June 27, 2012

#190- Hanging an Antler Chandelier

I'm not going to lie to you, living in this house has been pretty fun lately.  We've had our share of extremes since we moved in over a year ago, from excitement, to depression, to exhaustion and everything in between.  There was something so frustrating and defeating about working into the midnight hours every single night for months on end, and waking up every morning to a gross construction zone.  I would look at other blogs with all these gorgeous and well decorated homes, and be filled with jealousy.  

We kept at it though.  Instead of giving up, we pushed it into overdrive.  We were going to have the house we wanted to live in, even if it killed us.  Fourteen months later a lot of the tough stuff is done, and we're finally getting on to the business of decor and personal touches.  And there is one touch we've had in mind since the beginning, that we finally got a chance to concur.


Above is a photo of our Loft, as viewed from the Living Room.  From the start we wanted to tear down that dated, beige-yellow track lighting and replace it with a statement piece.  Something that said Modern Natural Lodge, and gave the house a little character and intent.  I wanted an antler chandelier here.  Badly. 

Problem #1- Do you have any idea how expensive antler chandeliers are?  Every time I found one to swoon over, I would fall out of my chair at the price.  We are not the type of household that can spend $800+ on a light fixture.  (Or anything for that matter. #CheapDIYers)

Problem #2- Do you know how hard it is to find/acquire antlers to make your own chandelier?  I suppose this answer depends on where you live and the type people you know, but for me, it was as impossible as me getting into my skinny jeans right now. 

So when the Hubs sent me a Craigslist listing of a local guy selling an antler chandy for just $150, I was at the guy's house within 4 hours.  When I got there I was a little disappointed to find that the chandy was natural, not all white as he had shown in his listing, but used this to bargain a bit and got the piece for $125!  It was still in the Styrofoam in the box, never even taken out.  I attempted to hold in my party dance until I left his house, but I couldn't control my bootie and did a little conga on the way out to the car.  

The first step was to take down the old fixture, which we were pretty worried about since it was anchored into the natural wood tongue and groove ceilings.  We were pleasantly surprised that the holes in the wood were small and all but invisible, and there was no discoloration or anything on the ceiling once it came down.  Party rock was in the house. 

Unfortunately the ceiling box was way off centered on the wall, which meant we would have to swag the light.  I don't love that, but short of removing and reinstalling the entire ceiling full of panels, there wasn't much we could do.  We quickly moved on.

I knew almost immediately that I was going to spray the chandy white, but the Hubs wanted to at least see what it would look like natural, so we took 10 minutes to quickly hang up the light and take a look.  Because compromise (and proving your spouse wrong) is what marriage is all about.

Hubs took the bad boy back down in failure, and brought it out to the patio to spray with many, thin coats of a gloss white. 

After a good 48 hours of dry time, we brought it back in wired it up.  Here's a quick before pic of the Loft that sort of shows the old lighting. (Not to mention the gross carpet and rug, halleluiah for that replacement!)

And here it is now with the new light:

I love how it gives a certain feel to the whole house, as you can see it from the Living Room too:

My only concern was that the six 40 watt bulbs would be way less light than the 6 spots on the track lighting, but actually, I think this baby provides more light.


 Since the lights on this fixture point up instead of down, they seem to illuminate the whole wood ceiling,  really making the room feel warm, and well.... lodgey.  Yep- that's a word.  Don't bother to look it up, just trust me. 

Both the Hubs and I realized that this might be one choice in the house that is pretty personalized.  I mean I'm not sure why, but I gather that not everyone loves a good antler chandy as much as I do.  But in the end, for just $125 and 30 minutes of work, we're thrilled with what this piece adds to the room.  From the beginning the goal was to take this strange house and embrace the things that made it cool and unique, while downplaying the things that made it feel 80's and dated.  Now we just need to find a rug for this room, which I hope to post about shortly.

What do you think?  Anyone else made a daring lighting choice lately?  Or chose an upgrade in their house that you know isn't for everybody, but you don't care because it's really for you?  I mean if this is our forever house, then I really shouldn't care what potential buyers think, right?  Heaven help us if we ever try to move again!

June 25, 2012

The Main Bath Reveal

Here it is, FINALLY- the Main Bath reveal.  Let me start by grossing you out with a few before pics:

Is the grout brown or just dirty?

So many light bulbs, such an ugly space

The rain shower mural in the tub. 

Disgusting (although clean in this photo) grout, caulk and mortar.

