)
  • Again watch a video on YouTube for how to use it.
  • Again DO NOT STOP moving it while it is in contact with the floor.
  • And hang on tight to that puppy, cause it will pull you into the next county if you let it.
  • A side note on the edge sanders, this thing will really give you a good glute and hamstring workout (just in case you were looking for some added results. Okay, yes, I added this last bullet point.)

 

  • Then rent a Square Buffer (or Random Orbital Sander). It will give you your fine sanding and buffing finishes. (Rented at Home Depot)
  • Yup, you guessed it, watch a video on You Tube. Seriously, how did people learn anything before YouTube?
  • Buy the most expensive floor finishing system they have (it will last much longer than a cheap polyurethane.) We used ProFinisher Water-Based Floor Polyurethane.
  • It can be a water based system.
  • The system should include a sanding sealer and a sealer (polyurethane or varnish).
  • Follow the directions on the bottle.

This site: www.easy2diy.com has some a great video and information for the whole finishing process. They left off the square buffing step, but it’s your DIY project and you can buff if you want to!

After following all the directions for finishing the floor, we were left with….

Ta Da! Droolingly Gorgeous Antique Heart Pine Floor

I hope you noticed that I didn’t mention the stain color we used. That is because we didn’t use a stain. This is the actual color of antique heart pine wood! No stain, just glorious amber red heart pine.

Which we had to cover up with a rug. But, every once in a while I pull back the rug and admire this:

You can just barely see that little spot of turquoise paint in the nooks of this knot.
It is just whispering, “I’m old and I have a story behind me.”

Before I reveal the room to you:
Do you remember the before picture?
Here are a few more:
And this was before we moved in:

Here is the final reveal of our living room:

I should note that it took another few hours to cut, install, and paint the quarter round molding to hide the edges of the floor. And I had to wait a month for custom transition strips for the doorways and special heart pine quarter round for around the fireplace. But, I’m one proud and happy Pretty Handy Girl now!

Post Note:

Several people have emailed me asking where we got our rug. It is from Pottery Barn and is called Adeline.

Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and buying antique lumber on Craig’s List)

While writing this post, I thought about some alternate titles.
Here are some of the contenders:

1. How to entertain your kids while installing hard wood floors
2. How to cover your screened porch with debris from demolition
3. When you really should rent a dumpster
4. How to signify that Christmas is over
5. When getting a good deal on antique flooring from Craig’s List really isn’t a “good deal”
6. How to convince Pretty Handsome Guy that I really need a table saw
7. How to use up all of your husband’s Christmas vacation time

I hope you’ve enjoyed our adventures while renovating our living room. This is the fourth step in the ever growing series renovating our living room. Previous parts can be read here:

1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and the Craig’s List source)
5. Installing Heart Pine Floors and the Final Reveal

And now, without further delay,
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and our amazing Craig’s List source!)

When we last left the Pretty Handy Girl Family the stockings were hung with care and Santa had left his tell tale magic snow boot prints.

One day later, December 26th, and we threw out the tree, put away all the decorations, emptied the room and let the demolition begin!

Our living room rug had seen 3 families, 3 dogs, and 6 children. Do I need to say more? It was time to say goodbye to that stained carpet. It seemed like a good idea to vacuum the rug before we removed it. A complete waste of time when we saw the dirt underneath, but whatever, if my son wants to vacuum, who am I to stop him!

To remove carpet, grab some plyers and start pulling up the carpeting from the edges. Then, take a utility knife and cut the carpet in three foot strips, roll them up, try not to gag as you see the stains underneath, and toss them out (we tossed them on the porch adjacent to the living room.) You will notice that I was wearing a mask. I highly recommend wearing gloves, mask and while you’re at it, maybe a hazmat suit!

For some reason, this activity was irresistible to our two boys (notice the cheering section with their chairs pulled up for a front row seat.)

We were thoroughly disgusted to find that one of the dogs (at least I think it was a dog) had been using the fireplace as a fire hydrant. The stench immediately released as we tore up the carpeting.

Next we removed tack strips with a hammer and pry bar and gloves (be careful not to get poked by those tacks! Ouch!) Removed the carpet padding by cutting it into strips too. Threw it on the porch.

We had standard under-layment (particle board) under our carpeting. This is that type of wood that is made of tiny chips of wood and it flakes very easily. You CANNOT nail a floor into this stuff (unless you want your floor to bow and squeak, don’t do it!) We used a long digging bar (see below) to get some leverage under the under-layment.

Heavy 6′ long digging bar

The boards broke into small 2′ chunks which we also threw onto the porch.

It was at this moment, (while gazing at the 3′ high pile of debris) that we realized that maybe we should have rented a dumpster.  I wondered if we would ever see our porch floor again!

Luckily, we were able to fit all the trash in the back of a neighbor’s truck. Pretty Handsome Guy and our oldest son made a trip to the dump. I was told it was quite an experience driving up Mt. Trashmore and pushing the debris out the back as seagulls swooped and swarmed. Yuck!

Back at home, I removed all the nails leftover from the particle board and swept and vacuumed the floor.

After we cleared the porch, we started setting up shop and taking inventory of what we needed for the installation.

  • Several sheets of 3/4″ plywood to build up our subfloor to the same height as the kitchen
  • Screws
  • Tar paper to act as a vapor barrier
  • Chalk line and chalk (already had)
  • Staple gun and staples (already had)
  • Rent a pneumatic floor nailer and hammer
  • Flooring nails
  • Miter Saw (check)
  • Table Saw (hmmmm, I didn’t have one, and I would probably need one to rip a board or two when I got to the end of the room. Let’s just say that I got my Christmas present a few days after Christmas!)
Courtesy of HomeDepot.com: order your own here!

We began by measuring the floor and cutting our 4′x8′ sheets of plywood to fit in the room. This is a small room, so we only needed 6.5 sheets of plywood. Then we screwed about a gazillion 500 screws into the plywood until it was squeak-free and wouldn’t move in an earthquake.

