Sunday, August 18, 2013

How I Measure Up...

No, this isn't some kind of deep soul searching, it's just the first thing that popped in my head when I clicked in the title box.

At the same time I bought the plywood boards for the dining room wall decor, I bought a third piece of wood for something usual, inspired by Pottery Barn Kids.
Hint: Not the barrel or the bookshelf
I wanted to make one of the ruler growth charts for the playroom.  There is this space on the wall in between the window and the door that goes into the garage that I knew would be perfect for something like this.  For once, the PBK version wasn't crazy expensive, it just wasn't what I wanted.  We have tall ceilings and the PBK version is only measurable up to 5'.  Also, theirs is fabric and I needed something a little more heavy duty.

I purchased a piece of wood 6' long and 10 inches wide.  It was about $8.  I also purchased a small can of stain in Classic Oak Finish.
Minwax is mah favorite but you can use what you want...
I like to use a rag to apply stain, I'm not sure if that makes me a hillbilly or not but 'when in Rome' or 'to each his own.'  I feel like both apply because in all fairness, I am kind of a hillbilly.  Also, I recommend wearing some gloves if you are using a rag because I learned a few projects ago that stain is a mutha to get off of your hands (Pro tip: If you're not gonna wear gloves, after washing your hands 9000 times,  cover your hands in baby powder to get rid of the mad stickiness).  I know there are other ways to get it off that require chemicals, but I was at home with my kids when I was doing this and needed a kid-safe way to make my hands less velcro-y.

So I did two coats of stain and sanded in between.  Next, I printed off the numbers 1-6 in a huge font size (maybe 70?) in MS Word.  I found it easiest to have each number on it's own page. 
Are you checking out my wood?
Next, I went along the entire board and made a little pen mark at every inch.  Then, using
a ruler, I made a 2-inch line for the 1/4 marks and a 1-inch line for the 1/8 marks up the entire board using a Sharpie paint pen.  This part is so incredibly easy and quick, but just make sure you are accurate with your save that second glass of wine for the next step.

Next, using a ball point pen, trace the outline of your numbers where you want them to go.  Press hard.  For real.  You'll be making an outline on the wood underneath so do whatcha gotta do.  Where there were knots in my wood (perv), I actually had to tear through the paper and mark onto the wood so I could see it.  Once you do that, it's coloring time. 
Find your outline on the wood, outline that shit with your marker, and color it.  Boom.
Continue to be mindful of your wine consumption or your numbers will be out of order...and good luck explaining that to your kids.

Don't judge me by my messy basement.
I started my markings at the 6 inch mark so essentially my growth chart has the potential to measure up to 6.5'.  To hang this baby, I recommend anchors because this shit doesn't play around in terms of weight.  Make sure you measure like a boss (or at this point, have someone else measure for you) or else you'll be lying to your kids about their height for the rest of their lives.  Because obviously if your house looks as good as mine they are going to live with you forever.  

Just kidding.

Growth chart in action

Tell me that spot isn't fucking perfect. 
Also, I had some large felt circles laying around and put one on each of the bottom corners so that this shit wasn't scratching up my walls.

Seriously, so damn easy.  The grand total for this was about $13.  Way cheaper, and way more my taste than my PBK Inspiration.  

So go ahead, get the cork outta that wine and get yourself going on one of these. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Table Takeover

My home decorating madness continues. 

Believe me when I say I was NOT in the market for an end table when this started.  End tables were certainly on my list, but I had plans to finish some other projects before starting yet ANOTHER one.  So I was dropping off a donation at Goodwill and something told me I should go in.  My kid. 

So we meander about, skimming dangerously close to naptime meltdown mode for Baby 2.0.  I happened to see an end table sitting on top of several other tables.  OH.MY.GOSH.  What I really loved about the table were the feet.  Oh, and the price tag.  $7.50.  The thing was solid wood and seemed to be in really good shape.  Such shape that, if I wanted to, I could leave the thing as is.  But y'all know better.
Look at this gem shining in the sunlight amongst the disaster that is my garage...

