Gettin’ Our Groove On

I know I’ve been light on the house updates lately, but this past week should make up for it! Last Wednesday night * Two Wednesdays ago my dad came into town and then my brother-in-law joined us on Friday night.  Matt and I had taken off work for an Epic DIY Weekend and had a big ‘ol list of projects to try and tackle.

On Thursday we started looking for wood for our door and window casings.  We already knew we had to custom route the vertical casings so we just need to get wood in the correct dimensions.  Well, since the original casings in the rest of the house were 4.5″ inches wide, which meant dimensional lumber wouldn’t cut it.

We poked around through the trim section to see if there were any flat trim pieces that were 4.5″ wide.  Nope.  A bunch of 3.5, some 5.5, but no 4.5.  Figures.  At the end of the trim aisle though, were some door jamb pieces and kits.  Do you know how wide a door jamb is?  4.5 inches!  BOO-YA!  Plus, the outside edges are slightly rounded like our moldings.  Can I get another boo-ya?  The only minor problem is that they’re 81″ tall, which is a bit short but we have plinths in every other room so that’s an easy fix.

Sounds perfect right?  Only all the jambs at Home Depot were pretty warped.  Arrrgh!  Plan C now was to get 1×6’s and rip them down to size on a table saw.  A table we don’t have….  My dad offered to buy us a table saw though!  Some people give cribs as new baby gifts, my dad gives table saws.  I pointed this out at the store and a nearby customer laughed and pointed out that table saws were way more useful.

Ok, so we have a plan!  We have lumber!  We have a saw! We’re good to go, right?  Ehhhh.  Because the door jambs were so incredibly perfect and my dad and I make up Team Insane Perfectionist we decided to swing by Menards to see if they sold the same thing and if they were any straighter.  Success!  Let’s roll!

My dad had brought along his router and router table so we figured we’d get that all set up and then zip the boards through like you would with a table saw.  Easy-peasy right?

Um, nope.

There’s more resistence with a router blade than a table saw blade so it takes a LOT more effort to feed the wood though.  Pair that with a longer board and it’s really hard to get a nice, consistent groove.  The amount of effort it took to get one edge done (that didn’t even end up being a good edge), was clearly not going to work.

Ok, time for Plan B.

Back we go to the hardware store to pick up some inexpensive pine to make a jig. The jig consists of a 1×8 for the base and a 1×4 for the back guide that are screwed together in an L shape.

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We knew we needed the raised edges on the casings to be 3/4″ wide so we did some quick math to determine where we would need to position the board, then screwed in some thin scrap wood as spacers.  It needed to be tall enough to butt the board up against, but short enough that it wouldn’t interfere with the router.

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You don’t need to run your spacer pieces along the full length of the jig.  The board won’t be moving, just the router, so you really just need to make sure you have nice, even spacers on each end so you can position the board well.  It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re going to build a jig you want all the lumber you’ll be using to be as straight as possible.  We may have spent a good 10 minutes pulling out board after board and checking it for straightness.  Knots and splits don’t really matter, it just needs to be as straight as possible.

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Once we had our jig set up, we clamped the wood into place and got to routing.  We did have to stop at each clamp to re-position it, but that’s not a big issue.

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See my lack of a mask?  Don’t do that.**  Routing kicks up shit-tons of sawdust.  I didn’t realize that right away (yes, I’m an idiot) so I didn’t put on a mask until I was about 1/2 way done… and then 2 days later I was in the ER with an asthma flair-up.

We did one pass, then flipped the board around to do the other edge.

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Bee-yoo-teee-ful.  But now there’s still a chunk left in the center.  We re-measured to see how far out the next pass would have to be, but this time just marked lines on our jig.  The outermost passes were the ones that really had to be precise, so for these we just lined the board up with the marks and had the second person simply hold it in place.

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Aaand then you flip it around and do the same thing to the other side.

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Now we’re left with one tiny strip in the middle.  Now, you guessed it, we measured, marked, and re-positioned the board.  The narrow strips we used as spacers for the edges were the perfect width to position the board to get the center strip.  We flipped them vertical to line up the board and pulled them out once someone was holding the board in place.

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SHAZAAM!

