Friday, April 23, 2010

Mission: Distressed Bench...From Scratch / Status: In Progress...

I am singing the praises of Ana White over at Knock Off Wood today as I reveal my first finished product:  the Distressed Bench!

***You can click here for the plans for the Distressed Bench--complete with instructions for creating the crackled and distressed finish from Country Living)***

All of the lumber was purchased at Menards, along with most of the supplies needed to create the distressed finish.  Now, I have to be honest here, I did not technically build this bench--as much as I hate to admit it (sorry, Ana!), a power-tool owning master craftsman actually built it for me while I was at work!  : )  I am confident that I could build it, so that counts for something, right?!

Once the bench was built, it looked something like this:

(This is technically a "semi-before" shot, as I had already painted the bottom half before I remembered to take the picture.  Oops!)

Distressed Finish--Take One

Step 1:  Apply two coats of Pittsburg Grand Distinction in Heavy Cream Semi-Gloss

Step 2:  Once I had applied two coats of paint, I distressed the edges and corners with 100-grit sandpaper and applied stain to these areas with a foam brush.  Here is the bench with stain applied:

Close-up of the corner:

In hindsight, I should have stopped at this point, polyed the whole thing, and called it good.  However, this was my first experience with finishing furniture, and I thought I wanted to apply an antiquing glaze over the paint to distress the bench a little bit more...

Not really liking this finish--too dark for what I wanted, and, ironically, after all that work, this looks a lot like the bare wood that I started with!

So....what to do now?  The bench sat untouched for many days while I pondered this question.  Then, one day, I got brave, took the sander outside, and stripped off all of the paint, stain, and glaze I had just painstakingly applied.  Not very happy right now...

Distressed Finish--Take Two

The second time around, I decided to do things a little differently.  Since I wanted the bench to look like "Step 2" of my initial attempt, I figured it might be easier to just stain the entire bench, paint two coats over the stain, and then sand down so the stained wood showed through.  (The previous application of stain onto just the sanded parts resulted in drips and excess stain being wiped onto the painted surface where it didn't belong.)

So, here is Step 1--Take 2

Step 2--Take 2

Two coats of paint...again...

More to come...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Living Room Remodel--Mood Board

As tax-return time approaches, we have been scouring the web and magazines to find ideas for our living room.  As this is our first home, our old hand-me-down furniture will be used in the finished basement rec room.  This means that, for the first time, we have to  get to figure out our own style.  Choosing paint colors was a breeze--furniture is proving to be a little more challenging.

Here are the basic tenants of our design asthetic:

1.  Neutral colors:  We are much in favor of tans, beiges, creams, etc. to create a neutral backdrop for pops of color brought in through accessories
2.  Casual furnishings:  Definitely no lace, fringe, or ornately carved furniture to be found here.  We like simple, classic pieces in a neutral color to ensure sustainability for many years to come.
3.  Minimal accessories: Although we love the look of rooms styled to the hilt for magazine spreads, for daily living we much prefer simplicity and functionality.  This means that, although a coffee table adorned with accessories may look great in a photo, it doesn't work so well when guests need a place to set down a drink (or when the 120-pound dog comes barreling through the living room in pursuit of her doggy playmate or her dad).  Ultimately, we are looking for a casual, timeless design using the least accessories possible for maximum effect.
4.  Punches of color:  Even though we want the majority of our decor items to be neutral, we also crave punches of color to inject a young vibe into our space.  Another bonus of this design approach is that these accessories will be able to be changed easily to give the room a new style without spending a lot of money.

The fundamental area of disagreement is what type of sofa to purchase.  I love the look of a slipcovered sofa (like the oh-so-affordable version from Ikea pictured below), but the husband despises the constant straightening, shifting, pulling, and tugging slipcovers require to stay looking cool and casual vs sloppy.

Regardless of price and/or practicality, here are some of the fab items we've been drooling over for the past few weeks months that meet our criteria.

Ikea Ektorp 2+2 sofa in Svanby Beige

(***plans to build this table at Knock Off Wood--thanks, Ana!***)

So...while we haven't been able to 100% agree on the sofa, we at least agree on the overall direction we'd like the room to go.  It has been fun looking through magazines and blogs, trying to pinpoint our "style."  Though our taste tends toward Pottery Barn, our budget is more like Goodwill.  Luckily, we have TJ Maxx/Home Goods nearby, and Ikea is just a few hours down the interstate (and, there are wonderful people like Ana at Knock Off Wood to give people more affordable options).    : )

We definitely look forward to bringing some items home in the next few weeks--we can't wait to see how the room comes together!  If you know of any great places to find deals on home furnishings, please leave us a comment!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Living Room Remodel--Part 2

Now that we've officially moved in, we definitely felt the need for some color on the walls.  Since the living room is the space that gets the most traffic, we decided that was the place to start.

