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Planning A New Headboard

August 30, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  one response
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We’ve officially lived with the floored queen bed for one full month. And still love it. Somehow, even though it’s a bigger bed, moving it 3 feet to the left to rest beneath the window and allowing the boxspring to rest on the floor makes the room seem bigger. A lot bigger. After the great bed switcheroo, we weren’t sure whether or not it was going to be a keeper, but it’s sticking, and we’re happily adjusted.

Of course, lots of art is just propped around the room; we still haven’t gotten around to finding permanent homes for it, but it’s a real-life a work-in-progress. What can I say.

The master bedroom "before". Lower bed means seemingly taller ceilings and more walking space.Moving the bed away from the doorway means that there’s more room to walk around, to sleep, and the lack of iron headboard (which is camping out in Cody’s room/guest room) fools us into thinking that we even jacked up the ceiling an extra foot. We didn’t, of course, but have thought about it, and will just have to settle on eye-tricks to fool ourselves into having taller second-story rooms.

The master bedroom "before". Lower bed means seemingly taller ceilings and more walking space.

The thing that has been entering my mind every day, however, is how to “permently” anchor the bed into the design of the room. I used quotes right there because by now you know that nothing’s permanent, but for as long as the bed is in this location, it should be made to feel right at home, even if it’s totally not feng shui according to home blogging sites circa 2008. Right? Right.

I’ve perused plenty of headboard images in my massive magazine archive, on pinterest, on other blogs, making notes of what would work best given the size and location of the window, and the low-height of the bed. Here are a few of the ones that I like best, although I’ll tell you upfront that I’m not exactly following any of these patterns exactly. Skip on down to see my plan of attack and some laser beams.

This 2008 shot from West Elm via a little dabble does wonders to highlight the beauty of the headboard they’re trying to sell, but also sells the idea of using a tree branch and curtain as a way to play up the headboard and incorporate the off-center window into the room layout. So homey.

West Elm circa 2008.Lots of images at Apartment Therapy caught my eye, but two stuck out. The first actually shows a headboard acting as a wall/bookshelf separating the bed from the wall with the window, but I love how the window still adds some visual complexity to the bed, making the room feel very layered, dimensional, and cozy. Cool, right?

Apartment Therapy, #1. Great headboard accented with a bright wall and window behind it.The second room from Apartment Therapy that got me all excited was this multi-window room, which instead of being accented with heavy curtains or a headboard, was balanced out and anchored with a large piece of art.

Apartment Therapy, #2. Pretty bed between windows anchored with large art (and a great light).While all great, inspiring, cozy and fun spaces, I had a different plan in mind. In sketch form, it’s pacing to look something like this over time. But more colorful. With straighter lines.

Headboard sketchiness.

Maybe something a little more like this. Laser beams representing what’s to come.

Zoom, zip, zoom. Laser beams help to demonstrate where we're going with this headboard overhaul.

Shout-out to Scott McGillivray’s Income Property laser beams and sophisticated graphics which forever help us to visualize the “after” in the properties he takes on. We love those flashy graphics and I thought it’d be fun to have Pete photoshop me somethin’-somethin’.

I’ll have more for you in the next few days, but I’ll leave you with this thought that totally doesn’t give away what I’m going to be doing: Do you have any idea how hard it is to find reclaimed clapboard siding?

Upgrading A $1 Chair

August 29, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Office Space   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses
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This orange vintage plastic chair has been sneaking into many of my office-rehab shots lately.

My sweet, discolored gem.

Desk, with the new knob. Very cheap chair that needs an update.

It was a garage sale find much earlier in the summer that I paid $1 for (mainly because I negotiated with the previous owner to throw in a 12-pack of assorted Pier 1 votive candles). The candles I knew I would use. Plus, at about 80-cents each, that’s nearly a $10 value, woot. The chair, I wasn’t even in the market for and figured I could do without.

I have outstanding garage-sale-walkaway-willpower, by the way. Mostly because I have limited space and don’t like to collect junk.

