Saturday, February 6, 2016

DIY Midcentury Modern Bench

We are working on downsizing and preparing to sell our house and move in the spring. So why am I making new furniture? Staging! One of our spare bedrooms (in the basement) is currently a junk storage room and we need to stage it as usable space. It's large. Very large. It has a queen bed in it currently that you can't use because it's covered in "storage." We are going to swap our king bed from our master with the queen in this room since they are more size appropriate for the spaces. I have a junky bench currently at the foot of our master bed for the dog to jump up on, but it really is a piece of crap. I've wanted to replace it for ages and especially before we list. It's boxy and has bins in the bottom and visually looks unappealing. I wanted something open that will feel more airy in the room. Plus, I love MCM style and always need more of it..... and plus plus, I want (need!) a project. ;)

This beauty from West Elm for only $299

My shopping list was short and easy since I already had most of what I needed. 

Here is my Home Depot shopping list:

4 - 12" table legs, 4 - brackets, and a 3" thick piece of foam came to $52 and free shipping.

I also used a 12" x 36" by 3/4" board that was previously used as a shelf in my craft room (I took the shelves down so we can stage it as a kids room)

About a yard of fabric, vinyl, or leather (I have a massive fabric stash)

One button making kit (Like this). Usually around $3 - $4 in craft stores.

String or rope to make piping, if you want to use it (you'll need a sewing machine if you do)

Staples and a staple gun

A drill and around a 1/2" or larger bit (I used a 7/8" spade bit bc it's the first one I came to in the tool box)

A looooooong needle and some strong thread or string

Some craft adhesive (I used spray adhesive)

Quilters batting, about a yard

I would guess a thrifty shopper (with Joann's coupons!) could buy all supplies for around $120 or less. Hopefully you already have the tools.

I started by deciding where I wanted my tufts to be and drilling large holes in the back of my board. The larger the better because you're going to have to blindly poke a long needle through them later on.

Spade bits make a mess. Wear your safety goggles and go outside or in the garage!

Next I cut the foam about 1/2 inch larger on all sides than my board. An electric kitchen knife is by far the best way to cut foam. 

I then used a spray adhesive to affix the foam to the board. This will just make sure it never shifts around when a crazy dog goes running and jumps up on it! 

The next step for me involved the sewing machine. You don't have to know how to sew to do this project. You can just skip this part and wrap fabric with no sewing - but I wanted piping on mine, so I had to sew that first:

And then sew the piping to my cover:

Then come the staples! First I highly recommend you wrap the foam and board in batting and put a few staples in that. The batting helps smooth the edges of the foam and will keep the fabric from rubbing the foam over time. You CAN skip this part, but I wouldn't. It just gives it an overall better shape.

Then wrap the fabric and pull it tight, stapling on the underside. I forgot to take a photo of this step, but you know how it goes!!

Then I lined the bottom of the board with the bottom strip of piping that I made and stapled that to the edges. Again, you can feel free to skip this step if you aren't into sewing or piping. After all that, here is what I had:

If you are doing piping, this is how I start and end mine:

And here is a closer look at the side with the piping on the bottom:

Next it's time to tuft. First I had to cover the buttons:

Then I measured out where the buttons go and marked them with pins

Next I used long upholstery needles and a thick quilting thread doubled over to attach the buttons. 

To attach the thread in the back I just stapled it in and then bent it in the opposite direction a few times with more staples. Those suckers aren't going anywhere!

Before I put the staple gun away, I took some broadcloth and cut it about 1" larger on all sides than the bottom of the bench. Then I stapled it on to cover all of the ugliness

You can screw on the feet brackets right over the fabric:

Screw on the legs (which I previously stained), flip it over, and voila!!! (Don't mind the messy craft room!)

I can see where my seams were a bit off when I sewed the cover, but that's ok. Once it's in the room with everything else it's going tog look AH-MAZE-INGGG!!!  I'll update this with a much better photo as soon as we get everything organized and staged in the new downstairs master bedroom. =)

I also recovered my upholstered headboard to match!

How to recover an upholstered headboard

I bought a king size upholstered headboard on Cragislist for $50 years ago. It was tan and kind of boring. I've wanted to recover it for ages but couldn't commit to what color - until today!

