Spring Cleaning: Computer + Internet

Yay, the dining room’s done!!! So now what?  Nothing quite as dramatic unfortunately, but still important house things.  I want to get the entry way and upstairs hallway painted (walls + trim), tackle some landscaping now that the weather’s getting nice,* give the micro-bath a mini makeover, and, of course, tackle some Spring Cleaning.

Dun dun DUUUN

I don’t know what it is about the change to spring that prompts the crazy cleaning sprees in everyone, I mean, wouldn’t winter make more sense because everyone’s holed up inside with nothing better to do anyway?** Maybe it’s because you’re finally able to open up windows and air everything out, and the outside seems all clean and fresh so people suddenly get the urge to keep up.  Either way, I don’t think I’m the only one who goes on a spring cleaning rampage.

I kicked off my rampage with my computer.

springClean_comp1Files

I have a nasty habit of saving random crap all over my desktop.  So periodically I delete the old stuff and move the important into properly organized folders.  My two big computer clutterers are photos and design projects. Photos I break down by year and then any specific events/trips.  I have specific folder for blog related images too.  For design projects I have WIP folder with current projects arranged by title and sub folders for each for Design, Web, and Finals.  Once the project is complete I have a Completed Projects folder arranged by year and then project.  This is also a good time to back up any files on an external hard drive and remove any non-essential files from your main computer.

Email

I love gmail, but the virtually unlimited storage means I get lazy about deleting, and seeing a full inbox kind of drives me a little crazy.  First I look for mailing lists I’ve ended up on and unsubscribe from any that I don’t care about.  I also use the search feature to hunt down specific senders so I can delete whole pages at a time.  I also created a spam account awhile that I use for anything that needs an email but I know will never send me anything useful.***

Facebook

Spring cleaning Facebook?  Boo-yah!  I don’t mean deleting everyone you haven’t physically talked to in the last year (although if that’s your thing, knock yourself out).  I recently discovered the Acquaintances option and I have found Facebook zen.  Have someone who posts what they ate for breakfast every single day?  Have someone who shares every single page/article/video they find?  Have someone who just”likes” a lot of things that that are not at all relevant to you, or gets tagged in a ton of stuff from people you don’t know? I’m fine with this stuff in moderation but it was getting overwhelming!  BAM!  Acquaintances to the rescue!.  Facebook will weed out only the “important” stuff to show in your main feed, but you can always navigate to your acquaintances list if you feel like you’re missing out. It’s not 100% perfect, but it definitely tones the feed clutter waaaaay down.

If you’re logged in you can go right to https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize This will populate a list of suggestions for who to add to your acquaintances list and you can select in bulk.  It’s not perfect though and won’t show everyone on your friends list.

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If you want to add someone who doesn’t show up here, look at the menu to the left of your normal feed.  Acquaintances should be right under the Friends heading.

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If you click on it you’ll now see your Acquaintance feed and to right hand side you’ll see a search box with Add Friends to This List.  Voila!  Facebook Zen.

Other Stuff

If you’re feeling really ambitious you can also tackle your Pinterest boards.  I periodically weed through my Likes and decide if they’re worth assigning to a board, if they actually only link to spam, or if they’re still only in that limbo that is Likes.

Pinterest has basically taken the place of my Bookmarks, but if you’re not a crazy pinner that may be the area for you to clean up.  Do the links even still work?  Are they organized so you can find things?

For phones and tablets you can see if you have apps you never use that are worth removing.  Just be careful if you don’t actually know what something is, and google to see if it’s an essential process.

There’s also the physical cleaning of your computer–vacuuming out keyboards, cleaning screens, dusting out towers.  Depending on your monitor you’ll want to search for the best cleaning method so you don’t end up damaging it. Apple recommends dampening a lint free cloth with only water and wiping off the screen.  Don’t spray liquids directly on your screen though.

Nothing too crazy right?  A few key areas still make a big difference for me in how less cluttered my electronic life feels.

