DIY Corbels for Open Shelving

There’s something to be said for the ease of open shelving. It’s almost soothing to be able to see the familiar dishes you love, displayed in such a relaxed way. And I can vouch for the fact that storing dishes on open shelving makes unloading the dishwasher a smidge less painful. Just a smidge.

In a mini-makeover of my kitchen, I chose to fill two separate areas with open shelving. Not only are those areas now more visually appealing and more functional than if I had installed cabinetry, but they were also a less expensive option. One of the areas was done using corbels I made from scratch. Here’s the result.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Prior to this project, I’d been collecting photos of corbels from Pinterest that I thought I might be able to duplicate. One blogger’s corbels in particular, (Pretty Handy Girl) were an immediate favorite. And God Bless her for providing a pattern on her site. I stretched and altered her pattern to fit the dimensions I needed with the help of my genius son Ross, and “Snipping Tool” on my computer.

DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I used graphite paper to transfer the pattern onto wood. Graphite paper resembles black tissue-paper, but has graphite on one side. I placed it between the pattern and the wood, and then traced over it with a painting stylus to transfer the design. (I had two different patterns going on here in the next few photos for those of you who are super-observant.)

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Here are the patterns traced onto the wood pieces. I used 1″ stock from my stash for the thinner, more intricate side pieces, and 2″ stock for the thicker, simpler center piece. My 2″ stock was reclaimed wood (aka found on a curb).

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Here are the pieces cut around the perimeters.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I have a scroll saw that I use for intricate inside cuts like these, but I don’t see why this couldn’t be accomplished with a jig saw using a very thin blade.

Regardless of the saw, holes need to be drilled in the wood pieces for the interior cuts. I drilled a hole near each area where I would have to switch blade direction. You can’t drill too many holes! If you don’t drill enough holes, it will be painfully obvious that you needed more when you’ve run your blade into a spot that you can’t wiggle your way out of—sort of like painting yourself into a corner.

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 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Now we’re getting somewhere.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Since I had decided on three shelves, with the bottom shelf being smaller in depth than the top two, I decided to make the corbels different too. I designed the next set of corbels by melding a few different lovelies that I’d seen and liked, and I followed the same steps with those.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Since I wanted the corbels to look old, I distressed them. Step one is to rough up the wood. Make sure you’ve done enough of that before you stain because if you do any heavy distressing after you stain, the fresh, unstained wood will show through on the sanded areas.

Light-colored wood peeking through your paint would be a dead giveaway that the corbels aren’t authentic. So not only would you be discovered (*blush*), but you would also have to break out the stain again, and touch up your “tip-off” spots. The stain should dry several hours or overnight before painting.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I also cut and stained pieces to put underneath and on top of the corbels.

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I then glued and nailed the main corbel pieces together. I only used one nail on each side, setting the nails with a punch. Since these are supposed to be old pieces, I chose not to fill the nail holes.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

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I randomly brushed some gray and some blue paint on the pieces because those were colors I wanted to show through the finish paint. They’re not all that attractive at this stage of the game.

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I put a coat of white paint on next.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Since I wanted these to look like they had several layers of paint, I added some joint compound and after it was completely dry, I added another coat of white paint.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

After letting the white paint dry overnight, I scraped some of the paint back off with the help of a heat gun. If you don’t let the paint dry enough, you’ll end up just smearing the paint as it melts rather than scraping it off as it softens.

I learned that the hard way so you don’t have to. Once you’ve smeared the paint by doing it too soon, you’re not going to be able to get back down to the stained wood because the wood absorbs the soft, melted mess that was once paint, and your stain will be forever buried.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Now for the install. After much deliberation, and a consultation with my super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, I conceded to the use of cleats. The studs were nowhere near where I needed them to be in order to install the corbels into them, so my only alternative was to screw cleats into the studs. Since these shelves were being installed in a corner, I took my cleats onto the adjacent wall for added stability.

I didn’t want to use cleats originally, but once I got them up, I was glad I did. Not only was it a piece-of-mind issue not having to worry about dishes and bottles of red wine and olive oil crashing to the floor, but cleats also fit the old cottage-style I love.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

As always, I’m not suggesting this is the best way or the only way to do this, but it worked well for me. As of this writing, my shelves are still attached to the wall—a rousing success in my mind.