Here it was - boring tan. Almost the same color as the walls - so it vanished.

And here it is now! A beautiful charcoal gray.

This was a SUPER easy process since this was already an upholstered and tufted headboard. I started by taking the legs off, and then taking the felt-like covering off the back - I just ripped it off. This exposed the wooden back of the headboard.

Then I cut off the old buttons.

Because this is a king sized headboard, my craft room was almost too small to work in! So I spread my fabric out on the kitchen floor and plopped the headboard down on top of it. Pull tight and staple around the edges - it's that easy!!

Now it was time to tuft. I bought button blanks and wrapped them in matching fabric. It took three packs of 4 to get all 10 buttons covered. Each pack was about $2 at Walmart in the craft section.

With tufting I use a super long upholstery needle and thin string or really thick thread.I had the headboard sitting on it's side with the button side facing me. I wanted this really tufted, so once I got the needle and thread through, I pushed the button in as far as I could with my knee and tied the string really tight in the back. I usually use large washers or other buttons on the back side to keep the string from sucking back through the hole. (When I removed the old buttons they had these little metal pieces they used, so I just reused them this time. Washers are cheap and work great - just be sure to get washers bigger then your holes!)

To make sure they were extra secure I tried the string in three knots. Then I bent the string back and forth between some staples to make sure it cannot come undone. Voila! TUFTS!!

I decided not to put fabric over the back to hide the ugly. It's always going to be against a wall, so no one will EVER see it. No sense in worrying about it.

Reattach the legs and it's done. Super quick and easy! Here it is all done in our current master bedroom. I'll post a new "after" photo once we move the master bedroom downstairs into the basement bedroom and get it all set up!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Rub a dub dub, I painted my pink tub!

After more than a decade with my pink bathtub and sink, I finally took the plunge and refinished it. I thought about it for a long time, worried about how the off-white tiles would look against a bright white tub and what to do with the pink accent tiles - but in the end, I decided anything would look better than a pink tub and sink. (I replaced the pink toilet back in 2004 when I bought the house!)

I went to Home Depot for the Rustoleum brand tub and tile kit that I had seen all over Pinterest, but they didn't stock that one (and neither does Lowes). Instead, I got the Homax "Tough as Tile" Tub & Sink Refinishing kit. It was about $40 and I ended up buying two since I was covering pink and was afraid I might need more coverage. I later found out that the online reviews are HORRIBLE for this product, but a lot of it seems to be user error. I guess I'll find out!! The kit comes with a cleanser, steel wool, and gloves - so that cut my shopping list down significantly. I also bought some Lime-Away and some Comet cleaners, since that was what the Rustoleum website recommended and I figured "too clean" wasn't possible in this case. This bathroom is from 1964 so it had many many years of build up on it! 

If you don't have a respirator mask, buy one! Thankfully, we already had a super nice one (my husband does all kinds of projects). I had that thing on when I opened the can so I had no idea how bad it smelled until I took the mask off after I finished the first coat. WHOAH! That would have made me dizzy for sure had I not had the mask. The little doctor looking masks WILL NOT WORK! You MUST have a respirator with some filters.  (Any brand is fine. They start around $25 to $30 at Home Depot.)

I spent about 3 hours cleaning and scrubbing. At one point, about 10 years ago, my Mom and I tried to shine the ugly finish on the bathtub and although I cannot remember what we used, I think it must have been some kind of a wax. It was worn off on the bottom of the tub, but not on the sides. I'm still not sure I got ALL of it off, but I put as much elbow grease into it as I had in me. I used the Lime-Away first, then did many rounds of scrubbing with the Comet and the Steel Wool, and then I followed the directions on the Homax box three times, as instructed. I stuck a fan in the room and went to bed - to make sure everything was nice and dry by morning. 

In the morning I taped it all off. (I ran out of the blue and switched to a different roll which was yellow, but it was all painters tape.)  I wanted to remove the sink faucet, but much to my chagrin I realized there are not shut off valves for that sink. I would have to shut off the water to the entire house - for a few days. Nope. Not going to do it. So I carefully taped it off. Then I put a plastic bag over the faucet and taped it on - just in case I accidently hit the faucet or it dripped. I did the same to the tub faucet, as well. 

