Friday, September 5, 2014

Guest Post: Embrace the Useless Fireplace!

Today we are so lucky to have one of my dear friends share a wonderful fireplace makeover with us!  Make sure you show Brandy some love!  She is a very talented DIY girl and I love seeing her before and afters!  Prepare to be amazed!  :)

Hi DIYers!  I was honored when Heather asked if I would guest post on her little corner of the internet!  When I'm not getting my hands dirty, I'm busy dreaming of my next project.  DIY is my idea of a good time and I love a good before & after!  I've spent the last seven years upgrading my 1930 bungalow when time and money allows.  Some projects required me to save all my pennies for a long time.  But this project?  She came in at $300.  Grab a cup of coffee.  This is a long post!
Happy DIY'ing, friends!

Back in 2007, I bought a fixer-upper. On inspection day, the living room looked like this:

Do you see that brick fixture? After we painted the walls and pulled back the carpet to discover original hardwood floors (yippee!), that brick fixture looked like this:
At one point it was connected to an old wood stove.  When the stove was removed, the flue was covered by this interesting piece of... art?... then duct-taped to cover the opening.

For a while, we worked around it.
The cost of turning this into an actual fireplace or demolishing the thing was too high since we would have to replace a section of the foundation, an exterior wall, and the roof.  So we decided to embrace this useless fireplace.
This is the result:

How do you turn that ugly faux-brick eyesore into the thing I can’t stop staring at?

First, convince your husband, Charlie, that this is a good idea even though you can’t find anything online that resembles the rough Photoshop picture you’ve presented.

Build a wood frame using 2x4’s, mdf, and anchor the frame to your concrete hearth.
Build a mold for the concrete bench using 2x4’s, mdf, corner round, and duct tape, if needed. (There are lots of great mold-building tutorials online for concrete benches. We tried to use what we had on hand.)

Ask your friend, Eric, to help because he knows concrete better than anyone you know. Mix the concrete, pour it into the mold, while causing a vibration to get out all the bubbles. I used a small sander on the 2x4’s while Charlie tapped a hammer around the frame to cause the vibration.

Smooth the concrete very well. Make sure it is safe from the rain, and then let it cure for a week.

Once your concrete bench has cured, you can remove the mold and smooth any rough edges. We chiseled a few irregular corners and sanded all the edges.

Bribe Eric to come over again. Take pictures while strong men carry a heavy concrete bench and place it on the wood frame. Use Carnuba wax to protect the concrete.

*Did you notice the photoshop image is hanging on the old mantel? That picture saved my sanity as we worked on this project in our spare time over several weeks. Instead of explaining to every single person who entered our home, (“I know it looks weird now but it will look great! It’s already better than it used to be!”) our “inspiration” was posted for all to see.

Build a new rustic mantel using reclaimed wood. We were able to pick out a few pieces of lovely cedar from Locust Lumber’s discard pile. Total cost was less than $20. Learn from my mistake: Stain and poly your mantel before you apply Airstone. I love the character of the wood.

Now you get to have some fun with Airstone! If you are unfamiliar with this product, check out the
display at your favorite Lowe's. There are lots of great Airstone ideas online, too! This product is very
easy to use and the instructions are simple. A few tips, though:

  • If you need to use more than one box, open all the boxes and mix the colors well.
  • Allow the Airstone to acclimate at least 24 hours.
  • Be sure to lay the stone in a horizontal line. You may be tempted to do all the corners first. Don’t.
The instructions say to only use a hacksaw to cut pieces to size. We found a $3 Miter Masonry blade that worked perfectly. Just be sure to account for the width of the blade when you cut.  This is a fun and fairly easy job. But it is very dusty.

The back corners of the concrete bench flowed beautifully into the stone.

Make sure the dog approves.

I’m thrilled with the end result! In the future, I might dress up the concrete bench with plants or candles. But for now, we like to use it as extra seating for our family game nights. Next project: sew some cute pillows for the bench.

Well now I need a new project to work on!  I just love how Brandy & Charlie made this strange brick fireplace into something so beautiful!  It makes the room look complete!  Great job guys!

Do you have any strange places in your home that need a creative solution?  If so I would love to hear about them and see your before and after pictures! 

Have fun!

Friday, July 18, 2014

From Basket to Light Fixture

As always, this story starts at Goodwill.  I was shopping there one day and came upon this precious little basket.  I picked it up, admired how cute it was and then put it back down and continued to look around.  I found myself looking back at the shelf it was on for another 5 minutes to see if anyone else had picked it up yet.  Then I decided I had to have it.  I may or may not have *almost* knocked people over to get back to it.  Then I took a few pictures of it and sent them to my sister (this is my norm if I cant decide
on a purchase).  :) 

Before (The actual pictures I sent to Ashley from Goodwill)  ;)

The more I looked at it the more I thought it would be so cute hanging up, like as a light fixture.  And what do you know...I needed a new light fixture in my office The Parlor.  I think the basket was $3.99.  So why in the world I stood there trying to decide if I should get it for 10 minutes is beyond me.  Frugalness is a gift God has blessed me with.  :) 

That night when Mark got home I couldn't wait to show him my new light fixture (well soon to be light fixture).  My husband is pretty amazing.  I mean, I bring all sorts of crazy things home for my projects and he always gets roped in at some point...but never complains. 

I decided to take the handle off and drill a hole in the bottom which would soon be the top that the light cord would come through.  I spray painted it white because I thought that would look better in The Parlor.  Then I purchased a white Swag Kit for the light part.  Mark did the electrical but after watching him I'm pretty sure I could do the next one (with his supervision).  It was super easy, it took maybe 5 minutes.  There are lots of videos on YouTube that show you how but be careful if you try it yourself!!! If you are local I can give you the number of certified electricians who are very trustworthy and not expensive.

I really love how it looks!  The shadows on the ceiling are so pretty! 

I just love how this turned out.  I'm now walking around my house trying to decide which rooms need a DIY light fixture in them.  :)  I think my total cost was less than $15.  That includes the basket, spray paint and swag kit.

Do you have any rooms that are needing a new light fixture?  I feel like it completely changed the look of the room!  I would love to see your before and after pictures if you decide to give it a try!

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Basket turned Light Fixture!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Cute Coffee Station

I found this cute little decoration at Goodwill for $2.99.  I didn't really have anywhere to use it, I honestly just got it because it had chickens on it.  Chickens are the way to my hubby's heart so I knew he would love it.  I picked it up and just like always it went in the project room for almost a year.  :)  Out of boredom yesterday I just pulled it out and decided to paint it.  I had no clue where I would put I just needed to paint something! 


I decided to paint it with Rust-Oleum Hammered Spray Paint.  Someone gave me this spray paint and I've been wanting to try it.  At this point I still had no clue where I would put it. 

I only used 1 coat!  And love how it turned out!  I just really love the color and the texture.

After I brought it in I looked around to see where I could put it.  I looked over at my little coffee station and thought it would be perfect there!  It holds the jars that have coffee, sugar and spoons.  Makes it look a little more put together!

Please ignore my counter tops and cabinets...our kitchen is a work in progress.  Progress.  Takes.  Time.  AND MONEY.  ;) 

What do you think?  Once again spray paint if my favorite quick fix for anything!  Do you have any neat little finds that you spray painted to change them up a bit?! 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Old Well House Turned Lettuce Garden

We have a old well house in the backyard that no longer works, it's kind of an eyesore.  I had pondered removing the lid and building a large table out of it, but it's really to tall for that.  Mark had the wonderful idea to turn it into our lettuce bed!  He cleaned it out taking out all of the old parts that no longer worked.  After that he filled the whole thing up with dirt and planted different kinds of lettuce in it.  Around the corners where the block was open he put carrot seeds in.  It was a very easy project and works wonderfully for our lettuce!  It keeps it off the ground so the animals cant get to it!  So love that Mark thought of this great DIY project!  I may end up painting the block on the outside, you know I have to paint everything.  ;) 

What about you?  Do you have an old well house that is begging for a new use?  Or a creative way to garden?  I would love to hear about it!  Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Serving Tray's...Not Just For Serving

At least 3 days out of each week I run into Goodwill just to see if there is anything I must have.  Mark loves that my favorite place to shop is Goodwill, it's great for our budget.  :)  There is one thing that I have such a hard time walking away from and they always have them...Serving Trays!  Most of the time they are brown wood that has a few scratches, not a problem for me because I'm going to paint them anyway!  Gosh I love them.  I use them everywhere in my house and the best part is they are usually only $.99 or $1.99! 

Here is one that I keep on my Kitchen counter.  I think it just makes everything look a little more clean and put together.  Yes, I know I have a crazy amount of Kitchen gadgets...I like them too.  ;)  This one was just a brown wood piece when I purchased it and of course I didn't take any before pictures...ugh.  Just a little white spray paint and it looks as good as new!  Please ignore the beautiful gold countertops (sigh) a Kitchen makeover will be here by the end of Summer.  I just have to have patience until then. 

This one I keep on my desk in the Office I mean Parlor.  ;)  It was a gold color before but I thought that white went really well with the gray top of my desk.  Just a little something to hold paperwork and such. 

This beauty is actually metal that of course I painted.  It is also in the Parlor, it sits on top of a small little ottoman (that was also a Goodwill find for $7 brand new with tags from Target) in between the painted chairs

So the next time you are browsing your local Goodwill or Thrift Shop and you see a ugly serving tray, pick it up!  There are a million different ways to use them. 

Have a good idea for using a serving tray?  Please share, I would love to find a way justify buying more!  ;)