Monday, January 5, 2015

DIY Dining Room Built Ins

Long time, no see interweb-friends! We've been overwhelmingly busy with life and business and Airbnb, and Christmas and blblblulikfjslkdfj;askfj that I haven't had a minute to edit photos and post on here but believe you me, we've still been busy busy busy with house projects! 

Also, in blog news, 


Woo-hoo! Five years of barely knowing what the H E double hockey sticks we're doing and we've still got all of our fingers to show for it! Success!

So, one of our busy house projects over the past couple of months has been making over the dining room. It all started wen Conan's dad gave us a pair of particle board shelves. The rest, is history! 

DIY Built In Shelves

For the most part, the dining room has always been what I'll call "done enough". We painted it a shade of very light gray before the wedding and painted the doors black:

Before Dining Room

and since then I've acquired 8 thrift store chairs and re-finished our free table but it's still just...okay. 

But the recent acquisition of a BIG OL' pile of books from Conan's late mother as well as the shelves some of them sat on motivated me to get to work, making this room more than just an empty room with a table in it.

My idea was this: 
Put these particle board shelves Conan's dad gifted us on either side of the dining room windows a la the Living Room built ins. 

With my mom's help, I moved them into the dining room to see what we were working with. 

DIY Built In Shelves Particle Board

You can see from the one on the right that they were tall but not tall enough. They need to be lifted so they at least cleared the top of the windows. The one on the left is sitting on a pile of wood to simulate what we were going for. 

To get a permanent solution to the height problem, we cut some pieces of wood and notched out a place for the base shoe so they could fit snugly up against the baseboard and the wall. 

DIY Built In Shelves Raised

Here it is, floating magically in mid air! JK, it's actually sitting on the baseboard on the left side and we notched the back of the shelf to go around the window sill. That provided a surprising amount of staying power while we were finishing the box. 

DIY Built In Shelves Lifted

You can see that the side is sitting on top of the baseboard. That allowed it to fit back in the corner once we notched a space for the window sill to fit in on the backside of the shelf. 

Here it is all screwed together. 

DIY Built Ins Raised

Step two was to trim these guys out. This step would hopefully take them from clearly cheap shelves to built-in-esque. 

Here's the top of the shelf before: 

Particle Board Built Ins

And after trim: 

DIY Built Ins Crown Moulding

The top is a sheet of plywood with some leftover 1" strips we had from the Birdie Booth around the outside edge. We used 4" crown moulding under that and under it was a piece of 1x8 that the shelf was notched around. 

Speaking of those strips, they came in real handy again when we decided that the rounded front edges of the shelves were a dead giveaway for not built-in. Here's a close-up "after" pic to give you an idea of what I mean:

Particle Board Built Ins Front

We used a brad nailer to attach the 1" strips across the front of the shelves so that, should we ever want to pull them out and re-configure them, we can.

Now for the paint. As you may know, most primer is not wont to stick to fake wood so I thought I would give chalk paint a try since I had heard so much about how well it adheres to this fake wood...fwood.

Two things about chalk paint:
It does stick to fake wood really well
It does not cover fake wood very well. At least not when you're trying to cover it with white. 

Chalk Paint Built Ins

The above photo is after two of the small containers of chalk paint. Not great, right?

Like I mentioned, it does stick really well to the fake wood and it actually goes pretty far but it was still leaving streaks and I still had the shelves to prime so when I ran out of the little can I was using, I decided to make my own. Pinterest to the rescue! Turns out, if you use 1 Tbsp. of white, unsanded grout (which I have a lot leftover from the downstairs bathroom) and a cup of white paint, you're good to go. 
So, if you're looking for a REALLY serious primer for some fake wood, just make it yourself! 

I decided that I would just use the chalk paint as primer and cover it with the same trim paint that I had used for the other trim in the room. 
Here's after one coat of latex paint over the two coats of chalk paint/primer.

DIY Built Ins Chalk Paint

And here are the shelves from the front after two coats of latex paint. (the shelves were being primed on the back porch). 

DIY Dining Room Built Ins

And here it is with the shelves installed and painted. 

DIY Built In Shelves Dining Room

You can probably see that there is a giant spot on the wall/ceiling between the shelves. That was one of the other reasons this room was due for a makeover. A leaky air conditioner upstairs a couple of years ago had caused the sheetrock tape to fall off so I climbed up there, peeled it back, and mudded it.

Then, much like the "Accidental Kitchen Remodel" of yore, one thing led to another and the room was getting crown molding and paint.