$7.50.  Seriously.  So I took to work immediately.  First, I sanded the shit out of the thing I'll call the bridge, the bottom part of the legs, the top of the table, and the sides.   I used an electric hand sander to do all this.  I knew I was going to prime this baby, so I didn't spend to much time trying to sand the little ornamental parts of the legs.  This might be a faux pas of flipping furniture, but I don't really care and no one asked you. 
Sanded and ready to party
Some days later (because I had to do other provide care for my kids..), I packed up the kids and went to Lowe's for some materials.  I had NO idea what color I wanted to paint the table.  All I knew is that I wanted the bottom to be antique white to match the console table that is also in the room.  I didn't want to do it teal because I am getting a little bit out of hand with the teal in my living room/dining room and I needed to bring in another color.  My initial thought was mint (even though there isn't much mint in the room).  And by that I mean none.

To keep costs down (my life story), I decided to use paint samples to do this project.  I needed something higher quality than craft paint and I didn't really want to use spray paint because of the two color thing I was going for.  I'm a Valspar girl, so I went with that.  The line for the paint counter was OUT OF CONTROL which allowed me to change my mind about eight times until ultimately I let Child 1.0 pick the paint color.  Not kidding.  The paint samples were on sale for $1.49 each and there is still a TON of paint left in there.

So the next step was priming.  The primer I use is a fast dry (surprise surprise) and I probably did three or so light coats.
This table is at it's prime!  Har har.

I should mention that I really loved the color of this primer.  Enough that I almost considered leaving the legs that color and just painting the top...except it's primer.  And it wouldn't match.  And it's primer.

Next, paint.  I found this small, weird roller in one of the garage cabinets and then grabbed a foundation brush that I've been using as a paintbrush and got to work.  Ready to see the color?!

This is after one coat...
In love.  The morning sun helped it dry quite quickly so I was able to get a second (and third) coat on pretty quick.
Coat #2
Coat #3...I also spy Child 1.0's legs...
But the party doesn't stop there.  I wanted to take a gamble on distressing this baby a bit.  I didn't want to sand any of the color off, but I DID want to add a brownish tint to the top and corners of the purple.  So I grabbed some old stain and a clean cloth and added some color here and there.
Probably really hard to see.  Just imagine it, ok?
Once that was dry, I sanded it with a super fine piece of sandpaper and carried this piece of work across the threshold to it's new home in my living room.  Hold on to your hats, bitches.

I'm squealing right now just thinking about the fact that this is my table.  And that I did it.  And it cost me about $11. 

So the next time you come over, ask me where I bought my table and act surprised when I say I made it.  Because seriously, look at it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Champagne Taste on a Barefoot Budget

So I've got all kinds of empty walls in this house.  Big walls, small walls, sad walls.  We've been here nearly seven months now and the lack of decor is making me batty.  This place is roughly 11x the size of our old place (ok, I'll settle for at least 2x) and I don't want to make the same mistakes as before and rush through the decorating process.

I subscribe to all the fancy decorating catalogs and create a hard-copy version of Pinterest by tearing out pages and then trying to recreate all the things I love.  Well I stumbled across this gem in the Home Decorators Collection catalog and seriously fell in love. 
Current price is $329
I don't know what it is about these, but they really struck a cord and I knew I had to have it.  The problem was, even with coupons, they're about $300 more than I wanted to spend AND it wouldn't match anywhere in my house.  It was crafting time.

The HDC version is 22"x20" and I decided I wanted these for my "big" wall in my dining room.  The color palette in that room is mostly teal and brown, with small pops of burnt orange.  Just trust me on that one.

I started this endeavor by venturing the wood department at Home Depot (which ironically owns HDC).  I found these 24"x24" plywood pieces for $6 a piece.  I probably could have saved a few bucks by buying a larger piece and cutting it, but sometimes I don't mind paying for convenience and this was one of those times.  I chose to do these on wood because I wanted the texture and grain to show through.  If you'd rather a smoother texture, I'd say to buy a couple pieces of foam board (available at Dollar Tree).  Since this was just plywood and not a fancy (see: nice) piece of wood, it would be light enough to hang using hanging teeth and I'd probably be safe enough to not have to use anchors.    The package of hanging teeth was $1.25 for three.  To play it safe, I decided to put two hanging units on each piece of plywood.  My total cost was up to nearly $15.00 (slow down there, girl!  Just kidding).

