Stepping It Up

May 14, 2012   //  Posted in: Bathroom, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  one response

We were really quick to remove the old bathroom vanity and replace with the new IKEA model during our bathroom renovation. The new sink and vanity were pretty much love at first sight, perfect for us and our 5’9″-ish frames, much more comfortable than average height vanities. While it’s been easy livin’ so far for us, one thing became very apparent: tall vanities for adults are yay, and tall for kids are nay. And let’s be real, kids need to be able to wash their hands easily.

The easy solution was to design and build a little step stool, mostly with Pete’s daughter Julia in mind, but really to service any kids that were needing to use a bathroom sink. (FYI, ours shown in the pictures is by IKEA, but there are lots of others to consider, like sinks and vanities by Kohler Bathroom Sinks).  I built it easily in an afternoon and am really thrilled with it as a utilitarian piece, but also love how it turned out as a whole. Best of all? It was f-r-e-e using scrap wood, and extra screws and bolts.

I started with a single piece of leftover 2x10x4′ pine board, from which I planned to make a chunky wooden model that would be small enough to tuck aside in the bathroom, but tall and sturdy enough to do what it was intended to do, hoist kids closer to the faucet. I got to work.

A single scrap piece of 2x10 board is about to become a new stepstool.

Side note: We used this scrap back in the bathroom tiling days as a place to set our mortar bucket and  tools. Consequently, it still had lots of mortar stuck to it, but it all sanded right off.

Picking measurements for this step stool, I went based on what “felt right” for my bathroom. I ended up with a top surface measuring 15″ in length, two legs measuring 6″ in height, and two center support pieces measuring 10″x3″.

Cutting pieces of wood for the step stool out of a single 4' 2x10 board.

Loosely assembled (upside down), this is how it was designed to come together:

Upside down, dry fit step stool just for show.

I even took an extra step to cut a series of 1-3/4″ circles in the top to serve two purposes: 1) they give adults something quick to grab to pick up and move the step stool out of the way and 2) give the kids feet something to grip to, lessening the chance of accidental slips. No, the holes aren’t big enough for a kid’s foot to accidentally fall through.

Planning for circles to be cut into the top of the step stool.

With the placement of all four circles marked in pencil (evenly spaced apart horizontally and along the same plane vertically) I used a common drill bit to pre-drill through the board itself, and followed up with the hole saw drill bit to create my 1-3/4″ holes.

Pre-drilling isn’t always necessary with the hole saw bit, but these 2x boards are thicker than the hole saw bit is, meaning that I had to cut part way through on the board one way, and then flip it and drill through from the other side. The predrilled hole keeps everything aligned really nicely, so there was no mis-drilling on any of the four holes.

Drilling holes out of the top of the step stool for decoration and purpose.

With the top step of the stool done, I moved on to the base and assembled the frame using 2.5″ wood screws and several sized drill bits to create a counter-sunken effect. We don’t own a Kreg jig, but by pre-drilling with a small bit and then following up by drilling about 1/4″-1/2″ with a bit larger than the head of the screw, you can achieve the same finished effect by sinking the screws out of sight but still at the necessary angle.

Countersinking the screws into the base of the step stool.

Getting the base fully assembled was an effort, because the drill itself is only so tiny to get into the small area between each reinforcements. I wanted all eight screws hidden within the frame, not visible from the outside, so I made do by using Pete’s impact driver which is a bit shorter and narrower than the rest of our cordless and corded drills. Still a tighter fit than if the entire stool was 18″ long instead of 15″, but it worked well.

Assembled step stool base. Radically secure thanks to eight 2.5" wood screws.

By attaching the step stool top to the frame from beneath using four 4″ lag bolts, I was able to achieve a finished look that was clean-lined without protruding bolts and screws, and really, really sturdy.

Installing the lag bolts into the bottom of the step stool to attach the top.

The finished piece is sanded smooth but still raw wood and heavy; I’m planning on eventually giving it a coat of stain to finish it off although I’m kind of digging how nice the light wood looks beside the IKEA veneer. It’s a charming little addition to the bathroom.

Finished step stool for the bathroom.

It fits perfectly beside the sink and is easily accessed, but is completely out of the line of traffic when you’re walking into and out of the bathroom. Easy enough to slide out of the way with your foot, and thanks to the holes in the top, it’s a pinch to pick up as well.

Finished step stool for the bathroom.

Make anything handy this weekend?

Cinco de Happiness (en Mayo)

May 11, 2012   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  14 responses

From time to time, I do little DIYs that make me happy. Or ask for advice on completely miscellaneous projects. Or get compelled to remind you that I’m human by admitting that I’ve never once checked to see that the door to the office closed, only to find this week that it doesn’t even fit into its own doorframe. How weird.

In celebration of Mayo, we’ve been pigging out on tacos and guacamole, and did a few little projects to boot.

1. I raised the roof.

Not really, I raised the curtains in the sunroom. It was a subtle change, but it raises the height of the room which translates to “I’ve raised the roof”. Last fall when I installed muslin curtains I must have had on my super-flat shoes. They were installed to be level with the top of the window, but after gawking at them for the last few weeks while I work at the new sunroom table, I decided they weren’t hung close enough to the ceiling, making the whole room look squatty. There was an easy fix to cure their weird positioning: raise them up 6 inches. Fortunately, there was plenty of extra length to the curtains, and they were adjusted without a hitch.