 

*Ok, so it’s been raining all week, but it’s “nice” in that I no longer need my winter coat

**Can you tell I’m so not a winter sports person?  I prefer to hibernate under the couch.

***if you’re wedding planning, seriously do this and get a Google Voice number to give to sales people… I had to lie and tell a David’s Bridal sales person that we had eloped early just so she would stop calling me!  (buying a different dress elsewhere wasn’t enough of clue apparently) Google Voice will automatically transfer calls to other lines, but you can block numbers with a single click.  Also super useful when car shopping.

Friday Favs: PINK Rugs

I am ridiculously in love with the pink rug in our dining room!  It’s so fun and vibrant and adds a whole new level of dimension to the room.  I had originally planned on getting a neutral rug for the space (yaaaaawn) and then I stumbled across this article on Apartment Therapy talking about how pink is the perfect rug color for almost every room.  A slight exaggeration perhaps, but they had some fabulous examples and I was SOLD.

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If you’re ready to hop on the pink train here are some more rugs to consider–and all are under $300!

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1// Overstock $161 for an 8×10

Over-dyed seems to be big right now.  I think it looks awesome in the right space, but Matt thinks they look like someone took an eraser to them.  To each their own.

2// Anthropologie $248 for a 3×5

Ok, so this one’s not totally pink, but it’s got a solid pink pop and is still pretty spectacular

3// All Modern $150 for a 5×8

I love how this one is slightly reminiscent of a Moroccan pattern.  The bold pattern but more muted color is great if crazy hot pink isn’t for you.

4// Overstock $166 for a 5×7

So this was the rug I originally wanted for the dining room.  I love the balance of color so it doesn’t seem completely overwhelming.  Unfortunately it wasn’t available in the right size when I was actually ready to buy it, but my alternate worked out beautifully too!

 

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Bright not your thing?  No problem.  Pastels aren’t just for baby girls!

1// Overstock $270 for an 8×10

This rug would look uber chic in the right room.  Anyone else kinda dig the black-white-blush-gold palette? It’s hard to tell from the image, but the rug is super plush so it would provide a soft but textural base.

2// Wayfair $275 for an 8×10

A busier pattern, still in a soft color is a great way to add texture too.

3// Rugs USA $200 for a 3×5

This one’s a little bolder, but I think the earthier coral color is divine and it’s not overwhelming.

4// Overstock $250 for a 3×5

And of course, pastel with fringe!  Because fringe.

 

Dining Room Sources

Wheeee the Dining Room is done!!!!  Thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments!  It gives me lots of warm fuzzies.

Now that I showed off the pretty, here’s the down-low on everything we used and a rough budget.

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Paint

Walls: Behr Poppy Seed (eggshell) $30

Trim: Benjamin Moore Simply White (Advance, satin) Existing

Trim

1×6 Select Pine (8ft) $10 x6

Shoe Molding (8ft) $3 x6

Base Cap (8ft) $8 x6

Chair Rail (8ft) $13.50 x6

Cove Molding (8ft) $7 x6

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Furniture

Table: Overstock.com Existing

Bench: Pier 1 Mason Bench Existing

Eames Chairs: Amazon Existing

Buffets: IKEA BRUSALI $79 x2

Accents

Ceiling Tiles: Amazon $284

Rug: Rugs USA $200*

Light: Amazon $120

Floating Shelves:  Home Depot $13 x4

Curtains: IKEA VIVAN Existing

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Artwork

Fruit/Foliage Prints: IKEA $10

Weird Fruit: Ursula Vernon Existing

Queen Victoria: Gift

(white) Frames: IKEA RIBBA $10 x2

Total: $1,095…

…plus assorted miscellaneous things like stain and hardware and things that we didn’t fully track (like small accessories, if you’re wondering where we got something, just ask).  In realty it’s the final damage was probably closer to $1200, which I think is pretty damn good considering we replaced all the baseboards and ceiling, and also got a giant rug.

