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Life around our household has felt a little more hectic than usual, but then again, I do feel that things always pick up (for everyone, really!) as the seasons change and we enter the last part of the year (as much as I love my fall themed lattes, cooler air and holiday music, I’m always blindsided by how quickly it sneaks up!). Lately, we’ve been motoring along on the studio baseboards and trim, helping our friends with their entryway and prepping for a yard sale this weekend! At the same time, we’ve been looking forward and planning out the details for rooms we’ll be tackling next, while also going down a checklist of loose ends.

But because I love a good list and my brain couldn’t be more jumbled if I tried (and because TGIF!), here’s a little round-up of those items that don’t warrant their own post (just yet, anyway), but keep us busy or make us happy all the same.

ONE. Let’s start with the happy. When our coffee maker broke on Labor Day morning (spoiler: not the ‘happy’ moment), we found ourselves on a not-so-quick morning hunt to pick up a new one. No big deal. (Ha!) Our unassuming search turned into three different Target pop-ins, an extra errand (or four) and many hours later, we came home with this one – but most importantly, this tape dispenser, too!

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Now, here’s the thing. We rarely go to Target, if only because our neighborhood Target is a complete madhouse at any hour of the day; it’s truly terrifying. (Fellow Chicagoans, I’m sure you understand the Elston corridor of horror?) But during the coffee maker hunt, I stopped in my tracks at the office supply section and could not pass this guy up! I’m very un-hip to the Target collections in general, but the entire aisle of shiny gold Threshold* and Nate Berkus items made my un-caffeinated self a happy camper.

TWO. Remember when our stairs looked like this? And then we spent all that time prying nails, patching, sanding and priming? That was last December. December! Soon after, we moved on to other areas of the home, calling our primed stairs good enough. And now? It shows. Without a protective hard paint and finish, they’ve slowly turned into a chipped mess once again. But! We have a game plan, we’ve picked up every last supply to get the job finished – including the floor paint for the treads. Before this month is over – fingers crossed – we’ll have satin black treads, bright white risers and a staircase to write home about. We’re simultaneously filled with full on dread and over-the-top excitement for this one!

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THREE. Yes, there are a lot of little (and some not so little, see exhibit A, above!) to-dos on the agenda, but our next big overhaul will be the guest room! While we continue to save for the more extensive bathroom and kitchen facelifts, we’re pushing through with rooms that we can handle in smaller doses. We’ve had so, so many friends and family pass through in the last year (with more visits already on the calendar!), and although we have clean sheets and a bed for them, we’re ready to step up our game and create a room that feels inviting and cozy – but still quirky. With that in mind, we’ve since ordered a roll of this Hygge & West wallpaper for an accent wall, and we could just burst.

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In other news (as if this wasn’t already random enough), here are a few other home-related updates for this crew:

  • We took advantage of the screaming Labor Day deals and used up points from our refrigerator purchase to pick up a matching white stove!
  • We’re still obsessing over the funny little nook, and we ordered this rug during a great sale. It’s now on back order (of course!), and so, we wait.
  • Our front lawn is full and green after a perfect summer in Chicago, and we’re sharing the whole run down on Angie’s List! The last photo kills me; CC’s face. Ugh!

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So, how are you? Happy weekend, all!

*Sadly, I can’t find a product link to this dachshund dispenser!

  • Laura @ Rather Square - September 5, 2014 - 7:49 AM

    That wallpaper is great, your guests will love it. Doing something so bold for an accent wall is a fun option. I’m interested to see what the rest of the room will look like!ReplyCancel

  • kara - September 5, 2014 - 8:42 AM

    that wallpaper!! evokes the particular thrill of travel that will be perfect for a guest room.

    and hygge and west! am always intrigued that they’re “screen-printed in chicago.” that would be a fun warehouse to stumble across…maybe you can get a tour for us to tag along vicariously on :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 5, 2014 - 9:26 AM

      Exactly! That’s why we fell in love with it :)

      Oh man, that would be SO fun. We were also intrigued by that little line…ReplyCancel

  • Amber - September 5, 2014 - 9:08 AM

    Before you even said “Elston corridor of horror”, I knew that was where you were headed. (The parking lot of the Homegoods on the weekends is the worst.) Ever since moving to Chicago, I’ve come to loath Target. No matter which one you go to, it’s a madhouse and the employees are steeped in crankiness.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 5, 2014 - 9:21 AM

      Right?! Target in Chicago is not the omg-so-fun shopping experience that I imagine others to have. Last time we were visiting my family in Pittsburgh, Scott and I ran into Target and were really spooked… it was SO quiet. Employees smiled! Soft music played overhead. We felt that at any moment, a zombie attack was lurking around the corner!ReplyCancel

  • Maria - September 5, 2014 - 9:20 AM

    Black treads sound lovely, but have you thought about the flip side? They look dirty INSTANTLY.

