With the recent addition of our streamlined gallery wall in the living room’s gap, we’ve been itching to add something large – very large! – above our velvet sofa. Not wanting the room to feel overly cluttered with our already vibrant rug (and the opposing wall’s art round up), we’d been tossing around a handful of ideas for the last year (yes, really), and we finally landed on trying out a couple of over sized engineer prints.
This, of course, led us to the next question, of what? And since choosing to “go big or go home,” we took the most literal route and went with a tried and true favorite – dinosaurs!
I picked up a vintage dinosaur book, Life Before Man, with page after page of prehistoric illustrations. We settled on the finalists – the notorious T-Rex (!) and a wild flightless bird. While the latter falls under a different (although prehistoric) era, we loved the composition when the two were paired up. We wondered if it was normal for two adults to choose such subjects, but we decided it was best to fully embrace our inner quirk and run with it! If it’ll make us smile every time we enter the room, why not?
Engineer prints can be printed up to 3′x4′ at any copy center (we used Staples), and they’re inexpensive at $7 each (although you can pick up smaller sizes for as little as $2!). I scanned our chosen images from the book at 300 dpi, submitted them through the online system, and we picked them up the next day. We knew the paper would be very thin, so we teamed up with Ace Hardware to create extra large frames to give them that finished, polished look.
For this month’s Ace challenge, we were teamed up with Tasha over at Designer Trapped, where we both chose to give the Bosch Variable Speed Palm Router a try; we encourage you to see what Tasha created! In our case, we used the palm router to DIY our frames, opting for thin and sleek, allowing the dino prints to be the star. (Naturally.) Here’s what we needed for two frames:
MATERIALS USED FOR 2 FRAMES, 39″ X 41″ EACH:
4 – 2″ x 2″ x 8′
2 Packs – Ring hangers
2 Packs – 3″ corner braces (each pack comes with 4 + screws)
Hanging wire (we chose 100 lb, but 50 lb would also work)
2 Engineer prints on 3′x4′ over-sized paper
2 Pieces – double paned glass cut to size (this can be done at any Ace)
2 Sheets - Foam core (size dependent on art)
Anchors for hanging
Measuring tape / pencil
Dust mask / safety glasses
Sandpaper / Power sander
Bosch Palm Router with 1/2″ straight bit
Compound miter saw
Spackle or wood putty
Paint brush or small foam roller
Staple gun with 1/2″ staples
WHAT WE DID. To start, I used our small power sander to smooth out the wood for the frames. They were pretty rough to begin with, but felt good after using an 80 grit paper, followed up with a 120 grit. Tip: 2x2s are very inexpensive, but be careful to choose pieces that are as straight as possible!
We used our palm router to create the lip for the glass, art and backing to sit into the frame, and we chose to route all of our 2x2s first (rather than do so after the frame was put together). Never having used a router before, it took a few rough starts to get it right, but the ultimate trick was slow and steady. (Scott got the hang of it quickly, after which, it was smooth sailing!) It kicks up a lot of saw dust and debris, so safety glasses and a dust mask were crucial for this step!
We adjusted the router to a 3/8″ depth, and the 1/2″ straight bit was perfect for getting that recessed lip. Bonus – the edge guide made it super easy to keep our line perfectly straight. Once each piece had been routed, I followed that up with a quick sanding to get off any burrs and rough edges.
Next up, we used the compound miter saw to cut the four pieces for each of our frames. We goofed the math a few times (and tripped ourselves up more than we’d like to admit!), but when it came time to figure out the proper lengths, this is likely the easiest way:
- First, measure the size of your art. Ours came to 35.75″ x 37.5″ (it filled the 3′x4′ engineer prints width-wise, and we allowed the height proportions to fall naturally). Your glass and foam core should be cut to this same measurement.
- Subtract .75″ from your width and your height, and make your mitered cuts using those measurements for the inside edge. For example, this would give us a measurement of 35″ x 36.75″, which should be the length of the inside of our frame.
- Once everything is all assembled, this will ensure that your print, glass and backing will fill the frame, but it will still leave you with an 1/8″ of wiggle room within the recessed tray!
With all of our pieces cut down to size, we worked on one corner at a time. After a dab of wood glue, we used clamps to hold two pieces together, drilled a small pilot hole and used a chamfer bit to allow our 2″ screws to sit below the level of the 2×2. We only used them on the top and bottom of the frame, for a total of eight screws per frame.
Our frames felt pretty sturdy after this, but as an extra measure (always!), we installed a 3″ brace along each corner, snugging it up to the routed edge as to not hit the 2″ screws beneath them. As large as these frames ended up, they were super strong and provided no give – perfect!
