Do You Wanna Build A Headbort?

My husband has been bemoaning our lack of a headboard for what feels like years, and I certainly don’t disagree with him. Sans headboard, our pillows left our cheaply painted wall with a lovely… stain? Some of the color from our pillowcases had rubbed off on the chalk-white walls. Not to mention: Flat, white paint looks unfinished/like primer. This weekend we decided to tackle both problems. We actually bought a can of paint for the bedroom when we bought the house… two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, we tackled such a large painting project in the kitchen and dining room prior to moving in that we just didn’t have it in us to paint yet another room. So into the basement went the bedroom paint and there it sat.

I’d been perusing Pinterest for some DIY headboards and I found a lot of decent tutorials, but they were all missing steps, didn’t have good pictures, or were too vague. So I pieced together what I needed and formulated my own plan. Throughout this entire process I was terrified that this would be yet another Pinterest fail, but I’m quite pleased with how everything turned out. Without further ado, here’s my DIY headboard walkthrough.

* * *

I opted for a headboard with legs to cut down on weight and materials. I measured from the floor to where I wanted the headboard to hit on the wall. I went with 4.5′ (54″). I measured how wide our bed frame is (62″). Then I measured how tall the bed frame is, how tall the mattress/box spring combo is, and figured out how much clearance I needed to miss an outlet we use on the wall. I’ll save you the math, but I determined that I wanted the headboard to be 62″ by 32″. Fortunately for me, Lowe’s will cut any wood you buy in the store, so I didn’t have to invest in saws.

I went shopping and bought:

  • 1 piece of 1/2″ plywood measuring 62″ by 32″ ($20)
  • 3 1×6 boards, 1 measuring 51″ and 2 measuring 54″ long ($20)
  • 14 boxes (25 count, so 350 total but a lot of them were subsequently bent or broken thanks to the fact that I turn into Thor when I get a hammer in my hand) of bronze upholstery nails ($18)
  • screws ($2)
  • 4 each: bolts, nuts, and washers ($2)
  • spray adhesive ($8)
  • fabric remnant ($6)
  • 2 rolls of 24″ by 72″ foam ($40)

In addition to what I bought, I already had the following items on hand that I ended up needing:

  • a hammer
  • a pair of needle-nose pliers (for removing wonky tacks)
  • a drill
  • a Phillips screwdriver
  • a manual staple gun (with staples, obviously)
  • wood glue
  • an old sheet (I’ll get to this later)

My first obstacle was figuring out how to incorporate legs onto my headboard as none of the tutorials I read had legs–they were all just one big headboard. I determined that laying the plywood down on top of the fabric (with the nice side of the fabric down) and stapling an inch or so to the bottom back of it would help me get to where I wanted to be.step 1

Next I attached the top frame piece and the side frame pieces/legs. I laid all three boards on the back of the plywood first because the boards were a bit wider than the plywood and I wanted to make sure I had everything centered so the overlap was even. I applied a bit of wood glue before screwing the boards to the plywood. (In the below photo I pulled the fabric down so as to not accidentally screw through it in case the screws poked through, which they did.)
step 2

I flipped the whole thing over onto its back to attach the foam. At my husband’s insistence, I applied a GENEROUS amount of spray adhesive to the plywood before laying the foam on top of it and trimming the excess. I left myself a solid 4″ to wrap around and staple to the back of the board. Once the adhesive dried, my husband stood the headboard up and held it (padded side toward him) while I pulled and stapled the foam around the back. (You can see the stapled fabric is just hanging out below; we’ll deal with it soon.)
step 3

I was concerned there would be a big, horizontal seam on my headboard because I had to use two rolls of foam so I added a support layer in the form of an old sheet prior to attaching the other three sides of the fabric. Your mileage may vary here, but I figured it was better safe than sorry. If the seam showed through, I’d have to rip out a ton of staples to fix it. After the sheet, I pulled up the fabric and made sure all the sides (including the bottom, where it was already stapled) were smooth. It was incredibly helpful to have my husband on the front side for this part, telling me where to pull more fabric and what was wrinkled versus smooth as I stapled the fabric to the back of the plywood. I started stapling at the center top and worked my way out to each side. Then I stapled from top to bottom on each side, saving the two top corners for last so I could pleat and tuck them how I liked before stapling them down. Truthfully, you could easily have this as a headboard. Of course, I have champagne taste on a beer budget, so I had to go the extra mile and hammer in 285 bronze tacks, but that picture comes later…
step 4