    It’s not just me, the ladies at ABM chronicle their trials here!
    http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2013/03/our-bright-white-stairway.html

    Just something to think about it!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 5, 2014 - 9:29 AM

      Thanks, Maria! I have definitely thought about that a lot too… and we really hope it’s not something we regret! Since we re-worked the entryway so extensively, we’ve imagine black + white stairs, since they’re so classic and feel right for this home, but I won’t lie and say I haven’t thought about the dirt factor!

      On the other hand, our all white primed stairs just don’t provide enough contrast, and the stairs get sort of lost into one another. Eventually, we’d like to add a runner to the stairs, so maybe that will help. All good things to think about though…ReplyCancel

  • laurelry - September 5, 2014 - 10:14 AM

    Hate that Elston Target! Ive stopped going to that one and now go to the one off of Halsted and Divison. Much better parking and a ton quieter. Not too far away from your neighborhood as well.ReplyCancel

  • ann - September 5, 2014 - 10:21 AM

    uh-oh! You’re making your guest room so appealing there will be a waiting list.ReplyCancel

  • tia - September 5, 2014 - 10:56 AM

    i really enjoy seeing the progress on your home. if i wasn’t lazy it’d be inspiring :)ReplyCancel

  • Jodi - September 5, 2014 - 11:49 AM

    ooooh, that wallpaper. can hardly wait to see it up on your walls!ReplyCancel

  • Aileen - September 5, 2014 - 3:54 PM

    I just want to say I love your blog in general, but omg your pups really help. Love following a blog that features pups (especially rescue pitties) so much!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 5, 2014 - 3:59 PM

      Thanks, Aileen! They rule our world.ReplyCancel

  • Serena | Pretty Fluffy - September 6, 2014 - 1:39 AM

    How awesome is the doggy tape dispenser?!

    Also love that the wallpaper has the Sydney Opera house on it – so cool :)ReplyCancel

  • wendy - September 9, 2014 - 2:25 PM

    Did I seriously miss a yard sale at YOUR house!?! Bummer. Also, I am madly in love with that wallpaper and must find somewhere to put it right now.ReplyCancel

    • Wendy - September 9, 2014 - 2:27 PM

      Oh! And even though we can walk to the Elston Target (and too often do), they one on Addison is incredibly empty. It’s a little weird that it’s two stories, but it has an awesome cart escalator and no one is ever there.ReplyCancel

      • Kim - September 9, 2014 - 3:48 PM

        Oh, no! Yeah, it was this past Saturday. Your friends (our neighbors) stopped by, we got to meet Lex and they bought a grill! Thanks for the top on the Addison Target.ReplyCancel

BACK TO TOP

Over the weekend – in addition to completing the studio baseboard installation (but not including the dreaded spackling, caulking and painting, oy!) – we spent a morning building this bench:

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For a handful of weeknights, we’ve been helping our friends makeover their home’s entry (more on that next week, that is, if all goes well!), and they were in need of a bench the length of their wall. Having had good luck and quite a bit of fun making our farmhouse table last year, we looked up Ana White’s plans for the corresponding bench. Now, already, there are two things I should mention:

ONE. We love this bench! It was a satisfying and quick DIY, and we found a few ways around the tutorial to not only minimize the exposed screw heads, but to make things a tad bit easier and a more polished. (You know when you find plans for a project online and you think, yeah, but how easy is it really? Hopefully this run down will help!) The only problem we ran into is not having one for ourselves – but again, more on its future home next week.

TWO. On a complete aside, about our farmhouse table? We might have accidentally found a new dining table for a steal, and our DIY table might be on the way out. It was a complete accident, but it was an accident we couldn’t pass up! Once we start the dining room shuffle, we’ll re-visit this cryptic message. (We’re apparently all about table swapping lately!)