For the drains, I carefully measured them and used my Silhouette die cutting machine to cut some vinyl circles to cover them. I know I should have removed them, too, but nope. Not gonna do it.  If you don't have a fancy cutting machine I would combine a bunch of tape on wax paper and then carefully cut it in a circle to stick on the drain. Or, remove them like I should have. ;) 

Once they were taped, it was time to go! The Homax says not to use foam brushes or rollers. Thankfully, I had bought smooth non-foam mini-rollers already, so I got those ready and a small brush and put on my mask. 

It only took about 20 minutes to coat both the sink the tub. I worked quickly, since this stuff gets sticky fast.  I started in the back corner with the brush and edged a little bit, then rolled. Then edged, then rolled. After the first coat, here is what I had!

The Homax box said it should take at least 2 coats, maybe 3 for covering a dark color - so I wasn't worried that it was splotchy after coat 1. Then I had to wait THREE HOURS before I could do the next coat. I am NOT good at waiting. Thankfully, I had some work to do so that took up the time pretty easily. 

The second coat went on just like the first. I started in the back corners with the brush, and then rolled whatever I could. It went on fast and smooth and looked a lot better after coat #2! 

I had the fan on in the bathroom, the window open, and the attic fan on in the hallway ALL DAY while this was all taking place. Otherwise I think the dogs, cat, and I may have passed out! You need GOOD ventilation for this stuff! 

Here is where we were after coat #2. Unfortunately, it's still going to need a third coat. You can't tell in the photo but there are some darker spots where the pink is trying to peek through. But I still have about 1/3 of a can left, so I think I can do it without needing the other kit I bought.


Nov. 6, 2015: 

It is now the next morning and I have inspected my handywork. Definitely needs the third coat to cover all of the pink, but overall looks very good. The tub is still a little tacky to the touch but almost dry. The sink will still pick up your fingerprints if you touch it, so not as dry. I had to use the brush mostly for the sink, meaning a heavier coat of paint vs the roller on the tub which made it nice and thin.  No bubbles or cracks have formed like some of the (horrible) online reviews have stated and the part of the tub I was most worried about (a section where something seemed to be on the surface that I could not scrub off) looks great so far. The box said that I had to wait 72 hours after the second coat before I could do the third. Impatient me wondered if that was really true and I went to google last night to find out. I ended up asking on Amazon and the manufacturer responded, saying that yes, I had to wait for the first two coats to fully cure (not just dry, CURE!) before I could do the third (which would take AT LEAST three days). If they were not cured, the third coat would trap vapors in between coats and would cause bubbling, cracking, or ripples. Yikes! Thankfully, I was about to go out of town for a few days, so that made the waiting much easier.

Nov. 9, 2015:

We got back today and everything is dry and looks fantastic! I was able to put the third and final coat on tonight. After coat #3, here we are:

I know you can't see the difference between coats 2 and 3 in the photos, but trust me - they are significant. Coat #3 got rid of all of the dark spots and brush marks and made it look finished.

And while we're talking about coats - the manufacturer says the coats should be light. One can will supposedly do two coats on a bathtub. I was able to get three coats on a tub AND a sink from one can - so I think that proves I accomplished the "light coats" rule. (I hope that will be key to my success!)

And now I wait three more days. Ug. I hate waiting!

Nov. 14, 2015:

It's done, and it's so amazing! I actually ended up waiting over 4 days before I took off the tape and then caulked it. I wanted to be extra sure it was safe. I still won't be using the shower for at least a week, though, just in case. (We have other bathroom so thankfully it's no big deal that this one is still out of commission.) Before I peeled the tape I took an Exacto Knife and scored around all of the seams - just in case the tape removal process might chip the paint. It seems hard as a rock so I doubt it would, but better safe than sorry.

The final product is fantastic. It's smooth, glossy, and bright white. I cannot even begin to tell you how much better this room looks now!

Here are the final photos:

And so you don't have to scroll up to compare:

I don't even hate the starburst accent tile all that much anymore. Now it's a small reminder of the 1960's retro style rather than a punch-you-in-the-face with 1960's that it used to be.

