Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm a Kreativ, Sunshiney Karate Master

I have been so high on poly fumes busy working on things around the house that I haven't acknowledged some wonderful awards bestowed upon me by my fellow bloggers.  Without further ado, I want to thank these ladies for mentioning my little blog as one of their favorites! 
Early this month, I got the Kreativ Blogger award from my DIY soul-sister, Meg at House Notes.
Then, I got the Sunshine award from my almost-neighbor Kristi at Life at the Chateau Whitman.
Then, I got the incredibly funny 'Master of Karate and Friendship' Award from one of my newer blog reads, Nellie at McCarthy Designs.
I also realized a few days ago that I never put out a post when the lovely Jessica from Lavender and Lilies featured me on her site.....waaaay back in February!  Please check out that post here and also check out the rest of Jessica's blog, she is a fashionable girl, from her home to her clothing style.  Thanks again for the feature, Jessica!  And thank you so much to the other bloggers for thinking of me! 

Here are some blogs I'm getting into these days:

Thanks for the inspiration, and please consider this a 'triple-award' from me!

ps - I just noticed that Brittney at Our Poverty with a View gave me a little blog love earlier this month.  Good thing she was already on my go-to list! 

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pop it like it's hot

When we were preparing the floor for refinishing, I knew we were going to have a hard time getting such a dark stain to go down evenly on the light oak floors.  So, I did a little experiment with a technique called 'popping the grain'.  It involves evenly wiping down a newly sanded floor with a damp rag and letting it dry fully before staining.  It opens the wood grain to allow the stain to more deeply penetrate the wood.  To test the theory, I bought myself a cheap pine board from Home Depot's scrap pile.
I sanded it well and taped it down the middle, using a damp rag on the right side only.
After waiting for it to dry, I whipped out the stairway stain we were planning to use on the upstairs floors:
This color is amazing.  Until this came out, so many online message boards were filled with people trying to 'create' an espresso stain.  People were mixing minwax Jacobean and Walnut, Ebony and Jacobean, etc.  This is one-stop shopping for the perfect shade.  Just don't be scared that it looks BLACK on the rag!
And here is the end result after one coat of stain:
The water-popping really worked well to help the stain absorb more fully.  And this is just soft pine, so I knew it would look even better on our oak floors.  Here is Shaun 'popping' the floor, his drawers were also doing a bit of 'popping', so you can thank me for not showing that angle!  
We let the floors dry overnight and put down our first coat of stain the next morning.  The stain had to go on in stages.  We used a lambswool applicator to put down a thick layer of stain on 1 foot sections, and then went to the next room to do the same, giving each area about 8 minutes to soak into the wood.  It looked like this:
After the allotted time of 8 minutes (this is a highly scientific measurement.  Just kidding, I don't do anything scientific.  Unless you count me trying to cook things) we would go back and work the stain into the wood either in circles or simply against the grain, like so:
And then I would come in afterwards and smooth everything out with the grain.
And so it went...
Until the entire first coat was complete.  We weren't happy with the first coat, though.  Because of the age of the wood and various water issues, we had quite a bit of splotchiness.
We also found some spots where the old poly had not been completely sanded off, which meant a light stripe was showing through where the stain didn't absorb.  We ended up doing this to take care of the problem:
Resanding those areas wasn't ideal, but it helped to eliminate that tiger-striped look.  After the second coat, things were looking better.
Because a second coat of stain doesn't absorb as easily as the first, we waited a full 48 hours to walk on it or apply the poly.  Many experts say that you should never do a second coat of stain, because the wood has already absorbed as much as it can.  However, if you allow enough drying time, you can successfully apply a second coat.  Next week I will share the 'poly' and 'after' pictures! 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Refinishing the upstairs hardwoods

Ever since we refinished our stairs last year, the plan was to continue that sexy Espresso stain onto the upstairs hardwoods. We chose this week to work on this project, which is pretty bad timing as I just completed the Art Room and Dressing Room a couple months ago, and now all the trim and doors have to be repainted.  Story of my life!  We decided to refinish the hallways, master closet, art room and dressing room, leaving the three largest bedrooms to be done later on.  The first thing we did was take all of the stuff out of those rooms and pile it into the other bedrooms.  The mess is intense, but we're sleeping on a mattress in the living room, anyway.  It's like camping, only crappy.
The second task was to use painters plastic to wrap up all our vents, wall fixtures and doorways.  This took awhile, but is very necessary.  I covered all the walls in the art room because I didn't want that dust all over my flat-finish navy walls.  Don't ever choose ultra flat paint for dark walls, everything shows!
Doesn't the capiz light look...uh...interesting with the plastic? ha
And I got the frosted door I've always wanted, at least for a day...
Towels were shoved under the doorways to the remaining bedrooms.  When we were done with the large orbital sander, we opened the doors and removed the towels and plastic to sand the thresholds with the hand sander.  I recommend using an orbital because they are more forgiving than a drum sander.  See my full 'how-to' on refinishing floors here.  We had a couple helpers that allowed us to get everything sanded in about 6 hours!
The speed of their sanding was the only reason I approved a beer break.  Har har.   Thanks, Frank and JR!
It worked to our advantage that most of the poly was already rubbed off the floors.  The orbital sanding was quick, this photo was about 15 minutes into the sanding of this room, I almost didn't make it up there in time to snap a 'during' picture!
At the end of the day, it was looking like this:
And despite all our prep, our stairs still looked like this!
The stain saga is up next!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A zombie manicure

Free with every floor refinish.
Now I know why I don't paint my nails.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The 400 mark

I checked out my stats on Google reader today, and I made it to 400 subscribers! 
Now if I could just get my posts back up to 4 or 5 a week...