After attaching the cleats to the studs, I screwed the back pieces that sit behind the corbels to the wall, and screwed the corbel into the back piece. After using my Kreg Jig to make pocket holes in the tops of the corbels, I screwed the corbels into the cleats through pocket holes. These steps support the downward weight of the shelves.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I then made more pocket holes in the pieces that went on top of the corbels and screwed those into the cleats as well. Physics told me that attaching these pieces would prevent the corbels from tipping forward under the weight of objects placed in the area farthest from the wall.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Next, I added the shelves and screwed them from above into the cleats. The shelves were also curb finds, and the stain color was perfect.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I had to purchase some wood trim to cover up the edges of my shelves. As you can see in the next photo, the ends were pretty rough. The side trim I added was wider than the thickness of the shelves which made them look a little more substantial. See the difference?

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

I decided to hang the cutting board my son, Brandon, made for me years ago, between the two bottom corbels. I use it all the time, and hanging it here makes it easy to grab and keeps it off the counter. This photo was taken before I painted the walls.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what this corner of the kitchen looked like before. The blind cabinet to the right of the microwave had a door opening that was only 7″ wide. Not only was it hard to retrieve items stored back in the blind area, but its slim opening wouldn’t allow much to fit inside.

The blind cabinet with the 7″ opening was replaced with a 15″ wide cabinet that extends all the way to the ceiling, allowing for a lot more storage space. This left me with a 12″ space in the corner, and I felt open shelving was a lovely (and pretty much the only) option for this awkward space.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloommingtonIL

Here’s what the same corner looks like now. Once I decided on a paint color for my kitchen, I painted the cut-outs of the bottom set of corbels with the wall color.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

These “after” photos were taken with a new camera that was a gift from my daughter, Sophie. Thank you, Sophie! I love, love, love my babies (even more than my shelves).

DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

As you can see, the shelves tuck back beside the adjacent cabinet. It’s usable space now, and is accessible where it wasn’t before.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I love these shelves being next to the bright, sunny window.

 DIY Corbels for Open Shelving/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So to recap, this project cost me around $15 for the whole sha-bang. I bought the trim pieces to trim out the ends of the shelving, and a 1 x 12 for the larger corbels. The rest was made with scrap wood I had on hand, or with some trash-turned-treasure wood that I found and rescued. The cabinets I removed were used in my laundry room remodel, so nothing was wasted. Now all of my kitchen space is accessible, and I’m a very happy girl!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. If you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-DIY

Want to get rid of that builder grade faux wood paneling on your kitchen island or peninsula? You know the stuff. It resembles those wood panels that used to be on the sides of station wagons. I’ve had it in every kitchen I’ve owned. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to live with it. And neither do you.

This peninsula update is the first step of many to come in a mini DIY remodel that I’m about to undertake in my small, non-functional kitchen. I’ve had smaller kitchens, but my current kitchen, hands down, wins the award for the least functional. It also ranks right up there with the least aesthetically pleasing.

So here are my before pictures. Pretty standard as far as peninsulas go. This kitchen is one big ball of patterned brown. I love brown, but there are brown patterns that fight each other in the oak grain, the flooring and the countertops. Makes me dizzy. This kitchen is not a safe place for anyone who is prone to seizures—that’s for sure.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve been collecting posts on Pinterest for kitchen ideas, and to give credit where credit is due, I copied this design from “Remodelaholic”. And I combined her project with a photo I saw on “DIY Network”. This transformation can be done with basic carpentry skills, and isn’t all that expensive.

Step one was to remove the corner trim piece so I could pry back the existing paneling and locate the studs, water lines and electrical wires. My dishwasher is in my peninsula, so I was aware that the potential existed for an electrical shock or a flash flood if my nail hit just the right spot.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately the installer for my new dishwasher had to remove some studs in order to get it to fit into the space where the old one was. That leaves me with only a few studs to attach my boards to. I knew that was going to be my biggest challenge. However, I was relieved to find no water lines running through the studs like I had in my last house, and there were only two electrical wires that were going to be relatively easy to avoid. Here’s one of them.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So I marked my stud locations on my counter top with some tape, and I taped another area to mark a board from the back of a cabinet that I could use to nail into. And of course, there will always be a 2 x 4 on the floor, on the outside corners and against the wall that were used in framing.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to remove a piece of baseboard on the wall adjacent to the peninsula since it was going to have to be trimmed down afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The only other out-of-the-ordinary item I had to deal with, was an electrical outlet that I had to move up about 1/2″.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to use bead board paneling for this project, and Lowe’s had a new kind that looked like traditional bead board on steroids. The routed groves were much larger and farther apart. A  4′ x 8′ sheet of traditional bead board paneling ran around $20. The more unique version that I decided to use was $30 a sheet. The extra $10 was worth it to me.

