ye old bookshelf

One of the furniture pieces that I’ve inherited from my grandparent’s house was this old bookshelf:

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I’ve kept it because it matches the desk that Grandma used to have and well, it’s pretty solid. But there were a couple of issues.

As you can see above while it was nice to hold my printer and scanner the cords were always running around the edge which meant I was always tripping on them. The two shelves were adjustable but I found it annoying to hold my binders so those are now on a different shelf. But the bigger problem was that the finish had worn away in many spots, leaving it looking old and tired.

So after finishing the office floor with new laminate (looking above I do not miss that carpet!) I pulled this outside to begin working.

The back piece needed to go, it wasn’t solid wood and had splintered in several spots. So I ripped it out, removed the finishing nails and staples as I went.

Bookshelf 1

To replace the back piece I picked out a piece of plywood this one from Home Depot – it was much bigger than I needed so I used the rest of it for other projects.

Before throwing out the broken back panel I used it as a template to trace the new piece and cut out the new piece with my jigsaw. As you can see below I also notched the bottom corner so I can run cords through the back.

Bookshelf 2

The rest of the bookshelf got a good sanding with my B&D palm sander and then stained it for a fresh start. I thought about painting it but I really do like the wood finish and it was in pretty good condition already.


The back piece is just thin underlayment so it was easily stained to match: 


After staining the piece with Golden Oak from Minwax, I let it dry and then sanded it down with a 220 grit sandpaper. After the first layer of stain and then sanding, I did second layer of stain and let it dry overnight.

Note: I picked up just a small 8 oz jar of stain and it was just enough! I had a little left in the bottom for another project but it covered great in 2 coats.


Last step was protecting it with polyurethane – I have this one from Minwax.

Bookshelf 5

After applying the protective finish it need 24 hours to dry and cure so it stayed right outside to off-gas. When that was done I was able to nail the back piece in using my Airstrike (which is seriously be best tool I bought all year!).

Bookshelf 3

Finally it was ready to move back in – of course the office is mostly in shambles due to work in the guest room but it’ll be in the final office reveal!

Bookshelf 4

Let there be privacy…

One of my cheaper solutions for covering windows was the black curtains I hung over the garage window eons ago. The problem is that spiders have invaded that window sill and taken over command, meaning the curtains simply act as an anchor for webs and dead flies. Now I don’t mind the killing of flies but it was disgusting. And basically all you could see from the walkway outdoors is dead bugs and the web.

It was so gross I didn’t take a picture because you’re welcome.

I took down the curtains for their bi-annual cleaning and was surprised at how much light this little window let in. With the goal in mind to let in the light while maintaining privacy, I picked up this privacy film from Amazon that comes in a 17″ x 6′ roll. It has a really cool bubble looking pattern and is pretty easy to install.


My window has two panels, each is 22″ wide and 36″ tall. Since the film is just 17″ wide I decided to go left to right across the bottom of the window. After measuring I rolled out the film on a cutting mat and pizza slicer thingy, I cut the film just a smidge more than 22″ for the first panel.

Garage Window 5.JPG

As you can see the back of the film has this handy grid so you can cut a straight line. I used some scraps from the laminate floor to keep the cut straight.

Then I climbed on top of the washing machine to Windex those glass panes. Fun times. Then, before the spiders could recover I installed the film, lining up the film on the left of the glass and smoothing it across. Here you can see the difference it makes:

Garage Window 1

Since the film was cut a smidge too long I pushed it right up to the right side of the frame and then cut the last bit off with my box cutter. There are no pictures of installation because I was balancing on the chest freezer, peeling back the film, smoothing out the bumps and watching for spiders. It only took a couple minutes per side to complete.

Garage Window 4I love how much light is let in without showing what’s in the garage (my car and a bunch o’ tools). Of course nothing is ever finished so the next project is to replace the window sill and install a frame as the existing one is a little beat up. It’ll be good practice for working on the window sills and frames indoors.

Here you can see the sill board is warped on the bottom right, I’m sure there are a thousand spiders under there. (Note to self: need to move over the sprinkler control panel to install the frame)

Garage Window 2

The board isn’t even one piece. #lazy

Garage Window 3

It’s going to look so much nicer when complete, you know, because doing the laundry requires a custom, beautiful laundry “room.” #sarcasm

A case worth saving

As I prepared to install the laminate in my guest room, I made it a priority to sort through allll the stuff that’s been lingering in there for years and make some decisions instead of just moving it around and resorting stuff into ever larger storage containers every couple years.

