{renovating backstory} how it all began

In the midst of pulling everything out of the back bedroom -- to refinish the floors and paint -- and then putting it back in, I took a good hard look at what I use as my sewing table.

This table looks innocent enough, right? But this table, friends, is the start of my love for DIY. 

Story time! :)

I grew up in a family that bought everything new. And if we couldn't afford it, we didn't buy it. Or, we saved up and bought it later. My parents are not so much lovers of second-hand goods. But, my roommates and I were losing our kitchen/dining table at the end of our junior year of college (and the roommate that owned the table ;), so we needed something for our new senior year apartment (we moved apartments each school year -- so much work, now that I think about it!). 

That summer I was living at home and had a this brilliant idea that I wanted to MAKE a table. Specifically, I wanted to TILE a table. I have no idea where this idea came from. I've always been *crafty* and used to tile frames back in the day, so maybe from there? Or maybe it was the 90s? Enough said :). Anyway, I went on a mission to find a good, inexpensive, table to tile. After all, I was on a college-student budget and had no idea if this would work. So I set out one  Saturday to hit garage sales. You guys, looking back, this is hilarious. I had NO idea what I was doing. I actually think this is the first time I ever went to a garage sale, and I had not taught myself to look past initial appearances to see the hidden potential. 

I went to a lot of garage sales that day. Eventually, I found this little table with a brown laminate top. It was hideous. The best part, though, was that it had leaves on both ends, so it opened to a long rectangle. It was a great size, which was a start. I actually left the table there (good thing it didn't sell!) and brought my mom over to look at it :). Which made two of us who didn't know what we were doing!

I ended up buying it for like, $15. Then my dad secured the table so the leaves always stayed open, and I set up shop in my parents garage. On my first solo Home Depot trip, I had a lovely conversation with an employee who explained to me how to tile. I picked out tile and proceed to break it into small pieces. Obviously. I remember having to glue all the pieces to the table, once I liked the layout, to make grouting easier. Then I grouted and painted the base and was done! It wasn't until after this was all done that we picked it up. Guys, this table is HEAVY.

The table has served me incredibly well. I was obsessed with it our senior year. It was so cute in our college apartment and I had CREATED it! Then it moved: first into my first post-college apartment and next into a house my roommates and I rented. We took a break when I moved to Boston, but were reunited when I moved into my next apartment post-Boston. Then I met Chris. Who didn't HATE the table, per se, but didn't see it as fitting in with his style at all. So we compromised and bought a table we both loved, and this little table became my sewing table. 

And so this is how it all began. I remember is being such a rush to discover I could take something ugly and make it lovely. I haven't always had a lot of room to take on projects like this, but now that I do have room, I've taken on a few (here and here, to name a couple) and have plans for so many more. 

Sadly, this table is not cutout for sewing. Waaaaay to small. While I wouldn't ever tile a piece of furniture now, I do feel very emotional toward the table -- after all we've been through a lot and it basically launched my love of renovating furniture, and now our home -- so I don't think I'll part with it anytime soon. I'm thinking it'll be an excellent little kiddo craft table. Someday.

I'd love to hear from you guys! Do you have a piece of furniture you just can't part with? Do you remember your first trip to Home Depot?? :)


{inspire} pinterest

Did you all have a good weekend? I had a super relaxing weekend with my family at the beach. Do any of you follow March Madness? This is the first year since middle school that I haven't filled out a bracket. At first I was kicking myself, but there was so much amazing basketball this weekend and it turns out that it didn't matter. In fact, it was almost better because then I wasn't forced to root for the team I'd chosen ... I could root for the rock star underdogs! :)

We didn't get to work on the house at all this weekend, but I did start a fun spring craft project that I'm hoping to finish up quickly and share with you! Today though, I thought I'd show you a peek into my Pinterest account. Are you all on Pinterest? I've been a member for quite awhile now, but it's only been the past couple months that I really started playing and fell in love with all the goodness on the site and it's organizational capabilities. 

The mood board I put together for the back entry? As I was finding images I loved, I saved them on Pinterest. Then, when I found something new I could look at the *Mud Room Ideas* folder and tell at a glance if that product would work with my over feel or not. 

And of course, there's a plethora of inspiration going on here. In fact, I think it would be all too easy to get sucked in for hours on end. I mean really. How awesome is this mobile (above) and this cake (below)!?

Last week I started a folder for my *To Makes* and I feel like it will fill up all too quick! :)

I am dying to make a quilt like this!

All the photos in the post are images or products that I love and have recently inspired me. You can follow me at http://pinterest.com/jennmccormick.

