My Latest Build: A Bench

Well, I’m a little behind schedule on the entryway projects, but I’m happy to say I have a project ready to share: my new bench! Isn’t she lovely?

I used another Shanty 2 Chic tutorial for this project, just like I did with my sister’s bookshelf. I was going for a very Restoration Hardware look and hopefully that was accomplished.

As usual, my first step was to drive to Lowes and pick up my lumber. Miraculously, it all fit in my car without being cut down at the store. And I didn’t need to have it cut down at the store since I have a new saw! Introducing my compound miter saw:

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The Hitachi 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw, an awesome and reasonably priced starter miter saw.

I ordered it from Amazon and was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it was. You can spend more money for a miter saw with all the bells and whistles, but for now this will work for me. The saw was an essential part of this project, since it required a lot of angled cuts. I could have made all the cuts by hand, but let’s be real; I’m just a girl with a hobby, not some sort of lumberjack.

Once I got the saw put together and read all the safety precautions, it was a breeze to make the cuts, even the angled ones. I spent the whole time thinking why didn’t I get this saw sooner? 

After all the pieces were cut I followed the plans and put pocket holes in with my Kreg Jig K5 so my pocket screws could attach everything together and be hidden from view. The only variation I made from the plan is that I mitered the corners on the seating area of the bench so they came together at an angle. I thought it added a nice touch.

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Using my Kreg K5 Pocket-Hole Jig again!

After I created the top of the bench I built the legs, then attached it all together. It was at this point I realized a seven foot long bench is a huge bench. Luckily, I had plenty of space for it to fit in the entryway.

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After it was assembled I filled in some of the imperfections with wood filler. I didn’t use too much because I like the natural elements of the wood to show through. Then I thoroughly sanded the entire bench to smooth and even it out.

For the finish, I applied a wood conditioner first to prepare the wood for the stain. I then created a custom mix of Varathane weathered gray and dark walnut stains to use. I eye balled the mix and tested it on some scrap wood until I felt it looked the way I wanted. I applied a few coats until I felt as though it had the look I was going for. Finally, I added a couple coats of polyurethane to seal the stain and wood.

I was super excited to be able to move it into its new home! I’m still working on how to style it, but for now I just have a couple of spare pillows hanging out at the end.

Sidenote: I got a new plant. It is a fiddle leaf fig I picked up from Home Depot. I put it in a basket I picked up from my local Home Goods. I haven’t had a ton of good luck with house plants in the past, but I really love this one so I have my fingers crossed. One of my goals was to add live plants to the entryway, and I’m thinking between this and a couple of succulents on the console table I will be set.

My total cost on the bench project was pretty reasonable. I spent $43 on my materials to build the bench including lumber and screws. (This does not include the miter saw purchase.) I spent another $15-$20 on my wood stain and finishes, but I have plenty left over for future projects.

I built this over the course of a few days as my schedule allowed, but if you have woodworking experience I think this could easily be built in a weekend, adding time for any finishes you used to dry and cure.

All in all, I’m very happy with the bench and think it was worth the time and money.

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The Great Rug Dilemma of 2016

For me, one of the hardest parts about building things is deciding on a finish… so many options! Paint or stain? Dark or light? So it should come as no surprise that I’m really hung up on trying to figure out what rug to put in the entryway! I thought I had it decided, but every time I go to actually order it, I pause.

I’m planning on ordering the rug from Rugs USA, an extremely affordable site that has very good reviews. I’ve never ordered from there personally, but I have a friend who has and she is very happy with her new rug. And I’ve seen the photo evidence on her instagram feed, it’s a pretty great rug.

So, without further ado, I’ve very roughly photoshopped my favorite options onto my entryway floor and I need some help.

Option 1 : My first choice I’ve almost purchased about ten times

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 This is the Ashlina Printed Persian Overdyed Vintage Rug. I love it. I’m really into the vintage and persian rug look. My main concern is that I want it to flow with what I have going on in the living room and I’m worried it’s a little too bold for the space.

Option 2: What I would consider to be a safe bet

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This is the Bosphorus BD07 Distressed Persian Rug and I like it also. I don’t like it quite as much as the first option, but I think it’s a more safe bet as far as matching the rest of the house.

Option 3: Another blue rug

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As you can see, I am a fan of blue rugs. This one is the Bosphorus BD29 Faded Shadow Mystique Rug.

Option 4: And yet another blue rug

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And here’s one more option: Chroma CB06 Speckled Medallion Rug. Adds a bit more color than the previous option.

So that’s where I’m at on the rugs. Who knew this would be such a tough decision? I still am loving option 1 and am thinking maybe I should go with my gut instinct.

On another note, I have decided on a light fixture! I decided to keep it simple and since the ceiling is lower, I wanted something that did not call too much attention to itself or disrupt the view.

