Saturday, September 22, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Dresser Edition

Easily his best picture.

Ever since we lost our dream house, I've had the insatiable desire to change things around our rented abode. Apparently, my designer brain was so focused on the idea of a blank slate, I found myself anxiously pacing around our house with creative energy bubbling up inside...and no outlet to relieve me.  Something had to be done.  I had to relieve myself.

I'm pausing so you can appreciate the wording of that sentence.

I'd had an idea for a dresser treatment that I'd seen that soon developed into a small obsession for me.  I'd told Husbo about it no less than 15 times over the past month and for some reason, my brain did not connect the fact that I had both a dresser that was begging for a makeover AND creative energy for days.  One afternoon, while visiting the new West Elm store in Durham, I saw a dresser there that was at least a 2nd cousin to the dresser I'd been dreaming of.   I promptly showed Husbo (as if the first 15 times weren't enough) the idea that I was so enamored with and that genius of a man removed the stupid veil over my brain to suggest that perhaps we could just refinish our existing dresser.

He'd never been sexier to me than in that very moment.

Due to my complete lack of impatience, we had to get started immediately.  Enter: the black blob.

We've had a good run, old friend.

It's not horrible.  In fact, for many years, I loved it.  I got the dresser from my old Hroomate (not a typo), Bryna.  When she decided to get married and move to Japan, she decided not to pay the shipping required to bring this baby with her. Go figure.  When she was using it, it was a cool shade of avocado green (she'd gotten it second hand and gave it her own facelift).  When I inherited it, I went goth on it...and she got a fresh coat of black paint.  

Any good before picture has extra crap laying around.  You gotta get the full effect.

I lived with it like this for a good 4 years but as other things in our bedroom began to evolve, she was slowly becoming the odd woman out.   The mirror that sat on top was a Homegoods find from around the same era.  While the idea of it was pretty cool (the "shutters" close to create a faux window look), it was much too ornate for my increasingly simple taste.  Through the magic of Craigslist, I sold that heavy beast for 80 bones.  80 bones that would not only cover the cost of renovation, but leave me a little extra for new accessories.

So first, we removed all the hardware.

A woman without her jewelry.

Then, we borrowed some paint stripper from the original Handyman, my father-in-law.  Husbo brushed it on all of the drawer fronts, and we scraped.  We scraped a lot.  Apparently there were four coats of paint on those bad boys.  (Sidenote/warning: that stripper stuff is rather caustic.  We both wore gloves and made sure to protect all the surfaces around where we were working.)

Not gonna lie: this was a pretty nasty step.

 After a bulk of the paint was stripped, Husbo took on the task of sanding down the faces to a smooth finish.  With a palm sander, he used a rough grit sandpaper to knock off any other paint that was hanging on for dear life, and then went back over each of them with a fine grit paper to get a beautiful, smooth surface.

Ahh!  We're naked!

I gave a couple of the drawers a patching with a bit of stainable wood filler (b/c this piece is so old and had been banged up in some places.)  Once that was dried and sanded smooth, it was time to stain.

We picked a stain color that most closely matched our bed frame.  Might as well make it look intentional, right?  We used a minwax product that had a polyurethane sealer built in.  I try to be patient with things like this, but if I can cut out a step by buying a 2 for 1 product, I'm doing it.

After two thin coats, brushed on in the direction of the grain, we brought them into the guest room and let them cure for a couple days.  

I'm embarrassed to admit how many times I'd peek my head in to drool over them. 

So what about the body of the dresser?  Well luckily, we never had the intention of stripping/standing/staining that piece.  After the very long process of treating the flat, simple drawer fronts, we couldn't fathom how long and complicated doing that to the dresser would be.  Instead, it was going to get yet ANOTHER coat of paint.  

After a rough sand and wipe down, we started with an oil-based primer to give it some tooth.  (Note: you cannot paint acrylic paint over oil-based paint but you CAN paint it over oil-based primer.)

Sexy socks and shoes, honey.

While he did that, it had been a couple days, so I was going to finish off the drawers and prep the space for moving the piece back in.  I put the hardware back on (we bought a couple more knobs to replace the original handles that were on the center drawers) and then added a liner to the top row.  I'd had a yard of wallcovering from work that I'd wanted to do something with and thought it might be fun to line the insides of the drawers with it.

Here I am weighing the corners down to help the glue set up.   Tre chic.

One other task that had to be tended to was the wall BEHIND the dresser.  You see, when Nick and I were first married back in 2010, his band at the time went on a tour of the East coast for a week.  In my newleywed bliss, I thought it'd be fun to surprise him when he got back with a bedroom makeover that was more of a blend of our styles.  So I made pillows, I hung curtains, and I painted.  

