Archive for August, 2012

A Day Of Thrifting

Occasion: The thrifting bug struck on a lazy Saturday morning

Location: All over Richmond to six of my favorite thrift stores with the hubby and toddler in tow (Burger very smartly stayed home to nap)

You know we love a good thrift-fest (like these thrifty adventures of yore), so let’s go secondhand window shopping, shall we? First we went to Love of Jesus (on Midlothian for any locals who are wondering), which is an awesome place for larger furnishings. Of course like most thrift stores it’s hit or miss, but when you hit, it’s a good time. We actually got a lot of pieces that we transformed for our book here (like a $15 desk and a $10 headboard). Fun, fun, fun.

We’ve mentioned that we’re in the market for some sort of buffet/sideboard/dresser to convert into a media cabinet for the living room, and these long low cabinets were cool, but a bit too low for our liking. At $30 a pop (for six awesome drawers of storage) I thought they were a pretty great deal though. Hope someone snagged them!

John found this and it took him a little while to figure out what it was. At first he was all “ooh look at this cool bright yellow table or island- wait a minute, is this one of those… OBGYN things?” But the color was fun! Maybe just for inspiration…

This old $5 chair looked like it could use some love. But picture it refinished in a rich stain color or painted navy or emerald green at a crisp white parson’s desk. Could be cute…

John loved this old orange hardcover book. You know the guy loves his maps. And as “well loved” as it looks in this picture, it actually didn’t smell musty or feel sticky or anything, so it totally could have been a cool find for a bookcase or coffee table – or even for wall art if you framed a bunch of old covers. I think it was under a buck. Now I wish we had taken it home.

These lockers would be awesome in a mudroom or playroom. I forget the exact price, but they were cheap. And if gray’s not your color you could always spray them glossy white, happy yellow, bright red – anything really.

Then we headed over to Family Thrift on Midlothian near Love of Jesus. This was the first time I checked it out and the prices were awesome. This entire set of six chairs was $75. That’s $12.50 a chair! And they’d be so easy to paint and reupholster. I liked their lines too. Sort of art-nouveau-ish.

They also had these cheeky tennis glasses for 45 cents each that I thought were adorable. If only I played tennis. And had a cool headband like that.

 Then it was over to the Salvation Army Family Store on Midlothian.

I thought this $49 cabinet was awesome (don’t the handles looked like the Apartment Therapy logo?) but we aren’t currently on the hunt for anything like that, so I passed him up.

This wooden rocker was sweet, and marked down to $25 I think. It reminds me of a Jenny Lind crib, so I’m picturing it in a nursery painted in a soft color like white, celery, aqua, or yellow.

And then there was this sexiness (I didn’t even know that John had instagramed this exact same mannequin a few weeks back when he was in there snooping around). We’re meant to be. And oddly enough, no one has bought the outfit in all that time. Strange…

Then it was off to Diversity Thrift on the Northside near The Diamond. This doily stretcher (no idea what that is, other than guessing it’s how people make or stretch doilies?!) was $4. I think it makes such a fun and interesting piece of wall decor to lean or hang. I totally got it. Sorry for the blurry picture, I owe you a crisp one of it hanging or leaning somewhere in our house when I find the perfect spot…

I also thought this sofa was pretty, even though the upholstery wasn’t my style. I can totally see someone like Emily Henderson working it out and making it look super fresh with turquoise pillows or even a coat of glossy navy paint on the wood parts.

There was also this little (needlepoint?) scene that was actually really charming. I think it was ten bucks. I know you might think I’m crazy, but just imagine it hanging in a collection on a wall like this one in Will’s room. Could be cute, right?

Oh and there was this faux-wicker yellow and white tray (the design was printed on it, so it wasn’t bumpy or anything). That section was 50% off, so the $2 sticker is wrong-o and it was actually just a buck. I grabbed it. Could be cute in the guest room with a pitcher of water, some books, and a bowl of candy.

