Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 30, 2011

How to Stain Wood with Water Based Stain - Our DIY Desks' Surface

I'm a tease.  Hubby & I have finally put together the desk we have been planning to build since July.  BUT, I have to let the desk surface cure for a week (which is cruel and unusual punishment) before putting anything on it.  I don't want to introduce you to the desk when it is naked.  I'm not "staging" it, but at least adding the lamps I bought would be nice.  Right now it looks so lonely.

Because the glossy top turned out better than I imagined, I thought I'd post about the surface today and then reveal the desk and the welding tutorial next week.  Picture me hovering near the desk, tightly gripping a lamp, in anticipation.

Without further ado . . . here is the desk surface, in our gloriously ugly basement, a.k.a the pit of despair (more on our basement makeover plans in the next couple of weeks too):

Whitewashed Wood

Whitewashed Wood

Glossy, no?

How to Cheat:

We had planned on building a surface, like Hubby did for my vintage treadle sewing machine desk, but while we were at Lowe's shopping for lumber, we stumbled upon this display:

Seriously, look at the sweet price:

One of these pre-fab surfaces was the exact size we needed and it saved us hours and hours and hours of work in our freezing garage.  Sold! 

But it looked at little too knotty for my liking.  Hubby is against painted wood (hence the wood-y kitchen we've maintained) so, because it is his desk, I opted for a stain.

How to Stain Wood White:

1. We lightly sanded the top and edges because the board was pretty sharp as-is.
2. We wiped it clean with a dry cloth.
3. Pouring a bit onto foam brush at a time (as per the instructions), we applied Saman water based stain and it was fantastic! 

After the fact, I learned that this brand of water based stain can be mixed for custom colours.  I opted for "whitewash".

Whitewashed Wood

How to use water-based stain

Why we loved this stain (and this is my own opinion, Saman execs don't even know I exist, let alone that I'm giving the company mad love):
  • Water based = easy clean up
  • Low odour, making it perfect for indoor projects
  • No overlapping marks
  • Really awesome coverage
With just one 8 oz. bottle we applied four coats, making the wood almost opaque but still grain-y and wood-y for the Hubs.

How to Make a Varnished Surface Super Glossy:

We used Varathane brand (click here to see the can's English side - oops) Premium Diamond Wood Finish in clear gloss.  It, too, is water-based and although meant for outdoor items, worked just fine for a desk.  The helpful salesman at Canadian Tire who sold me my tiny first can of varnish is not as obsessed with glossiness as me.  When I bought my second can, this time at Home Hardware, the helpful salesman there suggested I buy a bigger can.  I'll use the rest, he reasoned.  He's smart.

Oh, tiny first can.  How quickly we parted ways.

I applied EIGHT coats to get the desk surface glassy-glossy and I love the result.  In the office, it just glows.

How to Varnish:

1. Lightly sand any grain that has been raised during the staining process.
2. Wipe thoroughly with a dry cloth
3. Ensure surface is free of debris (I missed this step - crap).
4. Apply varnish using a foam or bristle brush (don't go cheap - my brush left fuzzies I noticed too late - double crap)
5. Allow to dry (2-4 hours for this brand).
6. Lightly sand any raised grain, wipe clean (the manufacturer's suggest sanding the whole thing if more than 24 hours have passed).
7. Re-apply varnish and continue until you can see your reflection (I used 8 coats).
8. Patiently wait for the surface to cure for one week.

Saman stain whitewash

Despite some mystery debris trapped beneath eight layers of varnish like some weird grime time capsule, I am happy with the results.  I'll show you the whole kit & caboodle soon!  

