Saturday, August 20, 2011

Home Improvement...or Embellishment Projects

I said I would get around to posting pictures of some of our projects for making our little apartment more ideal for us, SO here they are!   

Practical Projects:: 

Simon enjoys and is good at building things, like furniture, especially when it is to meet an immediate need.  The two biggest problems with our apartment were: 1. Zero bathroom storage space and 2. no desk area.  

The bathroom was definitely the main priority because we quickly grew tired of a living room full of toiletries.  

This is the shelf he decided on.  My favorite feature is the little divided shelf because it's a more pronounced territory-none of that accidental drifting Q-tip business.  But really, it is nice to have the one shelf divided.  This size also allowed out-of-the-way storage for our broom.  Also, in a later home if we don't have a bathroom storage need, it would work well as a book shelf or something.  This was our first staining experience so the wood, especially in this picture, looks more painted than it is.  With this project we learned that with stain, less is more and we think that sponge brushes are the most helpful tool for application.   Also, if we had more wood/ money to spend, we would have definitely preferred doors to hide the clutter and made the piece look a little more complete.  

The second need, as I said, was the desk area.  There was only a tiny area in one corner between the window (as shown) and the closet door which opens to the left.  Because he had to completely custom make this piece for this space we decided to go with as much practicality as possible and worry less about it working later on.  The three drawer thing I already had acts as the right leg and the right side is curved-in to allow the closet to open.  It's exactly what we need so I'm really excited about it.  And we were able to keep the gigantic chair Simon had managed to accumulate during his bachelor-hood.  This was our second staining experience and we liked the results much better.  The wood grain really shows thru and it only took one coat. 

This last practical build is a little older, he made it for me for Valentine's day, but i wanted to add it in here.  It's a much needed asset in the kitchen and I use it multiple times a day.  With such limited storage space, a stepstool has allowed us to use every inch of our kitchen cabinets for everyday things rather than having to only put unfrequented items on the top shelf and such.  ( He's been trying to get me to take the bow off for months but I think it looks just fine with it on)
One thing, looking back now, he wishes he had done differently would be to put a handle hole in the top step for easier moving.

Decoration/Just-For-Fun Projects::

Using the same paint from the step stool Simon made this for our wedding.  At the reception it acted as a napkin and spoon holder, but now it's perfect as a holder for our napkins and napkin rings.  We use cloth napkins to save on trash and money (even though napkins aren't that expensive, it's still something we use multiple times a day and, to us, it's worth it).

For the bathroom we couldn't decide on a good place for wet towels so we used some 3M hooks I had from the dorm and made them fun by personalizing some His and Her bathroom signs Simon had gotten from his cousin, Jessica, somewhere along the line.  We had fun using some old fabric I had to dress them.

I really enjoy DIY decorations as well as using natural colors and materials to decorate so it's always fun when I am able to combine the two.  A few visits ago to see Jessica and Grant we had been looking at random home decor ideas (we Jessica and I, Grant and Simon were not involved in this discussion).  Outside some building there was a huge wall decoration of tree limb slices that made a cool effect.  I decided to try it on a smaller scale.  
We just used some fallen, fresh tree limbs we found and sliced it into 1-inch thick slices. 


After I had arranged them all into a pattern I liked we drew it out on paper and numbered the pieces in order to re-create the exact pattern later.  

Using thin plywood Simon cut out the same shape for backing.

Using screws, he attached the rounds to the backing.

We attached a sawtooth hanger (those picture hanging things with the sharp zig-zaggy teeth on one side) to hang it.  We eventually want to add to it; After seeing it on the wall and having the final product we both agree having a larger more dramatic piece would be better, but I'm really happy with the outcome.  
(Please excuse the mess, I decided to take a picture as we were unloading and unpacking from our trip)

While we were on the wood-slicing kick, Simon had the idea to experiment with some home-made coasters.  Again, just slicing the wood - thinner this time- and then putting a protective glaze on top.  We decided that a little thicker than shown is better because, this thin, they have the tendency to bow up in the center.  Not enough to be a problem, but that is a change we would make if we were to make them again.

Well, these are the DIY projects we've been working on recently.  It's wonderful that we both have fun doing things like this and it can be a hobby we enjoy together.  It's also been neat, since we both have really similar styles, to hear each others ideas and bring them to fruition.  We are both working on a few other projects now that aren't quite finished so, more to come later! 

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