The Hardwood Floor Safety Squad

September 14, 2011   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

I keep finding myself going smaller and smaller with the DIY-ed portland cement planters. My latest one is a mini, and the perfect size for my newest baby-succulent that I brought home from Home Depot a few months ago (read about that excursion here). It sits right at home in an ornate Japanese dish I acquired at a tsotchke shop years ago.

Note: You always need something underneath a concrete planter – do not just let it sit freestanding on your windowsill and expect it to hold in moisture.

Mini-planter. A more managable 2-pounder and perfect home to my new little succulents.

The first cement planter was a monster, and even though it had broken into multiple pieces after I had shot putted the mold through the yard dozens of times, gluing it together with E-6000 seemed to be the cure-all.

The jumbo cement planter. Heavy - at least 40 pounds.

The second one I created was on a smaller scale, making use of a few recycled 3-gallon planters from previous Home Depot purchases. More manageable in size and weight, I also had better luck when removing the form from the mold: No crackage. I completely attribute it’s solid structure to the fact that the mold was very maleable and could be flexed away from the cement (once it had tried) and torn off with practically no struggle. So far, that little fern that was a $1 end-of-the-season find at the neighborhood market is doing very well.

Planter #2, molded by a maleable 3-gallon Home Depot planter.

But both of my first planter attempts were still big. And furthermore, neither of those planters were ready to live in the house full-time because I was concerned about the cement absorbing all of the moisture from the plants when I watered, and redistributing it into my hardwood floorboards through the bottom (also, yes, there are drainage holes drilled in the bottom so it was more likely to drip right on through to the floor, no obstruction). For the biggest planter at the very least, I needed to come up with an indoor living solution because the base of the pot was sizably larger than any plastic planter trays I already owned.

The perfect fix appeared before me before I really had a chance to give it much thought or shop around; very simply, I found my treasures in Pete’s parents attic when we were helpin’ out with a Labor Day weekend clean-out. The basic plastic trays caught my eye, and found their way home with me instead of being thrown into the dumpster. I couldn’t be sure at the time, but I definitely thought there was a slight chance that they might be exactly the same size as the ginormous planter with tropical-ish leafy plant that was still hanging out on the porch slowly taking a beating from the cooler night air.

Big, clear planter bases. One man's trash...

And twa-la, wouldn’t you know that my spider senses were spot on? The planter fit perfectly in this tray (while the previously-largest tray in my stash that wasn’t quite big enough looks on in jealousy).

Yesss, the new plastic base is the perfect size for the monsterous planter.Of course, the reason I didn’t rush right out and get a new big plastic faux-terra cotta planter at Home Depot was because it didn’t really vibe with the straight-lined, wants-to-look-totally-au-natural cement planter. The clear plastic one is a much more simplistic alternative (and low profile, kind of like low-rise socks of the indoor gardening world), but still a reliable alternative to keep my floor dry and keep the clean lines of the planter exposed.

I thought I could take it one stage further though, by taking the walls of the planter down an extra half an inch to minimize the plastic lip but still be suitable for floor protection.

Trimmed down the lip of the tray even further, leaving a 1/2" edge to hold the planter.

I even tried spraypainting one of the trays with the same specific-for-plastics paint that I used on the office chair because the shiny transparent plastic in person has a hint of that “just bought and forgot to take the price tag off it” feel. White seemed to correct that look without being too stand-out-ish.

White paint to take the glare off of the plastic planter tray.

It worked (of course it would, this isn’t anything revolutionary) so the gigantic plant is happily living inside once again, protected from the encroaching fall elements but still getting lots of natural sunlight through the living room windows. Although I’m kind of starting to think maybe I should match the tray to be the same color as the cement… oh the things you wish you had done differently once you see your photos…

Planter and streamlined new tray. Wonderous.

And just for kicks, my dad would love to point out that the plants that would do best in these cement planters are species that are categorized as “foundation plants”… as in, plants that you’d be directed to use in the landscaping closest to your homes exterior foundation.

If you’ve made cement planters and found a great way to make custom-sized trays to match, I’d love to know more.

Life Support For An IKEA Dresser

September 13, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

The IKEA MALM dressers I’ve owned have generally held up well. With a little bit of maintenance.

All too often, I need to repair a drawer bottom that bows and separates from its track, usually because I’ve tried to force fit too many pairs of Wigwam socks into a non-expanding space, but that wasn’t the real issue this time.

What I had encountered was self-inflicted, could have been prevented, and wasn’t something I was sure I could easily fix. (Oh yeah, and I noticed that the drawer bottom had just started to bow so I gave it the ol’ fixeroo but there’s no sense in writing a how-to on that again.)

Yee... that's not supposed to have broken, right?

See that piece of trim that sits between each of the drawers? If you own one of these dressers, you’ll know that the drawers fit together pretty seamlessly, but a thin piece of particleboard serves as a partition between drawer fronts.

And sometimes, when you try and lift the entire dresser by the partition that you thought was much, much stronger, crazy things happen:

Whoopsy, broken IKEA partition.

I was left wondering what to do next, and removed the drawer above the broken partition for a better look.

Whoopsy, broken IKEA partition.

Fortunately, the partition broke pretty cleanly. I was left with the broken piece of particleboard and a piece of hardware from the screw, which I can only find described as “the round-y screw fastener”. IKEA masters, what’s the right name for this awesome assembly device?

Chip off the ol' particleboard, and half of the round-y screw fastener.The simplest fix with my breakage situation was to apply wood glue to the back of the particle board, and clamp it back into place.

Glued the back of the particle board. Next step: clamp back in place on the partition. Let dry.

Once reinforced, the round screwy bit fit right back into the existing hole, and could be tightened as it was originally.

While the partition is clamped in place, reaffix the round screw end into place, tightening with a phillips head screwdriver to secure.

I let it dry all day, and dropped the drawer back into place before bed.

Because these partitions aren’t supporting beams, if your particleboard was shattered beyond a simple re-glue, consider rebuilding a small back panel out of plywood (or something slightly more maleable, like cork) and clamp it in place just like I did here.

Good luck. More IKEA wear-out fixes comin’ at ya.


A Stained Wall And A New Lobster Fetish

September 12, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Being Thrifty, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  11 responses

Yeeeehah, I’m oozing stained shipboard wall happies.

Finished shiplap wall! Can you believe that the stain worked out after all? (I can't.)

After finishing the wall on Thursday after I showed you my progress, I cleaned up and let it sit uninteruppted until yesterday evening (for good drying measure before shoving my clean sheets into a sticky dark walnut wall). I’m relieved to say that the staining worked out after all. And happy to report that the whole project from beginning to end only cost $110. $100 for the shiplap, $10 for the stain. 

Finished shiplap wall! Can you believe that the stain worked out after all? (I can't.)

That whole hiccup with the stain not covering the wood filler really threw a wrench into my plans, and I even went as far as to pull the old can old gray paint up from the basement with plans to prime and paint the walls and pretend the staining fiasco never happened. I was also worried about the old stain sample areas showing through the dark walnut finish, so in an moment of desperation decided to add a second coat of stain, this time the sample of Jacobean, to the lighter areas.

To quote my favorite dweebs from The Big Bang Theory, Bazinga, it worked.

Can you believe that adding a coat of Jacobean Minwax stain over the Dark Walnut left me with this beautiful, rich color? (I can't!)

In places where I had tested the colors and experienced the wood filler discoloration the first time, it’s still faintly apparent that the stain didn’t adhere to the filler correctly, even though it’s better than it was when I first showed you what I was dealing with. Nothing a little strategically hung Frank Black poster can’t fix. Pretty Frank Black in its pretty dark brown IKEA Ribba Frame. Ooh, so happy. Pete saw the star (as Black Francis) in a concert last Thursday at a Buffalo venue so small it was practically just him and the band. And no, he didn’t tell him that I was vying to hang this poster over our bed. I can only imagine what kind of stalker list he’d have been on after that casual conversation.

Frank Black framed in Ribba happies. Really loving the contrast with the dark brown wall.

The window and blinds now pop in a way that I envision my future dark-stained cedar-sided house exterior will shine, and I’m especially happy how the IKEA drawers that I inherited a little over a year ago stand out so nicely in the contrast of gray, dark wood, and low-rise bed.

You think that’s good?

I have another surprise. BAM.

It's lobster love. Mine. My own CB2 Harvey Lobsters. Snuggle, snuggle.

Holy shiz. This is where bedside table love begins. Bear with me people, I’m obscenely happy.

I’ve been on the lookout for the Harvey Lobster bedside tables since I originally saw them in the CB2 catalogue a few years ago. I even got thisclose to buying one when I caught it posted on Rochester’s Craigslist last year, but the seller wanted $80, and because I knew it originally would have only been $100 without taxes and shipping, I couldn’t justify the purchase at only a 20% discount.

I let the dream evaporate, bought a little white IKEA ODDA table on casters (half-priced at $25, also via Craigslist) that you saw in some of those previous bedroom pictures above, and paired it with my DIY-but-so-wanna-be-authentic West Elm papier-mache side table. And life was good.

That is, until last week when I saw this:

Lucked out! Lobsters!

$60 each seemed more reasonable, considering but still more than I cared to pay for secondhand CB2. And there weren’t original photos from the seller, so I couldn’t be sure that their product was in great shape. Or even lobster, for that matter.

But I inquired anyways, asking uber-optimistically if the price was for the set or per piece (Woot! $60 for the set!) and if they were the original lobster color from CB2 (Yes! It was!) and getting in the thrifting spirit, asked if they’d take $50 for the pair meaning that my total payment would be 75% below retail (holding breath, holding breath, holding breath, yes! Yes, they would!). Oh-em-gee.

And so I ventured out to a dead end road to meet strangers in a never-before-trekked part of town (not joking) and brought my new babies home.

It's lobster love. Mine. My own CB2 Harvey Lobsters. Snuggle, snuggle.Sidenote: At a glance, that looks like a wicked shadow on the floor. It’s actually the sunroom floor that I just re-painted last week; you can catch up on the whole project right here if you missed it!

It’s really no surprise that I jumped at the lobster color versus holding out for the Carbon or Pool Blue options that are still sold at CB2; I’ve been wild for anything tomato-y, orangey-red for awhile and have been trying to infuse more of it as an overall accent color since the day I brought home the Energetic and Laughing Orange paints.

Stained shiplap AND Harvey Lobster table happies!

I’m obsessed with the way it looks with the rich wooden wall. Not to mention, it goes great with both the Frank Black and Pixies posters.

Shiplap wall and Harvey Lobster table happies!

Shiplap wall and Harvey Lobster table happies!

Also worth mentioning, the width of the Harvey Lobster is slightly narrower than the width of the ODDA bedside table, meaning that I was able to shift the bed slightly to the left and let it sit perfectly centered beneath the window. Stars do align.

Speaking of tomato-y, I’m up to my eyeballs over here:

One day's pick. Tomato insanity.

Pete and I have eaten BLTs for lunch or dinner for the last 3.5 weeks. We’re going to be tomatoes by October.

Has anyone else had as many struggles with staining pine? I understand I might have had better luck if I had used a wood conditioner first. I do all of my research after the fact these days.

And, any great Craigslist finds lately?

Anyone sick of tomatoes yet but feel compelled to consume (or give away) every last piece of fruit and not let it go to waste?