When we last talked about the basement garden unit, we were in a mad dash to complete (what felt like) a mile long punch list. We had less than 2 weeks to get through it, but only a handful of days before our out-of-town guests starting arriving before the holiday week. Still feeling frustrated that we were so behind on the other things we wished we were doing – paint the living room, add storage to the kitchen, tile our entryway, etc. – we said that our only hope was to complete the basement before the first guest arrives.
Oh, we were silly.
We didn’t finish before our friends made it from Portland to Chicago, but the good news is that without us even asking, they packed “work” clothes along with them. From the first night they were here (before we even put air in the extra mattress!), they were in the basement alongside us, patching drywall, installing switch plates and scrubbing the tile. But first, remember where we started? Here are the various before photos I snapped – everything from move-in day to progress:
The basement didn’t appear that bad. But as we mentioned here, the more we worked in that unit, the more things we uncovered – missing baseboards, yellowed doors and trim, cracks in the foundation, and the list goes on and on. But! Let’s no longer dwell on the past; rather, let’s officially close this basement chapter.* Because finally, after weeks and weeks of spending every evening devoted to that lowest level (and with the tremendous amount of help from our cross-country buds), we were able to move on to the most gratifying of all the projects – paint!
(*On a side note, there is still an access panel that needs to be added next to the laundry room [and a refrigerator for the kitchen and new outdoor lights!]. While it wasn’t funny at the time, that piece of wall was opened up on Thanksgiving morning to fix a plumbing issue, which was continually causing our first floor shower to flood!)
Now, the basement is looking cleaner, brighter and more put together. It looks like a pretty nice place to live, and it’s much more spacious that our first Chicago apartment and our teeny, tiny condo!
As a member of the Ace Hardware blog team, we were so fortunate to be able to try out their newest line of Clark + Kensington paint. We asked our renter what colors she was drawn to, and she – just like us – prefers the cooler shades of grays. While the main living space “after” doesn’t look too much different than the “before,” it’s actually a cleaner gray (the former color had a pretty hefty yellow undertone to it): Clark + Kensington’s Silver Dollar. It’s probably one of the most neutral grays we’ve seen – not too cold, not too warm, no hints of pink or purple; overall, it’s a subtle, soft hint of gray (the Holy Grail, we think?). The bathroom and kitchen got a soft blue-green, Clark + Kensington’s Misty Moor, and both colors were painted using Flat Enamel (our favorite finish for a still wipe-able, matte look).
We actually love Misty Moor so much, we’re wondering where we can use it our own home (the bathroom? A guest room?), and overall, we’re pretty satisfied with the paint quality. It was nice and thick, however, some areas did require a second coat for the most cover.
Of course the best part of working with Ace Hardware is sharing the goods with you, too, so together with Ace, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! What do you need? Paint? Liners, trays and brushes? A new power tool? (Ooh, yea.) Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Monday, December 9th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’ve partnered with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel. Ace has provided us with the tools and materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own.
Every year, Scott and I spend Thanksgiving in Chicago with our friends that aren’t usually able to make it home for the holidays – for one reason or another. Our little in-town family of orphans knocks it out of the park; we are potluck champions, and we consistently rock it, regardless of our long list of dietary restrictions (vegan, veggie, gluten-free and meat lovers, unite!). This year, however, our usual host was 9 months pregnant (and our newest Chicago family member was born early this week!), so naturally – like anyone who just bought a house under construction – we said, we’ll host!
This immediately posed a number of problems (omg, how do I make a turkey?), but the biggest dilemma was where will everyone sit? We had a crew of 11 on Thanksgiving day (with even more for the infamous follow-up Leftover Party), and rather than settle on any old table for the big day, we decided (again, naturally) we’ll make one!
