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Rainbow Kitchen Cabinets (+ Better Options)

July 28, 2014   //  Posted in: DIY Network Projects, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  one response
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I made a New Years Resolution for DIY Network that I was going to attempt to modernize and update our existing kitchen over the course of the year. I already painted the ceiling and over the beige wallpaper and updated some of the electrical switches, but painting the cabinets is going to be the biggest and most impacting of all of the upgrades. I get a lot of mixed reviews when I mention this to friends in person – paint the hardwood doors, no! – but I think it would be a totally different story if the base of the cabinets had been left hardwood… right now, it’s duo-toned, and needs something more drastic to bring it to a point that it’ll flow with the rest of our home’s brightened design.

That’s where Photoshop came into play; thank goodness for Pete, and his ability to make me a fully-editable template using an existing photograph so that I could play with every feasible color combination and get a better sense of what will work, what doesn’t seem to work, and experiment with visualizing combinations I never would have imagined. I let Julia play with the tools in Photoshop too, which immediately meant rainbow kitchen.

Rainbow kitchen, courtesy of Photoshop and our 7-year old.

I’m pretty excited about the combinations that we’re narrowing down between – there is definitely one that we keep gravitating towards (guess?). Have a look at all of the options in this post on Made + Remade, and weigh in with your own thoughts over there!

Our Great Treehouse (The Lowdown On The Spraydown)

July 27, 2014   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY, Supporting Sponsors   //  By: Emily   //  one response
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We got a bit ahead of ourselves on the whole treehouse thing and stained the t1-11 just a few days after it had been hung. This was before railings, stairs, roof structure went into place, so even though I knew we’d have to go back and stain more at a later time, I did it more to satisfy my own curiosity in how the structure would appear from the road. Bare naked, the raw wood against dark trees stood out a bit. But stained entirely an opaque brown? Totally camo’ed, just a little w-i-n for our sense of privacy.

This was the first time I used a gift that Black & Decker gave me a few years back – a SmartSelect HVLP Sprayer that they said was intended for applying thin stains and paints. I guess that makes it a sponsored post? Not sure, writing about it wasn’t a requirement, but I disclose things like this because I may not have bought this exact brand if I had done loads of product research or had to pay for a paint sprayer out of pocket (the product I used in this post for painting pegboard was a dinky little goober from Harbor Freight). And truth be told, I don’t know if this is model falls into good/better/best when compared to competitors, I only know how it worked for us. But anyways, free sprayer. Put to use. Thanks Black & Decker.

Black & Decker HVLP Paint and Stain sprayer... and the baby.

We had originally purchased a water-based Olympic Maximum brand stain in Oxford Brown for another project that fell by the wayside (refinishing these adirondack chairs, which we did want to be opaque to cover an existing color), but the dark brown was a similar color that we would have gravitated towards for the treehouse, so it worked out that we had it on hand when I was feeling the spontaneous need to test out color. It took a little bit of trial and error to determine how much we needed to dilute the  stain, because the Oxford Brown opaqueness wasn’t fluid enough to flow productively through the gun. We probably got about 2 gallons of staining out of the one gallon can after having diluted the product by about 50% with water during each refill (the directions definitely say DO NOT DILUTE, but sometimes ignore that).

We thought a bit about whether it would just be faster to roll on, but given the spacing in the paneling, we figured that we would have had to go back over it with a brush anyways to paint in the gaps; spraying was pretty easy (good arm workout), and definitely went quickly. (I started by spraying the entire board surface at first, but then decided it was more efficient to focus on the vertical board spacing, and follow back over to coat the surface of the board.

Spraying stain onto our t1-11 treehouse panels.

Spraying definitely isn’t the most cost-efficient way of doing a project like this because it does mist in a way that some is inevitably wasted, but it still only took me about 3/4 of a gallon to finish the entire exterior (had I not been diluting, this may have used a gallon and a half?).

Spraying stain onto our t1-11 treehouse panels.

Pete stained the floor inside the treehouse when it was his turn to play, working from the back corner out to the porch area. We did go back with a brush to get the stain evenly inbetween each board, but it was still reasonably efficient to use the sprayer to cover each floorboard since the tool was already out and dirty.

Staining the floors of our treehouse with a sprayer.

Speaking of dirty, there’s probably some time limit on using a paint sprayer in between flushes; even though the stain we were using was diluted, there was build up at the nozzle that needed to be cleaned every 20 minutes or so, and I consider that wasted product. Even though we still had a lot of work to do to finish the treehouse at this point, it was great to see the outside structure in its finished color.

Treehouse staining.

