Tag Archives: dining room

A New (Old) Light Fixture

We got a lot done this weekend…not particularly things on my list, but progress nonetheless. The garage side deck is officially finished, with new handrails. I got a coat of primer on our friend’s furniture piece that we’re refinishing, we stained the top of the weird dining table project we’ve had stashed in the garage for ages, and we refinished a light fixture for our dining room.

When we moved, my parents gave me an old chandelier from the foyer of our house in NJ – it had sconces, and was kind of a brushed nickel finish. Originally, the pointy flame-shaped light bulbs were in it, with glass sconces around each light.

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It was very traditional looking, so we were having a hard time deciding where it would fit in our house. Originally we were thinking kitchen, but the light location over the kitchen table is not quite centered on the table and a dangling chandelier would emphasize this even more than a flush mount light. So then we thought dining room…but that room is decidedly mid-century themed, and the silver seemed out of place. But, the table is centered on the light:

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I’ve hated that light since the day we moved in. It’s too small, and too close to the ceiling, and too bright. It has made us not want to have meals in this room, so we knew it had to change. Nik had the idea of using the chandelier from my parents, but using Edison light bulbs to give it some vintage character, and spray painting it a new color, since the nickel finish was dingy and dirty and didn’t fit with the room.

We choose oil-rubbed bronze, and hung the light on the bird feeder hook to do the spray painting, which went pretty well.

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Then Nik removed the old light and mounted the new one, which did require a trip to Lowes for a mounting kit since it was incompatible with what was there.

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The wires were all hooked up, and then we started thinking about the bulbs. I kind of liked them by themselves, but we put one sconce on just to see. It’s ok, but in person it looks like too much glass since the bulbs are glassy, and almost touch the sconce edges. Also, the sconces will show dust over time , so we’re thinking of just doing the bulbs:

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Here’s another closeup, and a picture from the living room for perspective. I love how it looks – a huge upgrade from what was there previously (please don’t mind our mess, this is the reality of DIY work. Also, the light is still hanging a little crooked since that one heavier sconce is still on one side of it, which we’re still debating).

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The light that comes from the squirrel cage Edison bulbs is also so pretty, and looks like delicate bursts on the ceiling (camera didn’t do it justice). We got them on Amazon,  $20 for 6.

So that chandelier was  big accomplishment, this little project that has been on the list for a while. I’m going to save pics of the other furniture projects until they’re done, but I did promise to show some pictures of the little guest bedroom side tables so here they are. To sum up this project, these tables were $30 for both on Craigslist, and we stripped the top, added little back boards with pieces of red oak that we rounded by sanding, stained/sealed the tops, then gave the sides a good sanding followed by primer and a warm light gray paint (we reused the extra sample paint from an ex-kitchen cabinet color).

Before:

During:

And after:

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Cheers to a productive weekend!

 

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!

China Cabinet and Appliances

I got so excited to tell you about our bathroom destruction, I never posted about our finished china cabinet. I bought this in the fall of 2014, with intentions of selling it once it was refinished since it would never have fit in our apartment. We worked on it slowly at our friend’s house (where it was being stored), and it was slowly enough that by the time we were finished, we’d bought our house and had a real dining room to put it in!

I paid $50 for this cabinet, which started out pretty rough, with pieces of wood broken off/bashed in, and a huge water stain on the bottom shelf:

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We knew we couldn’t salvage parts of the wood that had damage, so we patched them extensively with wood filler, and decided we’d paint those parts, and stain the door fronts and two top shelves since those were in better condition. So we got to patching, sanding, and priming:

We finished with 3-5 coats of paint (the water spot needed many coats to cover it), and also gave the shelves and doors a protective coat of water-based poly. We didn’t poly over the paint, since it was semi-gloss so it had some protection built in. Finally we screwed the doors on and added the extra shelf.

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This cabinet has two cool pieces of class that cover the top shelves, so we dug those pieces out and fitted them in to complete the piece:

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So here’s the finished product, with a before and after picture:

And here’s our whole dining room put together with the cabinet and our new rug and our botanical prints hung up:

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And, we also have our kitchen appliances installed! We didn’t want to pay the $150 for Sears to install the dishwasher so Nik hardwired it and hooked up all the plumbing pretty effortlessly all by himself (one of the many reasons I love him!), and we ran it last night without issues. Here’s how that went:

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And success!

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And our stove and fridge, which the delivery folks installed for free:

So now that our kitchen has functional appliances and our dining room is done, we have to start inviting friends over for dinner!

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!