About theprojectboard

I love working with my hands and using my creativity. I post my photography, interior decorating, recipes, furniture restorations, and ideas I have for future projects. Don't be a stranger!

Butterflies

I went to a butterfly exhibit today and took some pictures.

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I hope you had a nice day, too.

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Painting a Built-in Bookcase

We are in the process of replacing all of our old wood trim with white trim.  I am going to write a separate post about replacing trim once we are further along but one thing we finished is a built-in bookcase in our dining room. The back of the bookcase is drywall which is why the back of it was originally the same color as the rest of the dining room walls.  Here is a before picture:

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I started by removing the shelves and taking them outside to sand.  I used an electric sander and 80 grit paper to remove most of the stain from all sides of the shelves.  When that was done, I applied one coat of primer.  Then I added two coats of semi gloss white paint from Behr using a roller brush for smooth surfaces.

Back inside, I removed the tracks from the sides of the bookcase. They were really flimsy so removing them was easier than I thought it was going to be. Then I filled in the holes that were created when the tracking was nailed in to the bookcase.  I used DAP DryDex for this.  After the filler dried, I sanded it smooth.  Then I sanded the wooden sides of the bookcase by hand with 80 grit paper.  I wanted to keep the amount of sanding dust to a minimum so I only did enough sanding to scuff up the wood and allow the paint to adhere better.  After sanding, I wiped the wood down with a damp cloth to remove all dust.

Next, I added a layer of primer.

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After the primer dried, my husband caulked the joints to make everything connected.  It made a pretty big difference as you can see below:

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Then I added two layers of white semi-gloss paint using a roller brush for smooth surfaces.

We decided not to install a track similar to the one we removed.  The nice thing about the track is that you can easily adjust the height of your shelves or add more shelves.  But we wanted to go for a cleaner look so my husband made small wood supports that we nailed to the sides (and then I filled the nail holes, caulked, and painted).

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After the wood supports were installed and everything was caulked and painted, we added the shelves back and put up new white trim (that had also been caulked and painted). Here is how it looks now:

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I hope you like!  We still have some old trim to remove and new trim to put up as you can tell from the above picture but we are getting there.  Thanks for reading!

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Refinished Desk

This past week I worked on refinishing a desk for a friend.  When I first saw the desk, I thought it was really cute and didn’t really need to be refinished but it did have quite a few scratches on the top and drawers and the finish was dull in a lot of places.  I was excited to work on a quality piece, especially since my last project was built with wood veneer and that can be a pain to work with.  Here are some before pictures:

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I started on Monday by taking out the drawers and sanding the top.  I took most of the finish off with an 80 grit and then I moved to 100, 150, and then 220.  It took about 45 minutes to get everything completed removed.

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Afterward, I turned the desk upside down on top of towels so the top wouldn’t get scratched and then I taped off the edges and added a layer of primer.

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After the primer dried, I lightly sanded it, otherwise the brush marks would be visible underneath the paint.  on Tuesday I added two coats of Undersea by Behr which looked dark when I picked it out in the store but it turned out much more blue than I wanted:

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I also thought I would like the flat finish but I didn’t.  So the next morning I went to Lowe’s and bought Corduroy Black by Valspar in a satin finish.

On Wednesday I added a layer of Early American stain by Minwax.  I also filled the holes on the small desk drawers because I wanted those to have a knob instead of a pull.  I also vacuumed out sawdust that had collected inside the desk.

On Thursday I added a 2nd layer of stain and a coat of the new paint I purchased. It was starting to look pretty good.

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On Friday I added 4 coats of satin polyurethane from Rust-Oleum and wiped the painted part of the desk and drawers down with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust.  On Saturday morning, I distressed parts of the desk with 220 grit sandpaper, had my husband drill holes for the knobs in the small drawers, and then I added the knobs and drawer pull and brought it inside.

Here is how it looks now:

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I am really happy with how it turned out! If you like the hardware, you can find the knobs at Lowe’s and the drawer pull at Home Depot.

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Good luck with any projects you have this summer.

 

DIY Professional Looking Pedicure

Hello!  Now that the weather is getting warmer, we’ll probably all start wearing sandals more often.  I know it can be relaxing to get a professional pedicure at a salon but sometimes we don’t have the time or money.  If you are looking for tips on how to do your own pedicure at home, here are some recommendations I have.

