Monday, March 23, 2015

Kitchen Makeover Reveal

Oh wow.  This kitchen remodel has been in the works for over three years.  It all started when I found enough granite at a garage sale to re-do my tiny kitchen counters for $20.  Crazy deal.  That got me started with the plan.  Notice there is no granite in the kitchen.  By the time I got to the point of changing the counters I had changed my mind.

The first thing I did was paint the cabinets a custom mixed medium gray color. Previously they were maple and had yellowed something fierce. For the paint I used Benjamin Moore's Advance Paint in satin finish.  It's made for cabinets and worth every penny of the $60 a gallon it costs.  The sales person recommend satin finish because it won't show as many imperfections and I'm glad I went with that. I did not skip any steps in the prep. I washed down the cabinet with tsp then lightly sanded with 220 grit. Then I used liquid sandpaper after that. Then I applied two coats of primer and two coats of paint. I purchased a sprayer for this job because I figured I would use it again on furniture projects. The sprayer I bought was an airless made by Homeright. The finish came out great and it was easy to use. 

Next I built a shallow pantry on the wall across from the stove.  To see the blog post on that click here.  

Then months went by.

Then back to the counters because we were going to be having guests over.  Since we were changing the counter top I decided to add a small cabinet to the side of the four drawer unit we already had.

I built the cabinet out of 3/4" birch plywood.  It doesn't hold much weight so I built it with only one side and attached it from inside the drawer cabinet.  I then made a face frame out of 1x2 clear pine. For the door I used one I had in my stash that was the right height. I cut it down then put it back together the width I needed.

This space is so much more functional with that extra six inches of counter and the cabinet is perfect for cookie sheets and the cheese grader.

Next I made a small change to my DIY cabinet and took the plate racks out.  I like it so much better without them and it holds more dishes. To see how I built the Cabinet click here.

Then came the sink. I love apron front farmhouse sinks. My sister asked me why I wanted this sink so bad. I was like cause it's pretty and I love it. Enough said. Well I will also say I know it was a total splurge that I did not need. I thrift, salvage and DIY a lot of the things I bring into our house and really don't buy new very often, by choice. I just wanted to treat myself to something pretty. Oh and I love the shiny new faucet too. It's Lindley by Moen from Home depot.

The new sink meant we needed a new sink cabinet. Our old one was way to twinkie to support the weight of the sink.  I built one out of 3/4" birch plywood.  The new face frame had to fit around the sink so I built that out of 1 x clear pine. I was able to reuse the old door but it needed to be shorter.  To accomplish that I cut the bottom off then glued a piece of thin trim on the bottom to mimic the paneled look. Once painted and it looks good as new.

Next up finally installing the counter top.  I mentioned earlier that I had found granite for $20. I had planned to have my husband and I cut it but three years later it still wasn't done.  So I checked with a local Granite shop and they wanted over $500 to cut it!!! See how small my kitchen is? I could have looked harder for someone to cut it but I had really fallen out of love with the idea of sparkly black granite once I painted the cabinets gray. It would have been to masculine looking for my taste.  The butcher block I chose really warms up the gray and blends better with the casual vibe I'm going for. My husband loves it so that makes it even better.  

The counter top is American Cherry from Lumber Liquidators. Is was quite a bit less expensive then having the granite cut and it is beautiful. I sealed it with Waterlox which is a penetrating oil based sealer. It does darken and warm up the color of the wood so keep that in mind if you use it. I am happy with the finish it seems like it will hold up well. 

I changed the drawer pulls too.  I like these chunky bin pulls, they keep it casual looking.  

Butcher Block really is a great option for the DIYer. I made all the straight cuts using a skill saw and a straight edge clamped to the surface. My husband cut the sink hole out for me with a router and a straight bit. That part is a little tricky so I had him do it. He is more meticulous and patient then I am with things.  That's kinda how we DIY. I do all the stuff I want to do then call him in to do the things I don't.  Seriously though he saves me all the time when I get frustrated. 

I am happy with how things came out.  I still need to do something about the island top.  It is a different wood and I either need to sand it and re-stain it a color that blends better with the other counter or paint it.  I was thinking of painting it the same as the base to look more like a piece of furniture. Maybe a fun color.... I will figure it out eventually.  

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Upholstery Tips & Tricks

I have been doing upholstery work for a few years now.  I started with a $5 chair for myself and have built it into a business.  People ask me all the time how I learned how to so this.  I always say I learned by doing it.  Tearing things apart will tell you how to put them back together.  Take pictures.  Make notes.  I have learned so many techniques by looking at how the person before me did it.  I have also learned by reading everything I could find on the subject and watching tons of You Tube Videos.  They have been a huge help.  (Well not all of them some are better than others.)  Now that I've been doing this awhile I watch videos not to see the technique they are demonstrating but to hear the little tricks they throw out that they don't even think are important.  I love it when people start rambling.  That's when the little nuggets of gold come out that you learn from doing.  Tricks of the trade.  People sharing information.  It's a beautiful thing.  Oh and last but not least I learned from the employees at the places I get my supplies.  I used to just ask for what I thought I needed but once I decided to use them as a resource I got some great info.   

I decided to write this post for those people out there like me that haven't had the luxury of formal classes but are learning as they go.  All the tips I am sharing here are small things but so helpful.  Little Nuggets.


