Loaded & Headed

Progress has been made in the guest/Handy Sammy’s room.  The shelves have been reconfiguredcurtains sewn, storage boxes made, storage needs assessed, and mini dresser refinished.  Taking the room from dark:Guest-Bedroom-Large-Window

To this brighter space:


Now to an almost finished room:


After clearing off the shelves, I edited the accessories, keeping only favorites and books.  Last week the shelves fully dried and I loaded everything back on.


Organizing books into genres, then arranged by color (ROYGBIV with white, gray and black at the end) makes it easy to find what we’re looking for.


Magazines organized by month in files at the bottom.


On the other side, Handy Sammy has four shelves (the vase, frame, and plant can easily be cleared) to store school books and papers, chargers, and his laptop.  A shelf at bed height also doubles as a night stand.


I’m guessing you noticed the blue headboard, too.  We thought about upholstering with a fun fabric, but the books and accessories on the shelves are already kind of busy for the small room.  And we didn’t want to lose precious space, even if it is only a few inches.  In this room, every inch counts.


Solid color seemed the best fit for the room.  I bought two yards of navy linen, brought it home and didn’t like it.  Too blue.  Then I heard our local Ace Hardware stores were giving free quarts of Clark + Kensington paint away one day only.  I chose a dark blue-green color (King’s Canyon), not knowing what I’d use it for.  Once I held the swatch up in the room, it seemed perfect for the headboard.  1/4 inch MDF is light weight and super thin, so I painted a few coats.  Ben hung it last night, covering the edges with pre-painted quarter round trim.


And he installed the second sconce we had ordered.


Making this little nook inviting and useful.


Next up, hang a light fixture.  Surprise, it’s a DIY creation I discovered yesterday.  Soon we will install crown molding, baseboard, and door trim.  Paint on the trim, ceiling, and walls (I’m STILL looking for the perfect color), we can call this room done.  Wow, this room is actually going quickly.

12 More Inches

Our guest bedroom (currently Handy Sammy’s room) is small.  Not even 10 feet wide by 11 feet long, including the foot deep bookshelf.  And it doesn’t get a ray of direct sun light, so it can be dark sometimes.

New-House-Guest-Bedroom April 13 2012

Add in furniture and fill the bookshelves and it’s one cluttered, dark little room lacking real storage and organization.


I found a pint-sized dresser, for more storage space.  But it took up valuable floor real estate.  And left a tiny walk way between it and the bed.


We had always planned to notch out the bookshelves, pushing the bed against the wall.  Spurred by the new dresser, we started a few weekends ago.  It took me an hour and five laundry baskets to clear off the shelves.Bookshelf-Contents-in-Baskets


We drew a quick sketch and talked about our plan and options.  And then Ben worked his magic and Sawzall.  It worked best for us to cut out the vertical supports, leaving the tops.


This allowed us to keep the shelves above the bed the same width and reuse the cut pieces as side supports.


The old shelves cut down to fit the narrower sides.


A new piece at the top framed out the bed opening.  To brighten up the room, we painted everything bright white.


For function, Ben added an outlet on either side of the bed, inside the bookshelf.


Sconces (these specifically, hung upside down, though I would have loved to have these if clearances weren’t an issue) replace the old table lamps, giving ample reading light while keeping clutter off shelves.


With the bed pushed against the wall, we gained 12 inches of floor space.


Obviously we’re not finished.  Here’s what’s still on my to do list:

Let shelves dry before loading contents back on

Find the right paint color (hence the Technicolor walls) – jeesh, finding a warm gold that isn’t too green or orange is tough!

Install new baseboard, crown, and door trim

Sew a bed skirt

Hang the headboard

Pick out an overhead light and install it

Refinished Bookshelf: Reveal

Last week I shared how I refinished an old wooden bookshelf for our boys’ room.  It wasn’t quite done then, but it is now and we love it.  Ben was skeptical when I started sanding, but he does admit that it’s pretty now.  I really love that we’ve brought new life into an old, seen-better-days piece of furniture, without paint.  Well, there is some paint.  The back panel had a little damage.

I knew I couldn’t fix the back and keep it stained, so I filled the damaged area with putty, let it dry, sanded, primed and painted everything.  After three coats of plain white paint, hours of drying, and a vacation in Minnesota, I was ready to finish what I had started.  Using a pin nailer, I carefully attached the 1/4 inch plywood back to the bookshelf.  I chose the pin nailer because it shoots nails that are literally the size of pins, without a head.  It’s great for small pieces that might split if larger nails were used. 

Once the back was secured, all that was left was to bring the shelf back inside.

Have you refinished a piece of furniture to give it a new lease on life?  Do you have any tricks or tips to share?

How To: Refinish a Bookshelf

We have this little bookshelf in the boys’ room.  My mom gave it to us, but it was originally her grandparent’s shelf.  It’s functional and cute, right? 

Well, it’s not so cute when the books have been removed; the finish has seen better days. 

The top was even worse, too!

We have had this bookshelf for three years (or more) and have never done a thing to it.  Until now, that is.  I finally got an itch to refinish this sad little guy. 

It all began with a random orbital sander.  I started by sanding the top with 220 grit paper to completely strip the stain finish.  Then, I worked my way down the sides, sanding with the grain of the wood. 

Once I had the top and outsides sanded, Ben removed the back and I worked on sanding the fixed shelves (both the top and under sides) as well as the inside walls. 

After completing all the smooth flat surface areas, I began the tedious, time-consuming task of hand sanding the detailed areas of fluted half round and the finials.  This involved 100 grit sandpaper, folded in half to get into the crevices of the fluting.  It took a good two hours to get the detailed areas sanded smooth, but I knew the end result would be worth it.

I wanted to keep the dark wood tone, so I bought a quart of Minwax Dark Walnut stain.   

Using a synthetic bristle brush, I began applying the stain in small areas to the shelves.  Working quickly, I wiped the area with an old, cut up T shirt to remove excess stain.  I kept a ‘wet edge’ of stain to prevent any overlapping that might make the color uneven.  I continued this process until the entire bookshelf had a coat of stain. 

I let the stain dry overnight.  Once Everett went down for his morning nap, Vincent and I went back to the garage to give the shelf one more coat of stain.  The second coat gave the rich, luxurious walnut tone I had in mind.

Now that I had the color I wanted, I needed to protect my hard work.  I applied two coats of Varathane Diamond Water Based Polyurathane satin finish to seal the wood and prevent scratches and future damage. 

Just a little note:  This was my first attempt to completely refinish a piece of furniture.  By no means am I an expert, but I think the bookshelf turned out pretty great.  It was time consuming, but not very difficult or expensive.  Speaking of expenses, I here’s a budget breakdown.

Sander and paper: $0.00 (already owned)

1 Quart Minwax Stain: $7.78

Varathane Polyurathane: $0.00 (already owned)

Total Spent:  $7.78


Sanding: 4 hours

Staining:  2 1/2 hours

Polyurathane Application:  2 hours

Total Time Spent:  8 1/2 hours

Not too shabby, huh?