Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shelving and Snow

Sorry for the last of posts for the last couple of months. We haven't had any major projects going on, although we did install wire shelving in our linen closet (photos below) and replace another door (no pictures of that).

We forgot to take pictures for most of the beginning... we tore out the old MDF shelves, patched the holes, and painted the whole thing (it smelled funny, which is what prompted this project). Here I am installing the clips for the shelves:

And, of course, here are our furry friends "helping" with the measuring tape (their favorite!):

And the glorious finished product:

This morning we woke up to a winter wonderland! Adam cleared the driveway, while I took pictures :) We're considering ourselves lucky that we got all our Christmas lights up last weekend!

Front yard:

And back yard:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Refinishing a Kitchen Table, Part 2

The kitchen table is finally finished, and moved back into the kitchen tonight! Here are photos from the rest of the process. After stripping off the old varnish and stain, I was down to bare wood. Then I sanded and stained. These two pieces below are the two leaves; the one on the left has the stain already wiped off. On the right, it's still waiting to be taken off.

After two coats of stain, I did two coats of oil-based polyurethane over the top. You can see it below, where the tabletop is shiny! Next, I primed the legs and sides of the table that I was planning on painting black. I used oil-based primer, too, as water-based products can "raise the grain" of the wood. (Shout-out here to YHL, whose furniture painting tutorial provides much of my inspiration for these types of projects!) As they point out, you can totally use a latex paint over an oil-based primer.

I used Behr's paint/primer combination paint for the legs (we've used this stuff a lot on walls, and it's fabulous). The color is actually Black Onyx from Glidden. But The Home Depot will mix up whatever you want for you, so you can switch back and forth with their brands, which is nice. After a couple coats of paint, I put on a coat of water-based polycrylic finish to make the rest shiny... and here's the finished result!

The cats enjoyed checking it out... it was sort of like they totally forgot what a kitchen table was. Guess it was out in the garage for too long! :)

We're glad that we are now going to be able to park in the garage, too--just in time for cooler weather!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Refinishing a Kitchen Table

I have undertaken what's turning out to be a lengthy project, so I've decided to split it into two posts. I'm still not done, but am getting close!

We acquired a table from a coworker of Adam's (we traded her for a lemon meringue pie!). It's a really nice all oak table with two removable leaves, but the varnish was starting to come off in places. We've had it for some time now, and I've finally gotten around to refinishing it. Here's the victim, below (no, not the cat...)

First, I used a paint stripper to remove all of the old finish. In this picture, the stripper is still applied on the left side of the table, and on the right side I'm removing the residue from it after scraping it off. Paint stripper was actually a lot easier to use than I expected--I had thought that using a sander would be easier, but now I know that this was the much better method!

I had thought about using a sander on the table legs, but I had such good luck with the tabletop that I used the stripper there, too. I had good luck with CitriStrip, which is apparently less noxious than other products. (Gloves still required!)

Here it is down to the wood, with all of the finish and stain removed! Now, I'm going to restain the top, do a few coats of polyurethane, and paint the legs and skirt black. More pictures to come as I make some progress after this weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bedroom Makeover

This past week, we finally got around to making some decorative changes in our master bedroom. The bedrooms have been last on our list in painting and updating, since generally people who come over to our house don't really see them.

Our room previously had three different paint colors on the four walls: two dark, navy blue walls, one dark red/maroon wall, and one white wall. Kind of patriotic, I guess?

Anyhow, like many of the former paint colors in our house, it was dark -- it made a small space look even smaller and cave-like. Our only bedroom window had maroon curtains (already removed here) that didn't block out much light, and no blinds at all.

We went with two different colors (three walls in green, one light brown) and added these bamboo-type blinds and some new curtains. The room looks totally different now. I love it!

We hung the blinds and curtains higher and wider than the window itself to make it look larger. Plus, these curtains actually block out light, so that's always a plus on a sleepy Saturday morning!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Painting Things Black, Part 2

Our patio set is finally, finally done! We have been working on this for weeks and weeks, so we're excited that it's all over. The set is wrought iron and came from Adam's parents, who have had it for 20+ years. Adam, ironically, has painted it several times in his lifetime. It was quite rusty and all the paint was chipping off.

A close-up of the paint condition:

We sanded using many different tools (but most of all, our favorite Ryobi orbit sander). This took forever, it was messy, and our garage is still coated in dust. Then we primed with a primer made for rusty metal, and painted and painted. But it was totally worth it in the end for this!

And here's how it fits in with the rest of the backyard:

Basically, we enjoy painting things black.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sunny Saturday!

So busy lately! We've been gone most weekends over the last month, but now we're finally home for a while so we're back to projects again full time :) Some of our recent trips include Brent's wedding in Boston, Memorial Day weekend at my parents' cabin in Hayward, Wis., and a Roscoe wedding reception. Whew!

The hot, humid weather is no fun for me, but is doing wonders for some of my plants out on the deck.

This morning, I finally finished up a project I started some time ago... last fall, actually. Adam and I didn't have nightstands, and I had been scouring craigslist for weeks for some cheap ones. I found two matching ones for $8 total, but unfortunately they looked like this:

They sat in the shed over the winter, and a couple of months ago I got them out and started sanding. They're not real wood (as you can probably tell from the photo) -- they are pressed wood or particle board or something that's basically glorified plywood. Not the type of thing you'd normally refinish. But, I just wanted something quick and cheap, so I decided to paint them black. Not surprisingly, the outer laminate layer basically fell right off:

Then I primed, painted, and replaced the handles with something nicer. It took longer than expected, but I really like the results:

Stay tuned for the final photos of the patio set I showed Adam working on in the last post--it'll be ready for the outdoors on Monday when the paint is set. It looks AMAZING compared to when we got it. Can't wait to sit outside in the nice weather and use it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Summer Projects

The weather keeps getting nicer, and we keep getting busier!