How did we ensure that we had removed all the squeaks? Well, we had our oldest son test it out with his new roller skates he got for Christmas.

After the sub floor was built up, we stapled down tar paper over the whole floor. Did you know that tar paper can also become an instant blackboard for two boys? Scribbles and race tracks instantly appeared.

So, speaking of scribbles, you may notice some writing on the left hand side of the picture below. I always like to leave a little note or a story about the renovation for some future homeowner to find. (Although, curse the person that even thinks of removing my beautiful floors!)

This is the message I left:

“These heart pine floors were laid December 2009. The boards were reclaimed from the second floor of an old farmhouse just north of Oxford, NC in Virginia. The nails are antique square cut nails leftover from the construction of my grandfather’s house in Troy, NY.”

This is only part of the whole story about these boards. We have wide plank heart pine floors in most of our downstairs. They are original to the house, and add so much character! We wanted to try to keep the integrity of the house when we added wood floors in the living room, so I had spent hours scouring the web to find a source for wide plank heart pine flooring. The cost for reclaimed lumber with the same width was crazy expensive! $10 – $12 per linear foot. Worth every penny I’m sure, but unless we won the lottery, those floors were going to have to wait.

One day I stumbled across some wide plank heart pine lumber on Craig’s List. Yes, Craig’s List! I agreed to buy the lumber, basically sight unseen because the seller hauled the lumber to our house from Virginia (about an hour and a half away.) My heart sank when he pulled in our driveway. This lumber was filthy! Covered in dirt and grime. I really thought I might be getting ripped off. But, then he pulled one board from the trailer that he had sanded down and showed it to me. That one board was beautiful. It was a gorgeous amber color and had pretty knots in it. He told me that he demolishes old buildings and the owners let him sell anything he can salvage. He promised that this lumber was probably gorgeous underneath the dirt and grime. I took a leap of faith and paid for it.

The wood sat in our garage for months until we finally decided to get the ball rolling. We started by scraping the tongue and grooves of the wood. 100 years of dirt and grime poured from the cavities in the boards. Then we removed as many nails as we could find. These were not round nails, they were hand cut and forged square nails.

3 Days of scraping, prying and pulling left a dirty floor and a dirty Pretty Handy Girl and Pretty Handsome Guy.

Next we sent the lumber off with our handyman, who safely removed all the lead paint from the one side of the wood. These were floor boards from the second floor of a farm house, the owners had painted their exposed ceilings (the undersides of the floor boards!) Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to plane the wood (even the tops and bottoms of boards by shaving), since the wax used to finish the floors 100 years ago kept gumming up his planer. (Thank you Steve Bartholomew for your hours of labor on our wood and the numerous blades you ruined for us.)

Enter one fabulous woodworker, Mark Kegler from Kegler’s Woodwerks. He and his father were so wonderful and gave me many tips and words of encouragement since this was my first time installing wood floors. They planed the wood and put new tongue and groove on the boards, which I know helped my installation process tremendously!

When Mark and his father returned the wood to us, I was weak in the knees. I have never seen wood like this before. The patterns, wood grain and coloring was BEAUTIFUL!!! I knew then that the time, effort, and extra money spent planing and removing the paint was well worth it. We had saved a piece of history and preserved wood that few will see in today’s lumber industry.

I love the grain variations!

See just a hint of the paint still in the knot.

Some of the grain has a bluish cast to it!

Next up on the blog: How to keep 2 kids out of the room you are working on. And the process for installing wood floors, sanding and final reveal!

Building a Shoe Storage Bench from Kitchen Cabinets

PHGMudroomBenchStraight

Welcome! If you are a friend, you know that all our friends and family enter through our mudroom. This door is the closest to our driveway. Only the door-to-door salesmen go to our front door (heh, heh, heh!)

Come on in! This blackboard, mirror and memory board used to be a discarded window.
Make one of your own! Tutorial here.


This is my pride and joy! My mudroom bench and coat rack. Yes, I made it myself.
And no, I didn’t have any help from my husband. I am the handywoman of our home.


I’ll give you a little background about how this bench came to be. I really loved having a mudroom to begin with. But, the piles of shoes and coats that accumulated behind the door were making me nuts! Who knew that a flip flop could double as a door stop, not allowing me to enter my own house!

My son tried to help out by piling all the shoes on top of the coat rack. Better, right?!


Sure, I could have hopped over to Pottery Barn and bought a mudroom bench and shelf, but I balked at the price tag. So, I continued to ponder a solution. I dreamed of having a perfect storage solution to streamline my mornings of getting two little boys out the door to preschool. A bench to perch the kids on while putting on their shoes. (A task I know someday I will miss doing, but for now I can’t wait for them to learn to tie their own shoes.)  Everyone’s socks and shoes would be at hand but not in the way. And a place for every jacket, book bag, and hat. The final product was beyond my dreams. I love it more than any other piece of furniture in my house. It is my sanity saver!

My dreams began to form when I stumbled across some kitchen wall cabinets on clearance at Lowe’s. These are the short cabinets that mount over your fridge. They were marked down to $45 each.

The wheels in my brain began to turn. I started to see how I could use these cabinets to solve our shoe dilemma.

I bought some lumber. I also had some salvage pieces that had been collecting dust in our attic. An old door with recessed panels, four ornate old coffee table legs, and some shelf brackets from a yard sale.

After a few days of distressing and staining boards, cutting lumber, rounding some edges, hammering, nailing, driving screws and sweating, this is what I ended up with!

Chain throwing and hammer marks add a distressed look to new wood.

Decorative shelf brackets add nice character to the back rest.

Salvage coffee table legs add that much needed detail.

The finished bench (the only time it was ever empty.)


Loaded with shoes and with the salvage door on top as a coat rack. A mudroom bench with shoe storage and a clear floor! My sanity has returned.

If you are intrigued as to how I constructed this bench – keep reading. If not, thanks for stopping by. I hope you will come back again soon. And, the tutorial for the coat rack is here!

