Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rock-a-bye baby

So, it is really getting close, the due date of this little bun in my oven.  Just over 2 months away!  Time sure is flying fast.  And after that doozy of a project on the stairs and hallway I just finished, my ideas have turned more baby-minded.  As I have started pulling things out from storage I am feeling like it is all looking a bit old and worn, and some of it just a little blah.  Sort of like this:

Okay, so there is nothing wrong with this, and actually this isn't mine, but it has the same blah and boring look of the swing I had that was destroyed by a 3 and 4 year old jumping on it and playing all sorts of little games in it the last time it was out.  But I am sure anyone who had a kid 6-8 years ago will remember those navy blue and cream plaids that Graco was shelling out for their swings, carseats, pack-n-plays,etc.  I was happy to accept a hand me down from a neighbor to replace my old one, but the pattern wasn't much more exciting.  The swing my friend gave me had the bonus of little dancing teddy bears in overalls.  I was very grateful for a swing--teddy bears or not--because, hey, that's more money in my pocket that I can use for diapers, but I still wanted something a little sassier.  I have noticed, with the coming of number 4 to our house, that our house is all about kids.  We have toys and baby stuff everywhere.  I love it, it makes our house home to have our kids things planted here and there, but with all the little nick nacks I am collecting are really a part of my decor and I want them to look cute and match my decor, dang-it!  So, for a very minimal fee (I think it was about $15-- and could have been even cheaper if I could ever lay my hands on the 40% off JoAnn's coupons when I go) I got some awesome brown and cream zebra home decor fabric (I believe I only used about a half yard, but you would have to measure your own swing cushion), a yard of tan trim for the straps, and a yard of avacado-green ruffle.  Although I spent a little bit more because I didn't measure for what I really needed (and i didn't even use a half a yard of the fabric) I think you could easily pick up the supplies, if you measured everything before you picked it up, for about $10. 

My project began when my mother in law was here, and she pretty much did all the work on it while I got some rest (thank you a thousand times over).  But what we did for the swing makeover was cover the cushion in the same fashion i did for the ironing board.  My mother in law just cut it out using the cushion as a pattern and zig zag stitched around, adding the new ruffle in place of the old one.  We changed over all of the old navy straps to nice fresh tan ones.  And finally took the plastic off of the metal swing poles and sprayed them Krylon's oil rubbed bronze.  Once it was dry we put it all back together and set it up in my living room. It's sophisticated with sort of a whimsical baby charm.  I am loving it!  It looks great, it matches and it's functional. . . yeah!     *Just a note:  Knowing this is for a baby, I didn't attempt to paint or change the tray or the seat or the toys.  Luckily the seat, and trey and plastic bits all seemed to match what I was doing. . .the toys did not.  Those darn toys actually are pretty stuck on there, and are still a bit ugly, but better safe than sorry with remaking baby stuff. So no one get too carried away with the spray paint ;)

Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm Pooped!

It's DONE, can you believe it!?!?!?  It has been a long two weeks.  But we finished the stairs, AND the hallway. . . AND added a new little pottery barn style bench for the foyer.  I must say, that the hard part was that we had to do all our work at night so the kiddies wouldn't touch the walls, or be in the middle of a mess, or have the exposed outlets all around.  So after they would fall asleep we would work like elves until we dropped, then we would have to put everything away until the next night when we could do a second coat, or more poly or whatever the next night needed.  It was tiring work for a prego lady and a busy husband, but we are so thrilled with the outcome.  It was a while ago that my hubs and I pulled up the hallway carpet, so let me give you a reminder of the "before" upstairs hallway: 

The new floors were nice, but still hardly enjoyable with the tattered, pale walls
until. . . .

{Ahhhh} MUCH better, huh!?  And here are the stairs new stairs:

And, some close ups of the bench (good thing my mother in law was here to whip up an awesome cushion for it in no time):

I can't say enough how much I am loving the final product, and how much I am loving having this project behind me.  It really add to the look of our house, and seems to make all the rooms around it look a little more put together.  We have been working towards updating our hallway for a while (see Here and Here) and It feels like it is officially done, and I have never been so exhausted in my life :)

Some things I have learned while doing the stairs:

Most carpeted stairs have a pine tread that is not "stain-grade" so use a wood conditioner before applying the stain.  It will soak in more evenly and richer on the soft pine wood. 

Also, if you plan to paint as well, do in this order: pull up carpet, paint walls/trim, sand stairs, stain, poly, then apply a pre-painted beadboard and finish with touch ups.   The order we did our project in wasn't the smartest.  Doing the stairs first was what we needed to do to realize what really needed to be done with the surroundings.  But I wouldn't recommend that.   Our plan was sort of unfolding as we were working, so we had to do some touch ups on the stair treads after we were done. 

Don't get hung up on the knicks or cracks or stratches in the wood.  I was so worried about all the imprefections until I saw the Thrifty Decor Chic's stair project and read her advice.  It is true, Once your stairs as a whole are finished you won't even notice it.  Even with our lighter stain, now that the whole scene is finishes you can hardly notice that totally damaged stair near the bottom.  It all blends in and it all adds character and charm.  I didn't even fill the holes left by the staples.  Stainable woodfiller really isn't as stainable as they say.  It never stains the same as the wood, so we left it out, and the holes are much less noticable that way.

Sand really good.  Even if it's a pain and even if you don't want to, just do a little more.  It will look so much better.  Also, use an orbital sander.  Your life will be much easier.  Our corner cat sometimes leaves vibration marks on wood that are hard to get rid of, but the orbital sander is fast, smooth and easy to use.  We borrowed one, but I think, after seeing how well it worked, it will be our next tool purchase. 

For those of you who are Interested the process for the stairs went as follows:
 1. Remove carpet/padding
 2. Use pliers to remove all carpet staples from the stair treads (if you are putting bead board up you dont need to remove the staples from the risers because it will all be covered, you can just hammer them in). 
 3. Use a sander (orbital is preferable because it works fast, gives and even sand, and can get right up to those edges where all the paint from the trim is dried to.  I like to feel each stair as I go to know how much sanding i need to do.  You want a smooth surface to stain.
 4. Clean stairs with a vacuum and damp cloth to make sure all the dust is up.
 5. Apply a wood conditioner per the instructions on the label.
 6. Stain stairs desired color (we needed ours light so we only did one coat, but you may need more coats to get the richness you need).
 7.  After stain has dried (per the instructions on the label), place a high durability polyurethane over top.  (we wanted to use the poly/stain combo, but the lady at home depot said that it was not great for high traffic areas or floors, so we opted to do a separate poly and stain.  But the poly will say on the back label if it is suitable for flooring. 
 8. Repeat coats of poly several times sanding in between.  We did 5 coats of polyurethane on our stairs. Make sure to do it at a time where you have adequate time to let it dry without stepping on it.  Doing it before bed worked great for us, it was plenty dry by morning. 
 9. Paint bead board desired color.
 10.  Measure and cut to fit the size of risers
 11.  Apply with finishing nail gun. 
 12.  Caulk any edges  that don't quite match up and fill all nail holes with wood filler
 13.  Finish up with a little touch up paint over the filled nail holes and cracks, and you are DONE!!!

Now, let's here those carpets being torn from the floor!!! ;)