one part travel, one part home, one part DIY, one place to create

home improvement

dressing up dresser

I finally finished dressing up the old dresser I bought on Craigslist last year. Last Fall I was in a hurry to finish the guest bedroom since Candelyn was moving in for a few months. I had everything a bedroom needs except one key element: a dresser. I had given myself I pretty tight budget for finishing the room and that included furniture, so I was pretty set on finding an old dresser for cheap and giving it new life. I finally found this old guy for $20. He was hand built sometime around the 1940’s and just the perfect size for the room. I was so excited about getting this project started that I forgot to take a before picture with all of the drawers actually in their spaces.

The same week I picked it up I went ahead and spent a Saturday sanding him down to remove that dark mahogany stain. My plan was to paint him white and give it the distressed “shabby chic” look. After a weekend of getting to know a few different sanding tools the old dresser moved into the workshop awaiting his new look. And then I got busy and before I knew it 8 months had gone by and the old guy was still sitting outside in the workshop.

Last weekend I had a Saturday with no plans and decided I was finally going to make this happen. I backed my car out of the carport, set up the work table there in the shade, grabbed some paint from my collection of half-used quarts and gallons, turned on Pandora, put on my tool belt and I was ready to go! Ok, I don’t actually have a tool belt but it just felt right saying it. Now that I think about it, that’d be a really useful accessory.

I had already used wood putty to fill in the not-so-attractive triangle design carved into each drawer and bought some cool embossed wood pieces to add in place of the triangles for a nice added detail. Using wood glue, clamps, and of course a measuring tape, I attached one of the embossed pieces to each of the three drawers and the “faux drawer.” It may look a little crazy in the picture below, but once I throw on some paint then it’ll all come together!

I primed everything (the primer dried pretty quickly) then added one coat of a golden yellow. I added this yellow underneath to help create the distressed look when I would later sand down some of the edges. The next coat was a basic white eggshell paint and then it was time to let everything dry for a while. I got out my sanding block and sanded some of the edges to reveal the golden yellow underneath and even let some of the wood show a bit. I had some scented floral drawer liner left over from when I re-did the kitchen cabinents and it turned out to be just enough to line each of the three drawers with scented goodness. I was pretty happy with my work and decided it was time to move the dresser into its new room.

After getting it arranged and adding all the drawers back in, I realized the embossed wood piece on the “faux drawer” on top was slightly off center from the other three. I also didn’t like how the first drawer showed too much dark space from the broken top left corner. Across the back of it there was about 3/4″ of space where the top wasn’t completely flush with the back. I think this was because at some point there was a mirror or some other backing attached to it. I decided I would spend the following day creating a “backsplash” to add into the gap in the back and fix the few other issues I mentioned.

Operation “dressing up dresser” day 2 started with a trip to Lowe’s [OK it was Sunday so it actually started out with a great morning spend at Mosaic Church and then the trip to Lowes]. I loaded up my cart with a new handheld jigsaw, an 8ft. long 0.75 x 4 piece of pine, and I couldn’t pass up a great deal on a cool light fixture that I have plans for in the laundry room (on sale from $50 down to $12!). I set up my work space again in the carport and familiarized myself with my new jigsaw! I designed a backsplash, cut it out, glued it, screwed it into place, and painted it. Then I removed the off-center embossed piece, re-attached it, repainted it, cut a sliver of wood to glue onto the broken drawer corner and moved the old guy back inside.

In the days following I did a little more work to the drawer corner – this involved filling in the seams with wood putty, sanding, and repeated until it looked pretty cohesive. Check out the first picture below compared to the one two pictures above to see the difference in the corner of the top drawer. I got 4 more glass knobs from Hobby Lobby [I already had 2 that I planned to use as knobs on my closet doors, but who knows when I’ll ever actually finish those!]. And then I stepped back, patted myself on the back, and smiled at my “new” old dresser. Oh, and took a few pictures. Of course.

