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Dramatic Driftwood Wreath

September 07, 2011   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, Decor, DIY, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  17 responses
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I loved my summertime succulent wreath. It hung wonderfully, and didn’t fade, droop, or melt out of shape in the extreme heat in the cavern of fire which formed every morning between that pretty all-glass storm door and the eggplant-painted entryway door. Thank you, sunshine.

But now we’re encroaching on autumn, and as my almost-martha-stewart-mom would do, I’m packing the succulent wreath away until next spring and replacing it with something more seasonally appropriate.

Packing the succulent wreath away. To be seen again next spring.

I didn’t want to go full-on-autumnal quite yet, and I’ve never been much into the faux-colored leaves decor, but the fresh green succulents (or anything green, flowery) seems a little too springy for the cool nights (which are an awesome relief, by the way). The new wreath, I decided, would take advantage of totally-free driftwood from the local beach (you know, the same I pulled all of this beach glass from, and found the future base of this driftwood lamp on).

FREE driftwood. I see some potential in there.

After all… many of the smaller pieces left behind as useless (or from campfires) could be arranged nicely to, you know, take on a not-so-surprising wreath shape.

Round layout. Good? Good.

I kind of liked the idea of doing a square wreath. Nice thought, bad in trial. I’m a square-wreath lover at heart, just not in a driftwood-y execution.

Square layout. Good? No.

Not with my supply, at least. Not even this way, which is a little bit o’ circle, a little bit o’ square.

Square layout number 2. Good? Still no.

I had a few different ideas of how to assemble the circle of different sized sticks.

Plan A (formulated even before I went to find my natural beachy materials) involved drilling through each and stringing a wire to connect them. Luckily I realized that would going to be a challenge, and probably sloppy too. Plus, I was looking for a finished wreath that looked more lush and layered than a singular strand of driftwood.

Plan B that crossed my mind was buying an embroidery hoop, and gluing the wood pieces to that. Good, you know, because it’s perfectly round. Bad though, because there’s not a whole lot of surface to actually glue to. Potential for driftwood floppiness.

The easiest (and free!) plan C was to create my own hoop using a piece of scrap MDF that was leftover from when I assembled the built-in shelves. Pete’s idea, actually. After all, the piece I found (covered in dog fur and possibly basement mold) was a good size for the front door. I used a round dining plate to mark off where I would need to cut (using the jigsaw, awesome).

Free MDF with an already-owned handy template (dinner plate, yo).

Again, awesome in idea, poor in reality. Maybe a factor of the jigsaw blade that I was using, or maybe because MDF is harder to cut through than diamonds, but it took me about 10 minutes to carve out half of the circle. I knew I needed to find something more usable before I had a right-arm-only popeye bicep from forcing the saw through the material. Plan C was axed but quickly replaced by Plan D, to use a piece of thin plywood that I found hidden in the basement.

Out with the MDF, in with the thin plywood. Same ol' dinner plate template!

The plywood thankfully cut like butter compared to the MDF, although maybe my new bicep is owed that credit. In any case, from the minute I found the plywood in the basement to when I snapped this next photo of the finished ring, only about 2.5 minutes had passed.

Wreath base, check. Any imperfections or non-symetrical cuts were going to be covered by branches anyways.

The driftwood was slowly attached to the totally-free-and-DIY’ed and sanded down wreath ring with plain ol’ hot glue.

Driftwood wreath, underway!

Once it was all secured and dried, I did flip it over and reinforce those little pieces of driftwood further with hot glue along the back. Couldn’t hurt, right? So now, I think it should really withstand any door shutting and whatever wind-blowing it encounters.

I added some reinforcing squirts of hot glue to the underside of the frame to try and latch the pieces of wood on as much as I could.

I’m especially happy with how the layered pieces present in person; much nicer than a single ring of driftwood would have worked out. Plus, the added layers disguise the wooden ring completely.

Oh, woot. I love this driftwood wreath. FREE driftwood wreath, I should say.

When it came to hanging it on the door, I made another one of those simple wire hooks (like I did once before with the old wreath), so it lays comfortably and securely against the door.

Large custom DIY hook made from a piece of wire.

The concern had been (briefly) that if I tried to hang the wreath directly on the wooden ring, pieces of wood would rest unnaturally against the door and possibly pop the hot glue out of place. Never know, that was just my gut instinct, so a less forced and tight hook helps to hold the weight of the wreath in it’s final home.