Not that it wasn’t a great shape; the curvaceous form was all it had going for it. The plastic curved seat had great lines, provided plenty of butt and back support, and was a good size for either using resourcefully in the office (where it’s sat since the day it came home), or even tucked into a corner to serve as extra seating around the dining room table or to hold a throw blanket in the more-utilized guest bedroom. It’s flaws? Discoloration. (Very much lighter orange in the seat and back support) and had a tattered plastic edge, which I didn’t photograph in macro, but was just a little rough in real life.

Discolored chair plastic. Light orange to pumpkin orange gradation. That shading you see is not just shadow.

This was no molded plywood form, like you’d expect from a pretty-pretty sleek-lined Eames model. It was just a cheap knock-off that an older couple had enjoyed for decades.

The leg framework felt chincier than any high-end mid-century model too. It was plenty strong enough to hold me upright, but the structure looked inexpensively manufactured. Exposed screws seem to catch your eye at any angle.

Exposed hardware, brassy legs.

Nonetheless, I brought it home, let it take up space in the guest-room-pre-office where I had been hoarding most everything else that didn’t yet have a real home (and lit up a yummy pear votive, 1-down, 11-to-go). When I began planning Project Office, I figured I may as well work with what I had before going out and buying a new desk chair that both Pete and I would love. And paint fixes all, right? I didn’t want to bring a lot of attention to the chair, so I opted for a basic white that wouldn’t compete with the other pops of color I’m planning on bringing into the room.

The chair wasn’t repulsive, we just had to make it work to get by.

What better a time to try out the specifically-manufactured-for-plastics Rust-Oleum spraypaint that always catches my eye in the painting aisle. Plus, the alleged benefit was not having to use a primer paint, so paying an extra dollar for the “special” paint was still saving me the expense of buying a new can of spray primer.

The leggy legs needed a clean update too, mostly as an attempt to even out inconsistencies in the way the metal had been wearing and discoloring. An aluminum paint caught my eye, and despite there being about 10 different options for Rust-Oleum Aluminum, I went for the cheapest product and hoped for the best. Oh, and I can’t make this stuff up… Cody was howling in the background of the shot.

Metallic Aluminum spray paint. And the howling dog.

I started with the seat, spraying a light coat evenly to start, both to gauge how well it would cover, and to avoid dripping. I was pleased with the results, so I continued on with a second coat, which seemed to be all the chair needed. Zero drips, great adhesion, and while I guess I had hoped it would have been glossier (since one of those glossy plastic lawn chairs was shown on the spray can).

Out with the orange, in with the white.

Out with the orange, in with the white.

Also, I should note that there was no way I could get the legs removed from the plastic seat; someone must have glued them well at some point, because while I expected them to slip out or at least be forceably removable, they wouldn’t budge. It’s OK, I’m fine with the workaround.

Once the white seat paint was thoroughly dry, I wrapped it in a large plastic bag, leaving only the metal legs exposed. Upside down. On the city-supplied garbage can. And sprayed the exposed metal the same way I applied the white, with slow, even coats until the aluminum finish was consistent all around.

Painted the legs of the chair with aluminum spraypaint.

I figure accidentally spraying the top of the garbage can is no different from when people spray their house numbers on them for identification, right?

No one’s going to be swiping my robot garbage can now.

Whoops. Robot garbage can.

Dried, back home it went into the office, renewed, refreshed, and ready to take on post as our main office chair until we grow tired of it.

New old office chair.

New old office chair.

I’ve spraypainted plenty of plastics in the past without special no-primer-plastic-spraypaint, but I’d love insight on whether this variety has less wear and tear in the long run!

If you’ve used it before, let me know how your projects are holding up.

Cement Planters: A Gray Area

August 26, 2011   //  Posted in: Backyard, Decor, DIY, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  11 responses
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I’ve been plotting to make cement planters ever since I saw them detailed in the late ReadyMade magazine earlier this year.

Graphic designer for Exhurb Magazine, and author of simplysofie.com, Sofie Sausser sung their au-natural material praises as she outlined the how-to that was featured. And I was impressed.

Thank you to ReadyMade for the inspiration.

Her designs asked for small recycled plastic containers (think: leftover from your every day yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, or worn out tupperware) to act as forms for the cement to cure within, but I was hoping to kick it up a notch and create some larger planters. Specifically, one for that large, leafy tropical plant I lugged home last month. And some larger ones for other plants to be transplanted into. Because I always seem to be outgrowing my collection of planters.

