A Dresser Makeover – From Rough to Refined

My maternity leave is on the not-so-distant horizon (it officially starts Wednesday!) and with  my workload returning to a manageable level I can finally get around to showing you guys the dresser makeover!

I didn’t want to rush through this post, when the time came to do it, because this is one of the few projects for our home that has taken so much blood (Steve’s), sweat (Steve’s), and tears (mine — happy tears). Sure, it’s taken us a long time to build furniture in the past, but I can’t think of another project that has been so near and dear to our heart.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? We’ll skip the whole how-we-made-the-baby thing. I’m pretty sure you all have a fine understanding of that. Let’s start with the nursery

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When I first mentioned that we were going to refinish this dresser, a hand-me-down from Steve’s parents that has been in the family for decades, a lot of you said you liked the distressed look. And I do, too — don’t get me wrong — I adore a handsome piece of worn furniture.

This dresser wasn’t so much “distressed” as it was “completely falling apart.” That wasn’t going to cut it for our baby’s changing table. I needed to know with 100% certainty that my little girl’s tushie would be wiped clean on top of a sturdy piece of furniture.

Steve got to work. The feet were all removed (they were all wobbly and needed to be re-glued) and the mismatched knobs were tossed.

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A close-up of one of the random square knobs:

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Luckily our love for this dresser allowed us to see through the deep scratches. With dovetail-jointed drawers and solid wood construction, we knew we were dealing with some mighty fine bones.

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The first thing my handsome lumberjack tackled was addressing the huge gaps inside the drawers. No one likes a drafty drawer. It would’ve been easy for diapers and clothes to slip through the gaping holes.

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Seems pretty simple, but those suckers fit perfectly, now. They didn’t need to be stained since they aren’t at all visible when the drawers are in use.

Next on the agenda was fixing the entire back of the dresser, which was splitting and splintering under the pressure of an ill-fitted backboard.

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When he removed the backboards he discovered the slots where these were supposed to easily glide were completely split and falling apart.

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Nothing a little wood glue and a few days of clamping couldn’t fix.

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Awesome. So, after that was fixed he discovered another lovely secret –this dresser was full of them. Once the drawers were back in place, he realized they overlapped where the imaginary backboard would go.

Below is a before and after of how he had to cut the drawers down. On the left, the too-long drawer, and on the right, the trimmed and handsome and no-longer-a-problem drawer.

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A week had passed and we finally had a structurally sound piece of furniture.

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Now onto the next phase: stripping, sanding, and staining!

No, this is not a sponsored post — but I did want to tell you what stripping agent we used. 3M “Safest Stripper” was really a lifesaver on this project — there’s no way we could’ve just sanded this stain off. It was old and gummy, and it would’ve completely ruined our sandpaper and sanders. The only solution was to strip it.

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I made it through that entire paragraph without making a stripper joke. I would just like to point that out.

This stuff isn’t an easy fix, though. There was a lot of gooping it on, waiting for it to absorb, and then wetting it to scrape it off. The entire process of stripping off the old stain took about a week.

Here’s a good process photo for you, from top to bottom:

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Isn’t it amazing how different the wood looks after it’s naked? I suppose we’re all like that, though, right? It’s like we stripped off the spanks and were pleasantly surprised!

Here are a few more photos of the actual stripping. Again, no stripper jokes. Please for the love of god somebody virtual-high-five me.

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And then **POOF** went the dresser, and by the power of the internet it was all stripped and completely sanded, in all its naked glory (plus, 8 new 99¢ knobs):

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Doesn’t that just look like a completely different piece of furniture?

Here is the new pegboard back piece:

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A noteworthy tip: Steve used wood glue all around the edges of the pegboard to ensure the pressed pieces don’t ever come apart.

After the days of sanding it was time for stain. He put the first layer on and realized that he had some gouges in the wood that were very evident once the stain was in place.

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A few of his lessons learned during sanding:

  • If you’re using a belt sander, sand WITH the grain. This seems like a no brainer, but don’t even go at the slightest, teeny-tiniest angle. Lesson learned.
  • Don’t go directly from really rough to really fine sandpaper. Take the time to use a few in between grits. It’s totally worth it as it will gradually smooth the surface to perfection.

Here he is sanding down his mistakes, so he can start with the stain again:

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Yes, he always sands at sunset with an adorably mischievous smirk.

