Archive for the ‘construction and finishing TIPS’ Category

So you want to see more of that ceiling detail….

sleeping under a sunny sky…I wrote about it initially in this blog post!

Uhhhh, y e a h—I admit, I still haven’t finished it.

I liked my designs for the center scrolls and fleur de lis “finial” (not applied yet), but I just couldn’t get the outer scrolls right.  So I stepped away from it.

And I haven’t returned as yet.  Oooops.

C’est la vie!


Why the sky–??

Well—this is the guest bedroom I’ve claimed for my own while at my mother’s.

And—I really missed my Arizona skies….the clearest and most incredibly brilliant, turquoise-y blue skies that are impossible to forget!

So I’m “taking comfort” in a painted version!  Sure, I gave it wAy more clouds than you’d ever see in Phoenix, but it needed some layering—including those sparrows and barn swallows!

sleeping under a Sunny Sky!I found the four corner corbels at TJMaxx long-long ago and ripped the lattice on the table saw.

I tied a loose loop in string around the chandelier, stretched it out 4ft, and tied another loose loop around a pencil.  And then drew out the 8ft diameter circle.

I bought a PLASTIC version of detailed cove (usually used for exteriors) so I could trim out the circular shape—and then I painted away!

—inside the lines!—

It’s a nice way to wake every morning!


my “Panetière”Here’s another view of my desk and “Panetière.”

You can see the posts on the making of this HERE 




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Yep.  I’m STILL working on my Craig’s list bonus cabinet.

working on the CL bonus cabinetMy mother had a pretty big surgery on Monday, released from the hospital Tuesday (she’s up and down on the feeling better scale).  Heck, the whole week was just turned upside down by an array of things.

So I guess I   should be saying

“Look how far I am on my Craig’s list bonus cabinet!”

I sanded the top clean and used a clear Varathane sealer -but- I’m not sure if I like it yet.  Ehh–if I don’t, I can just paint it white with the rest of the cabinet.

the Craig's list bonus cabinet

puttying all the bad areas--I puttied ALL the bad areas besides the faux panel cut lines, let them set up for 24hrs, and have sanded everything SUPER smooth.

Oh!  Here’s a close up of the new glass handles!

the new handles--

You can see I’ve been priming the exterior of the cabinet.

So, I’m getting there….!


my CL bonus cabinet--getting re-worked!

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the Craig's list cabinetAlmost 2 weeks ago I chased around picking up my Craig’s list treasures!

It was a gOOd day!

When I arrived to check out that architectural table–I was also shown this cabinet– “Think you might want this too?”

It looked like it had gREAt potential, but it came with gREAt problems too, but,

he wanted WaY too much.

I offered $10.

After highlighting its many issues–he took it .

Craig's list cabinet

the Craig's list cabinetAt last I got to start working on this project!

I love that it has 360° hinges.  I love its proportions.

And I need a cabinet to put my grungy work clothes away– y’know, other than folding and stacking them in a laundry basket.  (Really don’t want to co-mingle them with gOOd clothes.)

Someone gutted the stereo/radio leaving the gaping holes, it has a broken and missing back leg, and you can see some water damage and trace mold.


Yes–I have my work cut out for me.

I began with the “leg” issues.

fixing the Craig's list cabinet

You can see -just above- the missing back leg.  Needing to fully replicate the gOOd side, I had to be careful demo’ing the broken side for general guide use.

I ripped a board to the height and length needed, then used the table saw to create the (sort of crude) dado -or- groove and rabbets necessary.  I matched the top edge detail by running it through the router table with a ¼” round over bit.  It looks really good—but for the pine, I don’t think anyone would know it’s a repair-job.

*I’ll bleach it, sand, and paint to seal the water damage and bit of mold~and it needs to be painted anyway to fit in the room it will be used.

repairing the Craig's list cabinet leg

Next up—the interior.


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I’m closing in on their finish!

But yesterday I discovered a correction that needed to be made.

I made a miss-cut dividing the tall dresser in two.

the Craig's list dresser, #3

I needed to deconstruct much of the center section of this dresser because of that APPLIED/WRAPPED external center rail system.

Lost in this ODD PUZZLE of construction,

eventually, I forgot about that bottom rail that is necessary to opening the bottom drawer of the NOW bench!