DIY Pedicure
Purchase quality supplies
I know one purpose of doing your own pedicure is to save money so this might sound counter-intuitive but keep in mind that whatever you buy is going to last a long time.  I’ve had most of the products in the picture below for years.  Here is what I use:

  • A good cuticle softener and oil.  I currently use products by California Mango but you can use whichever brand you’d like.
  • Nail polish base coat.  Some people skip this part but it’s really important because it helps your nail polish stay on longer without chipping, it prevents your nails from being stained by your nail polish, and it also helps your nail polish dry more smoothly and evenly.  I use OPI for this.
  • For nail polish, I really like OPI and China Glaze.  I sometimes use cheaper polish like Revlon which looks fine if I use good base and clear coat nail polish.
  • A good quality clear coat.  For me, it’s important to find one that dries quickly because I want to get on with my day.  I have previously used Poshe which I recommend.  I am currently using a quick drying top coat by OPI which works just as good as Poshe but is more expensive.
  • Optional – I use OPI’s Rapidry Nail Polish Dryer spray to help the polish dry even faster.  I think it also gives a nice finished look.

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Prepare your nails
After you’ve cut and filed your nails, put a bit of cuticle softer on your cuticles and leave it on for a minute or so.  Then push back your cuticles using the nails on your other hand or a tool.  Wipe everything off with a cotton ball or tissue.  Then, put a small amount of cuticle oil around your nails.  Leave it on for a minute or two and then wash and dry your hands.  It’s important to hydrate everything around your nails because your pedicure won’t look as nice if it is surrounded by dry skin and cuticles.

Apply a base coat
After your nails are prepared and clean, apply a coat of base.  A thin coat is perfectly fine and it dries quickly.

Apply 1-2 coats of nail polish
A minute or two after you have applied the base coat, you can start painting. I usually have to apply 2 light coats to get an even finish.  Waiting 2-3 minutes between coats is fine.  It’s helpful to have some q-tips nearby so you can wipe off any paint that gets on your skin.  I sometimes pour some nail polish remover in the bottle cap and dip my q-tip in it to make cleaning off nail polish easier.

Apply the clear top coat
I usually let my nails dry for at least 5 minutes before applying a top coat.  You only need one layer.

Optional – Spray on nail dryer
If you have purchased spray that can help your nails dry faster, you can spritz it on soon after applying the top coat.  The OPI spray says 45 seconds but I usually wait a minute or two.

If I use the products listed above, I can go about my day pretty quickly.  Actually, I usually paint my nails at night and have no problem taking a shower and going to bed within an hour of painting my nails and everything stays in place.

Happy painting!  If anyone likes the nail polish in the picture above it is called “Rose Among Thorns” by China Glaze.

Kim’s French Toast

Good morning!  I’d like to share a french toast recipe that my mother-in-law game to me.

Unfortunately it’s one of those recipes where the exact amounts are not written anywhere so I’ll do my best to explain.

The secret ingredient is pepper which seems sort of weird (in my opinion) for a breakfast item but it tastes great!

Ingredients (enough for 2-3 people)

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 6 slices of bread
  • 4 eggs
  • pepper

Directions

Crack the eggs in a large bowl.  Whip until scrambled.  Mix in the milk.  Then, sprinkle the desired amount of pepper in to egg/milk mixture.  I usually use enough pepper to cover the entire top of the egg/milk mixture and then I stir it in.  Mine looks like this when finished:

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Then, using your fingers or tongs, dip both sides each slice of bread in the mixture and cook on a pre-heated skillet set to medium heat (I cook at 325F on an electric skillet).  When the bottoms start to brown, flip each piece of bread and cook on the other side.

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When finished, transfer to a plate and top with syrup, powdered sugar, or whatever you’d like!

 

Have a great weekend.

DIY – Installing Hardwood Floors

I mentioned in my previous post that my husband and I have been working on a project since September.  Back then, we decided to rip out the old carpet and replace it with hardwood floors.  Just the two of us.  With no prior experience with such things.

Now, my husband is the type of person who can really do anything he puts his mind to.  He spent months beforehand reading directions for installing hardwood floors and watching how-to videos.  So when it came time to do all of this, I just did what he told me to.

After finally agreeing on the type of hardwood we’d buy (I wanted thick, dark planks; he wanted thinner, lighter ones), we compromised and went with a 3 inch hickory plank by Bruce in the color Oxford Brown.  Honestly, at first I wasn’t thrilled with this selection because the samples we had didn’t show much character and that’s something I wanted.  But when we received our order and started looking through the boxes, I was happy with variation of color and the interesting marks on some of the planks.

After we pulled up the carpet and the carpet padding, we had to remove the baseboards and tack strips from the subfloor.  Then we had to remove any staples that held down the carpet padding.

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tack strip and staples

We started in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms and everything was going fine.  We then moved to the entry room and found out things were not fine. When we pulled up the carpet and padding at the front door, we found this underneath:

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The tiles came up pretty easily but we found concrete underneath.  We can’t staple wood floors to concrete so it had to come out.

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We bought the necessary tools, fashioned a plastic curtain, and got to work. Actually, all I did was fashion the plastic curtain. My husband did the rest while I worked on removing staples from the subfloor.