Finished, and hung effortlessly on the door.

If you don’t have access to driftwood, I think this would look fantastic with natural tree branches chopped to length. I think I’ve probably seen something like that on Pinterest before, so search around if you want.

Finished, and hung effortlessly on the door.

If you figure out how to make a nice square wreath, I want to see it!

Shippy, Cabin-y Bedroom

September 06, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  24 responses
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The shiplap whipped me into ship-shape and shipped the bedroom off to have a whole new look and feel.

Shippy! Not really in a boat-y or cruise ship sense… my bedroom was transformed to be more cabin-y than anything else. And it’s still a work-in-progress, but I’ve definitely made serious headway in the last week.

Shiplap wall progress!

The shiplap paneling that I bought (and showed you a bit of last week while it was still loaded in the car) was awfully (or pleasantly) knotty (depending how much you like pine and lots o’ knots). Its appearance wasn’t about to deter me; the indivdual boards of paneling were unimaginably straight compared to any other lumber I’ve ever sourced and dug through at Lowe’s, and in my book, straight, non-bowed, non-warped, un-damaged boards are a win-win-win-(win?). Plus, the plan all along was to paint the finished wall to match the other three walls, only standing out as a paneled accent but still blending in to the overall cozy feel of the room, so knottiness wasn’t necessarily an issue as long as the cuts were smooth.

The project was easier than I expected, and that says a lot since I thought that installing a paneled wall would be cake compared to building a deck, or porch railings, or pergolas.

Because the boards were going to span the length of one wall (the “headboard” wall of my master bedroom), I wanted it to look finished, and part of that was making sure that the left and right edges of the wall looked completed. The walls themselves are lath and plaster, and it’s uneven in places just due to the original construction and whatever natural sinking of the house has taken place, so trimming a 1″x2″ furring strip to wall-height and affixing it to either side of the wall and nail gunning it into place acted a bit like the picture frame edges that we needed to give it a finished-off look.

Of course, there were some unexpected-but-sort-of-expected snafus along the way. The first of which being that the upper crown moulding needed to come down from the wall-in-progress. Not that it was especially difficult with the help of a utility knife to score the layers (and layers, and layers of paint), but it wasn’t something I thought would need to happen upfront. I was successful at preserving that original trim, and was cautious to take my time and not break the board by getting all rushy.

Removed the crown moulding in the bedroom to prepare for installing the shiplap paneling.

I left the baseboard and window trim in place as-is because all of it was considerably thicker than the shiplap was, meaning the new boards could rest on it and not make it look too funny or out of place. At least I think so. It’s as subject-to-construction-debate as anything else I’ve taken on.

The second snafu is that someday we’re going to have to replace the ceiling. The stippled ceiling had seen it’s day, and the cloth that held the material to the ceiling is beginning to bow downward, detatching from whatever is up there. Talk about a nightmare. As long as we get to it before it gets to us (meaning: falls on us during the night), it’ll be good.

I removed the crown moulding to find that the cheesecloth-like-material in the stippled ceiling was beginning to fray and sag.

Following basic instructions for installing shiplap paneling, I started from the bottom, working my way up gradually. I lucked out in a lot of ways, namely in how 2 boards fit exactly between the baseboard and the bottom of the window with only the need to trim out the 1/2″ rabbet (shown by the arrows). The end result actually makes it look more like the window was installed after the shiplap.

We cut out the 1/2" rabbeted edge of one board in order for it to fit under the windowsill seamlessly.

I was also especially happy to find that we could use one single board, cut in two, to fit around the window. My original measurements told me that that we would need 8′-1″ of lumber to make that happen, and since Lowe’s didn’t have boards longer than 8′ even, we figured we were screwed into using extra boards (hence why I bought 22 8′ pieces of lumber). I should note: there was a different kind of shiplap available in longer lengths at Lowe’s, but it assembles more like a tongue and groove product, not like clapboard.

There are two possible explanations for this surprise:

1. The boards are an inch longer than marked for expected uneveness during millwork? I’ve encountered this before on other lumber I’ve purchased; sometimes my 12′ boards really measure 12’2″ or 1 board out of 5 measures longer than the others, randomly.

2. Or maybe I mis-measured. Virtually impossible, I know. And yes, I had already taken the furring strip width into account.

Fitting boards around the window sill, working up from the bottom.

The trick for installing shiplap is to nail through the bottom part of the board, but not through the lower rabbet.

