Crafting & Art

Crown Prince

We hoped to have all of the nursery’s extra chunky crown molding painted, cut, hung, caulked, and touched up by the end of the weekend, and we just made it by the skin of our teeth (where did that gross expression come from anyway?).

Crown is always one of the those “it’ll be nice” things on a to-do list, and then whenever we add it we’re blown away by how much of a difference it makes. Even the most basic and boxy rooms suddenly look taller and just generally upgraded in a surprisingly significant way. Which we always appreciate since a lot of the rooms in our homes have been devoid of amazing architecture (no extra high ceilings, arched doorways, cool columns, etc). So between the addition of our little corner built-ins, and the new extra chunky crown, this 11 x 13.5′ rectangle of a room is really coming along.

You know, after eight months of looking like this.

Don’t get me wrong – we still have a long way to go (there are three completely unaddressed walls, and not nearly enough color/fun/personality yet), but this chunky crown molding is a pretty glorious sight. It erased all of those unfinished cracks and crevices and made the room feel so much more polished in a few short days.

As for how we installed it, we followed the same method that we tried out in Clara’s room, which is to use 3 1/4″ baseboard as the first “layer” – and run that around the room first. We used a spacer to drop it an inch and a half down from the ceiling for more of a chunky look, a level to make sure it stayed straight, and we marked our studs with painters tape so we knew just where to fire the nail gun into the wall to hold them up.

The second “layer” involved hanging actual crown molding (we got nice beefy 4 5/8″ stuff from Home Depot) right over the baseboard, for that extra chunky look. You can see how the left piece has been “crowned” and on the right there’s just baseboard waiting for us to hang crown over it to complete the look. This is how all the crown on the first floor of our house was done, along with the stuff in our master bedroom, so we wanted to keep any new crown that we added looking cohesive.

We went with pre-primed baseboard and crown to save ourselves a step, so we just had to lay it out on the floor with a drop cloth and paint it before we hung it. We prefer that to painting it in place because it’s a lot faster, and then we only need touch-ups after hanging it and caulking it. It was funny to paint just a tiny bit of it with the built-in color, and the rest of it white, but we’re really happy with how it all turned out.

Here’s the crown between the built-ins after it was hung but before we caulked it or did any paint touch ups. See the slightly imperfect wavers of the ceiling above it? Those are nice and finished looking when you squeeze a line of caulk up along that crevice and just drag your finger across it to force it into those small gaps. And if you wipe it fast enough (we apply it about a foot at a time) you can usually get it off the pre-painted ceiling and crown so it’s just in those cracks and there’s no need to touch up the ceiling or crown again for the most part, which is nice.

After some final paint touch ups (mostly along the nail marks that we filled with caulk), and removing all of those tape marks for the studs, it gets a lot better looking. Like so:

For anyone looking for additional details and photos of this chunkier crown effect using baseboards + molding, you can click here to read about how we installed it in Clara’s room. The cost of hers rung in at $137, and that’s a significantly larger room, so although we can’t find the receipt for this latest trip to Home Depot, we’re guessing it was around $115 to do the nursery. And you’ll want to add a tube or two of caulk and a can of paint to the project cost if you don’t have those on hand already.

I also finally got to dive into the crib bedding arena, which you all know I’ve been excited about thanks to John’s revelation that I wander around the house impersonating Golum and whispering “CRIIIB SKIRT.” Here’s a close up of the sweet little organic crib sheet that I found on sale from Pottery Barn for $9.99 (I think we paid something like $25+ for organic crib sheets before Clara was born, so I’m psyched to see that these have become a lot easier to find & more affordable in the last four years).

 

The green rectangle behind that parade of adorable elephants is just 1.5 yards of fabric that I grabbed from JoAnn during one of their 50% off sales. So the grand total for the 1.5 yards of fabric that I needed to make the crib skirt was a wallet-busing $3.73. You know I did The Mom Victory Dance at the checkout, right? For those not in the know, that involves all sorts of ridiculous movements like high fiving your embarrassed husband and waving your hands around like you’ve won the lottery when in fact you have just saved something like $3.50.

Once at home, I laid out my fabric and cut out three pieces (two sides and a front) which will make up the crib skirt. To get the measurements of those three pieces, I just measured the crib skirt area’s height and width in that section, and then added 3″ to each measurement (to account for 1.5″ hems on each side). So for example, if the measured height for the side panel of the crib was 10 inches, I added three more to make it 13 inches. And if the measured length of that side panel was 28 inches, I added another three inches to make it 31.