It was a great choice.

Not only did I reduce my bankers boxes of paper from 4 to .5, but I was able to donate a bunch of stuff I no longer need or want and get a lot more organized. One of the treasures that I rediscovered was this check case that I inherited from my grandma.


It’s not too big but I think she used it for storing bank checks. I’ve been using it for all my sewing notions and thread which, admittedly, I don’t use very often. But the inside of the case was pretty beat up and I wanted to beautify it.

So I took some of the leftover fabric from my new pinboard:


And decided it would work wonderfully.

First I grabbed some spare cardboard and cut 2 pieces to fit the lid and the bottom of the box. I trimmed it a little bit so it would still fit once the fabric was installed.

For the lid piece, I let the fabric hang over about an inch so it would cover the inside lip. I used fabric adhesive to secure the fabric to the cardboard but didn’t really like it – too sticky. Still, I pushed the fabric and cardboard into place, then used modge podge to secure it to the lid.

The bottom was a little different because the sides were taller. So I took a long strip of fabric and modge podged it in, letting the extra gather on the bottom of the box. I trimmed some of the excess and then pushed in the cardboard covered in fabric to secure the loose pieces.

Here’s how it turned out:



It’s a little hard to see but the cuts on the lid were too messy for my OCD tendencies.



So I glued everything in tight with modge podge and let it dry for a couple hours. Then I grabbed a ribbon that was (I kid you not) left over from college and glued it to the lip of the lid to cover the gap. The outside has stayed the same, even the side where my grandma wrote “Disks” making me think she used this for cassette tapes or floppy discs.

First I refilled it with sewing supplies:


but have since decided that it needs to stay in the office with the pinboard and hold something office-y.

I’d show you a picture of it hanging out in the office but since that room has all of the guest room stuff it’s kinda buried. I know, bad blogger. But I will be shooting the office (and guest room!) soon for a reveal post once those floors are d.o.n.e.

I can’t wait. But I have to. Boo.


Planking a Wall

After finishing the master bedroom floor and starting on the office, I took some time to remove the baseboards and door frames from the hallway. There was a lot of wood to remove.

Since I’ll be replacing the door frames after undercutting the door jamb, it was an ideal time to work on the weird wall in the hallway. See, my hallway is somewhat shaped like a U. You enter in the front door at an angle, go straight down the hall to the master bedroom, then take a right turn to enter the office or guest room – dead ending at this wall:

photo 1

The problem is that wall once housed a very ineffective bookshelf that I demoed the first week or so of living here and thus the texture on that wall is pretty bad and doesn’t match the rest of the walls. Instead of trying to skim coat or repair it to match, I had the brilliant idea to install wood planks and paint them white.


Total Cost: $45 (which seems high but I’ll be reusing the paint and wood filler for several other projects so this is just the cost if you need to buy new)

It was late on a Friday night when I drove out to Home Depot and got them to cut up this piece of plywood an hour or so before closing. Because not going to Home Depot on a Saturday is survival tip #1. Here’s how we cut it up

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The last row is a bit under 8″ but it should do fine for the bottom row.

First thing on Saturday I started by sanding the edges of the plywood to smooth it out and then measured the wall to make the width cuts.

I did paint one of of the boards with Kilz first but found that it was going to take forever to paint them all and let them dry on sawhorses outside. So I moved ahead with installing them top to bottom with 2 nickels between boards for spacing.


As you can see from the wall board leaning up there, the panels are the same width as the floor boards (which are 7-5/8″) so that’s nice for symmetry. These boards are super light weight so holding them up to nail in was super simple. The only board that was a little harder was cutting out for the light switch because it happens in the middle of a board.

Using a drill bit I first created a hole and then used my jigsaw to cut out the box. Thankfully it worked out better than the beadboard in the bathroom.

After the wood was installed I pulled out the wood filler to cover the nail holes and then sanded them down. Easy enough.


THEN I pulled out the Kilz primer and gave it a once over. Again, since I’ll be replacing the floor and adding new door trim on either side of the wall I didn’t have to be too careful with the paint. After the first coat I sanded the whole wall to grind down the wood filler a bit more and there were a few panels that needed another nail. Final step and that is the real layer of paint, the same white that I’m using on all the trim, in flat. I only have glossy for the trim so I picked up a quart.


