Cubby for media and charging station

Long ago we had extended this wall to shrink the opening from kitchen to family room. When this wall was built we had carved out a niche that we used as a telephone station. But now who uses landlines? So it’s become a television for the chef to watch and a charging station for phones and other media.

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When we built the wall we had run electricity up to the area to power the answering machine. So in the rebuild we had the power but just needed to reconfigure how it would work to charge phones, tablets and television.

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The drywall was cut back to enlarge the area to fit a wall mounted television. Since this wasn’t a weight bearing wall we could do whatever we pleased on the hole and the framing. The electric box was turned so it could provide power on the right and the left side. It sits in the middle of the charging shelves.

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Next angled shelves were installed. These allow the phone or table to sit on a slant so when the door is open, the face of the device can be seen easily. When planning your own, just make sure that the size allows your hand to go into the cubby to pull out the phone; as these shelves were originally planned they were too tight for easy in and out, so we adjusted their size.

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The front was then framed out (as above) and doors were installed on hinges to fold down and up. These were recycled drawer fronts from the island drawers which I pulled out when we redid the island.

When building the unit, we matched the top height lintel and crown molding to the pantry door that was on the same wall as well as the breakfast bay window lintels. The entire thing is painted the same white as all the molding in the house.

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It really turned out looking good and its been great to have our phones and tablets so handy as this is the hub of the house!

Lemon and Vinegar garbage disposal cleanser

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I thought I had referenced this before in this blog, but I’m not seeing a post so here we go again.

We were going to need lemon juice for our peach recipes, so after draining out the juice, I cut the lemon rinds up, and stuck them into an empty ice cube tray. In the original recipe, you use lemons with the liquid and pulp intact but I find this is a good way to use up the lemon rinds from other projects. Pour in enough white vinegar to cover and freeze.

After they freeze, you can throw a few into the garbage disposal, sprinkle with baking soda, turn on the hot water and then start the disposal. Leaves a lovely lemon smell throughout the kitchen!

DIY Kitchen Island, updated

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We had big plans on building a completely new island but as time passed we asked ourselves why we were going to go to all the trouble and expense since we are looking at this renovation just to sell the house?

When we discovered that the table legs we had our eye on vanished from the online store and we would have to go with a different size we decided to change plans altogether and make life easier. However, we had also trashed the doors so what to do!?

Here is the finish and countertop with dimensions of the original island:

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We ended up using the same 3 drawer format and built new drawers that were flat against the surface to provide some interesting counterpoint to the other drawers in the kitchen. In any future kitchen I’m putting in lots and lots of drawers! We use these island drawers for spices as they are located across from the stove.

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The three sections below were originally hinged doors which I found really inconvenient as they opened into the aisle across from the stove and you couldn’t access anything in them easily as they were too deep. In this new version they are now pull out, appliance storage drawers (i.e. bread machine, crockpot, waffle machine etc…) with a pierced pattern on the front similar to a Farmhouse pie-cabinet look. LOVE THEM!

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Here is a diagram plan with measurements that we were working from:

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The exterior paint is a latex I found in the Lowe’s bargain bin and we added a black glaze on top to tone down the green. Two additional coats of Velvet Finishes, Protect poly were put on top of that. The stain on the doors and drawers is by General Finishes and is Antique Oak. The hardware is from a local store, Garbes, and the black granite countertop is by Hoffman, a local installer.

We still need to put in supporting brackets under the overhang (something I decided to add when the counter people came out to measure) and some touch ups on paint.

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We ended up loving this color so much that we’ve decided to go with it and repaint the entire base cabinetry to match.

The cream-white chalk paint we’ve lived with for 3 years is far too much trouble on base cabinetry – as this is where the spills mostly happen. Keeping it clean is almost impossible and any stain shows up on the cream -white. The cream-white base cabinetry against the white floor also doesn’t show up as well as I would like either as there isn’t enough contrast between colors.

The repaint is going to be a big pain in the neck, repaint job but it needs to happen. It was a mistake to go this direction but sometimes you don’t learn until you try something out.