Some of you may be wondering why we bothered painted the boards if we were just going to strip a bunch of it off.  Well, we didn’t; the boards came pre-primed.  We didn’t need them too, but they were the only real wood (not particle board or MDF option).  The bonus is there’s a much better contrast in my pictures.

Just take a look at these beauties compared the original casings!

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I’m giving them a rating of PDG: Pretty Darn Good.

 

*I may have been a little slow in publishing this….

**See my awesomely coordinated gloves and Batman shirt?  Not planned at all, but you can totally copy that.  Also, I hate pregnant-me in pictures.  In real life I feel totally fine but I see a picture and can only quote Spaceballs–“Why didn’t anyone ever tell me my ass was so big?!”  My amazing and supportive husband responded to this with “Well, you’re supposed to be getting bigger.”  This is the same amazing guy who once told me “I like how fat you are” and said I looked like “a yellow whale” after trying on a very unflattering maxi dress.  He may suffer from foot-in-mouth disease.  I’m hoping for the “pregnant glow” before we get a professional pregnancy shoot done, but so far I’ve just been breaking out like a teenager.

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Sunday Fun-Day: Music Edition

Busy editing a backlog of photos… I’ve got actual projects coming soon (custom door/window casings! drywall!).  In the meantime I hope these make you smile.

The first time I saw James Corden was on Doctor Who and I sort of adored him.  This goes to show he is even more awesome than I originally thought!

 

Cookie Monster can step it a notch too.

 

Not gonna lie, Katie Perry grates on my nerves something awful (she was waaay over-played on the radio station they played at my job years ago).  This is one of my favorite song parodies though!

 

Don’t know if as many people will find this one amusing–it’s definitely for the typography nerds!  If you’ve never seen the music video for Lady Gaga’s Poker Face it’s definitely worth watching because they did a great job parodying the video AND the music.

 

I don’t actually love this song (it’s ok, just not in my personal music collection), but I think the video is pretty powerful.  Related: a list of celebrities who aren’t a fan of crazed Photoshopping.

Presidents Day Dry-walling

Last year we went to Vegas with some friends for the Presidents Day/Valentines Day weekend.  This year, we dry-walled a nursery.

Well, we started dry-walling a nursery.

Yes, getting older can be a little lame.  Like I tend to tell people though, I’ve never been cool a day in my life and don’t intend to start now.  So yeah, dry-walling.

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As a quick refresher, this is where we were at with the nursery.  We had ripped out the gross ceiling tiles, the lame trim, the prison-esque light fixture, and the grody paneling.  I voted to just hire someone to come in and skim-coat ALL THE THINGS but Matt wanted to just re-drywall.  It’s definitely cheaper so I didn’t argue too much.

Last weekend we headed to Menards, rented a truck, and bought a crap-ton of 1/4″ drywall.  We opted for 1/4″ because we weren’t ripping out the existing plaster and wanted to minimize extra bulk.  I helped Matt haul this into our house, all the while thinking I’d fall, have to call the emergency mid-wife line and explain to them that I slipped on some ice while carrying drywall because the first thing we decided to do after finding out I was pregnant was to demo an entire room.  Thankfully I remained upright and told Matt he would need a different assistant to help haul the sheets up the stairs.*

One of the issues with adding a layer of drywall was that door frames would be a little awkward.  If you drywall up to the edge of the door, you’re stuck with a bare edge of edge of drywall.

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Ew ideed.

To solve the problem (without redoing the entire door frame) we bought 1/4″ strips of wood to frame out the openings first, and then butt the drywall up against the wood.

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The change in materials (and the gap) won’t be an issue because we’ll be adding new trim to the entire room as well, so all we need is an even surface. Once the rest of the doorframe gets painted, you’ll never even know it was there.

Speaking of even, have I mentioned that old houses are not even remotely square?  Yeah.  We’ve got some seriously half-assed looking drywall happening in here.

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Although it’s hard to tell from the picture, so feel free to think of us as drywall masters.  We’re cool with that.

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…but I’m honest, so here’s a close-up of the piece above the window.  It is the exact same length as the piece below the window that has nice, tight seams.  This is what happens when you assume things are even.  Except you really only make an ass out of u, because if me had been there I would have put a stop to these shenanigans because I know not to trust old houses.