But, on to this bench! Our friends’ wall is 55 1/2″ wide, so to account for the depth of their baseboards, we settled on a finished width of 54″. We already had the tools, so our shopping list consisted of only lumber, coming in under $20!

MATERIALS + TOOLS FOR A 54″ BENCH:
1 – 2″ x 6″ x 8′
2 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′
1 – 2″ x 12″ x 6′
Table saw
Circular saw
Mini Kreg jig
Drill
Chamfer bit
2″ screws
Sandpaper / electric sander
Wood glue + saw dust
Wood stain
Polycrylic
Safety glasses + dust mask

CUTS NEEDED FOR A 54″ BENCH:
4 – 2″ x 6″ at 18″ (legs)
2 – 2″ x 4″ at 50″ (front and back aprons)
2 – 2″ x 4″ at 3 1/4″ (end aprons)
2 – 2″ x 2″ at 10 3/4″ (hidden seat supports, cut from leftover 2x6s)
1 – 2″ x 12″ at 50″ (seat)

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WHAT WE DID. The very first thing we did was rip down 1/8″ off of each side of all our lumber using our table saw. This gives everything a crisp hard edge, which looks much more polished overall. Of course, this also gives the entire tutorial all new measurements, which is reflected in our cut list, above. For example, a store bought 2″ x 12″ is really only 1 1/2″ x 11″, so once we’ve given the wood a clean edge, the new size is 1 1/2″ x 10 3/4″. Once everything has been given their new edge, we cut everything down to the proper lengths, allowing us to motor through the bench assembly. (Tip: We cut the 2″ x 2″ supports from 2″ x 6″ remnants!) 

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We started with the legs, sandwiching an end apron between two of them. Measuring 1 1/2″ down from the top and each side, we screwed in our 2×2 seat support – which, you might notice, has been Kreg jigged from each side as well. That step will come in handy next.

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To prep for the front and back aprons, we used a chamfer bit on each of the legs, which allows for the screws to sit below the surface of the wood. With our apron flush with the top of the legs, we were able to screw in two places on each leg, plus a screw from the inside of the Kreg jigged seat support. By adding those pocket holes to the seat support, we were able to avoid visible screws on the outside of the apron – yes!

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At that point, we were more than halfway to a finished bench:

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Before installing the seat, we added pocket holes along each long side spaced about 1′ apart. Just as the pocket holes in our seat support allowed for hidden screws on the front and back aprons, this will do the same!

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Our seat was the exact width of the opening (if only a hair smaller), which is what we wanted. I was able to start on one end and get it in-between the front and back aprons, and Scott used a leftover 2×4 and a hammer to carefully tap it into place.

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With everything flush on the top, we flipped the bench over and added screws from our pocket holes into the aprons, securing everything into place and further ensuring a nice, flush fit overall.

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All said and done, we only had two exposed screw heads, which isn’t bad at all! Having used store bought wood filler in the past, I’d been looking forward to trying the sawdust trick this time around. Using a bit of the leftover saw dust created from ripping down the lumber, I made a very dry paste using a touch of wood glue. Only a small amount of glue is necessary – just enough so that the sawdust clumps together. Using this ‘paste,’ I stuffed it into my chamfered screw holes, allowed it to dry, then sanded the entire bench as usual.

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Finally, I applied two coats of Minwax Jacobean stain and two coats of Polycrylic in a satin finish. And the verdict on the homemade wood filler? The results are in, and it’s way, way better than any actual wood filler!

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We are both thrilled with the results, but we’re especially smitten with the wood grain. Considering that the entire bench was built from common board, the perfectly imperfect finish feels as though it could fit into any style of decor. Rustic? Yup! Modern? Absolutely!

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We’ll be taking the bench to its new home this week, when we’ll also be tying up the loose ends and finalizing the entryway. We’re excited to see how everything will come together, and we’re looking forward to sharing it with you!

See Ana’s original tutorial right here!