We don't use this bathroom much, so I know this finish will last until long after we sell this house in the Spring. Should I have any troubles with it I will definitely update here, but I doubt it considering how rarely we use this room.

Overall I am VERY happy with the Homax product and process. I know it has terrible reviews online, but I honestly do think that is mostly user error. Be extra diligent, clean clean and clean again, and use multiple light coats following the directions closely and you should be successful, too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

DIY Mid Century Modern Coffee Table

My (Expensive!) Inspiration

This beautiful table on Etsy for $795

And this one for $475

And last there is this one for $650:

You get the idea, right?  Those prices are insane and there is no way we can afford that. So I set out to make one for around $75!

Supplies & Tools
  • 2 pieces of 2x4 veneer plywood - I used Birch and selected 1/2 inch thick, but later regretted that and recommend 3/4 inch thick, instead. (Mine was $13.67 each at Lowes) 
  • 1 roll of wood veneer - again, I got Birch ($6.58 at Lowes)
  • 4 mid-century modern table legs - I chose 12" and purchased them here ($3.32 each online)
  • 4 leg mounting top plates - either straight or angled. I chose angled and purchased them at the same place as the legs. ($1.76 each online)
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner - I already had some (~$5)
  • Wood stain of your choice - I already had Minwax "Special Walnut" (~$4.50)
  • Protective finish - I already had Minwax Polycrylic in Satin (~$7.00)
  • Wood screws
  • Stainable wood putty
  • Sand paper
  • Wood glue
  • A razor blade
  • An iron
  • Brushes for stain, finish, and conditioner
Tools you will need:
  • Power drill with drill bit
  • Electric sander (you can do it by hand, but it'll be way easier with a sander!)
  • I used a table saw to cut a few pieces, but you can have Lowes or Home Depot cut all of your pieces for you, if you want.
  • Recommended: A pocket hole jig

I had Lowes cut my plywood for me. They will give you 2 cuts per board for free, so I took advantage and saved myself the hassle. I decided to make my table 20" by 36".  I had the very nice Lowes guy cut the 20" side first so I would have two nice straight 4" pieces to make the sides from (I did not have him cut those).

Once I got my wood home, I cut the 4" side strips to 20" each using the table saw. Then I added a thin bead of glue down the side and pieced together the box, clamping it together with wood clamps. (Be careful with the glue - if you get glue all over the wood, it won't take stain. You'll have to sand it off if you accidentally get it in places you don't want it.)

Once I had it exactly where I wanted it and clamped together, I pre-drilled three holes on each side and screwed the box together. I sunk the heads of the screws down a tad so I can fill them with wood putty to stain over them and hide them. You could use nails if you want - our air compressor broke and I'm not that good with a hammer, so I used wood screws. ;)

**LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES:  I would not do it this way again. Instead, I would use a pocket hole jig and put the top screws on the INSIDE. I had a difficult time hiding them later. It doesn't matter on the bottom, so I would still do it this way on the bottom.

Once the box was together I gave it a nice sanding on all the edges. Then I wiped it down really well to remove all dust.

Next - fill your screw holes with wood putty.  (You can skip this step if you used the pocket hole jig because you will not be able to see the screws at all from the top.

Here is what my screws looked like when  filled with wood putty:

While the putty was drying, it was time to attach the wood veneer to the sides. The plywood has ugly edges, so the veneer is to make it look like one solid piece of birch. 

The top of the box is just plywood in this photo - ugly. The bottom has veneer on it - see how it's smooth now? Much better. 
The directions are on the back of the package and it is super easy. The veneer already has glue on the back that is heat activated. It says to set your iron to the cotton setting (turn off the steam) and just iron it on! (I have a nice iron so I covered it in foil first to protect it.)  Lowes only sold 3/4" veneer and my plywood is 1/2", so it's too big.  No worries.  Iron it on and then take a razor blade and cut off the excess. It looks crazy bad as you start trying to cut off the extra, but do it as best as you can and don't worry about it - you'll sand it later and it'll look amazing (I promise!).  

