Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Secret Cat House

Our sunroom renovation has officially begun.

Step #1: Get rid of this:

Any indoor cat owners in the house? I know you feel my pain.

This litterbox situation has been a seemingly unresolvable issue from day one. We don't have a traditional laundry room (which I assume would be the most common place to keep it), and we nixed the garage idea due to safety concerns (cats + cars = bad news).

This meant we had to find a place for it inside. In the beginning we kept it in the most unused, unseen place in the house: the guest bathroom (in the bathtub hidden behind the shower curtain). Of course, this was not a good long term solution.

When it got cooler outside, we relocated her to the sunroom which seemed to be a better solution, but still only temporary.

We had tossed around the idea of some sort of external box that she could access through the house. This would not only eliminate the ugly plastic box out in the open, but the smell seeping into the room as well (let's face it... cat waste is foul).

After trying to find a premade box, we realized our dimensions were too specific and we had to custom build it.

So I measured and sketched out a plan:

And we headed to Home Depot to grab our supplies: 1/2" and 3/4" MDF, roof shingles, cat door, litter pan, liquid nails, and spray foam (we had the rest at home). Total cost came to around $75.

We had the square pieces of wood cut to size, and we cut the angled sides with a jigsaw at home (we made the roof angled for easy water runoff.)

Here is the construction process, demonstrated in pictures:

Woohoo, it fits!

Once everything was screwed together, we gave it a few coats of paint for extra wood protection (and also to make it prettier).

As the paint was drying, we got started on the roof.

We picked up a couple sample shingles for $2 each, which was just the right amount for this project.

A couple nails on the edges was all it took.

Once in place, we trimmed off the excess (this stuff cuts like butter):

And our box was done!

The next step was fabricating a door (along with a kitty door inside of that).

We used the kitty door template and traced the hole...

and Brad cut it out with a jigsaw:

Ok, so it wasn't the straightest cut... but it would be hidden so it was good enough. (Maybe I'll try cutting next time).

Back inside, we measured our opening and used the jigsaw to cut a hole in the sunroom wall.


Stop laughing at our vertical blinds... Brad doesn't want to part with them yet for some reason.

Outside, we wiggled our box into place...

And used bricks to set it flat and level against the house.

For a waterproof seal, we applied weather stripping around the opening and drilled long screws from the inside to secure it to the house. Brad also applied caulk and foam all the way around the outside. I think it's safe to say nothing is getting into this box!

I know... this line isn't straight either.... luckily it's hidden also!

Perfect fit!

The last step was drilling the door into place. We used simple white self closing hinges, so the door pulls shut on its own. No knob or latch needed.

And finally, I touched up the screws with white paint to make everything blend in so it's as low profile as possible.

Sidenote: We don't anticipate it getting too hot in there because it's in a shady area and has the roof shingles for extra protection—but if we determine it's uncomfortable for her, and/or the smell seeps into the room, we're going to install a computer fan into the back of the box to keep it circulated.

And that, my friends, is our solution to a stinky cat situation. I'm so happy we actually pulled this thing off. Even though it's far from perfect, I am proud of our efforts and feel like we are becoming better DIY'ers. And I think my former-carpenter dad would be proud.

I think Susie digs her new room (and privacy). She's already pooped in it a few times.

Now we can start focusing on the big stuff. There's a drywaller and electrician coming on Thursday to rip out our sagging ceiling and add some fresh new drywall. We plan to install recessed lighting and in-ceiling speakers, which will finally make the room inhabitable. Then it's new tile flooring!

Let the fun times begin...

Friday, March 23, 2012

DIY Moss Letter

Yes, I'm still alive!

I apologize for the lack of action around here—I've been enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. It's been in the 80's with low humidity and nothing but sunshine. That means one thing in Florida: Spring is here!

To make our house a bit more festive for the season, I decided I needed something green. Then I saw this:


And this...


....and this:


And I had to have my own. So I headed to Joann's and grabbed my supplies: A large letter (D, for our last name) and roll of moss, which came to just over $20 after a 40% off one item coupon (the moss was expensive! $18 for a roll. The letter was cheap, I think $8). You'll also need hot glue and scissors.

