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 ūüėÄ 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 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!

Using curtain rods in tight places

Curtains are making a design comeback. I love them! Not only are they a great way to keep the heat in during the winter, and the heat of the sun out during the summer, but they are a great design element! They come in so many colors and variations. You can change them when you grow tired and want something different!

These curtains were original to my previous design and were bought at Lowes so its great to recycle and safe money. They are unlined (I prefer lined) but the color worked with what I found in my other furniture – creams, golds, burgundy and green.

We have windows on either side of our fireplace. The problem is when the house was built, the designer made the windows too large for the space (we have a sofit that holds the AC/HVAC that runs along the perimeter of the ceiling) so the edge of wall-to-window space does not allow any room for a traditional curtain rod with a finial.

I went with hangers that attach to the ceiling. This helped me save space because I wanted the curtains to slide over and hide the left and right vertical lines of the window.

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On the tightest corner, I mounted a bracket, from the closet section of the hardware store, on the wall to fit the rod into. There would not have been room to have a finial here with a all mounted bracket and have the curtain actually cover the edge of the window frame.

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Because of the color palette in this room, I wanted a rubbed bronze (brown) look and the finial will eventually match in design with the ceiling fan I’ve selected for this room.

Mounting the curtain rod itself is a little tricky – I needed to make sure that it would hang my curtains to cover the edge of the window but the finials and rod had to be mounted away from the wall to allow the projection of the stone on the fireplace space.

Here you can see how the finials overlap the fireplace – again, there is not enough room with how the original structure was built to allow a traditional curtain hanging. However, I love how this turned out – gives a very nice cottage, homey feel to the room!

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Eventually, I will be layering blinds behind these to provide even better insulation. This room windows face west so we get some hot sun and we also get some north wind, so windows really help me in providing physical comfort in this most used room in the house – the family room/den.

Altogether this room is coming together so well! It’s very cozy and comfortable! For this room we have finished:

  • Years ago we had extended one wall between kitchen and living room, and never got the plaster texture right. In this remodel, we replastered all the room walls with texture (took about three boxes, $100).
  • The ceiling and walls are painted in the Rock color that I am using throughout the downstairs of the house which stylistically makes the different rooms feel united and bigger (it used about 4 gallons of paint if you include the ceiling, sofit and walls, approximately $200).
  • Installed ceiling molding (I’ll show an update later; around $300),
  • Decorative curtains with rods are mounted (some pieces from Lowes; others from Bed Bath and Beyond; approximately $100 for hardware),
  • stone fireplace¬†(about $400) with new rustic mantle (from a Craiglist wood supplier, $60),
  • lighting redone (we put in recessed lighting in the ceiling and sconces on the fireplace mantle for about $225),
  • Floor rug from Craigslist ($75); this was a great find and fits with the color,
  • Used 3 seat cushion sofa from a Consignment store ($250),
  • Used upper-end upholstered chair from Craiglist ($200),
  • Moved down two bookshelves from another room,
  • Redid the floorplan layout so the television is hidden from view when you enter the room.

I will be repainting our television dresser to a distressed black (bought via CL and was previously in this room), still need a new hardwood floor/baseboard, roman shades is what I’d like to find to finish off the windows, and a ceiling fan (I have one selected at about $175; just need the cash ūüôā

I wish I could take photos of the entire room but I don’t have a wide angle lens for my camera ūüė¶ Also with winter light things are hard to get the best photos so my photos may be coming a little later. ūüôā

Sconces for my updated Farmhouse rustic fireplace

I ordered two sconces¬†(with coupon and discount $179.08) for the fireplace and they are now installed! We wanted a more contemporary look even though the fireplace stone is rustic; this continues my idea of “updated farmhouse.” These glass cylinders are reminiscent of hurricane glass although without the bell bottom it has a modern flair.

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Love the shadows and warmth the sconce light gives to the stonework we recently finished up.

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Fireplace renovation – laying stone

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As I mentioned before we went with a faux-stone made of concrete produced by a local company (using their Ledgestone and Hackett patterns in the Fireside color) . It is patterned and colored to look like real stone and I chose this product as it allowed me more customization then the Airstone that is so popular right now.

Like I wrote before, this isn’t rocket science, but it does take time and patience in laying out the tile, as stone or faux stone, varies in color and texture. If you like putting together puzzle pieces, you’ll love this project.