Lowe’s will cut plywood for their customers, and so will Home Depot. Not only does it save me the hassle of cutting it, but a 4′ x 8′ sheet won’t fit in my tin can of a car. I had them make me four panels which required four cuts. The first two cuts were free, and the second two cost me 25 cents. Again, worth it. I also had a large scrap piece leftover to use on another project.

I had the panels cut to a size that was 1/4″ shorter than the actual height of my counter tops so that I could mount them off the floor a bit. Dishwasher + leak = potential water on the floor at some point. Cutting it short also allowed for any wonkiness as far as the possibility of the sheets not being cut perfectly square (sorry Lowe’s) or my floors/counters etc…not being square (sorry house).

So I attached the bead board to the peninsula, setting it on a ruler to raise it while I hammered. I’m happy to report I only hit my thumb once, but I’ll admit I did bend a handful of nails that had to go in the garbage. I also broke two drill bits while pre-drilling. Like I said, I’m not a carpenter. I also used a level to make sure each sheet was plumb.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s a photo after the bead board was attached. Since I didn’t have much of a selection of studs to hammer into, some of the pieces only had one nail on top and one on the bottom, but I knew when I added the trim, some of those nails would also be penetrating the bead board to hold it on too. The trim itself would also help secure it.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had to trim around the outlet, and I also had to shave down part of the toe kick that extended past the end of the cabinet in order for the bead board to lay flat against the cabinet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I added 1 x 4 pieces of MDF that I cut down from a leftover sheet I already had, and attached those. I also kept those up off the floor. MDF and water do not mix.When MDF gets wet, it puffs up like a toasted marshmallow.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the horizontal pieces. I had to cut a hole in the trim piece that went around the outlet.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s how it looked with the horizontal pieces added.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The bottom board is a 1 x 8, so that once I put the baseboard on, there will be a reveal equal to the rest of the 1 x 4 trim.

The next step was to install the remaining vertical boards. These will cover the areas where the sections of bead board paneling meet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The previous photo shows that my vertical board placement didn’t line up with any studs (marked by the blue tape on the counter top). In order to attach these two pieces, I just pre-drilled at an angle so my nails would go into the horizontal pieces that were nailed into studs. This is where I managed to snap my last 1/16 bit. Sigh.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A suggestion from the “Remodeloholic” post, was to round over the edges of the trim boards, so that once installed, there is an intentional space where the trim boards meet. That way, there’s no need to caulk or putty those areas.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here all of the trim pieces were installed.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next came the baseboard. The baseboard is the only piece placed directly on the floor to cover the gaps from the bead board, the corner trim and the 1 x 8’s. It would be simple enough to replace if it were to get wet.

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In order to keep costs down on my projects, I usually buy “lesser” quality pine boards and then spackle over any knots or dings at the same time I putty all my nail holes. I sand and paint, and the imperfections are impossible to find afterwards.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next a coat of primer.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After the primer dried, I caulked every place that the trim met the bead board, and along the top of the baseboard. This is an important step, and makes everything professional looking.

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I painted everything with two coats of paint, sanding in between coats. Finished!

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Now the traditional before and afters.
 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Add Character to a Kitchen Island/Peninsula-HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I had some of the pine boards and MDF already, I don’t know exactly what this project cost, but I would approximate not more than $50, with $30 of that being for the bead board.

A cheaper version would be to leave out the bead board and mount the trim directly onto the existing faux wood paneling. Give the paneling a light sand, a good primer and a good quality paint and you’re on your way. I’ve done that too!

Honestly, the worst part of this project was the major splinter I got in my hand when picking out the wood. It was all smooth sailing after that.

Author’s edit: And here she is after surviving nearly two weeks in the palm of my hand. My daughter, Sophie, was my splinter remover, but she moved to Los Angels. Now I’m on my own in the foreign object removal department. (Thus the two week hibernation period.)