Oh and I mentioned that Clara was with us, so you might wonder how she likes a weekend thrift-fest. Well, let’s ask her. Clara, what do you do when you see something you love? Her answer? I go “oooh” and then I go “ahhhh!”

Next we swung by Pass It On in the Lakeside Towne Shops near Lewis Ginter, where I fell in love with these guys. They were still a bit too pricey for me (since I’d want to buy the whole set, and I think they were around $100+ total) but how awesome are they? I’m sure someone will give them a loving home.

Then it was over to Consignment Connection, also on Lakeside. Clara usually comes into stores and pokes around with us, but this store is waaay too full of breakables and she had actually fallen asleep in her car seat, which was perfect since John could stay in the car with her while I ran in to see what I found.

This gorgeous table was already sold but I loved it. Picture it in a sunroom with the base painted a crisp white color. She was a beaut.

And I actually bought this guy for $19 for Clara. Definitely steep for a globe, but it was a white globe with a ton of bright colors (which I’ve never seen before) and it was BEING HELD UP BY A WHALE. Which just happens to be one of Clara’s favorite animals since our trip to Hawaii where we went on a whale watching boat. So I just couldn’t leave without it.

When she woke up from her nap and saw it sitting next to her in the backseat she was elated. And the checkout guy said he was so glad someone was getting it because he was in love with it and couldn’t wait for it to get “adopted.” Haha. It was meant to be.

And so ends our little thrifty adventure. Wait, first I’ll show you where our little whale globe landed:

Yup, he’s hanging out on the console table in our hallway full of frames. But things tend to move, so he might not be there for long…

I’ll have to share photos of the rest of our thrifted booty in our house whenever they find a place to live (like the doily stretcher and the yellow tray). We also got a small table at Love of Jesus thrift, but I took so many photos of it that I decided he deserved his own little post this afternoon (complete with my cleaning/restoring ritual for old musty wood). In the meantime, have you guys been thrifting? Find anything good? Have you ever seen such a happy yellow OBGYN table? I’m telling you, that doc must have been whistling while he or she worked.

Psst- Still in a thrifty mood? Here are a bunch of our other secondhand shopping trips. Whee.



How To Build A Deck: It’s DONE!!!

The deck is officially done. Sound the celebratory cowbells! I actually finished it on Friday and we’ve spent the last few days crossing all appendages and waiting for an inspection (I couldn’t bear to share my triumph until I was actually sure it was a to-code triumph). The inspection finally happened yesterday afternoon, and – ta-da! – we passed. Relief flooded over me like all the sweat that I put into building this thing (lesson learned: build decks in the spring or fall). Here she is in all of her wood-riddled, approved-by-the-county glory:

It’s definitely an upgrade from the tiny rotting balcony that we started with:

We thought it’d be great to have it done when Sherry’s mom came to visit from NY today, so I put my head down, powered ahead, and sweated through my belt for one last leg of this deck building marathon.

Admittedly it was a bit more of a marathon than I expected. We originally thought this deck would take us three or four weeks of on and off work to complete, but between the heat, thunderstorms, inspections, equipment rentals, material deliveries, summer travel (we ended up being gone more than half of the weekends since starting) and generally being a one-man show who has never built a deck before… it took ten weeks instead. But that doesn’t make the victory any less sweet to me.

I actually kind of enjoyed having an excuse to go outside (despite the extreme weather) and tinker around with something during the occasional Clara nap or Saturday morning. It was weirdly peaceful – getting to ignore emails and diapers for a few hours and just saw stuff. And of course having my dad’s help with the auger when it came to digging those post holes was the best. Nothing like a father/son project to get the serotonin pumping.

