A SPECIAL FURNITURE PROJECT

I’ve recently started work on a couple different areas of our house and will be sharing posts about these various projects over the coming months. One of the rooms I’m working on is our guest bedroom which we want to move from a spare room upstairs to a spare room downstairs in order to create a first floor guest suite. I won’t be reusing anything from our current guest room so I am working on sourcing all new furniture and decor for the new bedroom. Fortunately, I have a set of inherited nightstands I can use, and they became my first project for this room.

About 5 years ago, I was at my parents’ house in their guest bedroom when the pair of nightstands they had in the room caught my eye. They were a mid-century modern style which is unusual because my parents didn’t own any other modern furniture. I asked my mom where they came from and she told me my grandfather made them many years ago. I immediately asked if she’d be willing to pass them down to me, and she said yes. I love mid-century modern furniture and the fact that my grandfather handmade these makes them very special to me.

My Grandpa Irv passed away 20 years ago. He was Swedish American and lived in Michigan, which was far away from where I grew up so I didn’t get to know him real well. But I knew him well enough to have great admiration for him. He was part of America’s Greatest Generation and fought in World War II surviving the horrible Battle of the Bulge despite being significantly injured. He was a kind-hearted hard working man who was always willing to help others and liked to joke around with his grandkids.

My grandfather was very creative and resourceful which meant that if my grandmother wanted some new furniture my Grandpa Irv would often make it for her from anything he had lying around his garage. His large detached garage was a complete woodworking shop, and I think he enjoyed working out there fixing up old things and creating unique pieces. These matching mid-century nightstands were just a couple examples of what he made decades ago, and thankfully, they ultimately got passed down to me.

This is how the nightstands looked when I got them

I had originally planned to use these in our master bedroom, but then I realized they won’t work in there because they are very small and we have a king size bed so proportionally they would look weird next to each other. But our guest bedroom is a much smaller room with a smaller bed so they would be perfect in that room.

While I love the shape of these pieces, the color and drawer handles looked very dated and don’t work well with the mid-century style (again, I bet my grandfather used stain and drawer handles he already had instead of buying anything new), so I knew these needed a quick makeover before I put them in our new guest bedroom.

I started by removing the backing from each nightstand. I guess my grandfather had chosen to use a cheap piece of fiberboard for the backing. I didn’t like the faux pattern painted on it and it couldn’t be stained to match the rest of the wood, so I knew I wanted to replace the backings with some plywood that I would be able to stain to match everything else.

With the backings removed, I got started sanding off all of the old stain. This process revealed more about my grandfather. I discovered that all of one nightstand and part of the other one appear to be made from a wood species that I can’t quite figure out. The rest of the one nightstand was made from pine. My guess is he ran out of the wood he was originally using and had to finish it up with some pine. My grandfather was not a trained furniture maker, and the way these were built wasn’t the way a high quality furniture maker would have built them. But I’m sure my grandfather didn’t care. He was using what he had—including his own creativity—to make what he could.

The sanded nightstands with the backings removed

REVEAL: MY GREAT ROOM BECOMES GREAT

I am so excited to share my new Great Room reveal!!! This makeover has taken longer than usual because my schedule has been very limited this year with my kids’ activities and my job working in a firm demanding a lot of my time, but I tried to squeeze out every minute of free time I could to slowly work on this room… and every minute I spent was well worth it!

Let’s begin with the before photos…

Our great room is very important in our home because it’s physically and figuratively the center of the whole house. We spend a lot of time in this room hanging out or watching tv, and whenever we have guests over we usually congregate in here and the adjacent kitchen. Because of the amount of use this room gets it was important for me to make it a space people really want to be in. And after years of waiting to get to transform this room, I’m grateful that it has turned into what I originally envisioned—a bright and comfortable room I don’t want to leave!

Take a look at the photos…

MY FIREPLACE GETS A WHOLE NEW LOOK

Hi everyone! I know I’ve been MIA for a while, and I apologize for that. Earlier this year, I started a new job working at a local architecture firm. The firm does all kinds of work but mostly residential renovations and new construction. I really do love going to work each week, but it limits how much time I have to work on my own house. So I’m unable to post as often as I was, but I’m still here!!!

Today I’m going to share my most recent DIY project. I’ve started a complete makeover of our great room. This is a big project because I’m changing out pretty much everything in the room and it’s a decent size room. But the first thing I wanted to do was address my existing fireplace…

BEFORE

This is what it looked like before. It’s a standard, traditional wood mantle on a plain wall. This a common mantel style where we live. In fact, every home in our neighborhood has pretty much the exact same mantel. Boring! I wanted to change it to something more modern and interesting, something kind of like this:

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Since we couldn’t afford to hire a contractor to completely change out the whole fireplace, I decided to figure out a way to DIY this project myself (with the help of my husband). I came up with a a very affordable and doable plan…

I started by completely removing the old fireplace mantel and the two baseboards that flanked it. I was happy to find there was nothing unexpected happening behind it.

With the old mantle off, it was now time to build the new fireplace wall. I drew everything out on the computer before I even started so I knew how it would all come together.

I kept the existing gas fireplace exactly as it was because I certainly wasn’t going to change that out or move it. I also decided to keep the existing stone fireplace surround because there is nothing wrong with it and I like the simple black look. Plus, keeping it the way it was simplifies the project and saves me some money.

But it did mean that before I framed out a new wall for the fireplace I needed to attach a few pieces of wood to the wall in order to create one level plane for the new wall I build to rest against.

The pink pieces are the 1×4 boards I will be adding to the wall.

I attached some 1x4s to the wall making sure to secure them into the existing studs.

Now the black stone around the fireplace sits flush with all of the 1x4s.

The next step was to basically build a new wall from 2x6s.

The orange pieces are the 2x6s I’ll be adding.

My husband and I built the new frame flat on the floor and then lifted it into place on the wall, securing it to the existing studs with screws.

The mantel will later be secured to the double 2x6s which are screwed into the wall studs.

1 BATHROOM, $300, 5 DAYS: FINAL REVEAL

I recently took on a new project: our guest bathroom. This was more than a project though, it was a challenge. It ended up being a kind of case study on what impact you can have with very little time and money (since I have little of both these days).

I challenged myself to give my guest bathroom a new look with only $300 and 5 days of work. I’m happy to say the challenge is complete and I like this bathroom so much more than I used to!

Take a look at what the bathroom originally looked like…

And here is what it looks like after 5 days and $300 invested…