We actually lived for a couple of weeks with different paint samples on the walls, just to see which would work best in the different light this room receives throughout the day.  Here were our options:

Pittsburg colors--from left to right--(top) Sand Fossil, Moonlit Sand, Dusty Trail, Patches 
(bottom) Spiced Vinegar, Jute, Calico Hill

The sample color painted on the wall is Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige.  We liked the tone of the color, but it was a little too yellow for our afternoon/evening light.  We both agreed that Pittsburg's Moonlit Sand was the perfect choice for this space--similar in shade to the Kilim Beige, but with a more brown undertone.  

We picked up two gallons from Menards in the Pittsburg Ultra and got to work.  We have generally used the Grand Distinction paint from Pittsburg in the past, but since the Ultra was on sale and we were planning on two coats for durability anyway, we went for it.

Since we weren't particularly crazy about the idea of taping off the trim, ceiling, and 14 windows, we purchased an edger to work around these areas.  It worked better than expected, especially along the ceiling, which is relatively smooth.  However, we plan on installing crown molding in this room, as well as painting the existing trim and windows a nice, bright shade of white, so in the end we didn't really need to worry about transfer.  In fact, I realized about halfway around the room that since our old walls are so uneven, it would actually be good to continue the wall color onto the top edge of the trim and windows.  This way, when we do tape off the walls to paint the trim, we will have a nice, even paint line where the two areas meet.  Ultimately, the edger came in very handy when working around the ceiling, but otherwise, a small paint brush would have sufficed.

***Side note--we cannot wait to try out the Frog Tape--we've heard so much about it, and even seen the amazing results on Young House Love!  We will let you know how it goes once we start painting the miles of trim!***

At the local Menards, we picked up our supplies and two gallons of Moonlit Sand in Satin.  Although most paints these days (including Pittsburg's Ultra and Grand Distinction) claim to produce one-coat coverage, we planned for two coats to increase the durability and washability of the finish.

Once we got home, we set up our area and even remembered to shoot a few "before" pictures!

Here is the same room after one coat of paint...

What a difference a coat of paint makes!  This space immediately began to feel more cozy and inviting as we progressed around the room.  Surprisingly, this color also makes the gray trim less garish, though we are still anxious to paint it a crisp, clean "true" white (if there is such a thing!).  

We are also anxious to see this room in its final stages, with actual furniture and everything!  :)  We have some mood boards created for this space--I will post those at a later date and see if we can't get some feedback from blogland to help us make our decision!

Until then, here is our source list for this project.

If you hadn't noticed, pretty much all of our home-improvement supplies come from Menards, as that is the only local option we have--we either purchased the supplies below specifically for this project, or we had them on hand from a previous endeavor.  Either way, you can be sure everything on the list came from Menards!  :)

--2 gallons Pittsburg Ultra Satin in Moonlit Sand
--roller (I prefer the cheap-o black handled $2 dollar variety--they just seem to roll better!)
--roller covers (3/8 inch)
--edger/extra pads
--2" paint brush
--paint trays/liners
--drop cloths
--paper towel (for drips--very important)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Living Room Remodel--Part 1

When we bought our house, there was a definite theme connecting all the rooms.  GRAY.  That's right, gray.  Gray walls.  Gray trim.  Gray doors.  Gray blinds.  Gray carpet.  As my husband so lovingly put it, "I feel like all we need now is a padded room to finish off our insane asylum."  Although a tempting idea, creating a padded room seemed a little extreme, so we opted for a less drastic solution--some good old-fashioned do-it-yourself remodeling.

Although the previous owners had recently installed wall-to-wall gray carpet, our lifestyle (aka our giant chocolate lab) is not conducive to floor coverings that cannot be hosed down.  Therefore, we were DELIGHTED to discover the original hardwood floors hiding under all of the carpet.  We decided that this seemed the most logical place to start the remodel, especially considering that we were able to do this part of the reno prior to moving in (you'll notice from the pictures that this turned out to be an excellent idea!).

Project 1:  Tear out GRAY carpet and refinish existing hardwood floors.

Before starting the demo, I remembered to take some "before" photos to commemorate our first do-it-yourself project in our new home!

Living room--right side

Living room--left side

Now that's done...let the demo begin!

The husband is SO happy to be getting rid of some of that gray!

This (potentially) beautiful floor was just begging to be uncovered!

Once the carpet and pad were up and the thousands of staples were removed, it was time to start sanding.  Now, I have to add a tiny disclaimer here.  While things worked out okay for us in the end, I would highly recommend hiring a professional for any major refinishing project--especially on floors that are almost 100 years old!  We definitely went over budget by the time all was said and done, and we didn't end up with exactly the finish we had envisioned at the beginning of the project.  However, with that said, we are VERY happy with our newly refinished floors and saved thousands of dollars by doing the work ourselves.

