Archive for January, 2012
That was the big question last week. Not in the “Hey, how ya doing?” sense of things, but more in the “Um, how are we gonna hang this $60 hood we found on Craigslist” kind of way.
Sherry talked last week about how we planned to encase it in a DIY’d wood cover (see inspiration pics back on last week’s post). Both of us were so excited about (1) the price tag and (2) the final look that we didn’t really think through the middle part: actually installing the darn thing. So yeah… #planningfail?
Here was our challenge (beyond just not having any of the installation materials or instruction): this is an under-cabinet hood and, well, we don’t have any cabinets to install it under. I figured that there were dozens of sites online detailing how to convert an under-cabinet hood to a wall-mounted one, so I wasn’t worried… until my Google searches started coming up empty. That’s when I started to second guess our plan. Was this just something that couldn’t be done?
Then I discovered these.
We didn’t buy these (our hood is Jenn-Air brand). But the fact that Kenmore sold bracket specifically “for mounting range hoods to wall when overhead cabinet is not used” meant it was not a completely crazy idea to retrofit ours to hang on the wall as well. So Sherry and I concocted a plan, did some shopping, and readied ourselves for some hood hanging (and possible hood hanging failure, as is always a possibility when we attempt to figure this stuff out as we go). This picture will make more sense soon, but just know it involved some wood pieces as a makeshift mounting panel and some heavy duty metal brackets as a stand-in for a cabinet.
But before we could put our plan in motion, some details needed to be taken care of. You know, little things like oh-yeah-we-didn’t-tile-high-enough-under-the-vent-pipe. Another lapse in planning. Oh well, it took about 20 minutes to whip up a small batch of thinset and fill it in with some spare tiles. Yes, it was slightly maddening to have to go back to the tiling phase (especially for eight measly rows) but by this point we’ve learned just to laugh. Wince a little. Laugh some more. And get it done.
Then we mapped out all the important stuff on the wall to ensure that things would hang where they were supposed to hang. Looks pretty crazy, right? But I promise it makes lots of sense…
All of this painters tape is marking important reference points, such as:
- 1 & 2: Where our floating shelves would go – important because we wanted the bottom of the hood and the top shelf to be lined up (which was about 34″ from the top of the counter which is right between the hood manufacturer’s recommended 30″ – 36″ distance from the stovetop)
- 3, 4, & 5: Where our studs are – important so we could attach the hood securely to the wall
- 6: The center point of our stove – important so the hood would hang squarely over the stove
In case you’re wondering how I located the studs, it was actually thanks to some forethought on Sherry’s part. Back when that wall was open she begged me to somehow mark where they were before we tiled and covered everything up, so I opted to make small marks on the ceiling to keep track of where each stud was. Then I taped a piece of thread to that mark, tied a paper clip to the other end (to weigh it down) and voila – a perfectly marked stud all the way down the wall. And once we hang our crown molding around the ceiling those little stud-marking dots will be hidden once and for all.
With all of our guides marked, it was time to screw in our first piece of wood. Here’s the deal with the wood. The hood by itself was technically wide enough to hang from two studs, except the studs didn’t line up with the two notched holes in the back of the hood (which were at either end) and I didn’t trust that it would hold that way even if they were lined up perfectly.
So we figured we’d screw a slightly wider-than-the-hood piece of wood into two studs (and use a heavy duty anchor to secure it in a third location) and then hang the hood onto additional screws that lined up with the hood’s notched holes. We actually got a contractor’s blessing (just didn’t feel right drilling into our pretty wall o’ tile without double checking our plan with an expert first. So after that phone call we took a few deep breaths and moved on to the next (very scary) part of our plan: drilling into our tile. GASP.
I bought a special bit that’s meant for glass and tile. It took a bit of pressure, but eventually I got all of my holes drilled. Though I think we both silently freaked out the entire time drilling was in progress.
Once we got over having riddled our tile with holes (okay, there were just six) I used some 2.5″ screws to secure the chunky plank of wood to the wall. I have to tell you, feeling those screws grab the stud so tightly was one of the most confidence inspiring parts of this process. I felt like I could’ve hung my whole body weight from this thing – that is, if I was able to grip the tiny ledge with my lanky girl fingers.
With one board in (to hang the hood from) I then had to attach a second one (to hang the brackets from) also with long screws into two studs and a third set of screws into heavy duty anchors to further enforce things. Then it looked a little something like this. Note: the vent pipe is slightly off-center, not the boards (so once we build the frame for the hood that will be solved and it’ll all look centered). Oh, and the blue arrows are pointing to the two screws that the hood will hang from.
We felt pretty good when we realized that most upper cabinets are just held to studs with screws and then loaded up with dishes and plates and other items (and then a hood might be added on top of all that weight) and the whole shebang stays up.