I’ll tell you upfront that this wasn’t as easy on a larger scale. In fact, it was damn close to a fail at times. Read on to understand why, but first, take this sneak peek of the final project. And oohh, aahh, nice.

Finished planter. Oooh, ahhh...

Want to know how I did it (and why I self-categorize it into a gray area on the success scale)?

I save almost every random plastic planter and bucket that falls into my hands, so I had a good selection to choose from. For my flagship run, I went big, using a large black plastic container to serve as the outer edge of the planter mold, and carrier of the cement. Because I needed a smaller bucket for the inner part of the mold to create the form that the plant would eventually be planted in, I used a 5-gallon pail (that white one in the background of this photo. Before I could do anything though, I had to seal the black container base, as it was constructed with built-in drainage. I imagined at first that this wouldn’t work, but it did.

The outer black plastic bucket for the mold. Holes in the bottom. Problem? No.

Duct tape was the problem solving material, and stayed really well put throughout the whole process, even considering that I mixed the cement directly in that bucket with a small pointy-ended, hand-held, gardening rake that you’d immediately imagine puncturing the tape in a swift motion. It was Extreme Home Cement Mixing – DIY Edition.

The outer black plastic bucket for the mold. Holes in the bottom, patched. Thanks, duct tape.

I did bring home a 94-lb. bag of portland cement for the project, which was the variety that Sofie had used and recommended (although I have noticed other people doing these projects and using whatever cement they wanted). I had never worked with that variety of cement before, but can attest to it’s texture being more like soft flour rather than rocky or gravely cement that I’ve used in other projects (like installing deck posts).

The bag was just shy of $10, and I imagine that it’d make about 3 large planters, or 5,000 small planters like Sofie has perfected. OK, 5,000’s an exaggeration, but it would go hella far. (I should also note that I would have bought a smaller bag if I could, but this is all they had at our Home Depot).

Pete gets full credit for carrying to and from the car and stashing it off the ground in the shed, which is exactly where it stayed for a week as I mustered up the energy to get started. Concensus? Concrete seems like it would be a pain in the ass, but it’s really not bad at all. Plus, it’s always a race against the clock since it begins to cure so quickly, so the project is practically over before it begins. Did I just sell you on it?

To begin to mix the concrete, since I couldn’t lift the bag myself (which I suppose is the huge deterrent for getting started). Because the bag was off the ground (balanced on two chairs), I tore open a corner and began scooping it into the black container slowly.

I mixed water and alternated adding more cement, adding more water, adding more cement until the mix (as Sofie put it) was the texture of peanut butter.

I do not have an exacting formula for you, just know that if you use more water, it will take a little longer to dry.

Droppin' the portland concrete into the taped bucket.

I mixed it right in place rather than in a different container for simplicity, and used a small gardening trowel and rake to make the consistency smooth and lump-free; the rake acted like a whisk and broke up all chunks, just like if I had been beating cake batter. I was also continuously checking how the height of the planter walls would be by squishing the 5-gallon bucket into the mixed cement until it was the height I had envisioned (anywhere between 9-12″ tall).

Once it was ready to be set for drying, I loaded the 5-gallon bucket with bricks to hold it deep into place, and used some duct tape as reinforcement to keep the bucket balanced upright while the cement began to set. Without the tape, the bucket and bricks were bobbing in the cement a little, tilting to the site.

You can see in this next photo how I forced the white bucket all the way to the bottom of the black outer bucket to help figure out how thick the bottom base of the planter should be. Because the wet edge of bucket sticks about 1.5″ above the level line of cement, I knew that the base would be 1.5″ thick.

Cement leveled, bricks weighing down the mold, tape keeping it level up and down.

The good thing about portland cement, I found, was that it wasn’t as bloated with air bubbles as other cements I’ve worked with. I did tap on the outer edge of the black bucket before it set, but I didn’t shove a narrow stick down into the walls of the planter, and still didn’t end up with obvious air bubbles.

