February 04, 2015

Ugly Ceiling Fan Redo

This was the project that started it all. My FIRST-ever DIY at our old apartment...just thinking about it gets me all nostalgic. I have to say, for my first project, it came out pretty awesome. And this has been, by far, the project that has gotten the most pins on Pinterest. So I thought, "why not give the people what the want?".

Jay and I had finally moved to a place where we lived for more than a year (thanks to college and the revolving door of apartments) and it felt good to make it feel like home. Living in a rented apartment, you can't do much to the existing fixtures and appliances. With that said, I felt like if I could make it so much better than the original, then I might be able to get away with it...

Step 1: Turn. Off. The. Power. Redoing this fan wasn't especially hard, but remember, you're dealing with electricity. You have to be cautious. So first things first...head to your breaker and turn off the electricity while you're working on it.

Step 2: Disassemble the fixture. Every ceiling fan is different, but most have the same basic components. Remove the glass shades and bulbs and set them aside. Each ceiling fan will have 3-4 screws attaching it to the center component. Unscrew and pull down the four blades. Don't be alarmed at how much dust you've allowed to accumulate on top of them, its normal - at least that's what I told myself.

A circular, metal panel will cover the "guts" of the fan. Unscrew and lower the fixture. Then disconnect the wires by twisting off the plastic connectors from the ends of the wires. My advice, TAKE A PICTURE. This will help you when it's been 3 days and you just want to get that bad boy back up.

Step 3: Design your new fan. Depending on the state of your current fan and what you want it to end up like will determine how much further you need to disassemble the fixture. I was in a stage where I wanted everything in my house to look like a Spanish Mission - suffice it to say that I used a lot of matte black spray paint. With that said, I decided it wasn't necessary to paint the gold hardware, so I removed it and just spray painted the blades and the center fixture.

The lamp shade. That was a guy I picked up for $12 from Walmart -- I saw it and actually didn't even know what I wanted to do with it but thought it was too cool looking to pass up. I ended up connecting upside down with one of these and it worked great.

Step 4: Paint that puppy. Take your ceiling fan parts to a well-ventilated area, and lay down a tarp (unless you eventually want a Jackson Pollock painting on your garage floor). Hold your hand about 2-2.5" away and spray in short, cloaking strokes. The surface of a fan blade is slick, so paint can easily drip if you are too heavy-handed. I wanted this look like it was stock-painted, so I took extra care to do 3-4 coats on each side, covering all areas with very light coats.

Step 5: Reassemble. It's pretty straight-forward, but this is by FAR the most tedious part of the process. All of these screws, hardware and electrical wire will make you re-think whether you did something wrong. Don't worry. Look at your photo, add back the fan blades, the mechanism, connect the wires and secure the shade using the bulb extender. You'll feel legitimately bad ass by the end of it, with a beautiful centerpiece to your room as opposed to a white, eye sore.

January 25, 2015

DIY Bedside Shelves

Welcome to "Part Deux" of the DIY Platform Bed Frame post. This portion will focus on adding bedside shelves that match the frame, acting as nightstands. I had originally planned to build a headboard along with my frame, but after restructuring the room (for the 10th time!), I placed the head of the bed against the far wall in our room (which also has two huge windows). Instead of blocking all of that natural light like a vampire, I decided to build some bedside shelves to help balance everything. There are TONS of ways you can build these, some have drawers, some hang from the ceiling -- I decided to go with something simple and big enough to fit a small lamp, a few books and maybe a candle. Let's get started...

Step 1: Measure. Decide where you want your shelves situated in relation to your bed, and measure the length and width that the area can accommodate. Keep in mind that the deeper your shelf is, the more support it will need (translation: you'll need some heavy-duty/costly brackets).

Step 2
: Get Materials. I used scrap wood from other projects and the same stain + poly from the bed frame, so this project cost me ZERO dollars (yay!). Additionally, you'll need wood screws and wood glue (all of which I already had as well, I'm weird).

Step 3: Cut & Prep the Wood. Using a jig saw, I cut down the wood planks based on my initial measurements. Draw a straight line with a pencil to follow since jig saws can sometimes be hard to handle. I did the same trick of beating the wood to make it look "reclaimed". Sand down any errant wood pieces that might have resulted from the cut -- it doesn't have to be perfect because the "real sanding" comes after you've constructed the shelf.