We love a good challenge, so after scouring tutorials on Ana White’s blog, we settled on the Modern Farmhouse Table. Never having built a substantial table before (or any table for that matter), we liked that the clean lines would not only be a good fit for the long haul, but it seemed simple enough to build quickly (and it was!). This would be our table for years to come, and regardless of what chairs we tuck under it or what chandelier we hang overhead, this one could effortlessly set the stage:
We worked with Ace Hardware to get all the materials we needed, and we knocked it out in one weekend. Our local Ace doesn’t typically carry large amounts of lumber, so we discussed with the owner, Al (he’s the best), what we’d need, and he ordered everything into the store for us. All our supplies were ready in 2 business days; we picked it up, and we were good to start building!
MATERIALS + TOOLS USED:
This tutorial from Ana White, modified (see cut list, below)
9 – 2″x6″x8′ boards (for the legs and tabletop)
3 – 2″x4″x8′ boards (for the aprons)
6 – 2″x2″x6′ boards (for the supports)
2 1/2″ wood screws
Mini Kreg Jig
Table saw – we used the Craftsman Evolv 10″ (for creating square edges)
Compound miter saw (for making cuts)
Screwdriver / Drill
Tape measure / Ruler
Electric mouse sander
Sandpaper: 80, 120 and 220 grits for your electric sander
CUT LIST FOR A 6′ FARM TABLE:
4 – 2″x6″ cut to 30″ (LEGS)
7 – 2″x6″ cut to 69″ (TABLETOP PLANKS)
2 – 2″x4″ cut to 69″ (SIDE APRONS)
2 – 2″x4″ cut to 28″ (END APRONS)
12 – 2″x2″ cut to 35″ (UNDER TABLETOP SUPPORTS)
For those interested in this same tutorial, we encourage you to check out the step-by-step right here. Ana’s instructions were spot on, but we did alter her plans to make a larger table; ours comes in at 38″d x 6′w x 30″h, reflected in the cut list, above. Here are some of the tips we learned along the way, which we think made the process much smoother – especially as first timers.
First, we ripped down all of our 2″x6″x8′ and 2″x4″x8′ boards by 1/4″ on each side, length-wise, on a table saw. We picked up the Craftsman Evolv 10″ portable saw, and we loved it. (This guy has a lot of projects coming its way!) By doing so, we took a total of 1/2″ off of each board, but we gave them nice, square edges. It wasn’t necessary to do this on the 2″x2″ boards, as those were used as under tabletop supports, and they’d never be seen.
From there, we used our compound miter saw to cut everything down to the proper lengths. I figured out all the math beforehand to take Ana’s 5′+ table to a solid 6′, so we were able to move right along without breaking out the calculator. Rather than measure each and every piece, we cut one piece for every component to size, then used that same piece as our guide for each cut after that.
Once we finished up the cut list and the dusty work was (mostly) over, we brought everything inside to assemble (it was freezing in the garage!). It felt a lot like putting together a piece of Ikea furniture – you know, with all the parts scattered about, matching up piece A to piece B, and so forth (in other words, not so bad, but patience is important!).
After the legs and aprons were in place, we found it was easiest to turn the whole table upside-down and install the under tabletop supports this way. We used a scrap piece of 2″x2″ under the supports to keep things level, and rather than screw in each piece from the outside, we used our mini Kreg Jig to hide these screws. To keep things flowing smoothly, Scott pre-drilled all the Kreg holes (one on either end) first, then I lined up all the supports, rested a screw in each hole, and he zipped down the line, securing each one to the aprons.
The trickiest part of the entire assembly was putting our tabletop planks into place. To start, we did a dry fit, then took everything back out and started on the edges. Using clamps to make sure everything was as tight as possible, Scott drilled from below, using 2 wood screws on each small section of support, up and down the length of the entire tabletop plank. The tutorial recommends that you lay all the planks in place, turn the table over and pre-drill these holes. In our case, it was much, much easier to skip the pre-drilling and work from below as a starting point. We got a super snug fit this way!