We visited Sam and Becky in Ann Arbor, MI, a few weeks ago, which was a blast. We've got a busy month coming up now, including Brent's wedding on May 22.

Yesterday, both our sets of parents came to visit. It was nice to see our moms on Mother's Day, but the purpose of the trip was actually to install our new water heater. Adam and the dads did a great job, and now we have plenty of hot water! (Instead of the ~1.5 showers we had previously...)

We've also gotten to do some outdoor work, which is really exciting for me. This is the first time I've had my own yard to plant things in, so it's lots of fun to get outside and play in the dirt ;) Our house doesn't have very nice landscaping -- just some bushes, and lots and lots of river rock. I am not really a big fan of river rock, although I understand that it's maintenance-free. But really, mulch just looks WAY better. I spent a few hours last weekend pulling all of the rocks out of this small area, tearing out the existing ugly bushes (with Adam's help), replanting nicer stuff, and then mulching. The before picture:

And after:

Adam has been busy with a softball league he joined this spring, as well as constantly mowing our lawn... it grows ridiculously fast. He's also been working on sanding down an old wrought iron patio set that we inherited from his parents, but that needs some work before it can be repainted. Here he is sanding the table base in the garage:

We're going to be entertaining a larger group of friends late in June, so we're trying to wrap up the table project before then. But the weather is being uncooperative, unfortunately, so it may be a challenge.

I promise more outside flower photos next time (once it stops being rainy/windy!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It's finally warming up down here -- hit 80 degrees today! -- and we are gearing up for all sorts of summer trips and excitement.

A few weeks ago we traveled to Ohio with Adam's family to visit his dad's side of the family. It was his grandmother's 90th birthday, and we celebrated at a cute Italian restaurant. It was lots of fun and just starting to get warm outside, so all in all, a good time :)

Last weekend, Adam and I hosted Easter dinner at our house -- the first holiday we've ever hosted. I was a little worried, but everything went really well. Both sets of parents and our three brothers came over for ham, cheesy potatoes, rolls, green beans... mmmm. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures.

Our next trip will be next weekend (April 16) when we head up to Ann Arbor to visit Becky and Sam!! We haven't had a chance to hang out with them much recently since we're so far apart now, so it will be super fun to see them.

April 16 is also the start of an energy credit program sponsored by the state of Illinois. They are giving 15% off Energy Star appliances, so we are going to go ahead and get a new refrigerator and dishwasher for our kitchen. I'm SO excited for them! We bought a new stove when we moved in, but the house still has its original fridge/dishwasher (circa 1991....).

Unfortunately, because of the program, we can't officially buy them until the 16th, which means it'll still be a little while before they are installed. But we've got them all picked out! :)

Finally, Adam's Aunt Vicky and cousin Stephanie came down to visit ISU last weekend (Stephanie is a high school junior, so she's starting her college search). They stayed with us for a night, and were tormented by the cats. I swear, Jack and Marble are getting more wild/ridiculous. But are still extremely entertaining!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring Fever

So sorry for the lack of updates. No. 1, we've been busy, and No. 2... we're slacking off on the home projects and other fun things to write about. But, don't worry! With warm weather rapidly approaching (it hit 65 degrees today!!), I'm sure we'll have plenty more projects, especially outdoors, which we haven't even started/considered at this point.

For our most recent adventure, we traveled to Boston a few weeks ago to visit our friends Brent and Andrew. Neither of us had been to Boston before, so we got the full tour: Boston Commons, Beacon Hill, Harvard, the Freedom Trail, riding the subway, visiting historic gravesites, eating clam chowder.... just awesome! Here we are in the Boston Commons:

The guys also took us to the Samuel Adams brewery, where we got to taste several different beers:

And Brent and Andrew let us crash in their living room, so that was especially fun :) We'll be back in late May for their wedding, and are looking forward to their big day!

In other Julian news, we're getting soooo close to having all the painting done in our main living space. One more wall, and we're done! We're planning on finishing it up this weekend. After that, we have many, many projects to be done... we'll just be waiting for our tax refunds to show up before starting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Installing our first door

We had a several week long break from home improvement projects over the holidays. We spent Christmas up in Roscoe with our parents, and traveled to Michigan's Upper Peninsula over New Years weekend to go skiing with a group of friends, which was fabulous.

We jumped back into the swing of things this weekend with a bigger-than-usual project: replacing our bathroom door. Let me explain why:

This is our cat Jack. He is soaking wet. Because he just took a shower with me.

Our bathroom door has never closed correctly, and the cats recently discovered that they can get in while it's closed. They LOVE water, so this is a bad idea. Also, the doors are really old and ugly, so I was ready to upgrade. Here's the old door, taken off of its hinges:

Adam and I took the old door, trim, and frame off first. We bought a pre-hung door, so we had to take the opening down to the studs. Here's Adam in action with the reciprocating saw:

Then we did lots of shimming, including help from my dad, who stopped by after my parents had dropped my brother off at U of I. After my parents left, we finished putting in the doorknob, and ta-da!

A finished door! (Well, mostly--it still needs trim, but that part's easy.) We're planning to replace all the doors in the house, which will really brighten up our dark hallway.