TV Tray Face Lift

Last fall I picked up three TV trays at a garage sale for a steal… I want to say $1 a piece or something like that. Have you ever shopped for a new set of TV trays? They’re pretty pricey! I was psyched to get such a great deal. In my mind, these babies were gorgeous… they just didn’t look that way to anyone else yet. 

  

The trays spent the last several months in the hall closet awaiting their makeovers, but when the weather started getting nicer, I knew it was time to get started. Step one was to clean them up and sand down the old black finish.  Yuck!

 

I just did a light sanding – enough to smooth out the rough spots and prep the surface for paint. Then the fun began! I wanted each tray to be unique, but I also wanted to stick to the blue/gray/white kind of theme that I have throughout the house. A secondary goal was to use only supplies I had on hand, and I’m pretty pleased with the results! 

 

The first tray I finished involved a can of spray paint that was leftover from a previous project. Then I used a stencil from one of my first furniture overhaul projects and a paint sample that was rejected from the master bathroom project. A wash of black stain over the whole tray toned down the bright blue and gave the gray paint an almost silver hue. Pretty cool! 

  

I wanted the second tray to be a little softer, so I used another light gray cast off from the bathroom project as a base and painted this one by hand. I thought that might be a time consuming task, but it actually went quite well. And Charlie only tried to lick the paint off one time! Silly dog. : ) Then I used an aquamarine paint color and a stencil made on my Silhouette machine for the morrocan tile look. Painting the stencil so that it went over the side of the tray was a little tricky though! Some distressing and a coat of light stain gave this tray a nice aged look, especially with that bright white “love.”

  

For the last tray I broke down and bought some supplies. While hand painting wasn’t hard, spray painting was certainly easier, and I needed two cans of this creamy white to cover over the old black. I’d used an enlarged version of this birds-on-a-wire stencil on the etched window I have on the front porch, so I scaled the image down for this tray and used a rich blue/green paint color. 

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If you’re in the market for some TV trays, I highly recommend garage sale-ing it! This is a super easy and relatively cheap way to add a pop of fun and functional decor to any room. 

 

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Bridal Shower

Bridal Shower Brunch – check! 

The house (well, the first floor) was super clean, the floors waxed, the food was delicious, the Bride’s gifts were awesome. I’d say it was a success. 

Phew, I’m exhausted! ; )

Look at the beautiful bride-to-be on the morning of the shower!

Shall we just highlight the goodies on this table for a sec? Fresh fruit bowl, homemade monkey bread, a fruit and yogurt parfait bar, donut holes, strawberry and cinnamon coffee cakes, blueberry scones (I made those!), and donut holes from the bakery.  Fabulous.

Our friend made the towel cake – that’s what you see with the pink roses and silver ribbon. Pretty cool, huh?

Charlie was kind enough to let us use his kennel to store the gifts. Isn’t he sweet?

  

I made the “Gifts” sign seen here, along with the “Mrs.” one shown below, with scraps of wood from past projects. I cut the letters out with vinyl on my machine and filled the relief space with white paint. Then I brushed the whole board with a wet paint paint brush before applying the ebony stain. The result was this lovely soft gray-brown look. I’m really diggin’ it, so I’m now trying to figure out what I can write for a sign of my own! I’ll do a more detailed post whenever I figure that out…

  

It was a lovely morning!

  

**Please excuse the use of Facebook photos… some of which I stole from the Bride! My plans to take great pictures of the decor and table were altered by the extra early arrival of some out of town guests. We were so  glad they were able to make it though!

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Maintaining Real Wood Floors

  

I LOVE our house. Sure, it’s insulated with straw (in at least one place), every wall has a crack in it (usually multiple), and the windows rattle every time the wind blows, but it’s my little piece of history, and I’ve loved pouring so much energy into making it ours. However, owning an old home also comes with a major sense of responsibility. I felt it keenly just after we closed on our mortgage. Tony and I were walking through the nearly empty house and I felt this tremendous weight on my shoulders. This house has stood for longer than any person living, and it’s my responsibility to make sure it stays that way for another hundred years! I couldn’t help thinking, “Holy crap. What have we done?!” 

So we’ve been cautious during our renovations. When Tony found that some of the beams under the master bathroom floor had been cut to shreds by past remodelers (the ones supporting the 500 pound cast iron tub, mind you), he had metal bars custom made and added additional joists to reinforce the damaged areas. He’s replaced siding and outdoor trim that had wood rot and replaced subflooring in the downstairs bath/laundry. Yes, most of these jobs fall to him. :) One area that’s my responsibility, and something I haven’t been as vigilant about, though, is our wood floors. 

