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Canning Paint

Working in such tight quarters with a few fuzzy co-workers, while fun (and yes, I talk to them all the time), can pose challenges in cleanliness. I like my studio fur-free, so we vacuum almost daily, and before punching out, I usually take a damp cloth to wipe everything down. The biggest challenge, however, are the walls.

While Scott and I are both smitten with the barely-there pink studio color, Diana by Olympic, we aren’t the biggest fans of the flat finish. We’ve used a flat finish everywhere else in our home, but we’ve always stuck with Behr brand paints in flat enamel (which we love for its easy wipe-ability in our pet heavy home). The finish of the Olympic paint doesn’t seem to withstand the slightest brush against the wall (boo!), so I’ve found myself touching up small patches over time – not my idea of fun.

We’ve learned from this mistake (although, is the mistake choosing Olympic in the flat finish or not going with our tried and true Behr?), but since we don’t plan on repainting the whole room soon, I decided to keep my quart of Diana on our open shelves – at the ready for the heavier scuffs.

I picked up a $1 Ball jar from the hobby store, sprayed the lid with Rustoleum chalkboard paint and filled it up. Now, the real challenge is training Jack to no longer spend his days holding up the wall. Rather, would it hurt for him to ship a package or two?

Speaking of pet hair, one of our biggest questions we receive is how we maintain it in our home. See how we do it, right here!

  • Rachel H - July 26, 2012 - 10:10 AM

    Genius! I’ve been thinking about doing this, and the chalkboard paint lid has me wanting to can all my paint tonight!ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin - July 26, 2012 - 7:27 PM

    Genius! I think you just solved our paint can storage problem!ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - July 27, 2012 - 12:11 PM

    Huh… Definitely a cute idea, but can I ask you a question?

    I am currently in the process of picking out paint colors and finishes for my entire apartment. I hadn’t looked at the Behr paint line yet… Why did you go with flat paint for the walls, rather than eggshell? All the “experts” are telling me to go with eggshell, for its wipe-ability. I bought a bunch of pint samples, and we’re puzzling over the eggshell because depending on the how the light from the windows hits the walls, the eggshell paint is really shiny. Not sure if we like it, do you know what i mean? Is that why you went with flat and not eggshell?

    I must look into this “flat enamel” paint now. It’s a flat paint that can be wiped clean?? wow! Behr is from Home Depot, right?

    Thanks! (LOVE your blog!)

    • Kim - July 27, 2012 - 1:06 PM

      Hi Katherine! Great question. We also feel that eggshell is super shiny, which we can’t stand for ourselves. Behr makes a flat enamel, which is inbetween the flat and eggshell. It has the look of flat paint, but can be wiped if needed!

      We only use eggshell in the bathroom, and for everything else we go with the flat enamel. We think the flatter finish looks more sophisticated, and even with 3 pets in our home, we have no problems keeping it clean!

      The pros at the store also told us to go with eggshell, but we’re glad we didn’t listen. And yes, Behr is from Home Depot. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel


When It’s Too Expensive, DIY (a Keyboard Tray)

Like almost every room in our home, over time, we find that there are things we need, things we didn’t need after all, and, of course, things we’d like to have. But no matter what, we always find ourselves needing a solution for just a smidge more space. As you can imagine, the studio was no exception.

Even if I’m not painting, I’ll work from the painting table. I hide my drop cloth in Skar, keep my portrait supplies on the shelves, and I’ll bring my laptop from it’s resting place on the fauxdenza to my larger table. I strategize my portraits for the week, catch up on my accounting, and wrap up any bloggie loose ends.

Lately, though, I’ve felt as if the fauxdenza (also dubbed the task station) has been under utilized. If it’s the kind of day that I’m up and about, running between the studio and kitchen, the kitchen and back patio and the patio back to the studio (yes, those days happen!), I’ll often stick to working from the faux – erm, task station, if only for its eas(ier) access to the door.

A few weeks ago, I realized things would make much more sense if we added a pull-out drawer to the fauxdenza – a keyboard tray of sorts – to allow extra space for my laptop and drawing tablet. If we did so, I’d also be able to tuck everything away during my shipping process – a process that uses every single surface in this whole room. (It’s like a tissue paper, brown-box, label printing bonanza.)

Thinking I could easily buy one on Amazon, further research proved that keyboard trays are f*ing expensive! We had 36″ of width to play with, and – you guessed it – we wanted to utilize every last inch of it. The problem was that we only had a 12″ depth. A standard tray had an average depth of at least 14″ and an average cost of $80+ (and that’s on the low end).

So, we made one! And it was easy! Scott ordered these variable height platform slides from Rockler in the 12″ depth, and we picked up a yard of solid, sturdy red oak from Home Depot. After a quick sand to smooth the edges, I painted this guy Behr’s Juicy Passionfruit the same day I prepped our printer station:

A bit of math proved that we could have a tray of 32″ wide, as the slides took up about 1.5″ on each side. We actually had Home Depot cut our 12″d oak to 31″w, so no additional cuts were needed when we got home.