Goopy pink finish on the walls.

And now if you are still holding onto your morning breakfast, I give you the new room:

How about that sliding door I built?  I can't believe that it actually fit perfectly in the room, the first time.  That has to be a record for me.  I installed it with a sliding door track (the same one I used for my Master Bathroom Closet Doors.)

Along the bottom I installed a small dowel on the floor in the corner which fits into the grove I cut on the bottom of the door and will keep the door from pushing forwards or backwards.

I love that this dowel is completely hidden, and there's no bottom track on the floor that we'd have to step over.   This door will be open most of the time, but here's what it would look like when one of our kiddos wants to use the potty while the other brushes their teeth.

We didn't add a lot of accessories to this room as we wanted a natural, minimal feel, but this shower curtain and matching rug from West Elm, as well as this pair of dandelion photos we found at Ikea, are the perfect fit.

Here's a look back at both of the photos from the other side. Ryder loves to pick and blow "Dandies", so we thought these pictures not only fit the space, but were perfect in his bathroom. 

A peak at them through the mirror

I can't keep my hands off the recycled glass tile accent we added.  Seriously, I like to pet it.  It was a bit of a risk, but I think its neutral enough that it adds a lot to the room without being overpowering.

Some green glass accessories from Ikea add to the natural vibe of the space.

Another super fun detail that we added was lighting underneath the floating vanity, which not only accentuates the open floor space down there but provides a really cool nightlight to the room.  The lights are plugged into an outlet directly under the vanity, and that outlet is controlled by a switch right at the door so its just a flick of the switch to turn them on.

This matching step stool from Ikea was worth every penny ($24) to have a nice looking stool available for the kiddos that will likely be on on the floor in here for another 5 years or so.

While it's tricky to photograph this small space, the area above the toilet got some additional storage for towels, extra TP and baby wipes.  (A must in a kiddo's bath.)

And just so you don't have to scroll up and down, here's the direct before and afters:

I am so in love with this bathroom, its my favorite of all 3 that we accomplished in this house in the first year. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this, but whoever planned this house must have been a mom, because my other favorite room in the house, the Laundry Room is directly across the hall from the Main Bath.  Each night I can safety keep an eye on my little guy in the tub while getting some time in the Laundry to load up and fold a basket or two.  It doesn't even feel like work, and now I get to stand in one beautiful room and look across to the other.  (With the bonus of the fantastic wood floors in the hallway to boot!)

I can't tell you what a difference this bath has made to the house.  It used to be the "Can you believe how awful this is?" spot on the tour, but now its one of my favorites to show.  This house has come a long way baby in 14 short months, and we've worked our above-average sized tails off to get it there.  (I shouldn't put the Hubs in that category.  He actually has a very fine backend if you wanted to know.)   But it's all starting to come together now and really feels like the home we had pictured in our minds back when we put in the offer and our realtor thought we were crazy.  Not that its anywhere close to done... but at least we don't look insane for buying it anymore.

So let me have it- what do you think?  Does it fit the modern natural vibe we were going for?  Do you think it is too particular to our tastes, or neutral enough that most home owners would like it?  Anyone else have any fun bathroom remodel stories to share?

PS- If you're interested in the full details of any project, you can check out all these Main Bath posts:

June 22, 2012

Building the Bathroom Sliding Door

Hey!  Whatever happened to the Main Bath remodel?  I admit it folks, I fell off the wagon and after 2 bathroom remodels in 3 months, I was spent.  In fact, the last time I showed you the Main Bath was over 2 months ago when our toilet went back in

Really, I have a good excuse.  Once the toilet was in we were fully functional, and the only thing that was left to complete the room was the door, and I wanted to get the door in before I shared with you all the big reveal.    The problem was that door took a little longer than expected.  Partially because I took a break, partially because the glass I ordered online took a long time, was wrong and had to be sent back for new stuff... there's a lot of excuses.  So let's stop with the labor pains and just take a look at the baby. 

To start, I went to one of my favorite lumber yards in the world, Young Blood Lumber in North East Minneapolis, which has been around since 1887.  I love everything about this place from the huge selection of all types of wood, the smell, the really helpful staff that have been working there for decades... I seriously feel as though I'm amongst my people.  I worked up a sketch to the exact height and width I needed in advance so I knew exactly what I would need, and I found some fantastic, true 1 inch (5/4) hard maple boards.