And then he stains like a boss. It’s totally hot.

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Oh, and yes. He also polyurethanes like a pro.

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Don’t you want to lick it? Or at least just press your face all up on it?

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A close up of the feet. I love the feet.

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Here’s the finished back-side:

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And now, the moment you all have been waiting for (or at least the moment I was dying for during this entire process)… THE FINISHED PRODUCT!

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Oooooh

Aaaaah

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Isn’t she GORGEOUS? The variations of color in the rich, espresso stain just do it for me. It’s even prettier in person if you can believe it.

Here she is all loaded up with changing table accoutrements…

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We added some drawer dividers, and yes I already know this dresser will most definitely not stay this organized once this baby makes her grand entrance. A lady can dream, okay?

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Can we just take a moment to fawn over this sweater my mom and dad bought for our little girl? Sometimes I wander into her nursery with the sole purpose of opening the closet door and adoring her tiny clothes. Is that creepy? THEY ARE JUST SO TINY AND SWEET.

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So, what do you think? Vast improvement from the original dresser, right? The coolest part of this project is although it took us (HAHAHA J/K I mean Steve) three weeks from start to finish, this dresser has been fully restored and can now continue to be passed on within our family.

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I’m so proud of my lumberjack and the work he continuously executes around here. He can even scrub a mean toilet. Also, the back rubs are to die for. I MEAN THEY’RE TERRIBLE. YOU DON’T WANT HIM. (Reverse psychology for the win.)

Don’t you think for a moment that he’s not going to make our little girl appreciate all the hard work and time he put into this project. I’m sure bedtime stories will consist of her listening to papa tell the tale of how he rebuilt, stripped, sanded, and stained the dresser that she will be sure to cherish until the end of time.

Sigh. I can’t wait to tell her bedtime stories. We’re getting so close!

The Book Ledge Post

I felt this post deserved a slightly more dramatic title since I’ve been talking about these damn things so much. And I will gratify you instantly with a few pictures:

They’re so simple, yet they make such an enormous impact in the room. Can’t figure out what artwork to buy, make, or hang? Just put up a few book ledges!

This just turned into a 2am infomercial. Now I’m craving cookie dough. Because apparently that’s what you eat at 2am whilst contemplating new exercise equipment.

We don’t have an extensive step-by-step tutorial of this project because all you really need is the next picture:

It’s all right there. I even showed you where to put the screws and nails.

Steve drew a few 3D renderings before we started, just to wrap our heads around the project. They do a good job of simply illustrating the final product.

Here’s the placement of the three shelves on our wall:

If my pretty, little illustrations didn’t explain everything crystal clear, well then… first of all, are you surprised? And second of all, don’t worry I got yo back. I had Steve type up a little diddy about the things he learned along the way.

Tips & Tricks from the Lumberjack Himself:

  • Make your shelves the same length as standard boards (they come in 6′, 8′, 10′, 12′). Not having to cut the pieces saves a lot of time and waste.
  • When attaching the 1x2s to the 1×3: use clamps to hold the boards together while you screw/nail. Move the clamps with you as you move down the board. It will take out any warp in the boards.
  • Countersink the nails and fill the holes with spackle or wood filler. This will give your front a smooth finish.
  • Sand with heavy grit (we used 60) first and then 220. You can also use the 220 after priming.
  • Because the back piece is short I had to drill at an angle to attach the shelf to the wall (the front edge got in the way of the drill/screwdriver). If you don’t want to do this, simply use a taller, 1×3 board for the back, instead of a 1×2.
  •  If using the angle method to attach to the wall: At an angle, drill through the board and the wall with a long enough bit for the length of screws you’re using. Countersink at the same angle and insert the screw.
  • When hanging: If you space the screws at 16″ to match the wall studs then you won’t need anchors.
  • Dab some paint over the screw heads to help hide them. (The books will cover them, too, so they won’t be too noticeable.)

Yeah, yeah. Enough chit-chat. What is this? The View? I know what you really want is more pictures.

The shelves are pretty full already, but I’d love to continue adding to our book collection and continuously swap them out as our collection grows. There are still so many stories that I’d like to see sitting upon these shelves. And by switching out the books you’ll keep the kiddo interested. Right? I mean, it’s just like switching out dog toys for your dog. Kids and dogs? Same thing. Probably. Maybe.

