Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chalkboard Pocket Door

Am I the only one who has had a minor obsession with chalkboards? They seem to be popping up everywhere I go.  They are in coffee shops and they are painted on random objects like wine bottles and canisters.  You can even buy Red Solo Cups with a spot to write your name in chalk.  Chalk boards are a "must do" for weddings and as you may know, they are all over Pinterest.  Thankfully, some super cool dude at Rust-Oleum created a chalkboard paint so the average DIYer could fulfill that strange desire to do at least one chalkboard paint project.  Let me warn you though; once you pop you won't stop -- eating pringles, or painting with chalkboard paint.  I am suddenly considering every possible object, wall, or door I can transform into a chalkboard. So, so, so many possibilities.

So let me introduce you to our mystery pocket door.  Reed and I didn't even know it existed until a few weeks after we moved into our house.  We failed to notice it during all three walk-throughs, during our inspection, and during our pre-closing check.  Do you want to know why we missed it? 

Because it looked like this:

Very unattractive, Mr. pocket door. Blah. That's how I feel when I looked at it.

For the past few months, I dreamed up a pocket door so magnificent, you wouldn't believe it if I told you about it.  It was going to be my personal kitchen organizer- a place to jot down notes, a reminder wall, it was bound to be amazing. And the best part? My go-to wall could be hidden :) Talk about easy clean up.

Before we started our kitchen makeover, I contacted a lady on Etsy (Becky @ vinylcrafts) to have some custom vinyl made.  For starters, I knew I wanted a weekly menu list.  Every time we went to the grocery store I would have our meals planned- but I was getting annoyed at having to save my messy grocery list in order to remember our dinner options were for the week.  I asked Becky to make me some vinyl that said "whats for dinner?" with days of the week below it.  She did not disappoint.  I wanted two different fonts and I wanted to pick the specific fonts. I also wanted the vinyl in light blue (for no particular reason other than I thought it was amazing you could get colored vinyl).  If I haven't mentioned it yet- I am extremely picky, but she was very patient and she fulfilled my wildest vinyl dreams. A few days later my package was on our doorstep. 

For several months my vinyl sat in that package and my can of chalkboard paint sat there next to it (actually, you can see the vinyl & paint on top of the refrigerator in the photo above).  But FINALLY, as we were approaching the end of the kitchen makeover, it was time to make our little ugly pocket door into something outstanding.  Reed removed the   door from the brackets at the top and I painted both sides of the door with some primer.  For all of our projects we use Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer.  Let me warn you though; this primer gets the job done, but your house will smell like it for several hours after you use it. It is potent stuff. 

Once the primer dried, it was time for the chalkboard paint. I used a small 4 inch roller to apply the paint.  It was really simple- just like painting a wall.  It rolled on nice and shiny, but once it dried it had that wonderful matte chalkboard finish.  I let it sit overnight and the next day I applied the 2nd coat of paint.  

According to the directions, you shouldn't write on your chalkboard (with chalk) for 3-7 days.  I didn't want to take any risks so the door sat for a few days until I couldn't stand it any longer.  I needed to apply my vinyl.

Before I started, I remembered that I had also I purchased a few vinyl "P" monograms on a whim from GroopDealz. Click here to join (you can thank me later!). I thought that a little P on the top of my door would be a nice touch, so I measured the door to make sure the vinyl was centered and I used one of Reed's L-squares to make sure the lettering was level.

Once you have it positioned correctly, take a piece of blue painters tape (or masking tape) and put it across of the top of the vinyl.  When you look at the decal- you want the image you see to look exactly like how you will see it when its applied to the door (minus the two layers of protective paper).

Flip the decal up and carefully remove the backing on the underside of the vinyl (photo below shows vinyl flipped up & backing removed).  Once its removed simply flip the decal back into place and smooth all the bubbles out with a credit card (or the little plastic square that Becky provides with the vinyl).  Now, finally, you are ready to peel away the last protective layer.  If the vinyl sticks to the sheet and not the door, press it back down on the door and use your plastic tool to go over the vinyl in that spot. 

Ta Da! I can't wait to add a few more sections of vinyl (grocery list, measuring conversions, notes) but until then, we are thoroughly enjoying our weekly dinner menu!

This post is part of "Get Your Craft On" on Today's Creative Blog 
and "Tutorials & Tips Link Party" on Home Stories from A to Z 
and "Project Party Weekend" on Bubbly Nature Creations!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turning Tables

Since this is pretty much the year of Adele, I thought the title was fitting for this post.  If there is one thing that Deanne and I love it is getting a good deal.  As you read our blog, this fact will become very apparent.  Between Deanne’s Mom and my Grandpa, we definitely learned from the best.  My grandpa taught me that you can always negotiate a price…Even if you’re buying a computer at Best Buy (I’m still amazed that one worked).  In a similar fashion, Deanne’s mom is the queen of coupons.  I’m sure the grocery store clerks cringe whenever she pulls out her categorized binder full of coupons, but she sure does have it down to an art.

Once we had our house under contract, we started shopping for furniture.  It didn’t take long for us to realize just how expensive 1500 square feet worth of furniture would be.  True to our nature, we began hunting for bargains.  By word of mouth, we found out about a Macy’s Furniture Outlet in Naperville, so naturally we had to check it out. 

I don’t want to set false expectations here…Most of the items in the store are either severely damaged or mismatched parts of sectional couches.  However, if you search carefully you can find some hidden treasures at a great price.  During our first visit, while I was wandering through the dining tables, I noticed one that was propped against the wall.  I went over to inspect it further and to my amazement this beautiful walnut dining table was priced at $25.00.  You read that correctly.  Twenty-five dollars!  I sent Deanne to find a salesman while I stood guard (so no one else would swoop in and buy it).  When she came back with the salesman, he looked at the table, looked at us, paused, and said, “You know that table doesn’t have any legs right?”

Deanne shot me a frantic look that said, “Absolutely not! What are we going to do with a table without legs?”  But after some discussion (and some pleading on my part) I was able to convince her that we had to buy it.  Worse case scenario, it would have made for some fancy fire wood.

Once we got the table home (no easy task in itself), I called my grandpa to see what he thought about spinning 4 legs for our beauty of a tabletop.  He was excited about the project and even had some old walnut we could use.  On our next trip to Galesburg, I was a little surprised when I walked into his shop and found 4 big walnut logs lying on the floor.

After a full day in the shop, we had one leg completed- which, unfortunately left 3 more to go.  Since we had no plans on being back in Galesburg any time soon, we came to the realization that our table would be leg-less for quite a while. 

Fast forward a few weeks…On one of my trips to Menards, I noticed a scratched up table top lying on the side of the road.  Sitting there next to it were 4 walnut stained legs and a zip lock baggie with the bolts to attach it to the table top.  I stopped my car, looked around (to make sure no one was watching), and quickly hopped out and threw the legs into my trunk.  I could not believe it.

Not only did the stain match our table top exactly but the brackets to attach them fit the table top perfectly.  I quickly attached the legs and Deanne helped me flip the table upright.  Unfortunately, I was too excited about my amazing find to notice that these legs were actually for a bar height table... I tried to convince Deanne that it was the perfect height for beer pong, but I quickly found myself in the basement cutting 7 inches from each leg. [Pardon dust and lack of baseboards in the pictures below]

So after a lot of luck and a few precision cuts, our $25 (plus tax) table was complete and ready for use.  I still plan to finish making the legs that I started with my grandpa but we couldn’t ask for a better temporary set (or a better story) in the mean time. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Blogging @ Miss Mary's: How to Make Creme Brulee

Looking for a new dessert to impress your friends and family? I am a guest chef today over on Miss Mary's blog! Head on over to check out mine and Reed's all time favorite dessert recipe, creme brulee.

It is so not diet friendly, but so unbelievably good.

Thank you, Miss Mary, for the fabulous opportunity!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Trash to Treasure: Upholstered Piano Bench

Allow me to set the stage for you.

It's Sunday afternoon.  Monday is garbage day in our neighborhood.  This is Reed's favorite day to drive around and scope out what valuable junk we can acquire curbside.  Insert my face cringing while I imagine the Panther basement being featured on the next episode of "Hoarding: Buried Alive".  So here we are, wandering through our neighborhood, probably on our way home from Menards, Home Depot, or Lowes, because really, those are the only places we go. Especially on the weekends.

We turn the corner of our block and Reed spots what looks like a very old piano bench.  I, on the other hand, spot nothing.  For one, I am not skilled at the art of garbage hunting while driving.  Who are we kidding, I'm barely skilled at the art of driving.  I don't know how he does it.  Miles away he spots things on the side of the road and thus begins the "by the time we get to the garbage I will convince you of the enormous value this piece of junk has.  I will convince you we need it and that we are the luckiest people in the world to have found it."  Reed is the dreamer.  He also doesn't like to throw things away.

So back to the bench.  I am still torn between "OMG this is steps from our house.  What if the neighbors see us picking up their garbage?!" and "Ohhhh it’s a bench! I've been wanting to make a new bench!"  I eventually give in and let that nasty moth ball covered, dusty, crappy looking bench come home with us.  Of course with the added stipulation "You run & get it fast- and whatever you do, DON'T let the neighbors see us!"

And once that baby made it to our garage and went through a serious cleaning, I could see what Reed saw. I could understand his dreams. I saw its potential. And I remembered why I love him so much.  THIS bench was going to make a statement.  She was a real beauty.