So if you’re wondering how long a deck project could take, I think an experienced team could knock something like this out in a week (you’d need a few days to pause for inspections in our area, so a weekend wouldn’t do it). But if you’re doing it almost entirely alone as a first-timer, and can’t work all day every day (maybe you can devote a few afternoons or evenings during the week and a day or two every other weekend like I did) it might realistically take you a month or two  – depending how inspections go, if it’s raining for two weeks straight, etc. But I can promise you one thing: there’s an insane amount of satisfaction when you sink that last screw.

Now let’s rewind for a moment and I’ll try to breeze through how I got the stairs and the railing done. Once all of the decking was laid down, I cut and attached the remainder of my four posts (you can read more on how I did that in this post).

Even though the stairs were next on my list, getting the railing posts up was important to help me plan the stair stringers – which are the diagonal boards that run down the side of the staircase, where the steps actually rest.

You can buy pre-cut stringers, but I tackled cutting my own (to save money and time since that’s the lumber they provided in our delivery). Figuring out the lengths and angles of everything was kinda scary until I found this website that did most of the math for you. Thank goodness for the world wide web.

Once I had my rise (the height of each step) and run (the width of each step) calculated, I learned a cool trick from this video for marking your 2 x 12″ board for cutting. I basically clamped a straight edge (in my case, a piece of scrap wood) to a framing square (the L-shaped ruler) so it intersected at my measured rise and run. Then I could hold the scrap wood flush against my board and the framing square would create a perfect guide for marking my cuts:

With the length of my board marked, I broke out my circular saw and carefully cut along the lines.

You’ll notice above that despite looking cut from above in that last picture, the triangular pieces weren’t falling away. That’s because the circular-shape of a circular saw doesn’t always allow you to reach those deep corners all the way through. So I went back with my reciprocating saw to finish the cuts all the way.

Once one stringer had been cut (and tested in place to make sure it fit) I used it as a guide to mark and cut two more 2 x 12 boards, since I’d need 3 total stringers for my 48″ wide steps.

So here are my three cut stringers in place. You’ll notice the one in the middle has a weird extra piece in its center. That’s because a not-so-conveniently located knot in the wood caused the tip of one step to break off. Rather than go buy (and re-cut another whole board) I just patched it by cutting and screwing a short piece of wood to patch it (making sure it would be to code first).

To attach the stringers to the deck I used these angled hangers that I snagged at Home Depot.

Oh yeah, and I was sure to check that the steps were level the whole way down. Don’t want wonky steps now, do we?

Speaking of wonky, I did install some blocking between the stringers. They weren’t perfectly level themselves, but they’ll be completely hidden, so that’s okay. The point was that by using equal sized scrap boards the blocks still served their purpose of keeping the steps an equal width the whole way down (we didn’t want the steps getting subtly narrower or wider on the way down).

Next came setting the posts that would support the staircase in the middle and the bottom (using the footing holes that I dug back when I started the deck). To attach these posts, I decided to use these anchors I found at Home Depot this time around.

I basically set them in some wet concrete (after carefully marking where they needed to go to line up with my steps – which admittedly was a somewhat maddening process). Then I let them dry.

Since my concrete needed 4 hours to cure, I filled some of that time by beginning to cut the wood for the steps. We wanted the steps to match the decking, so we used two 2 x 6″ boards for the base of each step (which included a small overhang) and a 2 x 8″ board for the back of each step.

Once my concrete was dry and my post anchors were solidly in place, I set my posts, checked that they were level, and nailed them into place. You can see this anchor was not 100% exact in its placement – but that’s part of the reason they’re open on one end. That wiggle room was a lifesaver.

So here are all of my posts set (but not cut to size yet) and a random assortment of step boards just loosely laid in place. Looks kinda like a staircase. Looks kinda like a hot mess too.

Oh yeah, and I bolted the posts to my stringers the same way I bolted the railings to the end of the deck.

Then came the task of screwing all of the step boards into place. This task took surprisingly long and a surprising amount of screws.

