Monthly Archives: December 2015

Dining Room Progress

We’ve recently switched gears and started focusing on our dining room. Since we still seem to be a ways away from ever deciding on a couch and how we want to lay out the living room, the dining room seemed like a place we could actually work on and have an end in sight.

What we’ve done in here so far is the floors and floor trim (still needs sanding and re-painting over the nail marks), painting the walls, and some curtains, first sheers then curtains on top:

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A couple weeks ago we picked out mid-century dining chairs and a table to match the similar themed china cabinet we started working on last year, that has graduated to being inside since it just needs a few coats of paint to finish it:

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Ordering chairs was a disaster: we tried ordering other ones we liked a little better, then they weren’t going to ship until March…yes, next year. So we changed the plan and got some from Amazon and the set of 4 came in last week:

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The table came from Wayfair and arrived yesterday. It was so exciting – we almost had a complete room of furniture! Then we opened up the table box and realized nothing matches! The cabinet is a slightly darker walnut, the table is lighter walnut (but still matches decently with the cabinet), and the chairs are much darker. We thought of all the options – staining the cabinet darker, returning the table and getting the darker color (but return shipping was a third the price of the table!), and I think we’ve finally settled on stripping/sanding the chairs and re-staining them in a lighter color to hopefully match the walnut.

The whole reason for buying a new set when we are perfectly capable of refinishing things was that we were tired of not having furniture and we just wanted something ready-to-go so we can start living in our house instead of it being a perpetual construction zone. So this seems a little backwards that we now want to refinish the chairs, but I like all the pieces enough that I’m willing to go through the extra effort to make them match better.  So last night I dragged out the chemical stripper and tested a teeny spot on the underside of the chair. A lot of newer furniture is made out of some sort of fake type wood that doesn’t take up stain, so doing this test was critical:

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The stain stripped beautifully and the wood sanded easily to raw wood!

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Yay! So we tested out a variety of stains, from left to right: cherry, dark walnut, red chestnut, and polyshades (poly and stain in one) in American walnut. I don’t think any are a perfect match right now, we’ll have to do some mixing and matching when we tackle this project, but at least I know the wood takes up stain nicely which is a huge relief!

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And finally, here’s the table, assembled by Nik:

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It is definitely light considering it’s called “walnut stain” but we’ll live with it! Unfortunately there is a tiny chip in the glass (it never ends!) so we’ll have to get that replaced. I like how light and airy it looks, and it will allow people to actually see through to our cool china cabinet even if its on the opposite wall. We also have to pick out a rug that matches better, this one is just in there temporarily to protect the floor.

As for the actual room, we picked out some chair rail to start our wainscoting process. We’re doing very simple picture frame molding beneath the chair rail, similar to this:

This means we don’t have to disturb the baseboard that is already there which will save us some work. For our chair rail I picked out this trim, which I liked better than the curved trim above since it seemed a little more modern looking:

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It looked a little insubstantial though (only about 2.5″ wide), so we looked at the chair rail backer boards and they were $23/8 feet!! We needed ~30 feet for the whole room, so that would’ve been about $100 for chair rail backer…no way! So we improvised and found some thin trim pieces that had a slightly rounded edge and were only $5 something per 8 feet. They were thin though, so we needed twice many pieces so we could do one on each side of the chair rail like this:

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The cost for these makeshift trim pieces was much cheaper than the real backer, so I think it’s a perfect solution. Also, the lady at Lowe’s only rang up 8 feet of our 32 feet of chair rail that we bought (we didn’t notice until later, and I didn’t feel too bad based on how much we’ve bought at this store in the past few months…) so we got about $30 off this project anyway! Once we get the chair rail up, we’ll have to pick out the trim for the picture frame boxes, and get around the crown molding, but the room will look almost complete with the chair rail up so I’m just excited to get that done first!

Christmas Tree Skirt

Even though we’re not spending Christmas Day together this year, we felt it was about time to graduate to a real tree to celebrate the season. Previously I had a small fake tree, and a very tiny tree  skirt to go with it. We got our tree upright and lighted, and now we needed  new tree skirt to complete the look. IMG_2200[1]The tree skirts left at Target were expensive and ugly so we made a trip to the fabric store and picked out a few red-and-gold tone fabrics, and some 1/2″ batting to fill it with. I decided I wanted to make a hexagon shape with alternating triangles of each fabric.

Then came the challenge…how many PhD scientists does it take to figure out basic geometry? Apparently it takes 2, and it also takes about 30 minutes to remember what geometry formula to apply. I knew the diameter of the hexagon, so I knew the length of each side of each equilateral triangle, but I needed to figure out the height to measure and cut the fabric. I remember sitting in 10th grade honors geometry, struggling to imagine when I’d ever need the Pythagorean Theorem ever again…turns out, it came in handy for my tree skirt! A squared plus B squared = C squared, and with that I had my dimensions. IMG_0027I pinned all the adjoining triangle edges together (except for one) and pinned down the peak of each triangle to leave room for the trunk.

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Then I sewed all the edges. I then cut out a solid piece as a backing, with a slit up to the middle, and a cut out area for the tree base as well. I pinned this to the sewed triangles inside out, and sewed all the way around, basically making a large letter C. I then turned it right side out, and cut some batting to shape and stuffed it in.

I still need to do the stitch up the final open side, but it looks nice enough for now to put under the tree! The fabric, batting, and thread cost about $20, which is cheaper than the ugly skirts at the store!

We also did a little decorating on our front porch, so I’ll leave you with this. Can’t believe Christmas is next week!

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