All the tutorials I read said to draw out your tack lines with pen, and I wish I’d listened. Being neurotic, I was terrified that I’d make a mistake and have visible pen marks on the headboard forever, so I taped mine out with painter’s tape and it was inconvenient and inefficient to say the least. The tape kept shifting as the fabric was depressed by each tack. My lines are not as straight as I would have liked because the tape shifted so much.
step 5

After struggling to get about half the tacks in I figured out that it was remarkably easier to shove the tack through the fabric and foam, press down on the puffy foam to the left or right of the previously nailed-in tack, and hammer away. I ended up redoing most of my previously hammered tacks to get straighter lines. I also bent or busted the heads clean off of at least 50 tacks during the tacking stage (thank God we went to two different Lowe’s and bought all the tacks they had!). Lastly, I set the headboard up against the wall and scooched the frame up to it so it was centered with the bolt slots on the frame. I marked holes where I thought they’d work well in the frame slots, and my husband drilled through with the biggest drill bit we own (the bolts are slightly thinner than the diameter of a pen, for whatever that’s worth to you). We attached the headboard with four bolts and their accompanying washers and nuts. Many tutorials I read just shoved the headboard between the bed and the wall, but I’m not that laid back–I wanted it to be attached to the bed.
step 6

The original headboard I looked to for inspiration was somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,300. I spent a little under $120, and I’m not mad at it. So here we are–the highly anticipated before and after. Behold:

bedroom before

bedroom after

While I despise painting, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that two coats of paint made a huge difference in how the room feels. The headboard just adds an extra layer of “luxury.” Not bad for a day’s work.

Use Your Delusion: A “Quick” Upgrade

Not long ago I got the idea in my head that a “quick coat of paint” on our foundation would make a world of difference for the house. I wasn’t wrong about the world of difference part, but I was incredibly wrong about the quick part. My husband, God love him, agreed to the project and the color I chose without hesitation and we got to work. Much to our dismay, the gallon of paint-plus-primer we bought only covered about a quarter of what we wanted to paint–and it took what felt like forever to finish a small section of our front-facing foundation (everything from the fence to the basement/side door in the below photos). The uneven texture of the cinder blocks coupled with the fact that they were entirely untreated meant that it took about twice as much paint and time as it should to cover just one section of the wall. We ended up stabbing paint into the nooks and crannies of those untreated, uneven blocks for hours on end until that one area finally looked respectable.

We persisted through a second weekend, and the results are pretty sweet. After about four hours of work (plus the three hours we needed for round one) the whole front half of our foundation is painted a lovely cabernet color, and I managed to plant new flowers/bushes on the driveway side of the house in addition to adding new mulch to the front bush bed and turning the pavers up so they created a higher perimeter around the bed.

before paint

after paint

The Evolution Of Dine

In 2006 my mom bought us a second-hand kitchen table. It was hideous–half white and half pine and all country kitch. But it was a table, and we needed it. We used it sporadically, but I was always embarrassed to have it in the house because it didn’t go with anything.

For Christmas this year we decided to buy ourselves a new dining set instead of buying each other a bunch of random stuff we didn’t really need. We found a beautiful cherry set with white faux-leather chairs that we ordered, and after about a week they emailed us and told us they were out of it. After they let us order it and pay for it. Why let us go through the process of paying for it if it’s out of stock? Whatever.

After straightening out that whole miscommunication, we ordered ANOTHER dining set. And it went through and they actually shipped the blessed thing. Unfortunately, because there was a third-party delivery service involved, we didn’t receive our dining set for a disheartening six weeks. But when it arrived, oh was it glorious…

… because I LOVE putting furniture together. Honestly, I do. So to get to assemble a table and six chairs was an ideal night in my book. My husband was less pleased, but we got it all together and, other than the low weight limit of the chairs, I’m super happy with the results.

