DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

A short while ago I started a huge project which is hands down my favorite one so far. I’ve made a built-in out of IKEA cabinetsgutted closets and created a cloffice. I’ve painted wallpaper, stenciled walls, made wallpaper from fabric, created a family command center, turned my television armoire into a banquette bench. You get the idea. All those projects don’t hold a candle to this table. We use it everyday since it is in our kitchen. My kids do their homework on it. We sit and chat at it with friends and family. It is busy, hardworking and lovely.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

I started off with a Numerar butcherblock table top which I purchased from IKEA about a year ago. It had been sitting in my garage ever since. The Numerar is not available anymore but you can purchase the Karlby. I wanted something large so I loved the size of the Numerar which is actually meant for a kitchen island. The dimensions are about 73 inches by 39 inches. This made it perfect for my kitchen since I wanted a large table with plenty of room for everyone.

Now the reason the tabletop sat in my garage for so long was because I had no idea what base to get or build. I knew what I wanted it to look like but couldn’t find a base that wouldn’t break the bank. Then one happy day an IKEA catalog arrived on my doorstep and I saw the Karpalund underframe and knew my search was over.

Work began by first gathering what supplies I would need or thought I would need. I tested wood conditioner, application methods, finish colors, sanding methods and more all on the underside of my table. In the end all I needed to get this done was an orbital sander, foam brushes, 320 grit sandpaper, tack clothes, rags and Waterlox (to seal). And of course a table top and base.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

Before I began any testing I needed to sand the factory finish off. This was an important step in that if you don’t sand it completely off the wood will never absorb the stain. Trust me on this since I found it out myself. Sand it with an orbital sander until you feel it is all off. Then sand it a bit more!

Once that was done I tested wood conditioner to see if I wanted to use it or not. I had done some research and was on the fence. In the end I think this is a personal preference. I liked the way the wood soaked up the stain without the wood conditioner. I wanted the grain in the wood to show. When I used the wood conditioner it seemed to not absorb as well. So no wood conditioner for me.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

Next I tested stain colors. I had two that I was choosing between. I wanted the color of my table to be exactly what I imagined in my head. Dark, warm and the perfect shade of brown. Not orangey and not too dark to seem black. I stained two sections of the underside of my table with two coats of the stain I was testing and decided on Minwax Dark Walnut which is the stain on the bottom right square in the image below. You can see one coat on the left and two coats on the right. Please excuse my dirty garage floor. It became my workshop for about two weeks while I sanded, stained and sealed!

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

I was then ready to start on the actual table. I flipped it over (with some help since it weighs a ton!) and sanded down the entire top along with the four sides. DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

After sanding I wiped it off with a tack cloth. A couple times. I didn’t want any specks of wood stuck under the stain or finish. Tack clothes get this done. They are slightly tacky to the touch and will get every last bit of sawdust.

I then applied my first coat of stain. For all those that think staining butcherblock is a sin I was told I was nuts by my father in many different ways during the planning phase. His exact words when he first saw the dark yummy stain that had just been applied to the entire table were “You killed it.” Now that the table is done and in my kitchen he is on Team Stain Your Butcherblock A Dark Color since he recently told my sister she should do the exact same thing for her new desktop. True story.

I had tested on the other side some different methods of doing this. Some sites suggested using a natural bristle brush. Others said a foam brush worked best. Still other recommended a sock wrapped in nylon. Of all three methods the foam brush was my favorite. It was inexpensive so I didn’t feel bad to dispose of it when I was done. I bought a couple for each coat of stain and sealer. The stain went on smooth and evenly. I don’t have any images of the process since I covered the table with stain as fast as possible. I then went back over the table and sides and wiped off any excess stain with a rag. I did sections at a time since I wanted the stain to absorb evenly.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

I let the first layer dry about 4-6 hours and applied the second coat. The number of coats depends on how deep and rich you want your color. I wanted deep and warm so two coats got me that coverage and tone.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

The next day I began applying Waterlox. I knew I wanted a great sealer that was food safe. I wasn’t using this as a cutting board or countertop. It is for our kitchen table. If a blueberry rolled off my kids’ plates I wanted to feel comfortable with them popping it in their mouth. I knew I would be applying a couple coats of Waterlox to get the finish I wanted. I used the gloss finish since I wanted to see the wood clearly. I had read in some different sources that using the satin finish creates a cloudy coat.

I applied the first coat using a foam brush. Waterlox is thin (think watery maple syrup) so you need to work fast and make sure there are no drips. I let the coat dry for 24 hours and then lightly sanded the entire table and sides with 320 grit sandpaper. This step was a little scary since I was sanding down a glossy and smooth surface. These were a couple bubbles which is where I focused my sanding. I had tested steel wool and although it does sand very lightly I did not like the small pieces of metal left behind. I didn’t want any of these pieces getting stuck under the following layer of Waterlox.