We used the same molding from the top of the shelves (4") and we settled on a darker, warmer gray for the color of the walls: Olympic Stormy Weather.

My mom and dad very kindly put the crown molding up as my Christmas present this year and I loff it more than anything. As my mom says, every time we finish a room it's "my new favorite!"

So let's see the official "before and after" shall we?

Cheap Built Ins DIY

And now, for fun, just the after:

Olympic Stormy Weather

And from straight on:

Dining Room Built Ins

Also, you might have noticed the curtains and rod. The rod was just an old piece of conduit we had in the basement. Conan cut it down with a hacksaw, we spray painted it ORB (natch) and hung it with hardware from Lowe's. 

So there you have it, folks! Surprise dining room makeover complete! It really feels like a much more comfortable, cozy room now and we've already used it a lot this holiday season.

I have a couple more things to do, maybe a rug, hang Conan's paintings instead of just leaning them, and eventually FIND A BUFFET! But, for now it's perfect just the way it is.

Thanks for reading!

Keep Smiling

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exterior Painting Prep, Guest Room Complete, and ANOTHER Photo Booth

Ahoy, hoy internet friends! It's been about a minute (thousands of minutes, actually) since we've graced this blog with our presence. Truth is, we've been BEYOND busy with house-related things and non-house related things. I'll just dive right in because, I feel like, if I draft one more post, blogger is going to send me a letter. Like, 

Dear nice lady,
Please stop clogging the internet tubes with drafts you never intend to publish. It is slowing down the informations.
Your friend, Google McYahoo. 


I'll start with the non-house related stuff because it's at the top of my mind.

We added a photo booth to the fleet. Yup. We just can'

This one doesn't have wheels, thank the lord! We call it the Birdie Booth and Conan made it with his own two hands! What a guy!

Handmade Wood Photo Booth

It's basically the same equipment as the Grand Wagoneer photo booth but in a MUCH smaller package so we can get in on that sweet, sweet, wedding reception photo booth market here in Wichita. But, the Jeep is still around and speaking of which, I made a lil' video of it in action a few months back: 

Also, the little camper photo booth that could is still kicking, though mostly for promotional stuff and our own private, picture fun times. She did get a new, DIY marquee sign, though. Cute with a capital C, huh? 
Vintage camper photo booth sign

So, that's why we've been swamped. That and the fact that we FINALLY started renting out the guest room on Airbnb. We currently have a tenant staying with us for a month! Turns out, that's the majority of our requests - long term stays. Go figure! People don't want to stay in Wichita longer than a month. That should be our new city slogan: More than a day, less than a lifetime ~ Wichita!~

So, if you even remember, here's what the guest room looked like originally:


Then it got a little better with the addition of the antique bed I fixed up...

Guest Room Antique Bed

And finally, here's the ready-to-rent version!

Small Guest Room Antique Bed

New rug, new sheets, new bedspread, old everything else.

Guest Room Blue Bedding

It's quite a bit cozier and comfier now - Conan jokes that it's actually nicer than our master bedroom, which may be true but you know I've got plans for that...

Speaking of plans. We STILL have plans to paint the exterior of the house in the next year. We actually got a pretty decent start on it thanks to mom and dad of the century, Connie and Dave. Unfortunately, with the Lamphouse stuff and the whole, having someone stay with us for a month, it's taken a backseat. 

Before it got demoted to the bottom of the "to-do list from hell", here's a look at what we accomplished. 

 What seems like forever ago, my mom and I managed to scrape a good deal of paint off the porch railings and windows.

Scraping Porch Rail for Exterior Paint

Scraping Exterior Window to Paint

The porch isn't actually in awful shape - that's why we started there. But, the paint was practically falling off of the railings and the porch floor so it has to go. My mom touched up the glazing on the windows there (after this picture was taken) and hit the trim with this neat, paint feathering tool that works pretty okay for smoothing out bumpy paint that's not necessarily coming off.

Old House Soffitt Rebuilt

A BIG project that already makes the house looks a million times better is replacing the fascia board and soffit on the first floor roof. My amazing, awesome, beautiful, perfect parents did all of that pretty much while we were at an event with the Jeep. Man, I know we're lucky but...DANG.

It's since been primed and the cruddy job the old roofers did on the bit between the fascia and the shingles has been all fixed up.