Next up though is getting a new backsplash to show off our new granite counters.

Planning a kitchen island

This post I wrote as a draft three years ago… the island will have its new countertop Tuesday and I’ll update with photos. So this is a blast from the past. We decided to go a different direction but I still love these choices so check them out.

Redoing the kitchen included updating the kitchen island as part of the complete kitchen renovation.

The original cabinet is a three drawer and three door cabinet sitting on the cement foundation. Because there is no tile underneath, and we don’t plan on re-tiling the kitchen, the renovation has to take that factor into account. The island’s electrical box will also be moved to improve aesthetics.

One thing to help in the redesign is take photos from different angles you would enter the room. It helps to visualize the entire space. With this kitchen it’s three directions and these are the two most highly trafficked directions:

From the photos, the island looks just like a box, nothing special. It also blends in with the other cabinetry and just looks like more cabinetry. Fashion wise, today’s kitchen islands look more and more like furniture, preferably an “antique” that has been added to the kitchen either before or after it’s construction.

BTW changing your current island or installing a new one, check your code. There are specifics about how far the island can be placed from the stove, fridge, and dishwasher, as well as the width of walkways through the kitchen. You don’t want to change your island, only to find out you can’t remove your stove!

Looking over alot of ideas for kitchen islands and these were my favorites and why:

The blue island has awesome cornerlegs and I really like how the base molding is done. The only fault is the countertop should have been thicker too for better proportion.

I like the proportion of the upper with the lower, shorter leg on this table from Osbornewood.com. I also like the base shelf being completely open. Our design would need the baseboard to go all the way to the floor to conceal the lack of tile.

Another design with the bottom completely open from RealSimple.com. I think the advantage this design would make the kitchen appear larger. My only problem is how this space would be used for storage and is it realistic for how we use storage in our kitchen?

After reviewing what I liked and why, I know I want to keep the drawers. They are way useful and the kitchen runs a bit short on drawers. Another choice for storage would be baskets for holding onions, garlic, potatoes and other dry pantry items and/or vegetables. I like this idea as it would provide texture and country to the kitchen without going overboard.

Our original plan was this, which I love and may use one day however, for this house we completely went a different direction (and I’ll post later about why).

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Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 3)

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Wow! This project went a lot faster and was easier then I expected although we did have a few bumps in the road. Not sure why I waited so long!

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First, the vintage cabinet got some repairs and changes made to its structure. The inside shelf was removed, the height was shortened by removing two drawers, and veneer was replaced or repaired.

TIP – if looking to do the same find furniture that is made from 100% wood and is preferably with construction that is tongue and groove (hint: look at the drawers and inside corners).

Second, the television cabinet former sideboard was painted with two coats of Black Onyx semi gloss latex premium paint from Glidden. My other blog post has a lot of tips on how to use the HomeRight Paint Sprayer to make it go much easier and faster. However, I would not use this paint brand again (see below on why).

Now for the finishing touches:

First, we used a coat of paint stripper on the top of the cabinet. This was to remove any old topcoat of varnish or poly as well as clean off any gunk.

Next it was sanded using mostly a fine sandpaper on an electric sander. Again this was just to lighten the wood from the original stain. Husband did this for me and was very industrious! He got it down to bare wood and almost all of the damage out, except for one round stain that remains.

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The stain I used on the top is a water based, wood stain by General Finishes called Antique Oak. I like this color because it has a gray undertone in it and not the dreaded yellow or red color you see in other oak stains.

You may be more familiar with the wipe on Java gel stain this company offers due to the many, many Pinterest projects that use it 😀 If you haven’t used General Finishes before, I highly recommend their products. Very easy to use and a great result.

This water based, stain product is a bit thick like their Java Gel stain, and it is also grainy which surprised me. It went on darker then I expected but that was okay. It dried very fast! So work quickly! I used a foam brush applicator, wore latex gloves and wiped off with a lint clean rag.

TIP: This top was down to bare wood and it was very dry. It soaked up the stain very quickly so be aware you might need to work faster on old wood, vintage pieces then you would on projects that use new wood.

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After one coat of stain, I put on two protective coats of Velvet Finishes Protect on the top and Howard paste wax in neutral on the bottom. The first time using this wax and I’m impressed. Went on very easy (unlike Annie Sloan’s wax) and had the most delicious smell! Easy to buff too.

Behind the Scenes: I tried VF Protect on the black paint area and boy was that a mistake! It immediately started stripping off the paint! Whoa! So if using this product on anything but their own line do a test patch first. I already knew it worked well over this stain due to the kitchen island project where I used them both in combination.

The cabinet originally had wood knobs which I felt made it too country and dated for me. Those I replaced.

The doors didn’t close right and that wasn’t because they were warped (very hard to fix) but because they needed new hardware. Replaced!

Thoughts on this project:

I made a few mistakes. First one, is that I should have treated the bare wood panel we used on one side with a primer or sealant. Once the paint hit it, it raised the wood grain, giving a rough appearance to the surface. Solution? I gave it a slight hand sanding to smooth it down and then repainted that panel with the black.

Second mistake, when I put the cabinet up on 5 gallon buckets that wasn’t really high enough. I should have waited and used the sawhorses which would have allowed me to approach each side at a different angle by simply adding a step stool or not using a step stool. When you can’t change the paint approach slightly (instead you approach head on so to speak) it is hard to get coverage into crevices. I later touched that up with a foam brush.

Third mistake, I used the Velvet Finishes Protect on the black area without doing a test and disaster! It removed the black paint like a paint remover! Egad! Immediately cleaned it off with denatured alcohol, let dry and reapplied the black with a foam brush on the damaged areas.

I do wish I had sprayed on a primer. I think it would have given more grip for the paint and when I do the next project, the King Poster Bed, I will use a primer.

I also wish we had put some sort of ornamentation on the front kickboard area as it looks a little too plain next to all the other carving. OTOH, I’ve since swept in this room and the kickboard allowed me to get a clean sweep across without shoving dust under the unit. Yay!

I think this project would have looked even cooler in a color! Like a red, coral, turquoise or blue. However, I know we’ll be moving in a few years and wanted this in a classic color that would work with a lot of different furniture colors so black it was.

Future thoughts…

The inside of this unit is to store dvds but the current containers I have for them isn’t quite the right size. I looked at Target, Walmart, and Bed and Bath and no one has containers for DVDs??!!

I need a bin that has a straight side, not tapered (that removes the interior space) and with a lid. I found these small and large box at the Container Store so that looks like the storage solution there. Though still looking through various possibilities at Ikea.

Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 2)

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Before painting this piece, it was cleaned using denatured alcohol; this removes any wax or topcoat and also cleans off the dust and grime. It didn’t really need any sanding except over the repaired areas (see the last post).

Paint used: Glidden Premium, semi gloss latex, color Deep Onyx from Home Depot. I bought a gallon as I’ll be using this color on my four poster bed and the front door.

Dilution: 3 cups paint to 15 tablespoons water. This was a THICK PAINT! so this was the number I went with after using the cup provided by the HomeRight paint sprayer kit.

The Good:

The last time I used a paint sprayer it was a commercial one and it made a lot of overspray! This machine is far more targeted so that means less of a chance of a big mess. However, I would still tape off or cover in plastic anything you don’t want misted if you were doing this inside or in the garage. I did this project outdoors as it was a lovely day with little wind.

After reading the directions the machine was actually far easier to use then I expected from the Amazon reviews. It’s not that complicated but it does take some experimentation with testing the paint’s viscosity and figuring out the best amount of pressure and nozzle direction for your project.

The paint went further then I expected (about 2 cups finished the project). With a commercial paint sprayer it hooks into a gallon or 5 gallon tank and used a lot more paint so I’m very pleased with this HomeRight because it’s just right for smaller projects.

It dried amazingly fast. Because the first coat was thin with a sprayer (vs. a brush or roller) it was dry within 30 minutes. I went back and got a second coat on without having to clean my sprayer. Yay!

Timewise, I got the first coat applied in 10 minutes, the second coat in about 8 minutes. If I had been using a brush or roller with all the carving on this piece this would have been a half day project of rolling and cutting in around the carved pieces. TIMESAVER.

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TIPS and TROUBLESHOOTING

DO NOT SKIP THE STEP OF DILUTING YOUR PAINT (if needed). Be sure to test it. That was actually the longest part of my project and took me half an hour to get it right. Husband was going to dilute the whole gallon and I was like hold on there cowboy!

I took one cup in a container and tested that over and over again. I wasn’t going to dilute the entire gallon and then end up ruining it. Start small, test small and then apply to the larger batch you are going to do. Mine for example was 3 cups paint to 15 tablespoons water and that did the entire project.

The job went very well because of the time spent on testing the thickness of the paint. Also, I plan on doing my king sized, poster bed with this same paint/sprayer technique so when I start that project, I already know the dilution needed.

Once you have your paint loaded and you are about to pull that trigger – WAIT. Get a piece of cardboard and spray on it for about 1 minute. That loads up the paint into the sprayer and you won’t get that first splotchy coat on your proect. It also gives you a moment to adjust the nozzle or pressure.

This machine works a lot like a can of spray paint (but much better). Some of the issues you have with spraypaint you can run into here – don’t keep your sprayer pointed at one place – keep it moving all the time or you will end up with blotching.

You need to be quick to take your hand/finger off the trigger! Don’t go heavy and put the handle in a death grip! Be ready to stop at anytime when you are not sure by simply removing the pressure on the handle.

Just like spraypaint cans if your nozzle gets dirty or jammed, your flow will come out splotchy and uneven. Always clean your machine between jobs or even within the same job if you are taking too long between coats. It’s why I bought a special cleaning kit to make it go easier.

The nozzle direction didn’t quite work out the way I was expecting so the first few passes were a bit chancy. I changed the nozzle and it worked better for the way I intuitively paint. Be ready to make changes and start with an experimental piece to test out how the machine works.

The spray looked a little bumpy on that first coat, however, on this project, when I went back in 30 minutes the paint coat had magically evened out! Yay! So finish wise I have to say I feel it is just about right for what I wanted. Unless you have an obvious run, wait till the first coat dries and examine to see if it is right.

At first, I felt the droplet spray was a little too large and not as fine as I would like. This is a compromise. Do you want more area covered? Bigger spray. Smaller area takes more time but the spray can be finer. Again, pick a piece to experiment with (or some cardboard) to get a feel for the machine.

People complain about the short cord. I actually prefer the short cord and use an extension cord. My sander has a long cord but it isn’t long enough to really work around a project so it ends up being more of a pain to store then a help. Just use an extension cord 😉

I also bought an extra paint container with lid. So after I finished the black paint, I capped the paint container that came with the original sprayer and put it aside to later use for my bed project.

If you are going to be switching back and forth between paints or topcoats and don’t want to clean out each container or  you want to store back your diluted paint but not with the un-diluted paint, consider buy some of these!

DON’T BE SLOPPY, CLEAN YOUR MACHINE! Just like any spray can, if the nozzle gets jammed it can’t mist the paint or other product you want to use. If you are not applying coats within 30 minutes of each other, your paint could be drying in the nozzle which would effect the quality of future sprays.

Yes, it takes time to take the machine apart and clean it, but the finish and relief from other hassles (cleaning brushes, having the garbage of spray paint cans and rollers, more time painting etc…) is well worth it.

I’ll be wrapping up the info blog posts for this project by tomorrow with info on staining the top of the cabinet, putting in hardware so the doors close better and new knobs.

Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 1)

I’ve loved this vintage sideboard for all its ornate carving and have meant for some time to convert it but time escaped me. No more!

Originally, this sideboard was a bit too tall to be comfortable to watch television from the distance of tv-to-sofa that we have in our family room. We lowered it by removing the two front drawers and bringing it down to a height of about 30 inches tall.

