Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Show & Tell: DIY Vintage Lighting


I <3 vintage lighting. I love school house lights and barn lights. When we moved into Ugly House, there were brass fixtures as far as the eye could see. Well, to be fair, some of them had been "sort-of" updated with more a modern hammered brown colored, but mostly brass remained.

How do you update light fixtures, keep some vintage charm and do everything on a budget?

I have found some hints that I can share with you today.

1. Keeping Existing Fixtures

My first tip is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. We had two simple, but ugly, lights in our hallway and office. They worked just fine, but the glass shades were dated. This was the glass in our hallway light:

Not exactly charming, huh? I wanted something that would be quick, cheap and wouldn't require me to rewire anything. I can always do that later on, but wouldn't it be easier if I could just buy new glass for now and then worry about the entire fixture later on when I don't have an entire kitchen to destroy?

Enter the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I had recently used the Restore to replace a broken shade on a light in our rental. They had a pretty good selection of glass shades and even had school house style shades.

So, I guessed and bought two shades on a whim one day. One large and one small. I figured if they didn't work, I could use them for something else. I think I was out a total of $10.00 for both shades.

What do you know, since there was some flexibility with the screws that kept the shades on, both shades fit. Here is how they looked at that point:

Not bad huh? Nothing overly exciting, but in literally minutes, I had a more vintage feel. They still felt a bit boring though. The brass light fixture is getting a makeover in the form of some Rub n' Buff on the brass. Basically it's a paint you rub in to change the color of metal. Shiny brass no more!

The smaller hall light needed some more color. I was obsessed with this light from Barn Light Electric:

At $116.00, I was going to have to pass. But I thought it was possible to use some left over spray paint to create a smaller brighter version.

Not bad, huh? Now just ignore the popcorn ceilings and ancient smoke detector. We have a plan for the ceilings (project this winter), and we have replaced the smoke detectors with some from this century. So, two more modern lights for around $12.00.

2. Look at Multipurpose Lighting Solutions

The next lights all had different purposes before I decided to reuse them as indoor lighting fixtures.

Barn Light Pendant

This lighting solution came from much Pinteresting and Googling. Once again, I was inspired by my love of Barn Light Electric. However, the lights I was falling in love with were around $229.00. My husband almost exploded when I told him I wanted one. I needed to find a cheaper solution. This is what the light over my sink looks like. Oh and it is about 4 inches off center too. Lovely.

My solution came in the form two different items at Lowe's. 1) A clamp light and 2) A pendant light fixture.

A clamp light is around $5.00. (I got a smaller one) and the pendant fitter was only $10.00 on clearance. When you go to the store, get the clamp light first (found in the section with the other spotlights and shop lights). Take the shade off and go to the pendant aisle. Now try your shade on different pendants until you find a fit. My shade fit perfectly on this pendant. The two looked like this:

That's fine and dandy. I decided I wanted a pop of color, so I spray painted the shade inside white and the outside a light blue color. Another idea is to get a ceiling fan extender pipe. You can fit the cord through the pipe (you may need to paint it to get it to match) and voila, you have a more clean looking hanging pendant that doesn't have a wire showing. Here's what my shade looks like painted (not attached to the hanging pendant. More to come on why I chose not to use the pendant):

Barn Light

Once I had my pendant light all ready to go, we went to remove some cabinets, and we discovered that they had screwed the cabinets to the soffit, from the inside of the soffit. Yes. The inside. So the soffit had to be removed in order to remove the cabinets, which means my light went from hanging from the soffit to coming out from the side wall. I had actually preferred that. I had fallen in love with this barn light from Lowes which was only $29.99. This is an exterior "Dark Sky" light. (Dark sky since the light is focused down and leaves the sky dark).

I still wanted a colorful light. My kitchen is very bland. White cabinets, white back splash, and butcher block counter-tops. I wanted to add in some color with less expensive accessories. So I decided to spray paint this light with the same color combination: blue outside, white inside. With spray paint, this light was $35.00 compared to it's $177.00 Barn Light Electric counterpart. It will look great above my new farmhouse apron front sink.

Here's my light after the spray painting:

Multipurpose Lights & Sales

Our bedroom doesn't have overhead lighting. I am sure we'll eventually want to add it in, but until then, we needed a lighting solution. This light was on clearance at Lowes and was an outdoor chandelier. Perfect plug in lighting solution for our house. I hung the chain in the back part of the our room so when you peek your head in, you don't see the chain immediately.

We also had a seriously ugly old florescent light in our kitchen. I'm not particularly a huge fan of florescent lights, but my husband liked how much light it put off. I decided to replace that particular light with another on clearance Lowes light. Might need to touch up the ceiling where the old light hung. (Or I may wait since we're planning on covering up the popcorn this winter). The old ugly florescent light was moved to our garage and wired in there. It's been fantastic for projects post bedtime.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY Thursday: How to Remove That Ugly Backsplash


The Ugly House is slowly making progress to no longer fitting its nickname. One huge leap occurred over the past three weeks. The infamous red tile is gone. (This red tile really is infamous….I would mention the house we bought to people I just met, and they already knew about the red tile. It has a reputation among fellow Zillow listing stalkers.)

How To Remove Backsplash Tile in 1 Billion Steps

Okay. 1 billion is an exaggeration. (Fun fact, my husband once dumped me when we were dating because I exaggerated too much. No joke.) However, removing ceramic tile really is no joke. It was a solid three weeks of 4-5 hours of work. I am still sore. It was like cross fit for DIY’ers. Okay. Probably more like “Curves” but you get the idea.

**Note: Due to the dust, may of these pictures are blurrier than I'd like. Sorry about the terrible photography!**

Tile Removing Supplies:

Rubber Mallet
Paint Scraper
Window Scraper
Fine Grit Sanding Block
Dust Mask
Optional: Drop Cloth & Painter’s Tape

Wall Patching Supplies:

Oil Based Primer
Paint Brush
Putty Knife (Large and Small)
Joint Compound
Wet Sanding Sponge
Dust Mask
Optional: Drop Cloth & Painter’s Tape

Step One: Removing Tile.

I did a ton of research before I started breaking tile. The first consideration, is the tile even worth removing?

Many people will tell you that removing the drywall is going to be faster and easier than just trying to remove tile & salvaging the drywall. What if you start removing the tile and you destroy the drywall? All your time carefully scraping thin set will be all for not. If you have plaster walls, you have even more decisions to make. Patch drywall back in? Try to save the historic plaster?

We weighed the pros and cons of each. We didn’t want to remove the cabinets until we were ready to replace them, so removing and patching drywall would have been difficult. We also didn’t want to spend the extra money on drywall. (We can spend time scraping, but not the mo-la replacin’)

Removing the tile it was. Now came several tutorials online and You Tube videos to make sure we had the proper technique. It’s pretty simple. You need to use something nice and flat to get under the tile, but avoid gouging the drywall. I tried a putty knife, but it just wasn’t strong enough. A 5 way paint scraper was flat enough to get under the tile but also keep the dry wall in pretty good shape.

(a)     Turn off the power to all outlets and switches you will be working around. My husband learned the hard way that a metal scraper and an exposed outlet don’t mix well. (And they gave this guy a doctorate?)

(b)      You may want to take the time to put down a drop cloth and secure it below the tile with painter tape. The grout creates quite a bit of dust and cleanup is much easier if you can just throw away a drop cloth. Keep in mind, we are trashing our countertops, so we weren’t concerned with getting them dented or dirty. If you have larger tiles, you may want to also cushion the countertops to avoid dents.

(c)      I would slip my scraper up to the grout, tap a couple of times using my rubber mallet until my scraper slid under the tile. For the most part, our tile came down pretty easy. Some corners were tricky since we didn’t have an exposed edge. That’s when we would use the crowbar, although it usually made a nice gouge in the drywall.

(d)      You will want to start with an exposed edge if you have one (if not, you might need to hammer up a tile to have somewhere to start). I did a three foot section and then would scrap the thin set that was left behind.

(e)      Rather than using a trashbag, we chose to use a bucket for tile that came off. I found that helpful hint on one of the pages I read. The tile is sharp and even cuts the flex trash bags. Plus, a bunch of tile is quite heavy. A bucket is a nice sturdy container for tile that comes off the wall.

(f)      Our grout was pretty thick, so each time we took a tile off, the grout would easily come off with it. The grout was a dark black, so there was a ton of black dust in the area. I found that it was necessary to wear a dust mask as I was removing tile. Also, some genius decided to just cover part of the soffet with a layer of grout. That was extremely dusty to scrape off.

Grout and tile on the ceiling/soffit. And a crooked ugly light.

I was so relieved to learn they didn't tile the entire wall behind the fridge...but they had black grout in between and then painted it. So, a ton of dust from scraping!

The glue/thin set. As you can see, the bottom didn't have the skim coat so the drywall came off with the tile.

What the wall looks like after getting some of the glue off. The white portion is the old skim coat.

Step Two: Removing Old Thin Set

We found that getting the tile off the wall wasn’t terribly hard. It seemed to move pretty quick, plus it was fun. The real work as removing the thin set (we are calling it glue) that remained.

Our wall seemed to be a bit unique compared to what I saw online. When the tile was put up (which turns out, from speaking with our neighbors, the tile was put in just a couple of years ago…not the 1980’s that I would have sworn by) they did a skim coat with joint compound. That was a God send. The tile that was stuck to those areas came off without pulling the dry wall off. However, that skim coat didn’t cover everything so some of the tile pulled off the top paper layer of dry wall with it. That can be fixed, but it makes scraping more difficult.

(a)       We found that a combination of the paint scraper and window scraper (The kind that uses a razor blade) worked well. For the areas that were attached to the skim coat, the window scraper cut off part of that layer along with the glue without harming the dry wall underneath. Those areas went quick. For areas next to exposed paper, the paint scraper was a bit gentler to try to remove the glue.

(b)       You may know this, but dry wall is in layers. Layers of paper cover a gypsum core. We only got down to the gypsum layer twice. That’s good. Patching becomes more complicated if you have exposed gypsum. Exposed gypsum cannot come into contact with water. Priming is extra important. If you have exposed paper, use a utility knife to cut the pulled away paper instead of ripping. A nice clean line is better than a jagged rip across the entire piece of drywall.

(c)       Prepare for this to take a long time. Some of the glue came off super easy, but some areas were extremely tedious. I spent an entire evening on a little 12 inch square. My husband doesn’t have a soft touch when it comes to things like this so he was ripping paper like no one’s business. That isn’t a terrible thing, but it does add more work down the line. Best to work slow and steady. And keep that power off to the outlets!

Step Three: Prime

Once you have removed all the glue, you are now ready to prime the remaining dry wall.

First, you need to prep your surface. Look for pieces of paper sticking up. You need to cut those with a utility knife, or you can lightly sand with a fine grit sandpaper…but be careful not to make more rips! Get the remaining dust off the wall. I have a large brush/small broom I use to remove dust when I’m sanding. That worked great.

Now it’s time to prime the wall. This step is VERY important. Listen close.
You must use oil based paint.
No latex. Nothing water based! Dry wall needs to remain dry, and water based primers/paint will cause the exposed areas to bubble. I read a tutorial that said the author just uses random oil based paint he find in the mistint area of the big box stores especially if he’s going to cover up with new tile. It doesn’t matter what you chose, you need to make sure it’s oil based. Now, there is always an exception to the rule. There is one primer on the market that is meant for repairing ripped dry wall and its water based. I believe it’s the Kilz Klear (but I might be wrong on that). I had some Zinsser oil based primer, so I used that to prime my walls. Since we’re replacing the countertops, I didn’t have to tape anything off.

Step Four: Skim Coat

After first skim coat.

After second skim coat.

Now that you have a dried primed wall, you need to do a skim coat with joint compound. I’m no expert at joint compound. This was the first time I had ever used it. Basically you use the putty knife and place the joint compound on the wall much like you ice a cake. Follow the directions on the container. My joint compound had to sit for 24 hours before moving on to the next coat.

Once your joint compound has sat for 24 hours, lightly sand using your wet sanding sponge. These sponges are pretty much the best invention ever. No drywall dust to cover everything in your home. You just need to lightly sand…I got a bit crazy with my first sanding and ended up having to do extra coat.

For my second layer, I looked and felt what was uneven and only did a skim coat in those areas. I repeated my waiting and sanding process from before. On the last coat I filled in the large holes that still needed some extra compound to even out. Is it perfect? No. Would have new dry wall been better? Perhaps. I am not versed in doing dry wall (it’s been about 10 years since I’ve done it), so it probably would have been equally uneven.

Step Five: Prime & Paint.

Go ahead and do another coat of primer. You can use water based at this time if you wish to, or use a paint and primer in one. On the areas that are getting tile in the future, I just did primer. On areas that are going to remain painted, I did a Paint & Primer in one. Olympic One is my all-time favorite brand, so that’s what I used.

