Bow & Arrows

After deciding to paint the backs of the entertainment center yellow, I decided to add pops of yellow in the living room to tie everything together.  My first focus, pillows.  Redesigning the blog inspired a  pattern.  Flipped and repeating arrows.

Of course, I had to make the design.  In Photoshop, I altered the background design for a more suitable stencil.  Enlarging, beefing up the lines and shortening the overall design gave me a good base.

I opened a new page, copied, pasted, and rotated the arrow design 45 degrees.  To make a repeating design, I duplicated my arrow layer and flipped it horizontally.  When I like the placement, I merged my two arrows together and duplicated that layer, this time flipping the design vertically to make this design:

Printing to plain paper gave me my template.  I had transparency sheets on hand, but you can pick up a package at an office supply store.  Taping the template to the underside of my clear sheet made cutting a crisp design quick and easy.

Once I finished cutting my stencil, I gathered my fabric supplies; yellow duck cloth, fabric paint, a foam brush, paint tray, and my new stencil.

I’d suggest marking both the center of your fabric and the center of the stencil.  Making reference points for a repeating pattern would be a good idea, too.  Eyeballing this design wasn’t difficult, but a more intricate design might be.  So, remember that when making a stencil.  Then, starting at the center, I worked my way toward the edges.

Fortunately, the fabric paint dried quickly, but I did cut the edges of my stencil to make overlapping easy.

After the paint completely dried (about 20 minutes later) I cut two pieces of yellow fabric to make an envelope closure style pillow.  Now we’ve got a completely custom pillow on the couch.

Time to start thinking about curtains, but that could be an entirely different post.  So many options, so little time.  What have you stenciled recently?  Walls?  Pillows?  Maybe you’ve been sewing?  Whatcha making?  Or are you starting curtain planning?  Let’s discuss.

Cut Out Map

Personal art is something I love having in my home and something I really enjoy making.  Last year, I made a cut out map of Savannah, Georgia, where Ben and I honeymooned.  Patricia from PVE and I traded art, and she requested a map cut out of New York.  Well, I’m at it again, this time with our home town.  It started when I decided to clear some of our junk from the basement.  After hanging the Savannah cut out in the living room, I looked around at our bare walls.  Specifically, these matching bare walls on either side of the dining room doors.

Wanting to prominently display my hard work, I decided to make the Savannah cut out a set.  I complied images from Google maps to map out our town.  After piecing the pages together in Photoshop, I adjusted the size until I had my design perfect.  To save ink, I made a street overlay, which is just a new layer that I trace the lines over.

If you want to make your own cut out, it would be easier to take your map to a print shop (even Kinkos, now FedEx Office), enlarge it to the size you want, and print it on plain paper.  Basically, I’m lazy and cheap, so it is easier for me to make the overlay, divide it into 8 by 10 print sheets and tape my papers together, like this:

I use that printed design as a template by taping the edges on top of my nice paper.  Then I cut.  And cut.  And cut some more until my fingers hurt and my hand cramps.  If that doesn’t make you want to try this, I don’t know what will.  Haha.

At first, the boys colored next to me while I worked.  When they get bored, I’ll take a break to play with the kids or clean up the house and come back to it.  Honestly, I don’t know how long this took because I worked on it when I felt like it and when if was convenient.  Maybe six hours total for a 14 by 18 design?

Once my design is completely cut out, I carefully peel back the template.  Because I already had one framed map, but not another frame to match, I bought two 22 by 28 inch plain wood frames from Hobby Lobby for 35 bucks thanks to a 50% off sale.  Not the prettiest frames, but spray paint can fix that.

While at HoLo, I bought two sheets of mat board to cut a new mat for each frame and a sheet of dark gray paper to back my map.  And here’s the newest art addition in our abode.

With Savannah flanking the other side of the doors.

Eventually we’ll need a dining table to make the space look more like a room.

For now, I can admire new art in a substantial frame and mat.

V loves to point out some of the roads and knows where our house (and the old house!) are.  Which means he approves of the art.