Speaking of which, it was time to put the hood up (since the brackets would need to go up after the hood). Okay, so maybe this part was scarier than drilling into tile. We half pictured the whole wall of tile pulling off of the studs. But lucky for us, it didn’t budge. It was up there solid as a rock. Which is good news, because clearly I could use less time worrying about hanging hoods and more time spent shaving…
Anyways. Sherry supported the hood just in case (she’s the perfect height to rest it on her head from underneath it while standing on a small stepladder) and I attached the brackets to the wood panel and then into the hood using the same slots where it would’ve attached to a wall cabinet.
It was feeling plenty secure by this point, so I relieved Sherry’s head from hood-holding duties while I secured the second bracket and she took some more photos.
Once it was tightly held to the wall, I took care of some of the finishing touches – like attaching the vent pipe to the hood and plugging it in (btw, how lucky were we that the existing plug hole in the range hood was pretty much perfectly placed for our outlet???) – and we were in business. Phew! Update: We’ve since learned that metal foil tape (sold at hardware stores) is better for taping that duct together than duct tape (regardless of the more fitting name of the latter – haha) so we’ll be retaping that vent with foil tape to keep the seal nice and strong for the long term. Thanks for the tip guys!
Okay, so admittedly it looks kinda ugly right now. The exposed pipe / wood / giant hole in ceiling aren’t really a good look, are they?
But it was a good start. Not only did we have a hood for the first time in over two months, but we had a hood that wasn’t crazy close to the stove like our old microwave was (we hung it 34″ from the top of the counter which is right between the hood manufacturer’s recommended 30″ – 36″ distance from the stovetop). And this hood has two fancy light settings. Oooooh. Ahhhhh.
And I know the exposed wood looks kinda crazy – especially because it sticks out about an inch on the sides. But I promise this is all part of a plan (hint: they’ll make for a good spot to attach my homemade wood hood cover), so just bear with me for a couple of days.
Oh and don’t mind this POV, we didn’t have the filters snapped in yet (they’re basically big stainless steel rectangles, so it looks a lot better from below once those are in). We’ll have to share more photos soon.
Now in case you’re still worried about this thing coming crumbling down overnight (we were – we actually pulled the stove out before we went to bed the first night just in case!), know that it has survived a few full days now with nary a creak or shake. So without jinxing ourselves, Sherry and I are calling this hanging project a success. All is good in the hood, as they say. Between the long screws going firmly into those studs and the heavy duty brackets also adding extra from-the-top support, this guy is pretty darn secure. So after a few days of breath-holding, Captain Careful can officially exhale.
Now for the fun (?) part – building a pretty wood cover for it. Somebody crank up my jams! We’ll be back with all those details in a few days, but in the meantime, what did you guys do this weekend? Any heavy-object hanging? Tile drilling? Using your head to support something? Oh and something crazy crazy crazy is going on in our house today (well, it starts today and lasts for the next three weeks!!!) so we’ll fill you in on all that tomorrow (once we have lived through one day of it and have some photos to share).
It was fun to crack open a little bit of our personal “stuff” last Tuesday for this post about the real $herdog (yes, I’m still patiently waiting for that nickname to catch on) and John’s J-Boom version. And a funny thing happened after sharing those. Not only did they receive over 1,200 amazingly awesome and encouraging comments (note to self: apparently you’re not a social pariah if you admit that you sometimes have strawberry cream cheese on your ear and are inclined to impersonate Cindy Lou Who) but we also got dozens of emails – not even exaggerating – asking about how to deal with criticism and respond to negative comments. And thus this post was born.
I guess by sharing all of our weird idiosyncrasies it encouraged people to write about something they’re struggling with and ask how we handle it? It also could have had something to do with this thread on the $herdog post. Either way, the emails mostly came from folks who run small blogs who have somehow fallen into larger readerships thanks to being pinned on Pinterest or otherwise thrust into the spotlight suddenly (like a feature on Apartment Therapy or Design Sponge). And the general gist of every single email was this: someone was blogging along about whatever they blog about (some of these people aren’t home bloggers at all) and then… zinger… it happened. A not-so-nice comment. And it stung.
With more readers definitely comes more “feedback” – both good and bad. And you know I’m happy to be that spunky little cheerleader on your shoulder shouting high-pitched overly-enthusiastic things like: “you can do it!” and “reach for the stars!” – so here’s my humble advice in a nutshell:
- It’s your blog.
- Be who you are. That is enough.
- Try to give the good feedback as much weight as the bad.
- Do all things with love.