Aaaanyway…. We can get away with some half-ass-ery because we’re dry-walling over an existing solid wall rather than bare studs.  This is also why we opted to hang the sheets vertically instead of horizontally.  I usually see drywall hung horizontally so I researched it a bit and the conclusion seemed to be that it doesn’t matter a lot, but horizontal hanging will be a little more structurally sound.  Well, we already had existing walls, so that I wasn’t a huge issue for us.  It was easier to hang the sheets vertically, so we went with that.

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The drywall sheets were 4’x8′ and the ceilings were about 8’3″ tall.  We’re planning on installing baseboards that are taller that 3″ so the bottom seam wouldn’t be issue.  We grabbed a couple scrap 2×4’s (thanks to the brilliance that is modern lumber dimensions, 2=1.5) and were able to prop the sheet up so it would sit even with the ceiling while we screwed it in.

So now we’re almost half way done with the walls!  There’s still the other half, plus the ceiling, plus all the mudding/taping/sanding.  We’ve recruited my dad and brother-in-law to come help in mid-March so we should see a big chunk of progress made then.  I’m planning on haz-matting myself up and diving in too because I start getting twitchy if I see people doing things that aren’t up to my standards.**  I’m mostly concerned about all the dust from sanding (since I’m already asthmatic and prone to bronchitis) but I figure a heavy-duty mask and a sander that attaches to a shop-vac should leave me pretty safe in that area.

 

*He opted to do it himself and as a result we have two more broken picture frames.

**Drywall joints pre-compound are clearly not one of my higher standards

 

 

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First IKEA Run of 2017!

After Matt broke one of my picture frames from our gallery wall I’ve been meaning to get out to IKEA for a replacement.  In the meantime I also managed to convince him that we should replace the beige couch* and discovered a sale on their PAX wardrobe line (which we were already planning on getting).  So we just decided to make one giant (read:expensive) trip.

We’re a compact car family so we opted for the delivery service.  We even lucked out and were in Zone A so it was a flat $59 for anything we wanted delivered. Plus the delivery service would leave the items in the room of your choosing.  No man-handling PAX parts up our stairs for me!  Sold!

I usually try to avoid IKEA on the weekends, but the Sunday we went wasn’t too bad.  We had a specific plan and weren’t really browsing for anything else (although we did end up with a full-length mirror because such is the nature of IKEA).  I used their in-store PAX planner because for some reason it’s super slow to load at home.  This was the most time consuming part of the trip and I started steadily feeling crappy.  After you have a PAX plan an employee will type up an order slip, but as soon as we were done with our plan the nearby employees had vanished (it was busy, I get it).  I sent Matt off to find someone and collapsed on a nearby ottoman.

I must have looked pretty awful at this point because a random man came up and asked me if I was ok.  “Just pregnant and miserable, but otherwise fine.” was my reply.  “Ah.”  He said knowingly. “Migraines?  My wife had horrible migraines.”  I’m pretty sure I just got more sympathy from a total stranger than I have from my husband…. although he’s now afraid to offer any help to me because he’s afraid I may misinterpret it as coddling and get pissed.  Poor guy can’t win.

After getting our PAX order together we were informed we had to go back to the kitchen section to get the door hardware, but everything else would be pulled for us.  It had been a rough weekend for me so I seriously considered passing out on one of the beds and letting Matt wander back through half the store to get back to the kitchen section.  I womaned it up though and went with him.

We also decided to replace the Beige Couch of Boring.  It was a super comfy couch, but I’m pretty much programed to hate beige.  Plus the size and style just weren’t working for me.  We decided to go with the Karlstad sofa because we figure with kids on the way we don’t have to worry about it getting destroyed.  Plus, every square inch of the cover can be removed an washed.  Win.

We were able to get same-day delivery (woot!) but I wasn’t going to deal with same-day assembly.  Unfortunately, this meant dealing with assembly after work during the week.  Because Matt’s a sweetie, we assembled the couch first.  Because Matt is considerably less pregnant than me, he then decided to assemble the PAX that same night while I tested out the nap-ability of the new couch (verdict: little hard, needs breaking in).