Side note on the paint color. I picked this grey because I loved it my old house. I do like this color in our living room, but it seems to have turned really blue in the kitchen. I can’t figure out if it’s the lighting or the fact it’s going over the tan in some places, but I’m not so sure I like the color. Might need to change that in the future.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Show & Tell: $5.00 Picture Ledges, The Sequel


I've been a bit quiet on the blog over the past week because we've been in full on kitchen remodel mode. I plan on doing a tutorial on how to remove tile back splash next, because, YES we have finally removed all the red tile! Can I get a hallelujah? To tie everyone over until then I thought I would share a little quick project I did during nap time Sunday. Yes. Completely done during 1 nap time. Not to mention, the entire project cost me $5.00.

I'd like to take the credit for the idea to create picture ledges, but the credit goes all to Ana White (formally Knock Off Wood). It was one project that didn't require fancy power tools that I didn't have, and it was easy and cheap. That's how I like my projects...and men? No wait. That's not right.

I have made these picture ledges previously with the aid of my husband for our daughter's bedroom. They made the trip to our new home and are working perfectly 4 years later.  And they stand up to the abuse of a 4 year old hanging off them!

But, I wanted some for myself, and I had the perfect place in Ugly House's living room. Plus I am now more proliferate in how to use power tools so I wanted to do it all by myself. Well...I did have to go ask my neighbor how to connect my air hose to my new air compressor. (Husband was out on a call). Thank goodness for handy nice neighbors!

So, here's the break down of the cost of this project and how I saved time and money. I knew I didn't want huge long shelves like I did with my daughter. So, I didn't need to buy long pieces of wood (huge plus when you don't have a truck to haul wood). I went down the prefinished wood aisle at Lowe's and picked up each board for under $1.00. Plus, no cuts were needed since they were already 4 feet long. Once I had the boards home, I just had to do a very light sanding, and then using wood screws and my air nail gun (my first time using this Christmas gift I got from my parents!), the boards took maybe 15 minutes to connect. Quick coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint, and the boards were ready to be hung before the kids even woke up.

Beautiful right? I'm one of those people that doesn't like to sugar coat my projects. Isn't that grey color wonderful? Well...errr. I'm not done with my painting. I just painted enough to hang these shelves. This is the reality of my living room right now.

And to give a more realistic view of our house mid-renovation, here's the kitchen, banister, and trim. I'll be done in a month.**crosses fingers**



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Show & Tell: Staining VICTORY!


A few weeks ago I shared my terrible experience with staining. I had to redeem myself, and I think my new coffee table has done just that.

I did a thrift shopping spree when we first moved into Ugly House in June. I picked up a hairpin leg coffee table at a garage sale. It was covered in green contact paper. I wasn't impressed. The contact paper ripped within a few minutes of being home so it had to go. Plus I knew it could be better.

Before I made a decision on what to do with the tabletop, I wanted to see what I was dealing with under the contact paper. It appeared from looking under the tabletop that it was a solid wood top.

Once I removed the contact paper, which took maybe 10 minutes, I was introduced to a "beautiful" stenciled ivy motif. It was almost as beautiful as the contact paper especially with the big chunks of flaking paint. I was almost tempted to put contact paper back on it. (Apparently I was so appalled, I didn't bother to take a picture of the ivy)

I decided that since there was some wood peeking through and the paint seemed ready to fall off on its own, I would try my hand at staining....again. I hate using stripper mostly due to the clean up involved, so I attempted to sand off the paint. After about a week of working on it, and only getting half way done, I decided that I needed to bring in the big guns and start stripping the paint.

I got a bunch of disposable supplies along with my low fume stripper and went to work. It was a stubborn table. It took two coats of the stripper and a good cleaning with steel wool and sandpaper.

This is what my table was looking like pre-stain:

It was the moment of truth. Was I going to screw up the stain again? Would I be destined to a life of painted furniture? Would I finally find my calling as a professional stripper and stainer...errr maybe not the stripper part. ;)

I did one coat of the stain (Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut). I thought the color was pretty amazing so I stopped while the getting was good. After drying for 15 hours, I started with the poly. Two coats of poly with a sanding in between, and I had a really beautiful table. I'm so glad I bought this ugly table sitting in the corner of a garage. It fits perfectly with my farmhouse and mid-century love. My husband even likes it. And I may have proved to him that I can stain our new butcher block counter tops...or I might just let him handle that. One table does not a professional woodworker make...

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