After Scott showed me how our sliders would work (above), we held each side of the slider on the ends of our “tray,” and marked the spots where our screws would go. After pilot holes were drilled…

… we were ready to attach the platform slides:

When it was done, it looked like a keyboard tray I’d buy myself – only, we paid less than $40, it was completely custom to our needs, and it was Juicy Passionfruit!

Scott eyeballed the placement, and I did some quick measurements until it was centered. After quickly marking the spots where it would be screwed into the fauxdenza, Scott secured everything in place.

That’s it! The red oak is sturdy enough for pressure from my elbows, and it’s a great little hiding nook for my laptop when not in use.

I’ve been working and practicing with a drawing tablet, and on those days, I slip my laptop on top of the task station, and I work with the tablet on the tray. (We even scored an external display on Craigslist for a steal, and we’ll eventually mount that to the wall. Nothing will actually lay on the faux-top itself, allowing us to gain precious workspace!)

Similar to our pull-out record player on the media wall, we love the subtle hint of color the tray provides. It mimics Grandma’s chair on the opposite side of the room, and it even picks up on the other orange-y accents on our shelves.

The only downfall we can find (and we’re thinking this should have seemed obvious) is that while the sliders themselves are 12,” the tray does not pull out a full 12.” There’s about 2 inches where the rails overlap with the brackets for stability and safety. We could have counteracted this by installing the entire system a few inches forward under the fauxdenza, but by doing so, the front of the tray would have stuck out. We debated this for a few minutes, but ultimately decided to stick with a flush front (and the loss of inches doesn’t affect my work flow in the least).

I’ve been trying to convince Scott that we need to add a pull-out tray to the painting table, and this room will be bursting with tricks – the rolling printer, our table on casters, a filing cabinet on wheels, and trays pulling out from every which angle – oh, the possibilities!

Where are you finding and adding extra space?

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - July 24, 2012 - 7:47 AM

    That’s a genius (and lovely) solution!! You guys are the best small space problem solvers…You should write a book =)ReplyCancel

  • EDGE - July 24, 2012 - 9:52 AM

    LOVE THIS! such a great space saver! I have a suggestion to make up for the 2″!

    Add a piece of wood to the front of your tray with piano hinges. That way you get an extra couple of inches and when you push the tray in, you can fold it up and whatever is on your tray is concealed!

    My mom lived in an old farmhouse that had a cutting board like that. When you pulled the knob a 3in “front” folded down and then the cutting board pulled out.

    Just an idea! I’m crazy about your blog fyi :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 24, 2012 - 9:59 AM

      Carrie, you are so sweet. Thank you!

      Edge, now THAT is genius! Holy cow, seriously. And thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Heather {ModernMealsforTwo} - July 24, 2012 - 3:21 PM

    I love this! It’s a great DIY! I love that you personalized it with a pop of color.ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin - July 24, 2012 - 8:55 PM

    So cute. We needed 12″ deep cabinets for our built-in desks in the guest room, and so I totally understand the frustration and crazy price tag problem. You guys had a genius solution- well done!ReplyCancel

  • Henry - August 10, 2012 - 6:35 PM

    The brackets are $40 with shipping.

    The plank is $7+.

    The paint is $7+.

    Please provide realistic price ranges as the brackets alone are more then the estimated total of less than $40.


    • Kim - August 11, 2012 - 4:18 PM

      Hi Henry, the price quoted in our post is what we paid, perhaps they were on sale? We also had a promo for free shipping. Thank you for the input though!ReplyCancel

  • Ram M - November 28, 2012 - 9:50 AM

    You can buy the slider/brackets for $12.87 in HomeDepot.

    Keybaord SliderReplyCancel

  • Kim - November 28, 2012 - 10:01 AM

    Hi Ram,

    Thanks for the link! For us, we were unable to find sliders in the very short length we needed (12″) at a standard store. Like most things in the studio, we had to pay a little more to get the right size and fit.

    For a deeper desk, those are perfect and a steal though!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie B. - December 21, 2012 - 1:54 AM

    Love, love, LOVE what you’ve been doing!

    I was wondering, do you think a 40″ wide keyboard tray is feasible? The specs for the drawer slides you used state a max keyboard tray width not exceeding 24″ despite the 75 lb. load capacity.

    I need the 40″ to fit my full-size keyboard, mouse (sometimes mice), G13 Gamepad and Logitech T650 Touchpad. My Upton desk’s 40″ tray fits the bill (side mounted, no repurposing) but it doesn’t fit my 27″ iMac and two PC monitors, and I’m tired of using mismatching furniture as a workaround.


    • Kim - December 21, 2012 - 8:41 AM

      Hi Natalie,

      I think that something that wide would likely need a deeper keyboard tray, so the plank of wood you use is more sturdy – and you may need to purchase thicker wood from a local lumber yard as opposed to Home Depot or Lowes. Or, you could purchase 2x4s from Home Depot, and reinforce the bottom by framing it out with 1x2s so it can support extra weight (or even leaning your arms on the tray)!

