Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Second Try on Nightstands

The twins' room was one of the first we tackled in the house, and after a massive clean-up effort, turned out to be a great play-and-bedroom place for my two nine-year-old boys.

One thing it lacked in the way of furniture was something to function as a bedside table or night stand between the boy's beds. And they were asking for one.

So at an annual "junk jamboree" last fall, I found this bookcase:

It was small and in colors that worked with the bedroom's existing scheme, even though the paint was a little too distressed.

But it didn't quite work out the way I pictured it:

There was too much space between the two beds for one piece of furniture to conveniently serve both. And really? The boys were disappointed. Not that they talked about convenience so much, but ownership. "I wanted something that's just mine. I don't want to have to share!" This is pretty typical of twins who have to by necessity share a room, and I did one of those big forehead smacks for not taking that into consideration.

Also, the red and blue paint actually clashed in a gross sort of way with the brown vinyl composition tile, making it seem weirdly purple:

No one was loving it. Also that picture above is in its tidied up state; most of the time it was knocked crooked, dragged to one side of the room or the other, and filled with the random miscellanea of two nine-year-old boys.

I've entirely furnished this house with pieces I'd already owned and with second-hand, curb-side, and garage sale finds, so I decided that it was okay for me to open my wallet and let the moths fly out this one time.

There are a lot of really great "IKEA hacks" out there, but really, I wanted exactly this. Something simple, sturdy, and with natural wood tones. And since I'm still obsessing over an exterior paint job, I didn't have time to go all nuts with a furniture painting project.

The only downside of this purchase is that it was bare, unfinished wood, and I wanted something between the wood and the grubby little fingers of my young boys.

So I ended up turning my screen porch into a spray booth:

And unholstered some spray polycrylic:

I'd never used it before. Application was trouble free on the actual items, but it was super stinky and I ended up with poly on my feet, my shorts, and somehow in my hair before it was over. However, I swore less overall than any time I've ever used spray adhesive, so I'll consider that a win.

Here it is after the first coat. This news just in: clear satin polycrylic is really.....clear.

It was a warm dry day, so everything dried very quickly. Then it was just a matter of a couple hours for assembly:

While I used my cordless drill on some of the assembly, I found it a bit easier (though slower) going with a screwdriver. I suspect that it's because neither the hardware or the wood is of highest quality.

Here they are in their new habitat:

They are maybe a tad taller in proportion to the bed than they should be, but I think that will become less noticeable if I find a pair of headboards for the beds. Also, the curtains need to be hemmed, in my opinion. But this? Much better than the bookcase. And Ben and Joe are thrilled to have some territory in a shared bedroom that is theirs alone.

Here is one with some stylin'. Would you join us for some Frog and Toad?

The  bookcase is going to still be a nightstand, only in my 13-year-old's room, and after a sanding and paint job. So the purchase wasn't a total mistake; it just took more than one attempt to find a good home for it. That's what happens when you thrift and junk shop. The first idea might not work out, but maybe another one will.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Do I Have To? The Smorgasbord of Stupid Edition

There are several stupid things about this post, so I'm going to point them out instead of trying to pretty up the situation.

"Do I Have To?" is a first-Monday-of-the-month blog feature. And it's.......Tuesday. Mid-month. But I wanted to really make myself do it anyway. I didn't want to get out of the habit of taking care of one pain-in-the-rear home improvement task a month.

Since blog posts that get written out of guilt and fear of failure are bound to be, well, full of guilt and fear of failure, it's no surprise that I tried to over-compensate by trying to do two tasks, and then failing in some of the details with both. Sigh.

Anyway, meet the drawer in the kitchen that we all refer to as "that damn drawer."

It had been glued, but the dovetails worked themselves apart again, and the repeated open and shut of daily life (reaching for sandwich bags and measuring spoons) were taking its toll.

I emptied out and removed the drawer and took a look.

What's worse, after scraping the dried glue away with a utility knife, it was clear there was no "there" there. Over time the wood had worn down, and in some places splintered away. The joints were no longer tight. Glue wasn't going to help this situation.

I'll admit here that joinery is outside my level of carpentry skills. Also, I tend to need to be doing about twelve other things at any given time, including watering tomatoes, cooking dinner, and finding the sticky note with my son's college account password on it. So finessing dovetail joints on a 30-year old-drawer isn't going to be top priority.

I guess what I'm saying is that I have no idea whether what I did next was advisable, or right, or even remotely intelligent. So I can't recommend this as a solution if you are having a similar problem.

I went to the hardware store and found some long-ish thin screws:

Then I drilled a pilot hole through one of the dovetails......and immediately realized I'd put the hole in one of the non-nesting dovetails, so it wouldn't go through both pieces of wood. I am. so. brilliant. Then, I drilled a second pilot hole:

Yes. Isn't that awesome?

Thank goodness this ugly MacGyver business can't be seen when the drawer is shut. What a mess.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the twins' room, I was looking at this developing situation:

That is a paint bubble which broke and peeled off the wall. Floating in a film of grubby kid dirt. I'd like to claim that I don't live like this. But apparently I do. Ew.

Cleaning was the first step.

Then I skim coated the hole with joint compound, and sanded, and primed, and painted. Which all would have been nice to photograph because you know I write a blog about this sort of stuff. But no. I put down the camera, apparently sustained a concussion of some sort, fascinated myself trying to get just one more bit of joint compound out of a crusty container, and didn't take a single other photo. I have no idea what's wrong with me.

But hey:

It's clean, and fixed. But I didn't "show my work." I blame the monkey.

I'll be back in September with the next monthly installment. I may even drill holes in their proper places, and remember to take pictures. Sigh.