I’ve still got plans to make something to hang on the wall above the dresser, but this will do for now.


flower power

I’ve never been very good at gardening or keeping flowers alive and beautiful. I think I forget that you need to water flowers pretty much everyday. I guess remembering to do something everyday is too much for me – at least when its something new I’m trying. Last month I planted some flowers in the front yard, in the flower box along the picture window and potted some by the side door. Oh and inherited quite a few beauties that don’t require much up-keep. I mainly planted Impatiens since they grow well in the shade and thanks to some quite large oak trees I’ve got more than enough shade. I’ve never known why they are called Impatiens but I always laugh about them because I think they are very fitting for me – a quite impatient person. Today as I was watering the flowers (yep, today was a day that I actually remembered to do that) I realized they’ve grown a lot and look more beautiful than when I first planted them!

heavenly hammock

A little piece of heaven is in my backyard now. Yes, a hammock. [and a Pawley’s Island Original at that, thanks to awesome deals on!] There is something you should know about me – I’m in love with hammocks, and by in love I mean OBSESSED. Now I just need to find the energy to build the stone patio I’ve been day dreaming of to give 1859 a little outdoor entertaining action. Oh, and should probably get a few mosquito candles while I’m at it. So I’m sharing these thoughts with you this evening while laying in my piece of heaven as the sun is slowly setting, the fireflies are lighting up and the cool air is rolling in. Wait, did I say cool air? It may be cooler than it was at the peak of the day, but I wouldn’t exactly call 80’s cool. Anyways, here she is… [in the words of The Patnodes] …BOOM!

what a difference a door makes

Ever since day 1 in 1859 I haven’t been a fan of the doors. It was just something about that plain wood tone clashing with the beautiful wood floors and the fresh white trim. Oh, and that shiny brass hardware. It was a far cry from my favorite of the metal finishes, oil rubbed bronze. Since I’m also not big on the standard 6 panel door, I had my eye on some 2 paneled babies for many months. Being the decidated Lowe’s shopper I am, I waited until I had a “$25 off $250 purchase” coupon to take the plunge. [It also helped that I had been saving up some Lowe’s gift cards. Anyone who knows me knows I love a Lowe’s gift card. Forget a manicure, a new dress or a new pair of high heels – I’ll take a Lowe’s gift card please. Is it strange that I feel more comfortable in Lowe’s than most any shopping mall?]


Back in October I made one of my typical Friday evening trips to Lowe’s; I prefer to go on weekday evenings because it is halfway between work and home, so a very convenient stop during the 45 minutes commute. My shopping list was quite long since I tend to wait and buy lots of things all at once. Most importantly on the list: four 2-panel interior doors, four door knob sets, 8 hinges, and 1 door hardware installation kit. I managed to fit all four of these doors in the Civic (thank goodness for backseats that fold down) and then the doors proceeded to sit in the hallway for months. Well, at least half of them did. Right away I replaced the guest bedroom door (Candelyn was living here at the time, so it was her room for the time being).

I don’t think I knew what I was getting into when I decided to do all of this on my own. Chiseling the spaces for the hinges, drilling the door knob openings, adding all of the hardware and hanging it securing so it actually closes. My first door went pretty smoothly, it only took me like 4 hours though… oh boy! But I was in love – in love with a door! This was the only door of the four that fit perfectly without sanding or trimming. I also replaced the coat closet door and had to sand the edges of it quite a bit. It was still a tight squeeze into the frame so I avoiding opening that door for about 3 months since it didn’t quite fit. It didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first one, obviously. Oh and it fell on me at one point, leaving my shoulder very bruised and a big dent in the door (at least it was on the inside). I came to a stand still when the bathroom and my bedroom door were going to need some serious trimming.

Fast forward to April and I decided it was finally time to finish this project. Oh, and it helped that I decided to purchase a planer – another addition to my power tool collection. It took me most of a Saturday to hang the final two doors, but I did it! A home improvement project just isn’t complete without at least one injury. This time I dropped a door on my foot and landed a nice bruise that was still there weeks later. The old doors are now sitting in the workshop with all the hardware still attached. Think I can get $5 for them from Craigslist? Haha, I’ll at least give it a try!

Now all that was left was to add 2 coats of OW-18. [My go-to white oil-based trim paint by Benjamin Moore. I think the first rule my mom taught me in home improvement is always use Benjamin Moore. I’m not sure why this was an important rule, but now I only use big Ben when it comes to painting because Mom said so.] I spent a Saturday painting the first coat on all of the doors and a week later I finally got around to painting the second and final coat. And I added some hooks to the back of the bathroom door and my bedroom door. They were finished at last! It was only 6 months in the making… didn’t I tell you I have the bad habit of starting projects and not finishing them exactly in a timely matter? Its been at least a year since I started working on my closet doors and have yet to get those finished.

