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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Backyard Patio: Tree stump to Day Bed

You know what I realized as I set out to write this post? I completely skipped out on showing you how we turned the stump into a bench in the first place! So this post got twice as long, oops...If you aren't caught up on all the backyard going-ons, I've been trying to tidy up this project for a bit - you can read up in these posts.

So you've seen this picture in some of my updates:
Well as much as I wish that bench would have magically appeared on it's own, it didn't. We had to get real crafty on it, and it was no easy task. Here's what we had interrupting our deck:
Big ol' stump.  Whoever cut it down decided keeping the stump & building a deck around it was a better idea than removing it.  So we inherited it, and after brainstorming for weeks we got hooked on the idea of a large, outdoor daybed/couch type dealy.  The first hurtle was figuring out a seat.

(Now, if you like this idea but don't have your own stump, you can build this over any frame. Even two wine barrels would work. Or just four sturdy legs.Or two piles of pallets secured together to be the right height. Anything.)

After Ralph leveled out the bumps as best he could, (Sander with 80 grit paper!) it was time to devise a sturdy seat.  We played around with some spare wood, seeing what arrangement they needed to be to maximize space.  Plus we were trying to see if we needed to build some sort of frame, etc. Some boards didn't make the cut:
Well it turned out the simplest idea was the best, and building right on top of the stump seemed strongest. After cutting our boards to size and placing them on the stump, we flipped the whole thing over face down (keep the same order in mind!) & braced them with more spare wood.  I made sure to pre-drill some pilot holes so the deck screws wouldn't split the 2 x 2 braces in half.
These wood screws are the best, they come with that little star bit. I was skeptical, but they work amazingly better than a standard philips:
I used the same wood screws to screw down into the stump.  HERE IS ONE OF MY MISTAKES. When the platform we had just build was one piece, we set it on the stump. Amazingly, all was level! So I started drilling down into the stump, and as wood does, things twisted and turned creating a few uneven moments in our lives.  I suggest, if YOU are working on a stump, to look underneath and add some wood shims where needed. This would have solved everything. EVERYTHING!

But in the name of progress, I carried on, adding some custom legs until most things were level:
There was still the tiniest bit of unevenness in some areas, which is unnoticeable when you sit on it. This, helped me decide to make the chunkiest seat cushion on the planet.
Then I sealed the whole thing is the Spar Urethane from our bar project.
Now you are all caught up! It's time to get some arms on this puppy! I've said it before and said it again, sometimes you have to be flexible and let your project be your guide.  The original plan for arms & a backrest was the oh-so-popular Pipe & Flange construction. (Like these).  BUT!!! Do you know how expensive pipes can get? It's the flanges that are the worst! So the total, without lumber, for the pipes on this couch was $180.  I bought it, sat in the car in shock for a second, and then returned it. Yes, I was that horrible person in the return line with like 800 tiny pieces. If this was going to be some gorgeous shelf inside our home, OK - I'll spring for it. But this was to be armrests. Hidden by pillows. OUTSIDE. Not worth $180 in my book.

Our new plan, was to not be lazy and figure something out with the 2x4's we had on hand. This brings out cost down by like $170. Seriously down to like $10. 

I imagined & then designed this shape:
This, would be, an armrest, that also acts as a back brace. Now, it will make sense in a few photos, but it's on it's side here.  The bottom longest side matches the depth of our bench, and the height of the armrest is about 14" (front).  The top of the armrest is the same length as the bottom, minus the thickness of the backrest. The backrest is the piece that sticks up past the rest.
All pieces were cut with 45 degree angles.  I added wood glue, the corner clamp, and shot some nails in using my nail gun that I bought for our downstairs bathroom ceiling project.  Because I'm paranoid, I still shot some wood screws down into the 2x4's after. If you think yours will get heavy use, throw some "L" brackets on the interior of this puppy.
So you need two of these. Identically the same. Then you just place them on your surface, and measure the length you want the back pieces.  Start chopping your spare wood:
Once my pieces were cut, I laid the armrest / backrest on their backsides, and starting playing around with board spacing:
I used a spare 2 x 2 to evenly space the boards before I glued & nailed them in as well:
Once everything feels secure, stand it up. If things feel wobbly, lay it back down and reinforce with either more nails or some wood screws.  Everything can be painted afterwards.
Now it looks like a bench!  With this technique you can easily, and cheaply, add a back to many different surfaces. Upon closer inspection:
Since we had a mix of wood, old & new, redwood & pine, we decided paint was best. We used an exterior paint here, since this would be outdoors.  We used or paint sprayer that connects to the air compressor, but if you don't have that, consider painting your pieces before assembly, and touching up afterward.
You can see the left side is sticking up a bit, this is because one of my boards was acting squirrely and twisty, but I knew it would settle down in a bit. And it did! After lining the backrest into it's permanent spot, more deck screws went down the bottom sides of the armrests into the platform.  Then we staged for fun:
See that lovely giant cushion? Haha... well it got SUPER fluffy when I had it on it's side for the day, so we were forced to nap on it to get it back down to normal. What a pain....