Here’s the sexy side view:

My mom and I have been snatching up books left and right; garage sales and antique shops are great resources. In fact, every single one of these books is second-hand, which I just realized, but it’s pretty cool because we’re just keeping the cycle going.

(The photo above and below most accurately represent the wall color. Sorry about the wacky lighting in some of these. It was getting dark out and we had to use artificial light.)

And here’s the very proud and goofy Lumberjack, showing off his latest accomplishment.

He’s the best. He is the goofiest, but also the best.

Wheew. I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold my end of the “we’ll show you the book ledges by Friday” promise. But, we did it! They’re not hard to make, they’re just time-consuming. As with everything. After buying all of the lumber and hardware these bad boys cost us about $13 per shelf. Not too shabby.

We’re getting closer to showing you the nursery in its entirety. I’m still making switches and additions, and we still have one big project left: stripping and re-staining the old dresser that will become the changing table. Ho boy – but after that we’re virtually done! All that will be left is adding the baby girl, and from what I hear they arrive on their own schedule.

Steve is F I N A L L Y able to spend a weekend at home, instead of working, and we have a lot of Fun planned: a Saturday with some of our favorite people, and then a Sunday at the pumpkin orchard. Maybe I’ll even bring my camera (which we say Ca-mah-rah now, because 30 Rock has ruined us).

Happy Weekend, everyone! xo

 

Cords: BE GONE

Today I’m going to show you how Steve managed to be AWESOME by hiding all of our TV cords. He manages to be pretty awesome pretty often, but this time was even more impressive than usual.

I will warn you. This post is going to be a lot of me sounding like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t. I mean, it’s a super simple process, but Steve was the one doing all the work. I just watched and batted my eyelashes, and snapped a few pictures.

Here are the pieces we started with (purchased at Lowes):

After Steve marked where the holes needed to go in the wall it was time to cut them out. NEW TOY ALERT! Dry wall saw…

I have to tell you guys that the tape was my idea. At least I contributed something to this process. We recommend taping the first side you cut so you don’t lose a square of dry wall into the abyss that is your family room wall.

(Sorry about the blurriness. AHEM. ::eyelashes still batting:: I’m still working on a new camera.)

After your hole is cut you just pop these little orange fellas in place. I’m all over the technical terms for this tutorial.

See those arrows? Once you have the plastic piece in there, you flip those little guys down. Once this step is done, go ahead and repeat it for the second hole (AKA the cord exit), which usually falls behind a credenza, or whatever your TV was once sitting on.

After you slip all of your cords through, it’s time for the white cover piece.

Done! Now you’re ready to hang your TV, which should already be done. The whole point of hanging the TV first is so you know where these two white boxes should go. (But then, of course, you have to remove the TV to go through this whole process.)

Look Ma — no cords!

I’ll tell you what: this makes me happier than a hippo with a sandwich. Seeing all of that clean wall space between the TV and the credenza, and then the credenza and the floor is greater than or equal to my wedding day. That’s JUST HOW AWESOME THIS IS. Ok, maaaaybe not greater than… but close.

If you slide open the left cover this is what you’ll see:

See that white arrow? You can sorta see the hole that Steve had to cut in the back of the MINT CONDITION, 1950’S CREDENZA from NORWAY. Gasp! I know. But if it’s not functional in our house, it’s not staying. I know some of you wouldn’t dare cut up a piece of furniture like this, but it’ll be ours forever and ever and it works perfectly now. And I’m not really the “mint condition” kinda girl anyways.

It’s the weirdest thing, but now the family room really feels settled. Just to have the TV tucked away with no cords screaming out for my attention really seals the deal.

What do you guys think? Think you’ll give this a try? If you have any questions feel free to send us an email (info in the “about section) and we’ll (Steve) answer any questions you have.

Hope you enjoyed this! Big Gulps, eh? Welp, see ya later!

Psst! Will you take my two second survey?

Low. Ride. Er.

All

My

Friends

Know The Low Rider…

Da da da dadadadada

Good luck mentally escaping that song for the remainder of the day. And a good morning to you, too! I am aware that was a rather strange segue into today’s post, but you’ll see why it makes sense here in 3… 2… 1…

Steve made the fire pit! He went from idea, to sketch, to supplies, to built in less than 48 hours. He’s a stud, what can I say?