Here’s one more photoshopped image, this time of the light fixture:

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I found the light fixture on Wayfair, it is Norfolk Flush Mount by Birch Lane.

So there you have it, the great rug dilemma of 2016. Any rug experts out there who have some advice?

A Bookshelf For My Sister

Although I’m in the process of working on my entryway, I wanted to share another project. I recently built a bookshelf for my sister, Megan. She was moving into a new apartment and wasn’t going to have built-in shelves like her previous apartment, so she was in need of a bookshelf. I was eager to work on a new project, so I offered to build one. We looked at a few options and she decided she liked Shanty 2 Chic’s industrial cart bookcase the best. This was my personal favorite out of her options, so I was glad she picked it out.

I’m a huge fan of the Shanty 2 Chic site and have followed their tutorials before, so I was confident the directions would be clear and easy to follow. They have hundreds of free furniture and decor plans on their website, and even a new show on HGTV called Open Concept! Their plans for this project are posted here. If you are interested in DIYing any of your furniture, I highly recommend checking out their site.

I headed to Lowes to get my supplies, and I asked the guy working there cut my wood to the dimensions I would need on their saw. This saved a ton of time on my end later. We then loaded up and I transported everything home. Luckily the backseat in my Altima folds down and it all fit like a charm after a little maneuvering.

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Altima to the rescue!

Once I got home I got started. I was excited to finally use my Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig. I had asked for this for Christmas because I came across tutorial after tutorial that recommended it for woodworking projects. At first I opened it up and stared at it for a while, wondering how the contraption worked. But after a quick read of the manual and a couple of online tutorials, I was ready to go.

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My Kreg pocket hole jig, AKA my new favorite thing.

The purpose of the pocket hole jig is to attach pieces of wood together so that you cannot see the screws and create a very sturdy connection between them. It provides a template and guide for drilling holes at just the right angle. It didn’t take me long to understand why this was a must-have for any type of furniture building. The Shanty 2 Chic plans provide a diagram of where exactly to drill the pocket holes, so it was a piece of cake once I got the hang of it.

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Beginning the assembly of the shelves.

I attached the pieces of each shelf together using wood glue and pocket screws. I would also take a break every once in a while and spray paint the brackets, hardware and wooden dowels that go along the back. I used the same spray paint that is in the tutorial, Rustoleum Metallic Flat Soft Iron.

Even after the shelf was assembled, the spray paint makes the wooden dowels look like metal, which is very cool. Once those were dry I worked on assembling the legs on the back of the shelf by drilling the holes for the dowels and connected them, and then connecting the shelves using more glue and pocket screws.

 

Lining everything up got a little tricky, but I was able to make it work. After I put the front legs on, it was officially assembled!

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Ta-da!

You may notice it’s slightly smaller than the Shanty 2 Chic bookcase. I modified it to be one shelf lower (about 20 inches), took 5 inches off the width, and used 2x10s instead of 2x12s for the shelves to take 2 inches off the depth. This was because I didn’t want it to look like it was completely taking over Megan’s living room. It is still a pretty good size piece of furniture.

Now all the was left were the finishes and the casters. My sister wanted it to be a dark finish to match her TV console, so I layered a couple of different Minwax stains on it over the next few nights and then covered it with a coat of poly. I used 4 inch rubber casters and spray painted them to match the other hardware. They were around $4 at Harbor Freight, much cheaper than anywhere else I could find them. I was worried about the spray paint coming off while we were rolling it while transporting it to her apartment, so I covered the wheels with plastic wrap until we got there.

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The finished product.

I built the bookshelf in a couple of days, and then spent a little bit of time over the next 3 nights on the stain and poly and then attaching the hardware pieces that really give it that ‘industrial’ look. In total, the project cost around $110-120 for the lumber, hardware and casters. I already had the stain so that would have added to the cost. However, for a solid wood bookshelf I think it was completely worth it. And most importantly, my sister liked it!

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When One Door Opens…

I accomplished my first task of updating the entryway this past weekend! I painted all my downstairs doors a very dark gray. Some people may celebrate their 4th of July with fireworks, I apparently celebrate by painting doors. Even though it was time consuming, it was an inexpensive update and completely worth the time! I already feel like my home is starting to become less cookie-cutter and a little more custom.

I’ve been considering this update for quite some time after seeing some photos of interior doors being painted.

Since I also have white trim and lighter paint on the walls, I thought the painting the doors would be a nice contrast. I also thought it easily adds interest and dimension to the space.

When it came time to decide exactly what color to use, I knew what to do right away. My shutters and front door are painted Urbane Bronze by Sherwin Williams, and I love the color. A quick search around the web found that this was a very popular paint color for both interior and exterior. Young House Love even used it to update their garage doors from a tan color… which got me thinking, that color might look amazing on my garage doors too! Another potential project down the road.

