Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If You Give a Girl a Paintbrush... [Fireplace Before & After]

This is the theme for our home in 2013, I think.
Do your kids love this book like mine do?
Maybe that should tell me something?? ;)

‘Cause you know, “if you give a mouse a cookie, after all, he's bound to ask for a glass of milk, for which he'll certainly need a straw, not to mention a napkin...”

And people, if you give a girl a paintbrush, she’s going to want to update her trim.
And that will most definitely lead to the courage to paint her kitchen cabinets.
Of course, once her cabinets are painted, it’s going to point a glaring spotlight on how her giant mantel/entertainment center suddenly sticks out like a giant, orange thumb.

She’ll probably also notice that the space above that mantel is very tall, and the windows that she loves for all the light that pours in, are really tough to decorate around.

So she will take that paintbrush, and she will paint. 
And she will plank.
And trim.
And paint some more.
And then….

And THEN, by then that girl will be so darn happy with the results that she will smile big, take some photos, write a blog post, and she will sleep. 
Until the next project comes along. : )
See? I told you it was a sickness.

Here’s the breakdown:

I wanted to visually draw the eyes upward, to balance out the extreme length of the mantel.  Board and batten (especially floor-to-ceiling treatments) are really popular right now, but I wasn’t feeling the vertical boards – I felt like it would fight with the long horizontal lines.

Then I spied this picture in an issue of Southern Living and it hit me – a HORIZONTAL treatment could be *exactly* what I was looking for!

I am not an experienced carpenter nor do I have much experience in millwork, so I really wanted to keep this simple.  My fireplace mantel is actually quite well made, 
so I didn’t want to mess with ripping out the trim along the top.
No problem.
The only catch was that the trim had a very narrow lip on top, just 1/8 of an inch, so I couldn’t use a traditional pine board; it would stick out over the trim and look awkward.

I found my solution in Hardboard.
Basically, hardboard is like pegboard, but without the holes.
You can buy a 6’ x 8’ sheet of Hardboard at Home Depot for about $8 (I needed 2 for this space),
 which was *superb*
Even better?
Be nice to the guys in the lumber department, have your measurements ready when you walk in the store, and they will cut it down into planks for you.

This will do wonders for your marriage. ;)

From there, we got the planks up and used a nail gun to secure them to the wall.  I added a piece of cove trim to finish off the ceiling, and then caulked the sides.  I had originally bought trim for the sides, but it ended up looking clunky so we left it off for a cleaner line. 

 We wanted to be minimalist and not use adhesive when putting up the planks, so we stuck with nails only.  This way, if 10 years from now we decide we want to take them down, we just slice the caulk, remove the boards, and then all we have are nail holes to fill and paint—we won’t have to worry about damaging the drywall underneath.

What worked in our favor was that the windows previously didn’t have any interior trim, so we were able to be slightly imperfect with our end cuts, and then I used chair rail to trim out the windows.  Using chair rail cap was great because that “lip” made a perfect interior edge to hide the rough ends of the planks.

Once everything was up, I caulked all my seams and used the same process that I did for painting mykitchen cabinets

It probably goes without saying that if you’re tackling a project like this, it’s best to operate from the top-down, for two reasons:
1)      we found out that our builder cut a corner or two (once again, grr) and that the fireplace is level, but the windows are not.  It’s a small enough difference that you can’t tell when you look at it, but when you’re measuring wood planks to go across the length and can’t figure out why the widths are different, it can be frustrating.  This happens a lot with older houses, too.  So starting at the top gives you room to correct at the bottom if you need to.
2)      In this case, I sat on the mantel to prime and paint the planks.  I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but even if I’d just been up on a ladder and leaning over the mantel, I wouldn’t have wanted to hose up a new paint job by doing the bottom first.  So top-down is generally best.

And there you have it!

Let’s go back to the before and after again, just for kicks, m’kay? : )

So what's the "Give a Mouse a Cookie..." project in Your house?  :)

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Monday, August 12, 2013

He Built Me a Patio. And I Liked It.

