Semi DIY Vanity Table

Hey friends!

It's been quiet around these parts because my kids are on spring break this week.  While they're off, I'm tackling Hannah's room with her, and it never ceases to amaze me how much STUFF my daughter amasses from one massive purge to the next.  The girl is a hoarder of nailpolish and sneakers and school papers and oh - SOCKS.  Hair bands.  Earrings.  Water bottles and drinking glasses.  Of my three kids, she hangs out in her room the most - doing homework, chatting with friends, or getting her artsy crafty on.

Since Hannah is heading to high school next year (!!!) she is due for a few tweaks to this room that we decorated when she was ten.  High on my list of changes is a more organized study environment.  I know from experience that if there are distractions like, say, cute nailpolish next to where a math book is open to torturous trigonometry, it is very easy to drift away from studying to other more interesting pastimes.

Part of creating a better study space for Hannah is separating her desk area from her beauty products.  I recently brought in a bigger desk and hutch for her, and while I was at it I made her another area for the amusements of a teenage girl, aka "study distractions".

I present to you a vanity table for H.
Because of it's slim profile, it's worked out really well in a room that already has a good amount of furniture and…..stuff…..so I thought I'd share this simple idea with you.

I just married a small piece of furniture (this little shelf unit that I put together years ago for one of the kid's rooms) with a melamine-coated board from Ikea, and built a very rudimentary support at one end to create a workspace.
Melamine-coated particle board shelves can be found at the big box furniture stores; I bought this one at Ikea for $10.  Turned furniture legs are easily found at Lowes and Hope Depot, but there are already a lot of different "legs" going on in Hannah's room, so I just mimicked the shape and size of the shelving unit to give this vanity a more cohesive look and not make the room busier.

I think Hannah could hardly believe her eyes when I came home with this cheap cheesy chic plastic chair.  It's not exactly quality furniture, but I must admit that when I was trying out all the desk chairs at Ikea, I found this one to be the most comfortable.  And hot pink!

A perfect place to do nails.  And then go study trigonometry.

I can hardly believe this Friday is the last one of the month - you know what that means!  

I hope you'll join Pam, Kris, Jennifer and I in sharing your favorite project from the month of April!  Link up any home improvement, design, DIY, or recipe, we'd love to see the best of your nest!

The kiddos and I are headed off on a little roadtrip to watch my niece Kate play college lacrosse in New York, so my ORC update will be later than usual tomorrow.  I hope you'll stop by to check out what I've discovered about building bookcases myself.  (It's been quite the education!!!!)

Have a great day my lovelies!


One Room Challenge, Week Three

Today marks the halfway point for all us One Room Challenge Linking Participants (ORCLPs!  Woo hoo!!)  Did you catch the 20 ORC designers and what they've accomplished in week three?  There is some true awesomeness happening out there.  It's been so fun to see everyone's progress.

If you're new here (HI and welcome to my little world of crazy), for the ORC I am building a wall of bookcases in my living room.  There are SO many ways you can customize a bookcase between molding, wood and paint.  It's all about the details.  Today let's talk about

It's something I have pondered for a loooong time leading up to finally building these suckers.  There are so many interesting options…….

Solid white (or the same color as the rest of the bookcases)……

{Source Unknown}

a pattern via fabric - 

or even wrapping paper…..
{Pam's bookcases at Simple Details}

an accent color…..
 {Carmel's bookcases @ Our Fifth House}

{Steven Gambrel via Apartment Therapy}

beadboard ….

and paneling….
{Private Residence in Provo, UT via Houzz}

beadboard AND an accent color…...

If I was going with just an accent color I would have painted the panels that came with the Ikea bookcase, like Kate aka Centsational Girl did.

However, one thing I knew from the start is that I wanted planking of some sort.  
{The last ORC project by Elizabeth at The Little Black Door}

{Jill's bookcases at Forever Cottage}

Since there was already a groove in the back of the Ikea bookcases for the panel it came with, I decided to go with a paneled sheet of hardboard.  Sheet paneling is widely available, and depending on your project there are lots of different ways you could go.  I contemplated using real wood beadboard that is about $40 a sheet (Lowes or Home Depot), but decided on hardboard.
{Lowes 4'x8' paneling, L-R:  hardboard beadboard/$19.98, whitewashed paneling/$15.97, unfinished wood paneling/$14.86, white hardboard paneling/$22.98}

I had the sheets cut at Home Depot, so the grooves were horizontal.

Here I want to pause and tell a DO THIS, NOT THAT story to those of you that have any inclination to build Ikea bookcases and change out the backing board.

Since the hardboard (left) was wider than the Ikea panel (right),
I bought a 1/4" router tip for my Dremel and made the grooves on bookcase sides larger.

Below on the floor (um, hi, a dropcloth might have been smart here) is the side of the bookcase with a shelf in the middle.  The left is the groove the bookcase came with; the right is the humungous mess I made by rerouting the groove.

I would strongly recommend NOT doing what I did unless you have a real router tool.  Rerouting the grooves with the Dremel made for uneven grooves, plus the bookcase is coated in laminate, which bunches up and makes a big fat mess, and the Dremel is hard to control.