Step 4
: Construct the Shelves. I used two different widths of wood for the base and two 1x1 pieces to adhere to the sides to give the shelves a bit more visual interest. From there, use a bead of wood glue on the interior pieces, then screw the 1x1 to the sides. This technique helps to hold the wood tightly while the glue dries. If you'd prefer a flat shelf, you'll need to use wood clamps to let the wood dry. Approx. 2-3 hours later when the wood glue dries, use an electronic sander and 100 grit paper to sand the shelf. Make sure you get all of the corners to avoid any scraps/injuries during use (safety first, people!).

Step 5
: Paint. Once the surface of your shelves is nice and smooth, you're ready to paint / varnish / decoupage...whatever's your style. I wanted a cohesive look with my frame, so used the same varnish and wood. I did about 4 coats, allowing dry times and sanding between coats (see previous post for more details).

Step 6: Install! You are now ready to install the shelves. Once again....MEASURE. The last thing you want is for your shelves to look wonky -- it'll drive you crazy! I had some large brackets I had found at the $.99 Store (hey, don't judge). I chose to spray paint them from white to gold to give the hardware a little flare. First, adhere the part of the bracket to the shelf. From there, it's all about measuring where you want your shelf to lie, marking the drill holes with a pencil and pre-drilling the hole using a drill bit slightly smaller than the width of your screws. Have someone help hold the shelf in place while you adhere to the wall. Since these shelves will hold a fair amount of weight, I'd highly suggest using drywall screws to make sure they're super secure. That's it -- you now have a full bed set that you built from nothing more than wood, varnish and some screws. Pretty amazing when you think about how much companies charge for stuff like this...

Next up will be a sweet, 15 minute project that will breathe life (and comedy) into your entryway. Stay tuned!

January 09, 2015

DIY Platform Bed Frame

Post numero dos for Carpe DIY! Since the last post was a simple spray paint job, I wanted get down and dirty and actually show you how to build something. So today, I'm going to layout how to build a custom, gorgeous, platform bed frame made from REAL wood -- and for less than $100. 

My husband, Jay, and I had been sleeping on a mattress box since we moved into our new place (yes, for about 5 months...don't judge). After scouring thrift stores, Craigslist and various furniture stores, everything either was not my style, cost a million dollars or was cheaply-made. So the floor-sleeping continued...I was close to buying a simple metal frame, when I came across a platform frame online and realized I could definitely build it! Luckily, it's the easiest style to build for a newbie and only requires wood, a saw and power drill. The saw is a non-issue, as Home Depot will cut your wood free of charge. If you're in the market for a new frame, I guarantee you'll not only surprise yourself  by building this, but also anyone that comes to hear "yeah, I built my bed". Their response will initially be, "like you bought it from IKEA and put it together?". No fool, I BUILT THIS :)

Step 1: Take Measurements. What size mattress do you have? How much of the platform do you want to show from under the mattress? All of these things will determine how much wood you need (mattress sizes shown in the image). We had just bought a King bed, and I wanted about 3" on either side and 4" at the base to show -- all together that means I need to cover 82"x84" of area. Additionally, the frame that supports the cross beams should have a bit of overhang (1-2"). You'll need to have these written down when you go to Home Depot, below is my list of materials.
Step 2: Prep the Wood. Once you have all of your materials at home, you can start prepping the wood for stain. I wanted the wood to look reclaimed, so to put it simply, I beat the crap out of it with anything I could find. Screws, screwdrivers, paint openers, hammers. These indentations gather more of the stain, giving the wood surface some really cool, visual interest.
Step 3: Stain & Poly. Now it's all about getting the wood to suit your color-scheme. I wanted a deeper, beach wood which ended up taking me about eight coats of the Varathane Stain + Poly in Ash. Using a brush and foam roller (to avoid brush strokes), spread a thin layer on the surface and allow to dry. Between each coat, be sure to lightly sand the surface with a fine 100 grit sandpaper. The surface needs something to adhere to otherwise the wood won't absorb the color and you'll end up with coats of stain that do not dry. Since I wanted to minimize my work, I only stained + polyed the visible areas of the boards. This step will most likely be the longest of the process, 2-3 days.