 

Building the Shoe Storage Bench (the Tutorial)

I have to apologize up front for not having the usual step-by-step tutorial for this bench. But, I built it pre-blogging days when I didn’t have to stop and start after every step to take a photograph. I hope you’ll forgive me. And now the abbreviated tutorial:

Here is the bench flipped on its back to show you the base construction:

I built the base frame by nailing 2x4s together.

Added a 1×4 board (toe kick) to hide the cheap 2×4′s. Then finish nailed the toe kick to the base frame.

Now the upright view to show you the bench construction:

I attached the two wall cabinets to the base frame with screws.

Added a 1″ thick pine board cut to size to fit between the two cabinets. This board also hides the base frame.

Used two 1×4 pine boards with rounded top corners for the back rest.

Mounted decorative coffee table legs by driving a screw down through the bench seat.

From the back, the bench looks like this (not pretty, but no one sees it.):

You can see the two wall cabinets from the back side.

Another view of the two 1×4 back rest boards.

Shelf brackets were used to mount the back rest to the bench seat.

Screwed 2×2 cleats to back of cabinets, then attached the bench seat by driving a screw down through the seat and into cleats.

Now to show you how the pieces were attached, the close up below is a view of the shelf bracket and corner section:


This corner shows how I used screws and nails to attach the parts (definitely ignore my sloppy nailing skills. I’m still working on perfection y’all.)

Base cabinets had particle board construction, so I added veneer end caps.

Close up of end cap veneer with base moulding profile cut out.

Read more about scribing and cutting a profile here.


Then I added L brackets inside the cabinets to support a shelf.

Add the shelf and you’ve got double the shoe storage.

Hmmm, but if you have shoes, you need to have sock storage as well. I purchased one magazine basket at Target.

And filled it with our socks. Old baby wipe containers are used to divide the socks for each of my sons.


And voila, I have an efficient sock storage spot.

Here is the final result loaded with socks, shoes and coats! The coat rack is made from an old door, antique hooks, and yard sale shelves.
Coat rack tutorial is here!

Not bad for about $200 in materials! I love my mudroom bench and get oodles of compliments on it.

See y’all later.

Sharing this organizational project with:

If you liked this tutorial you might want to follow me on some more DIY adventures, complete with step-by-step tutorials!

Or follow me on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest so you can be the first to know what I’m working on next!

Painting Decorative Graphics on a Wall

On Monday I showed you my fireplace painting from white paint back to brick. This was only one step in our major living room renovation. I hope you will hop back again this week to see some of the other transformations we made to this room:

1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall (this post)
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)
5. Installing Heart Pine Floors and the Final Reveal

Step 1 was a magical transformation of white painted brick to brownstone brick using paint!

Step 2 was actually a 5 step program to lightening up the room, we dubbed the dark cave. 

Before

And as promised, we’ve arrived to Step 3 in our Living Room renovation.

So, I admit it, I’m gaga for those silhouetted wall graphics. Some of my favorites are from Leen the Graphics Queen.

Because I have a background in illustration, I didn’t think twice about customizing the wall behind our bookcase with a design. If you have a super shaky hand, definitely stop here and head over to Leen’s!

If you are up for a challenge, keep reading. After clearing my built-in bookshelves, I started by lightly outlining where the bookshelves met the wall with pencil or chalk. Then I took out the bookshelves.

Next I used chalk to draw the outlines of my design. I was careful to avoid having a bird where the shelves would meet the wall.

Don’t think you can draw freehand? Try this trick (it works for enlarging a design also):
You can always print something you find online or make a copy of a design you see in print. 
Legalese: Please be respectful of other’s artwork and
don’t try to sell anything you put the image on. 
That is copyright infringement! Technically even copying the image from 
someone else’s site or from a book is too. But, we’ll bend the law just this once. 
You can take your print out and draw a grid across it (see above). Then draw your larger grid on the wall and focus on drawing one box in the grid at a time.

Now get your good brushes out. Make sure you have at least a small round brush with a good tip. And a flat brush will help too. A good brush really makes all the difference.

I used my Benjamin Moore Aura wasabi powder paint leftover from this project and over my chalk outlines.

So, here is something I didn’t tell you yesterday. I actually left the dark pine green behind my bookshelves in the living room. So, when I used the lighter wasabi powder green it showed up lighter on the pine green. It is an optical illusion that the graphics are lighter than the rest of the room’s color.

After the paint dried I used a damp rag to remove the pencil and/or chalk marks. Then put the shelves back in.

See, no birdies were harmed during the creation of this wall treatment. By tracing the shelves from the start, I was able to ensure that the birds were not covered up by the shelves.

I love the whimsy that the graphics add, don’t you?

When I style my shelves, I TRY to keep it sparse.

And that was it! The cost was next to nothing since I used the same gallon of paint for the walls in the room (from yesterday.)

I hope you will stop by for my next post on preparing the floor for hardwood flooring. And installing BEAUTIFUL antique reclaimed heart pine flooring. I am so excited to show you this!

Lighten Up! 5 Ways to Bring Light into a Dark Room

On Monday I showed you my fireplace painting from white paint back to brick. This was only one step in our major living room renovation. I hope you will hop back again this week to see some of the other transformations we made to this room.

1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps (this post)
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)
5. Installing Heart Pine Floors and the Final Reveal

After the bricks were painted, I enjoyed the results for a few months, but I had bigger ideas for this room. The first was to lighten up the room. This room has no windows, only a sliding glass door that opens to a screened porch. No ceiling lights except two eyeball lights aimed at the fireplace.  Add to that a deep pine green paint on the walls and this room was one dark cave.

These pictures were taking before we moved in:

 

Years ago Pretty Handy Guy and I learned that the first thing you need to do to increase light in your room is to scrape the popcorn ceiling and repaint it using Valspar’s Ultra Bright Flat White Paint.

Photo courtesy of DIYNetwork.com

This always makes a dramatic difference in how much light is reflected (as opposed to being absorbed by the popcorn texture and dull builder’s white paint.)