The mantel beam was first sanded with 80 grit with a hand sander. Then stained with General Finishes, Java gel stain. Then sanded with 120 grit with an electric hand sander for some minor distressing. A top coat of General Finishes polyurethane was applied three times. I really liked the texture and distressing effect that came out!

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The two side pillars gave enough support underneath the mantel for support there, but we also added metal brackets attached to the back of the mantel and then screwed into studs in the wall.

Before going gungho on putting up your stone, WAIT and lay it out on the floor first (if over a finished floor put down a drop cloth; this stuff leaves everything dusty and dirty). That way you have time to rearrange the pattern to exactly what you like. If you only just apply-as-you-go, your pattern will probably not be as nicely proportioned.fireplace_settingup

I didn’t get photos of how you put the screen on and the layer process so here I’m showing the work in the area above the mantel. Drywall or plywood has to provide a support for the screen and mortar.

NOTE: If this was an outside project you would also need a vapor barrier to prevent the water in the mortar from seeping into the supporting wall facade.

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The screen (see “metal lathe” used to reinforce stucco) was bought at Home Depot; Lowes no longer carries it at our location. It is stapled down using a staple gun (ours is powered by a compressor).

The mortar used is “blended mortar.” When using, just mix as much mortar¬†for wall application¬†as you will be using within the next 30 minutes.

Here the wall has mortar applied over the screen. We let it dry for 24-48 hours before proceeding with the stone layer.

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When you start putting mortar on the stone itself (not the wall) it will stiffen and harden very, very quickly!¬†The concrete stone “sucks” it up and makes is harden quickly so have your stone cut and ready to apply before coating it with mortar due to the short working time.

When working from bottom up, you might want to cover the work you’ve already done with a protective plastic sheet to prevent clumps of mortar from falling onto your finished work.

A soft brush is used to clean off the dust and bits from the facade. This is really dusty work!

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TIPS:

  • Set up the circular saw near where you are setting up the stone. The fewer steps you have to take the better.
  • You will get better at laying the stone as you go, so start your line someplace that is less obvious/noticeable.
  • Use a hammer to knock of any flairs on the back of your stone if need be.
  • Don’t be afraid of shaping the sides or ends of your stone to fit better; adapt the stone to your needs and look.
  • This is DUSTY work! Cut the stone outside or if you must do it inside, then cover everything and seal off the room from other areas.
  • Your body will be sore afterwards, especially your hands! It’s harder work then it appears so take breaks when needed and be sure to have some bath salts on hand for long, rewarding bath afterwards.

Yay! Finished except for putting on the sconces which are on order!

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Fireplace renovation: beginning the build

We started the build of the fireplace right before Christmas, which is okay for us but of course for you – be aware that this is dusty work and takes some time! Your fireplace area will be down for a few days to a week, depending on your ability to devote time to the project.

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Fireplace before

Prep work was removing our original builder mantel and breaking off all the tile. This is dirty work – have your floor covered, wear junk clothes, and eye protection for those pieces that might shatter.

The mantel I sold in 24 hour for a very low price on Craigslist as I just didn’t want to junk it. Another option would be to donate to Habitat for Humanity, which we have done with other items.

The first part of the building stage was to lay the hearth stones. We are replacing the floor in this room with wood and opted to go with the stone down first, with the wood floor being added later. This is on a ground floor, family room with a cement floor.

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Next we built out two columns from the fireplace wall. This are equal in size and frame the bottom part of the fireplace (below the mantel). These were built like a stand up box using 2×4’s at the corners and plywood as the face using a nail gun. Over this a wire mesh was applied and fastened using a staple gun.

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Then a skim coat of mortar was applied over the wire and let to dry for 48 hours. A coat of mortar has to be applied in order for the next coat of mortar to stick.

While the bottom was drying, we made two other structural changes:

Part of the electrical change we made was we moving down the overhead light originally in the sofit. The future lights will be two sconces that are mounted above the wood mantel beam and are centered vertically over the stone pillars.

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The recessed light was always a pain. I guess the original builder put it there so you could hang artwork and let it be illuminated; the only thing it really did was provide a harsh, unflattering light to a short wall, as well as getting into your eyes while you watched television!

Another change, was the lowering of the mantel. The original mantel was too high and anything placed on it could not be admired if you were sitting in the room. The new mantel height is also in better proportion with the wall height.

Another part of the prep was getting the mantel into shape. We did darken the wood using the Java gel stain color from American General because the wood we chose was lighter then we wanted. This ties it into the future floor and the staircase molding at the front entrance hall of the house.