Thanks to everyone who is subscribed, and especially those who leave me comments, you help keep me motivated when I can't possibly pick up another paintbrush!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's mine, all mine

My dresser made it home - after a comical miscommunication that had my dad waiting at our house with the dresser for over 40 minutes while I ran all over the city trying to figure out where I was supposed to be!  It was a case of Technology Failure.  Or maybe it was cellphone etiquette - I didn't listen to his voicemail, and he didn't mention the change in plans when I called him back.  Whoops!  Either way, here she is:
I can't actually get it into the brown room right now because there is a bunch of stuff in there in preparation for another huge project I am getting started.  Can I start a few more projects, ya think?  I guess I like to tear my hair out on a daily basis.  Anyhow, I just love this thing.
I don't think it's an option to leave it as-is, even though I do like the way it looks already.
There are a lot of dings, deep scratches, weird gummy spots and paint transfers.  Goof off doesn't seem to get any of it off, either.  Way to live up to your name, Goof Off!   
Don't you just love those cute little legs?  Shaun is 100% against sanding it down and restaining.  I'm still not entirely sure it would work, I had about two seconds to take these pics before work today and haven't determined whether it is wood, veneer, laminate, etc.  Shaun and I both know what a pain it is to sand an entire piece down to the bare wood.   So does Kasey, as you may have already heard! 
But I don't really want to lose the cool swirls, markings and grain on it by simply painting, either. 
That little lady in the background is another piece I have to refinish.  Furniture seems to be slowly taking over my life!  Anyway, I'm thinking about my options, and I'm always up for cool inspiration pictures if you have any.  I dig the two-toned look where the drawer fronts are white and the legs and surround (and the handles?) are stained dark.... 
Like Abby's credenza:

Or Lindsay's Ikea side tables:
But for the wood purists out there, I am going to try out this stuff before doing anything: 
The people on Apartment Therapy swear by it, and if the existing finish can look fab after all, maybe I will keep it as-is!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sometimes I'm lucky

As a general rule, I'm very unlucky.  And I'm also pretty clumsy but we all knew that already.  This morning, I actually got lucky.  I was doing my morning sweep of Craigslist looking for a dresser, credenza or buffet to use as a TV stand in the den.  Usually, there is nothing that good or interesting.  But this morning at around 10:15, I saw THIS:
SHUT UP.  I instantly started sweating.  And my heart was pounding.  My mouth went dry.  I seriously thought I might faint because I wanted this dresser SO BAD.  It was mid-century, in great shape, perfect measurements, and cheap!  I instantly called the number to the thrift shop and had the following conversation, during which I kind of screeched at the poor woman:
Nice thrift store lady: Yes, we have it here. 
Nice thrift store lady:  Yes, that would be fine. 
Nice thrift store lady:  Ok, we're here all day so just come in whenever you can.

Then, I got off the phone and realized she didn't have my name or number and someone, ANYONE could just walk in there and buy MY dresser!  So, I did what any normal person would do...called back and gave her my info took my lunch break at 10:45, stopped at a Walgreens to get cash, sped through yellow lights and got there at 11am with cash in hand.  She said another girl had called right after me and she was worried that the other girl would get there before me.  Whoa.  Also, when I got there three other ladies were milling around opening the drawers on MY dresser!  I got there in the NICK OF TIME.  

I paid my $42, called my dad and screamed that I needed his truck ASAP asked him nicely if he could meet me at the thrift store at 5:15 with the truck, and then went to check out the dresser again.  There were more people looking at it.  Nice lady had put a sold sign on the mirror portion (which was priced separately and I wasn't buying it) so I found the price sticker on the dresser itself and wrote **SOLD** in pen, just to be safe.  I also contemplated taking a vacation day from work just to sit on the thing until my dad could come.     

I didn't do that, though.  I asked her repeatedly if it would still be there when I came after work, and she promised, gave me a receipt, and her cell phone number.  I still didn't want to leave.  I can't wait to get that baby home and refinish it! 

Now the big question....stain or paint?  I really wanted something to paint glossy white to lighten up the dark brown walls, but I don't think I can do that to this awesome piece.  It will live on this wall to the left of the door: 
Even with the dark walls, it would be rad to stain this bad boy a nice rich color like John and Sherry did with their very similar dresserIt is a nice thick veneer, so it definitely could be done.  I could even match it up to my floor stain instead of going darker. 
What do you think??

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The project that wouldn't die

I'm talking about the french doors that are supposed to hang in my entry, but instead have been banished to the basement for the last YEAR after an attempt to strip them failed miserably.  Embarassingly enough, I didn't touch them again after this post where I primed a whole ONE side of each.  You know they've been down there a long time when the best picture I have of them hanging is from right after we moved in, June of 2008:
Oh wait, I have this one too, dated 2/22/09:
All the pictures after this one are sans doors, so maybe it has been more than a year since we removed them?  Either way, I win for biggest procrastination on a project.  Now, we have to get them primed, painted, and hung back up this week
Why?  Because we have decided to tackle the refinishing of the upstairs floors next week, which means we have to be able to keep the cats downstairs.  The only way to do that is to rehang the french doors and close the door to the kitchen/back hall:
Because nobody wants to hear the crazy-renovator-chick screaming bloody murder after she discovers delicate little paw prints in her final coat of poly.  More on the refinishing project later!