No pillows:
 Pillows:



I joke about this area looking like a Southern Mexican restaurant, because it got super colorful on us. I guess neither Ralph nor myself can say no to color. With each project we had that moment of "what do we paint this?" and the answers were almost always something bright.  I'm amazed we got as much white in there as we did, but I think it really ties things together nicely & adds a sweet trim.

Ok so NOW it's our cantina patio I think....:
Now there are still little details to this zone I'm finishing, but for the most part I think the big stuff can be considered done!

Before:
After:

Oh, Happy first day of October!

-Jesse


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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Modern Stool Makeover

Hello World! Well, I'm waiting for the sun to come out so I can shoot some pretty shots of the backyard bench that we FINALLY finished! I'm so. so. SO happy to be done with that thing. It was the biggest hurtle back there, and with it out of the way I feel like I can do whatever I want. I'm free! If you want to travel back and see what I'm talking about, hop over here.

But in the meantime, let me share the easiest little makeover on the planet, whose technique can be applied to so many pieces of furniture.  It has a modern look that's easy to achieve. Piece of cake as they say. (Is cake easy?)
Start with a simple piece of furniture. Pretty much anything made of plywood is likely to have very simple edges. Here's mine:
A certain stool from IKEA called Frosta is made of flat edge plywood, and is pretty common to find in the thrift shops. Or, I guess, Ikea itself. My stool here I SWEAR is from a daycare furniture set. I worked in daycare for 1,000 years - believe me, I know this stuff. It's super glossy plywood furniture.  I found this beast in our local thrift shop, for $1. I'm guessing it was too rough to make it home with anyone else. Lucky me! Just look for something flat, with flat edges. That's the best.

In the spirit of keeping it clean & modern, I painted all the interior legs white.
White used to  be a rare color choice for me, but I've really come to appreciate it lately & I'm hooked.  I'm using a plain white gloss paint, the gloss also helps down the line when you're staining, you can quickly wipe off any drips.  While your painting the interior flat edges,  don't worry too much about getting on the main edges. If anything, you WANT to overlap a little.  Because you can do this after:
Using a fine sandpaper (#220) on my sander, I gave a quick, flat swipe down the sides to remove my overpainting issues.  See how clean that got?

Up next, Pre-Stain the areas of the stool you're going to stain:
Love this stuff. I never used to use it, and then when I finally tried it? Worth it! You only have to wait about 15 minutes before you can start  the real deal. I'm using, Dark Walnut of course:
Just make sure that the pre-stain conditioner you are using is the same type as your stain. In my case, both are oil based. If your stain is waterbased, use a water based conditioner. Makes sense.

Stain the top & the legs.  I have a pile of old T-shirts, and I just cut a good square out and I dip right into the stain. That's my favorite way to stain wood, I'm not the biggest fan of the brush method - but to each their own.  Also, the T-shirt way helps you cleanly stain the edges:
That's my lil T-shirt square. just a tiny dab, and carefully stain the edges.  If you have any drips on the white, quickly wipe it off with another square of T-shirt that DOESN'T have the stain. Faster!

Let it dry, give it a coat of your favorite clear coat (I use Minwax Polycrylic, Satin in this case)
That's it! This is the perfect addition to our wildly colored patio, and ties in the white from one of our tables, the white in the rugs, the white in the banister behind the barstools, and as you'll SOON see, the white backing on our big bench/daybed thingy.
Plus it's handy for a short person like me. Whenever a light bulb goes out on our string lights, I can hop right up all by myself.  The rest of the time, it's a cute little floater stool that offers a seat, anytime anyplace.