Before:

before

During:

new color

After:

dining set

Notice that we also purchased an area rug and new curtains, because I can’t do anything halfway. And because nothing in my life can be without a struggle, one of the curtain panels arrived six inches longer than the others. But I eventually sorted out everything and here we are. Eating at a proper table like civilized adults.

* Edited to add: On April 25, 2015, one of our friends busted one of our chairs and we are currently under negotiations with Overstock to replace it because there is a clearly visible rotten section of wood on the leg that broke. Never a dull moment.

Fake It Till You Make It

My husband and I have been saying we’re going to buy a new artificial tree after Christmas (when they go on sale) every year for at least six years. And every year Christmas has come and gone with us not snagging a great deal on a new tree. This year I was determined to get a freaking tree. Not just any new tree–a nice tree. A tree that looks real and quenches my secret thirst to have a Martha Stewart tree on a Charlie Brown budget.

Conveniently enough, Balsam Hill had been running commercials left and right leading up to Christmas and after visiting the site: I was hooked. I drank that Kool-Aid. It certainly helped that select trees were half off. (This is in no way sponsored by Balsam Hill, by the way. They don’t know me and I’m not a paid spokesperson. I’m just a crazy lady who likes fake trees.) I liked their trees so much I pretty much threw my money at them immediately and obsessively monitored my email until my beloved tree was delivered. As luck would have it, the tree was delivered approximately five minutes after we left the house on a Wednesday morning. I was so excited that I took a HALF DAY off of work that very afternoon to go home and retrieve/set up my new tree… only to discover when I got home that there was no giant box on my porch.

We don’t live in Mayberry, so my first thought was that someone saw a big box and took off with it (in the five hours it was on the porch). My husband could not get in touch with our next-door neighbor so we stalked the neighborhood porches for our package, hoping it’d been accidentally delivered to the wrong address. At my husband’s insistence I called FedEx and Balsam Hill and filed missing package reports–a mere 15 minutes after we got home and prior to talking to the neighbor. We spent a few tense hours pacing the living room floor until my husband got a call from the neighbor–who had been at the movies with his phone off and missed all the calls and texts. Our neighbor had intercepted the tree for us and was planning on giving it to us when we got home from work. Taking a half day unfortunately thwarted his incredibly thoughtful plans. I frantically called FedEx and Balsam Hill back to let them know that the tree had arrived and I’d panicked over nothing and everything was fine.

I couldn’t wait to put the tree up. It’s so fancy it actually came with cotton gloves to wear so you don’t hurt your hands when you fluff the branches. The tree sections were tied together not with twist ties or twine but with thick satin ribbons. It even came with a canvas storage duffel!

tree top to bottom

Of course, I needed a new theme because we finally bought a new tree. And yes, I have to have a theme. I’ve accepted my need for order and am living with it. I opted for red, silver, and white because my husband could not care less and just rolled his eyes and asked if we were “done yet” in the Christmas section of Target.

tree closeup

I think the tree looks ridiculously real and is quite pretty. While we spent more than we’d planned on it (even at half off–yes, they are that expensive), it’s beautiful and it has a 10-year warranty. I couldn’t be happier with it. I kind of don’t want to take it down. It can be a Valentine’s Day tree and then a St. Patrick’s Day tree and so on, right?

Good Fences Make Good(ish) Neighbors

A month or so ago we had three fence companies come out and give us estimates for fencing in the backyard. Initially we were going to just fence in the one open side of the yard, but our old fence was so decrepit that we decided to have it ripped out and get a whole new fence. Because we’re apparently made of money.

fence before

Even though it cost about three times as much as just putting in one new section, it was worth every penny. Not only would one section of new fence be totally mismatched in style and color–we hated how you could see through the alternating slats of the old fence. And it was practically falling down in the back thanks to our negligent neighbor’s overgrown bushes pushing up against it.

We negotiated with what we viewed as the best fence company to match a competitor’s price quote and submitted the necessary paperwork to get permits from the city. Because the government is the government, we heard nothing for a couple of weeks. Once the paperwork went through, however, we got on the books for an installation within five days. As luck would have it the husband was away for work (he had done the majority of the leg work with the company) when they wanted to put the fence up so I had to be the point of contact on the big day.

