Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Empty wall solutions

In exactly 48 hours, we'll be road tripping to Orlando to visit the happiest place on earth.

I'm referring, of course, to Ikea. We've been there once before, just over a year ago, when we were first settling into this house and had no furniture whatsoever. I tried to plan the layout of every room and purchase accordingly... but needs change over a year. I've definitely kicked myself a few times for not getting certain things while I was there, and now I have a second chance.

Luckily, no major furniture needs to be purchased. However, there are some walls I need to address, and there's no better place in this world to get frames than Ikea.

Subject #1: The wall behind our bed:

I hope to have time next week to make the upholstered headboard it so desperately needs. Then I'll hang three of these Virserum frames and fill it with some sort of artwork.

And it will look something like this:

Next up is another wall in our master bedroom:

It's not horrible looking, but it just needs a little more action.

So I'm picking up four of these frames, and arranging them like this:

I haven't made my mind up yet on cities and colors, but they will look something like that.

Finally, our living room.

This wall has bothered me since day one. It's so huge and overwhelming to tackle... so I haven't even tried.

First of all, ignore the console table and accessories—they were pretty much just thrown there with no place else to go. Some of the accessories will be ditched, some are getting a makeover, and I plan to lighten the table by removing the dark stain and giving it an au-natural bare wood look (or something simlar, I'll have to see how it goes).

I plan to pick up this mirror and this large frame from Ikea to help fill the wall in:

I may actually set the mirror on the floor instead of mounting it....

I may even end up painting or distressing it so there isn't so much white.

After staring at this picture for a while, I decided something wasn't right, and that something was the vase full of sticks. I'm over it. I ran through a million possibilities of what else I could put in that corner... a lamp? A small desk? More artwork? A bench? A folding screen? None of these seemed to be particularly useful or make sense.

And then.... it hit me:

I will build a ladder that will hold magazines/books. YES! Yes. After an entire year, I've figured it out. I've always wanted a ladder somewhere in my house, and this is the perfect place for it. Hopefully I can manage this one on my own... should be easy enough, right? Any ladder-building pointers?

I will be back next week with an update on my headboard construction, and also the launch of my new site! Can't wait.

Anything other must-haves I should grab at Ikea while I'm there?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Building Mirror Frames

This entire process was so not fun, it almost pains me to write about it and relive the horror. To be honest, if I had to do it all over again, I'd probably just go buy some framed mirrors.

But, I owe it to you all to share my experience if anyone would like to tackle this project on their own.

To recap, here are my mirrors now and the frames I built last weekend:

Here are the same mirrors, as I purchased them:

They looked so naked, right? Everyone thought I was crazy and told me to leave them frameless, but I didn't care. It had to be done.

I couldn't do it by myself though.

And that's where Dennis comes in. I met Dennis at a West Elm/Etsy collaboration event a few months ago, where ended up purchasing one of my maps. I later found out he was a master carpenter and invited him over for dinner and crown molding installation. He also offered to help me with this framing project that I had been trying to figure out how to do on my own for months.

You see... you cannot just buy flat pieces of trim or wood and glue them to the mirror. This means they would be floating on top of the mirror, instead of up against the wall as they should. I figured this out right before I was leaving to go to Lowe's to pick up the lumber.

This is what you need your wood to look like:

And to do this you need a router (at least I think that's what it's called, correct me if I'm wrong Dennis).

Anyway, I did not have a router and certainly did not want to buy one for this project. So I consulted my master carpenter friend (that's Dennis), and gave him my drawings:

and he was like "Psh, no problem" and then he did this:

Then I took the freshly routed wood and stained it (using Minwax's Ebony, great stuff)

These are the fronts, the back have the routed edge

So they sat like this in the garage for weeks while I gathered up the courage to try and assemble them without screwing it all up.

On Saturday, I finally went for it. I grabbed my mirrors, measured as best as I could, and very carefully made each cut. It was definitely a long process. A few times I forgot to put the lock down on the saw so the angle shifted and I ended up with some not-45' angle cuts... oops. Luckily, some of my measurements were too long so I was able to go back and re-cut them at the correct angle.

Here's a shot testing the fitment one last time after everything was cut:

Close up of how they fit together:

I really had to get these perfect because there was no room for error. In my previous wood-cutting projects, I could always caulk, spackle and paint over the gaps to hide it, but not this time.

Luckily, my patience paid off and they turned out better than I had thought.

But they weren't 100% perfect. And this is where I messed up. Bad.

What I should have done was place the mirrors in and then secure the frames. But since they seemed to fit perfectly around the frames, I figured it would be easier to assemble them first, and then place the frames in.


But I didn't know, so I began assembly with wood glue and our nail gun to hold them in place before the mirror went in:

Once they were joined together, I touched up the stain in the seams:

And admired my handywork.

The admiration was short lived, however, after I took my liquid nails...

Applied a bead all the way around the routed edge, and attempted to set my mirror in. It was stuck.

Fortunately, it just needed a bit of coercing from the rubber mallet, and it wedged into place. Whew, disaster averted there.

Not so lucky with mirror #2.

After a generous amount of liquid nails, I tried placing this mirror in and one corner would not budge. Not even close. I frantically tried to pull the frame open enough to allow it to slide in, but nope... I had already nailed it together. So I had no choice but to take the mirror out and figure out a plan B.