Okay, so if you are thinking that I scraped the ceiling myself, think again.  I may be pretty handy – and there isn’t much I can’t do – but this is one job I choose NOT to do. I scraped our pantry ceiling and it was easy, but my neck hurt for days! Do yourself a favor and hire someone to scrape, spackle and sand for you if you have neck or shoulder issues like I do. Then you can prime and paint with a roller on an extension pole.

Ceiling scraped, spackled, sanded, primed, and painted with ultra white paint. Wow, that is bright white!

Just kidding. I didn’t take a picture of the ceiling.

Most people know that adding a lighter color to a room increases the amount of light. Dark colors absorb light while lighter colors reflect them. (Remember the wisdom of not wearing black on a hot sunny day).

After much deliberation*, (because I liked the green color that was already there) I chose a lighter green for the walls. Wasabi Powder by Behr. But I had my favorite “paint guys” at Ace Hardware match the color in a Benjamin Moore Satin Aura Paint.

*When I deliberate, I bring home about 50 different swatches from many brands for each room I am trying to decide for. Then I put up a few at a time stuck in door jams, light switches, etc. I move them around on different walls at different times of the day. Then weed out the ones I don’t like. I live with the colors for at least a week, taking time to narrow my choices down to three. Then I run to buy the little sample paint jars of the colors I chose or have the paint department at Lowe’s mix one ($3 for a sample of ANY color! Woot!)

At this point I am so gung-ho about painting that I grab my brush and paint big 3′ x 1′ patches of the finalists on all four walls right up against the white trim (so I have one edge against white not the existing wall color). But, If you aren’t quite ready to paint on your walls, you can paint your swatches on big pieces of poster board instead. Usually within a day I can decide on “The One.”

Since this was my first experience with Benjamin Moore Aura paint. I was shocked when the paint covered the deeper green with only one coat! Pretty Handy Guy and I are perfectionists about painting, so we have always used two coats on any room we paint. We both agreed that this time we couldn’t see ANY spots showing through with this paint!

Legalese: Of course, your results may vary.
We have since painted the office from a dark sienna color
to a light stone color and definitely need the two coats.

One more thing about Aura paint, it really is super low odor. It is more expensive, but you don’t have to use as much since it covers better, no roller marks, and …hey, it is good for you and the environment!

The new color made a difference, but the biggest unexpected change in light happened when we widened this doorway:

This was a measly 4 feet opening from the kitchen to the living room.

I had been trying to convince Pretty Handy Guy for eons months that we really needed to open up the doorway. I wanted to be able to see what our two screaming boys were up to while struggling to pull dinner out of the oven. Or be able to participate in conversation with guests when they sat in the living room and I was busy in the kitchen.

I tried taping up cardboard to show him the new width. But, he just couldn’t see the potential. Luckily, he finally gave in.

The next day, I hired a contractor to open up the doorway. This guy was worth his weight in gold, especially when he proposed a brilliant idea:

“Why not add sconce lights to each side of the opening in the living room since I have to cut holes to move the wiring in your wall anyway?” YES! I yelled. I could kiss that contractor. To this day, I still love those sconces and the light they add to the room. But, most of all, I loved the expression on Pretty Handy Guy’s face (sheer quizzical skepticism) when he heard “sconces”. I found out later that Pretty Handy Guy didn’t have the same vision as I did:

Opening up that wall had an unexpected bonus. It allowed all the light from the kitchen bay window to spill into the living room. So, to recap, here are the light altering changes we made:

  1. Scrape Ceilings
  2. Repaint Ceilings Ultrabright White
  3. Repaint Walls Lighter Green
  4. Add Sconce Lights to both sides of the wall opening
  5. Open Doorway

And the results speak for themselves!

Before shot: Living room during daylight with table lamp lighting

 

After shot: Nighttime room lit by fireplace lights
(gotta love Santa’s magic North Pole footprints made with baking soda!)

 

After shot: Nighttime room lit by fireplace lights, sconces
and (okay) a few Christmas tree blinkies

Before shot: 4 foot doorway looking into living room

 

After shot: Same doorway widened to almost 8 ft. (doorway looking into kitchen)

 

Final shot: Way too early Christmas morning!
Stay tuned!
And then…Dec. 26th 2009…Christmas is over, take down the tree and remove everything from the room. Make way for reclaimed antique heart pine floors! You gotta see this (coming soon.)

Painting Brick Fireplace – From White to Beautiful Brownstone

This is the first in a five part series on renovating our living room:

1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace (this post)
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)
5. Installing Heart Pine Floors and the Final Reveal

I know the trend lately is to paint fireplace brick white. Especially if the brick is an ugly bright red or some other ugly color. I’m pretty sure that is why our fireplace was painted in the first place.

Before Shot

But, the fact that our fireplace, mantle and the built-in bookshelves on both sides of our fireplace are white, made for an overwhelming amount of white on that one wall. I thought about painting the mantle, but only briefly. I really wanted the warmth and contrast of bricks to set off all the white in our living room.

I stumbled across a few websites showing painted brick here and here. Then I thought, “If someone can do it, then there is a 95% chance that I can do it too!”

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but in the end I am amazed by how real it looks. And, how easy it was to do! The true test came when I fooled the builder of our house (he has lived on our street for over 30 years) into thinking I had stripped the paint off the bricks! Sweet success.

This is a relatively easy project. It took several hours, but can be done in sections.

Materials Needed:
TSP cleaner
Scrub brush for use with TSP cleaner
Drop cloth
Newspapers
Painters Tape
Paint Roller and Tray
Stiff 2″ paint brush
Car wash sponge or large 6″ x 3″ sized sponge
Spray bottle with water
7 paper plates
Rags for clean Up
Acrylic Paint (see below for colors)

Before you do anything, buy some TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) cleaner at the hardware store and follow the directions to clean your brick. Be forewarned that you may actually like the color of your bricks once they are clean and dry! If you still hate the color, proceed…

After working up a test board by playing with several color combinations, I chose a warm brown brick color. I also tweaked my mortar color before painting it on my fireplace.

