A Stained Wall And A New Lobster Fetish

September 12, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Being Thrifty, Decor, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  13 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?

May I interrupt this week of shiplap staining for a surprise floor redo?

September 09, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Flooring, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  21 responses

Here’s something I bet you didn’t see coming.

A sneaky, impromptu sunroom floor redo.

Buh-bye, DIY-stenciled sunroom dots. You were fun while you lasted.

The backstory on this second-time-around-sunroom-floor-painting-balooza has to do with 4 things:

1.) Wear.
2.) Tear.
3.) Flatness.
4.) Kitchiness.

The DIY stencil that I was so happy about last winter and spring was easy to create (you can read the whole DIY stencil tutorial here). Putting the stencil to action and adding a little pizazz to the sunroom was also easy, although it took a few days. More than anything, it made for a reasonably enjoyable porch floor and topic of conversation.

Dotty edge of the sunroom.

But the flat paint wasn’t ideal. For the record, I had originally wanted a glossy sunroom floor paint to complement the glossy polyurethaned hardwood floors throughout the rest of the house, but a flat version in light gray was the only option by Glidden the day I went shopping. And I had a coupon. So naturally, I couldn’t not use it. And I was in a rush trying to get back to my ex-office after my lunch break; hurried, cheap, and anxious shoppers usually settle for what’s there.

Other things went wrong too. At one point during the summer when I was all busy making barnwood picture frames, I had accidentally glued a frame to the floor. Whoops. No damage to the frame, but there was some damage to the floor.

Whoops, the wood glue from a framing job peeled up some of the porch floor paint.

And furthermore, from a cleanliness standpoint, the flat gray always felt filthy. Furry floors are something you get used to when you have a massive dog friend who sheds 365-days a year, but for some reason it’s more noticable and grating when it’s spotlighted on flat gray porch paint (the poly’ed hardwoods definitely hide it better on days that I get lazy).

It seemed no amount of sweeping would keep the sunroom floor looking clean.

Dirty, dog-fur covered door. This was also post-sweeping. I hope you're amused.

The dots themselves, from a design standpoint, ended up looking a bit too country-kitch for me. I might have been channeling Frank from Trading Spaces circa 2000 when I thought these up, but one good thing can be said from that experience: It’s Just Paint.

Paint comes and goes, so I decided before wintertime to come up with a new sunroom floor. Of course, It meant that I needed to suck it up and invest in new porch floor paint to achieve that glossy finish of my dreams. At $25 a gallon for Valspar porch & floor paint, and a design in mind that would require me to buy both the glossy light gray and the glossy dark gray, this was a $50 project (that ended up being totally worth it to me, but keep reading on to see why). If there was no other reason to validate this splurge, the fact that I would still have 3/4 of each gallon ready for other floor-painting projects, should they arise, is pretty nice.

Glossy Dark and Light Gray Porch & Floor Paint by Valspar

The new design was going to be more sleek. Totally streamlined. More modern than scalloped pastel polka dots, and more fitting for the room adjacent to the bright gold living room with shiny hardwood floors.

I started with a new coat of the glossy light gray paint to cover the wretched flat, which I did after thoroughly power sanding off as many of the polka dots that I could, washing, and cleaning the floor.

The new coat of paint, dry in this photo, was already doing an awesome job keepin’ up it’s promise of shine, shine, shine. Oh. And you can see some of the dots texture. I’m going to try and not let that bother me, but yes, it’s subtly there.

Shiny sunroom floor.I should note that the Valspar brand of light gray floor paint was considerably darker than the Glidden light gray I used a few years ago. Not a deterrent for me, but if you’re looking for a durable floor paint in light-light gray, you might want to check out Glidden first.

Design time. We’re not sure what to call the pattern. I don’t want to rely on the general “sunburst” descriptor, but Pete likes to think that we made a compass on the floor.

Call it what you will, it’s fresh.

It involved making this template with the help of a protractor and ruler along the straight edge of a piece of paper, so that I had direction on how to evenly space the lines that would extend outward from the doorway. It took several calculating tries, the final ones flagged with the Sharpie arrows.

Floor angle template.

Sunroom floor taping of the new design.Note #1: The center point is off center from the door. That was purposeful because I liked the way it looked; a little bit less exacting seemed like it would be more fun than something perfectly centered on the doorway.

Note #2: The pieces of tape in every other triangle indicated for me which spaces were going to remain light gray in color.

Once the floor was taped, Pete suggested that because the floorboards are lightly uneven, it’d be a great idea to go over each piece of tape with the lighter base floor color that was already applied and dry.

That way, when I applied the darker paint coat in every-other triangle, there will already be a clean paint line sealing up the tape to the floor, eliminating any and all chances for the dark paint to bleed through (which we all know does happen from time to time even with Scotch Blue, even moreso with uneven surfaces or hard-to-adhere-to surfaces).

This worked fantastically, and for the first time ever, I had no spots to retouch.

It really wasn’t a hard project, and I (for once) didn’t even seem to take many photos of the easy steps; once the paint was totally dry, I removed the tape and basked in clean-line-heaven, and a more modern, clean-lined sunroom floor.

Whoa, floor stripy.

And it’s less kitchy and handmade-stencil looking, but it’s still worthy of being a topic of conversation. Not a lot angles I can take photos in that small room, so how about a nice one from the doorway?

Whoa, floor stripy.

You like?

Are you surprised?


Tim Gunn Stopped By And Said…

September 08, 2011   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  7 responses

“Make it work, staining-newbie.”