Here’s the full, fire pit How-To:

First item of business was to visit Lowe’s and pick up all of the supplies.

Low … ri … der … drives a little slower. Ba da ba dadadadadada.

He had to make two – count ’em — TWO TRIPS because of how heavy the stones and gravel were. He said he felt like a pimp driving home in his lowrider. Did he really say that? No, no he didn’t. But I assume he was at least thinking it.

After picking the perfect spot in the yard for the fire pit,

he marked off exactly where it needed to go. The ole stick-in-the-ground-acting-as-your-pivot-point trick. Only the most high-tech tools for us here at The Harpster Home.

While Steve was busy working, Olive sternly guarded All The Things.

She gets paid hourly. One water break. We run a tight ship.

The next series of steps moved smoothly since all of the prep work was done. If you’re following along at home, make sure between all of these steps you take time to place a level on each possible stone combination. The rule of thumb is if the first layer of stones is even, you shall move forward to the next level. Sorta like Super Mario 3, but without having to beat Bowser first.

Isn’t it pretty awesome? I can’t believe I ever doubted the beautifulness of the fire pit. Lesson learned. I’m so proud of Steve and our new backyard attraction, and I can’t wait to have our first marshmallow-roasting session.

The only minor tweak that Steve mentioned wanting to do in the future was to extend the pebble rim. He thinks it would be slightly more functional if it had a larger gravel edge to it. I suppose for easier mowing. I could go either way. I think it looks pretty super just how it is.

The natural progression was to ponder what Olive would look like inside of the fire pit.

Ask and you shall receive. Oh, you didn’t ask? TOO BAD.

She seemed perfectly content in there. Almost too content. I wouldn’t be surprised if all my neighbors had their index fingers on the last “1” in “911” as they saw me slowly lower my dog inside a fire receptacle.

Oh, silly neighbors. When will you learn that our mascot is simply just modeling our newest project, like always? Oh! That reminds me. I’m planting a tree fence this weekend between our yard, and Ned Flanders’. More on that later.

“Olive! Wanna go inside and drink water out of the toilet?”

Good luck to you if you’re going to give this build a try! Steve found lots of you tube videos that helped him along with the process, and there are tons of other resources out there. Don’t hesitate to holler if you have any questions, though.

Enjoy the rest of your week and think of us fondly next time you eat s’mores.

Psst! Will you take my two second survey?

Kitchen Shelves: After… sorta.

Since Steve and I both work full time I can’t really do a sweeping reveal of a dramatically different before and after. I mean, I could, but there would probably be a few months of crickets chirping between posts. (Which actually might be kinda cute — maybe it could be a love story.) Alas, the cricket thing probably won’t work, so instead, you get to see snippets of all of our work-in-progress.

Although we still have a way to go with our kitchen makeover, I’m pretty darn happy with where we are today. Let me start by showing you what our kitchen looked like last weekend, and what lead to this whole shelf-idea in the first place:

We were pretty pleased with how things were progressing but wondered if there was a way to open up the kitchen a bit more, since we finally decided on leaving the cabinets in their natural finish. (We just couldn’t paint them. I know it’s what all the cool kids are doing — but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to deface the wood.)

We wondered if replacing the single cabinet to the left of the sink with open shelving would create a more modern, open feeling in the room.

Our hunch was: Yes. Yes it would.

So, we got to work. We picked up a few boards of pine, and The Lumberjack locked himself in the garage for an entire afternoon. (Oak was double the price, and all of the pine was already in the neighborhood of $90! Yikes.)

Here are the basics of our floating shelves: Top, bottom, sides, and then a piece for the front. And then the whole, hollow, kit-and-caboodle would slide over a horizontal 2″ x 2″ anchor that we would be attached to the wall.

Steve had to do a lot of gluing, clamping, sanding, and weighing-down of the wood with weights because some of the pieces were pretty warped. We needed them to be as flat as possible since, you know, they were going to be shelves and all. The whole assembly process of these shelves took the majority of after-work hours during this entire week.

Olive supervised, obviously:

Then, after many days of waiting for the wood to flatten and for the glue to dry (Did you know wood glue is stronger than nails?! Neither did I. Crazytown.) We had some pretty gorgeous, new shelves to hang.

