Friday, June 29, 2012

I "Shutter" to Think

...what I would do if I actually took a vacation during breaks from school.

Yes, it's a cheesy title. Hey, it's 109 degrees in the shade and I've been working outside since 7 a.m. I'm allowed to have cheesy titles when I have brain fry.

I will post the project I've been working on all week soon, but just so you know I'm not resting on my laurels....

Wait, do I HAVE laurels? What the heck are laurels anyway? Wait until after you read the rest of this before you make clicky to go see what laurels are. Oh what the heck, go ahead and look now. You know you want to. I'll wait here. Good. You're back. That definition didn't really help much, did it? But aren't idioms fun?

Okay, so back to the project. We have a water heater in the garage (soon to be Dan's newly remodeled office). It's not very attractive to look at, so I decided to buy some shutters to make a folding screen to hide it. This was my inspiration piece, as seen on Pinterest, of course.
Expensive store screen
cheap vinyl shutters with potential
Pier One wanted $260 for that folding screen, so of course buying it was out of the question. Plus, I need my shutters to fold around the water heater, so I'd have to redo the hinges. I wanted the middle one to stick out in front and the other two to fold back from it on either side. SO, I searched Craigslist and Facebook to see if I could score some wooden shutters or bifold doors.

I found these for sale for $25. They're vinyl and I was really hoping to find wooden ones, but so is everyone else who pinned projects like this one on Pinterest. I figured I could make this work. I really wanted them to be red like the ones above, but we're thinking about a concrete stain for the floor that has orangey-brown sunset-type colors in it. Dan and I were afraid the red would clash. So, I spray-painted them black. The decor in his office (like the music room and laundry room that connects them) is red, black, white, and gray, so they will match that without clashing with the future (hopefully not-too-distant-future) floor. Right now we're rethinking the whole acid-stain thing, AND we're installing a bathroom which requires busting up the concrete, which means that project has to be done before we can even start the others, which means we're at the mercy of really busy plumbers, which means we're in an indefinite holding pattern right now on the office remodel, which means I'm going me crazy. So, back to the shutters, one of the projects on my To-Do list that I can actually do without waiting for plumbers.

I went to Ace Hardware to buy some hinges. I like to go to Ace instead of the big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot when I know there's something very specific that I'll need help with. One of their managers named Nate is extremely helpful and never makes customers feel like he's doing them a big favor by waiting on them. He helped me pick out the hinges I would need.  I couldn't use bi-fold hinges (like for a closet door) because the shutters are pretty thin. Also, I had to think about how the shutters needed to fold out from the center, unlike the screen above. Hinges in hand, I came back home to drill the holes. I love using power tools. :-)

After a couple of false starts (no one will ever notice the "oops" holes from my first attempt that didn't line up quite right), I managed to get them together. Here's what they look like finished:

Not bad from this angle...
...but this angle shows the true story.
They hide the water heater and match the room, so mission mostly accomplished. However, they do not hide the pipes up above the water heater. That board with the dust pan and stuff hanging from it will be gone when we redo the garage, but the pipes are there to stay. If I had this to do over again, I would not buy shutters. Instead, I'd keep searching until I found some old louvered bifold closet doors because they're tall enough to hide more. But, for $25 and a can of paint, I'm happy that I don't have to stare at the water heater behind it.

Stay tuned for more summer projects, including: painted wrought iron furniture, patio powerwash, laundry room makeover, garage/office makeover, and more. I'm running out of summer!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zebra chairs

In which I blog about yet another project because, well, it's summer and I can. Plus, it makes Marian happy when I blog and I like to make my friends happy.

Zebra chair #1
Over spring break I reupholstered this chair. I took it apart, which involved removing millions (only a slight exaggeration) of staples. I painted the frame with several coats of matte black paint (going for that Pottery Barn look) and then covered it with zebra fabric after borrowing my Dad's staple gun. I didn't blog about it then because spring break only lasts a week. And since my principal did my pop-in observation first thing in the morning the first day we returned from spring break, it's a really good thing I didn't spend time doing frivolous things like blogging, buying groceries, or having a life over spring break. But, I DID take the time to recover this chair.