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Now on to another cabinet…

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

DIY Window Box Substitute–No Mounting Required

If you’ve always wanted beautiful window boxes but were afraid of the installation, planter boxes are a DIY-friendly alternative. They’re easy to build, and can be decorated seasonally with non-plant items if you live in a planting zone that doesn’t allow for live plants in the winter. You don’t have to leave them stark and empty in the off-season!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I moved into this house this past winter, and it was in desperate need of some curb appeal. I had all of the half-dead, overgrown trees and bushes removed, and decided to start from scratch. How sad and lonely she looks. Window boxes will cheer this house (and me) right on up!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Unfortunately, I did have a problem with my window box idea. The actual construction of the window boxes wasn’t an issue, but my fear of drilling into my bricks to install them certainly was. And to be honest,  I wouldn’t have been all that excited to drill into vinyl siding, wood siding or any other siding for that matter. Thinking about mounting a window box securely enough to handle the weight of the wood, the dirt and the plants made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

So I decided that instead of window boxes, I would make free-standing planter boxes. And when I say free-standing, I mean “$free$”-standing.  I recently had a screened porch added to my house (click here to view) and wrestled some of the wood scraps away from my builder. Wood scraps = free planter boxes.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to build the planter boxes so that pots that my son, Ross, gave me a few years ago would fit inside of them. You don’t necessarily have to have pots inside of planter boxes, and if I hadn’t had these already, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to buy some. I would have just lined the boxes with a weed fabric so that dirt wouldn’t seep out of the cracks, and filled them with dirt. These pots have seen better days, but I love them, and they were perfect for putting inside the planters.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I wanted to use treated 4 x 4’s for the legs, but I only had four that were long enough, and I needed eight. I did, however, have some treated 2 x 4’s left from the porch that I decided to double up and use instead. I knew if I ran a bead of caulk where the two boards met, and then painted them out, they would look just like the 4 x 4’s. My goal here was to not buy anything in order to make these planter boxes, so I had to be creative.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The actual sides of the boxes were built using leftover shiplap that was also left over from the screened porch. It was already primed and painted, but I still had to give it another quick coat after I finished assembling the boxes.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t know how long this shiplap will last out in the weather since it’s pine. The primer and exterior paint should protect it for a while, but if it rots after a few years, I can replace it. I’m also hoping that by using pots inside of the boxes, the shiplap will last a little longer since there won’t be wet dirt resting up against it.

Here are my first two sections I put together after measuring how tall and wide I wanted the planters to be. You can see that the section on the right is made up of the sandwiched 2 x 4’s, so I used that section for the back side of the planter.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here I’ve added a second piece of shiplap.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since I was too lazy to go to the basement to get my super-duper saw horses that my son, Brandon, got me for Christmas, I just used my cute little Honda Fit (Love that car!) to steady my two sides while I screwed in the end pieces. And yes, I was careful not to scratch the car.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In this photo, you can see that I cut the legs a couple of inches shorter than the finished height because I wanted to be able to rest pieces of wood on top of them. I wanted to be able to decorate these boxes for fall and Christmas using non-plant items like pumpkins, ornaments, birdhouses and such. Wood laid across the tops of the legs would give me a hidden platform to set items on.  The pots with the dirt will only be used in the spring and summer for live plants.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next, I took 2 x 8’s (because that’s what I had on hand–a curb score) and notched out spaces with a jig saw in order to accommodate the legs, and toe-nailed them in from underneath. I chose to leave a space down the center so the water from the drainage holes in my pots would run through onto the ground rather than sit on the wood. If I decide at some point to fill the planters with dirt without the pots, I’ll add another board to complete the bottom.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And it fits! My plan for when my square pots go to pot heaven some day, is to buy pre-potted arrangements and just set the pots inside the planter boxes.

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The planters looked a little blah-zay to me so I decided to jazz them up a bit. I had these scraps that were already cut at a 45 degree angle on one end. The 45 inspired me to cut another 45 on the other end, and I tacked them on the front of the boxes to add a little interest. In addition to the 45 degree angle adding some interest, it also helps the rain run off rather than sit on top of the boards.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Can you tell it was getting dark outside? Well, it was, so I did the painting the the next day. I primed the raw wood first, then I painted the primed wood, then painted the whole thing one more time.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I caulked around the decorative pieces and some other areas that I didn’t want water to get into. Some of the 4 x 4 legs had splits in them, so I caulked those, as well as the cracks where I joined the 2 x 4’s for the back legs. Then, a fresh coat of paint. It always amazes me what a fresh coat of paint can do.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I looked through my stash of goodies, and found some white, decorative iron pieces I’d bought a few years ago at Hobby Lobby, and added them to the fronts after rubbing some watered down gray paint on them. And wha-la! Here are my 100% free window box planters!