What art have you made lately?  Cut out designs?  Perhaps a painting?  Feel free to share, I’m always needing art.

Bag of Health

We’ve never had a bathroom that didn’t have drawer storage.  So, I’m working on a few ideas to make the main bathroom as functional as possible, sans drawers.  I’m still searching for the perfect baskets, but I decided to make a zippered bag to store first aid supplies.  To get started, I bought a yard of silver metallic ironing board cover (hey, it was cheap, durable, and shimmered) and a 12 inch blue zipper.

Knowing I want to fit all our first aid supplies in one bag, I cut two pieces of fabric 12 inches wide by 17 inches long.  Yes, this is going to be big.  Then, I placed my fabric on the table, right side up.  Lay the zipper over, face down, keeping the bottom edge of the zipper flush with the bottom edge of fabric.  Pin in place.

If you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine, now is the time to use it.  I thought I did, looked all over for it, and couldn’t find it.  Instead, I sewed the zipper on by hand.  Sew close to the zipper without running into it.

Once you’ve sewn one side on, add the second piece of fabric putting the right sides of the fabric together.  Sew along the zipper edge again.    When the fabric is folded over, right sides out, the zipper will have a nice clean edge.

Because I sewed this by hand, I went back over and added top stitching with my machine, following along the edge of the fabric for a straight line.

Now face right sides of the fabric together and pin along the bottom.

Sew along the edge, leaving a half-inch allowance.  Unzip your zipper few inches-this is crucial to turn it right sides out when you’re done.  Leave the fabric wrong side out.  Pin the edges and sew a straight line, a half-inch from the edge.  Do this to both sides.

If you were to turn it out right now, you’d have a flat bag.  To give it a boxy shape, pinch the corners together.

I found it easiest to put one finger in the corner of the bag, holding it upright, then flattening the point like this:

Your point will be perpendicular to the edge seam.  Pin the corners to hold in place.

For my first corner, I made a straight lone across and sewed along the line.

Then I measured my width and marked the three remaining corners at five inches, just like my first one.

After sewing all four corners, cut about a quarter-inch above.

Then fill your bag up with cosmetics, travel toiletries, or first aid supplies.

To make a different sized bag, keep this in mind:

  • The zipper length will determine how big the bag is from front to back.  I had a 12 inch zipper, so I cut my fabric 12 inches wide.  For an 8 inch zipper, cut your fabric 8 inches wide.
  • The length of the fabric will change how wide it is from side to side.  I cut my fabric at 17 inches, which is really wide.  For a size more like a regular cosmetic bag, cut the fabric between 8 and 12 inches.
  • For a boxier bag, widen your corners.  I pinned mine at 5 inches, which I think would be perfect for a cosmetic bag, but that can change.

Center of Attention

We’re all over the house lately.  Last weekend we worked on the bathroom.  Ben took a few days off last week to start the slow process of tearing cedar shakes off the roof in preparation for new asphalt shingles.  Local weather forecasters gave an 80 percent chance of rain on Saturday morning, so Ben chose to work inside.  {Have you ever noticed weather forecasting is the only profession you can be wrong 90 percent of the time and not get fired?  It didn’t start raining until five in the afternoon.}  Not wanting him to get burned out with a single project, I told him to work on anything he wanted.  Of course, his man-stincts (man instincts) kicked in and he started our entertainment center.  In most American homes, the entertainment center is the center of attention.  Am I right?

After building a few bookshelves, entertainment centers, and cabinets, we’ve figured out the quickest, easiest, squarest (totally a word) way to build.  Following that same process, Ben and Handy Sammy cut pieces of cabinet plywood to size and assembled three 33 inch wide by 30 inch tall by 24 inch deep boxes.

Yes, that is one huge entertainment center.  We considered a smaller size, but the living room can handle it, and we spend plenty of time here.  For everything to look built-in and sit flush with the wall, Ben pried the baseboard off the wall.  Then he started with the toe kick frames.  Two by four boards on edge are strong and a perfect height.