You can see in the picture below my assumption that it was supposed to be the TOP rail of the dresser–WRONG.  And now I’ll have to make some adjustments before I can attach the dresser TOP.

Craig's list dresser #3You can see that I chose a very clean look in this project.

“lacquered”  look for this ’60′s SET!

Another part of this project was to re-create that undulating toe-kick from the dresser for the new bench—I found a  2 x 4  to be perfect in this endeavor, simply lining it up to the dresser toe-kick and tracing out the shape.

Since I still don’t have my own band saw, I ran over to my friendly strippers-  ; D  -to borrow theirs!  Their saw/blade was in desperate need of replacement and didn’t make the cleanest cut so I had a lot of clean up to do with the belt sander.  *But beggars can’t be choosers.

creating an undulating toe-kickprogress on the Craig's list dresser #3

You can see a bit of the finished undulating toe-kick under the bench, and where I left off for the day.  Clearly–I still have some work to go before all is said and done, but things are coming along!

I got a very slow start to my work day because I first headed off to pick up that INCREDIBLE table I’d told you about and got that FAB Louis chair too!  As much as I can’t WAIT to get on them—I’m already ricocheting all around here on several projects and need to keep some focus—

but here’s a sneak peek!


the architectural dining table and SQUARE-backed Louis chair

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my chalkboard globe-

I’m finished and totally LOVE

my chalkboard globe!


A wooden lamp base from one of last season’s flea markets. $3

A Meridian ring orphaned from another globe project.

A $3 thrift store globe.

A hot glue gun,

and some spray paint Chalkboard paint.

Finally, I ran off to the hardware store to buy a $2 double-threaded screw to join the globe’s meridian ring to my flea market lamp base–and a little 2-part epoxy for extra strength.

my chalkboard globeMade from misc. parts and a pretty good imagination!


my $3 thrift store globe-






-making my own tabletop globe









The end of the plastic–now a metal Meridian ring and wood!


my chalkboard globe and stand

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my $3 thrift store globe

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time now, but I kept finding really NICE globes–and I just couldn’t do this to a NICE globe.

Then I found a great candidate in this $3 thrift store globe (months ago).    But then I had nothing to give it a better base.

I forgot all about my $3 flea market lamp base!  Oooops!

Anything would be better than this cheap plastic base–right?

my $3 thrift store globe

I know it’s probably difficult to see what I’ve done, but—

I used a hot glue gun to OUTLINE

just certain parts of the globe.

The United States, Canada, places our family has lived, places I’ve lived, places where other parts of our family live.  Places we’ve traveled to and places I’d like to travel to!  -ooops…looks like I’ve left out some places.

I was just having a lotta fun!

And then I painted my outlined globe with chalkboard paint!

Now can you see it–?!

my $3 thrift store globe OUTLINED and CHALKBOARD PAINTED!There’s the new base that will be used above!  (no more plastic)

I need to make a few modifications to join the globe and wood lamp base together, and then I need to “prime” the chalkboard paint so the globe has some patina to it—

quick as I finish, I’ll share the finished picture!

I have numerous projects going on simultaneously so be patient with me, they’re almost finished!


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I’ve been asked before, and again just recently with my hallway project,

“Why did you -or- how did you choose

the heights for your moldings/built-ins?”

It’s all about THE SPACE and MATH.  After years of construction, cabinet design, and design work in general–you have to bear in mind that I tend to be really sensitive to aesthetics, proportion, balance, and scale.

~Some say I’m just overly picky.  Aww–Thanks!



mom's back hallway--Starting with the simplest of projects firstMom’s back hallway.

A coat rail is perfect during cold weather for the overflow of coats!  Because it will be used mostly by the kids, I used their “reach” to determine the hook height—and therefore the top rail height for the board and batten I wanted to hang.

I used painter’s tape to mark off a hook line (according to the kids’ reach), and adjusted it aesthetically with/to the 6 paneled back door.

The board & batten, top rail & cap with 7 hooks landed at a comfy 5ft high.



Work on mom’s 2nd guest bedroom involved hanging bead board with a chair rail cap to cover over wall cracks that we’ve never been able to successfully repair.  And I wanted to hang wallpaper and have some fun with architectural millwork!