Sounds corny huh? But I’ll explain how those four things have really helped us deal with the whole “you’re putting yourself out there and I’m anonymous so I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel” phenomenon. After all we’ve been told (both nicely and not so nicely) a few of the following things:
- I’m not really interested in posts about _____, so I vote you skip them
- I’m losing interest in big projects – do more little ones
- Do more big projects – the small ones are filler
- I want more Clara and Burger and everyday stuff
- I want less Clara and Burger and everyday stuff
- That paint color/art/room is ugly/not the right choice
- Stop using certain words/expressions because they make me cringe
- Stop being so cheap and spend some money
- Stop spending so much money and be more frugal
- Move faster, I’m bored
- Move slower so I can catch up
- I’m disappointed in this choice/this idea/you
- This blog used to be better because _________
- I will no longer read this blog because ________
See all the contradictions going on in there? Basically if we listened to every suggestion, well, we wouldn’t have a thing to blog about. Not a single thing. And after 2,000+ posts and over four years of doing this, we’ve definitely learned that some folks like things that others hate and some people have an opinion when it comes to how they’d run this blog if it were theirs. But here’s the thing. It’s not theirs.
Which brings us to…
Tip #1: It’s your blog. It might sound weird to point out, but your blog isn’t a magazine with a team of 30 people who poll their readers and try to please the largest group (at least I don’t think it is). The very definition of a blog is just an outlet to write whatever you want and share whatever part of your life that you’re passionate about in your own words and at your own pace and in whatever way feels natural to you. Whether you do it full time or as a hobby once a month, your only real task is to be who you are and share what you like and those who like it will drop in.
In our case, we’re just two people with a dog and a kid who happened to gain a following sharing our adventures on the home front. We just write about whatever’s going on in our lives and seems interesting to us, which has gotten us here (we’re not Facebook or Pinterest, but 5 million hits a month = crazytown to two kids like us). See, if you attempt to please every last commenter, as much as you love and value your readers, know that it’s Mission Impossible – and it could even lead to your blog’s downfall (it won’t be yours anymore). So trust yourself. Everyone else might have an opinion, but your voice really should be the loudest and your vote really should be the one that counts.
Tip #2: Be who you are. That is enough. I think most people are a little guilty of the whole wanting-more syndrome. When a show ends I immediately want the next episode to come on (and I want it to be even better than the last). When I get a magazine and it’s feeling a little thin I wish it were twice as thick. And I think boxes of Oreos should be bottomless (I expect them to refill themselves while I’m sleeping). So it’s no surprise that when it comes to blogging, well, readers are inclined to want more. They might say it not-so-nicely, or very kindly indeed. And either way it might make you feel sort of wop-wop. But it’s just human nature. And I can tell you from experience that you will be a happier person and a better blogger if you make peace with that completely normal phenomenon.
You can’t control how every single person reacts to your blog, but you can control how you blog. And struggling to eke out more to the point of exhaustion or burnout (be it recipes, sewing tips, DIY stuff, photography pointers, craft ideas, or anything else you blog about) just isn’t the answer. At least not if – in the words of Claire Danes in Homeland – you’re playing the long game. Ideally your method of blogging should make you feel more inspired, creative, and enthusiastic about blogging – which in turn will shine through so your readers get just as giddy about it as you do. There’s a reason that your blog is attracting a readership and people are coming back. So just go at your own pace and concentrate on doing things well and not making yourself sick or neglecting your family because a few usually very well-intentioned folks want something that should take ten days to be done, photographed, and blogged about in five. Forgive people for being excited and impatient. We all do it.
Of course establishing these boundaries applies to other scenarios too, so if you have a family blog and folks want more photos/info about your kids than you’re comfortable sharing, know that whatever you want to share = enough. In blogging I generally think if it feels wrong (or makes you feel tired/sad/uninspired), it’s wrong. So don’t do it. As much as I hate being told to relax (seriously, ask John, it’s on his “do not ever say that to me unless you want me to go crazy on you” list), just try to relax and do your thing.
Tip #3: Try To Give The Good Feedback As Much Weight As The Bad. The funny thing is that everyone we talk to who is wrestling with comment criticism admits they still get waaaaay more positive comments than negative ones. I mean the ratio is usually astounding. We know it just takes one cutting comment to get under your skin, but when the vast majority of people love something, it sucks to let one commenter sink your battleship. Let’s do some light math (I don’t do heavy math, but light math is ok). If over the course of a week or two, 99 people take the time to say they like your blog/post/project/house/whatever and one person chimes in to say something’s not their cup of tea, that still adds up to a 99% success rate. And those are good odds my friend- so keep on keeping on! Heck, even if a ton of your readers don’t like something but you like it, I wholeheartedly think that you should keep blogging about it. Why? Because you like it and – once again, for the folks in the back – it’s your blog. Picture me up stage wearing a pant suit and a pocket protector saying “I can’t hear you!” and holding the mic out so you can shout that chorus with me. Or dancing around in this outfit chanting it with my lovely family while serving up a heaping portion of jazz hands (Burger’s clearly hiding because he doesn’t want to be seen in this getup).
