From Toilet Surround to Headboard

I had to break this down into two post because I’m just jazzed to show off the progress.  This is the back to my future master bedroom headboard created from beadboard that surrounded a hole that was a toilet in my basement.  It was covered in yellow paint, black and white graffiti, cobwebs, and spider sacks when I tore it down.  These are the best before pictures I could find as the vision of turning it into a headboard came much later.

Once I had decided to make the headboard, I scoured the Internet for design ideas and I came across the blog of Jen Woodhouse – The House of Wood DIY Life of a Military Wife. She has a ton of cool plans/projects, but the one that caught my eye was her Evelyn Chevron King Bed.  I got the plans over a year ago, so this wood has been patiently waiting to be reinvented.  The plans include side rails and foot board, but I’m not making those due to my adjustable bed frame.  Open shop hours are Wednesday and Saturday and I literally thought I have this portion down in one week, two days.  NOT.

The first step was getting the sheet of birch plywood to the shop.  Thankfully Tom (my finish carpenter/foundation repairer) was willing to pick a sheet up from Home Depot and bring it to me at the shop.  Per the plans I ripped it down to 77″ in width.  Next was preparing the beadboard.  I knew I wanted to remove the paint and graffiti and I thought it would mean stripping.  Fortunately months before I started I brought a piece into the shop and Scotti let me run it through the planer.  With one pass it removed most of the paint and graffiti.  What was left I felt would add character, so the plan was hatched and I spent the bulk of the first day planning down the boards.

Once I got what I thought would be enough I found and marked the center lines (both vertical and horizontal) on my plywood and I started cutting 45 degree cuts.  Jen’s plans had measurements for each length board, but she warned to measure first.  I made it one step easier.  I cut the 45 to be placed on the lines and left the boards long off the edge and planned to just trim all sides down once all boards were glued and nailed in place.

I started cutting pieces on July 13.  I got the last piece glued and nailed in place on August 3.  I didn’t work every Wednesday and Saturday and some days I only got a couple of hours in, but this worked my patience.  I didn’t butt the pieces tightly during the cutting phase.  I nailed and glued all of the pieces in one quadrant first.  When I started in the next about 3 boards in the lines didn’t align and by the end it was off by 1/2″.  I had to take them apart (I had glued a few) and scrape the groove or tongue of each piece.  Just the thickness of the residue paint was causing the issue.

Next came the trim up.  The first cut I asked Scotti to do as I had supreme fear of messing up weeks of work.  I successfully cut the remaining three sides (both long) and in that raw finished state I knew I had created something special.

From this point forward I am not working from the plans.  The wall that the head of my bed is located on is not wide enough to allow room for nightstands on either side.  I currently use a TV table to hold remotes, pocket contents, etc.  I had the idea of building a shelve above the headboard, which will give it depth away from the wall and creating dead space.  Scotti added to the idea and suggested I put shelves along the sides too.  So with that plan hatched I decided it would be really cool to have part of the backboard be the back of the top shelf.  Most of the board will be hidden behind pillows anyway.  Back to the cutting board.

Thank God Scotti was there to catch what would have been a disastrous cut.  We had the board straddled across the two work tables, which meant I would be pushing as far as I could, but then need to go around to the other side of the table to pull through the remainder of cut.  In that transition I pulled slightly away from my straight edge and Scotti saw it almost immediately.  Fortunately not much damage and if I hadn’t shared it in this post, most people would not be able to see it once it’s all complete.  Learn from the mistakes of others.

With that cut, it was time to take the board home to apply the finish.  There is a gentleman, Gene, that has adopted the Wood Shop donating all sorts of great tools.  He’s a master woodsman and super knowledgeable.  I was toying with either Polyacrylic, Polyurethane without or without stain.  Scotti mentioned that Gene recommended and prefers Danish Oil.  I spent an evening on the Internet doing research and decided to take that route.  I purchased Watco Danish Oil in natural.  Super easy product to apply.  I used a cheap sponge paint brush.  They tell you to keep applying if you see certain areas drying up (soaking in) the oil.  On the first coat that definitely was the case.

After the second coat.

Final coat.