After measuring the top of the bench, we headed to JoAnn to pick up a few things:
  • Enough fabric to cover the bench top + 6 inches on every side.  So we added 1 foot width-wise & 1 foot length-wise. 
  • 2.5in thick sturdy foam- big enough just for the top of the bench (this stuff is pricey- don't forget a coupon*)
  • 1 package of sheet batting (same amount as the fabric)
  • Staple Gun (with staples)
  • Scissors
  • Spray Adhesive (we used Tacky Spray)
  • Sandpaper- 220 grit
  • Spray paint primer (favorite brand- Rustoleum)
  • Spray paint in color of choice
*We highly recommend downloading the JoAnn app on your smart phone- instant coupons at your finger tips!

Reed removed the top of the piano bench so I could work on upholstering it with our new foam & fabric.  Since this was going to be covered, it didn't need to be painted like the rest of the bench. 

While I worked my fabric magic, Reed gave the clean bench a light sanding with 220 grit sand paper.  Then he wiped down the entire thing so no dust would be left when spray painting.  Once she was ready to go, Reed lightly sprayed the bench with the spray primer and let sit in a well ventilated area to dry. 

First I took my thick sea-foam green foam (seafoam foam?) and set it on the table.  I flipped over the top of the piano bench (bottom/inside up) and laid the foam on top.  Since I'm a little lazy, I aligned the corner of the bench top with the corner of the foam so I only had to cut 2 sides instead of 4.   I took a pencil and traced the other two edges on the foam and then cut out my rectangle. 

(Photo below shows the foam cut to the same size as piano bench top which is hiding underneath the foam)

Next I sprayed the foam with tacky spray (let it sit for a few minutes) and the adhered the foam to the top of the bench.  I laid my fabric (pretty side down) on the table and once again flipped the wood/foam upside down so the foam was touching the fabric.  I centered the wood/foam piece so there was about 6 inches visible on all 4 sides.  You can check and make sure you have enough fabric by wrapping it around the foam/wood.  You also will want to make sure the fabric design is centered correctly on the bench top.

After I had roughly 6 inches on all 4 sides, I cut the piece of fabric.  It’s better to have more than you need at this point.  I cut a matching sized piece of sheet batting.  The sheet batting helps to soften the look of the sharp cut edges of the foam.

To start upholstering the bench you need to lay the fabric back on the table (again, pretty side down), then put the sheet batting on top of the fabric, and finally center the bench top (foam side down) on the batting. 

I like to start by stapling in 4 places (imagine 12, 3, 6, 9 on a clock). I started with the long side of the bench (12 o'clock). Pull the fabric & batting around and staple about 1/2 in from the edge of the wood.  Next go exactly opposite of that first staple, pull your fabric tight and staple. I continued to work my way around the bench (keep working in a staple-opposite side staple fashion).  For example, I did the 1 o'clock, then 7 o'clock, 10 o'clock then 4 o'clock - make sense? (Good thing I'm not teaching this to Snookie). You ultimately want the staples about 2 inches apart from each other, all the way around. 

Once you get about 2 inches from either side of each corner, stop to arrange the fabric. 

You have some flexibility here to play around with the fabric and see what looks best before stapling. I took my left side and then folded the right side over it (almost like I was going to braid hair or wrap a present).  Once I had it looking right, I pulled tightly and put about 4 staples in. That baby wasn't moving.  Next work the opposite corner until all 4 are done. 

When you have finished stapling, go ahead and cut the extra fabric off.  I left a 1/2 inch past the staples. TA DA! Step back and admire your beautiful new bench top. 

Once the primer was dry on the bench, Reed sprayed it with some cream colored spray paint. After it dried for 48 hours, he re-attached the top and gave it a new home in our entryway.  Isn't she great?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Introductions Continue: Meet Our MVP

After 12 months of living in our new (to us) house, we still agree that home ownership has been the most exhausting, exciting, humbling, and rewarding experience of our collective lives.

As newlywed 25 year olds, we began the search for our dream house in the fall of 2010.  After months of scrolling through countless MLS listings, walking through upwards of 70 homes and driving all over the western suburbs of Chicago with our very patient realtor, we found the "perfect home" and made an offer.  Unfortunately, our inspector did not have the same sentiments about this particular house.  The 1,000 gallon oil tank under the front porch was a big red flag to him.  We knew that homes routinely failed inspections so we optimistically retracted our offer and continued our search.  Little did we know that the next “perfect house” that we found would suffer a similar fate.  This time, it was a faulty foundation and a bad roof. 

After two failed inspections we were feeling very discouraged until we came across a 1950’s ranch home in a great neighborhood.  It was all brick, had a new roof, new furnace, new windows, an updated kitchen and hardwood floors.  It even had a waterproofed basement that Reed could walk around in without ducking (bonus!).  To top it off - our inspector approved!

