30 Jul 2012

DIY Farmhouse Table

I have to admit that growing up, I never envisioned that an awesome weekend for my 30 year old self would be to build a new kitchen table - from scratch.  Huh? From scratch? Yup! From scratch! But don't you buy tables from the furniture store for over $500? Well, yes...you can...or you can make your own in your way too crowded garage while your kid naps.  

I've shown you our glass table before.  I used to love it, but since Fin has started to eat solid foods, I slowly started to loathe it.  Our kid is skilled.  She mastered the art of smooshing food into the crack between the glass and the frame, which would mean that every night it would take two of us to lift the glass and clean out all of the gunk.  Never mind the fact that the table wiggled and our coffee would routinely splash out of the mugs.  I am sure splashing hot coffee and a 1 year old at the end of the table would not win us parents of the year.  It was time for something new.  

Go big or go home, right?  Right.  Well we went from a 30 lb jiggly table to a 500 lb beast that wouldn't move in a tornado. (Ok, I have no idea if it's 500 lbs, I just know it's freaking heavy...too heavy for me to lift, or for our child with super human strength to push).

We used plans off of Ana White's site (they are free - yippie!).  Her plans are super detailed, so I am not going to go into the actual building process, as that would be slightly redundant.  We printed off the plans and Mr. Swell headed to the lumber store early one Saturday morning to pick everything up.  The plans include a material list, so basically all he had to do was hand the list to the lumber desk and they piled it all up for us. 

We chose to go with lumber grade spruce for our table.  It had a nice grain to it and was knotty, but not too knotty.  Plus, it was cheap!

Here's what it looked like in our garage when Mr. Swell returned.

I am not going to take any credit for the actual building of this table.  That would be fraudulent, since I actually didn't do any building.  Mr. Swell did it all.  He built and I was in charge of the prissy stuff (i.e. colour options).  What I will try and do though, is attempt to highlight some of the 'special' features of our table.  

The original plans called for an 8 foot table.  If we had an 8 foot table in our dining area we would have to crawl underneath of it to get to the other side because there would be only a few inches on either side between the table and the walls.  So, we modified the plans slightly so that we'd have a 6 foot table.

Mr. Swell got to work building the table base first.

Anyone up for a little game of mini football?

Then he added on the support for the top.  This is when I came out to the garage and demanded a wiggle test.  We needed this sucker to be stable, and this was the time to add supports if we needed.  Wiggle test below....

Very little movement. Good.

*side note: I realize our garage is a total gong show. Would you believe that I actually used to park in it? Not these days....but hopefully before winter comes there will be a sliver of space for my car again. Blogging and garage cleanliness do not go hand in hand - at least not for me.

The next test was the sit test.  When I looked at the half assembled table in the garage it looked really low.  I ran back in the house and measured our old table and then back out the garage to measure the new table.  They were the same, but I still didn't believe it.  So, I hauled our kitchen chairs out to the garage and did a sit test.  Please don't judge me in the picture below....I am sure I was Finley wrangling  just before I ran out to the garage, and I am sitting by a giant pile of old rotting sod, so yes, I look slightly deranged.

It passed the sit test.  My eyes must have been fooling me.

The next step was to add the cross supports.

Then Mr. Swell  flipped the whole table over (by himself...crazy guy. I married the Hulk) and placed it up on a couple of saw horses so that he could do some of the detail work.  He sanded the heck out of it.  It took a LOT  of sanding.  I am actually amazed that he isn't deaf from the constant sound of the palm sander.  He took the extra time to round the corners off.

Each table leg is made up of two 2x4s.  Although it wasn't horrible looking, we decided to fill in the gap with wood filler so that each leg looked like it was one 4x4.  Once the filler dried (we also filled all of the other holes), he sanded and sanded again to get it nice and smooth.

I need to digress here slightly to highlight the tool of the month in our house.  The Kreg Jig.  Mr. Swell ordered himself a Kreg Jig from Lee Valley Tools about 6 months ago and has been dying to find a project that he can use it on.  Luckily, the table called for multiple Kreg Jig holes.  If you are new to the Kreg Jig, basically it's a fancy little gadget that allows you drill holes like this:

Once the holes are drilled you can then screw into the board on an angle, essentially attaching the two pieces of wood without the screw showing.  He loves it. 

Here's the Kreg Jig in action.

Pretty thrilling, right?  I do love the light on his drill though!  (It's a Milwaukee 18-Volt Li-ion Compact Drill)

Ok, back to the table....

At this point, we primed and painted the bottom part of the table.  I figured it would be easier to paint the legs and sides before the top was on, then I didn't have to worry about getting any paint drips on the top.  We gave it 2 coats of Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 Primer.

And then another 2 coats of Benjamin Moore Advance in White Dove (to match our cabinets).  After letting the paint cure for a couple of days, we flipped the table over (2 of us this time) and started attaching the top boards.  