Oh and it would be a nice moment for me to mention that if you’re using any fabric with a pattern on it, make sure your three panels all go in the same direction and have the pattern level or centered (so you don’t end up with wonky stripes or something from cutting things in the wrong direction). You might need more yardage for certain patterns or longer crib skirts.

I debated sewing these panels together or just using Heat N’ Bond hem tape, but since the crib skirt that I made for Clara was with Heat N’ Bond, and it held up really well, I figured that was a good choice again – especially since this is more of a tucked away element in the room (for example, I sewed Clara a quilt, but I used hem tape for her crib skirt, since it’s less of a hands-on item).

As far as what materials you’ll need if you’re attempting to make a crib skirt using this method, you’re all set with fabric, hem tape, scissors, and an iron. Oh and some velcro tabs, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First you just need to use hem tape on all four backsides of each of your three panels to hem them for a nice finished look in the front.

It’s really easy stuff to use, just iron it on, peel off the backing, fold the fabric over, and iron it again to make a hem. The fabric panel on the left of this picture was hemmed on all sides, and the panel on the right was also hemmed all the way around, and then I laid one more strip of hem tape down the side (along the back edge) so that I could join these two panels by ironing it on, peeling the backing, moving the second panel over the first one to overlap them, and then ironing that edge so they were fused together.

Once you turn it over, you’re left with a nice clean seam in the front of the fabric. And that seam will fall on a corner of our crib (behind one of the legs) so it won’t be seen.

I joined the middle panel to the two end panels this way on both sides and then it was ready to be attached to the crib. I used small velcro tabs around the metal frame of the crib to hold our skirt in place (you can get them at JoAnn or Michael’s which is also where they sell Heat N’ Bond).

Velcro is a nice option because it makes it easy to remove and wash it if you ever need to (hem tape is washable if you follow the directions and avoid high heat).

 

Our crib mattress will be lowered once the little guy is more mobile, so we won’t always need this skirt to bridge the gap between the bottom of the mattress and the drawer, but it’s such a fun little addition. Especially for $3.73.

We also used two coats of satin PolyShades gel stain (in Tudor) to make the bottom drawer of the crib a little darker, since it was looking kind of reddish-orange in comparison to the floors and the wood dresser-tops. We thought a hit of darker color would be nice to ground our light-colored crib, and it would also tie into things like the dark hardware on the built-ins, the chocolate elephant crib sheet, and even the oil-rubbed bronze doorknob that leads to his room.

We sealed the PolyShades with two satin coats of Safecoat Acrylacq, which is an awesome non-toxic sealer that keeps things from off-gasing, since Polyshades is low-VOC but not no-VOC.

It’s probably obvious that I just tossed like eight things on the built-in bookcases so they weren’t painfully bare, but I literally gave them four minutes of my time, so I can’t wait to gather some baskets and frames and books and toys and other fun nursery items to fill them in for real. (Shout out to the lone giraffe on the top right shelf). I think they’ll end up being super functional and a nice way to add a lot more fun/color/personality to the room, so I can’t wait to get cracking.

For the space above the crib, we’ve been debating everything from large scale art to some sort of accent like a slatted wall or a giant mobile. We even tried leaning the bike prints up there just to see what they’d look like, but we think they’re better suited for the opposite wall since they look a little busy with the built-ins.

So we’re planning to fill those built-ins “for real” and then see where we end up with that wall. I think we’re leaning towards a really fun large scale mobile – maybe like this but with hits of bold green, black, and white? And maybe another animal instead of birds (Burgers? Or whales since he’s The Barnacle?)…

What did you guys work on this weekend? Do you have any mostly-empty bookcases that you’re ready to go nuts on? Or some bare walls that are begging for some action?

Psst- To see our nursery progress from the very beginning, here’s the planning and rug-buying post, the dresser-sourcing post, the wall and ceiling painting rundown, the first half of built-in building, and the second half of the built-in project

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Suckers For Succas

The other day I was working away in the office and Sherry breezed in and stole some paper from the printer. I didn’t think much of it… until a few minutes later when I walked into the kitchen to find this. Well, this and Sherry grinning at me and batting her eyelashes.

