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DIY

Upholstering a Thrifted Steelcase Chair

July 21, 2015
Reupholstered Steelcase Chair Detail

On our trip to Athens a few months back we stopped at Vic’s and scored this AHmazing office chair.  Made by Steelcase in the 1960’s, it is one of four designs in the 450 series.  Replacing a sample chair, the new chair’s sleek lines will look great in our office.  All it needed was some new fabric, CLR, and a little elbow grease.

Steelcase 450 Series Chair Brown Upholstery Before 1

The original fabric was a brown wool in “eau de Attic”

Steelcase promoted the chair’s durability with “Operation Skydrop”.  They strapped the chair to a skydiver and let him jump.  OSHA has come a long way since then obviously.  The skydiver detached from the chair and it smashed into the ground.  The steel base detached in one piece and the chair shell was still fully intact.

Steelcase History 450 Series Office Chair

This office is so clean and coordinated looking. Photo Credit: Steelcase

After removing all the old fabric and staples, I replaced any bad foam.  Then using a pneumatic staple gun I attached the new fabric in the opposite order it was removed.  To pull the fabric tight was a little bit of trial and error.

Fast Tack Upholstery Spray

Best stuff ever

 

Steelcase chair upholstery in progress

Upholstery is serious work and leads to serious mess from foam and fabric scraps

On all of the visible seams, I pulled the fabric tight and tacked it down before seaming the pieces together with a blind stitch.  Then I removed the visible staples to leave one running seam. One part of the seam is wobbly and I think I’ll try to redo it soon.

Blind Stitch Upholstery Seam

Blind stitch the seam together and then remove any visible staples

All together it only set me back 3 yards of clearance velvet, 2 yards of foam, spray tack, and a special upholstery needle and thread.  We had all of the other supplies already from past DIY projects.

Steelcase chair reupholstered

Reupholstered Steelcase Office Chair

After a quick breather, I’ll be ready to tackle our next upholstery project.  Have you ever done any upholstery projects?  Tell us in the comments!

DIY

DIY Anthropologie Inlay Mirror

July 16, 2015
Anthropologie Hack Inlay Mirror Gray Pearl

I have been obsessing over the inlaid furniture and decor at Anthropologie lately, followed quickly by the burn of the pricetag.  Also using bone as decoration is probably bad juju.  To copy the look on a budget I decided to recreate the earthy colors and pearl details with stencils and paint on a garage sale mirror.

Use a garage sale castoff and make it pretty again

Use a garage sale castoff and make it pretty again

Stenciling has come a long way from the doctor’s office dancing bear borders that I remember.  Stencils are more modern and feature repeating patterns that look best over entire walls.

Materials for DIY Anthropologie Mirror:

I used a small foam roller to put on a coat of my base paint.  Because the milk paint has a subtle texture there is no need to use a more expensive foam cabinet roller.

The instructions that came with the stencil says you can mount the stencil onto your piece with spray adhesive for cleaner lines.  My stencil is very organic so I just free handed it.  After placing the stencil, I pounced excess paint off the stencil brush and applied it in a straight downward motion.  I found that with the right amount of paint, the brush will look dry.  Scary at first, but it works.

I worked in the large flowers first and the smaller vines second to make sure the layout looked right.  Let the different elements dry in between stenciling so that you don’t smear all your hard work. Had I been stenciling a tray or side table (or anything that your hands will touch frequently), I probably would have used a poly coat last.

It's permanent home will be by our new backdoor, but for now the guest room is the perfect spot

It’s permanent home will be by our new backdoor, but for now the guest room is the perfect spot

The light hits the pearlized paint and catches your eye from every angle.  I’ll hang the mirror in a permanent, post-renovation home, but for now it looks great in our guest room.  And the whole project cost 8% of the real thing! Diy win.

Do you have a great diy anthropologie project or hack?  Tell us in the comments!