With that the back of the head board is complete.  This project took a major twist last week.  Scotti encourages people to buy wood for their projects from Paxton Lumber.  Originally I had planned to get slabs of Ash from the Randy Wipert, Woodwrights Sawmill and Hardwood who had got the walnut logs from me last year.  He couldn’t produce them when I was ready so, over the phone I described the project to a clerk from Paxton.  I am very comfortable buying site unseen, but never again will I do that with a wood project.

When I arrived to pick up the wood I knew IMMEDIATELY it was not what I had envisioned in my minds eye.  I had approved white oak slabs, cut to 15/16″, in widths up to 12″.  Long story short, I bought the wood and resolved myself to make it work.  I actually spent an entire day in the shop working on the top shelf box.  The planer in the Wood Shop struggled on these long pieces of oak, but I got them planed, joined, and ripped to prepare for biscuit/gluing them together to create the true width I wanted.

I took a piece of scrap oak home and applied Medium Walnut, Natural, and Dark Walnut Danish Oil.  I didn’t love any of them, but was going to go with natural and then came the phone call that changed everything.  Lacey, the woman that gave me the pine floors for my kitchen, called and offered me some of the floor joist she was removing from her house.  True 2×12, 100 year old pine.  I jumped on it and picked up five pieces and went straight to the Wood Shop (it was a Saturday).  I spent the bulk of the time denailing one 20190814_214547joist, but once denailed I started running it through the planner.  10 passes and we didn’t put a dent in the wood.  I cleared enough to know that this was the wood my minds eye envisioned.  This one spot rubbed with the natural Danish Oil confirmed it.  It will take months to finish the board if I move forward with the pine.

So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?

From Pinterest to Reality – Part 2

With the dresser inserted, I was eager to get the trim around it.  I would use the original trim that went around the door, but it would need to be cut down.

The first task was finding it in the mass of bundles.  There are two other short closet storage doors and of course I found the trim for those before finally finding the bundle for that area.  I had labeled them Master Closets 1, 2, and 3.  Honestly at that point I couldn’t remember which was 1 or 3.  2 was easy because it had graffiti on it and my before pictures showed me where it went.

Outside of the graffiti this trim was in really good shape.  Since I found all three bundles I decided to prep and hang them all.  Literally all they needed was cleaning due to all the dust, which I did with a bucket filled with Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I was prepared to do my denatured alcohol/Restore-a-Finish routine, but I only used the alcohol on the outer edges to remove paint and on the top plate of door 2 to remove the graffiti.  I did use the Restore-A-Finish in these areas, but what really brought these pieces back to life was the Howard’s Feed and Wax.

The obstacle on this project was cutting the trim down to fit the dresser and I was nervous about this.  There are no do-over opportunities.  That trim design isn’t made anymore and aged wood with the patina I had can’t be store bought.  I seriously thought about calling Tom Milfeld, but I put on my big girl pants and decided to do a trial run with some scrap wood first.

Forty-five degree miter cuts is rookie level, piece of cake.  Measuring the right length, especially for the last piece is my struggle.  I cut the left side first, followed by the top, which I intentionally made long.  When my first angle met up perfectly I cut the right side of the top and then the right side.  I failed, falling about a half inch too short.

That one practice run gave me the confidence I needed and I proceeded to cut the actually trim, SUCCESS!!!!  But now what to do with the gap at the bottom????

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I had always planned to cover it, which is why adjusting the front legs was crucial in Part 1.  I think I’ll have extra of the original wall trim because I won’t need to reinstall any in the bathroom area, but I wouldn’t know that for awhile, so I decided to go to my favorite salvage store Building Value to see if I’d get lucky and find some wide, old, trim.  I hit the jackpot by finding an old window apron (part that rest under the sill) in the exact color and with an outer moulding that was almost a dead match for mine.  All I needed to do was rip it down to the right height, 6″; right width, “29”; clean with soap water, and rub with the wax.  It fit and blended in like it was always part of the house.

I forgave myself for the poor paint job when I saw the finished product.  As with my mirror project, what I saw in my mind’s eye became a reality.  I am so stoked to find the rest of the trim and get it installed.  While searching for the door trim I did find the trim for the landing at the top of the stairs, so I cleaned it up too; water and wax.

