Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bookcase Magic


My newest furniture update- a built-on bookcase for a vintage dresser.  I seriously can't get over how awesome this turned out.  I will take a bit of a break patting myself on my back to get my hands back on the keyboard to share some details on this design.

One of the challenges of our attic remodel is organization.  There isn't a closet in the space and we didn't really have enough of a need for one to get into the logistics of building one in.  But, we did need space for two kids worth of clothing, books and miscellaneous bedroom stuff.  I really wanted a single bookcase and dresser unit for the room since we were adding a bed and I didn't want to clutter up the room with too much furniture.  Also, I thought getting the books a bit more out of toddler arm reach would help with book longevity.  (A moment of silence for the countless books I have had to throw away due to excessive tearing or traces of human excrement).

Starting with the base, I spruced up an existing vintage dresser we had.

For the bookcase, I was inspired by this picture.
I am a super visual person, so I used painters tape to mask out the dimensions of the bookcase, starting with the width of the dresser and using the slant of the wall to determine my height.

I decided I didn't need even shelf heights since many kids books are short (thinking of board books), so I went with 13" on the bottom for my tallest height and 11" in the middle and 10" on top.

Design completed, Andy was in charge of the actual build. ----------

Ap: As per usual I used 1/2" birch plywood for the case and 3/4" pine ripped to size for the face frame. This bookshelf is 38" wide and books/ children climbing can be heavy so I wanted to make sure each shelf was as rigid as I could make it. I rough cut all the pieces with my straightedge and circular saw and then final cut all the pieces using the table saw. Next, I set up the dado blade on my table saw and cut 1/4" deep dados into the sides to accept the shelves and back. Because Megs wanted to paint all the pieces ahead of time I had to be extra careful with the final assembly. I asked that she not paint the edges of the pieces so I would have a clean glue surface for the mating parts to stick. Overall this was a very easy project and went together quickly. I am not a huge fan of pre-painted parts but it worked out ok. Back to Megs...

Mp:  I really liked the different pattern on the back of the bookcase in my inspiration picture but couldn't find a wrapping paper with the right colors that was also gender neutral, so I decided to stencil a design myself.  Using leftover paint from a desk I refinished a couple of years ago, I put two coats of Simply Silhouette by Behr on the backing piece of wood.

While I had my painting station all set up, I went ahead and painted all the other bookcase components with two coats of Ryegrass which was the green I used on the dresser.

I have become so accustomed to county living that it didn't even phase me to knock chickens away from my drying station.  Life is weird.

While my pieces were drying, I created my stencil.  I had left over stencil sheets from a stencil I created for F's old closet so I used this to trace my design on.  For this particular project, a piece of cardboard would also work fine.  I found the stencil design on this site where the author uses it for an accent wall.

Utilizing all of my quilting rulers, I traced the stencil design onto the backing board with a pencil.  Once my entire design was traced, I used one of the kid's craft paintbrushes and hand painted over the pencil marks with gold craft paint.

Andy then took over again putting all of the pieces together and nailing a face frame over the front.

I filled the nail holes and painted the face frame with 2 coats of the green paint.  Andy cut two blocks of wood that he screwed into the top of the dresser and then screwed into the inside of the bookcase.

This is nice because if we ever have to move the dresser, we can easily remove the bookcase and move them in two separate pieces.

Viola.  Pure perfection.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Weekend List

This weekend started out with one of my favorite things:  a list.  

Andy has home improvement ADD, so as soon as he gets 75% done with a project, he starts another project, resulting in a lot of almost finished things.  We have a whole two sided list of these kinds of projects but since the weather was predicted to be nice most of the weekend, we picked some outside things to get wrapped up.

I got a head start on the list on Friday, lucking out with great weather and cooperative kids during nap time.  Last summer (or was it the summer before that?!?), Andy power washed our peeling red deck and put a coat of Behr Deck Over paint on it.  Deck Over is kind of a cool product that is advertised to help bring old decks back to life, filling in minor cracks and gaps.  First coat looked great and the new walnut color was much nicer than the old red.  According to the instructions, you must put on two coats but Andy moved on to another project and we never got around to doing the second coat.  Flash forward to Friday- I used a roller and went ahead and put two additional coats.  Our deck has some serious gaps that the paint didn’t fill in (not that we expected it to) but the Deck Over did a nice job of filling in the minor gaps and giving the entire deck a nice, matte finish that has a good grip to it to prevent slipping.

At F’s request, we started Saturday off with homemade waffles before tackeling more of our list.  Andy was on gutter duty while I was back on my painting station.  One of the most frustrating things about living in a small town is when you are just a few feet short of gutter, you can’t run to the store to pick up some more.  So, gutters are almost completed but we will need a trip to Menards before those can get finished up.

Andy also finished clearing all all the bedding from the chicken coop that had built up over the year.  To help keep the chickens warmer in the winter, you just add bedding all spring/summer/fall on top of the soiled bedding until you have 7 inches or so down.  Then in spring, all of this needs to be cleared out to start fresh.  Andy moved several loads of poop, which is compost gold to the compost bins and then spread the rest in our back 2 acres where the horses pasture.  It's a stinky job but very satisfying to see the floor of the coop.
Our powered wheelbarrow

It was too beautiful outside to work inside, so I set up a painting station outside.  We completed the renovations to E’s and F’s room in February but I wanted Andy to build a bookcase to go on top of the dresser in the room.  Wood was purchased months ago but Andy was able to get everthing cut out and dry fitted Saturday morning.  I painted all the shelves and shell the same green as I painted the dresser with.  

I wanted to do an accent on the back piece, so I painted this a dark grey-blue and then stenciled a design on it.  

I will do a post once the bookcase is totally done with details on how I did all this but it took a lot of math, chocolate cake and episodes of Friends on Netflix to accomplish.
Bookcase ready for face frame

What do the kids do while we are checking of items on our list?  “Helping”, playing in the yard, asking us thousands of questions, preparing snacks, you name it.

While working in the yard, we looked up to see our neighbor, Farmer Randy walking along our road. 

You know you have lived in the country too long when a person WALKING on the road causes a stir of commotion.

Andy spent Sunday morning living out his lumberjack fantasies, cutting out dead branches from two of the evergreen trees.  

At one point, my little squirrel had climbed almost all the way to the top of one tree.  
Where's Waldo? Andy edition 
It's a good thing we don't have any woods on our acreage or I would never see him again.

Worn out from playing out side the whole previous day, E was running a little fever and passed out on the couch. 

By the afternoon, she had recovered and prepared Andy a snack since he was working so hard in the shop.

I was able to get away and spent the afternoon on a kayak trip down the river organized by a local campground, Hutchinson Family Farm Campground.  We have on on canoe trips several times down the river with the kids but it was a ton of fun getting to relax and watch the scenery as we floated down the Upper Iowa River.

It was my first time in a kayak but it was super easy.  

I only got in to a bit of trouble once when I decided to dig into my bag for a muffin and got turned around, floating backwards down the river.  Luckily, a few strong strokes got me back on track.  Once we reached the end of our river trip, we had campfire pies and s'mores as well as a wine tasting from a local vineyard.  

So, smelling of bonfire (is there a better smell??) with a belly full of marshmallow and chocolate, I get to check a few more things off of our list and amble off to bed a happy women.