Once that dried I rehung the canvas that I built from a picture I took in Cabo last year. The old wood frame I rescued from Goodwill and painted is holding up pretty well so I am happy to have it back on the wall.


I need to touch up the paint on the bottom panel but will soon be installing the new door frame and reinstalling the baseboards.


$5 cork board magic

I was innocently browsing at Home Depot (what? this is what I do for fun.) and found an awesome clearance bin with 2’x4′ cork boards for $5. That’s amazing, people. You can’t buy a meal for under $5 anymore so I was a bit excited. Not even caring if it was in good shape, I threw it on the cart and happily brought it home. Like my little board, I knew I wanted to cover it in fabric to a) hide the holes from pins and b) make it pretty.


So I scoped out the clearance fabric at Jo-Anns and brought home a bright pattern with lots of flowers and colors that tie in to my existing curtains. I want to say that 2 yards was around $12 but don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to find the receipt. But in the easiest DIY ever, I simply slapped on a whole bunch of modge podge and then centered and flattened the fabric right on the cork. I kept enough to wrap it around the back but otherwise just glued it in good. I didn’t use nailhead trim this time, just the glue, a few staples along the back and done.


Using the screws that came with the board, I hung it in the office, right above the doggie bed so I can add to it any time with minimum disruption of nap time. I was going to put it above my monitor but I figured climbing up on my desk was more annoying than stepping over a sleeping dog.

Here it is on the way to being filled up with my favorite notes, places and people:


Not bad for under $20!

(ps I had a LOT of fabric leftover. Can’t wait to show you what I did with it.)

New lights in the hallway

I’ve shared before that I’ve installed these lights from Ikea in my bedroom closets and really like them for lighting the upper shelves. But in the hall closet I had the Kvart lights from Ikea which were first in the master bedroom:



But there wasn’t a lot of light so I picked up a rope light from Amazon (here for $18) it’s 18′ long so plenty of length.Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 6.18.20 PM

The real challenge was installing them without damaging the lights because all of my staples were much too small. What you want to do is find about a 2″ electrical staple in the electrical accessories isle at Home Depot.

They look a little like this and you can get a big bag for a couple bucks.

Here’s how it looks installed in the closet:

Hall Closet 2

I love that it wraps around the door frame (which I’ll soon be replacing anyway…)

Hall Closet 3

Since it’s pretty long, it also goes up to the shelf and then up to the ceiling. So much more light. Here’s the wider shot:

Hall Closet 1

Since I’m working on the floors the closet will be getting a little more attention coming soon (new floor, door frame, touching up paint, adding another light).

Blog this project : the to do list

I’ve tried really hard not to start a new series or stick to any type of schedule here on the blog because, frankly, I’d rather be working to complete the next project. But then I remember that I do like having a record of the work I’ve done even if I’m the only one who’ll ever read it. So here’s my incomplete list of projects that I’ve completed but never blogged about. My completely arbitrary deadline for getting the posts up is September 15th.

In completely random order:

  1. New shelf + cable management solution for the desk
  2. Flexible lighting solution in the hall closet
  3. Storing books
  4. Medicine cabinet overhaul
  5. Organizing the guest bath cabinet
  6. Hanging TVs on the wall + hiding cables
  7. My new kitchen table + chairs
  8. New pinboard for the office
  9. Planked wall
  10. New chairs for the office and guest room
  11. Curtains and shades updated
  12. Pegboards in the garage
  13. Storing wood in the garage for projects
  14. How I got the new car to fit
  15. Organizing paint for touch ups
  16. Update on the raised garden beds 2 years later
  17. Covering up stains under the kitchen sink
  18. Shoe shelves in the master closet
  19. Organizing travel samples + luggage
  20. Updating hardware on the desk
  21. Sewing case makeover
  22. New privacy film on the garage window
  23. Bookshelf overhaul

And upcoming projects I’m finishing to blog about soon:

  1. New door frames
  2. Gallery wall from Instagram prints
  3. Building side tables for the guest room
  4. Making a rug for the kitchen

I do not doubt that I’ll be adding to this list over time so I’ll just bookmark it in my browser so I can link up the projects as I get them completed and up on the blog. September 15th… only 4 months away!