Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Window Seat Ikea Hack

 Today I have the a tutorial for the biggest part of this porch project.  I have seen this project done by many bloggers so this isn't too original but I'll lay it out for you anyway.  Back in March we took a trip to Minneapolis so that my husband and I could run in the Get Lucky 7K race.  Minneapolis is the closest place with an Ikea so I was on a mission to get two of the Expedit shelving units because I had heard that they would work as a bench if turned on their sides. I decided to go with the brown/black finish because I wanted pops of dark to contrast with the mostly light neutral color scheme that I was envisioning.

Now these are not intended to be used as benches but there are two ways to add strength to them so that they can be used that way: 1) add legs (that option would be too tall for my windows on the porch or 2) add a board over the top which is what I opted for.

Other supplies needed:
1. 2 Ikea Expedit shelving units cost: $120
2. MDF board (I used 1/2 inch board) cut to proportions of the sides of the shelves (15" by 72.5")-I got it at Home Depot and had them cut down the board to two pieces of that size for my benches. cost: $30

3. 2 inch foam-this stuff is expensive.  I ordered it from Joann online and used 2 50% off coupons. cost: $80 (without coupons $160 yikes!)

4. An electric knife for cutting the foam-I actually didn't own one of these so I bought one.  Since I plan on using it in the kitchen from now on I won't include this expense in the total cost of the project.

5. Roughly 2.5 yards of fabric assuming the fabric is wide enough to fit the width to upholster both benches. I used an indoor/outdoor fabric so that it could be easily cleaned.  I found this particular Ikat fabric at Fabric Guru.  I had never bought fabric from them before but they have great deals on upholstery, drapery, and outdoor fabric.  They were also fast. $30

6. An upholstery stapler and staples (I already owned one)

7. Screws, a drill, and necessary bits and drivers cost (for screws only): $3

Total cost of project: $263

Now onto the process.  First I assembled the Expedit shelves per product instructions.  This was the easiest part.

Then I cut the foam with the electric knife using a piece of the MDF as my guide.

Then I cut my fabric in half and laid one piece out on my living room floor.  I placed the foam on the fabric followed by the piece of MDF.  I tried to line it up with the pattern of the fabric.

 Then I pulled up the sides and stapled them down making sure to pull nice and tight.  I folded the sides kind of like I was wrapping a present.

Finally, I attached the upholstered pieces to the Expedit units.  This part was frustrating because of the road blocks I kept running into.  First of all, the screws that I bought required a #2 square driver bit which I only realized after I got home.  So I took a trip to Sears to retrieve said driver bit and ended up buying a huge set of various drivers so I don't run into that problem again. Then the package on the screws said you didn't need to pre-drill which was a lie in the case of this project.  Then I had trouble getting the screws to go into the MDF since my drill bit wasn't long enough to go all the way through to the MDF.  Then finally my drill battery died half way through the second bench.  I did finally finish it though.  I used 6 screws per bench, two on each end and two in the middle.  I forgot to take pictures of that part of the process however.

 I have already used these window seats for the purpose of reading and it is great.  I get to enjoy the beauty of the summer while enjoying one of my favorite past times.  I am so in love with how this project turned out!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cinder Block Veggie Garden

So I have been growing tomatoes and various veggie plants from seed for about 4 years now as seen in this post. This is the first year that I am able to plant them in a garden bed instead of containers and I was so excited.  I knew that I wanted to go for a raised bed of some sort because the soil here in the Red River Valley is mostly clay and is very dense.  This makes it hard for roots to spread unless you do a really amazing job of tilling.  

There were several options for raised beds but the option that I chose in the end was the cheapest and the most weather resistant.  I chose to make a raised bed with cinder blocks.  The blocks were only 96 cents but getting them home was an adventure.  We do not own a truck so we loaded them all into the back of my husband's Dodge Avenger.  We looked like we had tricked our car out to be a low-rider and we had to drive very slow.  Thankfully we made it home without destroying the car.

I laid the blocks down 2 deep and eight wide.  The rectangular shape helps with being able to reach all the plants for maintenance and harvest.  Then I went to work getting rid of the grass and I also broke up the soil a little bit.

After that I laid down a layer of newspaper to stifle the grass and weeds that still might have roots in this area.  Then I put the topsoil in and rake it so that it was even.  I figured out how much topsoil I needed by calculating the cubic feet or volume of the bed.
Finally I planted the tomato plants.  My pepper plants went in the containers that I used for both peppers and tomatoes last year.  I also purchased a couple of cucumber plants and planted seeds for squash and green beans.  Squash and green beans are fast growers so they are coming up nicely already.
Another nice thing about the cinder blocks is the extra planting space in each nook of the cinder blocks.  I decided to plant a few of these with basil, rosemary, cilantro, and mint.
I hope to be eating a lot of delicious veggies later this summer!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Painted Chevron Rug

I am back today with another porch update.  My original plan was to paint a design on the floor itself but I decided that a patterned rug might be a little more fun.  It was definitely not in the budget to buy a rug like this because they are so expensive so I decided to paint a rug.  I bought a really cheap 4'x6' area rug ($17) at Mills Fleet Farm.  If you don't have any Fleet Farms where you live think K-mart combined with Home Depot.  Menards was also having a sale on Rustoleum spray paint (2 for $5) so I picked up a few cans in Aqua and a roll of painter's tape.