The workers were slated to arrive at 8:30 in the morning, but when I peeked through the curtains during my morning routine I saw the big flatbed full of fence supplies and a few guys looking at papers and unloading tools at about 8:15. I walked the lead contractor around the yard and went over exactly what we wanted point by point to make sure everything on the paperwork was correct. Because I didn’t have to be home for them to work in the yard, I went to work. As I pulled away from the house I noticed that the crew had already stripped down two-thirds of the existing fence in the span of about 15 minutes. I felt cautiously optimistic.

My optimism was short lived, however, because my phone rang halfway through my drive to work. The lead contractor informed me that our creepy, Stephen King-lookalike neighbor (who is only home maybe three days a month) was in their way. My husband had warned him a week ago that we were having the fence redone, but I guess he decided to wait until I left to tell the workers that the existing fence was actually on his property.

If you’re confused: This dude said nothing when we told him we were having the fence redone. He also did not come over to talk to me about it when I was outside with the contractors for half an hour before leaving for work. He made them stop working and tied them (and me) up with unnecessary phone calls for almost an hour. The lead contractor’s English wasn’t amazing, so after a lot of back and forth, he gave my number to “Stephen King.” I talked to him and found out that the previous owner of our house (before the flippers) had put the fence up himself without consulting the plans. His fence was on our property in the very back, but it sort of wandered off course toward the front.

When all is said and done we only lost about a foot and a half of yard space up front, but it’s barely noticeable. And apparently “Stephen King” felt bad enough about holding things up he decided to trim the mess that was that bush that had been pushing on our old fence. He sent me pictures, and he actually removed the bush entirely and pruned the giant tree behind the fence.*

I came home to a glorious six-foot privacy fence enclosing our entire backyard. I opened the door to let the dog out off-leash for the first time and she just looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Once she realized I was letting her roam free, she frolicked until she nearly passed out from the heat and humidity. At any rate, check out our new backyard oasis…

fence after

*You may notice we can now see our other neighbor’s shed thanks to “Stephen King” and his overzealous pruning. I think that when he cut down his bush and “cleaned up” some of that backlot, he accidentally trimmed some supporting branches. As a result, a heavy branch fell onto our less-than-a-day-old fence, denting it and giving us that large pile of branches and leaves you can see in the back corner above. You know what? That’s life, and we’re now the proud owners or a fully fenced-in backyard!

I’m The Firestarter

I was so enthralled with how the bush project turned out that I couldn’t wait to get my shovel in the ground again. Fortunately for me, the husband has been itching for a big project. We agreed that a great backyard isn’t complete without a fire pit, so we headed to Lowe’s for some supplies to build a stone ring in which to put our existing metal fire pit bowl.

Neither one of us really had any idea just how much fire pit supplies weigh until the Altima turned into a lowrider after we’d loaded it with sand, lava rocks, and landscaping stones. We chugged home at about 35 miles per hour and bottomed out on most of the potholes anyway. The worst part was our street, which they paved in two halves so it has a nice ridge in the middle that we scraped along the whole. Way. Home.

The hardest part about installing the firepit was honestly picking a spot for it. Our backyard is sloped and pretty uneven. It has some steep drops and the way-back is very marshy. Plus the pit had to be at least 20 feet from anything flammable–like the house, the garage, the fence, or the lone mature tree in our yard. Starting with a free-standing metal fire pit helped us here because we could just schlep it around until we found a spot we liked.

I’ve talked to a few people who want to know how we did it, so I’m going to attempt to tell you what we did without boring you with every little excruciating detail. Here’s a rough tutorial:

1) Put a stake in the center of where you want your pit. Tie a long piece of string to the stake. Measure out a length of that string equal to the radius (eek! math!) of your total fire pit space (stones and all–not just the bowl). Using the string, spray paint a circle around the center stake to use as a guide for digging.

2) Dig down eight inches. Our fire pit is on a slope, so we actually ended up with a hole that was 12 inches deep on one side and only six inches deep on the other side. Work with what you have.

hole

3) Rake the loose dirt around until it looks level and even. Then stomp around on it a bit to pack it down. If it looks level to your naked eyeballs, you’re good.

4) Lay down two inches of sand. Pack it down. Check it with a level. Rake, shovel, stomp, etc. until your sand is level.