Finding a height –or HORIZON LINE.

Mom didn’t want to overwhelm the room with wallpaper so the visual horizon line had to be higher than the standard wainscoting-chair rail.

The windows gave the cues to find the new height/horizon line.

choosing a HORIZON LINEUsing painter’s tape to mark off a visual line on the walls, first at the bottom of the windowno, still too much wallpaper above.  I raised the tape to the middle of the window sashstill not quite right.  Then to the center point of the mullions and to a drapery line.

Taking all the visual cues into consideration, ultimately, the draperies decided it, plus they had a lacey top panel that lined up well with the mullions in the window.  But- the top of the drapes would leave too small a wallpaper area, so……

you can see by the “pointers” in the picture where the best visually-aesthetically-proportionate  balance fell…..and that’s how the bead board height was determined.


adding "texture"3.

I had been asked if there was “anything” to be done with this L  O  N  G,  boring hallwayI thought it was just desperate for “texture.”

It was unending with 7 doors opening into it.  Just being sassy, I thought about adding hotel room numbers to the doors.

I added picture frame molding.  Lots of it.

And a chair rail.


picture frame molding heightsThe 6 paneled doors gave some obvious cues to follow.

-I used the top line of the bottom/1st door panel–under the door knob to set the chair rail height.

-I used the bottom line of the middle door panel–above the door knob to set the bottom of the picture frame box.

-The difference between those two elements gave me a “fixed” distance for the ceiling-to-top of the picture frame boxes -and- between each box and door casings so everything is balanced.

Once everything was hung, puttied, caulked, sanded—it was ALL painted ONE color so it reads as wall TEXTURE.

panel molding painted


All of this leads up to mom’s
Hallway Bookcases,

which needs more explanation,

next post. . . .


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It was a busy weekend completing the board and batten molding all around.  It’s the perfect finishing touch AnD wrapping it around the new built-ins really connects the whole space.

upstairs hall and built-insI finished all the little detail work, cleaned up all the commotion of saw dust with the vacuum hose and brush –and restored the books.  I also got started on caulking the seams, but they’re not aLL done and there’s some light sanding to do too.  ~Ooops! Guess I was a bit premature with the vacuum.

But other than thAT–I’m finally painting–!


Oh–just one more thing to share.

You need this tool!I use this tool sO much in sO many ways.  An Oscillating Saw.

There are several attachment parts available for different tasks.  You can buy an expensive name brand saw–which I almost did about 4yrs ago, but instead, opted to buy this off brand from Harbor Freight for $25.  It came with the 3 most basic attachments–which I’ve already replaced from so much usage.

the right tool for the job--Above, you see how easy it was to fit the new base into place!  It’s the same easy application to re-cut a door jamb and casing when installing a new floor.

I found it was absolutely the best tool to cut my globes  in half.

It cuts through nails—so when I’ve nailed something together in a wrong placement, or I’m trying to deconstruct something I don’t want to the right tool for the job--stress too much, I can slip the thin blade in to cut the connections.  It’s also perfect for cutting loose those fixed shelves.

It made easy work of cutting out the dry wall when we moved the outlets in this project. . .

And I used it to make my in-place  free-hand  cuts for the incredibly complex compound cuts trimming out the bookcases. (I know~my putty job sucks!)

With the proper blade, it easily cuts through wood, metal, plastic, drywall–I even used it to cut rigid foam insulation working on the LL.

And (especially) for that Harbor Freight price. . .

this tool should definitely be in your Tool Box!


*can you believe. . .we’re back in a major snowstorm.  geesh.

the winter that won't END.









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 Okay, the Reader’s Digest version of this story is….
We moved to this little house at the end of my dad’s time in the Air Force.  Again, the house was little but they felt it had potential and raised the back roof line making the house a 1¾ story.  It made room for a much larger bedroom and bath (for my 3 big brothers to share), and an office for mom.
Our mother was a teacher.  Primarily here in the US, but even while our family was stationed in France.  42yrs.  Mostly in the parochial school system.  And that‘s why I’ve been doing all this work on her home–so she’ll have a worry-free comfortable home in retirement.