I covered the mantle and bookcases by taping newspapers to them. Then, covered the floor with a drop cloth.

I mixed up a small container of my mortar color. I used some leftover latex satin taupe paint from our other house and added some black and a little dark brown to achieve the perfect mortar color.

My color looks like this warm gray cement color:

I painted all the mortar areas between the bricks with a 2″ paint brush.

As the mortar color dried, I mixed up a bucket of my base color for the bricks. Then poured it into a paint tray.

Then, I laid out my seven paper plates and filled the first one with a deep chocolate oops paint (Valspar Latex Eggshell Chestnut).

And poured a half dollar size of the following colors onto the other plates (one color per plate).

I used a paint roller to roll the base color onto small 3′ x 3′ sections of my fireplace. (Don’t worry if the paint doesn’t soak into all the grooves. Some of the white showing through made my bricks look old and rustic.)

While the base color was still wet, I covered my sponge with the Chestnut color. Then dipped the sponge into one or two of the brick tint colors. I sponged one brick at a time using the same color tints sporadically around the wall. Keeping the brick colors varied and random make them look real!

When the sponge needed to be reloaded with paint, I began with the chestnut color first, then added one or two new color tints to the sponge. You will have to refill the paper plates as you use up the paint.

I kept working in small sections, to be able to work while the base color was still wet (use the spray bottle of water to lightly wet the bricks if it dries too quick).

The best part was that if I didn’t like a color, I could go back over it and try a different tint. Notice how I randomly dispersed the darker brown bricks. This is key to having a realistic look.

On the hearth I had to press more gently with the sponge since the mortar lines on our hearth were almost level with the bricks. I kept a wet rag near by to wipe up any wandering brick paint.

Close up picture of the bricks.
Notice how the white specks showing through really make the bricks
look like they are re-claimed and rustic.
After Picture
Daylight picture after decorated for the holidays.
I can’t believe what a huge difference painting the bricks made in our living room. It warmed up the space and actually made our fireplace recede into the room. Let’s take one more look at the before and after:
Side note: The latex and acrylic paint has held up great (even after several fires using our gas logs.)  If you need to paint the bricks inside the firebox, you will need to use paint that is heat tolerant.

And for those wondering how long this took. Including the prep work (cleaning, taping, mixing colors) it took about 5 hours total. Not too bad since I’m a night owl and could watch DIY network while painting!

Be careful not to put anything heavy on the hearth for a few weeks while the paint hardens.

Next up in the series: 5 Ways to Lighten up a Dark Room. 
Followed by: Painting Decorative Graphics on Your Wall.
And I saved the best for last (coming soon): Installing Antique Reclaimed Heart Pine Flooring

The Painted Cottage – A Tour of My Favorite Store at the Beach

We just got back from a very relaxing week at the beach. The weather was perfect and our boys really enjoyed playing in the surf. I think we brought back a bit too much of the beach with us (sandy sheets, hair and toes). But, at least we had fun!

My mom and I spent an afternoon shopping at the outlets in Myrtle Beach, but not before stopping at my favorite location in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.

A place where I can look at lots of this:

Admire plenty of this:

And go ga ga for this:

All these and more can be found at The Painted Cottage.

This eclectic shop is an adorable boutique with sherbert colored walls and oodles of antiques, art and shabby chic finds. I could spend hours browsing this store and still not see everything.

Here is just a sampling of what is inside:

Did you see that white oyster shell mirror on the wall?
How about the same mirror with black oyster shells?

Very chic in black, don’t you think?
Precious blue bottles with coral and starfish lids

I just love this summery beach wreath spray painted light blue
and accented with ribbon, coral and shells.

Don’t you just love this red floral wingback chair with the starfish throwpillow?
(Realistically I know it would only last 2 minutes in my house before being plucked off
the pillow by my boys or crushed during wrestling matches.
But, I can dream about it, right?!)

A Trio of Starfish on Burlap

Another unique way to decorate with an old window and wine corks!

Whoa! I just found Daisy’s twin? She looks fab in red.

Hey, another coincidence! A chair with the same P. Kaufmann fabric
as my daisy chair and bench in my guest room (only in a different colorway.)

Let me tell you, The Painted Cottage has the best decorative chairs.
Like this blue rattan chair.

Or this shabby chic floral detailed chair
I’m crazy about this child size rustic chair with the monkey fist knot ball
And just the aqua color of this chair has me hooked
More aqua color on this vanity and clear glass lamp
Catching my breath as I spot this gorgeous aqua armoire!
I’m only pulled away from the armoire by these glass beauties.
Am I part magpie? Why am I so fixated on shiny shinies?
 
 This dresser pulled me out of my aqua fixation.
Beautiful sea foam green.
Will you look at this lampshade?! Fabric flowers sewn to the shade. Heavenly!
I can’t wait for one of you crafty readers to write up a tutorial on this.
or how about this lamp? LOVE IT, right?!
A beautiful hydrangea painting
Upon closer inspection, the flowers are actually cut magazine photos.
How clever!
The store has an abundance of signs with clever sayings.
“Barefoot is Bliss” so true!
“At the Beach we live by the currents and follow the sun”
“Dogs have owners, cats have staff”
That black bench under the throws is another headboard bench.
 This sign just kills me…get it? KILLs me. Okay, sorry, that was corny.
The crab shack
More artwork and accents

So, if you make your way down to the  southernmost beaches of North Carolina’s unique barrier islands, (or even if you are in Myrtle Beach). Take the time to stop by and visit The Painted Cottage at 6692 Beach Drive, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. (Phone ahead for hours and directions: 910-579-5995). Be sure to tell them that I sent you. (I am not paid by the Painted Cottage, I only hope they remember me next year when I go back.)