If you do decide to tackle a project like this yourself, here are some helpful tips that we learned along the way.

The existing stain was very stubborn, so the sanding process took some time.

No, it's not snowing indoors, just very dusty...

Bare floors...FINALLY.  Now ready for a few coats of poly to finish the job.

After days of sanding, broken down machinery, countless blisters, and more sandpaper than I ever care to see again, here is the final product:

As you can see, the room is no longer empty.  Somewhere between finishing the floors and moving in, I forgot to take our final picture.  This picture was taken as we prepared for phase two of the Living Room Remodel...painting!!!  Stay tuned for that post later.  For now, I will leave you with our supply list.

***keep in mind, we refinished roughly 1100 square feet of flooring with these supplies***

--pliers and crowbar to remove staples and tack strip--already owned
--stripper and edger sanders/sandpaper (20, 35, 50, 80, and 100 grit)--rented from local shop
--finish sander/paper--rented from Menards
--1 gallon of Mineral Spirits--Menards
--6 gallons of Varathane Diamond Floor Finish (water-based) in Satin--Menards
--1 very knowledgeable and helpful friend (he was the key to this whole operation)
--patience, patience, patience

DIY Floor Refinishing--Tips and Tricks

Follow these (relatively) simple tips to ensure that your floor refinishing project is a success.  

1.  Rent your sander from a reputable business.  This seems like common sense, but it can be tempting to try to save a few dollars by renting from a less-expensive shop.  It's not even a bad idea to actually go to a few businesses and check out the machines they have to offer.  Big box stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards often carry rentals, but don't overlook your local rental shop either.  Whichever way you choose to go, it is helpful if the rental shop is open on Sunday so if/when your machine breaks down, there is someone available to help you.

2.  If you are refinishing more than just one room at a time (and/or if your floors are very old), plan for at least 5 days of sanding.  This allows time for the stripper, edger, and finish sanders to do their work.  If it takes less time, you'll be ahead of schedule and under budget instead of the other way around.  :)

3.  Wear protective gear.  Sanding gets VERY messy, even with the attached dust-catcher bag.  It is also important to seal off any areas you don't want dust to get into (like kitchens, bathrooms, the part of the house you're still living in, etc.)  Lastly, be sure your furnace/central air is turned off and you have blocked the vents before beginning.  Sanding dust=not so good for the heating/cooling system.

4.  Resist the urge to use the edger in other areas of the room (or to tilt the machine to get at stubborn areas). Misuse of the edger results in grooved areas where the wood has been taken down too far.

5.  Be sure to clean your floor thoroughly after sanding.  Many brands of polyurethane and floor stain carry products to clean your freshly sanded floors before finishing.  Mineral spirits are another good way to prep the floors for finishing.

6.  Research the finish you want before the "big day."  After all of the work you have just put in to sanding, you don't want to end up with a finish you aren't crazy about.  If you are staining the floors, pick up a few samples of the colors you have in mind and test them out in an inconspicuous area, like a closet.  This test area can easily be sanded down again later.  As for the poly, you need to choose the type (either water-based or oil-based ) and the sheen (gloss, semi-gloss, or satin).  You will want to research all of your options and choose the best one for your floor type, lifestyle, and personal taste.

7.  Follow the directions on the stain/poly.  Again, seems like a no-brainer, but this step is crucial to obtaining a professional-looking finish.  Polyurethane requires a light sanding between each coat (recommend at least three coats for most brands).  This sanding will ensure a smooth, consistent finish for your topcoat.  

8.  TAKE YOUR TIME!!!  The biggest piece of advice we can give after being through this experience is that this is not a job you can (or should) do in a weekend.  You need to go slowly and allow yourself plenty of time to do each step.  Your patience will pay off in the end when you have a smooth, even finish throughout the entire area.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dreamy Bedrooms

I am particularly interested in bedrooms right now as we are struggling to choose paint colors, fabrics, and bedding for our master bedroom redo.  (Although, it's not much of a "redo"...we are basically starting from scratch.)  We like a country vibe--neutral colors, a mixture of furniture finishes, painted wood, wainscoting, hardwood floors, and mismatched pieces.

While searching the web for inspiration, I stumbled across some really gorgeous photos.

Donna at Funky Junk created this relaxing get away with...well, junk!  (Funky Junk Interiors)

This bedroom features similar dreamy white bedding with cheerful yellow paint and a beautiful black iron bed.  And check out that floor!  Yummy! (Country Living)

Drooling over that chandelier and brick wall "headboard."  (Country Living)

Loving the combination of the finished wood bed and the distressed white painted night stand.  (Country Living)

Love the look of this bed...lots of blankets to cozy up with on a cool night.  (Danish Dessert)

Enjoy the eye candy!  Let me know if you have any great bedrooms that inspire you!