Are you on Pinterest? Let me know your user name in the comments ... I would love to see what's been inspiring you lately! Or wanna talk basketball? How about Butler? OR VCU? OMG!


{renovate} colorful living room lamps

Chris and I LOVE antiquing. Chris actually has a way better eye than I do, but I'm learning :). But we have so much fun spending a Saturday afternoon poking through newly found stores. Before Christmas, on a trip to the coast, we stopped by a huge antique mall. And this begins the story of our new living room lamps.

Tucked into a far corner of the antique mall Chris found these two identical lamps ... for $5 each. He new I was looking for curvy identical lamps for the living room, but he actually had to talk me into try these. I was having an uncreative day and couldn't see past all the green and brass. But in the end, $10 for two lamps is crazy cheap and not a huge loss if I hated them. We brought them home where they hung out for a couple months in our basement because ... I couldn't decide on a color. Shocking, I know. I suffer from color paralysis more often than I like to admit. I went to Home Depot to look one day last month, and decided to go a little crazy.

And by crazy, I mean turquoise crazy. Not gonna lie, I was a little bit freaking out at this point. The color is just SO BRIGHT!

But, I felt a little better after I'd taken the tape off. I actually really like the brass accents and they help tone down the turquoise a little. That's when the back and forth began. Do I like the turquoise? Is it too crazy?! You, my friends, were so helpful and encouraging about bold colors that I decided to stick it out! I found shades at Target this weekend that I love and fit perfectly. Score!

I LOVE this little brass detail at the top of the lamp.

And you know what? Once the shade was on and the lamps were *complete* I really love them!

They add such a crazy burst of color to the room, but I think the room can handle it :).

And, more importantly, I think I can handle it! Here's to getting over my fear of bright colors :). (And now, to deal with that pesky wrong height/wrong color side table!)

As a reminder, here's what the living room looked like last month. I can see now how little the pale lamp was doing for the room. So blah!

And here's the room now, injected with a dose of energy from my new crazy fun lamps!

So tell me, what crazy color have you painted something lately?

Happy friday friends! Thanks for stopping by and making my week so much brighter with your sweet comments :).


{renovate} refinish your own hardwood floors

Happy Wednesday friends! First off, thank you for all the kind comments this week about our *new* floors! We're super excited about them!

I'm not sure how many people are crazy enough to tackle refinishing their hardwood floors without professional help. But, if we're crazy enough to do it, I'm sure there's others out there! For that reason, I'm compiling a how-to refinish your floors. I did a little research (after we'd torn up our carpet!), but there were so many things that reading didn't fill us in on. I'm hoping our experience will help at least one other person out there who wants to save their original hardwood floors.

We chose to go the diy route because this was a completely unanticipated project. In fact, we'd been talking about tearing up our hideous carpet for a couple years, but it seemed like too huge of a project. So, why now? Because a friend and I were bored one day watching the boys tackle the *real* project. Isn't that always the best way to start a project?

I was a little nervous, as our budget really was $0, but this ended up costing us less than $100 to accomplish. How crazy is THAT?! In comparison, when Young House Love paid to have a professional refinish their floors in 2009, they spent $900. And that was an amazing deal! I'm not saying this isn't a TON of work. What I want you all to know though, is that with a little elbow grease, nice hardwoods can be completely affordable.

So how where do you start?

  • Blade
  • Crowbar
  • Hammer
  • Scraper
  • Sander: ours is similar to this Ryobi. It was gift from my parents and it's awesome. If you're doing any work on your house, it's incredibly helpful to have a small electric sander.
  • 60 -100 grit sandpaper
  • Painter's Plastic
  • Dig your crowbar into a corner of the carpet and pull up (be careful of your moulding!) to loosen the carpet from the tack strip.
  • In small, manageable sections (carpet is actually really heavy), work your way around the room pulling the carpet loose from the tack strip and cutting the carpet into strips. We did the hallway in three sections and the back bedroom in four.
  • Repeat step #2 with the carpet pad. 
  • Pull up your tack strips. These will take a little work with the crowbar. 
  • Repeat step #2 with any surface beneath the carpet. We found linoleum between our carpet and hardwoods.
  • Using your hammer, very carefully pull up each nail and staple that was securing your carpet/pad/tack strip/linoleum to the hardwood floor. They hurt when you step on them and they'll wreak havoc on your sandpaper.
  • Assess the current state of your hardwood floors. If there is quite a bit of glue, you'll need to bust out your scraper and get to work. This is the part that took us the longest. We just considered it a great arm workout :). If there isn't glue, consider yourself incredibly lucky and proceed directly to sanding.
  • Once your hardwoods are clear of debris and glue, it's time to sand. Sand down your floor with 60 to 100 grit paper. We used 100 grit, because it's what we had on hand, and it worked so well. It really pulled up the remaining stains and glue.
  • It's at this point that, if you're sanding a huge area, you can consider renting a large sander. This seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth for our small area. And now you're probably thinking we actually are crazy! :)
{Left: hardwoods after carpet is pulled up. Right: hardwoods after removing glue and sanding.}
  • My recommendation for sanding is to limit the area in which debris can fly. We used Painter's Plastic to tape off all the door openings. Also, open as many windows as you can. And, of course, wear a face mask. Please. You don't know what nasty chemicals are hiding in your floors. Especially if your house is as old as ours.

