Tag Archives: bench

2016 Year In Review

2016 has come to a close, so I wanted to look back at the progress we made. This was a busy year, with both of us still adjusting to our new careers and planning our October wedding. But I think we made enormous progress on the house, and reflecting on all that we accomplished will hopefully be motivation to keep up the hard work this year.

In early 2016, we finally wrapped up the trim and painting on the stair column – at this point, we still need to add some base and top trim, but we’re planning to install the crown molding downstairs sometime this spring, so that will be the final step of this job. Apparently I haven’t taken a picture of the column after it was painted, so this is the best one I’ve got:

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The next big project of 2016 was our downstairs powder room. What began with a new toilet seat resulted in a gutted room and complete renovation. We painted, tiled and grouted the floor and backsplash, installed a new vanity with a new faucet, new mirror, new towel/toilet paper holder fixtures, and a new threshold.

We installed all the chair molding trim in the dining room, completed refinishing the china cabinet, and got our dining room furniture all set up to finish this room.

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We built 2 raised bed gardens which did pretty well last year. I just bought seeds for 2017, which I’ll start inside next month. I’ll be planting cucumbers (pickling size and regular), bush string beans, snow peas, eggplant, jalapeno pepper, bush zucchini, roma and grape-sized tomatoes, spaghetti squash, mescalin, leeks, garlic, and various herbs. If anyone wants extra seedlings, let me know!

Our furniture work this year was pretty pitiful, and I hope we have more time to do furniture projects in 2017. The two big pieces we did this year were building a front porch bench, and redoing  a small set of shelves for our master bathroom:

Our biggest renovation of the year was the kitchen. In this room we replaced the flooring with our engineered hardwood, sanded, primed, and painted all of our cabinets and installed one more new cabinet on the far wall, added new cabinet hardware, got granite countertops and a new sink and faucet installed, tiled/grouted/applied sealant to the backsplash, got all new appliances and mounted the microwave over the stove, created open shelving on 2 walls, and painted the walls.

In this room the final projects for this spring are installing cabinet crown molding at the tops of the cabinets, finding and installing new light fixtures, and building our island, which will have matching granite.

We also bought a new HVAC system (gas package with AC and furnace) and just updated our laundry room with a new washer and dryer last month, but these don’t make for fun pictures, just not-so-fun expenses. But they are upgrades nonetheless.

So what’s on the list for 2017? First we want to finish up the final tasks downstairs: cabinet crown molding in the kitchen, ceiling crown molding in the entryway, living room, dining room, and possibly powder room, building a functional kitchen island, getting a stupid banister installed on our stairs (still hasn’t been done!), and adding new light fixtures for the kitchen and dining room. I also want to get my gardens going in March, and finish creating a bordered backyard flower garden out of the extra jungle gym wood. We also are ordering new blinds for almost all the windows on the house that will be the thicker wood-look blinds, so we’ll have to install those when they come in. We also need to have the house washed and gutters cleaned (which we’ll hire out for lack of good ladders) as well as have the lawn aerated before we seed it.

The big project of 2017 will take place in the summer months when Nik doesn’t have a 2 hour commute twice a week for his teaching responsibility at UNC Pembroke: our master bath renovation. For this, we’re planning to tile the floor, refinish and raise up our vanity and add undermount sinks with a nicer (possibly granite) countertop, paint the walls, rip out the old shower, replace the shower pan and tile the walls, add a new glass shower door, and add new faucet hardware for the sinks, shower, and tub. After vaguely tallying up what we’ve spent on this house so far, we’re around the $15K mark, so we’re going to attempt to keep the budget pretty tight for the bathroom – ideally in the $2000 range. Cheers to 2017!

Reclaimed Wood Bench

We finally finished the front porch bench we’ve been working on – I’ll call it our reclaimed wood bench. Things made out of “reclaimed wood” are all the rage now, and usually come with some story about the hundred year old barn the wood came from and how this rationalizes the $3000 price tag. Well, our bench is indeed made from reclaimed wood but it came from the jungle gym that used to dominate our back yard, and it cost $0. Well, I suppose $15 since we did have to buy special exterior spar urethane to seal it since it will stay outside on our front porch. But we only used a tiny amount from that can, so I’m ok saying $0.

Here’s how the bench started:

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And here’s our final product:

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To build this bench, Nik started off by cutting the top slats. Then we troubleshooted different ways to build the braces between the slats, and he finally decided to use a solid piece of wood with cuts in it to make “teeth”. The circular saw was set to a particular height and he used it to make these cuts.

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Next, the pieces were put together to make sure they fit in the teeth:

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And a base was built to hold up the seat. Nik made a practice trapezoid first to make sure all the angles worked, since we didn’t want 90 degree legs to keep it feeling mid-century.

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Next came staining and sealing with the spar urethane. We decided to do a shade darker on the legs (dark walnut) and special walnut on the seat to add some contrast.

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Then we started a partial assembly to make the legs easier to seal. We used mostly wood screws to attach everything:

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And finally, the finished product:

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We decided this was a good wedding present for each other, to give us a place to sit together on our porch for years to come.

The kitchen cabinets are coming along as well, and to clear out our living room a little we hung the upper cabinets that were done being painted (they still need sealer but I wanted to do this once they were hung in case any paint touch ups were needed first). The hanging height was a bit of an ordeal – apparently they were hung at a pretty normal 18″ previously, but we always felt like they were a little low, plus we wanted to have adequate room over our stove for the microwave. We tried 19.5″ and that felt way too high, so we tried 19″ and that still felt a little high but doable, so that’s where they sit now. The doors are still in the process of being painted, and then we’ll buy some top molding to make them look a little nicer, which will also have to be painted.

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We’re taking an overnight trip this weekend to a bed and breakfast in Seagrove (the pottery capital of NC) to get away for a bit and tour some pottery studios. So other than that, our only task this weekend is to remove the old counters/plumbing and buy a faucet since the new counters are coming on Tuesday and the sink on Wednesday. Hopefully by my next post the kitchen transformation will be looking a little more complete!

 

 

Rescued Piano Bench

Nik found a solid wood piano bench in the dumpster a while back, so we decided to upgrade the bench we have, since this new bench has a lift up lid and area for storage. We’re both piano players, so this will be a place to hide our unsightly piles of sheet music.

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We decided to keep this bench simple, since it was made of lovely wood that just needed some TLC. We first wiped it down, and then Nik and I used the sander to strip off the old finish/stain and water marks – its been too cold to use the stripper gel to get off the old varnish, but some 80 grit sandpaper on our sander got through the old finish pretty well on its own.

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We then did our medium and fine sanding and got ready to stain. The top panel looks like its mahogany, whereas the wood on the legs seemed like something different. Mahogany is a naturally “redder” wood, so Nik experimented with some stains, and found that the top panel would get special walnut, and the legs got a coat of special walnut followed by a coat of red chestnut to match the natural red coming through in the top panel.On the left picture, the left side is the top, and the thin piece of wood is one of the legs, testing out the stain combination.

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After matching the stains, we gave it a few good coats of water based poly, and here’s the finished bench. I think the stain-matching came out perfect!

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(sorry for the grainy pictures, my phone doesn’t like indoor light it seems.)