Upholstery Sewing on a "regular" Machine

If you don't have an industrial sewing machine and are using a regular home sewing machine use the longest stitch possible.  For some reason I thought when I first started upholstering that a smaller stitch would be better.  After talking with an expert she recommended a longer stitch to avoid bunching and pulling of the fabric.  It makes a difference.  I have since upgraded to an industrial machine to read my post about my machine go here.

Removing Hot Glue from Fabric

Sometimes it happens.  You're attaching gimp or welting to finish off your masterpiece and a little spec of the dang hot glue drips on the fabric.  Or perhaps the trim slips and some hot glue gets where it has no business being.  Here's a tip to remove it. 

Lay a piece of clean cloth on top of your hot glue spot.  Warm the glue with your iron and the hot glue will transfer to the piece of cloth.  You may need to do it a few times to get it all off.  Make sure you use a clean location on the cloth if you move it so you don't transfer the hot glue to another spot on your piece.  Always test on a scrap piece of fabric before using an iron on your finished piece.  Results will vary depending on the fabric.

Smoothing out Lumps and Voids 

Once in a while, heaven forbid, there may be either lumps of batting or small voids where there should be batting in your finished piece.  I find it often happens where the arm meets the back especially on wing back chairs.  When this happens use an upholstery pin or large needle to gently move the batting to where you need it to be.

Different fabrics may show the hole from the needle so test in a hidden area before trying on your finished piece.  

Steaming out the Wrinkles 

I swear some fabrics are like a white pair of jeans, they show everything.  Some fabrics just lay better than others.  To help smooth out wrinkles or areas where the fabric may look a little stretched out use steam.   Your iron may have a steam option but if you do a lot of upholstery work you may want to invest in a portable steamer.  I purchased a Shark Steamer and I have been very happy with it.  Always test on a scrap piece of fabric before using steam on your finished piece.  Some fabrics could melt.   

Freshening up old Foam

Another great use for a steamer is to freshen up old foam.  I give my clients the option of reusing their old foam or replacing with new.  Most people choose to reuse what they have if it's in decent shape because foam is pricey.  A steamer can freshen up old foam and also sanitize it. 

Staples instead of Pins

I have shared this tip before but it is a good one and bears repeating.  When sewing cushion covers use staples instead of straight pins to hold your pieces together.  The best part is not getting poked with pins.  Just be careful not to staple on the line where you will be sewing.   When you are finished sewing simply remove the staples with a staple puller.  For more details check out my post about sewing better cushion covers.


Keep your Spray Adhesive from clogging

Spray adhesive nozzles get hopelessly clogged rather quickly.  Nothing is more annoying than spray adhesive shooting out the side and landing where you don't want it to be.  To help avoid this after you done using the spray adhesive simply swipe the nozzle across the foam.  This will clean the nozzle off. 

Cutting Foam with a Bread Knife and Silicone Spray

I used to use an electric bread knife to cut my foam but when I recently purchased a professional foam saw the salesperson recommended I use silicone spray to lubricate the blades and help it cut through the foam better.   It made me think, maybe I should just buy a can of silicone instead of the spendy new tool and stick with my bread knife.  I decided I cut foam enough to justify the expense. For those who rarely cut foam an electric bread knife does work.  What makes it work better is lots of silicone spray.  I have heard about using an electric bread knife to cut foam many times but it never occurred to me to use silicone spray. 

I hope you found something helpful to make your upholstery life just a little easier.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Perfect Cabinet

Recently I purchased a fabulous cabinet from The Modern Cottage Company, the store where I sell my furniture pieces.  I've been looking for just the right piece for quite awhile now.  If you remember a few months back I even dragged that old green cabinet out of my potting shed and tried to make it work, it didn't.  


That is not my cabinet. It's one of my inspiration pieces.  I wanted something with a place to display and store pretties and also storage that is hidden for the non pretty stuff.  I also love the weathered finish and muted color of this piece.

Here's the cabinet I bought.  It's awesome, almost exactly what I wanted.  I just need to make a few tweaks and it will be perfect. The size is right.  The doors and sides are paneled and it has great trim on top.  I love the drawers and feet as well.  It's really well made and was built to come apart.  The top comes off then the side panels can be removed from the front and back panels. It had previously been used to hold clothes so I had to add some shelves.   To hold the shelves I screwed in 1 x 2 shelf supports.  To make it extra sturdy I attached the supports to the front and back as well as the sides so now it wont come apart until the screws are removed.  I used my a pocket jig to make the holes.

To make it just what I want I plan to cut out the top panels on the doors and replace them with glass.  I played around with my photo editing software (above) just for fun to see what that would look like. It will be perfect, I'm so excited.

I also plan to paint it once I decide on a color.  Here's some more inspiration.

Of course I love grays but kind of want it to be a fun color.


Loving this color. Greens and blues are my favorite.

Or a neutral wash.

or bold color. :)  All I know is that the finish will be milk paint, distressed and chippy.  I'm in no hurry, I love the process.  First I need to get this kitchen remodel finished.  We finally decided on counter tops and will be installing those in the next couple weeks.  Then I need to decide on what color to paint the kitchen Island, then I will decide on this piece since it is across the room from the island.  I will share it all once it's done.   For now I am enjoying it just as it is. 

What color are you loving right now?   I'd love to hear. 

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