Since I already had the hardboard cut to fit the back of the bookcases at HD, I had to forge ahead and route all three Ikea bookcases in the same manner.  This was the worst of my rerouting….I got a bit better at controlling the Dremel as I went along….but oh, this is not pretty.

IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER AGAIN I would fill the existing grooves with putty, have the panels cut to fit the outside back of the bookcase, and attach them to the frame of the bookcase with a brad nailer, or attach them directly to the wall.  WAY less work than rerouting.

In the end, all's well that ends well.  The rerouted grooves were the perfect size for the panels, and after a bit of caulking, there is no evidence of my poorly executed rerouting.

I LOVE that little detail that the panel adds, so it was worth the learning curve.  Also, I was deeply considering painting the paneled backs either black or some bluey green, but in the end I decided to keep them white, at least for the time being.

That's it for today, next week I'll show you how I'm trimming out the bookcases to give them a custom finish.

Now I'm off to Calling It Home to see how all the other ORCLPs are doing - join me!


Container Gardening

Hey friends, hope you had an excellent weekend and are ready to charge into the week ahead!

Mark & I had a wonderful weekend away thanks to our amazing parents who took care of the kiddos and dog and house for us, we couldn't be more blessed and grateful.

We left Friday and came home Sunday - just a little getaway to the Cape, where we actually had conversations that did not involve the logistics of getting our children to their games and practices, or what to get at the grocery store, or which bills came in the mail.  We ate, took long walks on beautiful Cape Cod beaches, ate, read, and then ate some more.  We stayed here and it was perfectly quiet before the summer season begins.  Our friends have a summer home in the area that we stayed and made some great restaurant recommendations to us.  One of our favorite new-to-us eateries was the Brewster Fish House.

Aside from the amazing seafood lunch we had here (mussels for Mark and this insanely gourmet, delicious crabcake with homemade orange marmalade sauce for me), their pretty early spring flower pots were so pretty, and got me thinking about my urns at home.

I like how the fresh tulips were fortified with faux forsythia, because it's still early for container gardening around here.  I'm guessing the tulips are still in a plastic container under the moss, so they can be brought inside if a frost is imminent.
I am not a faux plant fan, but if ever there is a time for them, it's Easter.  Aren't those colors so joyful?

I can't wait to get my hands dirty and bring some greenery to my front door and deck. 
Do you like to container garden too?

A few inspirations to whet your whistle…...

Alyssa at 33 Shades of Green has a lovely way with container gardening.

I absolutely love sea grass and think it would be fabulous in a big container like this.

Better Homes & Gardens' guides to planting gardens and containers absolutely rock.  The site has tons (TONS) of inspiration photos that include the names of plants so you can recreate the look yourself.  From past experience I would recommend making a list of several plants that are similar in nature (a spiller, for example) in case you can't find a specific plant at your local nurseries.

Now that I'm back to reality, guess what this lucky girl is doing?  That's right, filling 224 unwanted shelf bracket holes; it's tedious, but oh what a difference that detail makes!  

If you are heading to the lower Cape and want some great restaurant recommendations, drop me a line!
Happy week ahead my dears!


One Room Challenge, Week Two

It's been a big week at this casa thanks to Linda and her One Room Challenge! I've been dreaming of a wall of bookcases for just about ever and the ORC was the perfect motivation to get this done.  I can't think of a better room to have in a house than one that is piled high with books.  Never mind that our current abode has about zero character or architectural interest - it's an empty canvas just waiting for the likes of me - who fancies myself as a carpenter despite having no real skills - to come along and bling it out.

First up - the wall I planned on putting the bookcases on - the one surrounding the French doors - did not work out.

I kind of ignored the fact that the huge armoire in our living room had to go elsewhere to make the bookcases happen on this wall.  I envisioned the armoire in our finished basement, storing blankets and bedding for the extra teens and tweens we always have around the house on the weekends.  Long story short - it weighs a ton and took 4 burly movers to get it in here in the first place, so moving it would not be easy.  (I had blocked that out when I was dreaming of my bookcase wall.)  SO.  Plan B.  Keep the armoire (that I actually like, it just takes up a lot of square footage) in the room, and reconfigure the bookcases.

We put those little furniture sliders under the feet and I pushed it onto this wall.  I don't HATE it there, and there is NO other place on this floor it can go to, so guess what - it's staying.  More on the armoire at a later date because if it's staying it's gonna have to earn it's keep in here
(and can someone tell me why the blinds and armoire look so red in photos but not in real life?)

Down came my black & white photo wall on the wall facing the dining room - and up went three Ikea Billy bookcases.
(They are just leaning against the wall here - not built in yet.)

I toyed with building them from scratch using this bookcase tutorial on This Old House.  In the end, I decided on the Ikea bookcases because they are easy to assemble and I am tackling these on my own.  The bigger task with this project is stabilizing the bookcases to the wall and trimming them out to make them look built-in.

The jury is out on whether buying the Ikea kits is more cost effective than building bookcases from scratch.  At the end of the ORC I'll tell you how much the bookcases and supplies added up to.  