5) Put the fire pit’s mesh dome in the center of your sand pit. Lay your first ring of landscaping stones around the dome. Use a rubber mallet and a level to ensure all your stones are level. At Lowe’s there was a guide for buying stones and supposedly a four-foot circle would require 14 stones, but we ended up only needing 12. Go figure.

hole with stones

6) Stagger the next layer of stones on top of your base layer so the seams don’t align. Add another layer and another one or two, depending on how tall you want your pit to be. We used four layers, and one of them is totally buried by the lava rocks.

7) Add whatever rocks you’ve chosen as filler to the center of your fire pit. We opted for lava rocks because they were inexpensive, light, a nice color, and bigger than pea gravel. We didn’t want to be kicking teeny pebbles around the yard with the mower/weedwacker (and I read that river rocks can explode when exposed to heat, so those were out as an option). Add the remaining rocks to the ring around your landscaping stone circle.

8) Put your legless metal fire bowl in your stone circle of trust and enjoy!

pit 1

There she is: What a beaut! The fact that our yard is sloped makes it look funny, but it’s level and it works like a dream. Now all we have to do is figure out how to get firewood that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg…

 

Bush League

You may recall from last May that I planted some bushes in an attempt to jazz up the front yard. I neglected to do any research beforehand, though, and dove in without having any idea what I was doing. I paid the price when a bunch of grass and weeds started popping up. I also didn’t dig out far enough, and the grass was practically touching the bushes. This is the mess I’ve been staring at for a year:

bushes before

Granted, this was better than just grass, but I still couldn’t stand looking at it. The husband and I hit up Lowe’s and after a looong “discussion” about what to trim the bed with (he wanted that black edging stuff, I wanted stones) we headed home with a trunkload of goodies.

Having learned my lesson last year, I actually put in the work this year, via:

  1. Digging down about an inch to get most of the grass and weeds
  2. Raking the dirt to loosen it up a bit and redistributing it to make it a little more even
  3. Extending the bed out by about six inches
  4. Laying down mulch liner to keep the weeds at bay (and pinning it in place)
  5. Lining the edges with stones and filling it in with lots of mulch

All in all it took me a good three to four hours to get through everything. I spent an exorbitant amount of time digging, actually. I’m unbelievably sore, but I’m extremely happy with how my efforts turned out this time around:

bushes after

The stones are a little uneven, but our whole yard is a lumpy mess and I had enough trouble getting it as even as it is. There’s a spot by the stairs where the ground collapsed a bit after we had our water line replaced–I put a significant amount of dirt on it to get the stones as even as they are now. It’s not perfect, but it looks so much better than it did before and I could not be more pleased with it. I can’t wait to tackle my next outdoor project!

Indoor Pools: No Longer For The Super Rich!

If you thought we were actually getting a pool put into our house when you read the title: Bless your heart. I was, in fact, being incredibly sarcastic with regard to the state of our basement after the most recent rain storm. Before you ask yourself why I’m even surprised when the basement floods anymore–I’m not. I’m so unsurprised that I went against the husband’s wishes and bought a butt-load of plastic totes for all of our junk in the basement. And you best believe I patted myself on the back for that little bit of pessimistic forethought when we went into the basement to discover…

1

This is the beautiful new water line we had installed last year after ours broke and left us without water for a week. It’d been leaking, so we had the plumber come back to patch it. Looks like he did a bang-up job both times!

2

That water line leak snaked all the way to the center of the room. Check out that reflection of the column in the puddle. It’d almost be pretty… if it weren’t in our freaking basement.

3

Oh, hai! Don’t mind this; It’s just the eighth or ninth spot in the basement where water just comes in underneath the baseboards.

4

They’re hard to see, but there are two spots on the right where the water is leaking in from behind the wall. The one toward the far (back) wall is the one that created the puddle near the back blue tote. The giant muddy mess on the left is actually from the water line leak. The water line leak is so huge it’s actually underneath most of the totes.

5

Here’s where it gets confusing. The water appears to be connected all the way from the totes to the closet that houses our sump pump. I cannot figure out if it all came from one area or if there were two trickles of water that met somewhere in the middle. Life is full of neat little mysteries like that, I guess.