DIY

10,000 Carpet Staples & Counting

June 30, 2015
Removing carpet staples foyer before and after with carpet removed

This past Sunday we worked around the clock to rip out all of the old carpet on the staircase.  It looks so different in here! It’s a totally different room, and why wouldn’t it be after shedding 80+ pounds of carpet? Dragging it all to the road felt like training for American Ninja Warrior.

But now that it’s gone the foyer feels more spacious and refreshed.  There were some unitended side effects like that annoying echo and less light bouncing around.  All that will be fixed when we install the runner in the next few weekends.

After a flurry of activity pulling the carpet up we were ready to pull some carpet staples

After a flurry of activity pulling the carpet up we were ready to pull some staples

After Neil ripped out all the carpet, we set about removing all those little carpet staples and tack strips.  The good news: the tread we thought was broken is fine.  The bad news: the carpet installer had his staple gun turner up pretty high and many of the staples were deeply embedded in the wood.

Carpet sections after removal

Boom! Outta here. Careful though there are hidden staples in each piece

Tips on Removing Staples:

To get them out, we used tiny flathead screwdrivers and wire end nippers like in this set. Grab the staples loosely with the wire tool and rock back and forth to loosen the staple.  The curved sides protect the surrounding wood from damage.  If you’re using a tool without rounded edges put a piece of scrap wood between the stair tread and metal.

Remove the tack strips with a small crowbar.  Again place a piece of scrap wood between the crowbar and the stair treads to protect them from dings.  Stop frequently to sweep up carpet staples and splintered bits of tack strip into the trash. Work slowly during this stage so your easy room update doesn’t turn into “…and that’s how I got tetanus”. Safety first people.

Removing carpet staples foyer before and after with carpet removed

Green paint and carpet were really dragging this whole room down

Now that all the staples are removed, we’ll sand and stain any problem areas this weekend.  What projects do you have planned for the holiday weekend?  Tell us in the comments!

DIY

Kreg Crown-Pro Tutorial for Crown Molding

June 16, 2015
This is the angle you need to measure for your spring angle, make sure you're using the correct side of the angle finder

This is Part 1 of our diy crown molding in the foyer.

I have a sneaking suspicion that people who write user manuals have never really used some of their own products.  At least not in the way that you or I would use them.  They already have some level of comfort with it so it makes sense that they would take certain things for granted.

Don’t get me wrong, Kreg’s Crown-Pro manual is perfect for a semi professional crown molding installer (is that even a thing?).  But it leaves much to the imagination for anyone with skills not at that level.  Precision is probably better than imagination in this case unless you’re going for the abstract art version of crown molding.

While we aren’t being paid to write about the Crown-Pro, we are committed to only writing about products that we have actually used and would use again. Anyway, let’s get right to it.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Compound Miter Saw and stand (in our case we had 5 1/2 inch molding which when combined with the height of the jig will only fit in a 12 inch saw)
  • Safety equipment
  • Tape measurer, pen, paper
  • Probably a ladder

Crown Molding You’ll Need:

  • Crown molding (buy in lengths that will fully span each section of wall or with only one seam called a scarf joint)
  • 20% extra molding for contingency, you can always return uncut pieces

Making Angled Cuts with the Crown-Pro:

Step 1: Jig Assembly

This part of the manual is actually pretty good.  Attach the rubber feet to the bottom of the larger blue piece, this is the base.  Next attach the height extenders to the smaller blue piece, this will hold your molding.  Using the slide guide and bolt connect the base and top together.  Finally, attach the spring scale to the underside of the base.  Set the jig aside.

Step 2: Measuring Angles

On your ladder, push the angle finder with the side marked “Wall Angle” closest to you, into each corner of your room.  Adjust the arms until they are flush and record the wall and spring angle onto your paper.  It is very likely that the corners don’t meet at perfect 90 degree angles, so measure carefully.  Do this for every corner.