  • Marie - September 3, 2014 - 11:08 AM

    That’s very nice of you to build a bench for your friends, can’t wait to see the result at their place. And thanks for the sawdust trick. Looking forward to your new dining table too ! What style is it ?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 3, 2014 - 11:14 AM

      Thanks, Marie! The funny thing about the dining table is that it’s almost exactly the same style… which makes us feel like we must be crazy! But, eh, when you know, you know.ReplyCancel

      • Marie - September 3, 2014 - 12:18 PM

        Right, when you got this felling that it’s gonna be perfect, don’t hesitate. Sure I already said this, but I love crazy !ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - September 4, 2014 - 6:19 AM

    It’s awesome! Your friends are very lucky!ReplyCancel

  • Tania // Run To Radiance - September 4, 2014 - 11:04 AM

    Love it!! I just got a kreg jig and feel a bit intimidated but after seeing projects like this I want to jump right in!! So cute!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 4, 2014 - 11:47 AM

      The Kreg Jig makes making furniture so much easier! (And safer, sturdier, etc, etc1)ReplyCancel

  • Trude - September 4, 2014 - 11:59 AM

    So perfect! Love everything about this, right down to the stain. I’ve been looking for something like this for our entry for easy shoe tying and storage beneath. :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - September 5, 2014 - 7:57 AM

    Really beautiful. The stain and the wood grain make it look really high-end and solid. I can see this piece lasting for a long time and holding up to a lot of use.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley O'Roark - September 9, 2014 - 7:22 AM

    Love the transformation! Would love something similar in the entryway of my home….great inspiration!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel @ My Two Pitties - September 10, 2014 - 1:56 PM

    This is awesome! I am going to try it. Where did you get that cool rug from?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 10, 2014 - 2:01 PM

      Thanks! We picked it up on Ebay!ReplyCancel

BACK TO TOP

Remember a long, long time ago when we said – out loud! – that we would have our trim and baseboards finished by the end of May? The end of May.

Ah! Ahaha!

Those were good times. In any case, we can see the finish line, but we’ve been doing a whole lot of problem solving and road-block-crushing along the way. Installing baseboards seems like it would be an easy enough job, and it sort of is, but there’s also a lot (a LOT) of time that needs to be set aside to just get it done. Time that could be spent on painting the kitchen, or choosing a rug for the guest room or organizing our tools or even cleaning the bathroom. You know, things that are more fun. In our heads, we think, oh, pffft! The studio should take a few hours. Fast forward to 8 hours later and two extra trips to the hardware store, and joke’s on us.

But as little as I enjoy baseboard installation, the end results make it all worth it. Really! And because Scott doesn’t mind trim install (he claims to enjoy it – weirdo), we balance each other out, and together, it becomes a manageable mediocre project. (Right?) If you’re thinking, wait, we’re still talking about baseboards? To which we say, this is real life in real time, and this is us, still knee deep in baseboards, but thisclose to being finished (not counting the bedroom. Or kitchen. But the big spaces? Almost knocked out!). We’re almost there! Hip, hip!

Although we’ve talked about our installation process many, many times, we’ve finally hit the point where we stumbled into a whole new world of problems, which thank goodness, were surprisingly easy to remedy! And so, for any of you with an old house, hitting road block after road block (oh, ancient house, how we love you), our hope is that our solutions might help you, too. This is why we continue to talk about baseboards. We’re all friends here; let’s hug.

Okay, so here’s what we had going on:

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(On a side note, the floors are still far from straight, but my lens does add a lot more distortion than is actually there.) Up until this past weekend, the studio door + trim progress came to a stop after we hired out the door install. We did paint them, but then we dived right into outdoor projects, halting the entire operation.

We knew trimming out the doors was going to be a bit of a process, because if you remember, the doors we purchased only had a jamb that was 4 1/2″ wide, whereas our actual jambs are easily 6″! Below, you can see how the installed door looks recessed, and you can still see the original 2×4 studs (and lath and plaster) that are framing out the doorway:

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You can actually buy jamb extension kits, but added to the cost of the doors themselves, we decided to make our own extensions using a few 8′ lengths of 1″x6″ pine. All of our doors required different measurements (and the bathroom’s have been put off completely until we’re able to renovate them), so I’ll use our second floor guest room door as the example.

For starters, in the photo above you’ll notice that there’s only one 2×4 stud across the top, which gives us virtually nothing to nail into. Scott took a couple of 2x4s blocks and screwed them into the vertical studs, which then allowed us to use our nail gun to install the jamb extension across the top.