Best of all, if you haven’t had your fill of eye candy from this post, visit the shop’s website: thepaintedcottageonline.com or blog: thepaintedcottageonline.blogspot.com

My Home Tour – The Guest Room

bench3.4view

Having guests over is such an exciting opportunity to catch up and show off your home. Here’s a tour of our guest room for you to enjoy. Come on in, kick your shoes off and stay overnight if you wish!

CountryLiving

The room had humble beginnings. These are the before pictures.

GuestBefore1
Not a bad color, but just not what I had in mind.
There were several holes that needed patching in the walls.
That gave me another reason to re-paint.

GuestBefore2 What was I thinking?! That little ikea dresser just does not fit!

Before I show you the after pictures, I have to explain. As the mother of two boys (and the only female in our home), I am careful to keep my decorating from being too flowery, frilly, and – well – girlie. But, after a week of sleeping in the guest room because everyone had the flu except me (you know Mom’s can’t afford to be sick!), I decided to throw my femininity into just this one room. I told Pretty Handsome Guy that it was the one room that I needed to be girlie! He knew better than to protest. I guess he figured it was better if I got it out of my system in just this one space.

So, here she is, all gloriously girlified:

Roses
Fresh roses, I wish you had smell-o-vision. Freshly cut roses, displayed in a recycled jelly jar.

Doorknob
Detail of doorknob from the nightstand made from a curbside door and picket fence.

3.4Nightstand
Better view of the nightstand. The lamp is from Goodwil

BirdSeedPillow
The center pillow was a sack of birdseed that I ordered from here.
Then I washed it and stuffed it with stuffing and just re-tied the top.
The patchwork rose pillow was purchased in a gift shop during our visit here.
 
GuestBed
The painting over the bed was painted by the very talented, Shari MacFarlane (who also happens to be my Mom.)

FootofBed

The bed frame was rescued from the curb when we lived in Charlottesville, VA. The side rails were broken, but I found sturdy new ones at a rummage sale the very next week!
I sanded the rails down and stained them to match the headboard and footboard.

Daisyart
You can just barely see this piece of art from the previous picture. I purchased this little painting from a gallery in Asheville, NC on my first getaway weekend after having kids. The artist signed it Cap Man 2005. It is painted on a salvage floor board.
I just love it and the Jimi Hendrix quote

Flowerscloseup
Spray painted floral vases and a peek at my birthday gift from a dear friend.
It was her grandmother’s hand towel!
She was the recipient of this present for her birthday a few years ago.

WindowsonWall

Daisy, the rescued chair and an adorable kidney shaped desk. I think it fell off a pick up truck because it was busted up and upside down on the side of the road.
The desk matched the style of my bed perfectly!

DaisyDesknFlowers
I glued the broken pieces, and re-stained it. Then added a ribbon and bead pull.

Salvage windows. The larger one was a gift from a friend and fellow blogger. I cut mat board to fit in each individual pane and then used double stick tape to mount family photos on the boards. Then pressed the boards in the back of the window and hot glued around the edges.

WindowDetails

Close up of chipped salvage window. I painted one coat of flat white paint on top of the window and then used packing tape to peel off some of the paint.

downshot

Sweet smelling soaps in a bowl. Pitcher and silver tray from Goodwill. Top view of the upholstered bench.

bench3.4view

Can you believe it? The bench was also a curbside find!

This concludes my guest room tour. Did you enjoy? You can view my full home tour here. Thanks for visiting.

PHGFancySign

Writing in the Sand Picture

EmilySandPic
This is a fun project to do with your kids (or by yourself) while you are at the beach.

Collect some cool shells, beach glass or driftwood. Use a broken shell with a sharp edge to write your name or message in the sand. Decorate your scene with the shells, etc. Take oodles of pictures. Try different angles and different distances.

When you get home pick out your favorite. And then you can use your favorite photo editing software or one of these great free websites Picnik or Sumo Paint- to make color corrections, cropping, etc.

Print your picture out and put it in a cute frame.

I debated whether or not to add shells and sea glass to the outside of the frame. The kids voted and we decided to add them with hot glue (or you could use E-6000) to the frame.

Then hang your sign on a door or set it up on your desk. You be the boss!

Decorative Book with Hidden Potential (and a gift for my 100th follower)

Two weeks ago I was thrilled when one of you wonderful readers signed on to become my 100th follower! What a milestone for a relatively new blog.

This lucky, 100th follower was Sharon, who has an equally amazing blog called This Thrifty House. If you haven’t been to her blog, you have to check out some of her projects!

Here is just a small sample of some of her creative juices flowing:

 
As a BIG thank you to Sharon for signing on as a follower, I had to make her something special. I took pictures and wanted to create a tutorial for you, but I’ve had to sit on my fingers to keep from spilling the beans before she received it.

So, the time has come, Sharon received my package in the mail, and without further delay, here is the tutorial!

Before the end of school I made four of these beautiful decorative books for my sons’ teachers. They looked so pretty that I didn’t have to wrap them in gift wrap.

I simply tied a bow around them and gave them to the teachers. Imagine their surprise when they opened them to find…

a gift card to Borders!

Now they have a pretty book to decorate with and a secret compartment for hiding something.

To make these decorative books with storage you will need:

1 Thick hardback book (I buy these for super cheap at Goodwill or use one of your own)
2 sheets of decorative scrapbook paper (12″ x 12″)
1 sheet of coordinating decorative scrapbook paper for the spine
Rubber cement
Scotch Tape
Xacto blades
Metal ruler (or ruler with a metal edge)
Mod Podge
Gold acrylic paint (optional)
Wax paper (save the liners from cereal boxes and never buy wax paper again)
Heavy weights

and most importantly….patience.

Begin by removing the dust cover or jacket from your book.

Open your book a few pages to determine where you want your hole to be. I usually leave a few pages in the front for more secrecy. Lay your gift card or item to hide on the page and trace out a rectangle guide for cutting. Use your x-acto blade and ruler to cut out one or two pages.

Put a piece of wax paper between your first cut page and the rest of the pages. Put a second piece of wax paper between the back cover of your book and the last page of your book. This keeps the paint/mod podge mixture from getting on the areas of the book you want to keep clean.