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

See what a difference these make for my once sad little house! Before–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here they are all decorated for fall. I put these together after I realized mums were not happy living in my planter boxes due to lack of sunlight. I had my heart set on mums, but these will do just fine!

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And yes, I painted my shutters and gave them some jewelry. Now, for your viewing pleasure, another set of before and after photos!

Before–
 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s the second planter box. Even the fall pretties I used to decorate with were budget-friendly. I grew the pumpkins myself, the hydrangea were given to me by a friend, and everything else you see in the planter boxes was from my stash or from garage sales.

Window Box Substitute/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I like the planters better than window boxes because I can move them to the back yard and fill them with flowers or veggies if I want to. I was also able to make them bigger than most window boxes would have been–a window box this large would have been very heavy. If I get tired of them (fat chance), I can remove them and there’s no damage to the house underneath. And God forbid, if I ever move again, I can take them with me!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Journeyman Painter and Certified Home Stager /Redesigner. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch

If you’re thinking about building a screened-in porch and are looking for a creative way to finish the interior, look no further. Shiplap is a beautiful way to go if you are a fan of farmhouse or cottage-style decorating.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I moved to a cute little house in need of some TLC this past winter, and waited (impatiently) for spring to arrive so I could have the existing screened porch removed and re-built. Here are before and after photos of the exterior.

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Before–

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After–Real landscaping will come next year.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

My builder and I discussed several possible ways to finish the inside of the porch–all the usual ways. I scoured the internet hoping to find something not “usual”, but no luck.

I wanted the space to have the feel of an interior room—something quaint and cozy, and I was looking for something I could put nails into, to hang mirrors, clocks, pictures, hooks, etc…without feeling like I just destroyed something new. I like to move things around a lot, resulting in a Swiss-cheese type wall finish.

If you look closely at the before pictures at the beginning of this post, you can see that the inside walls had the exterior house siding on them. Not conducive to nails, and not very homey or interior-roomish looking in my opinion.

So here we are under construction in the next photo. I wanted a partial wall on the bottom half of the porch (as opposed to just window screen) not only for privacy reasons since I live in the city, but also to keep out as much of the weather as possible. Needless to say, construction began with no idea of how to finish the inside.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

We got about to this stage in construction, and my builder was ever-so-patiently waiting for me to figure out what to do with the inside, when then the shiplap idea came to me in a wave that made my heart flutter just a bit.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I told my builder about my idea, and after he looked at me sort of funny, he called his lumber supplier to see if they carried shiplap. The response on the other end of the phone was, “Does this lady watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”  I thought, “Who on the planet doesn’t watch ‘Fixer Upper’?”, but I kept that to myself because based on the blank look on my builder’s face, he was, in fact, that one person on the planet.

This is what shiplap looks like. It’s not tongue and groove, but rather the edges are notched as you can see here.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

The price of cedar shiplap made me laugh, so we went with pine. I asked my builder about the possibility of installing a faux shiplap by running treated 1 x 8 boards horizontally, in order to keep the budget down. We decided against it because as treated wood dries, it separates quite a bit, leaving gaps between the boards. And who wants to look at Tyvek lettering, right? So I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties and went with the real deal.

In an attempt to make the wood last as long as possible, I primed and painted all the surfaces of the boards, not just the side that would be visible. I paint for a living, and my new porch isn’t all that big, but I’m here to tell you that I nearly lost my mind before I got all the sides and surfaces primed and painted–three times. And of course the notches added some extra brushwork too.

So after a coat of primer and a coat of paint, I had to repaint again after installation in order to cover smudges and nail heads.  If you decide to paint your own boards, you’ll need a lot of patience, a lot of space, a lot of time and perhaps an engineering degree in order to figure out how to stack all the boards so they can dry and not stick together.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s what I should have done differently. I used an exterior primer, but the primer I used wasn’t strong enough to seal knots, and the knots bled through my primer and my two coats of exterior paint. Here’s how the knots looked when they reared their ugly heads. Irritating brownish dots. Everywhere. Shiplap with chicken pox wasn’t what I had in mind.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

So if you decide to use pine shiplap, do yourself a favor and seal the knots first–before you prime and paint–with a primer that’s meant to keep knots from bleeding through. The product I purchased to seal the knots, was for sealing only the knots and not the entire board. This worked for me because I had already primed my boards, but I would recommend searching for a product that can be used on the knots as well as the rest of the board (assuming there is such a product) so you don’t have to seal all the knots, and then prime the rest of the boards with another product afterwards. Here’s what I used to seal the knots only.