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The couch looks solidly IKEA at the moment, but not to worry, I’ve got plans to hack this puppy!  The smaller, more open profile is definitely a win for the space.

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Hey look, Matt has a closet!  In the bedroom!  It actually even gives him more space than the closet he was using previously.  More wins!  Since I was napping and not supervising, he managed to break one of the rods and lose a hinge.  2017 has not been a good year for Matt’s DIY record….  We seriously tore the bedroom apart looking for the missing hinge and can’t find it.  It’s big enough that we would have heard the cats playing with it if they had batted it off.

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The most exciting part of assembling this was getting it level.  The PAX frame has little feet behind the bottom edge in the corners that you can adjust… but they assume your floor is only a little unlevel.  Anyone who’s even lived in a old house know words like “level,” “square,” and “standard size” are words that will no longer appear in your vocabulary.  Instead this thing got leveled by jamming a 1×2 under one corner.  Good times.

While we were at IKEA I was debating between the BERGSBO and TYSSEDAL doors.  The TYSSEDALs were about twice as pricey and I while I thought they were slightly nicer, I didn’t think they were twice-the-price-nicer so we went with BERGSBO.  Then Matt assembled everything….

But because I’m a genius, I forgot to take a picture of assembly round 1. We got them up, I stared at them for a couple days, and then decided they weren’t right for the room.  The paneled doors and detailed trim of the house just wasn’t working with the bare-bones shaker-style doors on the wardrobe. Luckily, the doors fit into our car (hatchbacks FTW!) so we hauled them back and exchanged them.  Oh, and we picked up another pack of hinges because a week later we still hadn’t found the lost one.

The TYSSEDALs have some beveling similar to the house’s interior doors and work MUCH better.  I also finally got a nice, chunky, full-sized mirror.  It only took Matt about 20 holes in the wall to get it hung!  This one’s not even his fault! A 100+ year old house means lathe-and-plaster construction for the walls.  While there still are studs, the extra bulk over them makes stud-finders useless.  the only thing to do is drill a bunch a tiny holes until you feel a stud and then patch them all later.  Fun times, right?

Our dressers replaced our nightstands (which you can see a bit in the reflection) but I’m not showing pics of the whole room because it’s not super clean and is also incredibly bland at the moment.  Like most rooms in the house, it’s on the to-do list.  At least we’ve upped the functionality!

 

*Anyone in the Twin Cities area looking for a couch?  The main reason we’re getting rid of it is because I HATE beige.  It’s also a little too chunky for our space.  It’s up on Craiglist right now so if you’re in the area let me know and I’ll share the link.

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Merry Christmas from Flat-Pack & Vintage

Whoo-hoo! It’s almost Christmas!  I’ve been busy with holiday stuffs so I’m behind on house stuffs, but here’s some fun stuffs for your holiday weekend.

DIY 2016 Dumpster Fire Ornament.  Daaang this year was rough.  Not only was it possibly the crappiest election year ever, but amazing people were dying left and right.  I may be making one of these…

Did you know Kentucky Christmas is a thing in Japan?  I didn’t, but their commercials are kind of amazing.

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Our current tree-topper is a star from the dollar store which is a little too dinky for our new tree, and also doesn’t seem to fit the floofy top spike of the tree,  I love the modern-ness of this Himmeli-Style one!  I think it’s made my holiday to-do list too!

Here’s a roundup of the cookies we made this year. Even though it’s probably too late for cookie-baking for most of you, you may want to file these recipes for next year.

Gingerbread cut-outs (I use orange zest instead of lemon)

Apple-Cranberry-Walnut Rugelach

Mint-Chocolate Fudge (I just top it with the mint layer and don’t marbleize it, laziness FTW)

Self-Frosting Anise cookies

Sugar Cookie Cut-outs (ok, didn’t actually make these this year, but I usually do)

 

Wishing you a very merry whatever-holiday-you-celebrate!

We’ve Moved!

Looky!  We have a shiny new domain name that actually makes sense!  Cool, huh? I am still working on updating the redirects from the old site but you should update any bookmarks you have and probably update Bloglovin if you follow me there.

If you notice any funky happenings, please let me know, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

A Series of Small Projects

Some of these were more recent than other, but none really deserved their own post.  Every house has it’s small projects that make a difference though.