With the exception of cleaning, I have done almost nothing to maintain them over the last year and a half. I knew I should be doing something, but I just didn’t know what to do… so I sort of let it slide and worried about other projects. Well, I’m hosting a bridal shower this weekend, and it’s time to Spring Clean the floors anyway, so I’ve been spending the last few weeks thinking agonizing over what to do. Every source I’ve checked has a different answer, most of which are completely unapplicable to a floor as old as ours. This is further compounded by the fact that I know nothing about our floors’ history. I’m relatively confident that they have been redone at some point in the last 100 years but that they’ve never been sealed with polyurethane, which probably means they’ve been waxed, right? Yeah, I don’t know either.

I almost went the route of paste wax and renting a buffing machine, as that’s what was most commonly recommended. I actually purchased the wax and brought it home. Then my Mom found Johnson’s No Buff Wax. She remembered her mom using this stuff, so I ordered a few cans from Home Depot.  

 

Here’s a patch of floor in the library during the waxing process. The top portion has had the wax applied and dried for about 20 minutes. The bottom part had just been dry mopped.  

The jury’s still out on this product for the long-haul, but I’ll share some pros and cons. 

PROs: 

  • This was relatively easy to apply – pour a little on the floor (It looks like a spray bottle, but it’s a liquid) and wipe with a soft cloth.
  • It was relatively quick. I was able to complete 1 room in about an hour, not including moving the furniture, but for something that’s done once or twice a year, that didn’t seem terrible to me.
  • The shine was definitely there, but was a nice muted shine. I didn’t need to apply multiple coats to get it either  – just one. 
  • It brought back the beautiful chestnut color to my floors, which I wasn’t able to do recently with my normal vinegar, water and vegetable oil solution.
  • The product dried in about 20 minutes.
  • The rags could be washed in a bucket of water and didn’t need to be thrown away. I think they’ll forever-more be floor waxing rags, but that’s fine with me. 
  • One bottle goes a long way. I was able to complete the dining room, library, and staircase with just 1 bottle. 
  • Price – Each can was about $7 and since I didn’t need to rent any equipment, this product was very reasonable.

Tony and his mad camera skills caught an action shot in the living room.  

 

CONs: 

  • Smell – This stuff does smell pretty darn bad! We left the windows open during and after application.  Luckily we haven’t had much rain lately, so that was fine.
  • The floor looked fabulous right after it was done, but as soon as Charlie came into the room, we could follow his path with the dusty footprints! I think the protective wax layer made it a little sticky, but a damp dry mop did seem to take care of them.

We’ll see how this hold up over time, but at least the floors will look fab for the shower on Saturday!

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Spring Break

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Spring Break! Yes, it’s taken me three weeks to write about Spring Break, but here it is!

This year we spent a part of our time off from work visiting our friends from Tortola. Remember the Boat People?  

 

Well, about a year ago they sold the boat and moved back to the states, eventually settling in Corpus Cristi, TX, and they invited us to come visit them! 

Unfortunately, we were in Corpus for the few days that they were having terrible weather, but it was so nice to spend time with our friends and at least get my feet back into some sand! 

We spent two very chill days seeing the sites and reminiscing with Doug and Kathy. We ate some great food and got to see the place that is so special to our friends that they chose it over any other place they could settle. 

  

Our last morning in Corpus, we went with Doug to visit the USS Lexington, a retired aircraft carrier that’s been turned into a museum. This place was pretty darn cool! They actually encouraged you to climb on things!  In most museums Tony would be breaking the rules to do things like this.  

 

They had a bunch of military aircraft on the deck as well.  

 

And just as we were leaving Lady Lex, the sun started to peak out.  

 

As we were waving goodbye to Doug and Kathy, I realized we never took a picture of the four of us together! I guess that just means we’re going to need to visit again. 

We had to leave that afternoon to get back to Houston in time to meet up with my Texas family! They were taking us to the Houston Rodeo. I’d never been to a rodeo, that I could remember, and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised! The animals in the exhibition hall were adorable, including these days old pigs who were climbing all over oneanother.  

  It was strangely exciting to see the cowboys in action.

  Figuring out the scoring criteria had me flummoxed, though! 