  • Applicator Pads (3 - 4)
  • Broom handle
  • 150 grit sand paper
  • Sanding Sealer
  • Polyurethane: We opted for water-based finishes. This is completely up to you, but when Chris had done the hardwoods in the rest of our rooms - 5 years ago - he chose water based. We wanted to keep things consistent. I will say though, that I would recommend water based to anyone. We've been incredibly happy with the floors in the rest of our house and I had no reservations about choosing this again.
  • First, vacuum your sanded floors well. REALLY well. I also went over them with a damp rag. Just in case there was still dust that the vacuum didn't pick up. A tack cloth isn't recommended for this, simply because it can leave a tacky substance on the floor.
  • Tape off all vents. You don't want dust circulating when your floors are wet.
  • Note: never shake the sealer or the poly. Air bubbles will ruin your smooth finish.
  • At this point, you would apply stain. We didn't apply stain. Again, we were going for consistency and the rest of our wood floors are unstained. Make sure you read the directions very carefully on your stain. It's recommended to wait 72 hours between stain and poly.
  • If you aren't staining, now is the time to apply your sealer. This helps keep this wood looking great, and also raises the grain so you can start sanding and achieving the smoothest finish possible.
  • To seal: start along a wall. Plan your route so you're sealing yourself towards the door. Don't seal yourself into a corner! Going with the wood grain, pour the sealer the length of the room in small puddles. You'll see that a little goes a long way. Pull the applicator at about a 30 degree angle, the length of the room. Repeat until you've finished the room. Make sure to overlap the rows.
  • Let the sealer dry for up to 2 hours. Ours took closer to 3 hours, but I was a little heavy handed with the sealer in some areas. When it's fully dry, lightly sand the entire floor with 150 grit sand paper. Then vacuum, wipe down with a damp rag and you're ready for poly.
  • Apply the poly the same way as the sealer, described above. Use a new applicator pad for each coat. We applied three coats, letting each dry for about 2 hours in between. We also lightly sanded, vacuumed and wiped after each layer. Except the last layer.
  • Once you've applied your third layer of poly, do not walk on the floor for 24 hours. 
  • You can start moving furniture back in after 72 hours, but we actually waited 5 days. Paranoid. Rugs should not be placed on the floor for at least 14 days.
We had two people working on this project every Saturday for 5 weeks and this included painting the back bedroom. I really think that we could have completed the project in two full weekends, if we'd wanted to finish them up faster.

A very nice Home Depot employee photo copied this packet about hard woods floors when we asked some questions about supplies. We also talked through the process with a Lowe's employee one day (we're equal opportunity home improvement store customers). The back of the Minwax Poly we used also gave incredibly clear directions. Minwax's website also has a TON of useful info. 

WELL, if you've made it this far in the post, congratulations! I know this is an incredibly LONG post. If you decide to refinish your wood floors and have any questions, please let me know.

Make sure to check back on Friday. I finally finished my TURQUOISE lamps! :)


{renovate} hallway reveal

Last week I revealed the new paint and new floors in the back bedroom. This week, we're ready to show off our newly refinished hallway!

Here was the hallway, in February. Note: I completely photoshopped the carpet into this picture. Don't worry, I will never photoshop a photo and not let you all know. We were just so excited to rip up the ugly carpet that I forgot to take a true before. The accuracy of this photo, though, is amazing. I heart photoshop. 

After we ripped up the carpet, and the linoleum, we were left with ....

... hardwoods! Shiny refurbished hardwoods!

What was once this ....
Is now this. This is the view from the kitchen looking towards the bedrooms/bathroom. If you look closely, you can see the lines from the moon/sun linoleum. Let's just say you don't have to look closely in person to see them. Boo. We'll be pulling up those boards and replacing them with salvaged hardwoods.