 

 

*Pssst you can also find it at Overstock and Wayfair… I just found the best deal through Rugs USA

Dining Room Reveal

I wasn’t prolonging the suspense on purpose, I swear!  I was all on track to have this finished up last Sunday, but I work up feeling crappy (sore throat, muscle aches, no energy At All) so I managed to get 2 things (out of 7) hung in the dining room and then just sort of passed out.  Ugh. By Tuesday I hauled myself off to the doctor and got a positive Strep Throat test (wheee) and wasn’t back to 100% until the end of the week…it was rough.

But FINALLY I have the full reveal for you!

First let’s step back and look at what the dining room looked like when we bought the house.

a020-7There are worse rooms out there for sure, but this one was seriously lacking in style.  The light fixture was kind of dated, the ceiling was pretty awful (and saggy in spots–thankfully this was only from the tiles pulling free of their staples, and not actually structural), and the bookcases served no useful purpose whatsoever in here.

DR_before2In fact, the bookcases just sort of turned into catch-alls once we moved in.

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So we ripped out the bookcases, repaired the wall behind one and the floors under both, replaced the baseboards, painted everything, ripped out the old ceiling, added a tin ceiling, extended the crown molding, and added a new light fixtures.

Oof, that made me tired just typing all of it… but the end result is so completely worth it!

DR_after1I LOVE how dramatic this turned out!  We don’t have separate formal and casual dining spaces so this is it.  I didn’t want to take it too formal since we’re not terribly formal people, but I still wanted the room to make a statement and I think I succeeded.

DR_after3Pssst… don’t tell anyone, but those table runners totally aren’t hemmed yet.  I only recently scored some blue-gray linen at Hancock Fabrics for like 70% off so they’re only cut down to size at the moment.

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The ceiling and rug make me kind of stupid-happy.  Matt was deeply suspicious of my desire for a hot pink rug, but after he saw it in person he admitted it really pulled the room together.

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We also found a spot for my Weird Fruit prints by Ursula Vernon.

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And my Queen Victoria made of garbage postcard that a friend sent me.

DR_after8This sideboard is pretty much our dishwashing station since we have very limited counter space in the kitchen.  It’s ok, but I hope to upgrade it at some point.  I hope to upgrade the IKEA buffets on the other side of the room too, but sometimes you just have to accept some temporary solutions while you’re on the hunt for perfection. Plus, nothing ever is really done when you’re a creative–there will always be something you decide to tweak at some point.  It’s done enough though (actually looking a like a finished room!) and we can finally have people over again!

 

 

 

Friday Favs: IKEA Hacks

One of my favorite things about living in St Paul is that we’re about 20 minutes away from IKEA.  The good news for anyone who doesn’t live close to an IKEA is that they’ve started offering a lot more of their furniture for purchase online.

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IKEA has some great basic pieces, but sometimes they need a little extra oomf so your house doesn’t end up looking like an IKEA catalog.

 

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Via Young House Love

Young House Love turned an Expedit (now Kallax) into a stylish changing station for their baby, but this same look would make a great credenza or TV stand too.

 

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Via In My Own Style

Card Catalog style drawers + secretary desk?  I can hardly think of a better upgrade for a TARVA dresser.

 

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Via House of Hawkes

If paint is more your skill level it can still make a huge difference and transform a simple shelf into something a little more glam.  A VITTSJO unit was used here, but you could also ramp up a $15 HYLLIS too!

 

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Via Cleverly Simple

The RAST dresser is one of the most hacked IKEA pieces I’ve seen (I’ve hacked it myself too!).  I love how it’s been turned into a fabulous little nightstand here.

 

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Via Money Saving Sisters

Another simple paint upgrade, this time with a SNILLE chair.

 

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Via The Makerista

I think these built in BILLY bookcases are one of the most divine things ever!  And the addition of a  library ladder?  To DIE for!

 

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Via Oliver & Rust

Need some extra storage for the kitchen?  This island looks fancy, but is really a pretty simple hack, needing just some paint and a new top.  This one used a BEKVAM kitchen cart, but if you want a little extra storage you could use a FORHOJA too.

 

Weekend Assemblage

We’re getting down to the wire now… not that we’re on any actual schedule, but I’m eager to get another room knocked off my list.