  I can see why my cousin’s favorite event was Mutton Bustin. Look at this littlle guy trying to hold on to this sheep! I believe our winner was 5 years old, and in his interview he told us that he did good, real good, really really good! Adorable.

After that it was back home to Charlie! Thanks Mom and Erica for taking such good care of him! 

  

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Paper Projects

These are things I know to be true about myself: 

  • I like pretty things. Don’t get me wrong – function is important! But it has to be pretty too.
  • I am thrifty. Living on an island really helped hone this skill. I can no longer throw anything away without thinking of at least ten potential reuses for the item. 
  • I cannot sit still. This drives Tony absolutely bonkers. When we watch a show at night he gets so frustrated with me. I’m constantly missing details from the show because I’m looking down at my project instead of at the TV. 

These three truths converged during my (no longer so) recent chair reupholstery project. I was really struggling with how to finish that channel back cushion and couldn’t find any feasible answers on Pinterest… or the whole Internet… As a result, I avoided the whole project and watched hours of reruns of Numbers (an awesome show, if you haven’t seen it – this is our second time through!) on Hulu with Tony. And what project did I choose for this binge-watching session? Paper flowers.  

 

You see, I have this great plate stand that I got for our wedding. It is fabulous for parties because you can fit a lot of food on it and make great use of space. Plus it adds height to the table and creates really nice levels. It even has interchangeable metal shapes for the top, like a star or a pumpkin or a Christmas tree. It’s a great example of function and beauty working hand-in-hand. The issue is, it’s giant. There really isn’t a great place to store it. Last Fall though, I made some extra space for myself by pulling it out and displaying pumpkins and pinecones on it. That melted into Winter when I replaced the pumpkins with Christmas ornaments, then finally just the pinecones. As Spring Break approached I knew it was time to either store the thing again or come up with something Springy. I opted for the latter! 

 

I picked up the three mismatching plates at Home Goods. 

 

My favorites are the little flowers that sit flat, because they look the most like roses.

I’m thinking this little display can carry me through until Fall. The flowers themselves are far from functional, but they allow me to keep this stand out of the open instead of taking up an entire cabinet! 

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I Battle a Chair and Win!

Have you seen all those Drop Cloth projects on Pinterest? I’ve seen about a million of them, and they always look amazing, so a few weeks ago I decided to give one a try. Look what I just completed! 



My first upholstery project was actually in college. I had an old blue, button tufted armchair from my childhood bedroom, a few yards of super-cheap upholstery fabric, and my first real tool – a manual staple gun. For that first project I didn’t really RE-upholster iit. I just covered the existing fabric with some foam and the new fabric. Each button is still perfectly in place beneath about 6 inches of additional foam. This time I decided to do it right using a chair we picked up at a garage sale last summer. After a couple weeks spent scouring blog posts by other people who had no real idea what they were doing when they started their reupholstery projects, I was ready to begin! Step 1 was to start essentially ripping the thing apart, while keeping the original fabric as much in tact as possible. 



Little did I know, Step 1 would also involve ripping my fingers to shreds. Holy Cow! Reupholstery is really crappy hard work! I yanked and tugged and pried and broke staples until my fingers couldn’t take it anymore, then took a break, so it took a couple weekends just to deconstruct the chair. By this point I was really questioning my choice to take on this project, and it was far too late to go back. Tony suggested we could leave the whole mess on the corner on trash day, a thought I entertained for only half a second. Although my financial investment in this project was minimal, I’d given that chair my blood and sweat, and I don’t sweat easily! I was determined not to let that chair beat me. I would win the battle!



The orange-red wood had some scratches, so I sanded it all down for painting and distressing. My plan was to use a neutral white, but when I went to my paint samples box, the blue just jumped into my hand! The left side had stain applied before taking this photo; the right had not yet.  



Then it was time to start putting the new fabric on – the drop cloth I picked up at Lowes . Here I was a bit flummoxed. I had all the origional fabric pieces so I could easily cut everything to size, except the back cushion. The back foam was actually sewn into the fabric in a pattern I learned is called a channel back. I was not interested in trying to fit three inch foam through my sewing machine, but I just couldn’t figure out how else to keep the shape of the channels. Since the drop cloth was already pretty plain, I really felt I needed to keep the channels in order for the chair to have some interest… and I didn’t want to buy new foam anyway.  So I thought about it, formed a plan, then decided it wouldn’t work. That process repeated and repeated again. My indecision resulted in a considerable amount of procrastination and TV watching, the results of which I will soon show you, but finally I just had to take action. 