In the picture below, the shelf on the left is fully assembled and awaiting a sanding session, and the one on the right just needs it’s face put on. Sorta like Oprah before a live show.

FINALLY! We were ready to hang. I’ve been waiting for this day forever (really it was only 4 days).

Disclaimer: We have a bunch of friends visiting this weekend! So we’re putting this project on hold until after they leave. The shelves still need to be stained — which is a completely different ballgame. More on that later.

Use that wicked imagination of yours and pretend the shelves are stained, and the walls are painted. (Getting painter’s quotes next week!)

OPENNESS! Holy cow I just stood there with my jaw on the ground staring at the wall. My husband is like a superhero who’s special power is woodworking. Super Steve! I’m so proud of him. (I guarantee he’s blushing right now.)

And, we even managed to get in a new light:

$24 for a TWO-PACK at Menards! Did you guys know how awesome Menards is? Because I didn’t, and now I do, and I sort of feel like I’ve found the fountain of youth awesomeness.

So that’s our big shelf reveal! I can’t, can’t, can’t, wait to get some paint on the wall and get these bad boys stained. Once they’re the same color as the cabinetry, the weight of the room will feel much more even and balanced.

The staining portion of this project will be an adventure, as we needed to buy two different colors of stain because there wasn’t just one that matched our cabinets. Cross your fingers and as my Polish friend would say, hold your thumbs. We’re going to need all the luck we can get with that one.

We’re so excited to host some of our favorite people this weekend. Perhaps I’ll be back on Monday with pictures of our shenanigans. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

**update** Here they are in all their finished glory:

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Read the post with behind-the-scenes pictures and info about how we straightened out the wood.

Read this post to see the shelves stained and lookin’ mighty fine.

Cornholio

is what I can only assume Beavis + Butthead would call the game of Cornhole. We’re finishing up some little details in the bathroom so the “before & after” post is right around the corner; I promise. In the meantime I thought I’d share how we (Steve) made the cornhole boards for our wedding. I don’t have pictures of every step of the process because we were working on simultaneous projects and I wasn’t around to take pictures, but I think there are enough that you can get a pretty good idea how to make them. First, you start with a very small apartment-sized front porch in the dead of winter. And, listen up — this is the important part: use books, barstools, and other household items to make a work bench. THIS IS WHY WE LOVE OUR NEW HOUSE SO MUCH. No more of this awkwardness. We often got YOU CRAZY looks from our neighbors as they passed by. Ahhh, the days before the All Powerful Table Saw. We were suckers back then. Then, POOF, all the pieces were cut to size and the frame was assembled. (Almost all of them. Two of the four feet have been cut in this picture.) After the frame assembly Steve cut the top board to size, did a little jigsawing to create the hole, and screwed it in place. Now comes the tricky part. The legs needed to be able to fold up inside the board for easy storage. Also, once the legs were swung open they needed to support the back of the boards at a specific height. After all of Steve’s measuring, he used a book to space out the legs while he drilled the pilot holes. Once they were in the right spot he removed the legs so he could round them out for easy swinging. Here you can see them in place, with rounded edges. I’m sure you can use your little imagination to picture them swinging open and closed. Here a gratuitous close-up so you can see that the feet are cut at angles. This is so when the legs are in the open position, they sit flush on the floor. We primed the wood once, and then did two coats of off-the-shelf white paint. In our tiny little apartment-sized family room. Looking back at these pictures really makes me appreciate all the space we have now. We could build a castle if we wanted to! A miniature castle. Ok, a small dollhouse, but still. A lot more room now. Another really clever trick that Steve had up his sleeve was adding handles on the sides of the boards to make them easy to carry; otherwise they’re virtually impossible to tote around. Centering the handle in the middle, on the side edge, evenly balances out the weight and even a little weakling like me can carry them. We decided to order bags online because it would’ve cost us the same amount of money to buy the supplies and make them. With a DIY wedding you really have to make decisions that will save you time. It was totally worth the gained sanity. I can’t wait for the warm weather to return so we can have people over for bags and beer. We’re going to get so much use out of our deck and backyard in the sunny seasons; there will be many BBQ’s and good times had. When: Sunny days. Where: Steve + Mo’s. Mark your calendars!

Fancy Schmancy Cornice

I can’t help but feel like an arrogant a-hole whenever I use correct terms in decorating. We built a cornice box last weekend. Then we sipped champagne and talked about that one time back at [insert name of Ivy League College here] when we got crazy and ordered caviar with red wine instead of white. OH, THE INSANITY.