We continued to secure the planks one by one, working on one side, then the other. As we got closer to the middle, we turned the table on its side, then I stood on the planks as Scott screwed everything in place. (Because our clamps weren’t large enough to keep the planks tight, this helped tremendously.) By the time we got to the final middle plank, we did have to shave it down by a 1/16″ on the table saw, but afterwards, we were able to use a hammer and a scrap piece of wood to get it in place. We rejoiced; Jack hollered in response – 4 hours after we started, we had a table!
The following day, we brought the table outside for sanding. While Scott got started on the construction clean-up, I sanded. And I sanded. And I sanded some more.
I sanded our table for close to 4 hours, but it was necessary to take down some of the un-level edges and to remove the rough knots, splinters and manufacturer stamps. Starting with the 80 grit sandpaper on our electric mouse sander, I went over the entire table one and a half times (really making sure to even things out all over), then worked my way down to 120 grit and finally, 220 grit.
Although sanding is one of my least favorite to-dos, it was absolutely worth it. The finish is so smooth; The knots no longer have the rough, scratchy edges, and you can run your hand over the entire table without fearing splinters.
The only visible screws we have are on each of the four corners – 6 screws that are keeping this table sturdy and tough. We altered Step 5 of the tutorial by placing screws at 3/4″, 2 1/4″, 3 3/4″, and 5 1/2″ from the end, angling the screws as necessary so that they never touch or overlap. Ultimately, we’ll use wood filler to cover those up.
To squeeze in every last one of our friends for Thanksgiving dinner, we did have to bring in our former patio table, we mix-and-matched chairs, and the eleventh person (Scott!) had to use a pasta dish. We all sat comfortably, but even on its own, the table still looks great with only 4-6 chairs around it (which is what it’ll usually have). In a pinch, it was good to know that for once in our Chicago lives, we can actually seat a fair amount of people!
It’s pretty obvious that we still need to stain the table, but we haven’t quite settled on the right color. We’ll be using our Elkhorn chairs, so we’ve been waffling on the proper wood tone – although we’re leaning heavily towards the same finish as my studio desk. (We’re not looking for a perfect match; quite the opposite!) In total, the cost of lumber and supplies (minus the power tools) came to $150 – although any finishing supplies would add another $20+ (give or take). If you were to follow Ana’s plans exactly (for a slightly smaller table), the cost would easily be under $100, as many of the cuts use every inch of board.
Not bad for one weekend and a new dining room table. (Now if only those walls could paint themselves!)
We’ve partnered with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel. Ace has provided us with the tools and materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. Jack’s supervision was an added bonus.
We hope everyone had a happy, restful (tipsy? that’s okay!) Thanksgiving – and Hanukkah! – and allowed yourselves to brush off the every day worries, at least for a little while. Now that the turkey has officially been consumed, I can openly enjoy holiday music without Scott’s constant chiding, but it’s too early! (I realize the how soon is too soon? is public debate every year, but it just makes me so smiley.)
Which means… Christmas isn’t too far around the corner! For the first time in 3 years, we opted out of applying for the Chicago Holiday Renegade Fair (we just have far too much house-going-ons), and while we’ll still go to pick up gifts for others, it’ll be a little sad not partaking in the festive energy. On the other hand, not applying meant that we were able to take on more Pet Shop orders than in years past, and we had our earliest sell out to date! A thousand times, thank you.
Although we’re sold out of the paintings themselves right now, we do have other options for custom, personalized (and very, very sweet) gifts for the pet lovers in your lives – and yes, even for your fine self! May we suggest our custom painting gift certificates? Or for those of you that like to knock out the to-list early (you’re our kind of people), we’re currently accepting 2014 pre-orders. To see which option is right for you, we encourage you to hop on over to The Pet Shop.
But as much as we love nothing more than to virtually meet your pets, we’d be amiss not to remind you of The Print Shop, too. You’ve all been so helpful with your top picks, and we like to think of those giclées as our own little group effort. (You + us.)