I was quite excited about this project. Coming from a graphic design background, type has always been close to my heart. Typography was my favorite class in college, and I always have to walk by the aisle with big letters when I'm at craft stores. I'd been waiting for the day to do something with one for a long time.

Back at home, I laid out my supplies and got to work.

Step 1: Roll the moss flat and lay your letter down. Figure out the best configuration on how to cut your moss. Luckily, I was able to use one entire piece for my letter which made things a bit simpler.

I then traced my letter with a sharpie:

Cutting through this stuff was easier than I had expected (and I was using crappy scissors).

Once the main shape was cut out, I measured the depth of my letter, and cut a bunch of strips to size so I could wrap them around the sides.

Once everything was ready, I simply applied my hot glue (liberally) and smoothed everything down in place. I have no shots of this part because I couldn't risk the glue drying... but you get the idea, right?

This project is not at all as daunting as it may seem, because the moss is forgiving and easy to manipulate. Cut the moss too long? No problem, trim the edges. Too short? Easy fix, just break off a few pieces and glue it in place. The moss blends really well with each other so the seams aren't very visible, and it's easy to patch.

I had the perfect spot for it, too:

The wall is lonely no more.

And there you have it. Spring decor. (I think I'll keep it for a while though).

In other news, Santa Claus (aka the Ikea delivery truck) arrived yesterday.

They brought me this:

Do you like it? I think it's just what the room needed. It's actually what I've desperately needed since the day we moved in. This is the only full length mirror we own... so I've never left the house knowing what the bottom third of myself looked like. Crazy, right?

I'll still have to run into the living room every time I need to check my outfit, but it's better than nothing!

Full length mirror + big D = happy Jenna.

(...I know, that sounded horrible. You dirty minds.)

Off to start my weekend... hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy some spring weather! I'll be back with more living room/sunroom and/or bedroom progress.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DIY Upholstered tufted headboard

I'm here today to talk about a long overdue project I completed over the weekend: a headboard for our bed!

I took my time figuring out exactly what I wanted for this one (over a year, to be exact), and I think it's a perfect fit for our room.

I found a handful of tutorials such as this, this, this, and this, began to gather my supplies.

First thing to get was a large piece of MDF from Lowe's (around $20, they cut it to size for me). We have a King size bed, so the measurements were around 78x35 for ours (I actually could have made it a few inches narrower though)

Next, I stopped by Walmart to pick up a few foam mattress toppers (the tutorials said it was much cheaper than 2" or 3" foam, and worked just as well). I wanted it extra thick, so I grabbed three for $10 each, and then headed to the fabric section just for kicks.

And then, I saw it:

It was beyond perfect. Not only was it $2.50/yard, it was the perfect mix of grey and tan and woven texturedness I had dreamed of. I knew I wanted something natural and woven, and not the typical orangey-yellow burlap, but more of a soft gray. I seriously lucked out with this one.

And look, it matches our couch!

I bought 2.5 yards, along with a roll of batting and the three mattress covers. The total came to around $50, but luckily I still have some Christmas gift cards leftover... so my total: free.

Next I headed to Joann's and picked up the rest of my supplies:

A button cover kit, decorators needle and upholstery thread. It was around $13 (after a coupon) for these.

Once home, I laid out my fabric and ironed it out as best as I could (this is an important step that people tend to forget):

Once it was nice and smooth, I began drawing my template for the headboard shape. I used a large piece of cardboard, measured to the center of my headboard, and made the cardboard exactly half the width it. I then freehanded the curved shape I wanted:

Once I was happy with it, I used an Xacto knife and traced over the line, then traced the shape onto my board:

Then I lined it back up to the middle, flipped it over, and repeated:

The next morning I woke up to find Brad in the garage, cutting the shape with our wireless jigsaw.

Unfortunately, wireless power tools are worthless, and it only got this far before the battery died:

So he borrowed our neighbor's jigsaw to finish the job.


The edges weren't perfect.... which isn't a huge deal, but I took my hand sander out and smoothed out a couple small areas just to be safe.

Next it was time to measure for the buttons. I decided to go with two rows: 3 on top, 4 on the bottom, in an alternating pattern.

I already had my center line marked out, so it was an easy process from there. I placed them 15" apart from each other, made my marks, and drilled holes all the way through.