Since the foam was sewn between a backing piece and the origional upholstery fabric, I ended up just cutting the maroon fabric off the channels. That meant the foam was still attached to the backing, giving me enough leverage to pull the foam between the seat and the wood frame of the chair. I guessed at the size of the fabric panel, since I’d cut it into 7 pieces, and began pushing it between the exposed strips of foam. I did my best to crease the fabric in the right spots where it met the seat, but I did have to call Tony in to help. Then a single staple in the fold at the top of the chair’s frame and a pleat that wrapped around the back of that frame kept the shape of the channels. My idea worked! Tony pulled the fabric as tight as he could so I could staple the fabric at the base of the seat. 

By the way, can I tell you how much I love my new pneumatic staple gun? Thank you Christmas present, for making this job easier possible! Even with the power of 100 PSI at the touch of my fingertips, it was seriously challenging to pull the fabric taught with one hand and use the other to hit both the safety and the trigger. Without that staple gun, the chair probably would have been picked up with the trash this morning! 

I mentioned that I wanted to do this reupholstery projet the right way, but I did take a shortcut with the trim. The chair was origionally outfitted with what I’ve learned is called double welting. I had zero interest in making this double welting, which apparently involves endless amounts of sewing. And did I mention you have to SEW it? Bleh. So instead, I used the hem from the drop cloth and hot glued it on. How great is that?! No sewing necessary.



This chair is definitely not perfect. There are lumps in places where I didn’t realize the excess fabric would show through and where I reused cardboard and metal stabilizing pieces instead of buying new ones.  But I love the soft color, and I love the cheap price, and I especially love it when Tony looks at something I’ve done and says, “You know, I had my doubts [about using a dropcloth], but that’s really cool!” When is he going to learn that all my ideas are good ones?!



And this project has made me super excited to get that bedroom wall finished so we can paint the whole room. Won’t the chair be beautiful with a soft gray wall behind it and a big mirror over the shutter table? I’ve got plans, people!

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Shutter Table

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When Tony put in the new door for our bedroom (There was no door there before – just an opening. Wierd, huh?) it affected the wall that my long dresser was on; the one highlighted in this post.

That meant my beautiful long dresser had to move to the guest bedroom, and I was left with two 5 foot sections of wall. Neither one was really long enough for another dresser, so it was time to get creative.

I’d purchased these heavy shutter doors at a neighboring town’s city-wide garage sale last summer with the intention of building a new table for behind the couch. Then Mom said she had one she wasn’t using and would gladly give me, so the shutters sat on the back porch collecting copious amounts of dust and debris… until a couple weeks ago, that is.

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It took a good hour or two just to wipe these babies down with soap and water! Then I cut them to size and sanded the whole thing, doing my best to get each slat.

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Painting was another chore – it’s really tough to get into all those grooves without dripping a bunch of paint onto the other side, but I did it! While those two coats were drying I stained the table legs. I used two different lengths of legs, but both in the same style.

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When it was time to put the whole thing together I used the same technique that I used on the window table that’s on the front porch. I drilled a large hole all the way through the bottom shelf of the table and used a three inch long screwy-thing to connect the two table legs.

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Then I took the whole table outside and roughed it up a little bit to distress the edges and sealed the whole thing with two coats of polyacrylic.

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If that wall looks a little funny, that’s because it’s not finished! Tony had the wall up and the door functional before Christmas, but he has only just recently been able to complete the taping and mudding process. One of the these days I’ll get in there and wrap the whole bedroom in plastic so I can sand the wall down and paint it, but this is not that day! I’m also working on a little beauty to go right next to this new table. More to come soon!

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Catching Up

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! … Happy Groundhog Day!?

So, I’ve taken a bit of a vacation from the blog. What have I been up to? We’ve been taking our cues from Charlie, who really likes to spend his days like this:

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Oh, and we’ve done some of this too:

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Really we’ve just been enjoying the relative cleanliness and peace of a home with no current construction projects! Yay!

We did loads of work leading up to the holidays in preparation for hosting Tony’s side of the family for Christmas. This was the first time we’d hosted out-of-town guests for several days at a time, and there was a lot to do – the library and front hall to finish, fixing up the front bedroom, oh, and making sure there was a door on our own bedroom! I’ll detail some of those pursuits below.