In installing the top of the stairs I discovered once again the difference between drywall and plaster thickness.  The boards needed to align with the stair rail (I think that’s what that part is called), so I made my own shims from some thin pieces I had to build out the ends that needed it.

If all the trim cleans and hangs as easy as these pieces did I’m going to be one happy camper.  I’m hugely motivated to tackle more of this project.

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From Pinterest to Reality – Part 1

Some females have wedding books, saving clippings and photos of ideas to create the perfect wedding.  I had an electronic house book, links and photos to things I’d put in my

first house.  The idea to recess a dresser into the eaves space that was once a short closet was born from this picture I saw on Pinterest.   I was starting with nothing in regards to furniture in my master suite.  I really don’t like a lot of furniture, so this was the perfect solution to utilizing the empty space created when I relocated the door to this closet to my master bath linen closet.

It took several months before I found a salvage dresser that would fit in the dimensions, 20190605_205930but I finally did on Nextdoor.com for $50.  A beautiful, five-drawer dresser with dovetail drawers made by the West Michigan Furniture Co. of Holland, MI.  I couldn’t find any before pics, but it was a beautifully made dresser; solid and heavy.

The first thing I needed to do was trim the overhang from the top and bottom sides.  I’ve had this dresser for at least 9 mos, so I made the cuts with my circular saw before I started working with Tom Milfeld and taking classes at the Wood Shop.  I butchered that dresser.  Some areas I cut in too deep, some not far enough.  It’s a good thing the bulk of the dresser would be recessed in the wall.  I could have let it go, but I filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded down the high areas just to get it ready for paint.

This project was all about salvage, recycle, so I did not purchase the primer paint recommended by the Sherwin Williams sales clerk.  I had over a 1/2 quart of their White Synthetic Shellac Primer left from the fire damaged door I bought, so I used it instead.  He told me that would be over kill and he was right, as I discovered.  I’ve always felt spray painting is the best option for painting furniture.  Rolling/brushing creates too thick of layers if you’re not an expect and I am not.  At the end that’s exactly what I got, but I’m jumping ahead.

Once the primer dried my first, bone head amateur mistake was revealed.  I was in such a rush to get this project done, I did the cardinal sin in sanding.  I started with 80 grit and never went higher, so my surface was rough, especially on the drawers.  In hindsight I should have sanded at that step, but my first inclination was more paint would hide it, NOT.

My walls in my master are Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, so I purchased a quart of their All Surface Enamel (recommended by the clerk) in that color and he recommended a Mohair Blend roller, which I also bought.  I applied two coats of paint and at that stage absolutely hated that I had ruined such a beautiful dresser.  I called my friend Joan who has a relative that paints furniture all the time.  She uses scrap paint and sands lightly between two coats.

Even though I had three coats on already (primer plus two color) I decided to try the sanding in hopes it would get rid of the rough spots that were still visible.  I only sanded the drawers.  It helped and the fourth coat actually looked pretty good.  So good I decided to drain the end of the quart can of Polycrylic.  I had enough for just one coat, but at this point that dresser had five layers on it, which would come back to bite me.

The craftsmen that build that dresser left zero margin in the drawer openings.  My five 20190609_131153layers were thicker than the original stain, so when I went to test a drawer it would not close all the way.  I intentionally painted the top edge of the drawer, but the bottom lip was just overage, so between the drawer edges and the opening overage I had too much build-up.  I used my new chisel set to scrap the bottom of the drawers.  I was hoping it would create a clean edge and it did.  I thought scraping the bottom would be enough, so the next task was getting the dresser from the basement up to flights to my master.

Earlier in the week I had asked my neighbor if he’d be around on the weekend to help and he was willing, but when the day came I had the epic feeling of not wanting to fail with an audience.  I didn’t know for sure if the dresser was going to fit and I didn’t want witnesses, so I tackled getting it upstairs by myself.  I had the full on Jane Fonda burn working in my already too tight calves when I hit the top landing, but it inserted like a glove.

I tried the drawers again and same outcome, still too much paint, so I bought a paint scraper and scraped the paint from the top of the drawers and top/bottom of the opening.  That did the trick, but it looked awful, so I decided take some dark stain (Minwax brand, but color unknown as I had poured the remnants of several different colors in one can) and stain the top edge of the drawers.  That amazingly did the trick.