So off I went to Sherwin Williams to pick up my paint. The girl working there suggested I go with their Snap Dry paint, which is recommended for doors and trim. It is supposed to dry in an hour. This seemed like a good option since I had a feeling that my doors would need multiple coats to get from white to the very dark gray color. They only had it available in a quart, so I started off with one even though I had a feeling I would need more. I chose the semi-gloss with an ultradeep base.

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For the most part, I use Sherwin Williams paint in most of my house for a couple of reasons. First, I think it is really high quality paint. Second, there is a store about 2 miles from my house. They usually have multiple sales throughout the year and sometimes you can catch a 40% off sale, but for this project they had a 30% off sale. Still a pretty good deal. I usually wait to purchase paint until they are having a sale. With the discount, that brought the paint to a little more than $17 for the quart.

I had three interior doors I planned to paint both sides of, and then also wanted to tackle the back of my front door and my garage door on the side that faces in toward the kitchen. (Although now I’m wanting to paint the side that faces the garage as well.) I decided to take the interior doors down off the hinges and remove the knobs since I would have to squeeze into some awkward spaces to paint both sides of them. I kept the front door and garage door up while I painted because, well, I like to keep my home a bug free zone as much as I can. Plus those doors were much heavier than the others and I don’t think I could put them back up on my own.

I put down some plastic and and got to work. I could quickly tell that it was going to take multiple coats of the paint to cover the doors. In fact, each door ended up requiring at least three coats per side. I had several door painting stations throughout first floor and would go from one to the next after each coat dried every hour. It was very tedious.

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After two coats in one of several ‘painting stations’ I set up.

I used a 2 inch angled brush to work on the indentations of the door and then a smaller roller for the rest. I tried to brush and roll as quickly as possible since it was fast drying paint and I wanted to eliminate as many visible lines from the brush and roller as possible. After a couple of coats I was nervous that they would look streaky but by the third coat they really evened out. I found a few images online that people have put together to show which part of the door to paint in a certain order, and at first I tried to mimic those. I ended up painting one half and then the second half of the door without a specific ‘technique’ and that seemed to work best for me.

About halfway through I needed to pick up another quart so back to Sherwin Williams I went (so glad it’s close by!) and I felt like I was starting to see the light at the end of the painting tunnel.

A few hours later I finally put the last coat on the last door and started hanging the doors back up. I was so very tired of painting doors, but am so happy with the way they turned out!

 

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Before

 

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After (The rug will be gone soon)

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Coat Closet Before

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Coat Closet After

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Front Door

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Half Bath Door

 

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Kitchen Closet/Garage Doors

 

While my garage and kitchen closet aren’t part of my entryway, I thought it made sense to paint all of my first floor doors at once. I also want to paint my doors upstairs, but for now I’m going to take a break on the door painting.

All in all, I spent about $45 on this project, and that includes two quarts of Sherwin Williams Snap Dry paint, a roller and a 2 inch angled paint brush. From a time standpoint, I spent about two days working on this, on and off to allow time for the different coats to dry. In my opinion, it was completely worth it. In some homes this look wouldn’t work, but with an open space and white trim, it provides some nice contrast.

Now it’s time to pick out a new rug, a light fixture and work on some board and batten molding!

 

Show Me The Numbers

When taking on each space of my home, I decided it made sense to come up with a budget and list of my estimated projects. Here’s my estimated budget for my entryway:

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These are pieces I want to add to the entry that I plan to build or DIY myself.

  • Coat rack $40
  • Bench $50
  • Console table $300
  • Trim $100
  • Paint trim $50
  • Paint doors gray $40

TOTAL DIY BUDGET: $480

Purchases

These are pieces I want to add to the entry that I will purchase ready to go from the store.

  • Floor rug (runner) $100
  • Hire painter $300
  • New light fixture $40
  • Decor for console table $50
  • Hooks $20
  • Incorporate live plants $50
  • Place for mail $20
  • Frames/photos $50

TOTAL PURCHASES: $630

And, I’ve watched enough HGTV to know the budget never goes quite as planned, so I’ve allowed a project cushion.

PROJECT CUSHION: $140

TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET: $1,250

To be honest, the budget did end up being a way higher than I had initially anticipated for the space (about $600 or $700). The fact that I have to hire a painter since the entry is two levels significantly contributed to my budget, but the paint needs an update so I think I will be happy with the finished product. Also, this is a space we will use frequently, so I think it is worth the money to make it just the way we want.

At some point I would like to update the flooring. It is currently vinyl and I’d like laminate or tile in the future. The vinyl is still in really good shape, so the flooring will be a future update.

But for now, I’m excited to get started and (hopefully) stick to my budget!

Entryway Inspiration

When it comes to my entryway, I’ve been Pinterest-ing up ideas for a while now so overall I have a pretty good grasp of what I’d like. Some of my favorites include:

There’s a lot I like about this blogger’s entryway. I love the trim work, and I’ve always wanted to incorporate that into my entry. Plus the bench and greenery are adorable. The paint color also happens to be nearly the same if not the same as mine.

