I Just Dyed in Your Arms Tonight

After hemming and ironing longer than I would have liked, I finished the curtains yesterday.  And I’m now convinced I need to invest in a higher quality iron.  Apparently, the ten-dollar one I have isn’t fit to iron curtains, hence the hours of ironing.  But let’s start at the beginning.  As I pointed out yesterday, we needed a way to take the curtains down without removing the rod.  Why?  This might explain it.

Rather than going the conventional rod route, Ben and I agreed it would look cool to use galvanized pipe for the living space.  Once attached to the wall, it will be difficult to remove just the rods.  The living room window is 125 inches wide, which means we need a looooong curtain rod and extra wide curtains.  When looking for 144 inch rods, its slim pickin’.  Target didn’t have anything longer than 120 inches.  Home Depot had 144 inch rods, but all are more traditional looking that we wanted, like this one that was $45.  However, our Home Depot doesn’t carry that same rod in a shorter length.

So I called Ben while shopping to see what he thought of pipes turned industrial curtain rod.  Luckily, he was down for it.  We discussed the sizes available and came up with three flanges, three 3 1/2 inch nipples (I can tell men named these parts), two 90 degree elbows, and one tee, all 1/2 inch diameter per window.  The larger living room window needed 72 inch long pipes, while the shorter dining window was fine with 60 inch pipes for the rods.

Using a flange, nipple, and tee in the center of each window gives an extra support and allowed us to use two shorter lengths of pipe.

Ben was apprehensive about using drop cloths for the fabric, but I told him it would be okay, so he trusted me.  I walked out of Home Depot $163.76 lighter (dang pipes are expensive) with curtain and rod material in hand.  Now the pressure was on.  I actually had to make these look good.  A quick stop at Joann fabric for three boxes of black fabric dye and I was ready to get to work.  The process of sewing wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming, including a ton of measuring.

With the top, sides, and snaps done, I decided to dye the panels before ironing and hemming the bottoms.  I really wanted a medium gray color, but Joann had light gray and black dye.  Black was my best bet to get a mid saturation, so I mixed one and a half boxes of powder dye with a huge bucket of hot water.  I’m not sure how many gallons, but trust me when I say it was huge.  Then I soaked each panel, one at a time until the colors seemed uniform.  Because I was alone with the boys, I didn’t time anything, just left each panel in a while until it seemed to reach maximum saturation.  Then into the washer for a short, cold wash and a toss in the dryer.  Quite pleasantly, all panels seemed to match and didn’t have uneven spotting.  Success!

And here are the washed, measured, sewn, tabbed, snapped, dyed, hemmed, and ironed curtains in place.  Looking lovely, if I might add.

Each panel barely grazes the floor.

Back tabs are the shiz.  Look how nicely the panels bunch and hang.

But there is one small downside.  Even though the drop cloths are marked 9 by 12 feet, they’re actually about 8 1/2 by 11 1/2 feet.  Straightening up the edges and adding about one foot of rod length makes the large window panels look short when closed.  Oh well, the window is covered and that’s what really matters, right?

The dining panels are perfect though.

You can kind of see that I didn’t make panels for the French doors out to the deck.  When we replace the windows (which will probably happen next summer), we’re changing things up.  No more door there.  Muhahahaha (that’s my evil villain laugh).

Now if we could just get a dining table.  And a light.  Ha.

Can you tell I’m excited about the new curtains?  I’m loving the warmth they add to the room.  Just makes it look lived in.

Mission accomplished.  We’ve got (pretty) curtains.

And here’s what it cost us:

For living room:  $33.90 for two 72 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $86.63

For dining room:  $27.40 for two 60 inch long pipes, $2.24 for one tee, $18.72 for three flanges, $3.12 for two elbows, $4.38 for three 3 1/2 inch nipples, $21.98 for a 9 by 12 foot drop cloth, and $2.29 for one box of fabric dye for a total of $80.13

If I had bought two standard curtain rods, I would have spent 90 bucks on rods, so basically four curtain panels cost about 75 bucks.  Not too shabby.  But I’m not completely done yet.  I think I’ve decided what I want to do, so I’ll be back with more details when I actually get around to that.