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At this point we are about Day 3 into the project and decided to take a day or two off so we could get holiday stuff done ūüôā Next post will be the wrap up of the stone and mounting the mantel.

Fireplace renovation, stage one: research and planning

Another big part of the living room renovation is the fireplace redo. Right now it is bland, boring and what a hundred other houses in this area sport – a flat face with large tile surround and a simple painted white, mantle.

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Fireplace (before)

Goal: to make it a standout classic for under $1,000. This cosmetic fireplace renovation will include: new vintage wood mantle, stone facade, new floor hearth apron of stone, and new glass doors.

Before you begin any fireplace reno you need to know what kind of physical condition and type your fireplace is. Our fireplace is gas with an external control turnkey and a chimney with a vent door that can be opened/closed. It is a natural-vent fireplace, not direct-vent.¬† Our changes will be cosmetic in nature as the fireplace doesn’t have any repair issues to deal with.

Next, I started collecting a bunch of pins on my Pinterest board for ideas to compare looks. I love stone fireplaces that look like they belong in a cabin (like these photos taken during one of our vacation getaways)!

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second stone fireplace

From this fact-finding I knew a couple of things: I wanted the stone to go from floor to ceiling, have a chunky vintage wood beam mantel,¬†use a¬†larger chunky stone that gave more of a cabin “real” fireplace feel to it, and have visual depth to the fireplace facade.

Some of my favorites featured a fireplace profile that had different profile depths (such as here and especially this one):

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The tentative plan:

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There are plenty of blog posts about how to use stone veneer to redo your fireplace (see my fireplace Pinterest board for links). I decided not to go with this specific product (Airstone) because 1.) I didn’t like the color; 2.) didn’t like the way the stone stacked; and 3.) had read that the boxes have a lot of breakage and waste in them (which I didn’t want to hassle with).

The disadvantage of stone is that it is heavy, needs specialty tools to cut and can be expensive. The cost can be comparable though as veneer is not cheap and in some areas of the U.S. stone can be cheaper. Stone also takes some knowledge of how to stack and support it when you are running your course (layers).

However, a handy-person with a bit of research should be able to do it; it’s not rocket science. We have experience laying tile on the floor and as a backsplash so this work is similar.

In the end we decided to go with a stone-like product made from concrete, combining two patterns (the Ledgestone and the Hackett) and the finish was Fireside.¬†Be sure to take your plan into the company you will be using (if this is the option you pick) as they will need to know how many corner, wrap around stones (“edge pieces”) to make.

The concrete faux-stone cost ended up being around $380 but we had it delivered for an additional fee (another $119) as we were too busy running about this month to haul it.

We bought the mantel, an old barn beam from off a guy who buys/sells this type of lumber via Craigslist. That was another $60, which was cheaper then I was expecting!

We also needed other items for the project: such as masonry blade for our circular saw to trim the blocks, 2 bags of mortar, wire screening, some plywood and 2x4s to build out the facade, electrical boxes and two sconces ($200). We already had a circular saw, masonry trowel and a mixing bucket.

Progress photos coming next ūüėÄ

Getting a Beamed Ceiling look for less money and effort

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The next step in remodeling the family room was to put molding in the coffered ceiling. A traditionally beamed ceiling would have looked fantastic in our formal living room where ceilings are 10 foot high and there is plenty of light. Not so great in this darker room, where a coffered ceiling makes the ceiling feel lower.

Let’s face it, neither of us wanted to go the expense either that boxed beams would require. Even doing a faux look (like at this blog) would have taken more time and money than we wanted to do.

However, this room lacks definition and with it’s huge coffered ceiling we knew some sort of molding would take it to the next level. The molding we decided upon makes the eye go upward and defines the ceiling but doesn’t lower the ceiling visually. I guess you can call this the poor man’s beamed ceiling look.

Before we begin, we installed recessed ceiling lights, and marked off all the lines for molding with chalklines. The ceiling should was painted the final color before we started this project.

Be aware that white molding looks best against a darker wall color. Here we are using Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 from Lowes; this color is being used throughout the downstairs to make the space look larger (vs. using different colors in each room).

To prep for your project, measure your room and mark on paper where you want your molding to go: even and equally spaced squares work best. Our ceiling dimensions: ¬†135″ x 201″.

You can tell from our rough graph that the squares aren’t perfectly even in their dimensions but the difference is minimal and not noticeable from below. Black lines mark 1×4 placement and red indicates the¬†1×6 boards.