November 28, 2011

My Artful Ikea Expedit Hack

I have many unsightly items stored on my Expedit bookcase, including spiral bound texts, ratty library books and stacks of student papers, waiting to be graded. I love the little door we bought to hide the electronic equipment (bottom left) but those doors are expensive, so I DIY'd my own version.  I used painted canvases hung on hooks to hide my bookshelf clutter and the whole project cost about the price of just one Ikea Expedit door

  • 4mm Screw Eyes (Lee Valley - $1.90 for 100)
  • 1/2" Cup Hooks (Lee Valley - $2.70 for 100)
  • 12 x 12 canvases (I bought mine at Michael's for $29.99 for pack of 7, less with a 40% off coupon, but if you can't find them I've linked to Amazon where they are on sale for $20)
  • Paint (I used acrylic - this is a great starter kit with lots of colours)
  • Paint brushes
  • Motivation (this is always the hardest to come by, for me)

Before Picking up a Tool:

1. I took everything off the Expedit.  Made a huge mess.  Started to cry.
2. I dusted and gave the Expedit a good, thorough clean. 
3. I put everything back on the Expedit and fiddled with the arrangement, taping up some paper to get a sense of where the paintings should go.

Then I marched down to the basement, also known as the pit of despair, and worked on a few paintings.  Two never made the cut, but the five that did were installed as swinging "doors" on my Expedit.

Install was simple:

1. We measured where the hooks should go, marking the measurement on tape instead of the shelf.
2. We installed the hooks using pliers, then removed the tape.
3. We added two screw eyes to each canvas - carefully measuring the distance each time because the canvases aren't 100% uniform.

The "doors" easily swing or come off to access what is behind, but hide the clutter and general ugliness perfectly.

Finished Product:

I tried to create some balance between covered cubbies, cubbies with books, cubbies with magazine files (like the ones I just painted) and cubbies with objets d'art (and tchotchkes). 

My chevron plans came to fruition!

My painted magazine files look just right
    Read more »

    November 26, 2011

    The DIY Showoff Featured My Project

    If you're new to my blog, coming from The DIY Showoff, welcome!  I invite you to check out my DIY projects, tour the townhouse, and learn more about me (plus some random tidbits about me, if you're interested).  I'd love to hear from you.

    For my regular readers and blog friends, I've been featured on The DIY Showoff!  Click here to see my feature!

    I love The DIY Showoff.  Roeshel's home is gorgeous (her bedroom was recently featured on House of Turquoise and you would not believe how many fabulous items she has thrifted and re-imagined) and I love how many amazing DIY projects she features.  I'm flattered to be included among the fabulous features.
    Read more »

    November 25, 2011

    Paint a Magazine File for a Custom Look

    They just don't make 'em like they used to. 

    Years ago, wood magazine files from Ikea were solid, varnished and not sliver-giving at all.  Not true today.  But, because my city's Ikea is moving locations, the sliver-giving, unfinished, kind of woobly magazine files produced today were on sale ($9.99, as opposed to $12.99, for a pair) and that made them look a lot better.  What made them even more attractive was a lick of paint.

    After lightly sanding and rounding the corners a bit (so they aren't so sharp - jeez, Ikea) I gave them a coat of primer and two coats of leftover pale turquoise paint from my paper storage hoozit.  Because the paper storage hoozit was left light wood inside, I left these light wood inside too, because it was easier for a little subtle coordination.


    Ikea Magazine Files (set of 2, slivers included)

    The Transformation:

    Paint a magazine file


    Aqaua magazine file

    Painted magazine file

    I know, a pretty subtle transformation but I don't really want to draw attention to them.  Now I have to get them on the shelves and photograph my Ikea Expedit Hack.  Yup, it is done.  Just waiting for a sunny day to snap some photos!  I'm such a tease . . . hope you're not all underwhelmed after all this hype.
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    November 24, 2011

    Inspiration Eye Candy: Jute Interiors

    I recently stumbled across the web page for Jute, a fabulous interior design company lead by Alison Davin.  The company tag line says it all: antiques, art and modern family life: comfortably compatible.  I am totally smitten with the company's use of bold artwork and crisp textiles.  These are some of my favorite spaces from the portfolio:

    San Francisco Marina Flat
    LOVE the artwork!