Sketch to proportion of the door

Once I got home, I ripped and cut my wood to the correct size, and started to lay it out.

How pretty is that wood, right?

 Before I put anything together, I lowered the blade of my table saw and routed through a channel across the bottom of the door.  More on that later.

 To put together the door, I didn't want to use the same pocket screw plan as I used when I built the big, bad, closet doors for our Master Bathroom, since both sides of this door would be visible.  Instead I used wooden dowels, a dowling jig, wood glue and clamps.

The Jig on the far left is my Dad's, but I ended up not using it.  The other little kit was so much easier. 
 I found this sweet kit at Home Depot that made lining up the dowels in all the right places a breeze.  It came with this drill bit with a stop ring so that I couldn't drill into the wood too far.

 I drilled into my boards:

 And then put the handy little markers into my drilled holes:

Then I lined up my two boards exactly where I wanted them to join together, and gave my pre-drilled board a tap, which left these small marks in the other board:

 Which was a perfect guide for where to drill the other set of holes.  Then I used a little glue (both in my dowel holes and on the edge of the wood, placed in my two dowels, and inserted one board into the other.

 Then I clamped the boards overnight to get a nice, strong bond.  I made sure to wipe up all the excess glue completely with a wet rag, which is key if you want your stain and finished piece to look good.

 Once the door frame was all put together it was time to put in the glass.  First I used the scraps from trimming my wood boards to rip a bunch of 3/8" x 3/8" window stop.  Basically that's really thin strips of wood that will hold the glass in place.

 Once I had all the strips ripped, I cut them down to perfectly fit my glass openings.

When they were all cut, I used wood glue and 1/2" finishing nails with my nail gun to tack them in flush with the front of the door.  After some sanding and a little wood putty where necessary, you could barely tell where the stops were added.

Then I flipped over the door.  See the perfect little glass holding ledge that was made?

Like a glove:

After looking all over the Minneapolis area and not finding glass I was happy with, I found a great site- www.eplastics.com.  Since this is a bathroom for the kiddos, I knew that real glass, even if it was tempered, wasn't a good idea.  (Years of fighting over the shower and slamming this door play over through my head.)   Instead I went with a thick, 1/4" acrylic plexiglass with a frosted finish.  Unfortunately the first ones they sent did not look like the frosted glass I had in mind at all, it was a semi-transparent white piece of plastic. Thankfully the folks at ePlastics are incredibly helpful over there, and when I called they pointed out a product that they had that was more what I was looking for, and made the return.  In fact, since my white pieces were already pre-cut, they didn't even ask me to return them, they just refunded me the cash and charged me for the new ones.   ePlastics also cut my 4 pieces exactly to my size, so I couldn't have been more happy with their service.  (PS- I wasn't compensated at all from ePlastics, I just had a great experience ordering from them and thought you should know.)

But we digress... on to the back side of the door I again cut all the window stops to the correct lengths, but instead of installing these I labeled each one so I would remember exactly where it goes and set them to the side.  

Then I removed the glass, flipped her back over and stained the front.  I figured staining the first side without the glass in it would avoid any issues with the finish getting on my glass.  Before I started the staining though,  I must have spent at least an hour sanding my new baby, first with 60 grit and then a fine 300.  Then I tested a bunch of different finish types on a scrap of the maple to see what I liked the best.  (With/without prestain, with natural colored stain, oil based poly, water based poly.)  The choice was just oil based poly, as it brought out the natural color of the maple, and made almost a perfect match to the vanity.

After the first side got 3 coats of poly and dried for 24 hours, I flipped the door, added in the glass and installed the window stops.  Again I sanded for-ev-er, then vacuumed up all the dust and put 3 coats of poly on this side.  Here's a sneak peak:

Try not to judge me for the messy garage.  There's always a new project in here taking over the space.
My Hubs keeps asking what we saved building it ourselves, and the real answer is that since this door needed to be exactly 33 1/2" wide and 87 1/4 " tall, it would have been impossible to buy one exactly like we needed.  A few calls to local custom build shops quoted me anywhere from $1-2K for this door though, so I'm pretty happy with the $200 total price tag.  

With the door built, it was all over but the hanging. Get ready because on Monday I'm FINALLY going to show you the Main Bath before and afters.  What was formerly the most disgusting room in the house hands down, is now one of my favorites. What do you guys think of the door though?  It took a lot of time and patience to get this just right, but I'm pretty excited about the results. 

As a reminder, here's what we've done so far: