Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fixer Upper and Chapel Rd.

If you follow any blogs about home décor, chances are you have heard at least one of them talking about HGTV's new show, Fixer Upper. I decided to see what the fuss is about and I am hooked. I spent a whole day, while working, watching any episodes that were On Demand with Time Warner. The best part? The show is filmed in Waco, Texas which is an hour north of where I live. (My friend Kristi from I Should Be Mopping The Floor and I may or may not be planning on how to stalk meet Chip and JoJo.)

Why is this the best part? Because so many shows that I fall in love with for inspiration, for my own house, always seem to be on the other side of the country. I have come to believe that the New England/East Coast area and the Oregon/Washington area have the most fabulous areas to junk in and that it is hopeless to decorate my home the way I want, within the budget I have. To see a show that is filmed an hour away with the style I would love to have in my own home, that gets the creative wheels spinning.

And did they start spinning.

A while back I bought an old street sign that caught my attention.

It wasn't as old as I would have liked it, so I took a sander to it, roughed it up and then lost all inspiration and it sat in a closet.

After my Fixer Upper marathon I decided to pull it out and dig through my scrap pile. After I found the perfect piece I decided to give this stain color a second chance.

I want to love this shade, I really do, but it has too much red in it for my liking. I let it dry a bit and then started sanding it down some.

One of my favorite things to do with stain is to layer it to either get a custom color or make it look like an older piece that has been handed down. Before the first coat dried completely, I added a coat of a new shade called Weathered Oak, hoping that it would make it look like I had found the wood out in a field.

Nope. I think every bit I put on rubbed right off after letting it sit for 5 minutes. I knew I had to break out Old Faithful...

Dark Walnut. I don't know how many shades I have tried and I always go back to Dark Walnut.

Now I have the shade I want and layering it over the Gunstock gives it some of the depth I was looking for. I even used the stain left over on the rag on the street sign to give it an older feel.

My original plan was to screw the sign directly to the wood, but when I laid it down on the wood I decided I didn't want to lose the rippled shape it had developed over time. I dug through my husband's collection of hardware (I hoard wood, he hoards screws and building's a match made in heaven) and found these black plastic pieces that were the perfect height for how high I wanted the sign to sit off of the wood.

Now if the sign was made out of wood I would have used regular screws. Since the sign is metal I had two options, drill a hole for the screw or use these...

Self drilling, or self tapping, metal screws. The funny tip on the end basically drills a hole as you are screwing it in. They are made especially for when you are working with metal and are a lifesaver, especially if you don't have a set of metal drill bits on hand (or you can't remember which set of your husband's is for metal.)

I first drilled the screws in to each end of the sign and then placed the black riser under each screw and attached it to the wood backing.

It's hanging right by our French doors that will at sometime lead out to a covered patio and deck. My plan is to make a collection of signs, as well as some unusual antique finds, to hang on the wall. I'm also working on a fun coffee bar/patio drink server idea to put underneath!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Install a New Light

I think in my past life I was an electrician. Seriously. I don't remember learning from my dad how to work with wiring things, it just feels like I've always done it and enjoyed doing it. It no longer surprises my husband to come home and find a new light or ceiling fan up when I find one for a great deal!

So today I am sharing...

We have been in the process of painting and updating the outside of our home and in this tutorial I am replacing the light on our back porch. The good thing is that whether you are replacing a light outside or inside, on the wall or the ceiling, it's the same steps.
These are the tools that you will need for replacing a light.
The new light, the hardware that came with the light and a drill {or screwdriver}. Photo bombing chocolate lab not required.
My project also required our brad nailer and the air compressor. My parents built the house in 1993 and at that time, the home builder didn't take in to consideration that, at some point, future homeowners might want to upgrade certain parts of the house, like the lighting.
The space that the old light was in was too small for the new light I bought. Luckily it's an easy fix. But first, make sure the breaker that controls the light you are working on is turned off. I usually have one of my daughters watch the light while the other stands halfway between us to tell me when the other yells that the light is off. Now you can remove the old light and the bracket that is attached to the wall.
My husband had already removed our old light when we were painting the house and he just capped the wires off until we could get a new light up.
The bracket should be attached to a box (usually blue) that the wires are coming out of. Challenge #2 with our house, I'm pretty sure the back porch light was an after thought. No box, just a hole in the wall with wires coming out. Thank goodness Challenge #1 will take care of #2!