Rebuild Old House Soffitt

It's waiting for me to get off my duff and put some trim paint on it. I'm going to do my best to make use of this unseasonably warm weather and hop up there in the next couple of weeks.

Until then, and until I have another spare minute (lol, never),

Keep Smiling!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Radiator Sludge Removal & Floor Repair

I mentioned a couple of posts ago about those radiator pipes  in the guest room.

Old Radiator Pipes Removal

About a foot away from the bed, perfectly hidden behind the curtains, prime toe smashing territory, folks.

If you've been reading for a long time, you might remember us mentioning the heating ordeal with this house and why we got rid of the radiators in the first place. If not, here's the cliff's notes:
foreclosed property
vacant a couple of years
radiators froze and burst in that time
poor, young dummies buy house, discover lack of heat
love can keep us warm, etc., etc.
no it can't
get central heat installed
start removing some radiators where space is a commodity (i.e. guest bedroom, living room)

So, yeah! Conan and his dad removed the boiler and the rusting pipes that were accessible from the basement.

Radiator Pipes Removal

Then my mom and I took a few of the radiators (like this one in the living room) apart and removed them.

Radiator Removal Tools

It wasn't all that difficult to remove but unfortunately, on the second floor where we can't get to them from underneath, there were still these lovely pipes sticking up out of the floor...

Radiator Pipes Removal

and a heavily damaged floor underneath where the radiator had sat.

Radiator Floor Stain Repair

 Well, while I was at work a couple of weekends ago, my handy dad cut them off at the floor and CAREFULLY lowered what was left of the pipe down into the floor! Toe smashers be gone! 

I hit the area with a belt sander (the same one we used to re-finish the kitchen floor) and that pretty much took care of the ugly black spot that was there. 

Floor Stain Repair with Belt Sander

I put a single coat of poly-shades on there and wasn't a perfect match color-wise so I hit it with the belt sander one more time and tried just plain polyurethane on the spot at Conan's suggestion.

Floor Stain Repair After

Is it perfect? No. Is it an improvement? Heck yes. I'm glad to know that it's as easy and simple as it was so that I might be inclined to do this in the living room someday and make a better match. It would also be easier to plug the holes since we can do it from the basement underneath.

Floor Stain Repair After

I had planned on buying a runner to put there anyway to cover up the holes until we can devise some sort of plug/peg solution and after shopping around I found one at Target that spoke to me. Well, Cartwheel spoke to me and it sounded like, "Katherine, this particular rug is 25% off so maybe you like it a lot, yeah?"

Flower Runner Rug

It really ties the room together, man.

So, that worked out pretty well I think. Well enough that I feel comfortable trying it down in the living room.
As you can see from this photo, I picked out a real, grown-up bedspread. It's kind of a blue-ish gray in person and it looks really nice with the ship painting above the bed.

Just a few more little things here and there and I'm calling it done. In the meantime, we gave the front porch a good cleaning the other day and my parents may have tracked us down some affordable (i.e. borrowable/free) scaffolding so the exterior of the house might get a little attention before the fall. Our neighbor saw us outside cleaning and said he was going to start painting his house this weekend. My mom asked him how long he thought it would take and he said, "Few days."
He asked us how long we thought ours would take and we laughed like two crazy people and said,
"A year? Maybe more?"

Here's to realistic expectations!

Have a great week, everybody! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Yellowstone, There's No Place Like Home

The thing I love most about vacation is how much it makes me appreciate coming home. Sure, it's always sad to end a trip but boy, does it feel good to use your own bathroom : ) 

Just the other day, we returned from what we'd affectionately referred to as "the trip of a lifetime" to Yellowstone National Park. So if it seems like I kind of put the projects and the guest room and the blog on hold for a second, it's because my mind was racing with campsite reservations and packing, and my most favorite pastime, making lots and lots of lists. 

If you're planning a trip there yourself or you're just curious what it's like here's a few pictures. 

We drove through Colorado and Wyoming (stayed at our first Airbnb which was really reassuring since we're planning to rent out our guest room on there in the near future) and camped in Canyon campground for four nights.

It was unreal. I'm sure that's a given but until you've seen it for yourself, there's just no way to imagine it.

 Conan had actually been once, about three years before we got married and although I had seen all of the pictures and heard all of the stories I was not prepared for a) boiling mud or b) the sheer volume of people who are there. 

Now, I'm going to brag a little bit so brace yourself. 
We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary on this trip (July 18th) and since it's our wood anniversary, Conan made me these amazing magnets! 