Library Continue reading

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Dog Crate Update

Shortly after bringing our sweet puppy, Charlie, home in October I disguised his massive dog crate in this post here. It looked great, if I do say so myself. So many people came into the house and asked where we kept him!

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Then I woke up in the middle of the night one night completely terrified that the heavy table top was going to crush him while we were sleeping or away at work. It was ridiculous, really, but I was so upset when I woke up that I had to get out of bed to make sure the little guy was still alive! I knew that one of my winter break projects would have to be constructing a sturdier base for the crate cover.

I found plans for a dog crate on Ana White’s website. If you’re not familiar with it, her site is a treasure trove of DIY woodworking projects! Tony looked over the plans and enlarged the dimensions so we could still use the plastic liner from the wire crate, and we’d just put my tabletop right over it.

The plans called mostly for 1x2s and 1x3s, so I spent one afternoon cutting the wood according to the dimensions Tony put together.

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Then I sanded each piece.

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The plans called for the top third to be somewhat open with spaced out slats, sort of like a crib. I knew it would be pretty tough to paint in between the slats, so I painted just those pieces beforehand – 2 coats on all four sides.

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The next day Tony offered to help me drill the holes and construct the crate. We both got to use a Kreg-Jig for the first time to drill the pocket holes. That was pretty cool!

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Thanks, Nate, for letting us borrow your tool! (And yes, I do know how that sounds! Anyway…) With all the holes drilled we could begin constructing the rails.

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The rails were attached to the frame pieces and secured with plywood sheets cut to size.

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By the end of that day things looked pretty good! This was our mock-up to make sure everything would fit together.

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The next day I finished painting and hand distressing each piece.

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Finally, we put it together! I snapped this quick photo of Charlie inside, intending to take more pictures the next day after our first day back at work.

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That first day back was an inservice day, and Title teachers typically meet at a school just a few blocks away from home. A friend and I stopped in to see Charlie, since he wasn’t used to being back on the school schedule, and take him outside. She snapped a cell phone photo of the sight when we walked in.

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I was in such shock that I didn’t think to snap a photo of the new kennel door hanging from one hinge, the wood with the latch having been completely chewed through, and my puppy laying against the new crate with all 4 legs in the air, a completely satiated, and maybe a little sick, look on his face! Missie was amazing, picking up the destroyed rolls of paper towels, the dryer sheets and trash bags, and throwing away the numerous cardboard boxes he’d shredded in our absense. I went around upstairs, picking up and disinfecting the messes made up there, then I set up his old crate as Missie gently informed me he’d probably get sick that afternoon. And finally we had to get back to work.

The next few days were a little scary as we worked to determine just how much Charlie ate as he was ripping things apart. Thankfully it wasn’t nearly as much as it could have been! Once we knew he was okay it was time to turn our attention back to the crate.

I was so disheartened that my project was an epic fail. I could hardly look at the thing, sitting with the door in ruins, as I walked through the library. Then Tony stepped in and promised to fix it – bless him! Charlie spent the rest of the week in the wire crate in the middle of the library, completely confused every time we told him to go to his kennel, since the wooden one was still in the normal kennel spot. The next weekend Tony took the wooden crate apart and enlarged it so the wire crate would fit inside the wooden one.

I’m happy to report, it’s been over a month and we haven’t had a problem since!

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He kinda looks like he hates it in that photo, but I really don’t think he does!

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Front Hall Reveal

This project took SO much longer than I expected it to, with delay after delay. I didn’t want to risk getting all that plaster or mortar dust on the fabric though, so the wait was totally worth it. Here’s an in-process photo of our front hallway makeover:
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Let’s step back for a moment and review the progress that was made leading up to that photo. Remember where we started with the front hall many months ago? All that gold practically begging to be taken off the wall?
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When we took down all the paper, we found that the plaster was in decent shape but wasn’t smooth enough to just be painted. Plaster repair would take forever (HA!), which is why I decided to go with fabric. I’d seen some awesome posts of other people putting fabric on their walls, and I’ve put fabric on my walls at school for years. Despite everyone I talked to’s strange looks, I decided to go for it!

When we finally set to work on installing the fabric, it went pretty quickly. We measured out the strips of material, and Mom ironed a seam at the top. I trimmed the excess threads from the sides so they wouldn’t show through where there was overlap.

IMG_2254 Continue reading

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