Well confession time: even DIY energizer bunnies run out of steam.  We have a rather large master bedroom with tons of mouldings and trim, so I assessed the task before me and made a few executive decisions. One being, not to move the dresser or the mirror.  Besides weighing 4500 pounds and running the risk of it falling and trapping me underneath, it was after midnight on the day before he was going to return.   So I painted around it.
I ain't even ashamed.

So I needed to paint the wall.  I found the task rather amusing so it wasn't that big a deal.  Meanwhile, in dresser land and seven very thin coats of white paint later...(when you're painting white over black, even if you're using a primer, it take a while to get a complete full coverage)...we were done.

I apparently forgot to take a picture of that step so here's a filler pic:

Seven coats?!  Say whaaaa?
How many of you just skipped the rest of this blog to get to this point?  I hate when people don't show the before and after before I lose interest.  Let's skip ahead then:


She's friggin' beautiful in my opinion.  We let the paint cure for at least 4 hours between coats and then a full 24 hours before bringing her back into our bedroom.  I really just put a few things on the top for this picture as I wanted it to be completely hardened and cured before messing anything up.  But oh...she was so worth the wait.   And here's a reminder of what we were dealing with before:

And then after:

The honeycomb mirror is from Ikea and I'd picked that up a couple months ago.  $14.99 Y'ALL.  I still need to find a new plant for the corner and I want to get a different laundry hamper now that I'm banning all black from our bedroom.  I've got a little cord management velcro I need to install to take care of that issue on the left but overall...a success.

And as far as the budget:

2 Paint Brushes:          $5
Primer:                      $10
Wood filler:            $3.50
Foam roller:           $6.50
Stain/Sealer:              $10
Quart of Paint:     $11.50
Honefoss Mirror:      $15

Grand Total: $61.50*

*Note: we had (2) $5 off coupons from Ace Hardware for joining their rewards program so I didn't count the tax on these purchases because it was mostly covered by discounts.

With the $80 I got from the mirror I sold off, the moral of this story is that we made $18.50 by doing this project.  Garth, that was a haiku!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hambones Across America II

(Did you think we forgot about the blog?  Because we kinda did.)

Part Deux: The Mountain States 

After some major biscuit confusion at the Carson City Carls Jr. (aka Hardees), we hit the road. Destination: Salt Lake City. Have you ever driven across Nevada? Don't. There's nothing there. Highlights included Ethan wearing a Burger King crown (Yeah there's so little in Nevada that we ate at Burger King. It was not good.)...

That's KING Hambone, to you.

...and me pretending to be European - which consisted of tucking my t-shirt into my shorts. 

"Ja, hallo? Warum sind wir bei Burger King? Es gibt nichts in Nevada. Danke, Google √úbersetzer!"

And have you ever wondered how many times Sirius XM could play Collective Soul's '93 hit "Shine" in a day? Because it's like 6. I'm not complaining.

Besides that, it was hour after hour of this:

It's a lot worse than this picture.

Ok, the best part about this drive was right after we crossed into Utah and reached the Bonneville Salt Flats State Park. Just a giant dried up salt lake bed. All kinds of land speed records were set here. You know those commercials where there's nothing around and a bunch of cars are driving in formations? Yeah that's Bonneville Salt Flats. Despite Carla getting up to 101 on the interstate, we felt it was necessary to drive on the Salt Flats and see how fast a VW CC with 4 people and a lot of luggage could go (Jeans McQueen hit 117). You don't feel like you're going super fast - you feel like you want a lot more control of the car, because driving on salt is weird.

That squealing you hear is not a tortured animal, but Sarah, who upon watching the video later does not recall making said noises.

We used up all our gas on the Salt Flats and wisely decided to push on to SLC. Except then the gas warning light came on. And there were no gas stations showing up on the GPS until... well, we got pretty worried. We finally got to one, then made it to Salt Lake City in time for cupcakes. Sweet Tooth Fairy. They had a sign up for Cupcake Wars flavors that was TWO MONTHS OLD - tease. Also apparently a chain out there, so Sarah equated it in her head as "Gigi's of the West and most likely overrated" (it was).

How does she stay so thin with all these cupcakes? She's a magician. Also, a lot of dancing.
Thanks to some suggestions, we ate at a really delicious Mexican place called Red Iguana.

The Killer Mexican Food?

Our waiter really loved pronouncing the Spanish words. Made them seem more exotic. ¡Hor-cha-ta! Anyway, Salt Lake City seemed like a pretty cool place. Saw a bunch of stuff from the '02 Winter Olympics - in which we finished 2nd in medal count, BTW. By "we" I mean 'Merica. Number one? A certain nation with great policies on naming children. Keep reading...