Can you even believe that? When I saw them, I called him at work to make sure he didn't just buy them before I went and started telling everyone he made them!

They're taken from a picture of us last year on our anniversary.

So cute, so talented, so easy to brag on : ) 

But now, vacation's over and it's back to work on the house and the Lamphouse. Before we left, we had managed to do quite a bit of work on furnishing the guest room so that our friend Lisa could stay in there while she house-sat.

New linens, new curtains on both windows, toe-smashing radiator pipes gone, two new outlets, pretty new rug, and a Dollar Tree trashcan spray-painted gold (which I will totally do a DIY of later this week, lol).

I'll post some more pictures once I've gotten everything settled and unpacked. In the meantime, have a great weekend and Keep Smiling!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

One Chalkboard Shy of an Elementary School

I don't know if you've noticed but I like the chalkboards. I like 'em a lot. 

I painted my fridge with chalkboard paint. 

I have one hanging on your way to the powder room with a lovely little reminder for all of folk. 

And, as of yesterday, I now have a big ol' five footer in the kitchen! 

I've always thought there should be something on that big, blank wall (preferably a giant, antique cupboard but you and for $20 this fits the bill perfectly. 

Like I said, in a perfect world there would be a big, wood cupboard there but I haven't found one in my price range (read: $300 or less) yet. 

Until then, this fills up the space nicely and I really like it - even if my mom thinks it's a bit much. 
Her exact words? *to be read with a southern accent*

"It's've got a lot of chalkboards." 

Yes mom, yes I do. Thanks for noticing : ) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Happy Anniversary, Lamphouse!

As you may or may not recall, a couple of years ago (October 2012 to be exact) we had this wild idea that we were going to buy a camper and turn it into a traveling photography studio and darkroom. 

Well, it wasn't easy but with a LOT of help from my parents, a LOT of trial and error, and a LOT of crying (me : / ) this space...

became this...

and on the last Friday of June, one year ago, the Lamphouse Photo Co. made its first public appearance! 

This Friday (tomorrow, June 27th), we'll be celebrating our first year with the "Lampy" camper and if you feel so inclined you can come see us at Reverie Coffee Roasters (2611 E. Douglas) from 6-9 PM.

I'll be in the darkroom but you can hang out with Conan and enjoy the AC for a minute. It's always fun when blog and business worlds collide so please bring your smiling faces down if you have time! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chalkboard Fridge Update

A couple years back, as part of our "Accidental Kitchen Remodel" I decided to paint our old, beige, came-with-the-house fridge with green chalkboard paint. 

So, here's what it looked like all shiny and new and gussied up for pictures in March of 2012:

Since then, astonishingly (or not, depending on what astonishes you) that has been one of the most heavily trafficked posts on ye olde blog!
Which gives me a feeling that's equal parts gratitude, shame, and regret.

Well, that was not the greatest DIY post I've ever done. The camera we had at the time that I had taken pictures of the process with crapped out on us and so there weren't really any pictures of the process. 

Just this sad before shot that didn't even really show the fridge:

*Man, that was an ugly kitchen!*

So, the other day when I was making a list of little things that I need to do and I noticed that the fridge needed some attention, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about how this really simple and super cheap ($7) DIY chalkboard fridge has held up over the past two years.

So, here's what it looks like today:

Covered in magnets, pictures, and receipts from our bathroom remodel (lol) but still holding up really well considering how cheaply this was done.
We've had a few people ask us over on our Houzz and a few other places if we are pleased with how it has held up and honestly? Yeah! Really pleased, actually!

The only wear and tear has been the corners of the doors as you can see in this picture:

I don't know if that's where we mostly grab the doors to open them or if that's just where the paint was thinnest.

Either way, I grabbed the leftover paint that I had from two years ago (still good, after a little stir), a small brush and went to work.

I put three coats on over the course of a couple of hours. It dries pretty quickly if you don't put it on too thick. Now it looks pretty much the way it did when we first did this DIY!

So, after 2 years of use, would I recommend that you paint your old fridge with chalkboard paint?
I realize that we don't write on it very much but all in all, it has held up exceptionally well.

A lot of people had misgivings about the chalk dust situation but again, we don't write on it much and even when we do there's not enough dust to make a difference in our already not-spotless house ; )

Speaking of chalkboards, I got a little something at the thrift store yesterday that I can't wait to share : )

Oh, and some exciting (to us at least) progress has been made on the Guest Bedroom!

Until next time,
Keep Smiling!

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