Tip #4: Do everything with love. It’s admittedly extremely cheesy (and you might hear a tiny violin playing in the background) but my favorite advice is usually summed up in that phrase. It’s actually written on a post-it note that I’ve had stuck to my laptop for the longest time. When someone takes time out of their day to say something they’d most likely never say to anyone’s face (or would they…?) I’ve come to realize that spewing the same venom that they flung in my direction won’t make me feel any better (heck, it would probably make me feel significantly worse).
So I try to look at them from a place of love. Maybe they’ve had a terrible day. Maybe they’ve lost someone they love very much and they’re hurting. It may seem weird to try to have compassion for those who don’t seem to be very sensitive to your feelings, but I’m telling you that there’s something to it. It helps me respond with humor or a quick explanation from my point of view without getting too heated. Or even just with the words “Merry Christmas to you and your family!” like I did when someone said that decorating our family Christmas tree with paint chips was akin to decorating it with tampon wrappers. Growing up my mom always said that above being successful, popular, or athletic (all the things I worried about so much back then), being kind was the most important thing. And that’s something I’d love to pass down to Clara. Sing it with me: all ya need is love.
So there it is. My brain dump. I hope it helps at least one or two of you out there who might be struggling with growing and having more eyes on you. I know it sounds corny, but for us this blog is just about sharing our adventures and hopefully helping you guys along the way. That’s why we make videos about grouting and cabinet painting and take so many photos and share every last detail – in the hope of helping a handful of you guys at home. And it’s also why we love sharing behind the scenes blogging stuff like this (since so many of you are fellow bloggers these days). I am completely embarrassed to admit this, but we wrote the Thank You part of our book a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t the part about our family and friends that made me cry, it was the part about you, our lovely readers. Crying isn’t even the word. It wasn’t cute. I was weeping. There was smeared mascara and a runny nose. The whole nine yards.
The enthusiasm, sweetness, and support that you folks send our way is nothing less than life-changing. I really mean that. The least we can do is crack open a little bit of ourselves in beyond-DIY posts like this from time to time (every once in a while we get the itch to overshare, like this and this along with our more recent J-Boom and $herdog posts). So lets get all sappy and share mom and dad quotes in the comments. Or any other older and wiser family member who said something while you were growing up that rings oh so true to you. My mom was also famous for saying “always wear nice underwear in case you end up in the emergency room” throughout my formative years. And let me tell you, she was right on the money about that too. It’s waaaaaaaay too embarrassing to go into, but I didn’t follow her advice and I royally regretted it. There were Care Bears involved. And I was 21. And I don’t think the doc grasped the concept of ironic underwear. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.
Pssst- We announced this week’s giveaway winners. Click here to see if you’re one of them.
The soft spot we have for stencil projects has certainly grown since our office undertaking, but this one by Amy at The Casablanca Transformation would probably win over even the most skeptical stencil fans. And it actually sounds doable in well under fourteen hours! Score. Here’s her letter:
No matter how many decorating projects I do in my lifetime this one will surely go down in history as one of my all time best! I am so happy I had the idea and even happier that I dared to try! Here is the plain white leather bar stool before:
And the after!
I used a stencil from cuttingedgestencils.com and the paint is from turtlefeathers.net and is called Angelus Paint. It is made especially for painting leather (it has a bit of give to it and won’t crack). Since the chairs came unassembled I decided to leave them that way to make it a little easier to stencil. I was amazed at how easy the process was – total time was only about 4 hours.
I loved that I could pick out the exact style and colors I wanted for these chairs – a custom chair at a very cheap price! I bought the chairs 2 for $152 from overstock then add in the $80 in materials and my total cost is $384 for four bar stools ($96 each)! To have these stools custom upholstered in a fabric of my choice would have cost a lot more than that and they would have been ruined so quickly. I am hoping this painted leather alternative means they will stand the test of time and three boys! – Amy
Awesometown, right? You can check out more details over on Amy’s blog. Is anyone else’s head filling with ideas of what else they could stencil? And look at that pretty kitchen in the background. Me-ow.
Update: We just learned that there are some follow up posts about a few pitfalls with these chairs (specifically she wasn’t happy with the quality of the chairs themselves or the acrylic finisher that she used), so more details can be found here and here. Although Amy did drop in to say the actual stenciling process really works and some other chairs that have been stenciled (of better quality) are holding up great (without any acrylic finisher). Hope it helps!