As of this writing, roughly three months after construction, the knots are slightly starting to bleed through the paint again. I’m guessing it’s because the sealer was applied over paint and primer rather than directly on the bare knots. A heavy duty primer is worth paying for.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

For my 14 x 16 porch, the shiplap cost around $800. I had enough leftover to build some planter boxes too! (See them here.) So here’s my shiplap porch all complete. I love the look of it, and the practicality of being able to nail into it with no worries. If I want to move the nails, I can leave the holes for a distressed look or I can fill them with putty and make them disappear. I could also just pound them in and leave them.

Welcome to my happy place.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is the gable end.

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I added some corbels that I bought years ago at an architectural salvage warehouse to the windows.

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

A very kind and thoughtful neighbor who is an electrician, installed an outlet for me as a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift.

 Shiplap In a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Shiplap in a Cottage-Style Porch/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I don’t see shiplap as a fad or something trendy that will be dated in 10 years–I don’t do trendy. I think it’s classic, timeless and lovely. Shiplap adds a relaxed, cottagey feel to a space. Thank you, Chip and Joanna. (I even watch your re-runs.)

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs

Whoever invented the idea of building shelving in between the studs in a wall is a genius. If you’ve searched Pinterest or Google for ways to find extra storage space in a small bathroom, you’ve probably seen photos of some of these.

I decided this would be a good project to try, since I recently moved to a house with the world’s smallest master bathroom. And besides being tiny, it was also a little on the boring side. Here’s my wall before the big event. (Excuse the patches–I was getting ready to paint before I got a wild hair to try this.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To begin, I drilled some 1/4″ holes in the wall in order to have places to insert the tip of my saw to cut a hole.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my super-useful garage sale saw. (Just had to show it.)

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I tapped my saw into the hole expecting to hit another piece of drywall that typically would be behind it, but I didn’t hit anything but air. This meant there was an open cavity behind my wall, and that, ladies and gentlemen, was a very good thing. My super-smart carpenter brother, Mike, told me there probably used to be a tub behind the wall before someone converted the space to a stand-up shower. At that point, it was looking like my between-the-stud project was turning into something a little more exciting than I anticipated.

Just to be sure I wasn’t going to hit something like pipes, duct-work or electrical wires, I only cut out a smallish piece of drywall to start. I’d rather patch a small hole than a big one if I was going to run into a problem or lose my nerve.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I could peek inside the hole and saw nothing in the way, I made it a little larger, and then I cut out a second hole. There was a stud running down the middle of the wall that I wasn’t ready to cut out just yet.

I hadn’t decided exactly how big I wanted to make my shelving unit, so I left these two ugly holes in the wall for a week or two while I mulled the whole thing over. I would liked to have searched for a unique old door or window of some sort to make this into a cabinet rather than a shelf, but I was a little too impatient for that.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This is a picture of inside the hole. Behind the PVC pipe is the back of my shower in my other bathroom.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Once I made my decision of how big to make my shelving unit, I finally cut the hole to the desired size.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I’ve agonized over the years about whether or not to buy a reciprocating saw, and once again I wished I had one. But I just used a good, old-fashioned hand saw–also from a garage sale–and got the job done just fine. My biceps got a work out, my pores were cleared from sweating and I’m a better person for it.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Finally I have my hole!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I decided to make full use of as much of the open space behind the wall as I could. This meant building a big box, which also meant building a heavy box. I made a frame inside the cavity out of 2 x 4’s to support the weight of my shelf unit. I added a 2 x 4 on each side of the opening to screw my box into, as well as a couple for the unit to sit on. I made sure the boards were level so my shelf wouldn’t be off kilter when I set it on the frame.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This may seem a little backwards to a real carpenter like my bro, but I always found it easier to cut my back piece first, and build the box to fit it. I measured the opening I had cut in the wall, and then cut my piece that would be the back of my unit, a tad smaller than the opening. That way, I’d have a little wiggle room when trying to shove that bad boy into the wall.