Which is what we did in this little area. The huge black area in the center of the photo is actually plywood. Not hardwoods. One day last year Chris was driving through our neighborhood and found the original hardwoods from a house that was being remodeled laying near a dumpster. Being the resourceful smarty that he is, he grabbed a bunch (after asking the owners, of course) just in case we ever needed it.

That same area now looks like this! YAH!

What I like best is the cohesiveness of having the same flooring throughout the majority of the upstairs now. The kitchen is still linoleum, but at some point I would like to refinish those hardwoods as well. In a floor plan that's as small as ours, having the same floors really opens up the house, and dare I say, even makes it feel a little bigger. Above is the hallway into the newly refinished back bedroom.

This is a view from our bedroom through the hallway to the other bedroom.

And this angle is the living room looking through the hallway. I love that all you see are hardwoods!

We painted the hallway when we painted the living room two years ago. So pulling up the carpet left an unsightly line along the baseboards. Luckily, it was nothing a little touch up paint couldn't handle.

A half hour later and all the baseboards were looking clean and crisp again. Lastly, we painted the vent that is in the bottom right of this picture. If you noticed in the above photos, it's blue. To match the carpet, obviously. So we spray painted it black to match the other vents in the house.

It feels so good to have this project wrapped up! Wednesday I'll be posting a tutorial for refinishing your hardwoods. While time consuming, it's actually pretty easy and saved us a lot of money.

So tell me, what did you all do this weekend? Anyone, besides me, glued to the TV watching March Madness?! :)

Edited: I'm adding this project to the Nester's Take a Risk Day link party! Because pulling up your carpet with a $0 budget was a huge risk for us :).


{inspired} projects around the web

Happy Friday friends! I have so many projects that I'm excited to share with you, but fridays are my picture taking day, and today is completely gloomstastic here in the great nw. So no new pics today. Boo. Here's to hoping for a little sun this weekend so I can get these projects shot! It's been awhile since I've featured some of my favorite blog land projects so I thought I share some recent home updating projects that have completely inspired me!

As you know, we have a completely unfinished (but organized!) basement. So I have been loving seeing how Nicole at Making it Lovely has been completely finishing her basement. Love the green floors!

And speaking of green paint ... I am so in love with the color Jane at The Borrowed Abode chose for her living room makeover. Just amazing! 

Check out this bathroom makeover that Sam of When Two Become One recently completed. Beautiful! And, she makes it looks so easy. I'm completely freaked out to start our bathroom! 

I could curl up in this library at Ashli's Maillardville Manor and read for hours. I love the green she's incorporated (seeing a trend in this post?!) and I love the pops of color from all the books. This little space makes me really want a library.

Last, I could not adore more Camila's, from Effortless Style, new pink (!) living room! The transformation from dark brown to light pink is just amazing. Oh, and that chair is just awesome.

There is so much goodness on the Internet these days, and these are just a few of my recent bookmarks. What projects have caught your eye lately?

Thanks to all of you for stopping by and saying hi this week!


{inspired} spring wreaths

Once we hit March, I get a little antsy for spring to hurry up and arrive already. Spring in Oregon means lots of rain (shocking, I know), but it also means longer days, warmer temperatures, and budding flowers and trees.  *Love*. As you've probably figured out, our decor doesn't change much for the seasons or holidays (well, except for Christmas). But this year I have my sights set on making a spring wreath. I had so much fun making my Christmas wreaths, and I think a spring wreath could add a nice touch of color. I have quite a large *to make* file, so from there I pulled my favorite wreath inspirations that having been popping up on the interwebs lately.

I love this wreath's texture and fullness. I also like that it's super neutral, but you could change out that ribbon according to mood. Perfect!

I still completely love my holiday yarn wreath, and so making a bright fun one is top of mind. This one caught my eye because of the colors (yah blue and orange!) and the simple medallion, instead of flowers.

But, of course, I'm still loving the flowers too. Love this color combo.

This wreath of moss, branches and fabric flowers screams spring to me. So much fun texture.

This could possibly be my favorite. Oh who am I kidding? I adore all these. I like this rectangle shape though ... and these are all the flowers I learned from my felt wreath project. I would love to give this a try to practice these cuts more!

And, aren't these petals just the cutest? So much depth ... and so colorful!

What about you guys? Ready for spring?! :) What fun spring-related DIY projects do you have planned?

Edited: I just discovered the What I Love Wednesday link party, which is perfect for this post! Hop on over to view what everyone's loving today :).