The three Billys I built for the front wall were almost a perfect fit here - just half an inch too long!  I immediately loved them in this spot…..except for the fact that the other side of the doorway into the dining room looked awfully lonely and unbalanced.

I showed some of these last week - bookcases that span over a doorway.  I am a huge fan.  I think they look so custom and just AWESOME.  What do you think about them?
1//Unknown   2//Salt Magazine    3//Lisa Hubbard    4//Madeline Weinrib

Since the ceilings are not very high in this house, there is less than a foot over the bookcases, and crown molding will be taking up a good bit of that, so while I wouldn't be able to have a shelf up there I can box out the space over the doorway like in #4 above to unify the bookcase wall.

Placing a bookcase on either side of the doorway gave me a feel for it and I love them framing out the view into the dining room and our backyard beyond.

Of course no project would be complete without a few issues to work out.  That little wall to the left of the doorway is a funky size and I'm going to have to retrofit the final bookcase in there.  That should be interesting :)

Next week I'll show you what I did to customize the bookcase backs….it might be the part I am most excited about!!

Did you see the progress of all the ORC designers yesterday?  So inspiring!  Today is the day the ORC Linkers share our posts at Calling It Home, and wow is there some crazy talent amongst the linking participants!  Check them out here.

Thanks for stopping by.  The Mister and I are headed off for a very long overdue 3 day getaway tomorrow morning, and I cannot wait!  I have the best parents in law and mom in the world taking our kids to their 27947 activities while we're gone.  #thankgodforgrandparents

Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead, my friends!


Paint Spayers, Round II

Apparently good things can't last forever.  Last fall I blogged about how I had finally bought a paint sprayer and it was rocking my world.  After 1.5 years, it bit the dust for good last week.  Since it was my first one, I am trying to gauge whether it was a good investment or not, and I want to share my experience here because most of the reviews of sprayers online are from folks who have used the sprayer once or twice, but not over a length of time with many uses.

This is the sprayer I have:  a HVLP sprayer - high volume, low pressure, and the paint is sprayed with air through this little portable unit it comes with.  Features I really liked about this sprayer:  pretty user friendly for the paint sprayer newbie; very little overspray; fairly easy to clean up once you get the hang of it; and my favorite attribute - 3 spray patterns so the stream of paint sprays out in a vertical, horizontal or direct fan formation.

I tackled many small and big project with it, from refinishing the dining table and chairs, to exterior entry and garage doors, and one of the best uses for a paint sprayer - getting into all the nooks and crannies of cedar lattice that we had installed under our deck, along with painting the spindles around the deck. 
The sprayer has been great for tedious paint projects - it is AMAZING for covering wicker and cane, and gives a beautiful factory finish to cabinets and doors.  I have used the sprayer for water-based top coats on furniture and absolutely LOVE the smooth finish (the trick is to use a low pressure to avoid bubbles and lightly sand between coats.)

The downside is the cleanup, but in all actuality, if I had painted these items with brushes, I would have spent time cleaning those as well.  However, despite how thoroughly I would clean all the pieces of the sprayer, followed by spraying water through it until I was confident it was completely free of paint, I suspect there was still some buildup inside because recently I have spent more time trying to unclog it than spraying with it.  

When I tackled my cane chairs with the sprayer, I had major sputtering, then overspraying that resulted in drips, and subsequently, sanding and respraying.  Last week I painted a desk for Hannah and the sprayer sputtered and oversprayed like crazy. "Orange peel" is not a desirable finish!!!! 

I searched online and at Lowes to find replacement parts so I wouldn't have to replace the whole unit, but unfortunately Graco does not sell just the spray gun.  WHY OH WHY?  Why wouldn't they make a replacement gun and container?  Oh I know why - so I will purchase a whole new unit for $120…..errrr.

So was it worth the $120?  I wish I got more than 1.5 years out of it, but then again instead of paying someone to paint and re-stain our deck I did it myself, and I have painted many pieces of furniture with it.

One thing is for sure - after using a paint sprayer, I can't go back to life without one!!!!

After reading many, many reviews of paint sprayers for furniture and home projects (vs. professional paint spraying), I decided to try the sprayer that Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook loves and recommends - the Critter 118 Siphon Gun.  This spray gun attaches to a standard "sealer jar", aka Ball glass jar and is powered by an air compressor.  I bought the coupler set and hose that Jenny recommended.  Although the container is small, I like the idea that the jar can easily be replaced if need be.  Also, Jenny recommends filling up several jars of paint for bigger jobs; then you don't have to keep stopping and filling up the container again.

While this gun does NOT have the option of multiple spray patterns, the design is pretty simple and I like that - less to clean, and less likely to clog.  Also, depending on the pressure setting it is on, it will spray from 1/2" to 3.5" and I love the option for that kind of control.

The other blogger-recommended sprayer I considered was from Holly at In The Fun Lane, who painted furniture as a business before moving on to flipping houses.  This is the spray gun Holly uses, which also attaches to an air compressor and is about $65 at Walmart.

If you've used a paint sprayer for several projects, I'd love to hear about what you have and how it has held up over time!