Filled all of the holes, and sanded some more.

The final step was staining the top.  I originally thought that I wanted the top to be grey.  Minwax does make a grey stain, but our local Home Depot doesn't carry it for some reason.  So I came up with a concoction.  After testing on many, many boards, my decision was to go with a couple coats of stain in Ebony, and then do a white wash over it with BM Rockport Grey (the same colour as our walls).  

Remember how I said a while back that I wasn't a Go With the Flow-er?  Well, I embraced my inner flow on this one and adjusted my plan in the middle of the project.  After a coat of the pre-stain (don't skip this step....it really helps the stain be nice and even) and only one coat of Minwax Ebony, I was  totally smitten with the colour.  It was a nice dark grey that left  just the right amount of the light wood colour showing through.  So, I called it a day on the stain.  I wish I had pictures of this for you....but I was so excited about my ability to flow that I forgot to take any pictures.

We left the stain overnight and then used a small foam roller to apply 2 coats of Minwax Polycrilic in Satin.  After the last coat was dry, Mr. Swell used his palm sander and his super fine sandpaper to smooth out any air bubbles that we caught in the poly.

Phew....this is one long post!  After all of the above steps, here's how the table was looking.

Already looks great, but looks better all dressed up.

And just because I can, here are some more pictures. It's so pretty I just couldn't stop taking pictures.

Fin's Tripp Trapp chair fits under the table perfectly, and even with endless sippy cup banging it still hasn't dented.

The grand total for this table rang in at under $100.  The lumber was $77 (it was 10% off day at the  lumber store) and then the stain and various other odds and ends brought us into the high $90 range.  Pretty good by my standards.  People are selling used oak tables online for more than $100, so I think this is a steal of a deal (even if it did take 2 weekends of manpower...only during baby naps of course).

What do you think of the yellow half wall now? Looking better now that the table is in, right? I think it's going to look even better after our next building project...that's right, we aren't done with the wood working...

Linking to: Primitive & Proper, Savvy Southern Style

27 Jul 2012

A Decent Recovery, I'd Say....

This is a keepin' it real post.  I am not afraid to admit when something gets the better of me.  

A few weeks ago I showed you this coral canvas that was sitting in our basement, all blank and just begging for some personality.

My original plan for the canvas was to make a giant picture on the cheap.  I had seen it all over Pinterest and it looked like it would be a cinch.  I picked up the canvas at Michael's (with a 30% off coupon) and then used a mixture of Behr's Fiery Red and Indian Dance (a concoction, if you will) to slap a coat of paint on it.  The painting part went well.  I had actually started out thinking I'd just paint the sides (as that is all that was supposed to show), but I had extra paint left over, so I painted the whole thing (very glad I at least had that stroke of genius).

I then took one of our wedding photos, put it on a flash drive and took it into Staples to have it blown up.  I asked them to blow it up to 24" x 36" on their blue print printer.  For $9, I was amazed at how good it looked.

See how happy I look there?  Ya, it didn't last long.

The plan was to use mod podge to attach the picture to the canvas (and have the cute coral peek out the sides).  It didn't take long to realize that I had a great big disaster on my hands.  The paper started wrinkling with the mod podge and the ink was coming off all over my hands.  Then the freaking paper ripped.  I tried to save it, but seriously, I couldn't piece our faces back together.  The idea of making some kind of strange mosaic crossed my mind, but eventually (before the mod podge dried), I just decided to get all the paper off the canvas and call it a night.

So, that's why the sad canvas sat in the basement for about a month.  I couldn't figure out what to do with a mostly painted, half mod podged coral canvas. 

Well, when you don't know what to do with something just hit up Pinterest.  Waste a couple of hours and you're sure to find something inspiring.  I pinned a quote so that I wouldn't forget it.  "If you work hard and are kind, amazing things will happen."  It seemed like the perfect quote to have in an office/playroom.  Inspiring for both Mom and Munchkin.

So...back to Michael's I went, but this time to pick up some vinyl letters.  I moved the mega blocks out of the way and claimed a place on the carpet to work on my masterpiece. 

I cut all of the letters out so that I could space out the words as best as possible.

At this point it just looked a little stalker-ish.  Also, apparently my camera doesn't like coral.  The canvas really is coral, not a weird orange.  I blame it on bad basement lighting and the camera, not on the operator. 

Then I used the trusty yellow level as a guide while laying down my letters.

Working from the bottom up and the right to the left, it only took a couple of minutes to stick all of the letters on.

I was going for more of a reverse image sort of thing, so I hauled out some white paint and applied a coat of paint over the top of the canvas.  I started out with a foam roller, but it wasn't working very well.  Part of the problem was that the canvas was covered in mod podge, so it wasn't smooth.  It had clear little ridges and bumps.  I switched out the roller for a brush and just slathered on the paint.  Then I used a rag to sort of smoosh it all around.  A very technical process.