Art – pets or prints – will surely show off your thoughtful gift-giving skills this holiday season; much better than another scratchy sweater, don’t you think? Over the years, your kindness and encouragement has never stopped amazing us, and your support of our small business (among other things!) has meant the world. Happy holiday shopping to you!
First photo above: Boris and Talib are painted together on a 6×6 wood panel; all others are on a 4×4 wood panel. See all of our fine art giclee prints in The Print Shop, and our pet-gifting solutions in The Pet Shop!
At the end of last week, our contractor officially handed over our keys; they were done. It was such a long time coming, that it almost didn’t feel real; our shoulders felt instantly lighter, the weights removed. As you can imagine, months of contracted work, drywall mud, wood splinters and loose electrical snippings created the mother of all messes, and although they tidied up with a broom clean, our home was downright filthy.
But as of Sunday evening, drop cloths were lifted from furniture (after several days of clean up, followed up with an intense, final 13 hour cleaning spree, no less), and the living room suddenly felt a lot more welcoming:
Before leaving for Mexico, we did a smaller clean-up, knocking down the dust on the newly drywalled surfaces and following that up with a quick mop. For everything, we used microfiber cloths to collect and pick up as much dust as possible, which is not only the recommended method (says Google), but works.
After our return (and finding out that it would still be another week until completion), we asked Mike what the best options were for officially sealing out the dust, and he said to really get rid of it, we would need to prime everything that was fresh and new. We went so far as to cover up all the orange paint, and again, we mopped. We wiped down windows, walls and floors. We scrubbed stubborn spots with a bristle brush, and we fell into a rhythm of scrub, mop, wipe.
Even after all of that, we still had to breathe life back into our things – my desk, the stove, cabinets, television, dressers, mirrors, clocks, tables and sideboards. I went around the whole house with a microfiber cloth in hand, then shined everything up using this JR Watkins All Purpose Cleaner:
The amazing folks behind the brand sent a handful of sprays, hand soaps and dish cleaners our way – knowing full well that we had a demolition clean-up in our future; hugs to them! – and we couldn’t have been more smitten with the results. With a full pet household (and two of the three having allergies), we try to use all natural cleaners, and this not only fit the bill, but it really polished off the home. (Not to mention, the White Tea & Bamboo scent reminded us of the beach; or maybe were were just really missing it already.)
Sunday night, we sat on our couch for the first time since the end of August. We kicked off our shoes and dashed from the couch to the kitchen – in our socks! For the last several months, we had gotten used to what we considered “dorm living” – using the guest room bed (our safe quarters) for sleeping, dining and sitting. We had forgotten what it was like to sit on something cushy and soft – with back support! – and be able to rest your feet on the floor.
It was magical.
Our furniture arrangement is temporary, as we simply grabbed what we could from the second guest room (currently being used as our storage). THE LIVING ROOM: Eventually, our couch will move to the second floor studio, making way for something less apartment-sized and more house-sized (we thought we’d never see the day!). The green velvet chair might also make it’s way upstairs, and it’s obvious we’ve yet to decide on curtains, rugs, art and shelving – but all that will happen with time.
THE STUDIO: Even our 6′ farmhouse table seems dwarfed in the space, but we’re looking forward to adding built-in shelving and storage, as well as creating a relaxing seating area and layering in art, textiles and anything that evokes happiness.
We have a full crew of in and out of town guests that we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving with (and seven people staying under this roof starting tonight!), so although we hit a handful of road bumps along the way, we couldn’t be more grateful that we were able to close the chapter on demolition in time for the upcoming festivities – and to finally start moving forward! We’re still tying up the loose ends in the basement, endlessly researching the best way to cook a bird (tips?) and finalizing the menu among our veggie, vegan and gluten-free friends (meat eaters, too!). We’ll be spending the rest of this week and weekend soaking in the time with others; it’s something we’ve missed, as we’ve been burying ourselves in crossing off the to-dos.
For those toasting with friends and family this week, cheers!
This post was brought to you in partnership with JR Watkins. Opinions, magical moments and the spring in our step belong to these two.