Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Measuring Up

In my last post, I mentioned that I was almost finished with a project I've been working on for what seems like forever. Today I am thrilled to sit back, take a deep breath, and declare it finally DONE! I've mentioned before that one our favorite places to hang out on summer evenings is our front porch, but we've struggled with finding a table that fits both the style of the room and the size of the space.  Finally one day while strolling through the antique mall, we came upon this:

I think its actually supposed to be a bench, but it's the perfect size for a table. Unfortunately, the top was in pretty bad shape:

So I primed and painted the whole thing white, to match the other porch furniture, and Lance cut two pieces of plywood to put over top of the damaged top. This is the one part of the project I didn't do myself because I have a fear of table saws (thanks to the gory tales of my 7th grade shop teacher). Oddly enough, I'm fine with other kinds of saws, but table saws? NOPE NOPE NOPE!

I attached the new top with my old friend Liquid Nails (I'm sure wood glue would have worked just fine too) and put a bunch of extra pieces from the fence posts on top of it overnight.

And NOW for the fun part! A long time ago I'd seen a dresser where the top had been covered with old yardsticks and I'd been wanting to try it myself for quite a while. THIS is the part that took months- collecting the yardsticks.  We foolishly thought they'd be plentiful, but apparently yardstick-topped furniture has been making the rounds on Pinterest and people were buying them up like crazy (which leads antique dealers to price them extra high).  We scoured every garage sale and antique mall within a 50 mile radius, and Lance's mom picked up a bunch for us at garage sales as well.  FINALLY we had enough to cover the top!

I started by cleaning them all with mineral spirits, and then I used a miter saw to cut them down to the right sizes. I stained them different colors after cutting them because I wanted to make sure the cut edges were stained as well.

Attaching them was a TEDIOUS process- I laid them out and re-arranged them a million times, and when I was happy with the layout, I had to very carefully wood glue each one down.  This had to be done really slowly so that the yardsticks didn't shift around before the glue dried, since one crooked stick would throw all of the others off.  Once this was done, I very carefully put every heavy thing I could find on top to hold them in place.

The next day, I was nervous about taking everything off because I was worried things had shifted, but luckily everything was pretty solidly glued in place.

One thing this project taught me is to never use a yardstick to actually measure something. So many of them were not straight, or slightly off in their measurements!

So I used wood filler to fill in the little spaces in between them and once it dried I colored it in with one of these.  It wasn't until later that I realized I could have just used the wood-colored wood filler in the first place, but oh well. This way worked too.  Then I added 3 thick coats of poly, and it was DONE!

I'm really happy with how it turned out! I definitely learned a few things while doing this that I would do differently next time, but overall it came out looking just like I pictured it, which doesn't happen very often :)

Steve likes it too, mostly because it provides a shaded place for him to sleep for his usual 23 hours per day.

Dylan refuses to go anywhere near Steve, so he just sat and glared from his perch above.

Now that it's done, and we have this fancy pants table to set our summer cocktails on, porch lounging just got a whole lot better!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Furniture

Now that we have completed the arbor in the side yard, we are working on clearing out some of the furniture projects that have been filling the garage for the past couple of months.  Most of them came from an especially good day of garage sale-ing in Waupun:

I actually had to use the panorama setting on my phone to get everything in one shot! And this doesn't even include a huge deco buffet with bakelite handles that didn't need any work (hooray for no work!).

Right away I started working on this set of wrought iron chairs:

They were in great shape but just needed a little facelift.  I removed the teal vinyl seat covers and replaced them with a durable outdoor fabric:

And spray painted them a bright emerald green color to match the pattern on the seat covers. I totally underestimated the amount of spray paint I would need to cover them all- those scroll backs have a LOT of surface area! I ended up making an extra trip back to the hardware store for more paint and used every drop of it.

I then moved on to this little nightstand that we picked up for $5.  And even better, at the same sale we picked up a gallon of paint for 50 cents, which just happened to be a perfect color!

Judging by the grooves inside, I think it used to have at least two shelves in the bottom, but those are long gone.  And not only did it have a not so pleasing shade of brown paint on it, it was SUPER smooth brown paint. So I had to sand the heck out of it with really coarse sandpaper to even get the primer to stick.  I've discovered that spray primer is an awesome thing when working on smaller pieces. It's so much faster and it gets into all of the little grooves and uneven parts much easier than a brush.  So in the end, it came out looking like this:

I think it would look really nice with a large basket in the shelf space underneath. Unfortunately the paint color looks different depending on the lighting- but the color is called Salty Sea by Pittsburgh Paints. It's a vintage looking bluish-minty green color that's really pretty, especially with the glass knobs. I lined the inside of the drawer with the shelf paper I got from the dollar bins at Target.

Meanwhile, I am just about finished with a project for our front porch that I've been working on for MONTHS! I'm pretty happy with how it is turning out, so hopefully I will be able to post pictures within the next few days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Arbor Day

After all of our hard work last year, it just doesn't feel like summer unless we're building a fence! Whenever I try to do something ill-advised, like carry too many grocery bags at once, Lance warns me, "don't be a hero!" In this case, maybe someone should have said that to both of us as we decided to finish off the fence by adding another section and an arbor on the side of the house. We actually bought the arbor last year but didn't have time to get to it before school started again, so after a whole winter of taking up a ton of space in the garage, we made it a priority to get it done this year.

Earlier this spring, we ripped down the makeshift trellis (made out of PVC pipes) and overgrown rose bushes that used to cover the windows of our parlor. Here's how it looked once that was done:

(Pay no attention to the double copyright notice on all of the photos- photo editing FAIL!)

Then Lance spent a couple of days putting the arbor together and sealing it:

Last year the absolute WORST part of building the fence was digging the post holes. This time around we only needed to do two holes and they weren't as deep since we were only doing a 4' tall fence for this section. So Lance was able to dig the holes by hand pretty easily and he didn't run into any tree roots or giant rocks, which made it much better. Then we added a layer of gravel and a few bags of cement (which can be mixed right in the hole) and let it set overnight.

Bright and early this morning we headed back out to put everything together. Thanks to a new corded drill we got from my parents as a Christmas present, it went fairly quickly! We did have to make an extra trip to the store in the middle because several of  the fence pickets we'd saved from last summer dried out and split over the winter and were no longer usable. But now that we're finished, we're pretty happy with the result!

We probably won't be able to seal the new part until later in the summer, but luckily it's just a small section, so that shouldn't take too much time. Now of course I just want to do some landscaping around it (as if I don't already have more than enough flowers to water every day). that Lance yelling "Don't be a hero!!"?   :)