Raise the roof, or just raise your curtains.

2. I passed it on.

Big thanks to The Better Half for choosing me to participate in Karah’s Pass It On Project; what a sweet surprise it was to find these tile coasters in the mail!

Cute little coasters!

In exchange, I happily picked a few friends and fellow bloggers to “pass it on” to, Cait of Hernando House and Erin of Erin B. Inspired. Both funny and talented ladies have been long time supporters of my little blog, and I wanted to give them a little love in return, so I sent off two handmade wooden picture frames with windows just a little bigger than 3″x3″. Made with reclaimed real 2″x4″ boards from local salvage, the wood is warm and rich and still very lightweight from being dried out for the last 80 years. Mailed with plexiglass and wire, they’re both perfectly imperfect but have a great history and natural charm.

Wooden handmade frames from salvaged scrap.

3. I destroyed Pete’s Harley. And I need your help.

OK, not really destroyed, but I did get a terrible amount of oil-based stain on the fender over the winter during one of my little outdoor staining projects. The good news is that he isn’t angry with me. The bad news is that nothing I’ve tried has worked to remove it (I’ve been testing products on the plastic tail light splatters, not yet on the delicate finish of the actual fender). Not acetone, not car cleaner, not car wax, not soap. I guess I still need to try mineral spirits, which is what I normally use to clean up my paint brushes, and I might try WD-40 as a final effort, but I’m thinking it’ll have to go to the shop for a buffer. Any other tips (I’m lookin’ at you, Rust-Oleum)? And how much does it cost to get a motorcycle refinished?

Bad girlfriend, dirty Harley.

4. I’ve been doing research.

There are only two doors in my home that appears to be original to the house. The rest, the bedroom doors, bathroom door,  and basement door are 4 styles of mismatched hollow economy-style models. And what’s there now is dinged, cracked, and stained at that. Two of the closet doors are totally removed and MIA. Replacing all of them has been on my list for awhile, and the planning intensified recently when I realized that the office door doesn’t even close (right, I haven’t even tried to shut it in 3 years).

Who knew, the door to the office doesn't even close.

Instead of buying new, I’m looking to find salvaged doors that match the original charm of the house. I’ve started my search, hoping to find bargain-priced originals sized to match my door frames. $15 each would do, if I could possibly get so lucky. This one here would actually fit the office doorframe perfectly.

Bargain-priced replacement door option.

We shall see how easy this proves.

5. I finally made a decision. And I’m happy with it.

I don’t usually splurge on a Groupon/Living Social deal unless I know with certainty that I can use it and make it worth my investment. We’ve eaten a lot of Sushi over the last year this way which has been fun, but California Rollin’ seems to have finally caught onto our clever way of getting 8 rolls for a $15 Groupon and changed all its rules pertaining to the deal. Shucks.

When I bought one for during the winter, I considered it an insta-win. Priced at $10 to get $20 in merchandise, I figured there’d be plenty of items for me to pick from. Fast-forward 3 months, and I had spent hours scouring for anything that I could buy that wasn’t a total investment piece (I wanted to keep my purchase close to the $20 store credit) but there was nothing I needed or wanted for the value. In the end I landed on a $29.99 woven basket which came in the mail yesterday. Good news: It’s darling. And I’ll keep it. I take back all of those frustrated comments about the site.

Woven Basket by Nkuku.

I hadn’t done much research on the product or its brand pre-purchase, because I was in a Living Social redemption panic 2 hours before it expired, but when it arrived I was excited to see that it was a legit nkuku product, which according to the website retails for £39.95, a figure that converts to about $64.50USD based on today’s currency exchange.

Sitting within my CB2 bedside table, it’ll be good for holding an extra blanket and a few books.

Woven Basket by Nkuku.

Best of all: If we have the same decor taste, I think you’re going to really like everything that nkuku sells. Inspired by African and Indian artists, its contemporary designs are super-eco, made from natural materials, there’s some really great stuff to swoon over. I’m going ga-ga for these Franjipani Floral Cups, the Ishara Basket, and the Oni Glass Collections Box. And everything else. You?

Have a fun weekend (and Happy Mothers Day)!


DIY Network: Seriously Floral

May 10, 2012   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, Decor, DIY, DIY Network Projects, Entryway   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Door decor happens to be something I’m wildly attuned to, that’s why I try to keep to a seasonal swap-out schedule. I like to keep things fresh. I happen to believe that this decor is a big deal, mostly because the more I focus on the wreaths I make for the front door, the less I dwell on the fact that the driveway’s slowly turning from asphalt to sand. Issues, issues.

In today’s post on DIY Network, I explore an amazing Rochester, NY shop and come home with beautiful blossoms to display. And then I make something pretty. Check out all the details for yourself!

Pretty flowers, wet hair, no big deal.

Preferred Plants rules, Rochestarians. You’ll want to make a special trip to see the store yourself. It’s located at 1300 University Ave., right in front of Pomodoro, so you can have dinner and drinks after browsing and buying too, OK? OK.

If you’re looking for more info on the store, my friend Danielle posted about it yesterday. She gets a one-up though, she caught wind that they were having a Mothers Day sale and shared a coupon with her readers. Go steal it for yourself.

And to fans in Charlotte, NC, word on the website is that you just got your own shop too. I want you to go be there. (See location info here.)