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Mark out with a chalk line which will be erased or covered by projects end. Take a stud finder and be sure to locate where you can attached to studs in your ceiling. No studs for nailing up boards? We worked around that and will show you how too.

Materials for this project: a saw (we used power miter saw and circular saw), a nail gun and compressor is a must, chalk line, liquid nails (our project took two tubes), finishing nails, toggle bolts to mount in areas without a stud to mount boards (plan a bolt for every 4 feet approx.), paint for your molding, foam paint roller with tray, fine sandpaper block and wood putty. Drop cloths may also be needed; our floor had been removed in anticipation of replacing it.

Lumber for your project: we used white primed MDF boards (1×4 for inside squares and 1×6 for the outer border), in this blog post. Depending on what you want your own project to look like you can finish it off differently – this is just an example of what we did.

For example, the look in this post with no additional trim or crown gives an appearance similar to Board and Batten. However, our next post will show additional trim we used for a second layer.

For this project we started with primed white, MDF boards, because MDF is cheaper and the look of real wood doesn’t matter since we are painting. Because it was primed white, and I’m painting it white, painting went faster. If staining, go with real wood.

Boards were painted twice more to get even coverage and sanded lightly between the first and second coat because sometimes MDF (or any wood) has slight blemishes. If you paint before being mounted it saves a lot of hassle and just means final touch ups.

General Tips:

Before mounting the board up, make sure it is cut on both ends of the board to fit the space. You will want a tight fit Рno gaps! This may take adjustment especially if you find that your walls and ceiling are not straight, which is typical of older homes or homes who have settled.

Speaking of which – ceiling molding will not look good up on an uneven, damaged, warped, wavy or crooked ceiling. Go with plaster and paint to repair these types of ceilings/walls.

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You may also have to work around fixtures. We had to cut around this ceiling vent which could not be moved. Also, shown is the corners where we went with mitered edges; other boards (see below) butted end to side.

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We also had to put in  board for the ceiling fan, allowing an area for electrical and hanging of the fan.

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Mounting to ceiling areas with studs: This is the easy part. Using your stud finder, mark the location of studs with painters tape. This helps as a guide for using your nail gun.

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Cut your board to fit, run a line of liquid nails on the back of the board, mount and nail into place. Be aware that liquid nails won’t be strong enough to hold¬†a board in place on their own –¬†nails or bolts are also needed.

You will need a helper on another ladder or step stool, while you finish nailing or screwing in the fasteners. This really is a two person job, not only for holding the other end of the board but to also let you know that the boards are visually lining up.

Mounting to areas without studs: Using our stud finder we found some areas would not have studs where boards would be mounted. This required the use of toggle bolts.

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On¬†a long¬†board we chose two areas to drill spaced out holes (ours was 1/8″) with a countersink¬†hole of about 3/8″. Counter sinking a screw or bolt can be done with a¬† power tool and a specialty drill bit.

Another way is drill a shallow hole with the large bit (3/8 inch), then switch to the small bit (1/8″) and finish drilling through the board. The large bit leaves a V-shaped depression in the hole, so it is easy to line up the small bit to finish off the hole.

Hold up to the ceiling and mark the ceiling with a pencil or scratch it with a screw tip. Take down the board and drill a larger hole in the ceiling (about 1/2 inch) at your marked areas; the larger hole allows the toggle bolt wings to collapse and push through. On the inside of the ceiling the wings open giving your board support.

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Insert the screw in your board, apply liquid nails in a wavy pattern down the board, and mount. We used our power drill to screw down the bolt. Shorter sections and smaller boards (the 1×4)¬†did fine with only one toggle bolt; our longer sections required two toggle bolts.

Use wood putty to cover holes, lightly sand after it is dry, and touch up with additional paint. At this stage we are finished with the first layer of molding. You can stop here if you wish for a simple board and batten look which would work well with an updated country, farmhouse or home with transitional décor.

Because there is a lower entrance to get into this room and I don’t have a wide angle lens these were the best photos of the ceiling I can could take today. The project looks a lot nicer in person!

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We will be installing additional molding so look for a new post after the next weekend with the details on trimming out your boards with additional molding for a layered and more detailed look.

Retrofitting recessed ceiling lighting in the family room

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We have a large family room which is one of those¬†awkward and bland rooms that¬†is a decorating¬†problem child.¬†One of it’s major problems is that it’s often too¬†dark and needs even illumination, so the first major project for this room,¬†working from the¬†ceiling down, is installing¬†recessed ceiling lights.