The next obstacle were the two front legs.  I had to remove all four legs to trim off the bottom overhang.  I reattached them to their original location.  What I discovered was that my opening wasn’t square and the floor not level.  I had used wood glue with the original screws and I needed to push the front legs back about an inch. I used my draw saw to cut through the glue and mini crowbar to left them off.  Amazingly no damage.

That helped with the bottom alignment, but not the top.  For that I removed the original nail-on sliders and installed adjustable, which would allow me to set the heights on each leg differently.  Turned out I needed the entire dresser to tilt forward, so I made the back legs higher than the front.  I also needed the front right side to be lower than the left, which meant the left rear had to be even higher to stop the dresser from rocking.  Sometimes I amaze myself when my mind can sort through fixes like that.

The last step was replacing the original wood knobs with the Amerock Classic Cabinet Knobs Clear/Golden Champagne I found on Amazon.  They are 8-points, just like my glass door knobs on the first floor and the bases were a perfect match to my other brass accents. 

With that part 1 of the project was complete and I could finally empty the last box and bin in my floor.

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The Rest of the Story

With the tub reglazed and moving into a house without a functioning kitchen or bathroom it was time to crack the whip on the 1st floor bath.  I had to resume working on the tile around the tub so that I could at least take baths.

Since a few days had gone from when I started the walls, when I went to resume I quickly noticed that the tiles on the long wall were not lining up with the shower head wall.  The bottom row is the only row I had to cut to size and at some point I did not pay close enough attention to keep them aligned.  The American Olean 4×4 had built in spacers, loved that about them, but I knew if I didn’t correct alignment by the time I got to the top my chair rail tile wouldn’t line up.  Thankfully I had bought 1/8″ spacers, so I used them to slightly widen the space until the corners lined up again; four rows with spacers meant I was 1/2″ off.  So fortunate to catch that when I did.

The first real challenge I had was the soap niche.  I had never done one, but YouTube and a few visits to look at tile shop displays was all I needed to feel comfortable with moving forward.  Planning the location of a soap niche is very important.  I purchased pre-fabricated soap boxes for both showers, which had to be screwed to the joist before the cement board.  I measured up approx 22″ from the tub, which is where I thought five, whole pieces of the 4×4 plus the 2×6 bullnose border would fit.  Missed it!

First, the tile actually measured 4 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ and I didn’t know before I started that the bottom row would not be a whole piece, so I actually needed a 3″ wide border.  I was stymied for a couple of days until I had another one of my MacGyver visions.  I had initially bought the wrong cove base, but hadn’t returned it yet.  It was 4×6 with a bullnose, so I cut it down to the 3″ I needed.  The mitered corners were easier to measure and cut than I thought they’d be.  10 days after moving in I took my first bath; no more inconveniencing friends and former neighbors.

Once I got passed the soap niche and tub area I turned my focus back to the floor.  I had grouted the white area, but not the black as I wanted to do it with the soap niche.  In hindsight I should have chosen a neutral grout color, like gray, and used it on the floors 20181225_175135and walls, but noooooo my mind/vision was fixed on black on black, white on white.  Before I could apply the black I had to use my Dremel tool to clean out the grooves where the white grout had gotten into the wrong areas.  I was on my hands and knees for hours.  After getting all the areas cleaned out I vacuumed and applied blue painters tape around the edges in hopes that would be enough to stop the black grout from bleeding into the white areas.  Theory and reality did not match on this occasion.  When I pulled off the tape the “rug affect” looked like a hot mess and I cursed myself for thinking I could pull that off.  At least the soap niche turned out alright.

Fixing the bleed over was more hours on my hands and knees using my Dremel tool to clean out the black.  In some areas I had to mix more white grout to touch up, but amazingly, given my amateur status, the “rug affect” was a success and I could turn my attention to finishing the rest of the walls.  All tile work was completed on January 8, over three months from the day I started.

My birthday gift to myself was going to be the completion of the bathroom by installing the toilet and sink.  Unfortunately my Signature Hardware hardware fixtures, purchased in Spring of 2018 did not allow that to happen.