I spackled the exposed screw heads, and once that was dry and sanded, I dived right into painting. I applied two coats of the same exterior Valspar paint that we have on our front porch, color matched to Clark+Kensington’s Designer White.
We allowed everything to dry overnight, and the next day, we brought the frames inside to bring it all together! As mentioned in the supply list, we got double paned glass cut to size at Ace, and I used a utility to knife to cut the foam core down to the proper size. Using the same framing technique I’ve been using for years, I used a staple gun with 1/2″ staples to secure everything into place (the trick is nestling the gun about an 1/8″ away from the frame, which will allow the staple to remain proud). We finished it up by installing ring hangers (you can pick them up in a kit with screws) and 100 lb hanging wire; this is admittedly overkill, as each frame couldn’t weigh more than 20 lbs (the glass is the heaviest component!).
Update! Check out Kyley’s comment regarding the installation of D-rings (photo above). For something this large and heavy, it may be best to use an anchor per ring rather than a strong wire.
Each frame was hung on a 50 lb. anchor, and we fussed with placement until the height was high enough so you wouldn’t hit your head while seated, but low enough to avoid the art-that’s-hung-too-high problem. Now, when you walk in our front door and look left, you’ll see this!
We’re super happy with our choice to use 2x2s; they’re substantial enough for our massive prints (we still can’t help but chuckle when we realize that yes, we have large prehistoric creatures on our wall!), and yet they’re sleek enough as to not detract from… well, you know. The T-Rex!
We absolutely love them (weirdos), but don’t forget to check out how Tasha used her palm router! And because we want you to make some ridiculously large frames too, how about $100 to get you motivated? Together with our friends at Ace, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through this Friday, August 1st at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post by Friday evening. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck and happy entering!
*Update: We had a glitch with our Rafflecopter widget! Please let us know if you have any issues with entering. Thank you!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. #rawr
When we were first introduced to our home at the showing, we were immediately greeted by our neighbor’s dog – but it wasn’t, um, the friendliest hello. It scared the pants right off of me (well, not really!), and it has continued to do so for every friend (and passerby) that walks up to our front gate.
The problem was that to the left of our home, there was no privacy fence; rather, it was old, beat up chain link, and it had seen its day. Because of this, we were greeted day and night by a dog that didn’t like us one bit (Jack and CC on the other hand, thank goodness, got along just fine with him!), even if we were simply standing on our front porch.
We knew when we signed on all those dotted lines a year ago that one of the first things we’d do with that house is install a proper fence – and then we fell down a rabbit hole of demolition, putting that fence-to-do off for next year, which is now this year. And now? We have that fence!
First, fences are no joke. They’re pricey – even though we had been saving up for a while (and especially when you’re refrigerator begins its slow death after you’ve signed a fence contract) – and although it was a necessity for upping the safety factor for Jack and CC, it was also a mostly aesthetic upgrade, curb appeal for the block and the chance for a little bit of peace. After receiving our quote, we talked with Scott’s parents and the neighbor to our right, and we learned that our estimated price was, in their words, great!, and with that, we booked it before we could think twice. After all, there was never a doubt that we wanted a fence, and because our right-hand-neighbor already had a 6′ cedar fence installed, it was an easy decision for us to mimic the same style to our left. Looking on the bright side, we only needed to have one side of our home fenced off, so we consider ourselves very lucky!
Below, you can see where we started vs. what we’re seeing today – so much better.
But! Let’s back up to where we began. For starters, the chain link was held on by triple-wrapped rope, and when it came time to rip up that old fence, we also learned that it wasn’t built very deep into the ground. It was rusted and covered in weeds, and to be quite honest, we were growing tired of welcoming our friends and family by saying, Hi, hello! Sorry about the neighbor dog! He’s cool, we promise! Just don’t look left!
Oddly enough (or maybe not?), the fence didn’t stretch the entire length of our home! It stopped at the front face of the physical house, and then it resumed at the back and stretched to the garage. The only reason we can think it was done this way was to save money, however, we showed our home’s land survey to the builders and had them correct this issue when it came time for installation. We’d been discussing our plans with our neighbors from the start (who’ve been great throughout our entire renovation thus far), and they were just thrilled to be getting a real, live fence! Hip, hip!
By allowing the fence to run the entire length of our property, however, meant that there was no more division between the front and back yards. For now, our method of separation is a highly technical scrap of plastic we pulled from the garage, so we’ll need to make another teeny, tiny baby gate (or a permanent guard, at the very least) to step it up a notch.
On Fence Day, I wanted to let the installers do their thing, but I couldn’t resist grabbing an in-process shot (and a few phone snaps to text Scott; OMG! Look! They’re so fast!). It was important for us to make sure that the outside of our fence looked just as good as the side that would be facing us – Chicago lots are spaced very close together – just short of being right on top of one another! – and we wanted to make sure our left-hand-neighbors would be just as happy as we were. We literally pointed to our neighbor’s already standing fence and asked, can you make it look just like that? And they did – in half a day, no less!
