Monthly Archives: February 2015

Finished Ombre Secretary II

A few weeks ago I mentioned how we were redoing a second ombre secretary to match the one we finished back in December. We had a second interested buyer who helped us pick out another secretary that was in need of a face lift, and we redid it in the same style. We finished this a few weeks ago, but I stashed it behind some other things in the other room and didn’t get any good pics until I pulled it back out today for the buyer to pick it up, hence the delay for this post! Here are the before and after pictures of the FIRST secretary:

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And here’s some before pictures of the second secretary:

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So now some details about how we fixed this up – in the last post about this piece, I mentioned we were brainstorming ways to repair the bottom drawer which was missing a small chunk:


We ended up using a small piece of trim wood that Nik cut approximately to size (with our new Rigid multi-tool!) and then sanded down by hand to be flush with the drawer.


We experimented with stains to make sure we could color match the new wood since it wasn’t maple like the rest of the drawers. The final match was pretty good – you almost can’t see it on the top right corner of the drawer:


We also painted the hardware black. The metal was all a bit icky, so I cleaned all of them and sanded with some fine sand paper before spraying:

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So here’s the final hardware and repaired corner of the bottom drawer:


And after painting the body white and adding the gray trim on the front panel like we did on the last one, we sealed it all up with water based poly. Here’s the finished pictures:

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And for a side-by-side before and after picture here we go:

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We’ve been accruing new projects but thanks to the awesome snow storms Chapel Hill has been getting we haven’t had many opportunities to work on them! Nik found a new round dining table and an beautiful solid  (mahogany?) wood piano bench near the dumpster. We also bought an antique-looking dresser from the same guy that sold us this second secretary. So, these will be upcoming projects as soon as it doesn’t look like this outside of my North Carolina house:

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Homemade Placemats

My mom made some pretty place mats last year for their nice plates to go on their beautiful handmade wooden dining table in their lovely new home. I, on the other hand, live in a mediocre rental apartment, and the dining room is filled with my super-considerate roommate’s giant pool table (and in case you were wondering, it rarely gets used…can you sense my bitterness towards this table??). As a result my junky little 36″ round dining table is cramped in the corner of the living room, and is generally covered in all of our furniture redoing tools, so doesn’t get much action at dinner time. My plates are from Walmart and have seen better days. BUT, despite all this, I can still have nice place mats like my mom, so I set out to make my own! I made the dire mistake of asking Nik to come look at fabric with me, and for those of you who know Nik, he is quite opinionated about…well, pretty much everything except what I cook for dinner. About one long hour into our JoAnn’s Fabrics trip, we had it narrowed down to two totally different fabrics, and instead of sacrificing the strength of our relationship I decided I’d make two-sided place mats. Another mistake…Nik was very concerned the pattern would be visible from the other side when the mats are flat on the table, so he made me pick out some options for trim to hide the other side. Trim is nice, but you have to actually have good sewing machine skills to use it well, which I don’t have. So I ended up skipping the trim and just ironing the place mats as flat as I could so the contrasting pattern on the underside wasn’t visible. So I wasted some money buying trim that failed. Ok, enough writing, here’s a picture of the fabrics all cut out as evenly as possible:


Third mistake: I’m never buying geometric patterns again that need to be cut into perfect shapes. Nik likes even things (understatement), so I couldn’t just “wing it” with the diamond pattern…it had to be evenly spaced between top and bottom and side to side. It took quite a bit of measuring to make it all work with the length of fabric I purchased that of course was about 1/2″ too short to make this measuring process simple. I made them 18″ wide and 13.5″ tall and accounted for about a 1/2″ seam so the resulting place mat would be 17″ tall and 12.5″ wide. I lined up the two fabrics face to face and pinned:

IMG_1468Then put a 1/2″ seam around all edges, with a small gap for turning it right side out. Once right side out, I pushed all the corners out and ironed it flat. Here’s the finished mat:

IMG_1471      IMG_1470 IMG_1469I think they came out pretty nice, simple, and elegant! And you can’t see the contrasting pattern too much when its flat on a table. I’ve done 2 of the 6 I plan to make. I’d take a lovely “after” picture with full place settings with my pretty china plates set out on my nice dining table if I could (sigh…refer to first paragraph if you’re confused at why I can’t do this).  Some day I’ll have nice things!

I also have a bunch of the floral fabric left over, and some left over insulation stuff from when I attempted to make a pot holder a while ago. I’m going to make some pot-warmer table protectors (Nik informed me these items are actually called trivets?) to go with the floral side of the mats. All in all, 6 two-sided placemats and a couple of trivets cost about $20 to make, with several JoAnn’s coupons I used.

Neil’s New Bar

I told my brother Neil I wanted to make him something after he moved into his new place in the fall, so I went with a bar/storage cabinet. We found a dry sink we liked a lot, and it had a wooden railing all around the top that would make a perfect place for storing bottles, bar accoutrements, etc. Here is what we started with:

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Nothing majorly wrong with it, except the top was kind of lifting off the body, so we remedied that with some strong wood glue and clamps.


We stripped and sanded the door  fronts and the entire top, and stained it with Jacobean Minwax stain. The remaining body was painted…then I decided I didn’t think the paint was dark enough, so I painted it again. My brother wanted it dark, if I used paint so I think the new choice is better. Its a dark teal-ish greenish greyish color, called Painted Turtle by Behr. Of course it looks totally different in different lighting. We sealed the whole thing up with water based poly.

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Next, I had a satisfying trip to Home Depot where I found new hinge hardware, new wooden plugs since a couple were missing, and new hardware that looked much sleeker than what was there:

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And here’s the new hardware:

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I had to drill some new holes for the new hardware, and most of it went off without a hitch. The new hinges still need a bit of tweaking since they’re not quite thick enough for the raised door, but I think I figured out something that will work. So here’s the final product:

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Not too bad for bachelor pad furniture!