**Learn from my mistakes: It's seriously easier if you just buy the right size veneer. If I had used 3/4 inch plywood like I should have, this step would have been even easier! :)

Here you can see how the veneer is too big. Just iron it on anyway, then trim.

When you trim it, it looks horrible. Just stay with me here, it'll look good after you sand it!

Now back outside to sand those ragged edges down! Here is where you really want an electric sander (I used a small, handheld orbital sander), but you could do it by hand if you had to. (I'd use a sanding block at least!)  You also want to make sure you sand the puttied screw holes, as well. Be careful not to go too crazy and sand through the veneer. Remember this is plywood with a thin layer of birch (or oak or whatever) over the top of it and now on the edges, too. Don't sand through it - just sand the corners and edges until they are smooth and it looks like one solid piece of wood.

**Even if you used the right size veneer, you still want to sand all of the edges so they are pretty and smooth. It just won't take you as long if you used the right size, unlike what I did. ;)

If your veneer starts coming off while sanding, don't freak out - just stop and go get the iron and iron it on again. You probably didn't get it quite hot enough the first time.

Here is where my veneer came off a little bit while sanding - I just ironed it back on:

Here it is after it is sanded! Smooth as a baby's butt!

Next I decided to put on the legs. You could stain first and then put the legs on, but I decided it's be easier if it was up on feet to stain it.

First I twisted a leg into the top plate and just sat it on there so I could judge where I wanted to put them.

I decided on 3" in on both sides to the first screw hole - so I measured 3 x 3 on each corner and put a dot. Then I screwed on each leg bracket and twisted on the legs.

And hellooooooooo beautiful!!!

And now we stain! First step is the pre-stain wood conditioner. Follow the directions on the can - easy-pesy! Here is my table after the pre-stain. It really brings out the colors in the wood - see how half is darker than the other? That's natural to the grain. I like it, but it might be a slight issue I can work on later.

Next is the stain. I like to use a rag and in this case it's pretty much necessary since you are reaching inside the box where a paintbrush would not fit. Be sure to wear gloves - in this case I recommend long gloves so your arms are protected when you reach inside the box. I stained the bottom and legs first, then I flipped it over and did the top and the inside. Always wipe with the grain, never against it or in a circle.  After 5 to 15 minutes, wipe off any excess that hasn't been absorbed.

After one coat of "Special Walnut" by Minwax:

That darker spot is really standing out now - a little more than I want at this point. I plan to do a second coat of stain but skip that spot to try to even it out a little bit. But I have to wait 4 hours before I can go at it again. I hate waiting!

The next day I put on a second coat of stain. Unfortunately it was raining so I had to move the operation into the basement - where it is dark and photos don't turn out. So although it is darker, it's not as dark as it looks in this photo.

After second coat of stain:

The wood putty over the screws is not taking the stain as well as it should. I'm not sure why. (This is the main reason I highly recommend using the jig and putting the screws on the inside!)  I've never had this happen before. It's nothing that can't be fixed, though!  I have a bunch of stain markers laying around for furniture touch up - I grabbed one in a darker shade than the stain I used on the whole piece (in this case I used "Dark Walnut") and I used it to stain just those few spots. Since it's a stain marker it's super easy to get it just where you want it. I let it sit for a minute and then wiped it off and voila! Screws vanished.

After 24 hours of dry time I was able to start the Polycrylic finish. The can says to wait 2 hours between coats so I was able to get in 4 coats easily in one day. I don't usually do so many coats, but it's a coffee table that will likely get a lot of abuse so I wanted it well protected.

Here it is after coat #2 (again, sorry for the dark basement photo - it's STILL raining outside!)

(Anyone want that old TV in the background?? We can't give the thing away!)

After it was all said and done, here she is!

Things I'd do differently next time:
1. Use 3/4 inch wood
2. Use veneer trim that is the correct size
3. Use a jig to put the top screws on the inside rather than trying to hide them on the outside

.....regardless, I still LOVE it!!! <3  And after more than 6 months of use, she's still holding up great. I probably put enough poly on it to forgo the coasters, but I don't.  Ultimately I plan to sell this one and make another one with 3/4 inch thick wood - I think the beefier look will ultimately look better in this room.

Pin it now and use these tips later!