He worked on removing the concrete for 3 evenings in a row. Then we bought a sheet of plywood and used it to cover the hole.  Success!

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The subfloor was finally free of staples and tack strips and we went over it with the shop vac to make sure it was free of debris.  After that, we laid down a layer of rosin paper (which acts as a barrier between the subfloor and hardwood floor and minimizes squeaks that can sometimes occur with wood flooring) and we were ready to start laying our floors.

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We were thrilled with the first few rows we installed during the second week of the project.  My job was to pick out each wood plank to make sure we had variation with color and size.  There are also “rules” you have to follow when installing hardwood floors, for example, you should keep joints between two rows at least 6 inches apart and you should try to avoid creating patterns, like a stair-step pattern that can occur between several rows.  I also inspected each plank to make sure we weren’t installing something that was scratched or damaged in some way.  So I was in charge of the design part of the installation and my husband did the physical installation.  We made a good team.

Working mostly on the weekends, we finished the entry room, dining room, and hallway leading to the bedrooms in about a month.  I also painted the ceilings before the hardwood was installed in each room.

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The dining room being torn up was the biggest pain for me.  For some reason, the subfloor was really grimy despite vacuuming so we always had to put shoes on – even when getting up in the middle of the night for water.  After we pulled up the carpet, we didn’t install the hardwood for about a month because it took longer than expected to work on the entry room and hallway so we had to live with it for a few weeks.

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This is our sad attempt to have a normal dinner amidst the mess

When the dining room floors were finally installed, we couldn’t wait to get everything cleaned up and back to normal.

We moved on to the living room the following weekend.  We pulled up the carpet on a Tuesday so that we could have it out for trash pick-up by Thursday (yes, they will pick up old carpet as long as you follow their guidelines and give them a heads-up) and then we painted the ceiling on Saturday.  On Sunday, we started installing the floors and, because we wanted the planks to line up with what was installed in the entry room, we started with a runway sort of look.

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The “runway” which took forever to start laying because we had to make sure whatever we laid down was square with the walls and the rest of the house.

Here are before and after pictures of the living room

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Before (taken right before we pulled up the carpet)

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After

We are really close to being finished.  We are waiting for the weather to warm up because we need to be outside when cutting wood to the right length. We have about 2 rows left to install in the hallway leading to the back door and then we are going to install the hardwood floors in the stairway leading down to the basement.

But in the middle of all of this, we decided to give ourselves even more work by replacing all of our wood trim with white trim.  This was my husband’s idea which I was initially not on-board with but after looking at the state of both the baseboards and the trim around the doors, it’s clear it all needs replaced because they are scratched and dirty from almost 50 years of use.  We’ve barely started this but here is a picture I took today with the trim we are planning to install.

IMG_5432I think it’s going to make our house look cleaner and more modern.  I will post more before and after pictures after we are completely finished later this year.

In case you are wondering why we did this ourselves – we did it because it saved us about $5,000 in installation fees.  I am glad we did because now I have a new set of skills (want me to remove your baseboards or paint your ceilings? No problem, buddy!) and we are really appreciative of our new floors because we know how much work it took.

Thanks for reading!

Spring Cleaning

SpringCleaning

Today I have been catching up on some much-needed cleaning.  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I let things go longer than I should (cleaning out the refrigerator, for example) because other things like laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning out the cat’s litter box, etc. take priority.

Usually when I clean on the weekends, I try to cover the entire house in one day.  I do the obvious things like dusting and cleaning the floors.  But I have decided I need to make the time to really focus on one room at a time and clean each one from top to bottom.

Today was the kitchen.  I worked on it for about 3 hours which included:

  • cleaning out the oven as much as I could.  I think I need something stronger for the rest
  • cleaning out the pantry, which included wiping the shelves and throwing out expired food
  • wiping down the cabinet doors and drawers
  • cleaning out the freezer and wiping it down
  • wiping the trash can clean
  • cleaning the inside of the microwave
  • wiping down all appliances
  • cleaning the stainless steel appliances to make them shine
  • wiping the countertops
  • dusting the baseboards
  • sweeping and mopping the floor
  • wiping the toaster down and cleaning out all the crumbs
  • cleaning the sink

Here are some of the after pictures:

I am glad it is done.  Honestly, cleaning out the freezer has been on my to-do list for an embarrassingly long time.

This is my first post in a few months. My husband and I have been working on a big house project so I have been busy with that. I had intended to post about it here once we were far enough along but it’s taking much longer than both of us had expected (when we first started working on it in September we joked about it possibly not being done by Christmas and we thought the idea of it not being done then was hilarious. Now it’s March…)

I will post about that project and what we have so far in a few days.

If you are planning some spring cleaning, what are your goals?  Where do you start?