Before you begin it’s easier to paint the ceiling vs. doing it after installing the lights and future molding. Since the project will have white ceiling molding we went with matching ceiling and wall paint (Valspar‚Äôs allen + roth Rock ar720 from Lowes). This color is being used throughout the downstairs to make the space look larger (vs. using different colors in each room).

TIP: if using molding, the more contrast between wall and molding colors the better your end project will look.

Before you begin this type of project, grid it on paper and than check stud locations as well as electrical. We planned on pulling the power for the lights from the ceiling fan which would mean the future replacement fan would have no light. This made it a pretty easy project, electrically speaking.

On our plan here black lines is where molding will be placed; red lines show how the electricity was run.

grid_pattern_for_ceiling_lights

In our room, it turns out the ceiling fan was not centrally located, thus measurements had to be adjusted. Depending on the age of your house you may find some surprises like this too.

When choosing¬†your¬†lights, consider: how much room is¬†in your ceiling; the amount of light you want; the type of light; how big a diameter the exposed light ring you want; how tall the can unit for the interior ceiling space; and if it will be on a dimmer (some lights don’t dim).

We needed a low profile canister light so it could fit in within the existing ceiling structure which had no attic access. The light we chose came from Lowes.

recessed_light_single

We had a central ceiling fan that had power for a light and a fan. The first thing we did was remove the old fan and from the electric for the fan light, and ran a line of electricity through the ceiling in a grid pattern. The holes we made to run the electrical line will be covered with future molding.

installing_recessed_ceiling_lights_setting_details

The 12 box grid we marked out with a line of blue chalk line. You can tap in a headed nail on one end and run the line from it to the other side to easily snap the line. When the project is done, a brush wipes off the chalk line.

installing_recessed_ceiling_lights_setting_chalkline

Each of the smaller squares will have a centered light. Make two diagonal chalk lines from corner to corner to make an X in each box. The center cross X will be the location of the recessed can unit.

installing_recessed_ceiling_lights_centering_the_light_can

You can use a “hole saw bit” that attaches to your¬†power drill to cut out a circle pattern in drywall. This punches out the circle smooth and easy where you can insert your can light. It also¬†helps as access to run your electric without making too many¬†unnecessary holes.

installing_recessed_ceiling_lights_keyhole

Most of the electrical wire was easily tucked between structural interior beams (behind the drywall) and the fiberglass battings. However, we did do a half inch notch in four beams at four different locations. If you do that be extremely careful that you do not impact the structural integrity of the beams. If in doubt, ask an expert before proceeding!

Be sure to cut the power from the main box before you wire to the live line. Our 12 recessed lights used Halogen light bulbs and wired to a wall mounted, dimmer switch that we used to replace the old on-off switch for the fan light. When selecting a switch make sure it is rated for the amount of power you plan on hooking it too.

installing_recessed_ceiling_lights_longview

This project takes a moderate level of knowledge about wiring and electricity. However, if you know enough to wire a ceiling fan you probably know enough to do this project. ūüôā I will be doing better photos of the entire room once the project is complete.

The smaller fixture units are more classy/trendy than the old and larger can lights. Best of all, being on a dimmer we have control – make it bright for visitors or dim for the big movie night.

LOVE THESE LIGHTS!

Project: Library Shelves

My hubby is a master shelf builder! One of the first products I asked him to make were these very strong and deep bookshelves for my home office. He put a lot of nice molding around the top and front sides that I think really make this piece stand out.

They were designed to butt against each other smoothly on one end, with the other end wrapped with molding. This was a nice touch in the design as they allowed a seamless top for display.

Unfortunately, after I painted them black and lived with them for a few years, I realized that a lot of this nice design and molding detail was lost because of the deep rich black. It was time for an update!

molding detail on shelvesThe molding pieces I distressed back with fine sandpaper on my Mouse Sander. When using your electric sander,¬†do so with a light touch; it’s power can often remove too much.

A brushing of Cabots’ Dark Walnut stain,¬†was applied and then rubbed off. It¬†brought the tone back down and was a nice compliment to the black.

I had seen¬†an inspirational photo where bookshelves had a backing with¬†a different color¬†and I really liked it.¬†The¬†painted black,¬†plywood sheets on the back¬†were replaced with¬†Birch veneer sheets stained with Cabots’ Dark Walnut.

The entire unit was then given a top coat of Mini-Wax Rub-On Poly.

finished black bookshelf

blkbookshelvesafter