My ever growing scrap pile was the answer to my problems. I cut two pieces of the trim we used for the French doors to fit in the space between the window trim and the door trim and nailed them in using the brad nailer. I made sure to check which way the wire was coming through the hole before nailing.

Now is the point where you would line up the holes in your bracket to the holes of the electrical box and screw them in. Since there is no box on this light, I took the wood screws that were used on the bracket from the old light and used them to screw the new bracket to the wood I just nailed up to fill the gap between the wall and the light base.

As I was climbing down the step ladder at this point I realized I had a captive audience that couldn't wait to get back outside. (Please pardon the nose prints! My new project is finding a way to keep them from scratching up the freshly painted doors.)

Next up for the light is hooking up the wires! I promise it is easy. When connecting the wires always remember: White always goes to white, black always goes to black and the bare copper wire coming from the light is always the ground wire that will attach to the green wire coming from the wall and/or the green screw on the bracket. Twist the matching wires together clockwise (you may need to trim the wire if too long or remove some of the plastic coating on the wires) and then take the wire nut (plastic cap item) and insert the wires into it and twist clockwise until tight.

Now push the wires back in to the electrical box and put the mounting screw(s) through the holes on the light and use the provided cap to tighten. Before you tighten it down completely take a second and make sure that it looks level and straight. If it does, tighten that baby down and give yourself a pat on the back!!

Go back and flip the breaker back on and go test out your new light. Stand back and say a few choice words in frustration when your light doesn't work...because you turned on the wrong light switch!

Wasn't that easy?! Now there is nothing stopping you from getting rid of those tired, outdated lights you avoid looking at.

In case you were wondering, this is the brand and stock number of the light I used from Lowe's. There are two sizes, I went with the smaller version that was $29.88 (?). It will go with the new cedar patio cover we are putting up that will have a galvanized roof (squeal!!). I will definitely be taking photos of that project to share with you!

If I missed a step or if you have a question, leave me  comment and I will get right back to you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Day I Lost My Measuring Tape

If you are a creative type, there is a chance that you have a special item you use daily that you have a special bond with. For some it may be a pair of scissors, others it may be a special pen. This is mine.

It's not much. A cheap measuring tape that I bought because I thought the bright green would make it easier to find {which it doesn't}. It was one of the very first tools I bought myself when I started making signs. We've been through a lot together.

Like this weekend...

We went to Home Depot to get some trim for the projects we're doing on the outside of the house. My youngest was in charge of keeping up with it. That didn't last long as she forgot it in the car {luckily her sister remembered it}. Trim was picked and as we were walking to the register, my husband asked for it one more time to measure an different trim. Purchase was made and we went home.

A little bit after being home my husband sent my daughter {the one that was supposed to be in charge of it} to ask me for the tape measure. I sent her back to him to remind him that he was the last person to have. A search of the car, purse, house, pockets and any other spot we could think of ensued. Finally, we had to face the fact that it was gone.

A trip to Wal-Mart later in the evening included a new measuring tape purchase. It was a long process. Is this cheaper brand I've never heard of a good one? Why are they all self locking? {Part of my thinking process on a project is me absent mindedly clicking the locking tab up and down.} Do I need a longer one? Why are there so many special features for a measuring tape? I decided to go with a basic 16 foot measuring tape, but still I was questioning the self locking feature.

My wonderful husband suggested we go back to Home Depot to look at a few items we forgot to look at earlier in the day. As we walked in, I crossed my fingers in my mind that as we walked past the customer service desk it would be sitting there. Nope. I even thought about asking them.

 "Umm...excuse me. Did anyone happen to bring in a black and green measuring tape? One that looks like it has been loved and appreciated by a woman for years and means the world to her?"

 I'm pretty sure they would have pointed me in the direction of the aisle of measuring tapes they would gladly sell me.

Walking through the store we made our way to the lumber department again. Walking past the register, I saw measuring tape sitting there next to the register. I immediately began laughing and when my husband looked at me, all I could do was point. The cashier probably thought we were crazy as we walked over laughing. After telling her that I had lost my measuring tape after an earlier visit in the day, I was pretty sure that it was mine. She happily handed it over saying that it had been sitting there since we accidentally left it there earlier in the day.

My husband has now inherited a 16 foot self locking measuring tape. So far he loves that special feature.