Our new light fixture arrived on Thursday and was breeze to put up since there was actually a properly installed electrical box AND modern wiring already in place.  Madness!  The only issue was the electrical box protruding out of the ceiling about 2-3 inches.  We just ran with it and added a collar to make it look a little more intentional.*

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I also tackled some IKEA assembly.  I picked up 2 BRUSALI cabinets to use as buffets flanking the window.  They were inexpensive, a good size, and provided useful storage for some of our extra kitchen gear.  Only problem?  They’re not actually white. WTF Ikea? You call them white, couldn’t you call them “distressed white” or some such thing so people don’t get a nasty shock?  Ugh.  I wish IKEA would keep it’s finishes more consistent, this is just as bad the Stockholm series that’s a funky dirty beige color.  Oh well, that’s what paint is for, right?

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It’s also what IKEA beer is for….**

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These are one of the more obnoxious IKEA I’ve ever put together, and to put that in perspective, I think the MALM dressers are pretty easy.  We managed to slightly damage both in the process, nothing (too) visible, but it wasn’t hard to do.  That and the fact that they’re fairly wibbly-wobbly does not make them one of my favorite IKEA pieces ever. Scale-wise they fit the room pretty well though and they were pretty darn cheap so ultimately I’m feeling pretty good.

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After I got them in place the distressed-ness of the finish wasn’t terribly obvious so I’m holding off on painting them for now.  I am on the hunt for some fancier hardware for them though… although I can’t find anything with the same hole spacing (and I’m sort of in love with these) so I may have to paint them just so I can the patch the holes…

What’s left now you may ask?  The final prettifying*** is yet to come.  I need to pick up some final accessories, our rug should arrive sometime this week and then it’s just styling and staging.  And the room’s not really done until it’s properly accessorized.  If all goes smoothly we should be done within the next  week!

 

 

 *Not gonna lie, the fact that the seam on the shade is on the most visible side ever drives me a little bonkers.

**Ok, so 1) It’s not really IKEA beer, they just styled the labeling as an IKEA spoof and 2) I’m not a beer drinker so wine was my comfort of choice.  It was too fun not to pass up!

***Whoa, spellcheck says this actually a word!  I thought I was making it up!

Friday Favs: Statement Ceilings

Were you inspired by our faux tin ceiling?  I hope you were!  Ceilings are an all too often neglected part of the room.  People spend their time picking out paint and wall coverings, choosing the perfect flooring and furniture…. and paint their ceilings the off-white color of the ceiling paint right out of the can…. why?  You should think of your ceilings as a 5th wall, just as deserving of attention as all your other walls.

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If you’re feeling like showing your ceilings a little love, here’s a roundup of inspiration.

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Via Dave Fox Design Build

The easiest option is to just consider the color of the ceiling. If your walls are more neutral a pop of color can be a fun accent.

 

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Via SF Girl by Bay

You can also bring the ceiling color down into the room bit.

 

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Via The Blog Deco

Or onto an entire wall

 

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Via Little Green Notebook

Maybe you’re not feeling the paint, but wallpaper doesn’t have to be be just for the vertical walls.  Julia Rothman’s Daydream is a pretty perfect pattern for a ceiling.

 

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Via Contemporist

If you’re not up for covering the entire ceiling you always just add a focal point.  This one has the added bonus of being an amazingly dramatic headboard too.

 

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Via Atlanta Homes

Not my normal aesthetic, but ceiling was too spectacular not to share!

Dining Room: Faux Tin Install

We have a ceiling!!!! I have been positively pumped for this moment ever since I decided to add faux tin panels to our dining room ceiling!

Why faux tin?  Tin ceilings are fairly period-appropriate for the house but legit tin is super pricey and would need to be nailed up.  Plus, the fake stuff is super easy to cut and manipulate–scissors and glue is all you need.  I also wanted the ceiling to remain white, like someone had painted the tin (which is totally even a thing) and that seemed like a waste of good tin. If you’re feeling super hard core though, check your local salvage places for tin panels. If you’re local, The Mall of St Paul on has some and I would assume Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis has some too (I got distracted by doorknobs last time I was there…. omg that place is pure heaven).

