Monthly Archives: August 2011
The last two weeks I have been refinishing my grandma’s dining table. Here is the big reveal with before and after photos. Project details will be following in the next post.
My dining table was originally purchased by my grandparents in the 1960′s. It served as the household’s hub of activity for 40 plus years. Countless family meals, bridge games and holiday feasts all were stationed at it.
I inherited it when we bought our house. I loved the table’s versatility. It can seat four to ten people easily with four removable leaves. I also am a sucker for the sentimental and cherish all the childhood memories I have sitting at it.
But that didn’t mean I would leave it as is. The table needed a makeover. The top was some sort of heavy duty laminate I didn’t want to keep. The table was scratched and its legs all banged up. There was even petrified gum on the underside from when my uncles and aunts were kids.
My first thought was to paint it all white, but then I thought why not make it playful? Our house is a mismatch of mid century modern lines with punches of tropical color and personality. It’s meant for pool parties and entertaining. Our table needed some fun design.
I went with a classic racing stripe reminiscent of 1960′s surf and skate boards. After sketching out a couple different patterns, I settled on a 2″ aqua stripe flanked by 1/2″ white stripe and 1″ wood stripe.
I became obsessed with having wood stripes. It’s a nod to the original finish, plus it works so well in combination with the white and aqua. My gut said the wood stripes would work, but I was still nervous on execution.
And the result? I am in love with my table!! I am so happy with that I worked the wood into the design. It looks even better than I thought it would!
We’ve already had a chance to try it out for a couple events we’ve hosted and it held up really well. My grandparents loved a good gathering. They would be thrilled their table is now the belle of my ball.
If you are interested in the project details, I’ll post them tomorrow with a supply list. This entry is already long enough!
The last two weeks I have been refinishing my grandma’s dining table. It’s the first BIG furniture project I have ever taken on. Below is a photo diary of the first day.
Get home from work. Change my clothes.
Move dining table to backyard.
Sand with 80-grit paper to scruff up finish.
Interrupted by a small tiger cat.
Take out leaves and flip table over.
Sand table legs.
Quickly prime legs and bottom of table with spray paint as the light fades.
Leave table to dry out back and make some dinner.
Above: Duplex living circa 2008
The duplex we rented 2007-2010 was owned by retired legal secretary named Margaret. She was a great land lady keeping the duplex in top shape. The woman absolutely thrived in a world of order and cleanliness.
Margaret gave me all sorts of tips during our three year stay. One product she introduced me to was Bar Keepers Friend. She hinted it would make my “well used” kitchen pots look like new.
I had never used the stuff, but picked up a container. I soon found that it was a great multipurpose cleaner plus it made my tarnished pots shine like the sun.
Now years later, I’ve been looking for a safe way to clean our brushed stainless steel fireplace and mailbox. Both pieces are such focal points, the last thing I wanted to do was accidentally scratch them with the wrong cleaner.
But, it wasn’t until I read a forum about cleaning with Bar Keepers Friend that the light bulb went off in my head.
Of course…that stuff would totally work!!
How to clean brushed stainless steel (or chrome)
Although I adore our mailbox, the stainless steel shows dirt and grime so easily.
Here you can see how someone taped a flyer to it that left a sticky residue.
Plus it’s covered with fingerprints and water stains from regular usage.
So to clean it – mix Bar Keepers Friend with a little water to make a paste.
Then rub the paste on the surface in the same direction as the brush marks until all the grime is removed.
Rinse off the paste with a clean cloth and water.
Then polish (again in the direction of the brush marks) with a clean microfiber cloth.
Success!! The sticky marks are gone.
As well as the rest of the dirt.
This stuff rocks! It doesn’t scratch and leaves a wonderful shiny finish. I urge you to try it on your pots or anything that’s stainless steel or chrome.
I was not paid nor given Bar Keepers Friend to review. I just really like it.
I don’t know why August (broken glass, water damage) has featured a bunch of new problems at our Casa. Guess, it just worked out that way. I promise Nate and I are so elated with our fence install that none of these other issue have broken our smile. I swear.
The Winged Problem
A couple months ago, we started seeing yellow and black winged insects in the backyard. They weren’t bothering us, so we left them alone. We try and practice live and let live at our house. (Okay except for flies which Nate and the cats expertly kill on sight.)
But then they started building a nest in the fascia of our shed …. and THEN Nate got stung on the ear. They were no longer our friendly neighbors.
The little guys were paper wasps. Not as aggressive as yellow jackets or hornets, but will attack if they feel you are threatening their hive.
And that’s where lies the problem.
There was not one, but two nest on our roof line. One is very close to the shallow end of the pool and we would be mortified if a guest got stung.
We asked friends, neighbors and family what to do. Most said to spray them, but we wanted that to be the last resort.
What was the most safest way to kill the wasps?
Our local home improvement store carries an environmentally safe trap called the WHY Reusable Wasp Trap. The trap works without pesticides. Instead the wasps are lured in with attractant and then can’t get out. Plus, it can be used from Spring through Fall in California.
Through their handy website, I also learned our invaders were European Paper Wasps. They have a “tendency to nest within voids and other manmade structures…increasing the chances of accidentally disturbing a hidden nest.” Which was exactly what they were doing in our backyard.
So we hooked up the trap and checked it daily. We even moved it to a new location, but after two weeks we had only caught one wasp. We were so disappointed. We had high hopes it would work out for us.
Since the WHY trap didn’t work, we researched other options.
You can make your own trap out of a plastic bottle, but this was too similar to the WHY trap for us to try out.
We were told you can smoke the wasps out, but that seemed dangerous especially after finding stories of accidental fires started doing this.
You can even buy this fake wasp nest called the Waspinator, but since our wasps had already set up home it didn’t seem that much of a deterrent. I think I would try this in the Spring when the queen is looking to set up shop.
Use the spray
In the end, the popular vote won. We would use the spray to kill them, but with every precaution.
The directions stated to spray in the early morning or at dusk when the wasps are less active. Even though these guys are not aggressive, there is the chance they will try to sting you.
Early Saturday morning, I suited up. I always enjoy breaking out my coveralls and this was the perfect reason. I wasn’t going to take a chance of being stung so I had two layers on plus rubber bands around my sleeves and pant legs.
I also strapped on a jacket, gloves, sunglasses and a painters mask. I didn’t have an inch of skin exposed.
The wasp spray is actually a foam so make sure to shake the can well before using. I sprayed the solution up between the wood panels directly into the nest and along the opening. As the foam dried up, I sprayed more and repeated this a few times.
At first nothing happened. Then the wasps started falling. As they hit the pavement, I squashed them with my sneaker to give them a quick death.
Loki watched the whole ordeal from a safe spot on our air conditioning unit. He eventually went inside with his sister so they didn’t try to eat any of the dead wasps.
We let the foam work for the remainder of the day before we cleaned up and washed down the area.
All in all, I killed about 50 wasps between the two nests. I haven’t seen a wasp in the backyard since and that was 5 days ago.
I know this is a morbid topic of discussion, but it had to be done.
I am glad I undertook it myself instead of hiring an exterminator. If these little dudes had to die at least it was by my hand.
I don’t mean to sound like a bad-ass, it’s just the honest truth. Killing the wasps was a horrible, but responsible decision for the house.
Next Spring, if we see the yellow and black insects flying around we will try one of the other alternatives. Perhaps the Waspinator to try to avoid using the pesticide again. But for the safety of us and our guests, we will do what we have to do.
Our cats spend the evenings catching bugs then bring them into the house to play with.
The other night Pixel cried at the door with a moth in her mouth. As we opened the door, the moth escaped into the great room.
She chased it.
All over the room.
Hunting it with her eyes.
Of course the moth flew to the ceiling out of Pixel’s reaches.
And that’s when things got interesting. Cat dad decided to help her out.
Nate held Pixel and she swatted at the moth. They made a valiant effort.
But even with their teamwork, the moth got away.
Pixel wasn’t too upset. She’ll hunt another day.
This is the second installment on our series of posts on the all mighty concrete. Check out the make-up of our concrete house.
Concrete walls may not be the norm for most living rooms, but if you are painting a garage or basement there’s a good chance it’s concrete.
I love the look of our block walls, but at first was a little horrifed to paint them.
We had to ask a lot of questions in the beginning and through trial and error perfected our block painting method.
I’ll get into the technique in a moment, but first let’s go over how I prepare to paint. Don’t forget these steps that allow for a long lasting paint job.
Wash it down
Before picking up a paint brush clean your walls. I mean think about it. Walls get dirty and you need them clean so the paint can adhere correctly.
We use TSP (trisodium phosphate) mixed with water to wipe down the walls. The TSP is great for removing grease, smoke and soot stains, but a multipurpose cleaner could also work.
Prime and seal the walls
It didn’t appear our walls had been painted in years so we wanted to seal them with a primer to protect against mildew and old smoke damage.
We used Kilz 2 White Primer and Sealer throughout the house. It’s a great multipurpose primer that covers just about anything.
If you are just updating the color or have a newer home you can skip this step.
So now that the walls have been prepped, its time to paint. We have had great results with Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint in a eggshell finish. It’s low-VOC, resists stains and recommended by Consumer Reports. If your walls don’t require a heavy duty primer, you can just use this for the added benefit of having a primer mixed in.
I start with an angled brush to paint the groves between each block and stipple in any deep impressions. (That’s my paint expert Mom demonstrating her skills above.)
Next, I switch to a paint roller cover with a 1-1/4″ nap. The thicker roller cover looks like a furball, but it’s designed for painting rough surfaces like stucco and concrete blocks. It works with all finishes, but best with a flat or eggshell.
For smaller projects, you may just want to use a brush for the project. The thicker roller sucks up a lot of paint and may be wasteful in a little space.
Cover the area with one coat and let it dry. You can go back with your brush to touch up any missed holes after it’s completely dry. Then paint one final coat with the roller. The texture of the wall makes it easy to miss parts so make sure to apply that second coat for good coverage.
We learned the hard way, but hopefully these steps will save you some time on your own concrete painting projects.
Next up, we will be talking about concrete on the floor.