Do you have odd sized windows to work with?  Have you used pipes for curtain rods?  Drop cloths for curtains?

Just Face It

As I had hoped, we crossed a few more items off our kitchen to do list.

  • Install the new dishwasher.  Did that on Thursday night.
  • Sand the ceiling and walls smooth
  • Build the five remaining drawers we’ve waited on (we needed to see how things were in place before we could build one drawer in the dining room, the trash can pull out, and the under the sink drawer)
  • Fill, sand, prime and paint said drawers
  • Install every drawer, 16 total
  • Buy the wood for the counters.  Hopefully we’ll get a call today!
  • Haul the wood slabs to a cabinet shop to have them sand both sides smooth
  • Cut the wood to fit and install the counters
  • Hang the upper cabinets
  • Add decorative face trim to all cabinets for a smooth, pretty, even front
  • Fill, sand, prime, and paint all cabinet faces
  • Build the drawer and cabinet fronts, including two glass front doors
  • More filling, sanding, priming, and painting of the cabinet fronts
  • Install the drawer fronts and hardware pulls
  • Prime and paint the kitchen and living room.  Probably the dining room too.
  • Add lights: sconces, recessed light halos, and the rope lighting
  • Trim out the posts and door frames
  • Add crown molding to the top of the cabinets
  • Decide whether we want to add decorative trim to the vent hood or paint it to match the wall color
  • Install the pretty new marble tile backsplash
  • Put everything back in place and enjoy
Ben built five drawers: the top dining side:
See the window sill?  We had to make this drawer narrower than the others so it doesn’t hit the sill.  Instead of wasting three inches on the entire stack, Ben attached a few plywood scraps to build the cabinet out to the width of just the top drawer.
Three for the drawer stack we thought would be the trash drawer:
The top drawer by the sink isn’t installed because we ran out of drawer glides.  We bought 15 when we planned to have only two drawers in that stack.  We’ll install it once we get another set of glides.
And one under the sink:
I think this one is my favorite, just because I’ve never seen a drawer under the sink, and it’s so much more functional with the drawer.  To cover the exposed plywood edges, we filled the top with wood filler, let it dry, then sanded it smooth.
We could have used iron-on wood veneer, but it peeled off easily when we tested it for the laundry room.  That’s why I’ve made a few light fixtures with it.
After fitting the drawers, Ben started on the cabinet face framing.  Quarter inch MDF cut into strips cover the rough plywood edges.
Visible cabinet ends got a layer of 1/2 inch MDF followed by a 2 1/2 inch wide by 1/4 inch thick MDF decorative frame.
Wood filler seals the cracks.  Once everything is sanded, it should have a seamless edge.
We have a special plan to deal with the bare back and the drawer front for the dining side.
And, the trim covers the gap between the dishwasher and counter.
If all goes well, I’ll have the trim sanded and primed later today.  Hoping Everett takes a long nap.
What did you do this weekend?  Start or finish any big projects?  Planned out your Thanksgiving dinner menu?  Rake up leaves?  We tried but then it snowed.  Can you believe winter has already started?  Folks in warm climates, please send your weather our way.

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?

Letter Magnets

We have officially started redecorating our boys’ room by adding some pops of sunny yellow, including this magnet board.

I love the magnet board, but not the ugly plastic letters.  Fortunately, I found this great tutorial at Nice Girl Notes detailing how to create pretty magnet letters.  What a fantastic (and cheap!) idea!  Using the tutorial as my starting point, I headed off to Hobby Lobby to buy my supplies.

At Hobby Lobby, I found 2 inch round wooden discs for $3.99 per pack of 22.  I chose to use plain green and aqua acrylic paints, rather than spray painting my circles.  I bought 44 discs and decided to make 3 of each vowel, so I removed 15.  Then, I painted the remaining discs aqua on all sides.  The paint dries quickly, so I applied another coat. 

I knew I wanted to incorporate both green and blue, so I made the vowels green, figuring the boys would learn their vowels easier if they were different.  After painting the aqua, I mixed up my green.  I couldn’t find the exact green I had in mind, so I added some white to get the right color.  Once I had my color, I painted all sides of the 15 reserved discs green. 