If you’re going to jazz up a ceiling with faux tin, here’s what you need.

  • Tiles in your pattern of choice (there are loads of options!)
  • Locktite Power Grab (you need an adhesive that holds instantly because gravity)*
  • Caulk gun
  • Scissors and utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Another person

Yup, that’s about it.

We had ordered 160sqft of tile and had 150sqft of ceiling, so we didn’t have a ton of wiggle-room in how the pattern fell.  Thankfully the electrical box for the ceiling light was already nearly perfectly centered.

Then we chalk-lined the center lines on the ceiling….and then adjusted them ever-so-slightly to make sure the pattern was centered on the light.

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We followed the directions that came with the tiles and ran a bead of adhesive around the perimeter, and then in 3 cross-shaped sections in the middle. (White-on-white isn’t so visible in photos, so I traced the glue lines in blue)

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We started in the center, cutting out a semi-circle out of 2 panels to sandwich around the light fixture.  Ideally you should cut the power and take out the fixture,  but we’ll be replacing this one soon, we just don’t have the new one yet.  #poorplanning

If you’re working with 2×4′ panels it’s really a two person job.  Because the panels are very thin, they’re also very bendy so having an extra set of hands to both support the other end and help line up that end is incredibly useful.

Depending on the shape of your room and the placement of any fixtures, you could start in a corner.  I just wanted to get our ceiling fixture centered on the pattern.  You may want to sketch up a quick layout too so you can figure out where the panels will fall.  Because our room was a simple shape and our light fixture was nearly perfectly centered, I was able to just visualize the layout and go.

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From there we added all the panels that wouldn’t need to be trimmed down.  Because the panels are designed to interlock, as long as you get the first one well-placed, the rest should follow suit.

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And then filled everything else in.

 

(sorry for the ucky pictures… we were working on this mainly after work so natural light wasn’t on our side)

These panels are super easy to cut–scissors will work just fine.  If you’re not putting up crown molding (although I would suggest it) you may want to use a utility knife and straight-edge for your cuts.   It did take us several nights of work to get them all up, mainly because the caulk gun started to give me blisters, so we’d max out at around 5 panels per night.

We saved the panel that would go over the radiator pipes for (second to) last because we figured it would be really annoying to get the cutouts just right.  We cut out one of the squares from the pattern so we had a big gap around the pipes.  Then I tested the cuts on some poster board and used that as a template.  Using some of our scrap pieces, I used a straight edge to cut out a single square (I cut just to the outside of the pattern sections that overlap so it would fit into place) and traced my template onto there.  Now it was much easier to manipulate a single square around the pipes.  We wedged it into place and pulled down the edges to add the adhesive (it would have gotten everywhere if we had put the adhesive on first).  Sorry I don’t have more pictures of this… I got sucked into the process and neglected my camera.

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Because the previous tiles were stapled onto 1×2’s we were left with a small gap between the crown molding and the ceiling.  No bueno.

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We could have just moved the existing crown up, but I decided to add on to what was already there.  I found some approximately 1.5″ cove molding at Menards (I can’t find it on their site, otherwise I would link) which was exactly what I was looking for!  Now the crown molding sort of curves into the ceiling.

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Crown molding is an absolute beast to put up by the way.  It’s an exercise in geometry and I’m pretty sure luck plays into it as well.  Uneven, not square walls make it especially beastly.  Basically I’m saying I’m not even remotely qualified to give you a tutorial on installing crown molding because we’re not even entirely sure how we managed it at this point.  There are tons of tutorials out there on youtube though.  Good luck.

And now we have an actually nice looking ceiling!  Pretty amazing right?  I think it’s amazing a least, so please just humor me here….

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The electrical box for the light sticks out a little bit because of the drop in the previous ceiling, but we should be able to find either a canopy or medallion that will hide that.  Our new light fixture has been ordered and is on its way so the end of this makeover is in sight!