This really allows for access to the nails for easier board removal if ever it’s rotting or damaged in an outside application. Not likely in the bedroom, but we still wanted to install the boards correctly. We attached each board with 1-5/8″ nails using Pete’s Bostitch nail gun and pancake compressor, with each nail going in about 1-2″ up from the bottom of the board where the gun is positioned in the next photo. The overlapping board that sits on top of the the one below it locks the loosened top part of the board into place.

Nailing in the shiplap board by board, attaching methodically about 1-2" from the bottom of each panel.

The best tip I received prior to starting this project was from Robbie (owner of that fabulous beach house I exposed last week, and creator of its dreamy shiplap bathroom).

She revealed that to make the consistent gaps between her bathroom panels, they used nickels as spacers between each board. If not for the spacers, the boards would rest flush together eliminating most (if not all) of the line break in the panels.

Instead of using nickels, I decided to go just a smidgen wider and use quarters. Sets of two quarters hot glued together, to be exact, which held up well for getting the job done but came apart without trouble (since, as you can imagine, I wasn’t about to spend an extra $1.50 on this project after dropping $150.00 into lumber). I think a wider gap will allow for more shadow in the paneling detail, accentuating the wall when it’s painted a dark color.

Glued together quarters serve as spacers in the paneling.

It worked really well, helping to create the consistent spacing from top to bottom.

Quarter pairs act as spacers as we install each board.Once the boards were installed, I was unexpectedly pleased with the natural wood appearance. And super excited because I was able to return 8 of the original 22 boards to Lowe’s for a savings of $60. That means the whole job was under <$100, not including tools and nails that we already owned.

Totally transformational.

Shiplap wall: Progress.Shiplap wall: Progress.Shiplap wall: Progress.

We’re so pleased with the wooden accents, in fact, that we’ve been considering staining the wall instead of painting it after all.

What do you think? I’m off to pick up a few samples of stain at Home Depot today. Will let you know how it goes!

Labor Day Traditions

September 05, 2011   //  Posted in: Backyard, Holiday-Related Projects, Other Pads   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment
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Happy Labor Day, Peeps.

Last year, Pete and I celebrated the long holiday weekend by regrading the backyard as the necessary finishing step for the deck that we built. What we thought would be a simple afternoon project using free soil listed locally on Craigslist turned into a 3-day affair, because those 5-gallon buckets are damn heavy and also don’t hold as much as you’d think.

Three days, new muscles, and 7,000 pounds of clean fill soil tamped into place, the grading (and new grass seed) was looking wonderful. It was physically draining and entirely too laborious for a weekend dedicated to being labor-free, but rewarding.

Freshly tamped 7,000 pounds of soil to fix the grading coming off the new deck. Circa 2010.

The hard work didn’t kill us, after all, so why not bulk up again this last weekend of summer? Seemed like the perfect time to help Pete’s parents clean out their attic and shed storage.

I’m not talkin’ simple reorganize-some-boxes-and-clear-out-a-few-old-appliances.

I’m talkin’ we’ve-lived-here-for-25-years-so-let’s-get-a-dumpster-make-use-of-its-4-ton-capacity reorganization.

It’s the best kind of organization too. The kind where you uncover old memories and treasures in every box and decide what’s worth keeping around and what you realize you haven’t needed since 1980. Not my memories, but it was fun to see Pete and his family uncovering old business files, school projects, and photos.

We even found Pete’s original Christening outfit. Complete with the vest, bonnet, and socks.

Pete. And the baby-Pete church outfit. Including bonnet and socks.

We brought home this pair of vintage glasses that Pete thinks may have been from Del-Taco (photo pre-scrub down)…

Vintage glasses.

And this set of Testors model paints that Pete saved from his days of building little cars, motorcycles, and planes (I think he might have found a new-old hobby from the look in his eyes when he saw them). So little and uniform, someday we’ll figure out a way to display and preserve the glass bottles.

Pretty glossy enamels.

And while that cleanup is wrapped, today we’re hoping to start a few new projects, including finishing the shiplap bedroom wall and making some progress with tearing up part of the driveway (by hand). That driveway overhaul might seem ambitious and muscle-inducing, sure, but lazy considering I had planned to do this earlier on in the summer (around the same time that I removed some of the asphalt and planted the myrtle).

Updates to come (eventually, probably when my asphalt-pulling and dumpster-shot putting muscles heal).

Any cool vintage attic finds lately? And are we the only ones doing physical labor for enjoyment?