my new blue gloves

Yesterday afternoon the sun finally came out and dried up some of the rain from these monsoons we’ve been having. I was planning on finishing painting some new interior doors (more details on that to come), but I realized my yard was in much more need of my attention. And when I got home from church the neighbors were out doing yard work and then I felt obligated to do the same. A few weeks ago I bought some new blue leather work gloves since my other two pairs now had holes in all the finger tips [I guess I’m a little to rough on them?] My front and back yard each have a giant pin oak tree. While I love them for the shade they provide, they make for some miserable leaf raking and stick picking up. The heavy winds we’ve had the past few weeks have done quite a number on all my tree branches and after only picking up most of the front yard I was left with this overflowing bundle of joy:

I finally mowed for the first time this season and since my front yard is seriously lacking on the grass it didn’t look TOO bad beforehand. The backyard, well that’s a whole nother story. I put this off for entirely too long. What else did I put off for too long? Raking and bagging the remainder of the leaves in the backyard [which don’t actually stop falling in my yard until January or February] and they were now buried amongst the nearly foot tall grass. Oh what a surprise that was for the lawnmower. So surprising that it cut off at least 10 times when it hit a pile of leaves that it couldn’t quite handle.

Unfortunately my lawnmower doesn’t have a bag, which normally isn’t an issue for the clippings to just stay on the ground. But since the backyard now had a foot of grass clippings AND chopped up leaves, mmm well that didn’t quite look very good. And did I mention lots of these leaves were soaking wet? Perfect. I decided it was going to be necessary to now rake and bag all of this up since the piles of old wet leaves were killing my grass. I guess this is what I get for procrastination? I was insistent on completing all of this raking and bagging before the day was over. The sun wasn’t on my side. So I busted out my headlamp and worked outside until almost 9pm to finish the job.

I was relieved and happy when it was done. My hands, however, did not feel the same way. I’m now regretting buying those new blue gloves because I still got blisters and they left my fingers looking a little something like this:

At least it all washed off after 15 minutes of scrubbing. Yet another reason why I dislike the color blue.

“blog about it”

Yesterday was a windy day; I felt like it was Boston and the Red Roof Inn all over again. [check out my “Day 1 – ROAD TRIP” post for details on that]. I came home to a nice surprise and I texted my mom and my brother for help.  Like any brother would do, Brian gave some great advice.

Thanks for the tip, I’m doing just that! Oh, and I fixed the house too. At least temporarily. [Think Brian’s comment was funny? Check out his blog here for more witty BP action] Here goes my first post about home fix-it solutions and DIY. As I’m sure most of you know I’m a very stubborn person. I don’t like it when someone tells me I can’t do something. Sometimes this means I go to extreme measures. For example, don’t have an extension ladder to reach the vinyl blown off of the wood on the gables? No problem, just grab the rickety wooden ladder I do have and use it to climb up the side of the chimney and up onto the roof, as shown here.

This is where I need to throw in a disclaimer. Do not try this at home without proper adult supervision, or maybe don’t try it at all, just call someone with a big ladder and have them fix it. But as a side note, this trip to the roof at least gives me the opportunity to clean out the leaves and debris you can see stuck at the corner of the gutters. And I have been wanting to examine the roof and see what shape its in; according to the previous owners, a new roof was put on around 2005 and boy was she a beaut.

I’m now standing on the roof at the back of the house. I crawl my way over to the side of the house, with hammer and nails in hand. The metal/vinyl piece was still connected and hanging by a few lonely nails on one edge; it was quite beaten from blowing in the wind all day. I manage to reshape it and then it was time to go to town with the hammer and nails. While laying on the roof and arms extended I proceeded to nail that bad boy back onto the wood so that it snuggley fit right under the edge of the shingles. And then I added a few extra nails just for good measure. So I climbed back down the fireplace “staircase” and old ladder to admire my work. Since I’m OCD, I made myself climb back up there to fix a couple places where the piece didn’t quite cover the underneath pieces (using very technical terms here). I climb back down a second time and am pleased with the outcome. It may not have been pretty, but it was good enough to be a temporary fix. You can see in the picture below the finish product.

So there you have it. My first blog post that just screams DIY. [Do-It-Yourself, for those of you who may not be up on the HGTV lingo] My methods may be unusual at times (and probably not recommended by a professional), but when I’m presented with a problem I like to go to all measures to fix it myself. Let’s just hope I never end up on this website though… There I Fixed It

Oh and PS – I did call mom afterwards just to let her know I didn’t fall off the roof or anything.