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 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 🙂

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

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.

The mantel weight will be supported by the two columns so no additional supports are needed.DSC_0089

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 🙂 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 😀