 

*You’ll need LOTS.  I originally picked up 3 tubes, then went back for another 12… we ended up using 11 total for our 150sqft ceiling

 

Friday Favs: Paper Flowers

I have a weakness for paper flowers.  They’re beautiful in their own way without looking just like a fake flower.  With Easter right around the corner they seemed like a good Friday inspiration.  If you’ve got some time on Saturday you could even whip some up for centerpieces or get crafty with your kiddos.

 

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Via Project Nursery

Tissue paper dahlias are probably the most basic option, but they look pretty spectacular as a backdrop.

 

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Via Design*Sponge

Daffodils are possibly the quintessential spring flower, but these you could keep year round.

 

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Via Smile Mercantile

Go big or go home right? If you have an over-sized floor vase this would be the perfect spring addition.

 

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Via DRI

The instructions are in Spanish, but the pictures are pretty easy to follow to make fun watercolor mums.

 

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Via Martha Stewart Weddings

Mmm… Magnolias!  They’re one of my favs, but we’re nowhere near their natural range.  These might be my own weekend craft.

 

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Via Oh Happy Day

This flower garland doesn’t have to accessorize a giant egg (although it is pretty cute).  You could also use it a runner for a centerpiece at Easter dinner (or your next springy brunch!).

Dining Room Day 41-48: Ceiling Demo

Our dining room ceiling was pretty sad when we moved in: fugly acoustical tiles and unfortunate saggy bits.  Something needed to be done.

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I pretty much assumed that there was some reason that there were acoustical tiles there instead of plaster, so I wasn’t terribly hopeful for the condition of the ceiling underneath.  I figured the safest course of action would be to plan on covering the ceiling.  Added bonus, a faux tin ceiling would be a pretty snazzy, and fairly period-accurate detail for the house and it would bump up the formality of our dining room a bit.

After doing some research and crowd-sourcing ideas from Facebook,  I decided on this pattern:

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It was one of the more affordable options (yay!) and after looking at a few companies who still used the same patterns they did back when they made actual tin ceilings, this one popped up a lot.  You can find it in several different scales, but I opted for the 2-by-4 so each square on the panel would be roughly 1sqft.  This was the same size as the existing titles so I already had a good reference for how it would look.

Immediately after moving into the house we had several things tested for asbestos, including the ceiling tiles.  I knew we were planning on ripping them out and I wanted to be sure it was going to be safe to DIY.  Thankfully the test results came back negative so we were good to go!

My back has been killing me for the past couple weeks so Matt removed the ceiling while I curled up with a heating pad and researched massage therapists.  And yup, it was more-or-less what I expected to find underneath (except there was modern wiring!!!!)

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We originally thought we were going to keep the 1x2s so we wouldn’t have to mess with the height of the crown molding.  This did mean we had to pull out all the staples, which Matt did over the course of a couple evenings.

Then the tiles arrived and we re-assessed matters.  After going back and forth a bit we decided that prying out the boards and semi-patching the holes would make putting up the tiles way easier in the long run…. so Matt went to work prying off the 1×2’s.  It probably wouldn’t have been so bad except a former owner of this house was clearly a strong believer in overkill so a number of nails holding up the boards were HUGE.

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Matt pulled out most of the boards without incident, but there were two runs that were clearly put up before the crown molding was so there wasn’t enough space to pry the nails entirely out.  We tried a metal hand saw, but it while it might have worked on a sheet of aluminum, it wasn’t going to get through a chunky steel nail.  So we went shopping.

There are some good options out there, like reciprocating saws and the Dremel Multi Max, but we didn’t want to spend a lot.  We eventually settled on a pair of 14″ bolt cutters which were just small enough to fit in the little gap we made after prying the boards as far away from the ceiling as we could.

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After prying off all the boards, we had to deal with the two biggest holes (we decided the smaller ones shouldn’t be a serious issue).  Matt removed some extra plaster to make the holes squarer and then we cut and screwed up 3/8″ drywall.  We didn’t bother taping and mudding because it’s not going to be visible, we just needed a solid surface to glue the tiles too.

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As with any project, prep-work is half (or possibly even three quarters) of the battle, but all the extra work should make the tile install go much smoother.