I began by taping off vertical lines on the rug about 10" apart.

Then I marked tick marks every five inches on each line of tape to help guide myself in placing the diagonal pieces of tape.

Then I placed pieces of tape diagonally to form the chevron pattern.  These pieces were also about 10" apart.  I made sure to press down firmly on the tape to eliminate gaps.  I also put a double layer or tape because I was worried about the paint bleeding through the tape.

Then I spray-painted the rug.  For some reason I only bought one can of paint and that was not enough to cover the entire rug with one coat.  So I had to take another trip to Menards to pick up another can.  I put two coats of paint on the rug.

After letting it dry for a little bit, I removed the tape.  I was pleased at how crisp the pattern looked.

I had been working on this in the garage because it was sprinkling but then the sun came out so I move the rug to the patio to let it dry in the sun.  Once it had spent 4 or 5 hours drying, I brought it back onto the porch.

Don't mind my winter boots hanging out in that cubby.  They are so ugly but they are great for shoveling snow. This was another simple and inexpensive project, under $30!  It was a great way to add color and a fun pattern to my porch project.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bird Cage Planter

The weather in North Dakota was perfect for gardening today so I am here with a fun and easy gardening project for you.  I found this idea in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine several years ago and I think it is so cute.  The bird cage adds some interest to the garden that you wouldn't get from a regular hanging basket or planter.

This project is so simple and only requires a few supplies:
 1. A bird cage-I found this one at Joann's a few years go but I have seen them at Hobby Lobby, Gordman's, and thrift stores.
2. Sphagnum moss-I purchased a bag at Home Depot and one bag lasted for almost 3 summers.
3. Potting soil
4. Flowering plants-a cascading plant with small flowers works best
5. A bowl filled with water for soaking the moss

Step 1: Soak the moss in the bowl of water.  This makes it easier to mold and place on the sides of the cage.

Step 2: Place the moss on the bottom and part way up the side of the cage to form a container for the potting soil.

Step 3: Pour potting soil into the moss container.

Step 4: Take the plants out of their containers and break up the root pack so that the roots are no longer molded to the shape of the container.  This works best if they are damp.  Then make a hole in the potting soil for the roots of the plants and place them in the soil.  Then gently pull some of the stems through the bars of the cage.

Don't forget to water the plants so that they are become better acclimated to their new surroundings.  This is the third summer that I have filled this planter.  Here is a look back at the previous years.


I hope you enjoyed this simple summer project!  Here is a peak at some of the porch progress. I am super excited about how it is turning out!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A New Coat of Paint for the Porch

It is the beginning of June and here in North Dakota it feels more like April.  I figured that the first post this summer would be about gardening but the weather has not been cooperative.  So instead I am posting on the start of my porch makeover project.  The school year at the school that I teach at ended on May 24th and I jumped on this project as soon as my free time started.  Eventually we will get some nice summery weather here in North Dakota and then I will want the porch to be done so that I can spend the rest of the summer there reading on my Kindle :)  I am excited for my little summer reading retreat to be finished and I am off to a great start.

Here is a reminder of what we started with:

Those valences came down right after we moved in.  I have also been itching to pull up that ugly carpet for almost a year now.  So one warm May day I grabbed a corner that was coming up and started to pull.  The carpet was only held down by adhesive so it was a pretty quick and easy task.

Underneath the carpet was a very dirty porch floor that had several layers of paint on it.  Originally the plan was to paint some sort of pattern on the floor but I actually decided to go with one color and then paint an outdoor rug.  Look for that project in a future post.

I was originally going to give the walls and windows a fresh coat of white but I decided to go with a warm off white for the walls instead and I love it.  The color is Behr Clean Linen.

Then, after scrubbing all the dirt off of the windows, I put a fresh coat of Behr Ultra White on the windows.  I don't normally do a lot of taping but I wasn't confident in my ability to not get paint on the glass.

After painting the windows, I scrubbed the floor like crazy.  The adhesive was particularly difficult to remove but my handy paint scraper helped with that.  Then I painted the floor with Behr Porch and Floor Paint in Silver Gray.  I opted for the low luster variety instead of the high gloss.  It took two coats and I did not prime.  

The porch looks awesome now.  It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do.  

You can see my tomato and pepper plants in the first picture.  I have been working on hardening them off but the weather had been too rainy and cold to plant them outside yet.

The painting that I have left is the door frame.  I really want it to be white since the wood is so dark that it does not match the door at all.  I will need to prime with a couple of coats first so I am waiting a while on that.

Next up on the to-do list for this porch project is a little Ikea hack for some window seating.  I can't wait to share that project with you guys! 

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