I soon learned that these large succulent photographs that she’d been eying for some time from West Elm had gone on sale (boo, but it looks like they’re back to full price now). It’s more than we typically spend on art, but they’re very large (almost 30″ wide and tall) and the price included the big glass frame – so Sherry took the 20% markdown as a sign from the succulent photography gods that two of these should come to live with us. I actually really liked them too, so I was easily convinced. We’ve been wanting to slowly amass more large-scale art over time (other than this yard sale painted canvas that Sherry DIYed and these bike prints I framed, we really don’t have much) so it’s nice to balance out some cheaper homemade stuff with some custom framed professional prints.

Fast forward a week or so, and that big empty wall in our kitchen is no longer empty.

Here’s a much less glare-y view from the other side of our two new additions.

That’s the abridged version of the story. The complete version starts with a reminder that this is what the wall looked like to start with. As in, it had that big awesome non-working intercom in the way.

Although I had sort of grown to love this ugly non-functioning hunk of faux wood grain & dials… it was time to say goodbye. Luckily it only took a few loosened screws to detach it from the wall.

We hoped that we’d just find a tiny patchable hole with a couple of wires sticking out, but instead, we found this. For a few good seconds I was pretty certain it was a bomb and I’d be in trouble if I let this bus slow down.

But since it was not actually explosive (and since I’m most definitely not Academy Award winning actress Sandra Bullock) it was pretty easy to defuse, er, detach. With the power off, I was able to unhook the two power cords (blue and white) and the mess of other connectors that I believe weave through our house to the other rooms with intercoms (again, none of which really work).

Seeing as this wall is on the demolition list down the line (for when we eventually open the kitchen up to the living room), we opted for a temporary solution for now. Translation: we didn’t call in an electrician just yet. The intercom only shares a breaker with the light in our wet bar, which we never use, so we opted to cap and tape the intercom power wires, flip off that breaker, and call it a day. The next time I’m at the hardware store I’m going to look for a big flat metal plate that I can screw in to cover things up. Obviously it’s not a permanent solution, but it’ll do for now.

But the radio wasn’t our only eyesore. We also had a phone jack nearby that wasn’t in use. I did lots of googling and found a range of theories/instructions on how to disconnect one of these. The general consensus was (1) you don’t have to worry about getting zapped by a phone wire unless the phone is actively ringing or in use and (2) you usually can just cut the wires and stuff them back into the wall.

I was a little wary of both, but I was able to disconnect the four pairs of wires from the jack with nary a shock. Rather than leave them totally lose and exposed, I capped them with wire nuts just to be thorough. I capped the matching colored wires together after looking behind another already-capped phone jack in our living room and seeing that someone before me had done the same thing on that one.

With those wires capped, I pushed them back into the box and tested the phone (still worked!). Then I stepped back to admire those two gaping holes. Gorgeous, no?

Well, they now look like this. Notice how I didn’t show any photos of drywall patching? It’s because we haven’t done any. Again, since this wall’s days are numbered we decided not to bother patching either hole (plus this leaves my temporary wiring fixes available for the electrician in the future if we want to get them handled by a pro). So for now, we just put a blank cover on the phone jack (and painted it to match the wall). And the big radio hole, well, it’s behind the green succulent. Sort of like hiding an old medicine cabinet hole behind a new mirror. But I’m hoping that big metal plate cover that I mentioned grabbing the next time we’re at Home Depot will make it a little more… temporarily legit?

I do have a bit of DIYer shame for not following through completely with those two holes, but at the same time I felt kind of silly paying for an electrician now (or carefully patching the drywall) just to tear it out later. So instead I’m just enjoying the new view.

Oh and from this shot you can see that we chose to center the art on the table and the chandelier, as opposed to centering it on the wall (we tried it both ways and it looked a little wonky when they didn’t line up with the table or the chandelier).

Can you guess which one is Clara’s favorite?

Yup, that purple one on the left.

We like that they add a little more color, but aren’t too crazy or busy (especially since we’re hoping to add some window treatments which might have more color and pattern). And since this wall won’t always be here, we’re certain they could work in a ton of other rooms in the future (like the dining room over a buffet, the office over a desk, etc).

I think I may have to send Sherry to a Succulents Anonymous meeting soon though. The photo below doesn’t even include the terrarium she just made.

Man that last picture makes me want to do something about those counters right this second (well, those and that trash compactor). We just want to make a bit more progress in the nursery before we give those Ardex concrete tutorials a shot. And those floors. We’re coming for you, floors. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Too bad we can’t just hide them behind a frame.

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