Though built-in furniture lends itself to being permanent, we didn’t want to damage the floors if we decided to pull this out down the road.  Instead, Ben used long screws to hold the toe kick frames tightly against the wall, securing to studs.

Before going any further, Ben ran wiring from an outlet to add another behind the TV.  Just after this, he decided to add spacers between each box to beef up the frame he’ll add.

The spacers aren’t anything intricate, just pieces of 1/2 inch thick scrap MDF strips at the front and back.

Before attaching the cabinets to the base, Ben screwed the boxes together.  This helps keep the entire piece level, rather than adjusting the individual pieces.

My biggest concern with a large cabinet is walking space.  We’ve still got about 4 feet between the stairs and the edge of the cabinet.  Plenty of room to move.

That’s where we’re at now.  Bubinga left over from our kitchen remodel will go on top with open shelving above and on either side of the TV.  In the future, we might get a bigger TV, so we’re leaving a 64-ish inch opening.  Drawers below is a new thing for us.  But it seems just as functional as a cabinet.

While looking for paint color inspiration, I found this pretty media center; similar to our plan.

I mentioned before that this thing is a beast, but pictures can show that better.  The five foot wide bookshelf turned media cabinet looked tiny.

Now the TV looks little.  Ha.  And that red has to go.  One step at a time.

If only I could decide on a paint color.  White is always an option, but I don’t know if I’m sold on it.  We loved the wood paired with warm gray, but I’m fairly certain I’ve settled on Wood Smoke for the walls.  South facing windows let in a lot of natural light, but I don’t know I’d like a black entertainment center.  Wood is out of the question because we’re using MDF.  Then again, I could paint it white and paint the backs of the shelves a poppy color.  Yellow maybe?  Green?  We’ll carry the room crown molding over the top and I don’t want that to look strange against a color.

Do you have any color suggestions?  Have you painted the back of a shelf for color in a safer place?

Stone Cold

Here’s the much requested stone counter cutting post.  Let’s dive in.  Well, not literally because smashing your head into the counter doesn’t sound like fun.

To cut your own stone counter top, you’ll need:

  • A skill saw with diamond blade
  • A right angle grinder with diamond blade and stone polishing pads
  • Clamps
  • A straight edge
  • A hose with running water
  • A GFI protected outlet
  • Saw horses or another system to hold the stone up
  • Protective gear for eyes, ears, mouth, and nose

Now you know the ingredients, let’s get to the instructions.  If you need to cut length off your stone, first mark where you want to cut.  Then, measure the guard of your skill saw.  Clamp a straight edge factoring in the width of your guard.

While wearing protective gear, slowly and carefully cut along your guide.

Now you’re ready to start polishing.  Ben asked the local granite companies for their used polishing pads, so ours were free.  To get a new set, check the link above or search ‘granite polishing pads’ to find a better deal.  Here’s what the pads look like:

For a polished finish, the pads work best wet.  Ben clamps a slow running hose to the counter top to let the water trickle over the edge.  Remember, electricity and water are not friends!  Plug your grinder in a GFI protected outlet and keep your plugs out of the water.  Use extreme caution.  Then sand the edges just like you would with a normal sander on wood.  Keep it moving to avoid gouges and slightly round the edge for a factory-finished look.

Polishing didn’t take nearly as long as cutting the sink hole did.  Ben only uses drop in sinks so he doesn’t have to have a nice looking cut, just a place for the sink to go in.  Use the sink template to mark the cut lines.

Take the polishing pad off the grinder and replace it with a diamond blade.

Plunge cut the sink hole slowly and carefully.  You won’t be able to cut through with one pass.  Slow and steady on this.  Clean the dust and water off and you’ve made yourself a stone counter top.

The polished eased edge looks just as good as the granite company, too.

What do you think?  Are you willing to try this at home?  What is your favorite type of counter top?  Granite?  Marble?  Concrete?

Disclaimer:  If you are not comfortable using this equipment, don’t try this.  Use caution and always wear safety gear.  This is an overview tutorial and we cannot be held responsible for injuries.