While our back yard may be the biggest eyesore of our entire property, the fence has helped a bit! No more growth of chain link and dead weed-like ivy! And can I side tangent for a moment? As for the much, much larger picture, we’d love to take down the entire back deck – which is down right rickety and likely dangerous – and fill the small yard with concrete and wall-to-wall planters with built-in benches. We’ll rebuild an appropriately sized back deck off of the kitchen (which is right behind that door on the first level), and the pups can rumble while we grill, drink a glass of wine and light up the fire pit. Aah. Some day!
All day dreams aside, we are loving the privacy this fence has (quite literally) afforded us, the visual appeal and the much more quiet evenings on the porch swing. (For those interested in the Chicagoland area, we used A & M Fence Corporation. Although heavy rain delayed their start date a few times, their work is spot on, and they’re polite and efficient!)
It’s still a muddy mess between the fence itself and our new concrete pad, but we’ll be filling it with gravel and other, a-hem, pee-pit-esque pebbles for Jack and CC! That is, once we can mix that in to our list of to-dos – after all, summer is calling, don’t you know! The front porch is begging us to take a seat (while we still can!).
Let’s say one of your kitchen appliances died. And let’s say – oh, I don’t know! – it’s the fridge. You had to make a decision to not only buy used (again) or buy new, but you’ve also realized that you had the freedom to choose any finish you liked! Stainless! White! Black! (Blue!)
In an attempt to salvage our on-the-fritz, fine-to-look-at but not-so-stellar-working stainless refrigerator, we purchased a replacement magnet strip. When that didn’t work (and we were out $100 on an appliance we only paid $200 for a year ago), we figured we had a few options: Hire a repairman and hope for the best (therefore putting us out an unknown amount of money), scour the classifieds and pick up another used-but-okay-for-now replacement or put on our grown up pants and just buy a new one.
While the last option was the most painful price-wise, we felt it was the smartest decision for the long haul. (And let’s be honest, it took us a few days of waffling just to commit to the idea that funds needed to be allocated towards an unexpected item.) A kitchen makeover is very much in our future, so we completed step 1 (at the very least!) and got a new refrigerator!
When it came time to start the hunt (and we needed to move – fast!), I asked Scott, what about white? I’d been noticing white appliances pop up more in a handful of blogs, catalog spreads and the like, and after confirming with you all that white was right, we nixed the idea of stainless and said peace out! to puppy nose smudges once and for all.
Not wanting this to turn into the next Great Fan Debate, we quickly narrowed down our favorite style to french doors with a bottom drawer freezer (it makes so much sense!). But you all know we got stuck somewhere, right?
We store hopped and online shopped for far longer than we’d ever admit, and although our heads began to spin with more ideas of what we liked (a clean finish on the front), what we didn’t like (no exterior water dispensers!) and what our max budget would be (which admittedly got bumped up and up), we landed on 3 finalists. Above, left to right: Whirlpool, Maytag and Samsung; all french door, all around 25 cu ft.
On paper, these guys are damn near identical, however, some had more visible screw holes, some of the bottom freezer drawers felt chintzy (not good when you’re spending this much!) and – as weird as this may seem – some of the wheels were more noticeable. And after a mind numbing game of which is the best? We went with the Samsung!
If we’re going to look at the bright side, this did all go down around the 4th of July holiday which amounted to some pretty great appliance sales. While purchasing a new refrigerator wasn’t the first thing we would’ve hoped to be spending money on, we love it! It’s our first big appliance purchase that’s shiny and new (our condo came stocked with all new appliances, so we had no input), and we liked the matching stove that we have a feeling we’ll be picking up soon (which was also a deciding factor). Tip: We ended up purchasing ours from Best Buy, as they had a 10% cash back in-store incentive (which’ll go towards the stove!).
We christened it with a no holds barred grocery trip, stocking our newly adult purchase with the appropriate adult beverages (among other things, too – come on, now!), but the only downside is our very sad, very out of place kitchen:
Below, you can see our old refrigerator on the right (it’s since been moved into the garage), our attempt at choosing a wall color (all have been axed to the chopping block; we need to go a bit darker, don’t you think?), a tiny side table holding our tiny toaster and our one measly wall of cabinets. We have many, many ideas for this space, and although an entire kitchen overhaul may be a bit further down the road, we know a big impact can be made with a few affordable upgrades and some fresh coats of paint.
Until then, we invite you to beeline to the fancy fridge and grab yourself a drink. You’d fit right in!
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