It’s finished!  I can take exactly 0.47% of the credit for this next project, so this post is to [shamelessly] brag on the hard work of Mr. V!

My, that’s purty.  ;)

Ever since we built the deck, it had always been our intent to add a patio off the stairs to the side for a more “finished” space, we just didn’t know when. 

Right before Mr. V started finishing the basement (I know, right?  Lucky gal, right here) we discovered we had a couple cracks that were leading to some water in the basement.

Crack is whack, yo.

We were thankful to discover the issue *before* we started on the basement, so that weirdly ended up being an [expensive] blessing.
 The repair for the cracks meant the workers had to tear up a large chunk of the grass just off the deck – incidentally, *exactly* where we were planning to add a patio.  We thought, “perfect!” 

So, rather than pay to re-sod or deal with the headaches that come with reseeding entirely, we threw down this oh-so-chic tarp to keep the dirt/mud at bay and worked on finishing the basement.  Once that was complete, we had planned to do the patio the following spring. 

And, in a hormone-induced flurry of planning and budgets and ohmywordwhatarewegoingtodoWITHTWOKIDS???? freakout, we calmly decided to put off the patio until after the baby arrived.

She arrived.
And then a year went by. Whoops.

For 2+ years we lived with the tarp
 (which achieved cult status in the neighborhood, mind you.  It was Tarp-tastic!) 

 We were totally those neighbors. ;) 

Mr. V decided this was the summer he was ready to tackle the project, and before I knew it, he was off to the races.
 We collaborated on the design, he tossed a paver catalog at me and I picked out what I wanted, and then, *POOF!* 4 weeks of hard labor later, we have a patio that we can’t stay off of.

 I suppose I should think about furniture now, huh?  ;)
The pavers are from Belgard and the style is "Dublin Cobble."
So pretty. :)

Come on over!  We’re making s’mores! ;)

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Monday, August 5, 2013

DIY Custom Clay Tags

I love the look of a custom gift tag or label, but have taken to making my own lately, simply because I’m just too cheap to shell out to have stuff done. : ) 

I saw some adorable clay gift tags at a specialty store that I *loved*, but at $4 for each one, I thought for sure I could figure out how to make my own.  Turns out, I had the supplies sitting right in my craft cabinet all along!
I bought this air-dry clay a while ago for crafts with The Redhead – it’s soft and malleable like play-doh, but it dries hard on its own without you having to bake it.  It’s been fun to encourage her creative side and watch her make her own art.  This entire tub is about $5 and it will last a while.
So, I grabbed the rest of this stuff and I was off to the races:

First, make sure you have a sturdy, flat surface to work with, preferably one you can move/set aside once your creations are ready to dry.  (I use either a paper plate or sometimes The Redhead’s placemat)  That way, when I’m done I can just set them in the other room up high to dry, and not work about little fingers poking or grabbing them while they’re still wet.
 Take a hunk of your clay and roll it flat with a rolling pin.  The toughest part for me is getting the clay to an even width.
Once flat, I used a cookie cutter for the outer shape and a pencil end to make my ribbon hole.  For smaller holes, I just used a bamboo skewer (for shish kabobs) that I could toss when I was done.

For the lettering, all you need is a rubber stamp.  I used a set of mini rubber alphabet stamps to spell out names, but you can also use preformed stamps if you have a specific design or saying (like “Thanks” or “Congrats”) that you want on there.

Gently press your stamp into the tag, then….. set it aside and wait overnight for it to dry!  It really is that easy! **note: I like my tags plain, but if you want the typeface to stand out a little more, just ink up your rubber stamp before stamping on the clay.

When it’s completely dry, I use a mini spatula to ease the tag off the surface.  Usually I take a *very* fine grit sandpaper to the side edges, just to smooth it out, and sometimes to the face of the tag if I feel it’s a little bit lumpy.

And there you have it!  Custom labels/tags for a fraction of the cost!

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