After sanding I wiped it all down with a tack cloth to remove the remnants. Once it was clean and ready I applied my second coat of Waterlox. The Waterlox spread and filled in everywhere and covered perfectly. No evidence whatsoever that I had sanded the layer underneath. Once you sand it turns a bit white. Once you add the next coat that white sheen disappear. I poured the Waterlox from the container each time into a glass cup to avoid bubbles. It is pretty stinky so make sure you are in a well ventilated space. The garage worked really well for me since I kept the garage door open to the outside while applying each coat.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

I applied a total of 4 coats of Waterlox with the foam brush with a 24 hour drying time between each coat. After the fourth coat I lightly sanded again and applied a thinner coat using a clean rag. This last coat had no bubbles whatsoever since it was applied with the rag. This was my last coat.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base
I let the tabletop sit and “cure” in the garage for a week. We then brought it upstairs and attached it to the base in the kitchen.

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

DIY dining table; stained butcher block with a metal base

For about $250 total I was able to put together a table that I’ve seen online for up to $1500. It cleans up easily with just some soap and water. Everyday I can wipe it down to get back to that glossy surface that was so worth the time it took. This was a long-term project that is finally complete and enjoyed on a daily basis in this house!

 

Sofa Fort City

The following post is sponsored by Wayfair.

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The other day was a sofa fort kind of day. The sofa in the basement is constantly being made into a fort or castle or hideout of some sort. When I was asked by Wayfair to participate in a Sofa Fort City campaign I knew I’d have some very happy people in my house for a couple different reasons. First because my children (my two boys in particular) just generally like to make forts. The second reason was because mom was actually asking them to make a sofa fort in the living room. We spend a lot of time in the living room and it is not in any way a restricted room. We watch tv there, my kids play with their toys there and in general it is probably the most used room in the house. There are rules about keeping it looking nice though. The kids can sit wherever they want but sofa forts, pillow fights and other things of that nature can be found in the basement family room or their bedroom. So when I changed my tune and said, “Sure, make a sofa fort in the living room,” my two boys (ages 6 and 9) were the very willing participants. They looked at me like I had three heads and dove right in. Here’s what my living room sofa looked like before the work even started.


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Construction began in a whirlwind of activity with a general plan in mind. For boys this age one sofa fort is not like another. They were going for a real Fort, with a capital F. We are talking the kind of fort that can withhold a siege, otherwise known as Fort Cushington…

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Lots of pillows, a lookout tower or two, easy access and plenty of space inside all made for the perfect fort. They wanted some type of cover on top too of course. My soft new throw from Lush just wasn’t big enough, although the fringe at the end made for a great entryway.

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A king size sheet was added to make what had become a large fort with enough room for two boys, a couple Nerf guns, two flashlights, some books, snacks and a slightly reluctant dog.

Thank you to Wayfair for sponsoring this post. 

Pumpkin vase centerpiece

The internet has been pretty saturated with fall decor but one project kept jumping out at me,  the pumpkin vase centerpiece. My two lovely interns (aka my daughter and her friend) created one with some simple grocery store supplies. We bought a large pumpkin (any size will do as long as the base is nice and flat) and two bouquets of flowers. Using a plastic container we trace the edges on the top of the pumpkin, cut the diameter and popped the top off. The container was then slipped inside the pumpkin and filled with water. After that the flowers were trimmed to fit and arranged.

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My 6 year old even created his own mini version to give to his grandmother.

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These are quick and easy to do, beautiful to look at and make a great centerpiece for your table!

FAIR Treasure

Pretty packages in the mail never fail to put a smile on my face.
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I was recently given a collection of items by FAIR Treasure, a subscription box service which curates beautiful, global finds such as jewelry, accessories and kitchen + home. Each monthly box is geared toward style-conscious, ethical consumers who appreciate the fine art of handmade goods as well as the stories of the people behind them. Each box contains product cards telling the story of the artist and community who benefit from the purchase.
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Some of their most popular box treasures are also featured for standalone purchases. It was a great collection of accessories and jewelry that had a story behind each one. There are so many times when you just receive something in the mail or purchase it at a store. Seeing the individual behind the item and knowing that you are helping that individual along really personalizes it!
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by FAIR Treasure.  All opinions are my own.

The summer of unfinished projects

So this summer was a fun and busy one. This meant that on my end things slowed down a bit. I was constantly trying to start a project since I go bonkers if I don’t have something creative going on. It became the summer of countless unfinished projects. Here is some proof…

1. the kitchen table 

I have a slab of butcherblock sitting in my garage waiting to be sanded, stained and finished. I’m actually glad I didn’t get any work done on this project since I recently saw this table base at IKEA. Plan to see it again soon!