Oh ya, did I mention that for some stupid reason I painted on top of my deep freeze? I have no idea why...I think maybe it was close to the foam roller???  Anyhow, that's why the pictures look like they are taken in a deep dark hole of the basement.  It's because they were.

Before the paint had a chance to dry I used an x-acto knife to peel off the letters.

Looking pretty good at this point, so I left it to dry for an hour or so and then hung it up on the wall.

And then, because I sometimes don't know when to leave things alone, I decided it needed some tszujing (think Carson Kressley style) in the form of some butterflies.

Nope, butterflies were NOT working.  Ripped the butterflies off. De-tszujed

So there you have it.  A DIY disaster, redeemed.  I really like it now.  It's simple but packs a big message that I love reading every day.

If you missed the big office reveal, you can check it out here

25 Jul 2012

Let's Paint a Half Wall

One day while perusing blog land I ran across a post on the Benjamin Moore Colour Chats blog about modern half walls.  These weren't your traditional half walls with wallpaper and a chair rail. Nope. These half walls had no chair rail, they were bright colours, and they broke the rules.  Check out this half wall that goes across the door.

Maybe one day I will be bold enough to paint half of a door.

I fell in love (that happens a lot, doesn't it?).  I wanted a modern half wall of my very own.  Luckily, with the new kitchen plan of attack in full swing, I had the perfect space - our dining area.

The brown accent wall was good for a while, but it just wasn't working any longer with the fresh white cabinets.  The brown wall made that part of the kitchen feel dark, which wasn't what I was going for.  I wanted a kitchen that felt bright and cheery.

Since I already have some yellow accents going on in the kitchen (like a bright yellow cuckoo clock) and was loving it, I figured a yellow half wall was in order.  I've ordered this fabric for the window coverings, so I set about on a mission to match the yellow of the vintage truck in the fabric.  

I find yellow a challenging one to match. I seriously went to every paint store in Sherwood Park to find the right colour.  I had paint chips taped up on our wall and examined them in every possible light.  I himmed and I hawed. In the end, I went with Sherwin William's Midday (the colour that Chip It picked when I uploaded the fabric swatch).  It was bright, but still had a softness to it....I doubt that will make  much sense to anyone else but me.

The first order of business was priming the brown wall.  Two coats of primer later the dining area was looking like this.

Already much brighter than it was before.

Then we got to work taping off the nice straight lines.  I find straight lines stressful.  It's a lot of pressure to get a perfectly level straight line.  We tried a bunch of methods including measuring from the floor, and using the laser level, but after much trial and error we found the easiest method was to use our giant yellow level and a pencil to draw the line right across the wall (pencil will erase after painting).

I've mentioned before how our house has some strange builder issues.  Well, apparently getting a level floor is one of them.  When we measured from the floor up to the line, the one side of the line was a half inch higher than the other.....and that's only on a 4 foot wall! Seriously....

Since having a clean line was uber important (after all, there was no chair rail to hide a messy line) for this project, I splurged and spent the $12 on Frog Tape.

I taped off the sides (the middle wall would be taped off later) and painted on 2 coats of the yellow.

And then.....

I started totally freaking out.  What the heck was a doing? This was yellow....really freaking yellow! You can see the yellow from our living room, which I was not at all expecting (hadn't taken that angle into account) and I wasn't sure I liked it.

Did I want to see yellow from the living room? Ack! 

Ok...calm down...it's only paint. Paint is easy to fix.

I decided to keep going and finish what I had started.   Once the yellow was dry, I taped off the centre wall and then painted the top Benjamin Moore Rockport Grey to match the adjacent walls.

Phew....it was looking better.  I wasn't hyperventilating quite as much any more (but still a little). I think the primed upper against the yellow was throwing me off.

Two coats of Rockport Grey later and I was able to remove the tape.  The Frog Tape was amazing by the way.  The lines are super crisp.  Well worth the extra money.

I started to sort of like it.  It's pretty bold right now without much else on the walls, but I know once the window coverings are added and we add some new furniture in the space it will tone down.  Some beefed up baseboards will also help balance things - just another thing on the to-do list.

What do you think?

psst...did you catch a glimpse of our next project? It's so big I couldn't get it out of the pictures.

23 Jul 2012

Office Reveal

Even though we have been working feverishly in the kitchen and did a bunch of work outside, I have still been plugging away at my downstairs office/Fin's play space.  The play space is still a work in progress, but the office part is ready for its big reveal.  I've been working from home a couple of days a week for over a month now and I love how this little office (alcove really) projects such happiness and light in a slightly dreary basement.

Let's get to it, shall we?  

Here's the before:

And the after:

Pretty big change, if I do say so myself.  I loved that this was an empty space to start with, and that I had full license to go in whatever direction I wanted.
Remember the mood board that I whipped up for this room?  

Ok, I'll admit it, I veered a little off course.  If you squint one eye and tilt your head though it does sort of resemble the mood board, right?  The coral is still there and so are the Expedit shelves.  When I envisioned this office I had a different piece of art in mind for above the desk, but then I found the bright abstract canvas and was in love.  Buy what you love, right? Well, I did.  It changed the feel of the office slightly, but I truly love staring at that abstract canvas while I work on boring contracts. And there is a carpet, albeit slightly lighter than what I was originally thinking.  And the clock....I found a pretty awesome clock - even better than the one in the fancy mood board.  

Time to dig into the details....

I DIYed that quote canvas on the right.  It was a craft fail turned redemption.  I searched far and wide for a quote that would be suitable for both an office and a little girl's play space, and I think this one fits the bill perfectly (I even had it pinned to my Downstairs Office board on Pinterest).  I'll post my step by step creation method next week.

I really wanted to frame in the Expedit cabinets but after much debate, we decided against it.  As I've mentioned umpteen times before on this very blog, this is not our forever home.  Expedits are totally versatile and I didn't want any potential buyers to think they were built in and would come with the house (although I could part with them if it came down to it).  I shopped our house and found a pair of baskets that served double duty by storing rarely used office supplies, while also making the Expedits taller.

The little storage cart is a quick redo and I just added some labels in a pathetic attempt to keep stuff organized.  I keep my giant pink blanket on top of it.  Since I sit down at the desk for hours some days and it can get pretty cold, I sometimes need a blanket for my legs.  Mr. Swell won't be caught dead using it, even though I am sure he gets cold too!

Remember the stencilled desk?  It's doing great.  I was so worried about it scratching and denting, but there isn't one scratch on it.  I do use the gold dipped coasters for my hot mugs of coffee, but water glasses get set on the desk all the time and so far so good. 

Let me tell you, I searched and searched and searched for a clock for this room.  It couldn't tick as that would drive me nuts, so it took me a while to find the perfect one.  I love how modern this one is (even if it takes me a while to tell the time with no numbers...I know I'm not the only one!).

I moved my Prince Frog from outside to inside - he just seemed too classy to be outside.  He sits on top of an old Ikea photo organizer and beside one of the jazzed up magazine files.

I had some empty boxes hanging around in our crawl space that were originally for our fancy dishes.  I have been saving them since we were married 3 years ago because I just knew one day I would use them.  They fit perfect in the Expedit cubbies, so I just hit them with a few coats of chalk board spray paint and labelled them using the nicest writing I could muster.  One holds random cords and the other stores photos that I haven't figured out what to do with yet.  Thank you Sophie Conran for making such sturdy boxes for your dishes!

Oh Buddha, how I love thee! I think it's fitting that he's sitting on the Mysteries of Mankind book.

Another jazzed up magazine file supports a picture of my Dad from when he was a baby.  My Grandma gave it to me and I've wanted to do something with it, but it's such an odd shape and has the photographers pencil marks all over it.  It works perfect here as it's out of Fin's reach and has a nice bright background to rest on.  No frame required.

My parents brought me back this Sylvester stapler from Las Vegas probably 20 years ago.  His nose is so heavy that he tips over all the time, but I can't bear to give him up.  I think he's the only stapler I've ever owned.  He sits beside a picture of my Grandma from when she was young.

I love that this office is so functional, but also has tonnes of mementos and memories.  Although Mr. Swell does sit at the computer occasionally, I really made this space mine.   My plan is to carry the colour theme into the play room, but to obviously make it totally kid friendly.

Ready for the nitty gritty?  Here's the source list and cost breakdown.

Desk: Ikea Vikka Byske.  $99
Desk legs: Ikea Vikka Adils 4 x $4.  Sisal rope for wrapping desk legs: Home Depot $6
Desk stencil: The 36th Avenue Shop. Gift
Shelving units: Ikea Expedit 2 x $69
Abstract canvas above desk: Urban Barn. $25
Buddha: Save-on-Foods (of all places!)  $14
Clock: HomeSense $20
Carpet:  From my Mom as it didn't fit in her new house
Magazine files: Ikea Flyt $3
Rolling cart organizers: Both from Ikea. The one under the desk is from Mr. Swell's single days and the mesh one is from mine. 2 cans of spray paint $10
Quote Canvas: Canvas is from Michael's.  $30 (I had a 40% off coupon)
Office Chair: Bought second off of Kijiji $40
The rest of the items are all shopped from our house, so I am considering them free.

Drum roll please.....

Grand total: $395

I'll save you from having to scroll all the way up...here's the before and after again.

Linking to: Funky Junk Interiors
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