The tutorial used rub-on transfer letters, but I couldn’t find a font I liked.  Yes, I am very picky.  Instead, I used a pencil to draw the letters, keeping them roughly the same size.  Then, using chocolate-brown paint and a fine tipped brush, I traced over my penciled lines. 

I didn’t have time to look for magnet strips while at Hobby Lobby, so Ben picked up a roll of adhesive-backed magnet from Lowe’s.  Simply cut the roll into 3/4 inch or so pieces, remove the backing and place on the back, pressing firmly to attach.  I considered using Gorilla glue, but the adhesive seems to stick pretty well, so I’ll glue if any magnets fall off. 

Vincent started playing with his new magnets, but quickly scuffed them up.  Luckily, I had a jar of glossy Mod Podge on hand, so I quickly gave the front side of each magnet two coats.  Worked like a charm.

Don’t the new magnets look so much better than the plastic ones?  Better than the looks, this project was cheap and easy-just the way I like ’em.  Even better?  Vincent loves to play with them. 

This is not in the photos, but we had a toy mail box from Target’s dollar department that I glued magnets to.  It’s the perfect holder for the magnets!

Oh, Baby! Clutter?

A few weeks ago, I touched on the subject of storing toys, but I’m back to give a few more tips, specifically baby related.  How can someone so small have so much junk stuff?  Clothes, blankets, baby bathtub, car seat, and toys!

Tip number 1:  Stick to the basics and necessities.  Let me start this off by telling you my little secret.  When Vincent was an infant, we received a hand me down swing and bouncer seat from relatives.  I think V used each item once in his first month, so I donated them.  He didn’t seem to mind.  If your baby never uses these items, he or she can’t miss having them.  There are so many baby items being manufactured today that we never had as children, and we’re fine.  I mean seriously, wipe warmers?  By sticking to the essentials, you’ll have minimal baby junk to store.

I think an infant bathtub is an essential, so we keep ours in Everett’s side of the closet.  Of course, he won’t use it forever, but it is so helpful.  It’s relatively convenient to get it when preparing for a bath, seeing as we have to get an outfit, too. 

Hang clothes and not fold.  If you have floorspace, add a dresser to hold toys and smaller items. 

Tip number 2.  If you have the space, go vertically with your storage.  The cubes in the closet were designed to hold shoes, but it turns out they are the perfect solution for storing diapers in storage totes.  If you can’t build cubes, add a hanging shoe organizer, like this one.  Get smaller items up and off the floor to make room for larger, harder to store items. 

Tip number 3.  Utilize under the bed storage.  Don’t let valuable floor space go to waste under a bed.  Buy totes to store clothes, toys or bedding to free up closet space.  Vincent actually has a fleet of Tonka trucks and blocks stored under Everett’s crib.

Tip number 4.  Buy tons of clear storage bins.  Store larger clothes in clear bins with labels so you can see what you have.  This will keep everything at hand, so you can quickly swap items out when the seasons change or baby gets bigger.  We know they grow so quickly.  Once you have a bin of too small clothes, label it and you can put it in the garage or basement to keep it out of the main storage areas. 

Tip number 5.  Don’t be afraid to store some items in more conveniently located closets.  Store the car seat and diaper bag in the entry closet along with your shoes and purse.  You know you’ll need the car seat when you’ll also need your purse, so keep it close. 

The car seat is in clear view, but you can see the very bottom of the diaper bag on the upper shelf. 

Some baby toys are awkward to store, so we keep those in our guest bedroom closet, which is just off the main living room.  It keeps it out-of-the-way, but close by.

If you have a linen closet, keep baby blankets, sheets, burp cloths, towels, etc. along with everyday items.  Storing some items in more logical closets will free up some nursery closet space, leaving room for toys! 

Tip number 6.  Choose items that can easily fold or be disassembled.  Both of our boys love(d) the Graco jumper.  I allow it because it doesn’t take up much space when it is out.

When it isn’t in use, we easily slide it over to the side.

If we have company, we pull the jumper off and slide it under the guest bed. 

So, there you have it.  These storage methods have worked for us, but I want to know what you do.  I do plan to cover some kitchen ideas, too, so keep reading.