With all of the stair boards in place, I turned my attention to the guardrail. The first two parts of the guardrail were the 2 x 4″ rail boards that would span between the posts on the top and bottom. Our county requires no more than 4″ gap between the deck and the rail (it’s also known as a sweep space, so you can easily sweep debris off the deck). I saw someone use a 4 x 4″ post as a guide for this since it’s an easy way to keep the rail level so I did the same thing. Worked like a charm.

Attaching the railings to the stairs was a bit more involved since I had to make sure I was meeting several standards for how much of a gap was at the bottom and how high it had to be compared to the nose of each tread. Once I had figured all of that out, just cutting the angles and keeping things in place while I screwed it all together made my brain hurt a little. But eventually I got all of the railing pieces in place.

Oh, and you may notice that the four posts attached to the deck got significantly taller. I had to replace my original posts because I realized too late that I had cut them too short to satisfy the railing height requirements on the steps. It’s a long story so I’ll just leave it this: it kinda sucked and that’s why it’s nighttime when this photo was taken. Oh well live and learn. They weren’t going to be staying that tall, but after replacing them once I decided this next time that I’d cut them in place once I was certain my railing height would pass inspection – just to avoid any more surprise do-overs.

The next day I could finally start putting the balusters in. Those are the vertical pieces on a standard deck railing. We debated doing something more intricate or modern (like all horizontal rails or a built in planter) but opted for the traditional look because that’s what we have out on the patio side of the house (there’s a fence and a railing out there). Both that railing and this one are visible from the living room (out various sliding doors) so we wanted them to match. I’m also glad we went the traditional route because it was super easy to do (since I could use my post as a guide to meet the spacing requirements again).

The last part of the guardrail is the rail cap, which is the flat ledge on the top. It’s made from a 5/4 x 6″ decking board. Cutting those angles and notches around the posts was an adventure too, but I won’t bother you with the details. In short: I lived to tell the tale!

Oh yeah, and you can see now that I eventually cut all of my posts down to size when I was sure they all met code. Thank you reciprocating saw for that.

When it came to attaching the balusters to the stair railing, I didn’t even attempt to pre-cut them to size like I did on the other railing. Instead I temporarily removed the rail cap I had cut and screwed the balusters into place with the excess length extending out the top. Then I used my reciprocating saw to cut them down so the rail cap would sit flush again on top of them for a finished edge.

With the balusters in and rail cap back on, I started putting the finishing touches into place – like this handrail that we’re required to add since our stairs have more than three steps.

And we added these decorative wood caps ($8 at Home Depot) to the posts at the top and bottom of the stairs. They attached with just a little bit of caulk and definitely make things look nice and finished.

And with that, the railings – and therefore the steps – and therefore the entire deck itself… was finally done!

I have to admit, I’m still kind of impressed that I made this.

And what do you do when you’re proud of the deck you just built? Naturally, you text your mom.

Well, your mom and your bro-friend.

Although being totally built and county approved doesn’t mean it’s totally done. We still need to seal it (we’ll be tackling that as soon as we catch our breath and research the right product for the job) and of course we need to furnish it. As for the budget breakdown, once we seal it we’ll share the full rundown. Until then, you can find me sitting out on the deck, sans furniture, drinking a nice cold soda. Or telling Sherry that I’m not building another deck for at least ten years. Yes sireee, I’m glad to have this done. Although to anyone wondering, I still think demoing our first house’s bathroom and rebuilding that from the studs was the hardest project I’ve ever done. But the deck is hanging in there at second place. Anyone else finishing a deck or some other project that took longer than you expected but is still intensely satisfying to have checked off the ol’ list?

Psst- Want all the deck details? Here’s where we shared our vision for the space, removed the plantings and the old balcony, selected our materials and documented our first day of building. Then we dug our post holes, failed our first inspection, revised our plan/dug more holes, and set posts. Then we installed our joists, did some last minute prep for deck boards, started laying decking boards, whipped up a mood board and finished laying deck boards.