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Once we had the door prepped, we took measurements from the current door frame to the drywall along all three sides of the door, and we took at least three measurements along each of the sides. This old house = very, very uneven everything. For example, the largest depth of the non-existent jamb was 2″, whereas the shortest depth was closer to 1 1/4.” On our table saw, we ripped down our 1x6s to the larger depth, which would allow for a bit of overflow past the drywall in some areas. With our pieces ready to go, we started at the top and began nailing them into place…

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… continuing down the left side…

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… until, of course (!), we reached the first road block along the right-hand side. I’ll admit that it may be tough to tell in photos, but if you take a look at the inset below, you’ll see that the 1×6 is completely flush with the door frame. We preferred to have a small lip, which not only allows for easier and more secure caulking, but it just looks better. The left-hand side had a lip because that side of the door frame was shimmed, so to stay on course, we very carefully used our table saw to rip down the depth of our 1×6, shaving off a teeny, tiny 1/4″ to achieve this:

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But as soon as we finished the first jamb extension, we came across road block number two – the gaps in our floors! The previous baseboards were installed before the floors, and even then, they didn’t properly meet up with the floor boards completely. This left a huge gap, which our door trim was unable to cover.

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We always knew these gaps were rather large, but we thought nothing of it since our baseboards would also get quarter round. For the door trim, however, there’s no way to install quarter round along the decorative front edge. And so? Each of our doors got a big chunky plinth at the base! Once we start baseboard install, we’ll be able to put quarter round on the inside of the door casing, so that’ll cover all of our bases.

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From there (and a quick run to the store later!), we were able to trim our doors as usual. Just as we did on the first floor, we kept up the tradition of tall headers, giving our doors more weight and dimension – especially since our ceilings are close to 10′ tall.

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The view from my desk has gotten so much better in just the last couple of weeks alone!

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While we were at it, we gave the front window a trimming as well, which closely mimics the style of our doors and is an exact match to the one on the first floor.

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At this point, nothing has been spackled, caulked or painted, and we hope to knock out the rest of the baseboards this weekend. At the same time, we’re juggling a bit of down time on the holiday weekend with another project or two that’s been on our list, so here’s hoping we can find some balance. These baseboards are nothing if not major time hogs. (Rude!)

PS! Our little nook got an upgrade with some new blinds! See the transformation over at the Bali Blinds blog, where our sweet Chunk makes an adorable appearance.

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - August 28, 2014 - 9:23 AM

    Our baseboards are so rude, too. Although we’ve been looking the other way for months and we’re finally diving in. Such a big task.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - August 28, 2014 - 10:01 AM

    Congrats guys, keep up the good work ! I really like that you are showing us how hard and long it takes to get the job done, because when my own home improvement turns into a sort of a nightmare, I’m always thinking of you and how perfect things always go for you. Now I know you’re both humans, too. And those trips to the store… I do them too ! You’re both really brave, I’m impressed.
    PS : Love CC’s face in the nook. Congrats on the blinds, too.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 28, 2014 - 10:08 AM

      Thanks, Marie! Oh, boy. Things are far from perfect, so definitely remember that we run into the same problems as you… But having a CC definitely helps.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - August 28, 2014 - 1:04 PM

    Woo hoo! Best feeling in the world to have a room feel complete, even if the trim isn’t 100% finished, they sure look great!ReplyCancel

  • alexis - August 29, 2014 - 10:35 AM

    Oh man, that does look tedious, but you guys are doing a beautiful job! Good luck, hope you guys have a lovely weekend!!!ReplyCancel

  • Alex - Old Town Home - August 30, 2014 - 2:39 PM

    It’s looking really good. I love the way top heavy casings look on doors and windows!

    We ended up making our own jambs or finding salvaged ones to accommodate the larger width walls, which is a major pain. I remember spending all day making one (cutting, sanding, etc), then I was making the final cut and didn’t take into account the tape measure when making my measurement. Wouldn’t you know, that damn jamb was exactly 3″ too short. Go figure. It was not a happy moment.

    If you’re ever making jamb extensions in the future, the only thing to consider would be to make some shoulder cuts at the joints in the corer to give a bit more surface area to glue to. Might help prevent future separation. But then again, caulk will pretty much do the same. :-)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - September 2, 2014 - 9:00 AM

      We debated that… And then we thought – caulk will fill that. Ha! Good point though. Perhaps if we weren’t so fed up with spending so much of our weekends on doors, trim and baseboards, we would’ve made a mitered corner. We have a whole new respect for millworkers! (Even considering we’re doing things the “easier” way!)ReplyCancel

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