 

In this entryway, I love the dark painted door. They opted to go with the plank (aka shiplap) wall in white which adds visual interest. I am a fan of the mirror, which is our only accessory in the current entryway and I plan on keeping it.

 

This is another fresh and airy entryway that uses the board and batten trim work. I like the bench and storage and that a live plant is incorporated.

 

As part of my entryway project, I’d like to build a few pieces of furniture for my entryway. I’ve built a few items over the last year or so and really enjoyed it. For this project, in addition to DIYing the trimwork, I want to build a bench, console table, coat rack and possibly some shelving.

Of all these things, I think the console table will be my biggest challenge and most ambitious project yet.

This thing is massive, at 84 inches wide by 36 inches high. I’m planning on building it right where it’s going to be stationed in the house so I don’t have to move it (because I don’t think I’ll be able to). It’s technically a sideboard table, but I’m using it as an entry console. Most console tables are about 30 inches high and I think that is a little low for the space I’m putting it in. It’s inspired by a Restoration Hardware sideboard that retails for nearly $3,000. I’m planning to attempt to make this for about a tenth of that.

Although the paint in the sample is beautiful, I’m going to go with something in the gray or a wood stain that fits better with my decor.  I’ve never built doors or drawers on anything, so I’m not expecting it to be easy but the only way to know if you can do something is to try! Another benefit is that I’ll have storage for days in my entryway if I can pull this off.

 

The bench will probably be a slightly easier build, but I am thinking about something along these lines:

I may just size it down a bit to fit the space better, but I think the style will match up well with the sideboard. Plus, if I am able to add in some pillows or upholstery it would be ideal.

 

So, that’s a little peak inside my brain as far what I’m thinking for the entryway!

You Only Get One Chance To Make A First Impression

The first part of my home I will be updating is… my entryway! It seemed a logical starting point and is currently a blank canvas.

It is a wide hallway that is partially open to the second floor. I think there is a lot of potential for what the space could be. This will be my project for July, August and September but I’ve decided to get started on the planning and setting up my budget now.

My current entryway:

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View from the front door. I painted the wall to the right when I painted the rest of the downstairs, but since part of the wall to the left is open to the second floor, I have not painted it.

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View when you look up from the front door.

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View to the right of the front door and stairway. The door toward the end of the entry is our 1/2 bath.

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Completely blank wall on the left of the entry. The door toward the end is a coat closet.

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View from the living room to the front door.

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Another view from the living room.

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And one last view from the living room.

How do I want the space to feel?

  • I want it to feel welcoming. Not only for guests, but for us. While we don’t typically use this as our main entrance since we come in from the garage to the kitchen, it is a very high traffic area we walk through many times a day because it leads to the stairs.
  • I prefer spaces that are light and open, but also cozy. I would like to add some personalized art and photos to the walls that are currently very stark.

What do I want the space to accomplish?

  • I’d like the space to serve as a drop off zone for items we use daily. I want a specific location for my son’s backpack, for my purse and for my work bag.
  • I’d like hooks for hanging coats. Even though the entry has a coat closet, I’ve found that we don’t take the time to put them in the closet during seasons we wear them daily. This would also be a convenient place for our guest’s coats.
  • I’d like a place to put mail that needs to go out and also mail I’ve received that I need to sort through.
  • Since I don’t have a fireplace, I’d also like a console table to serve as a sort of mantle that can be decorated and personalized.
  • I’d like seating for people to take their shoes on and off.

What would I like to avoid?

  • While I want this space to be a drop off zone, I really want to avoid accumulating any clutter. Right now there’s no place to put anything so clutter has not been an issue. I want to make sure that does not change when I add furniture.
  • I don’t want the space to appear as a standard ‘mudroom’. Even though I love mudrooms, I prefer homes where they are off the garage and not at the main entrance. I think a mudroom look would be a little too casual.

Home Sweet Home

I love my home. It may not be super fancy, elaborate or have much character (yet) but it’s the first home I’ve owned and my son and I have lived in it for more than six years now. I’m the type of person who has a lot of sentimental attachment to a house, so I have many great memories associated with this home already.

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However, in the six years we’ve been here I haven’t done too much with it. Sure, I’ve painted a few rooms and bought some furniture. But I haven’t really decorated or customized it to fit my family’s needs. This is ironic considering I have many plans for updates I want to do, but I’ve never taken the time to actually do very many of them.

That’s where this blog comes in. Each quarter I plan to tackle a different area of my home and work on completely customizing it for us, while staying within a reasonable budget and DIYing as much as I can. Some areas of the home may need to be done in phases, and that’s okay.

So stay tuned for my next post to find out the first space I plan to take on!