Obviously, no. Not really. But there was a time during this whole staining-the-shiplap project that I needed the encouragement and perspective of a Tim Gunn. Or Emily Henderson. Or Mike Holmes. Or my mom.

OK, I’ll back up for a second. Remember the new paneled headboard wall that I showed you Tuesday?

Shiplap wall: Progress.

Once the boards had been installed, I was so unexpectedly pleased with the natural wood appearance that I decided to try staining the wall instead of painting gray to match the rest of the room after all.

How about that? My only concern upfront was if I could find stain that would be dark enough to cover the bazillion knots in the (totally true-to-form) knotty pine. Naturally, you’ll know if you’ve ever gone brown stain shopping that there are about 100 different options to choose from, although once I had eliminated any that appeared to be too light to disguise the knots and passed over any there riddled by a mischevious reddish undertone, I was left with two. Meet Jacobean and Dark Walnut, my new samples subjects. Oh, and Ebony sneaked into the cart too just incase it knocked my socks off and complemented the already gray walls amazingly (at $4.50 a piece, the samples weren’t going to break the ol’ bank). I was joyous bringing them home, mostly because I like adding more dark cozy colors to the house, and I had a hunch that one of these would fit right in since most of the furniture in the house is dark walnut or that famous IKEA black-brown.

Minwax stain samples from Home Depot. $4.50 each.

Before I did anything stain or paint-related, I really needed to take care of the 100 or so nail holes and 4 noticeable seams in the paneling, like this seam that you can see right here:

One of the 4 seams on the wall. I was lucky to only have that many.

My wood filler is MIA so I bought a replacement product also offered by Minwax that was labeled as stainable and paintable. Did I want to stain it? Yes. Might I need to paint it? Yes. Check, check, this was the ideal partner-in-crime. Plus, it clearly stated on the packaging that it was the ideal counterpart for the stain samples I had already picked out. I should note that this is not a post sponsored by Minwax, they just seem to have infiltrated both Home Depot and Lowe’s (good for them) and I wasn’t able to find any of my tried-and-true Elmer’s wood putty at either store (bad for me).

Recommended Minwax Stainable Wood Filler.

The wood filler did seem nice and fresh. Not only did it go on as smooth and cleanly, but was like nice light mousse with a slight grain which was nicer to work with than other more putty-like fillers I’ve encountered in passing. Comparable to as if I was prodding my finger (for the smaller nail holes) and the paint scraper (for applying over the paneling seams) into a vat of tiramisu or lightweight wall spackle.

After a quick sanding, it left the nail gun holes undetectable to the touch.

Nail holes no longer detectable to the touch. Success.

To test each stain – the Ebony, Jacobean, and Dark Walnut – I applied each stain two ways; by leaving it un-wiped to fully saturate the board, and also wiped (after a minute of soakage) to see how a lighter saturation would appear and cover the knots comparatively. I was generally leaning towards Dark Walnut, the stain furthest at the bottom on the right that was allowed to fully saturate into rich color. Rich, warm, and sexy.

Stain sampling.

This is when I cried loudly for Pete (and the staining champ equivalent of Tim Gunn).

It was game-changer. On both the saturated and less-saturated examples, we had less than adequate stain coverage on the I’m-going-to-be-stain’s-best-friend wood filler.

Stain sampling. WAIT, that's not covering up the wood patching.

I sulked a bit. A lot. And then went back with a soaked Q-Tip to concentrate the stain directly on the problem areas.

Concentrating my staining efforts directly on the wood filler problem areas.

Still no success. Heart. Breaking. Was there anything I could do? Maybe. I started with research.

Here are general learnings gleaned from basic online searches, Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis, and the Minwax customer support forums:

1. Stainable filler doesn’t mean that you can stain over it and expect it to absorb the same way as the wood. In fact, stainable means that you can tint the filler before you even use it to match the stain you’re using. No, this is not mentioned on the wood filler package, nor are there directions on the package for how to mix with stain, but a smartiepants all over the Minwax forums was all over correcting about 300 other people who had complained about the same issue I was experiencing.
2. If you stain over little holes without filling them, they would probably have been undetectable anyways. I’m sure this doesn’t also apply to the seams in the boards, but knowing this ahead of time would have meant that I wouldn’t have filled the little nail holes.
3. And proposed solutions from Minwax customer support:
A) avoid a fine sandpaper (lower than 100 grit) to keep the filler porous (I probably went to fine. Remember how the patches were undetectable?);
B) stain immediately after the filler cures (I had, and there was no trying again.);
C) apply Minwax Stain Gel in the same tone with a paint bruch (may be my last resort);
D) and the option D, which I’m trying right now, dampen a piece of 100-grit sandpaper with the stain, and basically wet-sand the color into the effected area.

Initial impressions of Option D? This might work. There are still some obvious show-throughs, let alone the fact that you can see right on through to my original test swatches (OOPS). And my fingers are going to be permanently stained dark walnut. Here’s my progress as of just this morning…

Staining progress. Splotchy and blotchy.

I still have some work to do on the other side of the window, not to mention inbetween each panel with a finer applicator.

And you’ll notice, there aren’t many visible patches. If visible, they present like the knots in the wood.

Staining progress. Knots and patches.

Will I keep it? We’ll see; Minwax recommends a 48-72 hour dry time on its stains, so hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll have a good idea of how well the stain has taken, and whether it’s going to make the cut as a permanent bedroom feature. In any case, this is the largest and most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted staining.

And I’m surprised by the level of difficulty.