Step 4: Build the Frame. Now it's time to start building! I chose to build in our bedroom since I didn't want to have the hassle of moving a King size bed frame made of heavy-ass wood. Plus, sleeping in the living room for a couple of nights will force you to finish faster :) To start, add three pre-drilled holes in the ends of the interior boards (2"x8"x78") and the tops of the exterior boards (2"x8"x83"). During this stage, the measuring tape IS YOUR FRIEND! Be sure to measure and mark with a pencil where to drill the holes, both from the top of the wood and between the holes. Now you can start screwing the "interior" and "exterior" boards to form a rectangular outline. Use an electric drill! It'll keep you from getting blisters on your hands and keep the frame sturdy. Next, you'll add support beams to the middle of the frame. Again, pre-drill holes in the ends of the interior boards and the tops of the exterior boards. I only chose to use two support beams, but would've used a third if I had it. Center the support beams, leaving about 8-10" between each. Support beams are essential for the middle of the frame so the boards don't snap when you lay on your bed!

Step 5: Platform that Puppy! Now, all you have to do is lay all of your cross beams to create the actual "platform" of the frame. I've seen some tutorials that frame the platform, like this one from Shanty 2 Chic, but I wanted more of a planked-look across the entire frame. I used four screws per cross beam, pre-drilling all of the holes in advance. Screw in at each end and into both of the center support beams. Keep doing this until you cover the entire open frame, with little to no space between each of the beams.
There you have it -- a bonafide wood, platform bed for under $100. Next week I'm going to talk you through building some amazing floating side tables to match your frame (see image). Since the wall at the head of our bed has windows I didn't want to block the natural light, and these side tables act to balance the frame (kind of like a head board). Until then...Carpe Your DIY,

January 02, 2015

How to Paint Wicker

Well, well, well. It's 2015 and it's been a long time first post on! As mentioned in the "About" section, I began (slowly but surely...) replacing my Swedish-made, wood-laminate, college dorm furniture and decor about a year ago. Now, I am living in a newer/bigger place with my husband of 3 years and the projects never seem to end!

One of my favorite, and easiest, projects is this sweet little wicker chest. The great thing about living in a Spanish-style 1920s building: the original wood floors. The worst thing: NO STORAGE SPACE. Thus, I store a lot of shoes in a chest. This $20 Goodwill find replaced a $40 Walmart plastic box -- suffice it to say it is a big step up (even with the ugly brown color it began in).

So let's start there. This is a run-of-the-mill wicker piece that you can find littered in second-hand stores. Usually they look straight out of the 80s/early 90s so I've steered clear -- that is until I realized how easy they are to paint. Add a vibrant, current color and voila! Modern furniture.

As I mentioned, painting wicker is REALLY easy so you just need to make sure it is in good shape (wicker is not breaking off from every corner). From there, it's really a matter of choosing what "look" you want to give it. This rich, turquoise color (Rustoleum Painters Touch in Seaside) gives it that perfect beachy, shabby chic, not-trying-to-hard look (just what I was going for).

Once I knew the look I wanted, I removed all of the hardware. These were secured with tiny screws matching the original bronzed hardware so be sure to set them aside safely. Next, for this particular piece, I decided to get the hardware back to its original state. And all it took was a day and a half of soaking, hours of hand scrubbing sanity, But soooooo worth it. The gold against the turquoise really made this piece pop -- well worth the effort.

Note: The solution I used was 1 parts white vinegar, 2 parts water, a splash of lemon juice and some table salt.

From there, it is time to paint the beast. USE A PRIMER. Especially when taking something from a darker color to a lighter one -- this will save you hours and probably 2-3 bottles of spray paint. I just used flat white spray paint as the primer. Be sure to apply outdoors or in a well-ventilated area and preferably on a warm day. I set up a little spray paint dome on my back steps with 2-3 tarps to prevent any overspray. Plus, it gets the perfect afternoon sun to help speed the process.

Once your primer dries (2-3 hours when warm) you can begin with your first coat of color. Start about a foot away, lightly misting the surface. Don't worry about getting all of the nooks and crannies at this point -- with wicker the goal is a lot of lightly misted coats since there are so many dimensions to the furniture. All in all I probably did 10-12 coats on this. But don't let that scare you!

When I say "coats" I mean "lightly misted areas until I couldn't reach anything else or just got bored".  I typically sprayed for about 8-10 minutes, coating as much as I could see/reach, let it dry for an hour, then came back and did it again. It really only took me a day and a half due to dry time. Also, and this is important with wicker, make sure you spray at various angles. Some areas look completely covered until you flip it on its side and see a smattering of white primer.
Really, once you get that going you're in the home stretch. All that's left to do is allow to FULLY dry (usually overnight) and add back on the hardware. I topped this off with a black and white crochet pillow from IKEA (I guess I'm not completely done with that Swedish beast...). Now get to it and email me with any questions!

Hope you enjoyed my first post! I will be putting up new ones every week -- so be sure to bookmark and stop back often!