Flashback....
If yours has screws in the top like mine, and they bother you, you could always screw them down a little farther - fill them with wood putty - sand & stain. I, didn't really care about them, and left them.

OK I'm off to photoshoot the backyard, can't wait to show you! Have a great rest of your week & a wonderful weekend, get out there and enjoy the days before winter hits - yikes!

-Jesse


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

String Update! September 2014...

Wow, a rainy day? This is great! We are in the middle of one of our worst droughts out here in California, so I'm not going to complain about rain at ALL. It's so refreshing, and it's forcing me to work inside for once. Yay, computer time! (I'm an addict).

So in string-land, here's what I've been up to lately.  When we were gearing up for our first show ever (Santa Cruz Mountains Makers Market!)and I was stringing as much as I could. I wanted something new, and just coming back from Hawaii Ralph suggested Aloha....how appropriate:

I think I can pretty much say it's my new favorite! It was reserved for sale by a friend literally minutes after I posted it on Facebook, so these are now made to order. Which means you can swap out the colors! Click here to hop over to Etsy.

A bit before all that I made this neat two tone one for the giveaway on Better After:

I guess it's technically 3 color, since the stripe in the middle is natural. Oops, three tone.  Also for sale here.

Here's one I made for myself, because it seems like lately I'm obsessed with all things faceted.  I don't know where these obsessions come from, but I'm rolling with it...

I'm keeping that one, but you can order them in the shop....clicky here!

Speaking of faceted, I'm continuing down the rabbit hole & found a great way to make my letters in this style too... Click here for a direct link to Etsy. 
And naturally, diamonds... 

One last link here for Diamond.  Lots more going on here, Marilyn Monroe sold so I'm going to be creating something big & new to fill her shoes soon, which I'm super happy about because my idea list is longer than my time allows.

Thanks for browsing my newbies!


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Backyard Brick Patio: A Quick Update

Hello again! I'm still around, I hope you haven't forgotten me! Summer has been wild & crazy in all the right ways, but the downside is that I've totally neglected blogtime.  Womp! Between vacations, string projects & the Maker's Market (a first for my sister and I!) I've been a busy boy. Warning, this is a long, picture heavy post - I recommend a coffee refill...

Yet - I still found pockets of time here & there to chip away at the long list of ideas for the brick patio.  While I admit, I am not ready to lay all these out in tutorial form yet, I figured it would still be fun to play around with the camera so you could see what's been changing, and so you know I didn't fall off the face of the earth.

So, here is where we are right about now -
Aaaaw... isn't that lovely.  This is one of my favorite times of day out there, it's about 3ish... sun comes blasting through, and with all the bright colors we've been adding this is now by far our cheeriest patio. Hands down. Oh, so you may think at this point "That is NOT brick" and you're right. This area of the brick patio is wood, but the bulk of the rest is brick and I had to call it something. You'll see the overwhelming brick side in phase 2. Here's another angle:
I'm a total sucker for a good depth of field shot. Mainly what I love about the background being blurry, is it gives you a nice little color swatch of the area, highlighting what's most dominant without focusing on the details of the items. Ok mainly it just looks coool...
This little stool I found at a thrift store for ONE DOLLAR.  I swear it's from a childcare set (you know how those lofts & such are always built of over polished plywood? Yea, that was this) Oh lucky us, I found a photo:
I turned it into this:
With all the wild colors going on, I wanted some more white, and I thought this stool was the perfect candidate.  I'll post a friendly tutorial soon, but in short I painted the insides of the legs first, sanded off the edges where any paint overlapped, and stained the top & edges in dark walnut. Very... carefully...

Now for the stools! (If you haven't seen the bar area, click here to go read)
In a complete impulse decision at Home Depot, Ralph and I grabbed a yellow paint card and ordered a sample of 5 different yellows that were in a row.
Sunny & bright!
The fade is pretty subtle, you know I love ombre & I couldn't care less if it's "trending" or not anymore, I think it just. looks. great.
These aren't quite done, we have to adjust the heights & sand, stain & seal the tops. Thinking dark walnut? I should be responsible and give the paint color names, I always feel horrible when I lose these & people write me asking for them. So here goes, from left to right, all paints are BEHR:

  1. Extreme Yellow
  2. Smiley Face
  3. Yellow Jubilee
  4. Banana Mania
  5. Vanilla Ice Cream
Up next, a random angle shot that highlights the fun fluorescent pink table we have. I guess I could have cleaned it before taking a photo, but you know how it goes. I'm lazy. These two metal tables were also thrift store finds, around $12 each:

Here's the before, lots of rust that you can't really see here:
I was browsing craigslist for tables when I saw a bamboo & glass coffee table that immediately begged for me to email the owner. I imagined solid white, with a glass top, on top of this crazy rug, but alas, it was sold.  But the simple, glass table idea stuck, and now we have these pups.
So pretty! If you're wondering about the rug situation, a large rag rug was beyond $200, so I am taking 6 (or maybe 8 by the time I get to this project) smaller rugs that were $5 each, and stitching them together to make a large rug. $30-$40 vs. $200, I think I will come out ahead.

Close up of pinky, with it's possible accessories:
It's always so hard for me to be patient and wait to accessorize a space. I start collecting things from the house, thrift stores, wherever & begin immediately.  I end up redoing it like 10 times before we're "done" (let's be serious, nothing is ever done).

Ah... another fun blurry & colorful shot... so happy the deer are completely uninterested in this fern:
Aren't the colors fun?? I love them!  Oh, see that giant blue pad on the bench to the left there? Let's talk about that thing.. So first we had built a bench over that crazy stump:
It was a medium pain that we'll touch on someday. Since it is so big though, I imagined a large... couch style seat... almost like a daybed. So I made a cushion from a moving blanket! It sounded cheap, durable, large & easy. Perfect for something that can potentially be ruined by the outdoors.

I folded the blanket in half, and sewed it up like a sleeping bag, leaving the top open:
Then I found this foam online for super cheap, (find it here!) it's shredded poly, and was about $14 for 13.5 cubic feet! Shipping was around $16 to California, and came in a small cube the size of a milk crate. But expanded to this once I opened it:
Again, in another tutorial I can over-explain how EASY it was to get the filling into my sleeping bag type pillow, and sealed it up to be this:
Winchester immediately approved!
Now I know it looks enormous, and that's because it is - but I was confident (er..really hopeful!) that it would squish down as time went by. Which, update, it has.
It's the coziest cushion ever. When you sit on it, you can't feel the bench underneath, and it's so big you could sprawl out & nap.  The current project for this bench is adding arms, a back, & pillows upon pillows. Upon pillows! Mark my words, I will nap here one day, soon.

Another project was taking one of these oh-so-common light fixtures & turning it into a planter.  You see a lot of people turning these into terrariums, but some of the glass was already broken so I had to improvise...
Plus the glass was tinted & I wasn't into it.  I kept the top 8 panels in, since that will be my planter, and had a little fun with spray paint:
I used the TOP as the planter because it is the side with the closed panel, in-case you tackle this yourself.  And here we go:
I primed the glass & then painted copper right over it.  I used a little tape to keep a clean line for my cyan top section, the middle is plain brass, and the bottom is copper.
I chose a perennial I hoped would survive, and planted away:
It's no terrarium, but it's a perfect little cage. You could probably plant a fun annual vine on here & it would look great climbing the structure.
Oh, here's what it looked like before... I held onto this stupid thing for 3 YEARS... I'm so embarrassed, but happy to finally have given it a life other than the one behind our dryer...
I totally kept that center light fixture by the way, I can't resist a fun light fixture... I couldn't fight my inner hoarder on that one.

So there you have it, I'm still around, still balancing too many projects, and finally feel like I'm seeing the finish line on this back patio.  On a dose-of-cute note,  we adopted a new kitten from the shelter... his name is Hamilton.  See, Winchester moved in a year ago, and he's an indoor maine coon who loves to play, and we felt so bad that he was all alone in here! (No more outdoor kittens, the cars drive too fast here & we lost Reuben that way)  The other two cats (you read that right, other TWO) only come inside for about 5 minutes a day - Tyler moved out (he fell in love with the neighbors, and they are all very happy it's adorable) and Charcoal loves the outdoors, so we hang out with her out there.  So Winchester, now has Hamilton (anyone from Campbell will know those street names!) and the two absolutely love each other:



Have a wonderful Wednesday! What projects are you working on?  Huge thank you to those who wrote me during my hiatus to check in, that was so nice to hear from you!  Definitely motivated me to take a breather & hop back on here...feels good..

-Jesse

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