Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hang it up

I did something small.  It's probaby not worth mentioning, but here it is anyway.  When it comes to picking up clothes, I'm lazy.  And messy.  And lazy.  I need to say that twice.  I hate hanging things up, so I end up throwing everything on doorknobs and random things like, uh... the vacuum.  So I bought three of these double robe hooks from Menards for a buck each: 
And then I took a half hour to screw them into the back of our closet door.  I still need to address the brassy hinges and doorknob.  Le sigh. 
I was pretty psyched to have more ways to be lazy, so I immediately hung up all the 'painting clothes' and other items that we wear several times before washing - finally freeing up our upstairs doorknobs.   
I'm honestly not sure if I've done a good or bad thing! 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yep, a post about beer.  Because I need a mental (and physical) break from the damn bookcases that are sucking the life out of me.  We do have all the shelf cleats up and are still making progress, but I'm tired of talking about it.  Let's talk about the Great Lakes Brewfest that we went to a couple weeks ago instead!  Beer helps you through any project, right?
It took place at Racine's Festival Park, on the beautiful Lake Michigan shore.  They had over 90 craft breweries for our drinking pleasure, and Lakefront Brewery even had a dude walking around with a keg on his back so you didn't have to wait in line!  That is service.
We made some pretzel necklaces to make sure we didn't get drunkity after an hour, you can see my really long necklace in this picture of me with a dude wearing a ladies shirt.
It says "I bet you wish these were filled with beer" across the chest.  I couldn't resist a picture with this stud!  We made some new friends...
And checked out the boats, even though it was rather chilly that day. 
Then I asked Shaun to take a picture of me with my beer, and this unflattering little photoshoot happened:  
But I finally managed to look normal for the last one. 
And then we got a nice one together, even though ALL THE PRETZELS WERE GONE and we were still drinking.  Watch out!
One of our new friends looked a bit like Shaun when he's sporting longer hair and a mustache, so we took a very serious picture at a bar post-festival to document their twin-dom. 
Watch out, they will cut you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More bookcase progress

We spent a lot of time sanding the plywood and caulking all the seams on our bookcase framing.  Observe:
We also used wood filler on the holes in the plywood and 'counter top' because it is sandable and caulk is NOT.  Have you ever used caulk and later tried to remove the extra crap you left behind?  FAIL.  Use wood filler, or even simple wall spackle works!  We also primed.  
And here is proof that I am the muscle behind all these projects.  I was at it for at least an hour longer than Shaun, who was lounging in the living room before he meandered in here to snap my photo.  Pshhhhht!
Booty booty booty!  I may have been dancing to 80s music during this shot.  Anyway, we got the entire thing primed with two coats of BIN and it looks NICE! 
Why do I insist on using BIN?  Because this stuff sands like nothing else.  Yes indeedy.  When it's time to paint, you sand everything with 320 sandpaper.  It gets so smooth, it's like Nicole Kidman's forehead.  I'm not kidding!  We used it on the shelves as well.  The lawn guy came to spray while I was out here and promptly left, muttering he would come back later.  Ha!
Like Jenny, I decided to use Ace Cabinet and Trim paint on everything.  I used semi-gloss white, and I am very happy with the way the shelves turned out.
Most of the brush strokes level out while drying, and I think the glossy factory-like finish will be fabulous on the bookcases.  It's a little stinky and runny, but man the result is nice!  We will be cutting and attaching the shelf cleats this weekend, and hopefully will get a coat of paint on everything as well.  Has anyone else used this paint?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bookcase progress

When deciding on materials for the shelving portion of our bookcases, we had quite a selection to choose from at our local Menards store.  Sorry, I couldn't resist this hysterical pic of Ray the 'Menards guy!'
For shelving, there's MDF, laminate, oak, hardwood plywoods like birch, specialty boards like ash or maple, and pine.  We didn't want to use laminate because all the other built-ins in our house are wood.  We couldn't use oak or specialty wood because it would've set us back a ton.  Despite them being excellent products for this application, we decided against 3/4 inch plywood or MDF because it would've been a royal pain to cut to size.  Menards does not do cuts for customers, so we would've had to bring the 4x8 sheets elsewhere.  That was not going to happen, since we don't even own a truck.  We ended up with 1x10in 'select' pine boards.  They were gorgeous and knot-free!
They did cost lots of monies - almost $20 a board for 8ft lengths.  But they were already the width we wanted, and the portions we cut off after creating the shelf support frames could be used for shelves.  Some people think that pine doesn't make good shelving because it's too soft, but with the proper prep and finish, pine can be just as durable as oak.  We created the support frames using 52 inch pieces of the pine boards with a 1/4 inch plywood backing. 
Hager chose to stagger the plywood backing among the frames, which was not something I wanted.  I didn't want to see seams in the plywood on the backs of the bookcases, but he was trying to avoid us needing another piece.  So, we will make the best of it with wood filler. 
Here is the last frame awaiting installation.
And it was put in place that evening. 
The vertical shelf supports line up with the cabinets, for the most part.  The two cabinets on the ends are 12 inches wide, while the middle four cabinets are two-door 30 inch wide cabinets.  We chose this combination because the wall was 12ft 1.5in long, so 144 inches of cabinets would be almost perfect.  We did have to add a filler piece to the right side, as they were a little short. 
The next steps are priming and putting up the shelf cleats.  Lucius approves of the project so far, which is good since I'm sure he will ultimately be sitting up there when it's completed.   
Can you see it coming together?  We are so excited!  PS - Hager did not help us just because he is an amazing person.  He helped us because we paid him.  Just wanted to clear that up for all you (unnecessarily) jealous people! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's build something