Crown Molding: Push the angle finder into each corner of your room and record the Wall Angle on the guide

Push the angle finder into each corner of your room and record the Wall Angle on the guide

Draw an outline of your room and use the angle finder to write in each angle

Draw an outline of your room and use the angle finder to write in each angle

Step 3: Measuring Wall Lengths

Have a friend help you measure the length of each wall from each top corner.  Many walls are different lengths at the bottom and top and like the previous step it is important to measure accurately.  Note each measurement on your drawing.

Measure the wall from each top corner to find how long to cut your crown molding

Measure the wall from each top corner to find how long to cut your crown molding

Step 4: Determine the Type of Cut you will need

Look at each corner and determine what type of cut you will need to make.  Each corner will have two different cuts that come together.  Check your corners against the picture below.

Examples of inside corners, mark these on your drawing

Examples of inside corners, mark these on your drawing

Finally, find the type of cut you need to make and write it on your drawing

Finally, find the type of cut you need to make and write it on your drawing

Step 5: Determine the Spring Angle of your molding and set the jig

Set the molding in the angle finder on the Spring Angle side and with the bottom edge of the molding against the ruler.  The user manual is pretty thorough here and has some good tips that I won’t repeat.

Crown Molding: Use the other side of the angle finder to find the Spring Angle of your molding

Use the other side of the angle finder to find the Spring Angle of your molding

This is the angle you need to measure for your spring angle, make sure you're using the correct side of the angle finder

This is the angle you need to measure for your spring angle, make sure you’re using the correct side of the angle finder

Crown Molding: The spring angle of our molding is 38 degrees.  Set the red guide on the jig to the same number.

The spring angle of our molding is 38 degrees. Set the red guide on the jig to the same number.

Step 6: Measure and mark your molding

For your first cut, measure along the bottom edge of the molding from the blunt end and mark the appropriate length.  Make your mark on the bottom edge each time so that you can accurately line up your blade when it comes time to cut.  The goal here is to have the right length from each of the furthest points. The user manual has a good tip to cut a little long you can always shave off the extra.

Crown Molding: Measure and mark along the bottom of the molding which should be the first part to touch the blade

Measure and mark along the bottom of the molding which should be the first part to touch the blade

Step 7: Set up your saw with the jig and choosing the correct angle

Set up your jig on the correct side of the blade using the table below.  Look on your drawing for the spring angle that corresponds to the wall angle for each of your room’s corners.  Divide this by two and set the saw angle handle to this number on the correct side of center using the table below.

  • Right-Inside Corner – Jig to the left of your blade, saw angle handle to the left of center
  • Right-Outside Corner – Jig to the left of your blade, saw angle handle to the right of center
  • Left-Inside Corner – Jig to the right of the blade, saw angle handle to the right of center
  • Left-Outside Corner – Jig to the right of the blade, saw angle handle to the left of center

Note – for these test cuts we are assuming the corner angle is 90 degrees and has a corresponding spring angle of 90 degrees, so the saw angle is that divided by 2 for a total angle of 45 degrees.  Set yours according to YOUR walls.

Crown Molding: Saw angle moved to 45 degrees to the left of center 3

Set the saw angle to half of the spring angle of each of your room’s corners

Crown Molding: Set the saw angle to half of the spring angle of each of your room's corners

Set the saw angle to half of the spring angle of each of your room’s corners

Step 8: Position your molding and make the cut

Crown Molding: Molding is bottom up and flush against the jig

Molding is bottom up and flush against the jig

Crown Molding: A view of each corner type cut into test wood.  The pieces towards the edges of the photo are what is cut away from the main length of molding

A view of each corner type cut into test wood. The pieces towards the edges of the photo are what is cut away from the main length of molding

Bonus – Making Scarf Joints

Step 1: Remove the jig

The user manual doesn’t cover this topic, so we didn’t use it.  Just lay your molding flat with the decorative side up along your saw’s existing guides.