Also, these mirrors are HEAVY. It was not easy lifting it out carefully, and it made a huge mess:

I had to sand the edge down to allow a big enough opening for the mirror to fit in, so the first thing I grabbed was a metal file. I sanded for about 20 minutes and I still wasn't even close. So I grabbed the electric sander, but only the very edge could fit into the angle of this small routed edge that I was working with. So I grabbed a smaller metal file and began to chisel away. And I'm sitting in this hot garage, all sweaty, sanding for like an hour straight, with globs of liquid nails drying all over my hands and clothes, thinking this is never going to work, all while being attacked by mosquitos.

Finally I busted out a screwdriver and hammer and just started hacking pieces off.

Eventually, I took enough out to where my mirror FINALLY FIT!

Then I sealed it up with more liquid nails.

Those babies aren't going anywhere.

Then I had spend an hour scraping liquid nails off both mirrors (it somehow got all over the second one), and off the wood frames, and resand and stain where it dried onto the wood.


But, I suppose it was all worth it.....

Here's a couple tips for those of you who still want to try this at home:
1. You need a router.
2. Make sure your cuts are all at an *exact* 45 degree angle, and lock your saw so it doesn't shift.
3. Assemble your frames *while* your mirrors are in them, not before.
4. Use a *thin* line of glue/liquid nails (it's better if it's clear), because you'll be able to see the excess reflecting back at you from behind the frame.
5. Make sure to stain (or paint) the routed edge on the inside, because you'll see the reflection in the mirror.

I realize the liquid nails I used was not specifically meant for frames, however, these mirrors are hung from brackets on the actual mirrors. This means the frames do not have any weight or load on them at all so the bond doesn't have to be especially strong to the wood. Trust me, those things are in there for the long haul.

That concludes my adventures in mirror frame-building. Hope you enjoyed.

PS—I was planning on making my upholstered headboard this weekend, but it's been rescheduled because I've been working 24/7 on the launch of my new website. I am SO, so excited to share it with you all...  it is my greatest project yet.

Here's a sneak preview:

I plan to wrap everything up and go live within the next 2 weeks.... so stay tuned! I'll be giving out some fun bonuses to the first customers :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

And the winner of the hand stamped necklace giveaway (chosen by is.....

Comment #45:

Congrats, Kimmie! Please email your information to, and I'll forward it to Nayeli.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Master Bathroom Reveal!

It's about time, right? This reno has been 90% complete since, oh, Thanksgiving or so... but I finally finished that last 10% yesterday and now it's ready for the world to see!

As always, I'll start with the befores.

This bathroom was a real piece of work, let me tell you.

It's split into two small rooms: the shower/toilet area, and the vanity/sink area.

Excuse the mess, we had just moved in here

It had the same white washed oak cabinets and beige formica countertops as the kitchen, and the old guest bath... they must have gotten a group discount.

And oh, the almond tile again... why???

Gotta have the matching almond toilet. Oh, same crusty white tile as the old kitchen.

But they opted for carpet in the vanity/sink room.

Make a note of that medicine cabinet for the 'after' pictures.

The view from the closet.

Back in November we decided to get this project started, and I put together a mood board (are they still calling it that?):

The look I was going for was coastal-modern-rustic-spa.

Once that was settled, we began ripping it out and putting it back together the right way:

I'll just skip through all the in between phases and get to the good stuff... I present to you, our completed master bathroom!

Building these frames for the mirrors was the last 10%, by the way. I'll do a quick writeup on that process laster in the week.

These lights are my favorite thing ever.

We converted the medicine cabinet to a recessed box. I built a shelf out of scrap wood and found these perfectly fitting vases (at Michael's) to store our bathroom essentials.

I slipped a couple flat seagrass baskets (also found at Michael's) underneath the floating vanity, and Brad installed LED lighting underneath.

I built this textured wood piece from lumber scraps. It's stained to match the mirror frames and recessed box shelf.

Moving onto the shower room....

To save money, we simply reglazed the tile from almond to a bright white for around $600 (it was $1200 to do both this room and the guest bath).

We found this clean and modern ORB shower set on Ebay for around $130.

Ahh... love me some long rain showers.

I found this shower bench at Macy's for $90. It was a perfect fit.

We swapped out the old beige toilet for a white dual flush version:

Then I installed a couple floating shelves (Lowe's) and topped them with more seagrass baskets (Walmart)

No renovation would be complete without Brad's in ceiling speakers and recessed LED dimmable lighting. There's one speaker in each room. And the crown molding was the final touch.

And there you have it.

I actually tried to keep a list this time to calculate our costs. Some of these are accurate to the cent, some are approximate... and I'm sure I've left some things off. Here goes...

Tile: $927.32  From a local retailer called the Floor Club. Floor tile: Bambu "Grigio", Glass/Marble accent tile: Eclipse "Eternity"
Tile installation: $477
Shower tile reglazing: $600
Vanity/Sinks/Mirrors (without frame): $910 Ebay
Vanity Lights/Bulbs: $152
Toilet/plumbing: $239
Ceiling & accent lighting: $169
Speakers: $50
Drywall: $145
Paint: $34 Behr's Reflecting Pool
Sink Faucet/Drains: $153.61
Shelves: $53.42 Lowe;s
ORB accessories: $51.29 Ebay
Drawer pulls: $30 Ebay
White square vases: $15 Michaels
Baskets: $30 Michaels
Towels: $10
Wood shelf divider: $10
Shower bench: $90 Macy's
Shower fixtures: $130 Ebay (no longer listed)
Wood art: $30
Crown Molding: $40

Total: $4436-ish... so even with the rough estimates and probability that I'm missing some things, I think it's still safe to say that this is another under 5k reno. Woohoo! I'm actually surprised the number came in so low... probably because this project has just been dragging on for-ever.

Be back tomorrow to announce the hand stamped necklace winner!