Our Great Treehouse (The Walls-Up-Update)

July 23, 2014   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses
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I’d grade us a solid-A on our success in the proclaimed “Summer of Making No Plans.” Travel has been minimal (all pleasure, no pressure!), weekends at home have been plentiful (busy!), and for the first summer in a long time, it feels nice not to have a fully booked calendar. We bought a gas grill. A riding lawnmower. Planted a beautiful vegetable garden. Kept a fully-stocked fridge for dinners in, and are maximizing our treat receipts to the fullest possible extent. Refreshing, in many senses.

The summer staycation of 2014 is probably the only reason we’ve come as far as we have in our outdoor cleanup efforts; winter was so long in NY, that we basically look to spend as much of our day outdoors as possible.

The treehouse we’re building for the kids is coming along really well too, which is the real reason for this update. When I initially showed you how far we’d come, we had framed out the walls surrounding the raised platform structure.

It’s worth documenting that we’ve had to remind ourselves repeatedly that this is a p-l-a-y h-o-u-s-e, but even so, it’s becoming one of the most well-built structures in our portfolio. A natural wood exterior and structure was always something we agreed upon – this is mostly because we also agreed that being able to stain or paint it to blend into the wooded yard was optimal – but we wavered between using individual boards, or pieces of paneling to complete the walls because cost was one of the biggest hurdles. We had been talking about siding options all the while, but it took us a few weeks to come to a decision. See, the height of the walls ranged between 35″-78″, and because the wall circumference measures somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-38-ft. around, that’s a lot of surface area, and a lot of money (for a kid’s rough and tough playhouse).

Walls and floor of our new treehouse.

T1-11 wasn’t my first choice, but after about a week of sense-talkin’, Pete turned me around (I was pushing for individually installed vertical boards, which would have cost about $100 more). The solid paneling felt a little “too commercial-grade finished” initially, but now that it’s installed, it was definitely the perfect fit (also, it looks way more finished than anything I had in mind for this project). What I’m showin’ here is a product with 4″ spaces, or something close to that. We actually went with the t1-11 that presented as 8″ panels (it’s right on the bottom-most shelf there), because I thought better fit the scale of the structure well.

T1-11 for the kid's treehouse.

When compared to the detail work that would have been necessary with individual boards, it didn’t take all that long to install the sheets of t1-11 with just a few strategically placed screws and all of our muscles. Sometimes we employ children to take pictures of us doing projects, and those photos don’t always turn out super well. Blurry armpit holes!

Installing t1-11 on our treehouse.

So, yeah, the t1-11 walls were installed in just a few days, and it only took us more than one day because we had to go back to the store to buy more paneling after pulling the whole “let’s just see how far these 4 boards go and not bother measuring” thing. We needed a total of eight 4′x8′ sheets, BTW, which is not inexpensive at around $36/sheet, but have lots of little leftover scraps for which I already have another project planned. For budget comparison’s sake, the individual boards we were looking at ran in the neighborhood of $8-10/1x6x8′ board, so it could have easily been 2x or 3x as expensive to go that route. Alternately, we also looked into using fence panels or single fence pieces, which would have been a little more affordable, but weren’t available in longer than 6′ lengths, which was just a little shy of what we needed.

Of all of the inspiration images we sourced, one detail that resonated with me was a giant round window, the type of detail that would play off the modernness of the overall structure. We planned for it in advance, leaving an opening roughly 48″ x 48″ wide in the studded wall framing that would host the window in the “front”. When it came time to measure for and cut the circle out of the t1-11, we made the classic oversized protractor by locating the center of the area and drilling a screw into it, and then attaching a ~23″ string to it, with a pencil tied to the opposite string end.

We went over the line several times until we were confident that it was as symmetrical as possible, and then I cut the circle free using a jigsaw.

Cutting a circle into T1-11 for the kid's treehouse modern window.

It felt pretty rewarding to see this much progress in just a few days. I had been in a rush to snap these finished shots (used a 50mm lens that I had recently used to snap portraits of the girls, it auto-focused on all of the wrong places, which maybe makes them more artsy-fartsy than usual)… step-by-step photos are often an afterthought lately, because time is of the essence. Do you know how much more you can get done when you’re not stopping to take photos every 45 seconds because, BLOG? Bloggers can relate to this, but parents can relate to the need to GO-AS-FAST-AS-POSSIBLE during nap time.

We installed t1-11 as the outer walls of our modern children's treehouse.

We installed t1-11 as the outer walls of our modern children's treehouse.

We’ve done a bit more since this step in all honesty (I stained some areas, and then we made some railing progress), but I figured it would be better to get this post up rather than nothing, because I’ve been working through this draft to for about a week now.

How’s your chill summer going?