And I love it. I really do. However, it didn't work very well for the purpose for which I created it. It matches the music room beautifully, but it has arms. Unfortunately, so do I. The chair's arms and my human arms did not play nicely together whenever I tried to sit in the chair to play guitar. Dan, who joins me whenever I practice, sits there comfortably rocking out in an armless task chair. So naturally I had a major case of chair envy and decided to make my own.

Shopping list: armless chair
I saw a few zebra chairs online, but they were too expensive. Plus, I'd have to buy two of them and get rid of Dan's chair. That just seemed wasteful to me. I wanted to by a cheap task chair, and then recover both to match. I found a chair like this one at Target for $20. Not bad, but I knew I could find one cheaper. I looked at garage sales (which, next to being off work is my very favorite part of summer) for a few weeks, but I didn't find one. Then I hit paydirt at the Goodlettsville Goodwill and found one that looked a lot like the Target chair for $7. Score! It's a bit shorter than Dan's chair, but that's okay with me because I am a bit shorter than Dan myself. Win, win.

I took both Dan's chair and my new chair apart, borrowed Dad's staple gun again, and got to work. I love to recover furniture because it's typically pretty easy, does not involve sanding or caulking, and is finished pretty quickly. Naturally, my chair was more difficult to cover than Dan's was (which makes sense, really, if you know the two of us) because I had to do the back of the upper part instead of just the front. Thank goodness I had some fabric glue left from another project. So, here are the two chairs after being recovered. I probably should have cleaned up all of our cords from the floor first and tidied up the music area. Eh, you get the idea.

Zebra, party of two

When we line up all three chairs side by side, we have a real Goldilocks and the Three Bears theme going: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. The chairs are super cute and, best of all, it's easier to practice my bass in the new chair. The other chair sits across the room and glares at me, so I have to sit in it every once in a while to keep it from feeling left out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Red Chair Redo

Okay, so I never completed the tale of woe from the bathroom cabinets. I've been really busy. For the past six months. Ahem.

The Before picture
So here's my latest project: redoing a chair from school. Since my classroom is all purple and lime green, this red and gray chair totally clashed. Every day when I arrived at work, this chair taunted me with its glaring redness. I haven't had time to do anything about it (see paragraph one re: time/busy) until now. Summer break is the time to tackle all the crap I pinned all year on Pinterest.

Such a pretty purple.
I started by taking the chair apart and painting all the plastic gray parts purple. Love that shade of purple, don't you?

My original plan was to reupholster the chair with some lime green zebra print fabric, but (as usually happens with every project I decide to tackle, Grrr!) I ran into a stumbling block. 1) The fabric was attached to the foam backing so I couldn't take it off, 2) The whole chair is plastic so there's no wood to staple fabric to, and 3) The fabric I wanted was $17 a yard, and 4) the red fabric would have showed through the light-colored zebra print. SO, I decided to paint it after reading this. I've always wanted to use Gesso or fabric medium on something, so this was my chance.

Seriously? I'm going to be here all night.
It took a LOT of paint. Like, a really, really, immense LOT of paint. Here is what it looked like after the first coat of lime green. I knew I had my work cut out for me at that point. After two or three coats, I ran out of the lovely lime green I started with (and so did Wal-Mart), so I had to switch to the pea green that Mom and I had leftover from other projects. It also took a ton of textile medium, which my Wal-Mart doesn't carry. Trying to avoid going to the Rivergate area on a Saturday to hit the craft stores, I went to Mom-Mart. Thankfully she had some leftover fabric medium too.

Final Product
It look four (or maybe five--I may have lost count--AND I lost all the feeling in my fingers because I had to press hard to get the paint to soak into the texture of the fabric) coats of paint/textile medium/water blends, but I finally managed to cover all that red. Here's the final result.

It's a little stiff, but I think it will soften over time. Even if it doesn't, I'd rather sit on a stiff chair that matches the room than that awful red in my tranquil sea of purple and green.

Over the weekend I found some more purple and green paper lanterns to hang from the ceiling above my reading area. The ones I already have over my desk are so cute.