Now, mix your mod podge with a small bit of gold acrylic paint and brush the gold mod podge on the three sides of your book pages. Be sure you have covered your pages well.

 

Now, close your book (being sure that the wax paper is still protecting the back cover and the reserved page.) Get your heavy weight (hooray, finally a use for those heavy free weights that take up valuable closet space.) Do one bicep curl and drop the weight on top of your book.

Wait about 30 minutes for the modge podge to dry. While I’m waiting I put a piece of saran wrap over my mod podge mixture and paint brush and stored it in the fridge to keep it from drying out.

While you wait for the book to dry, you can assemble your decorative book cover.

(1) Butt your two scrapbook pages together and (2) put a piece of scotch tape along the seam.

Use the removed cover of your book (or measure the book) to figure out how tall you want your decorative cover to be. Trim your cover down to the correct height. Next determine how wide you want your decorative spine to be. Mine is the width of the book plus 2 inches. Cut your spine paper to size width-wise.

Center the spine on your book cover and draw a light pencil line on the book cover around the spine edges. (3) Open your rubber cement and coat your spine with a coat of rubber cement. Let it dry slightly while you (4) put another coat on the book cover in between the guide lines you drew on the cover. To get a strong bond with rubber cement you need two coats (one on the surface you are attaching, and the other on the surface you are gluing the piece to. This is standard for rubber cement unless you happen to purchase one coat rubber cement. (5) While the pieces are still tacky, gently lay the spine on top of the cover. You only have one shot at this, so go slow. Press the paper together. (6) Then run your finger along the spine edges wiping up any rubber cement (go ahead, you know you want to make little fake boogies!) Now, take your ruler and xacto and trim off the excess top of the spine.

 
Set your cover aside and check on your book. If the modge podge is dry, go ahead and open the book. Now, put your patience cap on.

You will continue to keep your one reserve page separate, but use it to draw your guide lines on the first page of the glued pages. Then be sure to protect that one reserve page so you can cover up your jagged cut lines later.

Use your ruler and a VERY sharp brand new xacto blade (you may go through 1 or 2 more blades during this part. Be sure to change your blade if the blade starts to pull pieces of the pages with it instead of cutting through them.) Gently but firmly cut along your guide lines. BE SURE TO KEEP YOUR FINGERS AWAY FROM THE RULER EDGE! (You don’t need to loose a finger, unless you are a two finger typer.)

Score a few times in the same spot being sure to press firm but not too hard as to break your blade. Try to be sure that you are cutting all the way to your corners. My method was to cut 4-5 times along one line, then rotate the book 90 degrees and repeat.

When you have cut through several pages, pull them out (cutting any corners that are still attached.) Now repeat, repeat, repeat……..until you have reached the desired depth for your hidden storage area. Phew, do you have a hand cramp yet? Hopefully that is all you have, no cuts I hope.

Now, clean up any edges of your opening.

Get your gold mod podge out of the fridge and seal the edges of your opening and paint the bottom of your opening.

Then paint the exterior edges around your opening (the first page in your glued stack.) NOW, lay your reserved page on top of this one and you have a clean border!

Put a piece of wax paper on top of your reserve page and pick up your weight. Use your opposite arm and do one bicep curl and drop that weight back on the book! There, you did your workout for today. Feel better?! No? Well then take the next 30 minutes to work out.

After 30 minutes open your book. (1) Lay your decorative cover over your book, making sure the edges are even. (2) Fold the top edge over your book front cover. (3) Then repeat for the back cover.

Stand back and admire.

Too pretty to give away, isn’t it?
Just think how happy the recipient will be!

Again, thank you to all my followers! I will have another surprise gift if I reach 500 followers. Next time I will pick one of you at random. So, tell your friends and family. Send them on over to be empowered at PrettyHandyGirl.com!

Sarah P. Duke Gardens – Durham, NC

If you have been following my blog, you know that my best friend from elementary school came to visit this week. I was a busy bee trying to finish a few projects in the guest room: Upholstering a little bench, Rebuilding “Daisy” the curbside chair, and Building a nightstand from a picket fence and discarded door. I promise to post pictures of the guest room this week! The sun (and sons) finally cooperated with me so I could photograph the room.

When we have out of town guests, Duke Gardens is one of our must see destinations. The boys and I took my best friend to the gardens in the heart of Duke University. This place is huge, with several different themed gardens to explore. Plus, it is a perfect place for two little boys to run, play and hide. My six year old loves to carry the map and figure out where we should go (definitely get a map in the visitor center because you can get lost in the gardens!)

So, without further yackety yacking…

 Beautiful fountain near visitor center and gift shop
(get your map in this building)
 Wisteria gazebo – A popular spot for wedding portraits
Inside the gazebo

Looking up inside the gazebo

Can you believe this building houses the restroom?

Let’s see how good your vision is. Can you spot me?

Homes for bluebirds

Cafe’ and snack bar behind this door

According to the plaque by this tree. This is a Dawn Redwood, a species of redwood that dates back to between 90 – 15 million years ago! Remarkably in 1941, a few of these trees were found in a remote part of China. This tree was germinated from seeds from one of those trees in 1948.

Plenty of fun for two. Climbing on a VERY long branch

Spiderman, spiderman, does whatever a spider can

Adorable little birds on a stake for sale at the gift shop

Oh – and yes, they even have Silly Bandz. 
Please direct me to the one place in the US that doesn’t sell Silly Bandz!

This last picture I took of my niece at Duke Gardens. 
The picture was so-so, but slightly out of focus.
I uploaded it to Picnik.com and look at it now!
(I simply played with several of the effects)

Coat Rack made from an Old Door

We have a great mudroom area in our house, but when we moved in we didn’t have anywhere to store our shoes, and all we had to hang our coats on were a few peg hooks behind the door. Not very efficient or attractive in my opinion.

I started planning out the storage bench and coat rack at the same time. The coat rack was definitely the less involved project. Below is a picture as I was laying out the project.