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2. the boy’s room desk area

My boy’s share a bedroom and even though their big sister has moved out of her room and into the guest bedroom, there have been no requests to split up and each get their own room. Who would want to leave a room with bunk beds? They are getting older so I want to incorporate a desk in some way. Nothing huge but enough for one person to do some homework, color or build a spaceship. I got started a bit by starting to put up the leftover Stikwood planking I had from my kitchen wall. As in I started by never got very far.

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3. the television area

I finally have the electrician coming by to add outlets and wifi access to this area of the living room. Then I’ll add a cabinet to house it all that mirrors the secretary desk on the other side.

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3. girl’s bedroom walk- in closet

Now that my daughter is in the old guest room she gets her very own closet. The closet could be a bedroom in itself. I started putting up brackets for a clothing rod. And I didn’t finish…

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I can definitively say that the one project I started and finished was hanging up this mirror. And that is only because the hook was already there.

I’m looking forward to getting some projects off my list and I’m glad you are along for the ride!

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the room switch project: the plan

What better way to spend the summer then rearranging bedrooms? Well one at least. My daughter has decided to switch to the guest bedroom which will give her a little privacy and separation from her two younger brothers. The guest bedroom is rarely used so it didn’t make sense to put a hold on an entire room in the off-chance that we might have a guest. Her old bedroom will become the new guest room. If any overnight guest requires a king sized bed she will hand over her room for that guest. That happens once in a blue moon so everyone will be happy. I think the big draw was that she gets the half bathroom to herself. With two younger brother I don’t think I need to go into detail! So in the process of switching one room around a couple other spaces were affected. I’ll take it one room at a time and show you what other rooms got the switcher as well.

Starting off this is what the guest bedroom looked like…

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tween girl bedroom
tween girl bedroom

It is bright and roomy with painted wood on three of the walls and a ledge going around most of the room. The hand drawn picture frames that I put up will be coming down and most probably painted over.

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Then there is the closet. It is huge. It even has an IKEA Expedit inside it. And yes, we built the closet around the Expedit. This will hold all her clothes with the purchase of some drawer bins at Target. Some of the cubbies will be for her items and some will be for the household storage since this is one of the larger storage closets in our home. This will keep her room a bit neater (I hope!) since a lot of her storage is behind this door. Weekly closet checks are planned! We will add a closet rod on the left side for all her hanging items as well.

tween girl bedroom

We removed the large bookcase and put it in the boys shared bedroom. The bed was then placed against the wall where the bookcase was. A temporary desk was placed under the window until her new desk comes in. This is the only item of furniture we purchased. No dresser since the clothes will be in the closet. I’d like to get a small table next to her bed but we haven’t found it yet. New bedding and pillows to come…

tween girls bedroom

tween girls bedroom

tween girls bedroom

The piano is being moved to the basement tomorrow which will leave room for the new desk. I’m not sure if we will leave the area under the window open or have some seating there. She wants a Beach Chic look with this color palette which we found on Design Seeds (great color inspiration by the way!)…

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via design seeds

I’m not repainting the white walls, just one accent wall that was never painted in the first place. The bedding will be new but simple. Right now it is a chaotic mess of stuffed animals and favorite pillows. The three pillow you see on the right do fit with the color pallete though. tween girls bedroom

tween girls bedroom

So next is emptying out the closet. I have my work cut out for me.

a trip to the Boston Design Center

I took a trip to the Boston Design Center the other day to meet with some clients. Visually it is an incredible place to walk through. This is what I came away with…

Fake grass on walls is really cool. Almost like hedges in an English garden but 1/80 th of the maintenance.

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Grasscloth + blue + accent lights + pictures hung from a rod = beautiful. This would be a good solution if you have really high ceilings or an awkward stairway and some artwork or family photos.

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Hot air balloon baskets are really cool. I can think of a million things I could put in there if I had the space for this.

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A very large display of random hand mirrors make quite the accent wall. It is hard to tell but this is about 5-7 feet tall.

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And last but not least. My love for stripes is totally legitimate and this floor proves it.

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gaining the three season porch back…

After the winter of all winter’s I was thrilled to regain my three season porch back again. It becomes a storage room during the winter but in the spring, summer and early fall it is one of our favorite spots in the house. So last weekend I put the troops to work. Everyone pitched in and helped empty the porch of the smaller items (ie. the things that fit through the door). Eventually the porch looked like this…

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and my back patio looked like this…

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Items were then put away, thrown away or donated. Then the entire porch was vacuumed, including window sills and curtains. I ended up throwing the sheers in the wash because of all the pollen and grime on them. Then the fun started, at least for my 9-year-old. I knew the boy loved to mop but was not prepared for him to do ALL the mopping for me. Three buckets full of dirt, winter grime, and spring pollen were cleaned up…

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and we got our favorite room of the season back.

three season porch

three season porch

three season porch

We even did some rearranging. This small secretary desk has moved from our dining room to my daughter’s bedroom to my bedroom in the last two years. My 9-year-old asked (after all the mopping) if he could have the desk and if the porch could be his office.