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Cutting it down went pretty easily because this older piece of furniture is made with tongue and groove, as well as real wood. Tongue and groove allows you to remove the side pieces and put them back together like a puzzle. I think by removing the drawers, it shows off the remaining carvings on the front of the cabinet better. These photos have the front cabinet doors off (I’ll show those later).

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The sides of this cabinet were damaged. One side had too much water warping to be saved, so we replaced that with a new piece of wood. Because I don’t plan on staining but painting this piece, it didn’t matter about matching wood grains etc… but if it did, you can buy veneer pieces you can glue over a lower grade board (i.e. plywood).

We also took a piece of the molding removed from the discarded top portion and used it at the sides; that is the grooved horizontal board you see here at the top of the unfinished panel. By reusing elements from the discard pile it helps to tie the new with the old.

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The other side had a bit of water damage to the veneer. This often happens when this pieces are stored away in the attic, basement, garage, storage shed, etc.. and veneer can also splinter off due to the extreme changes in temperature and humidity.

A veneer repair can be approached in different ways. In this instance, since I know I’m painting the piece and not staining, I took the easy way out which was using wood filler and sanding it smooth. Not especially pretty but it’s all going to be covered with paint.

Another method would be using Bondo which is a car repair product that also can be painted but not stained. I would have preferred that because I like how smooth it spreads but we didn’t have any on hand and I wasn’t going to buy a quart of it for such a small job (it is rather expensive).

If you were going with a stain, repairing it with another piece of veneer would be the way to go.

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Another change I made was putting a kickboard across the front and the sides of the television cabinet (former sideboard). Why? Because in its former incarnation this piece had become a home for dust bunnies when it was left open. With these kickboards, I can run the vacuum cleaner right up to the edge and don’t have to get on my knees to dust out from underneath this piece of furniture.

We were able to reuse wood from the part we had discarded so no lumber costs for this change! Yay!

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This piece also had an interior shelf which we removed. Since we plan on stacking boxes within, I wanted nothing that I had to work around height wise. It will also make it easier to get items in an out of this cabinet.

Because of the ornate carving I knew this piece would be time consuming to paint by hand, and I’ve been wanting to buy a paint sprayer for some time so picked up this HomeRight C800766 along with some accessories: such as an extra paint canister, rapid clean hose, and paint cone strainers.

I’ve used a commercial paint sprayer before and I love the finish you can achieve with these things. However, here are some things to keep in mind:

1.) Sprayers can spray EVERYWHERE. You will get overflow spray around the item you are spraying even if you use plastic drop cloths. So be generous with your plastic dropsheets!

2.) Make sure the humidity is right for your paint! We had 80% humidity today and a 30% chance of rain on Monday. So this project is waiting for Tuesday or Wednesday which is supposed to be sunny and dry here. If you paint during the wrong temperatures or humidity for your paint it will not cover correctly and you’ll be stripping your project or just having to live with a sloppy bubbly, alligatored paint job.

3.) Commercial sprayers use more paint then brush rolling or painting with a brush (although after I used this one, it actually used less so see my other blog posts about the process). However, what you get in waste of paint you gain in time and effort. It’s up to you what you prefer.

For me, I also like the very even and smooth coat coverage. I am doing the television cabinet with the sprayer before trying it on my king sized, four poster bed – both of which I want a very smooth finish on. Both have carvings and details that would be challenging and very time consuming if painting by brush or roller.

4.) Experiment with holding your sprayer. This one works best for items that can be vertical (i.e. doors, cabinets, large flat surfaces etc…) vs. ceilings or floors. Experiment with the trigger pressure on the gun. All this plays into the type of job you get. Sprayers take some getting used too – they are not as easy as they may seem and you need to put some time into figuring it out before doing that perfect job.

5.) Clean your equipment! When the nozzle gets jammed because you didn’t clean your equipment or because you didn’t thin your paint you have only yourself to blame. I’ll be straining my paint and then thinning it.

Hopefully, I’ll be posting part 2 in the middle of the week when the weather is best for the job!