Anywhoo. We did build a cornice box over Christmas weekend. And if you don’t know what that is don’t feel bad; I’ll walk you through it. The box part was built before we headed out of town, and the upholstering happened when we got back Sunday night. What can I say? Who doesn’t love a little upholstering after 5 hours on the road and a plate-full of Christmas cookies? We had some energy to burn.

FIRST AND FOREMOST — Steve got a table saw from my parents for Christmas! I wish you could’ve seen his face. One thing you need to know about him is that he would’ve been happy with a book of Mad-Libs and a new hammer. This guy never buys himself anything but I know he’s been longing for his very own table saw for years. He was shocked to say the very least. This cornice box project was the first time he got to use his new toy and he was pretty pumped up about it.

Ok, so back to this not-really-that-fancy cornice project:

My lumberjack sawed some logs for me. After taking measurements, of course. We figured out how far it needed to stick out from the window, and how tall it had to be to hide the blinds when they were drawn.

After screwing all the pieces together we held it up to make sure it fit right: LIKE A GLOVE.

The next step was to wrap the wooden frame with batting. I used the leftover medium-weight batting from my headboard project, and really, I used the exact same technique. I stapled it in the middle and then at the sides to get an even tautness. Is that even a word? Just roll with it.

You may or may not be able to see the beginning of a gallery wall getting curated in the background. And just so you don’t think we have a rodent problem, that is one of Olive’s stuffed toys sprawled out on the floor.

After the batting is all stapled on, flip that baby over and cut out a rectangle of fabric a few inches too large on all sides. (Same technique you used for the batting.) In the picture below you can see the brackets that we left exposed. Because of the way our window is configured we had to attach the bracket on the cornice box before we upholstered it. If you have to do the same, be careful about wrapping the fabric around it. You want it to lay flush on the wall.

We have got to fix our camera. Sorry for the wonky colors. Here you can see me stretching the fabric around the corners. There’s no scientific formula I followed for this. I just pulled it tightly and it sort of formed corners all on it’s own — It’s a little like wrapping a present. Just fold, tuck, and staple. (There’s a cross-dressing joke in there somewhere.) Repeat on all four corners.

Once you get all your staples in (Muwhahaha — I got to use my staple gun and it was AWESOME) go ahead and install that sucker. Ours slid right into place and stayed there with the help of a few screws.

Now for my favorite part: standing back to admire our work:

This was a good solve for us because there was really no other kind of window treatment that would’ve worked in this space. I didn’t want anything that hung down too low because I wanted all the light I could get. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I still have about 1.5 yards of this fabric so I’m thinking about other ways to incorporate it in the space. I’ll probably throw some in a frame for the gallery wall. Everyone loves a good mustard yellow chevron print.

Whenever I get frustrated and feel like we’re not making enough progress with the house, I just look back at the photos from when we first moved in.

Even though we’re not doing groundbreaking renovations and smashing walls and floors, the little and affordable changes we’re doing are making a huge difference. Did I mention how much this project cost? ZERO DOLLARS. We already had all of the supplies laying around. So, high five for low cost / high impact projects!

I know, I know… will I just pick out a damn paint color already?

Our Wedding: One Helluva DIY Project

With how busy we’ve been working on the house, I’ve sort of forgotten to share my proudest DIY project to date: our wedding!

There is so much to share — from beginning to end — so I’ll try to sum it up as cohesively as I can. Pardon my ADD if I start to jump around.

First, I’ll start with the invitations:

I emailed the save-the-dates so people would respond with their mailing addresses. That was my sneaky way to avoid tracking down all of the addresses right before I needed to mail the invites.

Then, about two months before the wedding our guests received our invitations and RSVP postcards.

All of the info was on our wedding blog (It’s no longer up): everything was included from hotel and venue information, to the story of how we met.

You’ve been patient, so now I’ll get to the good stuff: The Wedding Day!

Our wedding was at the home of our incredibly awesome family friends who just happen to have a totally killer, wedding-ready house. They are like a second family to me, so to have our wedding on their property was everything we had ever wanted. It gave us the ability to decorate exactly how we wanted, which made everything so warm and fuzzy. It was intimate, casual, festive, and every other single adjective that we were aiming for. To sum it up quickly before the water-works start, IT WAS OUR DREAM COME TRUE.