Step 2: Measure and mark your molding

Step 3: Set saw angle to 0 degrees

Crown Molding: Set the saw angle to 0 degrees for a scarf joint cut

Set the saw angle to 0 degrees for a scarf joint cut

Step 4: Set miter angle to 45 degrees and cut

Crown Molding: Set the miter angle to 45 degrees

Set the miter angle to 45 degrees

Please be very careful with your hands while cutting at this angle.

Crown Molding: Here is what your setup for a scarf joint should look like

Here is what your setup for a scarf joint should look like

Crown Molding: A scarf joint is a seam between two lengths of molding and will be invisible after caulk and paint

A scarf joint is a seam between two lengths of molding and will be invisible after caulk and paint

Do you have any other tips from working with this jig? We would love to hear from you in the comments so we can use all your tricks for our foyer!

DIY

Fireplace Surround Gets a Tile Makeover

June 9, 2015
Craft room office fireplace finished

Continuing work in the craft room we gave our fireplace a sample tile makeover.  All the fireplaces in the house are non-working and are covered up with either thin brick or concrete and white paint.  They were all just sort of…fine.  Not bad, not good, just fine.  But, they are such a feature in each room that we wanted to highlight them and make each one a focal point.  The craft room/office is a great place to experiment with different colors and patterns because you can draw inspiration while you work.

After scouring the house for all the samples we had ordered from Heath Ceramics and Daltile we went to Lowe’s to find a nice neutral to pair them with.  We found these white beveled subway tiles.

Supplies:

  • Sample tile & Background tile
  • Simple Mat
  • Scissors
  • Tile Float
  • Grout sponge
  • Grout
  • Buckets
  • Trowels
  • Tile cutter (optional depending on your pattern, but good to have)
  • Dropcloth
  • A friend
Tile makeover materials including simple mat

Use an adhesive based product instead of mortar for easy tile setting on small projects.

We’ve used the Simple Mat product before and were pleased with the results so we decided to use it again for this project.  It is easy to use and way less mess than using mortar, plus you have as much time as you need to set the tile.  This is especially great for people like me who want to tackle a small job themselves but aren’t fast with a tile cutter or spacers.  To start just make sure your surface is clean, dry, and FLAT then peel off the Simple Mat backing and apply.  Smooth each piece with the float and be careful not to overlap the sheets.  Cut sheets to fit as needed.

Tile makeover Peel off the simple mat backing and smooth onto the wall

Peel off the backing and smooth onto the surface with the float.

Plan your design ahead of time (or wing it. yolo) and then when you’re ready to set the tile remove the clear cover from each Simple Mat sheet.  Try to work from the focal point of your design out to the edges so that any cut edges are to the outside and not as noticable.  Use spacers to help place the tiles and firmly press each tile with the float to set it.

Prepare the grout according to the directions and while it is resting, lay out your dropcloth, trowels, and water bucket.  Use the trowels to push grout into each space and around the outside edges.  Check to make sure all the spaces are full.  Wait according to the grout directions.  This is important, if you wipe too soon all your grout will come out.

Tile Makeover Wipe away the excess grout with a damp sponge

Wipe away the grout with a damp tile sponge working in a diagonal or circular pattern

Next, use your damp sponge to wipe away the grout working diagonally around your tile.  Most tutorials make this process seem fast and easy.  It can take a pretty long time so this is where the friend comes in handy.  They can refill the water bucket so you don’t track grout everywhere in your house.  Let the grout dry and buff off any remaining grout “haze” with a damp cloth.

 

Craft room office fireplace finished

Buff off the grout haze with a cloth and let everything dry overnight.

Tile makeover fireplace detail

Now our fireplace and mantle are a focal point in the room! A perfect place for plants and colorful objects.

We love how it turned out with all the colors in glossy and matte finishes.  Plus we love good 5-hour or less diy project.  Tell us about your one-day-or-less projects with major impact in the comments!