Turn the clock 24-hours forward. The cement was set, and I was ready to separate it from the mold. This is where it got tricky.

Because the plastic containers weren’t lubricated with anything like vaseline or Crisco, that cement was sealed in there pretty well. Zoink.

This is where I wish I had more photos of myself, because while I started by gently and cautiously tapping the outer bucket with my palm, I quickly transitioned to blasting it with a hammer and launching the whole piece medicine ball-style with my big ol’ work gloves on for grip. While it seemed to be loosening along the visible edges of plastic, there was no budge. But I was getting a damn good workout. It was 30+ pounds of cement plus buckets, after all. Muscles, baby.

Seriously stuck buckets.

For about a half-an-hour (yes, that long, and I wonder if my neighbors were watching), I forced my hands against the plastics, dropped it upside down, jumped on it, rolled it, launched it, and pulled on it. There just came a point where I figured it would never come out, and was trying to salvage the buckets by holding the whole thing above my head WWE-style and shot-putting it a few feet in front of me into the yard, where it landed hard, digging into the grass. I was never great at shot.

Suddenly, the white bucket popped loose like it should have been extracted simply all along. Kind of like when you try and open a jar of banana peppers for 3 minutes and then ask someone else to try and they break the seal in .0025 seconds. What can I say? I was surprised. And felt accomplished. Notice how cracked the white bucket became after several hard encounters with earth.

White bucket, out. It did get pretty banged up, though.

Removing the outer bucket was a little easier once the inner bucket was out of the way. I bashed it against the ground upside down a few times and hammered against the bottom until I felt it slide loose.

Of course, considering the brutal knock-down it had been enduring, it slid loose in pieces.

Whoops. Busted cement planter.

And not that it’s overly significant, since the rest of the planter was in shambles, but nice chunks of cement did adhere to the drainage holes that I had taped up. I wish that hadn’t happened.

Cement chunks in the base of the mold. Live and learn.

About half of it had loosened, but the other half was still in tact, including most of the base, so I brought it all inside to try and cure the situation with some glue.

Piecing the cement planter back together.

I do know enough about cement that patching it usually involves using more cement, but Pete’s a big collector of glues, epoxy, and generally mega-strong adhesion formulas, so I tapped into a half-empty (or half-full, since it was enough to complete what I was going for), tube of the crafty and strong E-6000 (the same stuff that’s saved my IKEA drawers and Pete’s Aluma-wallet).

Piecing the cement planter back together. The salvaged pieces did fit together pretty easily and, more importantly, evenly, so I gave it a fair shot at living by reinforcing the pieces while the glue dried with blue painter’s tape (since unlike duct or masking, it wouldn’t leave behind a residue on the smooth planter). It was (and is) super smooth to the touch, by the way. I love me that portland cement.

Glued and taped. Not the planter process that I had in mind, but it seems to have worked.

I also smushed the E-6000 into each crack along the inside of the planter in hopes that it would help out. It seems to have acted like a water barrier of sorts, and I’m interested to see how it holds up.

Cracks, glued.

After another day letting the glue dry, I was daring enough to fill it up with potting soil and transplant the big, leafy, happy plant into it’s new home. And freshly watered it. Curious if the glue will hold up; I really have no way of knowing.

Finished planter. Leaving it outside for a few days just in case it crumbles.

Finished planter. Leaving it outside for a few days just in case it crumbles since there are visible cracks all over.Notice the chips in the base? That’s from the holes in the original black container. Even though I taped over them, the cement latched on to remaining ridges and didn’t come off smoothly.

Ridges in the base of the planter. Bummer.

It’ll stay on the deck for a few days for two reasons:

1. The cement is sure to absorb moisture from watering the plant, and I don’t want that moisture seeping into the hardwoods (I need to find a large tray or something for it to sit on);
2. Hello, it’s glued together with E-6000. I half expect it to crumble overnight. Bets on how long it lasts?

P.S. Started working on a smaller one just this morning. Sneak peek? If you can tell, this time I’m using more malleable black plastic 3-gallon containers that Home Depot plants come in. I’ll share a photo update Sunday on the facebook page. I’m cautiously optimistic. Have a cool weekend.

Take Two: Smaller Scale.