I started with the sink.  I really wanted a console sink, but I decided to be prudent given the master bath extravagance and save the $400.  I got the pedestal base in place and set the sink on top and placed it against the wall.  It did not lay flush.  I thought for sure it was my tile job, so I pulled out my leveler and it was not the wall.  The sink was defective; there was a hump in the middle.

I turned my sites to the toilet only to find that one of the two tank bolts were missing.  I was PO’d.  So much for that birthday gift.  I called Signature Hardware, had to send them 20190112_193101the pictures and video above to prove the sink was defective, but once received they agreed to replace the sink.  Fortunately for me I live about 15 minutes from their warehouse, so I didn’t have to wait for delivery.  I returned it myself and was told they had to open four boxes before they found one that was flat across the back.  Apparently they had gotten a bad batch from their manufacturer.  I got a new pack of tank bolts too.  This cost me another week.  When I was able to work on the bath again I started with the toilet.  Easy, peasy, I had it connected in about 30 minutes, flushed it once all was well.  Back to the sink.  I had to connect all the faucets parts first and as I was working on that, the toilet started to run.  Long story shortened they sold me a toilet that had been returned/defective.  That was why there was only one bolt originally.

I am now beyond PO’d.  My track record with my Signature Hardware fixtures up to that point was not good.  I had already dealt with two bad drains, two bad aerators, the sink, missing bolts, and now a defective toilet.  There customer service with each call was stellar, they always replaced parts quickly and without question.  For my inconvenience with the sink they refunded me 10% of the purchase price, a whopping $21.99.  In a previous blog I had talked about ordering sink faucets with the wrong reach that they would not let me return, so needless to say I wanted a manager to explain how I got a returned toilet.  I wasn’t overly irrate, but I listed all the issues I have been having with their products and shared I had never had problems like these when purchasing from Home Depot or Lowes and that they were supposed to have a high end product.  I told him I regretted ever buying from them and that I feared connecting the fixtures in the master shower (the only items of theirs left to install – 10.16.19 update the master shower system is a complete disaster).

He asked me what he could do to make me happy, as my experiences weren’t a true reflection of their workmanship and quality.  He opened the door and I burst through it.  I asked for the console sink I really wanted and he gave it too me with no hesitation.  I’d rather have things work right out the box as the time lost, translates to money lost, and the value of the console doesn’t equate.  It took another two weeks before my schedule allowed me to put everything in, but on February 9th I had a fully functioning bath.

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The towel rod, and toilet paper dispenser are American Standard TR Collection and the sink and shower faucets are American Standard Hampton Collection all ordered from Build.com.  The original tub filler that came with the shower set I had to swap out for a longer one, Delta 7″, as when I filled the tub about half of the stream went directly into the overflow due to its cup design.  That also came from Build.com.  Next to Amazon that is my favorite online store to shop for my house.

Trying to be a more positive person is something I’m seeking on this new journey, so that is the inspiration behind my decor.  It is a tribute to all the positive people that have come into life keeping me sane and motivating throughout this restoration journey.  The wall paper that line the shelves in the closet and the back of the medicine cabinet is called Dream Big from Wayfair.com.  The shower curtain, filled with motivational quotes and hooks, double sided so curtain and liner don’t share a hook, were great finds from Amazon.  My other accessories: soap dispenser and trash can came from Bed, Bath, while the paper hand towel dispenser  and linen like paper towels came from Amazon.  All complimenting my black and white color scheme.  I may have mentioned this item in an earlier blog about the electric, but I absolutely love my exhaust fan/light.  Purchased from Build.com the fan comes on automatically whenever it senses humidity in the room.

I still need to touch up some areas with paint, hang the doors and medicine cabinet, but the functionality is complete.  Of all the things I’ve done in this house, I think I’m most proud of this bathroom.  My goal was to restore it to its original look and I think I accomplished that.  I see the flaws, but I also marvel every time I walk in it amazed by what I accomplished with no assistance.  I actually tell myself I’ve done good.  I’m giddy, excited, to get the medicine cabinet complete.  It will be an inspired by DIY/HGTV project with salvage material.  Check back often to see the COMPLETELY restored bathroom.