Monthly Archives: April 2012

DIY Benches

It seems the making of my pallet coffee table¬†started a new obsession – making furniture out of reclaimed wood. So when I started thinking about renovating the kitchen and changing the seating I immediately thought of making my own benches. And so out came the leftover pallets and hammers, and to work I went. This project actually took longer than expected, because my leg ideas changed over time, mostly because I had to accommodate the heater that ran along the side and back walls. I knew I wanted the bench to sit flush against the wall, but had to have the legs at least 3 inches in in order to avoid the heater. I thought of steel pipe legs (01), of hairpin legs (02) and finally just settled on making them out of wood and staining them black, to imitate a metal finish (03) – because of easier construction and cost. Making these benches would have been way easier if not for that heater though…

First step involved tearing apart my remaining pallets.

Second step, cutting them to length. My original idea was to construct one ridiculously long bench for that area – just over 90 inches long. My dad helped me realize how unsteady that would be, and the idea changed into take two 45 inch benches that can now be used elsewhere when we move, even for outdoor seating!

The eight boards for two bench tops.

And here the legs are being constructed – a rough box shape, with an extra 3 inches on one end to accommodate the heater. We clamped these together and simply screwed in the from the top and sides.

Four constructed bench legs.

And the final product – the legs were screwed in from the top, and a middle 2X4 was placed underneath in the center, for extra support and to prevent warping. Sanding came next…

Followed by staining…

And putting them into place! I used a stain in Golden Pecan, painted the legs with black paint and added coats of polyurethane to the stain. The benches fit perfectly in the area, they don’t move at all and they’re super stable.

Here you can see the heater underneath, but thankfully everything measured out correctly and it fits just right. I might add a long cushion in the future, but for now I’m enjoying just the wood finish with some decorate home-made pillow covers (the fabric is actually from Ikea!).



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The Start of Something Big

You didn’t think I gave up on my wallpaper removal process did you? I took a little break for school and spring break but came back with a vengeance, this time to tackle the kitchen. I have big ideas for this room, but started with the basics and a new coat of paint.


Here’s a before photo of the counter next to the doorway – this built-in shelf was always covered in stuff, one of those areas that collects items that don’t really have any other home


Doorway to the dining room – wallpaper + old appliances + dirty cupboards + outdated tile…


And there were valances over all the windows, in the same pattern as the wallpaper.


Time for removal! The shelf came down with the wallpaper, and look what I found underneath! I love these random paint colors, pretty fun, right?


Bright orange doorway.


And the new paint! I chose gray – I love gray kitchens – but it was a really difficult decision. Dark, light, finding what works with the brown cabinets? I like the choice, but the blue tiles do give the walls a blue tone which I’m not too crazy about – but I’ve still got plenty of work to do!


Updated corner – we’ll be adding some art and floating shelves in the future.


And the seating area – we also painted the trim and wainscoting white – it was a faded cream color that refused to get clean but these made a huge difference. You can sneak a peak at my latest project that I’ll be posting about next – those “built-in” benches against the wall!

The changes so far: wallpaper to gray paint, trim painted white, “built in” benches, removal of the valences/window coverings and new white chairs!

So what else is on the current to-do list for the kitchen?

A few things include changing out the light fixture (I have one ready and waiting, just need to switch them out!), making a new wooden/steel pipe table, and making and hanging new shelves!

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A Chair With My Name On It

You know, it comes in handy having a mom that obsessively collects and holds on to funky pieces of furniture (among other things….) It makes for some fun DIY projects and I remember spending many a bored summer day in our attic having all kinds of adventures with whatever we could find up there. My most recently acquired treasure ¬†from her ever-growing collection came down with my sisters when they visited for spring break a few weeks ago – a nice solid old wooden chair. The construction is beautiful and it’s super sturdy – which is much appreciated in our house of rickety items (soon to be replaced!). However, the paint job is a just boring and very chipped and in need of some serious TLC.

Mind you this is after I did some sanding but that it honestly didn’t change much – the seat was in the worst shape and I just knew this little guy could be beautiful again! Here’s a look at the back.

I think this one was taken pre-sandpaper attack – see the legs and spindles weren’t too bad. After sanding I just wiped it down with a damp rag to get rid of all that dust and get it ready to be painted.

So, I refinished a dresser a couple months ago and learned a very valuable lesson when painting furniture: always use semi-gloss paint! I used flat for that first project and it looked great for about 10 minutes, but every little nudge leaves a mark or scuff and you can’t really clean them up that great. With semi-gloss you can even wash your painted surfaces so we might be doing another quick remake of that little dresser before long. I decided I really wanted to brighten this chair up so I just asked the paint lady at Lowe’s for a nice bright white that wouldn’t scuff….this is how I learned the trick of semi-gloss. I also picked up some bright color samples for a second dresser project (you can see it hanging out in the background of some of these photos) and thought it might be fun to do an accent color on the chair as well.

It didn’t take long after one coat of white to realize that I’d be painting for a while…..

That stubborn black just kept trying to peek through – in the end I think I did 3 coats of the white and then I had to decide on which accent color to use and how much. I finally landed on a pretty pale blue (not one of the samples I bought of course – but some extra paint leftover from our mudroom renovation project we have in the works) and doing the bottom “notch” of the legs and the armrests so time to tape!

Tape removal always makes me nervous and for good reason – something bad usually happens. This time it pulled off a little of the white paint underneath so then I got to go back again and do some touch ups but it was definitely all worth it in the end. I am SO pleased with how this chair turned out.

I even really like the “shininess” of the semi-gloss paint and I think it looks so good against the hardwoods! And remember these? They look super cute paired together with my new revamped chair!

How perfect! And a shot from the back.

Yes I did paint those little knobs on the back blue as well. It just adds to the fun, don’t you think? Working on little redo’s like this gets me so inspired and excited to tackle bigger and more involved projects. As I mentioned we went a little crazy and started a renovation on what used to be a small office with tons of completely non-functional built ins and is now becoming a mudroom/craft area that is turning out great! I’m hoping to be completely done in a week or two so be on the lookout for some posts about that. I’ve got all kinds of of fun tutorials coming including; turning a bookshelf into a storage bench, sewing a custom cushion for said bench, and creating a coat rack out of some old pallets and a bit of molding. I honestly can’t wait for this room to be completed – I already love spending time in there and we still have a ways to go. That must mean we’re on the right track!

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