I started with a beautiful old antique door that had recessed panels. I cut the panels out with my jigsaw (if you have never cut out an interior shape, you always start by drilling a hole large enough to fit your jig saw blade in. Drill your hole in a corner, then insert your jigsaw and cut the rest of your shape.

Next, I used my router to get rid of the edge of the recessed panels on the back side. As you can see in the Sketch Up drawing below, I left the edge on the front side to support the mirror.

Then I could measure my opening and cut the mirror pieces to fit into the panels. I have a great resource for inexpensive mirror glass. I buy those cheap full length mirrors at discount stores like Target, Kmart or Walmart. Then I rip off the thin plastic frame and the paper backing. Use a glass cutter to score the front of the mirror and then snap the mirror in two pieces.  Then continue to cut until it is down to the size needed.

If you have never cut glass before, here is a short 1 minute video tutorial:

Next I sanded some of the silver off the back of the mirror to try to distress it. It took a while to do, and I’m not exactly thrilled with the distressing. Recently I stumbled across a few posts where paint stripper was used to distress mirrors. I would definitely use this route next time.

After all the mirror panels were cut to size, I laid them in the recess panel holes from the back and then used a thick bead of caulk around the edges to hold the mirror in place.

Next I had to build the shelf that the door would rest on. I recently bought two wall shelfs and brackets from a yard sale. I used one 7″ deep shelf for the vertical edge (or backer board for the hooks to attach to.) I ripped the other shelf down to 5″ inches (on a table saw) and used that to rest on top of the other shelf. To attach the two I simply screwed down through the horizontal shelf and into the backer board every 2 feet or more.

Then I added some decorative moulding using finish nails to secure them. You can see the different pieces on the edge.

I scoured eBay for a week until I found the perfect antique coat hooks. They are adorable and can hold many coats with the three prongs.

After everything was assembled, I located the studs in our mudroom wall and drilled holes into the backer board, then drove 3″ screws into the wall studs.

The antique door rests slightly on the shelf, but it is also held secure by four L brackets that are mounted on the top and bottom.

Be sure that your coat rack is safely secured to the wall for safety reasons.
For this project I don’t recommend using wall anchors.
Take the time to find the studs, you will thank me four years from now when your coat rack is still holding up to children who can and will climb on anything!

I used Minwax Brazillian Rosewood gel stain to stain the bench and shelves. This was the stain color that matched the color of the antique door.

And there you have it! An antique coat rack to match my shoe storage bench.

I just love these eBay hooks! And the detailed moulding makes me happy.

Plenty of storage for coats for a family of four or more!

Learn how to build the mudroom shoe storage bench here.

 

 

Door & Picket Fence Nightstand – I "Picked It" from the Trash

My best friend from elementary school will be flying in today from New York. I have a sweet little retreat all made up for her in our guest room. I promise to post pictures of the whole room in the near future (when the sun – and sons – cooperate with me.)
 
Our guest room is full of discarded treasures: a rebuilt curbside chair, an upholstered bench, a full size bed, and a little curved desk. But, one of the focal pieces in the guest room is a night stand made from a discarded door and leftover picket fence pieces.

 Isn’t it fabulous?!

So, here is the tutorial for you. I hope you will excuse my first attempt at using Google Sketch Up. These sketches should give you a pretty good idea how to construct the night stand.

I started by cutting two boards for the shelves. They were cut to the width of the door and the depth of the picket fence sections.

I cut two cleats out of 2″ x 4″ boards (shown in green).

And screwed them to the door (purple circles), making sure that the top of the cleats were level with the top of the horizontal cross boards on the picket fence.

I braced the picket fence pieces to the door using L-brackets.

I laid the two shelves on top of the cleats and cross boards. And drove screws down to hold it in place (purple circles).

Next, I cut some face boards (shown in aqua below) to the same width as the nightstand front.

I used finish nails to nail them to the front, then added some decorative moulding to the face boards.

I used wood putty to fill all the screw and nail holes, and caulk to smooth the seams of the moulding (see here for more details on caulking and filling nail holes.)

Then I painted the nightstand white and accessorized it. I’m still deciding whether I should distress and glaze the nightstand. Feel free to give me your opinion. I am all ears.

Here is my door & picket fence nightstand, all ready for our first guest since re-decorating the guest room.

Glass knob and door plate was purchased at NoFo in Raleigh.
If you are ever in the Raleigh, NC area, you MUST eat at NoFo,
then shop upstairs after your meal. 
 
Some books written by my favorite author, Diane Chamberlain.
A goodwill lamp and a picture of my niece who lives too far away!*

*(bold comment solely for the purpose of guilting my sister into moving closer.)
Fresh towels and my Country Living magazines.

All beautified and ready for our visitor!

Sharing with the CSI Project White Challenge:

Visit thecsiproject.com

Pretty Handy Girl will be featured this week…

…on two amazing and wonderful blogs:

On Monday, I will be featured on The Hand Me Down House, written by the fabulously talented and thrifty, Amanda. She is a real creative genius and has shared some amazing transformations!  Last week she transformed some ordinary snapple bottles into fashionably sweet vases!

Can you believe these were snapple bottles?!
And earlier in July, she completely transformed a boring Target bookshelf from this:
to – are you sitting down? – this:
On Wednesday, I will be guest posting on another amazing DIY blog, Sawdust and Paper Scraps. Sandra is the author and woodworking diva behind this addictive blog. She has a brother who visited her for 2 days and taught her everything he knew about cabinetry. I’m so jealous, I don’t know whether I want a brother like hers or whether I need to fly out to Chicago and beg her to take me under her wing for 2 days.
Here is just a small sample of what she can do with her power tools:
Okay, pick your jaw off the floor. Yes, she built this entire built-in shelving for her daughter’s play area.
But, it gets better…check out what she did to her basement media room!
Are you drooling too?
I hope you will take a few minutes to hop over to these wonderful blogs. I promise you won’t regret it.