*This is a project from 2006

So–my dad built mom a private office

——where she could spread out ALL that teaching stuff.  Once retired though, I thought it would be wAy nicer to become a cozy library for her many books.  However, when (her brother) my Uncle Fred died and left his enormous Oz collection to her and there were so many incredibly valuable books–her library became more like a dedication to thatHence the eventual wall color.

*I would love to show you pictures of her in-use-teaching-office, but the computer and scanner aren’t  on speaking terms  right now~w e l l.

mom's office--

It’s a pretty nice room at 15’9″ x 10ft, and dad built-in the desk and closet to keep her organized.  One thing I learned about my dad’s construction–he built things to LAST.  I had the hardest time demo’ing it all down.  Seriously.

In addition to his built-ins, she had several store-bought DIY bookshelves and I thought they could be  salvageable.

mom's office--

becoming a library--

-After I got the room gutted I re-staged those existing bookshelves where the built-ins used to live.  See? Salvageable!

Yes, they are now the foundation to her NEW BUILT-INS!

. . . .use what you’ve got ba-bie!  ; D

becoming a library--I used spacers between the units to fit new front face frames, 2×6′s underneath to boost the height for 5½” base molding and to fit it to the ceiling with a 4″ crown, and I pulled the tower unit forward.  Paint and glaze brings it all together.

becoming a library--the Library--In summary of the rest of the room–

Everything remaining was gutted–like flooring and casings, and the electricians installed spot lights for me and moved outlets around.

I built a real closet, hung a 2nd layer of drywall around the perimeter ceiling to effect a “tray ceiling,” and installed a pair of new windows (custom on my specs) to look like french doors.  Then I re-cased the whole room with moldings salvaged from a razed farmhouse.

The above view is entering the room from the stairs-hallway.

Below shows entering from the adjoining bathroom.

the Library--

the Library--

Yes, that’s my compressor in the bottom corner of the photo, I’m still working in the hall on its built-in bookcases.  And I need to get crackin’ on some proper window treatments for this room!  Btw~the shelves are in disarray because we’ve been reviewing all the Oz books and selling some to other collectors.

With the actual closet in the room now, this is legally a 4th bedroom for resale.  Although I still think it’s greatest as a private office-library for the master bedroom, wouldn’t it make a convenient nursery too-?


the Library--I’m sharing this project–

I party with Remodelaholic

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I have been just d r a g g i n g trying to work on this project (or any other, for that) –seems I’m fending off….something.

And–I’m trying to double triple-task time sensitive issues.

It's THAT cold--One–my mother does NoT do construction mayhem well.  So while she is away from her home I’m working on the built-in bookcases.  She’ll be back on the 19th already.

Twoagain, my mother does NoT do construction mayhem well, so I’m also trying to make a few alterations/repairs in her bathroom, including switching her into an ADA toilet (very helpful after hip replacement).  But I’m having quite the search finding one based on the allotted space (1961 house) and the specs for those I’m finding so far.

And, Three–do we now live at the North Pole…brrrrr…it’s only 9° out. : \   Which seems almost heatwave-like after weeks of sub-zeros.  So I’m also dealing with heating issues in my [garage] work studio– *have to keep my saw motors from freezing or I’ll be dealing with other problems.

Yes–it’s THAT COLD OUT! ~our bandit-looking  letter-carrier.   It’s the worst winter that  just. won’t. endsigh.

After a week of side-steps, setbacks, interruptions, and one full day of ~surrender~ this is where the bookcases stand.

working on the built-in bookcases in the upstairs hall--My goal was to find remedy for a variety of issues in this project.

Fact:  Small‘ish Houses always need more storage.  And you can see I’m creating more under-seat/hidden storage here.  I thought this might be a great place to stash things like…luggage.

Another Fact:  There is only so much REAL USAGE to be found under a low-sloping ceiling.  The bookcase there was a pretty good use for mom’s vast collection, but was still wanting.  It was also a back acher to stoop over while looking through the books, so 1) I raised the shelf heights, 2)  I’m making taller shelves for all those over-sized books, and 3) a bench to SIT on more comfortably while you’re perusing those shelves.

The new built-ins will give a less cluttered look to the hallway now with the elimination of odd chairs and benches, and more room to put things away!  (And I think it will be another good re-sale point for her one day.)

….trying to get this finished  -and trying to stay warm….


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