      Hope that helps! Let us know how it goes!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie B. - December 21, 2012 - 1:07 PM

    Thanks, that does help. I was thinking about using the 18″ or 20″ deep slides. The Desk is 24″ deep and I like that a deeper keyboard tray gives you room to store little stuff (pen tray, post-it notes) behind the keyboard/mice. I guess the other concern is that the Desk I’m looking at is 3/4″ thick laminated high density wood. They sell their own keyboard trays for it (28″ is the widest, sadly) so presumably it’s thick enough for installation.

    If I go through with this, I’ll let you know how it turns out. Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Han - May 10, 2013 - 11:30 AM

    Hi, how did you attach the brackets to the table? do you drill a hole first then screw it ? thanksReplyCancel

  • Kim - May 10, 2013 - 1:13 PM

    Hi Han! Yes, drilling a small pilot hole first will help guide the screw in properly (and straight).ReplyCancel

  • [...] shelf rail track – iBuyLa_Tmall_****** Angent – Online Shopping at in Singapore When It’s Too Expensive, DIY (a Keyboard Tray) | Yellow Brick Home [...]ReplyCancel

  • Ron B - October 22, 2013 - 2:07 PM

    Thank you for this post. I know the original post was written over a year ago, but I find myself in need of just this bit of advice and help. My Mom purchased a desk off of craigslist a month ago or so, and it didn’t come with a keyboard tray, and it was driving her bonkers. The prices of ready-made keyboard drawers are slightly outrageous (ok, more than slightly.) Thank you again, I knew it was possible, just wasn’t sure how to go about it.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - October 22, 2013 - 2:34 PM

    Ron, no problem! We’re actually making another desk for ourselves, and I’ll be purchasing the same sliders again!ReplyCancel

  • WhyzGuy Studios - November 17, 2013 - 8:02 PM

    I was looking for DIY plans to build a sliding shelf identical to yours. This was very helpful. Awesome tutorial, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • [...] 3. Slide-Out Laptop Tray [...]ReplyCancel


The Week’s End

After a long week for both of us and working later than I’d like to admit on Friday evening, Scott and I exhaustingly pushed each others’ buttons – poking and huffing over little, nit-picky things. We can see this clearly now, but at the time, we were pissed at each other. In his attempt to start the night over and kick the weekend off right, he suggested we walk Jack down to the Miwaukee Ave Arts Festival. After a protest on my part (I’d rather stay home!, I’d said; man, I was moody), he convinced me we’d have fun, spend time with our friends, and (obviously) look at art.

He won.

That night, we made our own prints at the Spudnik Press booth (which we plan to mat and hang as part of our living room booster), connected with an artist that had me drooling for donuts, and snacked on bad-for-you foods (and boy, was it yummy!).

We followed our Friday fest bright and early with a day of bicycles and brews at Tour de Fat, a favorite of ours that comes to the ‘hood once a year. This time around, we watched our intake of Sunshine, allowing us to avoid our afternoon slump and enjoy a late night barbecue on the patio with our neighbors.

As the weekend wound down, I treated myself to a bit of pampering with a pedicure (in Turquoise and Caicos) and a pint of my favorite treat (coffee Haagen Dazs, mmm).

Happy Monday, all! How did you spend the last few days?

  • Heather {ModernMealsforTwo} - July 23, 2012 - 8:53 AM

    Sounds like an awesome weekend (post Friday fighting), especially the fair food and pedicure.

    We did nearly nothing this weekend and it was amazing! The highlights included grabbing a barbecue feast with my parents and making a chocolate layer cake with salted caramel frosting. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • AnnieNPaulsMom - July 23, 2012 - 1:44 PM

    This makes me think about the movie Beer Wars. You can stream it on Netflix if you’re interested.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - July 23, 2012 - 3:06 PM

      @Annie – you know, I think we have seen that movie… it’s been a while though (if it’s the one I’m thinking of!).ReplyCancel

  • Two Pitties in the City - July 23, 2012 - 6:48 PM

    I always love seeing your photos, and I had to laugh when I saw a certain turkey-legged guy in your photostream.ReplyCancel

  • Kalli - July 23, 2012 - 6:51 PM

    Your weekend sounds pretty fun (except for the grumpy mood part). I was looking forward to going to a street festival in Los Feliz, actually within walking distance of my house, but was struck down by the flu, which I must have caught babysitting on Friday. I adore that little kid, but this is like the 4th time this year that she’s given me a virus.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 23, 2012 - 6:51 PM

    BORIS! :)

    Kalli, oh no! You’ve got to stop getting sick. Get well SOON!ReplyCancel

  • Amy Lynn - July 23, 2012 - 8:25 PM

    My toesies have been done in Turquoise and Caicos all summer! :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - July 24, 2012 - 10:21 AM

    What a lovely week :)ReplyCancel