The next morning we're off to my Aunt Melissa's house in Redstone, CO. Driving through most of Utah wasn't a lot different than driving through Nevada. Well it was a lot prettier. Stopped at this mountain lake for the girls to frolick.

They got dizzy fast.

We had lunch in this tiny little town at a drug store soda fountain. Behind the counter was an interesting book - Sweet Land of Bigamy. Of thee I sing! I was taking a picture of some weird incense "flavors" and and a dude who was working there apparently made some comment about goosing me to get me out of the way. Yeah maybe Utah is kinda weird.

At some point in the afternoon, we started talking about kids names. We don't have kids yet. Neither do the Hambones. But it's fun to think up names. We were talking about a lot of ridiculous names, gender neutral names, etc. For some reason, Carla looks up that in Germany, names not only have to be distinctly male or female, but they can't cause any type of negative effect on the child's life (Freakonomics anyone?). My response to this was, "Germany's got it goin' on." And they really do. I mean, besides that ugly period from 1933-1945. That was a pretty bad time.

Around the Colorado border, we made a little stop at Dinosaur National Park.

We totally pulled over and took this picture as we left Utah.  Tricky.

Barefoot Contessa didn't know there were dinosaurs in North America. From the visitor center, we took a half mile trolley ride up to a building they basically built over a huge mass of exposed fossils. Pretty cool. You could even touch them and stuff. For some brilliant reason, we thought it'd be fun to hike back down (someone told us there'd be some exposed fossils along the trail - there was one). About five minutes in we realize hiking in the 100 degree desert wasn't our best idea of the trip. Somehow I sweat the least... maybe because I immediately went shirtless. But also because humidity is the bane of my existence. 80 in NC and I'm soaked, 100 in the desert and nothing.

He's STILL wearing jeans, folks.  In the 100 degree desert.  (Notice one leg is hiked though.)

A few hours into Colorado and Ethan is not at all impressed with the Rockies. Even after ending up on an unpaved state highway! We get to Redstone just in time to meet my aunt for dinner at the Redstone Inn. Well Taco's got a thing against eating in hotels... but the Redstone Inn might as well have been taken straight out of the Alps. Really good food - I had trout for the first time, which I had previously avoided because it feels a bit cannibalistic. Get it? Trout - Trout Man? Jokes!

We didn't go swimming. But we did eat under those umbrellas.
Photo credit: Interweb

It was dark as we traveled up the mountain to Melissa's house. Saw lots of deer. No bears, though apparently one and her cub had been hanging out in Melissa's neighborhood. I had to assure Sarah we were off-grade enough that the bears wouldn't get in to open the window overnight (bears are excellent climbers). When we got up the next morning and looked outside, we didn't really want to keep going on our road trip. Melissa does a lot of traveling, but it was easy to see why they chose this as their home base. I just got an email from her this morning inviting us back, we're going to have to take her up on that!

Why is it called Redstone?

We decided to take the super long way to Denver - through a little place called Aspen. (Made an inordinate amount of Dumb & Dumber jokes while there.)  Had lunch there, and then over Independence Pass. There were no guardrails. There should have been. The views were much better than the interstate, and it was pretty cold at the top due to elevation.

The best part about this stop? Outhouses. 

After going down over 6,000ft, at the base of the Rockies, we reach the Mile High City - Denver. Denver was founded in 1858 by settlers traveling west who got to the Rocky Mountains and said, "AW HELL NO." I can see Denver being a pretty cool place, maybe we just hit the wrong places that night. Rain certainly didn't help. The next morning we hit up this place called Snooze for some breakfast.

This better be worth it.

There was a 30 minute wait. On a Thursday. At 10:00am. Either no one in Denver works, or we fell for a tourist trap. Whatever though, it was worth the wait. Before we left town though... yep. Cupcakes.

Sarah's new cupcake-bff worked at Big Fat Cupcakes, which is in no way a misnomer. We got 4 enormous ones - which contained both the best AND worst cupcakes of the trip. The worst was an orange push-pop flavored beast which didn't even get finished. The best was a chocolate cake with Andes mints melted inside and a mint icing. Much like peanut butter and chocolate, this is a good gauge of a cupcake shop. Big Fat Cupcakes hit a home run with this one.*

*Altitude makes it a lot easier to hit home runs at Coors Field, kick field goals at Mile High Stadium, etc. I'm not saying this applies to cupcake home runs, but this applies to cupcake home runs.

There is a part III to this trip.  In theory.