Here's a visual of the intended placement:

Next came the hardest part of this entire project... trying to arrange the foam and cut them all perfectly to size.

But there was a problem.

I didn't pay attention to the length when I bought them... oops.

So I had to revert to plan B: using just two layers, and cutting a small section to fill in the gap from the third.

Luckily, the width was the exact height of the headboard... I lucked out here.

The problem with these things though is that they are flimsy, don't lie completely flat, and the factory edges are not straight at all. Also, I don't think I had the right tools to cut these... I was using a steak knife.

Here is a tip: apply pressure to the foam when you are cutting. The flatter and more condensed it is, the easier it will be to slice through.

After a good 30 minutes though, I finally had everything as smooth as I could get it, and it was time to wrap it all up with batting.

I lined everything back up as best as I could, set the batting down, trimmed the excess off around the edges, and stapled it up.

And it was starting to come together!

I repeated the batting process with the fabric, and then it was ready for tufting:

I went inside to figure out this button covering process, which was actually really simple...

After all 7 were completed, I headed back into the garage and got to work. I don't have any in-progress shots of this because Brad wasn't home, but here is the basic process: thread the needle, attach a washer to the end, push it through the hole and through the button, come back through the same hole, pull it tight, use a staple gun to hold the thread down, and wrap back around through the washer and around the staple to secure. After breaking the threads a couple times from pulling too hard, I double threaded my needle (so there was 4 strands). Make sure to push the needle through as straight as possible, so your buttons stay level.

Finally, I attached a french cleat (my favorite method of hanging large objects... super easy!)

I measured and attached the other half to the wall:

And we had ourselves a headboard!

After this pic was taken, we ended up spraying some of the areas down with wrinkle releaser, which smoothed everything out perfectly.

And now, for the first time ever, this bedroom has a headboard!

<insert big sigh of relief here>

Now for the cost breakdown (these are rough estimates, since I suck at keeping receipts)

MDF board - $20
Fabric, batting, foam: $55
Buttons - $13
total: $88
-$55 gift card: $33

$33 for an upholstered tufted King size headboard... I'll take it!

Now, I was also planning on hanging some artwork to complete this bed wall project. Remember the mockup I drew last week?

Well, I changed my mind. The headboard is actually a bit more massive than this picture, and the frames would almost touch the ceiling. I think it would just be too much, and I need something a bit more delicate to fill the space.

After much deliberation, I decided a nice simple piece of driftwood would be the perfect touch... a la Holly of Life in the Fun Lane:

I hear these things are plentiful at our beaches... now I just have to go find one!

And lastly... I present to you, our next project:

Meet our sunroom. We haven't done a single thing to it since we signed the papers on this house... except throw all of our unused furniture and a cat in there. It's currently being used as my photo studio, the cat's litterbox/playground, a storage facility for my surplus shipping materials, and a passthrough to the backyard.

It needs some serious help.

Remember how we road tripped to Ikea last weekend to get frames?

We didn't get just frames.

I came up with this brilliant seating configuration for this room that would not only allow for plenty of seating, but it would create room for four guests to sleep.

We bought two of these Brimnes Daybeds, which I'll arrange into an L shape:

And turn into beds when guests come:

The Ikea delivery truck is scheduled to arrive one week from tomorrow, so we'll be anxious to get these set up.

We also decided on a new flooring solution because that carpet had to go.

In my beach house dream I'd have white plank wood floors, but because of the humidity and temperature changes in the room, hardwood was not an option.

What's the next best thing? Tile that looks like wood!

We stopped by the tile shop and I pretty much knew immediately that this was "the one" when I saw it:

It's a soft warm grey-ish porcelain tile with a slight texture to it. I love it.

Here it is in front of another wide plank tile I was looking at:

Here's a shot of it installed:

I think this picture lies though, because the tile is not that gray. It actually has a lot of warm beige tones mixed in, but we'll see. I think it will look amazing either way.

We would need around 190 square feet, and the total (after our 50% discount for using their installer) comes to $756. We were quoted another $400 or so for installation, plus grout. That means it will be around $1200, but worth it I think. This poor room deserves it for looking this pitiful for so long.

Whew, ok, I think that wraps it up for this week. We're both excited to start this new sunroom project, and there's a ton of work to be done... so stay tuned!