While my best friend, Molly, and I enjoyed a glass of wine before the festivities, our guests were greeted with this sandwich board sign that Steve and I made. I hand-painted a welcome message on one side, and a thanks-for-coming message on the other (I will post a tutorial on this project).

The short-but-sweet ceremony was held around the pool, with Steve and me standing on the deck. My mom gets full credit for making an aisle runner out of two tablecloths, and constructing the simple and stunning backdrop. The pretty flowers were left over from the rehearsal-dinner arrangements Steve’s mom had gotten made. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.

My handsome groom. Isn’t he charming?

After the ceremony our guests mingled on the driveway, where the reception was held. We had lots of activities to keep them occupied, as well as tons of yummy food.

Steve made Cornhole boards (tutorial soon) that got a lot of action.

We had a thumbprint guest book where we asked guests to “leaf” their prints. I need to post a picture of what it looks like all filled up. It’s incredible. My friends have some nice thumbprints, if I do say so myself.

I made a banner from decorative paper I found at Michaels and strung it around this gorgeous bird cage that my mom happened to have in her basement. This worked perfectly to hold cards; they slipped right through the bars.

We had a photobooth, complete with a prop table. Recognize the table? This got really fun as the night wore on. (Read: This got really fun as the alcohol kicked in.)

Two of my dear friends were unable to attend the wedding, so our other friends who did come brought photo cutouts of their faces so we could take pictures with them –BRILLIANT! Kelly and Mark ended up on the prop table when they weren’t cutting a rug on the dance floor.

We had the photobooth print doubles so we could have our guests leave a print behind for us. It was fun to see all of the strips hanging up at the end of the night. These boards were covered!

To make our initials I covered large cardboard letters with artificial flowers. It was a lot of plucking and gluing, but I’m happy with how they turned out. The boards were upcycled from old window shutters that Steve attached together. Then we strung hemp from one side to another and added hundreds of tiny clothespins.

And of course, our guests visited the bar:

The sign was made from an old frame I found at an antique store, and plywood painted with chalkboard spray paint. It really does work!

The map was probably my favorite project we made for the wedding. Many of our guests were coming from all over the US and I really wanted to somehow highlight that. This map was our little way of showing how much we appreciated the miles covered. With the help of a brilliant writer-friend, it was titled: “The Road You Tread To See Us Wed”

The map was a hit. We heard people proudly saying “That’s my pin!”

For the table centerpieces we kept things simple: brightly colored tablecloths and simple flower arrangements — that Molly and I arranged ourselves — paired with mason jars that I had been collecting for an entire year before the wedding. You can’t have too many candles.

Above our heads were strings of white lights and doily garland that I made by halving two different sized doilies over string, and then gluing together.

This is me, before slipping into my wedding dress, checking out the desert table. We had all homemade goodies instead of a single cake, which everyone really seemed to love. A big thank you goes out to all of our friends and family who baked their little hearts out. The dessert table was a hit!

I made the little “Love is Sweet” signs, and found that beautiful antique lace curtain on ebay, which perfectly framed the table.

Flip flops were a must-have; I think all of our dancing guests appreciated them. I scored these babies on sale for $1 a pop from Old Navy. I simply wrapped them with hemp and put size stickers on the heel of each shoe, which made for easy picking.

We danced our first dance to La Vie En Rose, by Louis Armstrong. I get teary-eyed just typing that out. You can imagine that I cried through the whole dance. I’m a softie.

My father/daughter dance was sweet, and it turned into a father/mother/daughter dance. What can I say? I’m an only child. They’re both my everything.

After all of the “first dances” we got the party started!

One of my favorite shots is one my photographer took on his way out. This picture most closely captures the mood of the night. We had about 400 twinkling candles, and the whole thing honestly felt magical.

Of course we had to cap the whole DIY Wedding Theme with thank-you cards that captured the spirit of the event.

FRONT

BACK

I designed vintage-themed postcards to send out to all of our friends, thanking them for sharing our special day with us.

I can easily say without hesitation that our wedding night was the best night of my life. We had everyone that we love in one place, and that alone makes for the perfect occasion. I also got to marry my best friend and the love of my life, so, yeah. Best. Night. EVER.