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Yes. Yes it can.

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DIY: how to use fabric as wallpaper

My master bedroom closet just did not feel complete without some color. I had thought at first to either paint or stencil the back wall since that is the main view you have when opening the closet door. The problem was I’ve already done that. I wanted to try something new. I decided to jump on the wallpaper bandwagon, just not entirely. First I need to back up a bit. I saw some fabric on Tonic Living (one of my favorite sites to browse fabric online) and couldn’t get it out of my head. This happens a lot. I then saw a couple of ideas on Pinterest that showed how to use fabric as wallpaper.

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The instructions seemed pretty easy and straightforward. All that was needed was basically fabric and liquid starch. Here is where I ran into my one and only problem. I couldn’t find liquid starch anywhere. I looked online and it is available at Wal-Mart which is about 45 minutes away, not counting traffic. I could have ordered it online but I’d pay more in shipping than the actual bottle of starch. So I went old school. Cornstarch and water. I would be making a paste out of cornstarch which would act as the glue.

I wasn’t sure if it would work but cornstarch is now my new best friend.

I started off by making the cornstarch paste since it required some cooking and cooling before I could apply it to my walls. It cooled pretty quickly so by the time I had the fabric positioned on the wall I was ready to apply the cornstarch paste.

First I boiled 4 cups of water. While it was boiling I mixed 3/8 cup cornstarch with a little water, just enough to dissolve all the powder. I then slowly added this mixture to the boiled water, making sure I was stirring at the same time. I lowered the temperature a little and boiled and stirred until it had the consistency of a thick gravy. I poured it out in a glass dish to cool. This dish also acted as my painting tray. I apologize for the pictures in advance. This stuff is sticky and messy. Which also means it worked!

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So while this was all cooling I attached the fabric to the wall. I used nails to hang the fabric up since tacks would not have been secure enough for me. The nails were not hammered all the way in. Just enough to hold the fabric on. When I was done I was able to just pull the nails out by hand.

I centered my fabric along the wall and made sure it was level. I also made sure that there was enough fabric at the top and bottom so that I could trim it when it was dry. The cornstarch paste does cause it to constrict a bit so I didn’t want a big white stripe at the top!

how to use fabric as wallpaper

Once the fabric was securely fastened to the wall with about 8 nails along the top and sides I started work on the cutouts. I cut vertically using an exacto blade where the closet attachments were. Once the paste was applied to the walls I knew I could secure those strips in place I then make the horizontal cuts when everything was 100% dry.

how to use fabric as wallpaper

I also placed some nails in the very center of the fabric, four in total. I would be pasting one side at a time and I did not want the pattern to shift on the wall at all. I removed the nails from the left side and started pasting. I used a foam brush for the very top and corners. I used a foam roller brush for the majority of the wall. Again no pictures because this was a two-handed job. It is a very doable project for just one person. It took me about 10 minutes to paste down this one panel of fabric.

As the fabric was going down in sections I made sure to smooth out any bubbles. I used a Lego to seal down the corners. I also used it to crease the fabric to the wall along the baseboard. Very professional isn’t it?

how to use fabric as wallpaper

I then let it dry overnight. All that was left was to trim the top and bottom. I wanted it perfectly dry in order to do that. I only needed to place one panel of fabric on this wall since my closet is not that wide. The fabric does not go all the way to the wall on each side. There is about three inches of “non-wallpapered wall” but you can’t even tell. Once the clothes are hanging it will be even less visible. If I had needed to do more I would have just lined up the pattern and pasted another panel on.

how to use fabric as wallpaper

The next morning I trimmed the top and bottom of my wall, as well as the cutouts around the closet system. It came out looking like I installed the wallpaper before the closet system. Once the paste is dry it hardens the fabric so that it is like cutting a piece of construction paper. The excess fabric then just pulls off the wall. Make sure your exacto blade is brand new so you get a sharp cut!

how to use fabric as wallpaper

When you get tired of the look you can gently pull it off the wall. You will need to use a damp sponge to clean off any cornstarch paste residue. I did not wash my fabric beforehand but others recommended doing this. I think it is only necessary if you have a thinner fabric where the colors might run. Do a test swatch on your wall first to make sure. This fabric was an upholstery fabric so it is on the heavier side. It is holding up great with the cornstarch paste. This is a fun and easy decorating solution for so many spaces; a child’s bedroom, an accent wall, a closet but especially for renters! If you want something easy and  temporary this is the DIY project for you!

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Thank you to Tonic Living for collaborating with me on this post!