6

And this is ground zero. I don’t know if I’ve ever posted pictures of it, but way, WAY back when we first started having leak issues–this corner was the culprit. You can see we’ve removed the trim, which was a tad moldy on the backside. We also sawed out a few chunks of drywall, which were also just a bit moldy. Better to nip it in the bud, though. Anyway, this water is collecting in a recess in the floor behind the wall that we can see from the sump pump closet, which is just to the left of this picture. At any rate, for the past year or so water has been doing exactly what you see here in order to get to the sump pump, so I’m fairly certain that most of the wood framing in this area is rotting as you read this.

If you’re keeping track, thus far we have:

  • Replaced the main water line to the house
  • Re-sealed the main water line because it was leaking
  • Attempted to have the French drains flushed, only to be told we don’t have any drains
  • Had the gutters professionally cleaned and re-pitched
  • Pulled off some trim and cut out some drywall in a vain attempt to prevent further moisture damage
  • Bought a not-inexpensive dehumidifier
  • Spent countless hours swearing and sopping up water
  • Contacted the contractors who flipped the house, only to be told they don’t have time for us in a tone that indicates that they neither care nor have any intention of helping us in any capacity

… and the leaking is getting worse!

Our next step is to saw off the bottom of the gutters that go into the ground near the foundation in the hopes that perhaps if we divert the water even further away from the house, it may make a difference. I have zero faith in this plan because the majority of the water is coming from the sides of the house where the gutter is already diverting the water six feet from the foundation. But whatever. What’s an afternoon spent sawing and gluing gutters in the grand scheme of things?

Eventually we will probably end up removing all of the drywall and studs four feet from the floor to expose the foundation (and mitigate mold/mildew issues), whereupon we will either see cracks in the foundation or be completely at a loss. Until then I guess we just put on our floaties and clean up the mess whenever we have a hard rain.

Shiny!

We’ve lived in this house for a year and three months and we JUST got around to installing hardware on our kitchen cabinets and drawers. We went all out–we bought both knobs and handles and we even bought templates! If you want to install hardware on your cabinets, it’s super easy…

1. Buy hardware and drawer and cabinet templates. Consider the thickness of your cabinets and drawers and look at the screws that come with the hardware to make sure they’ll fit.

2. Pick your holes on the templates and cover all the other ones with masking tape. They’re only there to distract you.

3. Pre-mark all your holes using the templates and an awl.

4. Drill, baby, drill.

5. Screw in your hardware. Remember that if the knobs or handles are loose, you can throw on some washers. And yes, as an adult you should be sitting on a surplus of washers. Get it together.

6. Vacuum up all the sawdust you made.

7. Admire the fruits of your labor. Here are our fruits:

hardware 1

It almost looks like we knew what we were doing.

 

Does This Doorway Make My Bookshelf Look Fat?

I am a particular person; as such I tend to feel apathetic about things at best and disdainful toward them at worst. Because of my pickiness I’m prone to buying multiples when I finally find something I genuinely dig. I have many duplicate shirts in my wardrobe as proof of this. I recently discovered that this propensity for buying multiples extends to furniture. Case in point: We needed to replace the shittastic modular particle board shelving units we were using to store extra toiletries in our upstairs hallway, and we needed to ditch our old entertainment set that we’d relegated to the sunroom since having our TV mounted last year. Why shop for two different shelving solutions when the same one could solve both problems perfectly? Even better? I got to make a trip to the happiest place on Earth: Ikea.

shelf 1

Please note how the  bookshelf is so deep it actually blocks the doorway to my office a bit. I have a sneaking suspicion that nobody makes a shallow shelving unit that is large enough to house all of our clean towels, extra toiletries, and tchotchkes. As far as the bonus room’s shelf goes…

shelf 2

One thing you may notice in both units is the baskets. Y’all, I have to tell you about the baskets. Rubbermaid came out with a line of storage bins that they’re calling Bento boxes, and they’re not just pretty cloth-covered cubes. Oh no. Inside they have flexible-yet-stiff dividers that fold in and out of the corners for a few combinations of containment for all your loose junk. I kid you not: I bought every last one of the large Bento boxes at our local Target (okay, so they only had five). I also bought a handful of the smaller ones for our bathroom. Again: When I like something, I buy a lot of it.

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