So while we are on the topic of who's who on Crafter Meets Craftsman, how rude would we be if we didn't give a proper introduction to the star of our show? The one who will make it all possible, the MVP of our blog world (errr M.V.H.), the young-at-heart 57-year-old beauty that stole our hearts (and our bank accounts).  So without further ado; we are pleased to introduce you to our one & only Home Sweet Home....

Beware, you are about to witness never before seen footage captured from the original real estate listing (we warned you, there is a reason its "never before seen")...

Lovely Family Room

Jungle of a Fireplace

Dining Room (as an added feature, this room was home to a caged tarantula when we did our walk-throughs!)

Full Bath (The sellers were kind enough to leave the shower curtain)

Updated Kitchen

Master Bedroom (extra credit if you can find the baseboards/window trim)

Can't forget the porch!

Love at first sight, right? 

So a few days after our walk-throughs, we made an offer, passed our inspection, and began scheming over color combinations and furniture layouts.  Since the house had such good "bones", we figured all she needed was a little new paint...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And So It Begins...

It’s tough trying to figure out where to begin. 

What do we do first?

Should we write a list?

Do we have enough skills?

Can we really do this?

Starting a blog is strangely similar to buying a very stylish (this is my sarcasm voice) 1950's ranch house.  Once we had those precious keys in our hands the shock hit us like a brick wall. 4 brick walls actually. 

What on earth do we do first? The royal blue master bedroom? The teal sponge painted bathroom? The trim that matches the paint color of the room (which, we found out, has also matched the paint color the last 6 times the room was painted)? Buying our ugly house was overwhelming.  But we were ambitious, we were excited, and we couldn't wait to get in that front door and make some changes.

Let me tell you a little bit about us. My name is Deanne and I am addicted to crafting.  No really, I am.  I live to craft. And create. And make things pretty. To make them mine.  I believe crafting has always been an interest of mine.  I have a very vivid memory of being 6 and my mom suggesting that we make a craft. (I was not 6 in the photo below, btw).  I remember being VERY very excited about this idea because my mom rarely suggested that we craft.  I specifically remember running to the bathroom to grab a stack of dixie cups.  We cut. We glued. We colored. We created.  There may or may not have been glitter involved.  I made a magical dixie cup flower garden on construction paper.  And it was incredible.  I felt so talented compared to my (then 3 year old) sister who only managed to mangle her dixie cup into nothing.  They probably should have nicknamed me Picasso.

Throughout my years, my crafts changed from dixie cup flower gardens to puffy paint teeshirts for the swim team.  My skills advanced from school spirit posters; to scrapbooking; to working with Reed on Photoshopped advertisements for Greek Rush events at Augustana College

And then I graduated college with a math and computer science degree.  I landed a great job working in IT.  I like to think I was never really given the opportunity to realize my creative talents.

Until December 3, 2010.  The day we bought an ugly house. The day my creativity blossomed.  We had 1500 square feet of remodeling potential, and we couldn't wait to get started.
. . . 

Since Deanne is the crafter, I guess that makes me the craftsman.  By no means am I an expert in any of the trades but if I had a choice I would pick carpentry.  I call myself a craftsman because ever since I was little, I've enjoyed building things (and taking them apart), learning new tricks and learning how to do things better the next time. 

Like Deanne, I have a vivid memory of the start of my days as a craftsman.  When I was a senior in high school, my parents built a new house.  This meant that for the first time in 16 years, I was going to have a new bedroom.  Being the 18 year old that I was, I thought it would be a great idea to put my desk on a 3 foot tall platform complete with access to the area underneath.  Once I got my parents on board, I drew up the design and set off to Lowes for the supplies.   A few days, a few mis-cuts, and a less-than-perfect drywall job later, I had pretty much what I had envisioned…an elevated desk with storage space underneath.  I couldn’t stand up on top of it without hitting my head on the ceiling and it made leaning back in the desk chair pretty hazardous; but I had a blast building it.

In the 9 years since I was 18 (you do the math), I’ve acquired some new skills and some new tools and my projects have (for the most part) become more practical.  To me, there is nothing more rewarding than doing something yourself.  Part of it is knowing how much money you saved but the best part is being able to step back and admire your work. 

So where were we? We finished the closing. We had the keys to the house. What do we do first?

"Let's put up the Christmas decorations" Deanne suggested. "Really?" I thought.  But looking at that empty house, thinking about that long to do list, overwhelmed at the sight of that blue bedroom, I agreed.  All of a sudden, decorating for Christmas seemed much more manageable. Baby steps.

So think of this post, our very first blog post, as us putting up those Christmas decorations.  This blogging thing is a little scary.  Bear with us. Give us a few weeks.  We promise we have much more exciting things to tell you about than our Christmas Decorations. (Who are we kidding, those will most likely be included too).