So here’s my bead board back piece. It looked a little beat up from the move, but it painted up just fine.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I built this unit using simple butt joints–nothing fancy or complicated. I used plywood for the box, and particle board for the shelves. I prefer to use MDF, but used plywood for the box because it’s lighter weight, and I knew this shelving unit was going to be a bear to lift and slide into the wall–especially while straddling a toilet.

In addition to MDF being heavier than plywood, it swells when it gets wet, and this will be sitting right next to my shower pipes. You just never know…I used particle board for the shelves because it’s nicer looking than plywood when it’s painted, and I had no plans to put anything heavy on these shelves. The outer plywood box would protect the shelves from water, as particle board doesn’t like water all that much either.

I knew what items I would be storing on the shelves, and spaced them accordingly. In order to make the best use of the prime real estate I had discovered, I made the shelves 24″ deep. In this photo, I was just trying to get my shelf spacing figured out.

Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

It’s actually easiest to paint the pieces with a coat of primer and a coat of finish before you assemble it. Then caulk all of the joints, let dry and put a final finish coat on.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here’s my son, Ross, ready to help with the install. Whatever would I do without him!!!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonILphoto IMG_5936.jpg

Ready, set, go!

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

After some man-handling, we got it into the wall.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I screwed it into the stud it was sitting on and into the studs on each side. In this scenario, if I ever needed to have my shower plumbing replaced, I could (reluctantly) remove the unit from the wall to access the pipes.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Next I trimmed it out and make it look pretty. I used this nifty vinyl trim from Home Depot. I’m all about the vinyl trim. It doesn’t crack like wood does, it’s flawless and it paints easily.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Adding trim made the shelves look more substantial.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Then I added trim pieces to the sides.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I had some pieces of a beautiful, old, wooden picture frame left over from another project, so I cut them to size, and painted them white for the top and bottom trim pieces. I caulked wherever one trim piece met another. I sunk all of my nails, puttied the holes and sanded off the excess putty after it dried. Then I painted all of the trim.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here she is! Beauty and function all wrapped up into one big, beautiful piece of…something.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Since the shelves were so deep, I was able to put some smallish plastic storage bins of items I don’t use too often behind the towels. This freed up space in my vanity.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

In addition to adding the shelving unit, I replaced my bathroom door with a pocket door. Making my way to the toilet to do my thing used to be like squeezing into one of those public restroom stalls where you have to straddle the toilet in order to shut the door. And I was growing a little tired of a door against my backside while I was brushing my teeth. My amazingly talented brother (yes, I’m a suck-up) installed the pocket door for me.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I ended up changing out the mirror, the light fixture and the faucet as part of my bathroom overhaul too. Next is the toilet, but that’s for another day.

I’m not a fan of having over-the-toilet cabinets in a bathroom unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’d rather look at a pretty picture, and I feel like a cabinet cuts into the space too much. But if storage is needed and you aren’t gutsy enough to cut an enormous hole in your drywall, then so be it. With my new in-the-wall storage, the toilet cabinet is no longer a must. Here’s my before picture.

 Built-In Storage Between the Studs/HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

And here’s the after. The walls just have a tinted primer on them in this photo, but once it’s painted, I’ll swap out my photo and no one will be the wiser.

 photo IMG_6004.jpg

So if you need storage or maybe just a space to display pretty things in a room in your house, take a deep breath and try cutting a hole in your wall!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter. Feel free to visit her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

Add Trim to Builder-Grade 42″ Kitchen Cabinets–Crown Substitute

If you’re looking for a way to add interest to builder-grade cabinets, here’s an easy and inexpensive upgrade.

I happen to have those run-of-the-mill, builder-grade, ho-hum oak kitchen cabinets that everyone on the planet seems to have. I painted them white and added bead board wallpaper to the insets a few years ago (See previous post “Yes You Can Paint Your Oak Kitchen Cabinets“). I loved the transformation, but always wished I had crown molding on my upper cabinets.

The problem was, my 42” cabinets butted up against the ceiling so there was no room for crown. However, my combination OCD, tunnel vision and I-will-have-crown-if-it-kills-me attitude were not to be defeated. I made the decision that I was going to add some type of trim somewhere to catapult my cabinets out of Dullsville. I went on a search for trim, knowing I didn’t want to use the standard quarter round. Here’s the winning trim from Home Depot.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Here are before and after pictures of the bottom of one of the cabinets without trim, and after trim was added. I didn’t think I’d be able to find trim small enough to fit in the area below the cabinet doors without it looking too small and chintzy, but this was perfect.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I sandwiched a piece of screen molding as a spacer, in between the new trim piece and the side of the cabinet. Otherwise there would have been a gap because the cabinet corners protrude past the flat side of the cabinet. You can see it in this photo.

Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I then flipped the trim upside down, and installed it at the top of the upper cabinets against the ceiling. Again, the space for decorative trim was pretty small, but it fit nicely. It’s not crown molding, but it added a decorative touch, and covered the ugly crack where the cabinet met the ceiling. I caulked around all the trim and painted…again.

 Add Trim to Builder-Grade Kitchen Cabinets / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

To make the project easier, I primed the trim and put one coat of paint on it prior to installation. After I installed the trim, I puttied my nail holes, caulked and put a final coat on the trim.

The trim for this project was only $15. I needed basic tools, including an inexpensive miter box, hammer, trim nails and a caulk gun. This project shows that a tiny piece of decorative trim can go a long way to adding some much-needed charm to boring cabinets. Your turn!

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.

How to Whitewash a Fireplace

If your brick fireplace is in need of a face lift, and removing the brick isn’t a viable option for you, whitewashing your existing brick is a great alternative. This homeowner’s fireplace was a perfect candidate for whitewashing because of the pitted, chippy look of the bricks, as well as the color variations within each individual brick.

This fireplace is in a family room that opens up into an adjoining kitchen. The homeowner just had her hickory cabinets painted white, purchased new stainless-steel appliances, had new white Carrara counter tops installed and changed the wall color from tan to a beautiful light gray (Anew Gray from Sherwin Williams). After all of the updates, her fireplace looked out-of-place. The snowball continued to roll…

(You can see we did a test sample on the hearth so we’d have an idea of what the brick was going to look like before fully committing.)

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

Whitewashing is a pretty simple, but amazingly messy process since it requires using watered down paint that splatters and runs. We chose a flat paint since a sheen on this fireplace would’ve seemed out-of-place.

I normally take great pride in keeping the labels of my paint cans clean, but after re-opening the can a couple of times with messy gloved hands to mix more paint, my OCD had to take a back seat. Here’s the paint we used.

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

I mixed equal amounts of paint and water for the whitewash. I only used about a third of a quart on this project, so be warned that you probably don’t need a gallon of paint unless you have a monstrous amount of brick.

I used an old, worn paint brush, because painting rough brick and mortar joints will make a new brush into an old brush in a hurry. Starting at the top, I coated a one to two foot area, then blotted parts of some of the bricks so they would have some variation.

I was careful to keep wiping and smearing any paint that dripped and ran onto the bricks below. And trust me, the paint will run and drip no matter how careful you are. If the runs dry on the bricks before you get to them, they’ll show through.

I quickly moved from one area to the next, trying not to overlap the previous section. After about half of the fireplace was done, I added more water to my paint because it started to thicken. If the paint doesn’t stay a consistent thickness (or in this case, thinness), your finish will be heavier where you applied the thicker paint, and will be more opaque. Then you’ve got yourself a lopsided fireplace, so keep an eye on your paint! Here’s a close-up of the bricks before and after.

Before
How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
After
How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
Before
How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL
After
How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

When the paint mix was first applied, it looked very white, but within a few minutes it soaked into the brick and became more see-through. This process is sort of a guessing game until you see how much paint is going to be absorbed by the brick.

The most important tips for this project are to have lots of blotting rags ready, to wear gloves and to cover everything within a mile radius with plastic.

This complete fireplace makeover was very cost-effective and required little in the way of demo. The homeowner beefed-up and modernized her fireplace mantle by removing some old decorative trim and adding a simple pine board that was painted white, she whitewashed her brick and sprayed her brass fireplace screen. (See my post “Update Fireplace Doors With Spray Paint“). All three of these improvements were very DIY-friendly, and what a transformation! The new fireplace now flows with the rest of the room.

Here are the before and afters.

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

How to Whitewash a Fireplace / HomeStagingBloomingtonIL

This post was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and Journeyman Painter servicing the Central Illinois area. Feel free to visit her website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com to view her portfolio for more before and after pictures of her projects. And if you enjoy gardening, you may want to visit her gardening blog at MyUrbanGardenOasis.