    San Francisco Marina Flat

    San Francisco Marina Flat

    San Francisco Noe Valley

    San Francisco Noe Valley

    San Francisco Noe Valley

    San Francisco Noe Valley
    Amazing . . .
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    November 22, 2011

    How to Make a Beaded Christmas Spider

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial
    Christmas gifts you can make with kids
    Beautiful DIY gift idea

    The Story:

    Why Every Christmas Tree Needs a Spider:

    A long time ago in Germany, a mother was busily cleaning for Christmas. The spiders fled to the attic to escape her broom. When the house became quiet the spiders slowly crept downstairs for a peek.

    Oh what a beautiful Christmas tree they saw!

    In their excitement they scurried up the trunk and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed all over the glittering tree. As they climbed, the tree became completely shrouded in their dusty grey spider webs.

    When St. Nicholas came with the gifts for the children and saw the tree covered with spider webs, he smiled because saw how happy the spiders were, but he knew how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw the tree covered with the dusty webs.

    So he turned the webs to silver and gold. The tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before.
    That's why we have tinsel on our tree and every tree should have a Christmas spider in its branches!

    ~Author Unknown (and the story varies - sometimes Santa Claus is the leading man)

    Handmade gifts ideas for teachers

    The Supplies:

    1. 4 pieces of 24 gauge wire (approx. 8" long each)
    2. 1 eye pin (approx. 2" long, a lower gauge for durability)
    3. 1 bead cap (sized to cover largest bead perfectly)
    4. 1 large bead (like this or this for the body)
    5. 1 small bead (for the head)
    6. Seed beads
    7. Bugle beads

    Supplies for DIY christmas spider
    Make a Christmas spider

    The Tools:

    1. Needle nose pliers
    2. (Optional) Wire cutters

    The Time Required:

    Once you get the hang of it, no more than 15 minutes per spider.

    The Instructions:

    First, cut the wire for the spider legs (I recommend doing a bunch at one time).
    Wrap all four wires gently around your finger.  Keep them as neat & lined up as possible:

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial
    Make a gentle loop, not a kink or bend.
    Thread the larger bead onto your eye pin, followed by the wire you've made a loop in, then the bead cap and finally the smaller bead (this will be the spider's body):

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    Hold the spider body together tightly and adjust the wires so they come out of the bead cap similar to a real spider's legs.  Holding the spider together tightly, trim excess wire from the eye pin (using either your needle nose pliers or wire cutters) leaving enough to create a loop:

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    To create a loop, use the same steps I outlined in this post about DIY earrings & this post about my DIY pearl & chain necklace.  Bend the wire in one direction then, using your needle nose pliers, gently bend the wire to create a loop in the opposite direction:

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    Once your spider's body is nice and tight (not wibbly-wobbly), move on to beading the legs.  Thread on one seed bead, then a bugle, then a seed bead . . . until the legs are the "right" length (this is purely subjective).  For this spider, I used one short bugle and three longer bugles.  You can mix it up with size and colour but don't ditch the seed beads because they act as "joints".  When you've threaded a leg, trim the excess wire and close with a loop.  Make sure not to make the legs too tight, or beads might break when you bend the the legs.  But not too loose, either, because you might see gaps.  You'll get the feel for it!  Finish beading all of the legs.

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    Your spider might look a bit octopus-like when you're done.  Take some time to bend and shape the legs the legs.  It will take some fiddling, but that's the fun part!

    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    And that's it!

    beaded christmas spider ornament
    DIY beaded christmas spider tutorial

    For one-of-a-kind spiders, I use some reclaimed beads from vintage jewellery.  I scour yards sales and flea markets for funky necklaces to take apart and mix those beads with supplies from local bead shops, big box craft stores - even dollar stores.  Click here to see more colour combinations!
    How to make a beaded christmas spider
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