Monday, October 20, 2014

One down, one to go (updated)

Remember a million years ago when I dragged 2 stray chairs home?

Well, I've finally finished one of them...

I loved the wooden base, and loved it even more when I realized it detached from the chair body.  While it was loose, I rubbed it down with some beeswax-based wood food/conditioner.

After detaching the base, I set to work removing the existing upholstery.  This took approximately 100 hours, removing all the little staples.

Once everything was off, I noticed the straps were really, really loose.  I probably should have replaced them, but I just pulled them tight and re-stapled.

The arms came off, too, which I thought would make the job really easy.  I sewed some arm covers, and upholstered the back/bottom.  Then I realized there was no way to re-attach the arms at the top, which made the chairs wobbly and also looked terrible.  So I tore out all my stitches and started over.

I also wanted to add a little cush to the arms, where I lean into the sides and corners.  I found an (unopened) egg crate foam mattress pad in our closet, and set to work chopping it up and attaching it to the arms.

I wrapped everything in batting, and made a pattern with some pattern paper by pinning it to the chair.  

After many, many battles with my sewing machine, I finally finished, trimmed that enormous seam allowance, slid it over the chair and stapled it tight along the bottom.

There are no pictures of sewing the cushions, because there was a greater focus on not crying the entire time than I'd anticipated.  But they're done, now (yes, my mom came to the rescue, there).

It is FAR from perfect.  And now I have a very serious appreciation for upholstery professionals.  I totally understand paying $300 + per chair.

Now I just have to do it all over again...


HAHAHAHAAA, oh, man, you guys.  After the 5-millionth round of colds/respiratory illnesses that refused to leave my house this winter, I totally gave up on this project.  They were great chairs, but I was very clearly in too far over my little DIY-loving head.  We've got some ikea chairs in their place now, and while they are not quite as comfy or cute as these guys were, have the benefit of not smelling like wet dog and mold.  So, we'll go ahead and chalk this one up as a lesson learned and I'll be planning to take an actual class next time I fall in love with an upholstery project...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garage Workbench

As my project load has increased, I've been pining for a separate work space.  Fortunately, while our 1-car garage is too small to keep a car, it is the perfect size for a workshop.  Unfortunately, the garage was the dumping ground for stuff that didn't have a proper place in our home.

After an entire day of cleaning out (including a goodwill donation run that included 5 bookshelves...I have a bookshelf obsession, evidently), I was starting to see some potential.

I had previously been trying to use the changing table the Mr. and my dad built as my workbench.  While they built me a phenomenal changing table, it did not translate well from baby station to project center (that green thing covered in tools and mess in the back corner, is it...).

Super old picture, taken while still re-doing dining room chairs!

Clearing out the garage (including saying goodbye to the changing table/workbench) cleared out a long wall for work station goodness.  And let me double my pegboard size and wall storage.

The workbench top is made of 16 2 x 4s, which we glued together (and clamped with some really big clamps until it dried).  I considered a lot of other options (hardboard, hollow core, laminate, plywood, etc...), but ultimately making our own laminate out of lumber was the most cost-effective option for making a really strong workbench.

As leg supports, I used stock cabinets from Lowe's, giving the garage a LOT of small-tool storage.  With the heavy, heavy workbench top, combined with the heavy saw and future heavy tools, I knew the particleboard bodies of the cabinet cases wouldn't be strong enough.  So I added additional 2 x 4 brace supports on either side of each cabinet, and now it will easily stand up to all the abuse it's likely to see.

We still need to address the lighting and electrical issues (the only plug in the garage is over by where the old workbench was), and I'll be spending some time with a planer getting the workbench top smoothed out.  But for now, I've got a great place to work.  The Kiddo has big plans to build his first robot there.  For the first time in a while, I can't wait to get to work out there!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School Homework Station

The Kiddo started Kindergarten, which has re-introduced homework into our house.  He'd been getting by with an old ikea desk we'd cut down to size, but that just wasn't enough room for his big-kid work.

He had a low bookshelf that didn't really hold his stuff in an easy-to-access way, and a chalkboard that didn't have any storage for chalk or erasers.

So I found this cutie on Craigslist for 30 bucks.  I love that it has a higher shelf he can grow into using, and the paper roll holder.  I didn't love the medium golden oaky finish or the hard stool seat.

 Kiddo asked for RED, so I sanded and painted it glossy cherry red (ready mixed from Lowe's).

Then, I turned my attention to the stool.  I padded it a little with some dense foam, but didn't put anything thicker down because I didn't want to raise the seat height too high for the desk.  I found a remnant of baseball fleece, and stapled it to the seat for maximum Kiddo excitement.

We also moved his homework station across the room, so we could use a bookshelf that's easier for him to access.  I finally found a plastic 3M bin to attach to his chalkboard to hold chalk and the eraser, too.

I think we're all ready for a great school year!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fridge Fix-up

All summer, we've been using some sad calendar printouts to keep our lives and activities on track.  And, because we are really very classy, we've kept it taped to the front of the fridge. Obviously, we needed a change.

While I love paper, as plans changed, it got messy really quickly.  Fortunately, I had a spare dry erase calendar laying around.  Now, I just had to figure out how to attach it.

Despite its "stainless steel" finish, the front of our fridge is curiously non-magnetic; otherwise, I would have just slapped some magnets on the back and called it a day.  3m strips to the rescue, again.

We never use the water filter on the door because we have a reverse osmosis filter at the sink, and I've always wanted to cover up the ugly dispenser.

Now we have an easy way to keep everyone's schedule up to date and in sight.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Backyard Biology

Turns out, our little pop-up backyard pool is good for more than just splashing around.

Apparently, our local frogs thought it was a pretty nice spot.  To lay their eggs.

I came out this weekend to a few dozen coaster-sized clumps of little round black dots floating on the surface.  After fishing them out as best as possible into some buckets, we've been observing their progress.  So far, we've got a lot of little apostrophe shapes, and a couple of wiggly teeny tiny tadpoles.

The marine-biology focused Kiddo is OVER THE MOON.  I'm just really hoping we were right in our species identification, and trying to make sure they don't die in their buckets.

So, with all the chemicals, any of these little guys that survive will definitely have super powers, right?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Front Door Fancy (Updated...Again)

I've had my eye on a cute plant holder/object de art at my local craft store for a month or two; ultimately, my patience was rewarded and I snagged it at 70% off.  

Despite its initial high price tag, the wire it came with was objectionably wimpy.  It could not stay.

I snipped the existing wire, and replaced it with this sturdy stuff from a previous project. 

My early Summer Coneflowers flanking the door burned out over the hot 4th of July weekend, so I needed to get some more living things out there, and this gave me the perfect opportunity.

I lined the wire basket with Sphagnum Moss instead of trying to find a planter that would fit perfectly.

Nothing special about getting this stuff set up, I just shoved it in and hoped it would stay.  I added my little plants and shoved more moss in around them.

I also need to paint my front door (as soon as ONE of the million paint chips I've taken from Lowe's is even close to its existing color - I would love to change it, but hey, HOA...), and I don't want this cute guy to damage the new paint when it goes up.  So I added some felt pads I had laying around.  They aren't outdoor/waterproof rated, so we'll see how well they hold up.

I used an outdoor/waterproof 3M hook to hold it on the door - we'll see if it's strong enough, or if I'll walk out one day to find a splintery mess...

I even had a couple plants left over to pop into the planters flanking the door, and a little moss to help keep the soil wet in the hot sun.  I think they'll look cute and cohesive as they go into full bloom!


Turns out, that moss doesn't stay in very well.  And that our door doesn't get the benefit of any rain, and plants in a door-attached planter need a lot of extra watering.  So, off to the compost pile their remains went.

I grabbed a long cocoa fiber basket liner, and cut it to relative shape.

In retrospect, I wish I had left the sides a little taller.

Then, I added some plants that won't protest too much without a lot of water.

I like the way the moss/flowers looked better, but got really tired of sweeping moss in our foyer, and never remembered to water.  Here's hoping these guys last a while.

Aaaand, the great crash just happened.  Apparently, one big thunderstorm was too much, and weakened the seal of the supposedly waterproof 3M strip - it just fell right off the door... time to find something a little lighter...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wear Sunscreen

Sorry, your daily SPF isn't enough.  Even your windows need some sunscreen.  

I recently switched out a sad (once cute) comforter in our guest room, and it was faded terribly.  But, only on the side that faced the window.  And I'd noticed serious fading on the dark curtains we'd hung elsewhere.  I really didn't want that to happen to my fancy new bed, or anything else in our house.

Aesthetic concerns aside, without any big trees to shade us, our house roasts in the Summer sunshine.  Especially the dining room.  I LOVE this window bay, but it gets too hot to enjoy, even in the winter.

Wandering around Lowe's, we found these Gila window films.  DIY window tinting?  How hard could it be?

Luckily, it's pretty easy, after a little learning curve.  Even more luckily, you get to benefit from my learning curve.

Some tips:
  • You will definitely need a buddy for this project.  I mean, I'm sure you could figure out a way to peel everything smoothly without the film sticking to itself, but I couldn't.
  • The full instructions are wrapped up inside the roll of film.  The first window I installed it on did not benefit from my thinking the full instructions were on the side of the package (and yet, it looks just as good as the second one I did, so that should tell you how seriously easy this is).
  • Trim to a slightly bigger than glass pane size before you peel off the clear backing.
  • If the clear backing is too hard to get off, use a piece of Scotch tape to separate the layers.

Let's get started.

Step 1:  Gather Materials

Window (clean first with Windex or your preferred window cleaner)

Window Film

Installation Kit


Paper Towel

Step 2: Find and Read Instructions

Step 3:  Trim Window Film

Make it a little bigger than the window pane.  Too much overhang is wasteful and makes the final trimming more difficult.

Step 4: Grab a Buddy

Have your helper hold the cut panel while you peel the backing off.

Step 5:  Spray

Spray the window and the sticky side of the window film with the application solution.  Don't be stingy.

Step 6:  Stick the Film On

Wet sides together.

Step 7:  Smooth 

Get the big bubbles out with the squeegee.

Step 8:  Final Trim

Use the cutter to trim the film to the exact size of the window pane.

I found it easiest to trim and remove one edge at a time (as opposed to trimming the entire way around before removal).

Step 8:  Final Smooth

Wrap your squeegee in paper towel to do a final smoothing.  The paper towel will soak up excess application solution.

If you get something trapped between the film and the window pane (errant fly, perhaps), just peel up a corner, get it out, and repeat from Step 5.  It takes a few days for full cure, so there's time to play with it.  

Here's the difference - the window on the right is filmed, the middle and left are au naturale.

These guys aren't perfect, of course.  The window film is so thin that, if it does bend, it can leave a little crack that's visible on the window.  Also, the Platinum finish turns a little two-way-mirror reflective at night.  They do have a less reflective model, but I worried that it wouldn't reflect UV rays as well.  Neither of these are huge problems.

I still have a few windows to go, and then we'll be able to compare our electric usage from year to year.     It feels cooler, the instant the film gets installed, though.  And for now, that works for me.  

Note: Not a sponsored post - this brand was just what we found at our go-to hardware store.