Pantry Light

Our butler pantry had a pretty hideous light fixture–really just a basic socket and pull chain (like you’d find in an unfinished basement) with an ugly little clip-on shade.  So sad.  The problem here though was that we were super limited in our choices.  There was no switch so we had to have a pull chain, and the trim around the weird built-in shells left us only about 6″ of space to work with.

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We ended up finding a super-cheap Jelly Jar light at Menards along with a pull-chain kit.  For about $10 total we figured it would be worth a try even if we royally effed it up.

 

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Still not amazing, but probably the best we can do with the limitations unless we haul in an electrician (which, honestly, I really would like to do).

The hardest part of converting a standard light to a pull-chain is drilling the hole for the pull-chain mechanism itself to go through.  I would suggest trying to make a pilot hole of sorts by pounding a nail through the area first, then you can probably drill through.  Matt tried using our Dremel and admitted it was not one of the smartest things he has ever done.

Micro-bath Mini Makeover

Our half-bath wasn’t in awful shape, but it still needed a little lovin’.  I don’t have a proper before picture, so here we’ve already swapped out the existing faucet for this adorable ceramic-handled one switched out the mirror for something with a little more style.

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We also replaced yet another sad little light fixture.

 

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I’m actually still on the hunt for a better fixture here, but at $25 I don’t feel too bad about swapping this one out again down the line.  The micro-bath is going to get a more significant makeover in the near-ish future so I’ll probably be deciding on a more permanent replacement then.

Front  Railing

Our house is in desperate need of some curb appeal, no question there, but a lot of that will be slowly worked in over the years.  A more pressing matter however, is that our front steps lacked a railing.  This can be a sore spot for insurance companies, but it was also a practical issue for us. Our parents are getting older, winters are icey, and I have a nasty habit of random injuries* so having a railing on our front steps seemed like a really good idea.

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We picked up a fairly inexpensive railing at Menards since we’re planning on completely replacing the front steps completely in the next couple years.  It took a few hours to align and assemble and then another day to paint (Rustoleum Hammered Old Bronze).  It actually looks better than I expected!

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Please ignore our ghetto drainage solution–we get huge amounts of water pooling there when it rains and until recently it’s been too cold to start properly  re-grading that area.

Outlets

We’ve been steadily switching out all the switches and outlets in the house for the “decorator” style ones.  We needed to switch out all the beige for white anyway (at least by my personal definition of “need”) so I opted for the fancy ones.  Regardless of which style you go with though, replacing grody old switches/outlets can really make a big difference.

 

*Spraining your foot when you live on the 3rd floor with no elevator is not pleasant.

Friday Favs: IKEA Hacks

One of my favorite things about living in St Paul is that we’re about 20 minutes away from IKEA.  The good news for anyone who doesn’t live close to an IKEA is that they’ve started offering a lot more of their furniture for purchase online.

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IKEA has some great basic pieces, but sometimes they need a little extra oomf so your house doesn’t end up looking like an IKEA catalog.

 

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Via Young House Love

Young House Love turned an Expedit (now Kallax) into a stylish changing station for their baby, but this same look would make a great credenza or TV stand too.

 

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Via In My Own Style

Card Catalog style drawers + secretary desk?  I can hardly think of a better upgrade for a TARVA dresser.

 

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Via House of Hawkes

If paint is more your skill level it can still make a huge difference and transform a simple shelf into something a little more glam.  A VITTSJO unit was used here, but you could also ramp up a $15 HYLLIS too!

 

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Via Cleverly Simple

The RAST dresser is one of the most hacked IKEA pieces I’ve seen (I’ve hacked it myself too!).  I love how it’s been turned into a fabulous little nightstand here.

 

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Via Money Saving Sisters

Another simple paint upgrade, this time with a SNILLE chair.

 

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Via The Makerista

I think these built in BILLY bookcases are one of the most divine things ever!  And the addition of a  library ladder?  To DIE for!

 

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Via Oliver & Rust

Need some extra storage for the kitchen?  This island looks fancy, but is really a pretty simple hack, needing just some paint and a new top.  This one used a BEKVAM kitchen cart, but if you want a little extra storage you could use a FORHOJA too.