Wood in the raw.  Don't be a perv.
That 6' piece that is sharing the table is for my next project that I decided needed to be done simultaneously.  Hah.

So I used the remaining paint leftover from my ceiling medallion adventure because I wanted it to match the rest of the space.  The paint dried super fast and I could still see the grain through it when it was dry.
When they were done, I was feeling crazy so I decided to use the rag that I was using to stain my OTHER project with to give it a weathered/antiquey look.  I was taking a complete shot in the dark here, but I am really happy I tried it.  Beginners tip:  apply your stain all in the same direction at random.  
The one on the right has a little sumtin' sumtin' extra.

Closeup of the antique madness
Now came the fun part.  I don't have a fancy press printer to make home decor items, so I knew this shit was going to be quite labor intensive.  I figured my options were stencils, stickers, or stamps.  So, like the deep thinker that I am, I packed my children up and went to Michaels.  If you have children, it is important to bring them for this part because their rash, outlandish behavior will make you make quick, irrational decisions.  

After wandering the aisles looking for inspiration (or motivation?), I stumbled upon 1" vinyl letters in a decent font.  It wasn't cost effective to buy scrapbook letter stickers because of how many I'd need (and the fonts weren't quite what I was looking for), but I found the vinyl letters in the wood crafting department.  It came with over 500 letters and I gave it an educated guess and bought three packs.  I had a 20% total purchase coup, so these stickers were less than $5 a pack.

Current cost: $28 and some change

So I came home and got to work.  A reasonable person might have laid out some sketches or did some planning, but I have two kids running around and, as Sweet Brown said it, "ain't nobody got time for that..."

Wouldn't you know that three lines into the FIRST plaque (picture?)(piece?) I RAN OUT OF LETTERS.  Well when life hands you lemons, you get your X-acto knife from 2002 and make a goddamned stencil.  Shit was about to get real.

I'm aware that beggers is spelled wrong.  That's how HDC had it on their version so I just kept it that way

I decided that some inconsistencies would give it character.  Husband came outside and said it looked like a ransom note, but I assure you that's NOT the character I was shooting for.  I kept at it whenever I had free time.  To fill in my makeshift stencil, I used an oil-based Sharpie paint pen.  It dries shiny and sort of looks like vinyl.  Or something like that.  I ran out of 99% of my stickers before I even finished the first one, so I decided to stencil the 2nd one and use what little stickers I had left just to use them.  I considered buying another three sets of stickers just for uniformity, but I was going for that whole perfectly-imperfect shit so I didn't.  And I'm cheap.

Using a hammer and a paperclip (fo' real), I attached the hanging teeth on the back of each picture.  I used the paperclip to hold the iity bitty nail in place while I HULK SMASH'ed that shit.  Seriously, those nails are small.  I suppose you could spray some kind of clear coat if you want, but I didn't.

The wall I put these on is approximately 150 inches wide.  I found the mid point (75 inches, y'all) and then used that as my guide to put these up.  I am going to need to put more on the wall (considering these only take up roughly 33% of the space), but it was a good place to start.  Before I started, I thought about doing that thing where you put all the stickers on, paint it, and then peel them off to reveal the base color, but I wanted it to be more blue than black (or whatever 'dark' color one would choose).  I'm also glad I didn't because I ran out of stickers and to do the whole thing in stickers would have cost WAY TOO DAMN MUCH.  (But seriously, even if you did the whole thing in stickers, it would still be significantly less than what the ones from HDC cost).

So my finished product:

I obviously got the spacing down WAAAY better by the second board (plaque? picture? piece?) and considered redoing the first one, but for now I'm going to leave it.  Considering I already had the paint and stain, these babies are a straight up WIN in my book, costing under $30 to make TWO 24"x24" pictures...plaques...pieces.  Whatever.

More interestingly enough, these are just random sayings...some of which I didn't know the meaning.  While I was hovering over a table in my garage spelling each one out WORD for FREAKING word, I got to think about each one and, not to get all cray cray on you, it made the project that much more enjoyable to reflect on.

...Although I sure as shit am NOT making hay while the sun shines.