Back when we were redoing the future den/tv room in March, I had a very crazy idea for the long back wall of the room.  Shaun, of course, wanted to paint it and call it a day.  Not me. 
I needed to make our life very complicated by creating a 12-foot-long built-in bookcase along this wall.  With cabinets on the bottom.  And baseboards and crown, naturally.  Like this:
Easy DIY, right?  I immediately went to Menards and bought some oak kitchen wall cabinets to use as the base.  They were reasonably priced, 12 inches deep, 30 inches high....and perfect for extra storage.  We primed them outside, excited about the project.  I think.    
Thinking this was going to be a breeze, we pried off the baseboard along the wall and laid out some 2x4's as a platform for the cabinets - they needed to start 5 inches off the ground to allow the baseboard to run underneath. 
We had a beast of a time trying to notch out the baseboard along the sides of the wall.   The baseboards were very solid wood, and the plaster was not impressed with our efforts to cut them mid-wall.  In fact, it was a jerk.
Here is a mockup of the platform the cabinets would sit on.  The 2x4s would be stacked together, the two pieces stacked on opposite ends equal 5 inches:
And here is where our project stopped.  We just couldn't wrap our heads around all the steps to get this things started.  Some of our questions were:
  • How to secure the platform? 
  • How to maintain the cold air return and all the outlets on the wall?
  • How to put a top on the cabinets that spanned a 12 foot 1.5 inch wall?
  • How to build the shelving with a plywood backing, and how to secure them to the wall and the cabinets? 
  • Adjustable shelves, or fixed?
We fought about it quite a bit, and then finally, Shaun called in a buddy to help us out.  Hager drove from IL to stay with us for a week, and built this thing!  Here he is measuring and building our cabinet platforms:
The cabinets were starting to get secured to the base in no time...
Before long, he had them all in:
I was so excited!  Since we were building over the entire wall, I had to write some little messages just in case anyone would ever see them. 
I love the note Shaun wrote to his friend.  I suppose it had been 6 months that this room has been in shambles, we were both really sick of not making any progress.  Hager was crying when he read it, though. 
Just kidding, I think he was wiping away his manly sweat.  Or trying to avoid the camera.  Or shaking his head at me.  Whatever.  Let's look at that top!
Because the wall is so long, we couldn't find a board long enough that was at least 13 inches wide.  We ended up ripping down these 16" edge-glued pine boards with the table saw.  We had to use three to cover the entire length, I hope my wood filling skills are good enough to cover the seams!
Next week I will share the shelving process.  Also, why do I always pick these impossible projects?! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bathroom refresh

On a whim, I decided to 'summerize' our main bathroom....just in time for fall.  I'm so on top of this crap.  Anywhoodle, it used to look all black and classy like this:
I thought it was taking itself a little too seriously, so I went to World Market and bought this totally random shower curtain:
It has some of the aqua green from our wall paint in the pattern, so I went for it.  Then of course I had to add some yellow accents, so here you go:
Eeek, the lighting is hard to photograph, I promise the rug matches the walls and the wall color is an awesome vintage green (Behr Aquatone). 
The window shade is a badly cobbled-together mistreatment.  I didn't take detailed pics of the process, but it amounts to some (impossible to iron) natural cotton duck fabric, aqua ribbon, stitch witchery, and many pins and stiches. 
Unfortunately, it is still wrinkled and the folds are crooked, but I'm no Centsational Girl, so I had to make peace with my mediocrity.  Dig?
I found the monogram candles on clearance at Pottery Barn.  All they had left was vowels, so now Shaun gets to make jokes about what I owe him every morning.  What a scream. 
My last lilies from the yard are in a Crate and Barrel vase, along with my beloved Fresh Lemon candle from Bath and Body Works, why can't they have it all year? 
Someday, I will have a granite counter in here and a mirror that isn't held on with plastic clips, but for now it works.  For more on the bathroom's hidden secrets, click here.