Doors to be Opened

Door #1: Laura’s Door
After I had seen a repurposed door on Pinterest, I became fairly obsessed in creating my own version of an entryway piece made from an old door. I found what I thought would make a suitable start at our local Country Pickins antique store. The door was solid, had nice hardware, a good $50 price tag, and had a lovely mirror. Hannah and I put our heads together and began thinking of pieces around the house and at our home decor stores to become shelves, baskets, and hooks. We used corbels from Hobby Lobby in a large size to form the base or stand for the door. The smaller corbels worked perfect as a support for what once was our magazine holder on our coffee table. Instant shelf! We found the wrought iron piece to add as an additional storage bin and the crown shelf to hold vases, pictures, concrete objects, and candles. The combination of wood, metal, and concrete seems to be forever appealing to us! The door was lightly sanded, cleaned, and painted a dark grey. We distressed the edges by simply wiping off excess paint. The hooks, crown, and wrought iron piece were purchased at our local beloved Sandstone Gardens. They were all attached with wood screws and metal staples. It can be decorated for every season and holiday. So far, just halloween, but looking forward to doing it up big for Christmas!
Laura

Door #2: Hannah’s Door
I also purchased a vintage door to repurpose into a leaning mirror for my bedroom. Mine was only $20, but it also didn’t have a mirror and was painted baby blue. I painted it a cream shade and even allowed some of the blue to show through then applied and quickly wiped off a little bit of umber glaze to give it a distressed feel. I had a mirror cut to size (about $10) then cut wood trim at 45 degree angles with our handy miter saw to form a frame for the mirror making it look as though that’s the way it’s always been. A beautiful stained glass angel made by my aunt and a hook for scarves and whatnot make this mirrored door perfectly gorgeous and functional. Just don’t look on the backside because that’s still baby blue.
Hannah

Perking Up the Deck

After our entire focus had been centered around redoing the bathrooms, our deck was looking tired, sad, and unrecognized. So our Labor (intensive) Day Weekend was spent refinishing the back deck. Hiram, our all-knowing, God-sent gift of a handy man, recommended Cabot sealer to reinvigorate the wood. We chose a deep brown semi-transparent stain called Cordovan Brown. It was power washed with cleaner, allowed to dry for a week or more, and stained using a brush for the rails and between the slats and a roller for the planks. We love the look of an outdoor rug, but hate the feel, smell, and overall nastiness of an outdoor rug. We chose to stencil one straight on to the deck. Best of both worlds, right? Rosie disagrees. She can’t quite grasp why it looks comfortable, but doesn’t feel comfortable. She’ll adjust. 20130928-220551.jpg 20130928-220720.jpg 20130928-220744.jpg

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Halloween

Trick-or-treat! The first day of fall means it’s time to start decorating for Halloween. This year, we are big into branches, crows, burlap, metallic pumpkins, candelabras, and all things glitzy-gothic. There isn’t much more to say about this, but lots of eerily lovely photos. Happy Halloween!

Bathroom Renovations: Concrete Vanities and Bathtub Surround

I’m going to start this story by saying up front that this tutorial is meant to supplement other more in-depth how to videos and articles. (See https://leavingourtrail.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/how-to-pour-and-install-concrete-countertops-in-your-kitchen/ for greater detail). The kitchen countertops were a learn as you go type of project. It was the first time we had delved into the world of power tools, melamine, templates, and the medium of concrete. The bathroom vanities, on the other hand, were a “we kind of think we know what we’re doing” kind of project. We jumped in with all the confidence that finishing the kitchen countertops could bring…

The ugly green cultured marble tub surround and vanity top in the master bathroom were reason enough to start the bathroom concrete. Sadly, it was I who picked the hunter green, mauve, and baby pink cultured marble tops back in 1991. (Who could have known those colors wouldn’t make it to ’98?) We had originally only planned on doing the master bath, but my thought process was, if we were going to do one bath, why not do the guest bath, Hannah’s bath and a half powder bath while we were at it. What’s one, two, three more molds while we we’re already here. The demolition was therapeutic to say the least. Getting the marble out in one piece was not an option weight, shear size, or strength wise. We opted for brute force and a sledgehammer. Actually, a regular hammer an old towel to cover flying pieces and safety goggles were enough to do the trick. Only one narrow tub surround piece was stubborn enough to only be removed by the sheer strength of our handyman, Hiram. Otherwise we were able to break the marble into small enough pieces and haul it downstairs.


The next step required making precise templates of the tub surround. The marble was laid in five different pieces so that’s what we did with the concrete. We made sure the templates matched the exact dimensions prior to cutting the melamine. The templates were made using 3 inch strips of luan and our trusty glue gun.

After the templates were flipped, laid on the melamine, and traced, we cut the melamine to size using our circular saw, table saw, and jigsaw. We fit the melamine pieces back in around the tub prior to building the sides of our molds to ensure a nice fit. I’ll admit this did require some up and down and back and forth to the saw to get it right. We were not as concerned at the wall because backsplash would cover any imperfections. The seams, however, needed to be snug. The master vanity was nearly 98 inches long. We decided to build two molds and make a seam straight down the middle. I would do it all over again the same way. The templates were still prepared on site to ensure that all wall imperfections were met. Again, the templates are flipped on the melamine, traced out, and the melamine cut. We had wiggle room again, though, because backsplash would cover the wall edges.

We made the vanities 2 inches thick therefore our sides were made with 2 3/4 inch strips of melamine. The tub surround finished concrete was 3/4 of an inch thick, therefore those side pieces were cut 1 1/2 inches to accommodate the 3/4 inch base of melamine. All sides were built using 1 1/2 inch screws and pre drilling. The sides were caulked using 100% silicone in black to see it well. The templates were done in the same manner for the guest bath, Hannah’s bath, and powder bath. If you’ll notice in the powder bath, the template was built to accommodate the angle of the wall. Why not customize it if you’re building a template. No backsplash here…..our measurements had to be right on!

We purchased over mount copper sinks and cut the foam knockouts a 1/2 inch smaller in diameter. So lovely not to worry about getting that foam cut to perfection. Our sink edges hid all tiny imperfections! The faucet knockouts were built using a foam swimming noodle (great idea, Hannah!) cut at 1 1/2 inches and a wooden dowel cut at 1/2 inch. This gave us our 2 inch depth of the concrete plus ample room to maneuver tools to reconnect the plumbing.


After all the molds were built, we established a pouring day, rented a two bag cement mixer, bought powder grout stain, bought 10 bags of Quickrete countertop concrete mix, and set forth. We used Solomon brand for the grout stain. We purchased deep brown and dark buff. One cup grout was used per 1 80 pound bag of concrete. We mixed the powder with hot water prior to adding it to the dry concrete. A pudding consistency was established prior to pouring into the mold. The molds were covered with plastic and allowed to dry for two days. Another 5 days completed the drying time.

Hannah and I slurried the holes in the concrete with Portland cement stained the same color. We then sealed with a product called Z SiACRYL 14 which we purchased from Z countertops online. 2 light coats and the matte finish we were going for was achieved.

The countertops can look wet when water gets on them, but they dry nicely. No stains thus far! We applied clear silicone to the base of our cabinets prior to installing the concrete. The clear silicone was also used as our seam in the master bath vanity and at the seams of the tub surround. I like the look.

I credit Hannah with doing all the plumbing reconnections. We both get credit for fixing leaks by learning the value of a nice fitting wall tail pipe! Finesse is definitely more important than strength in plumbing!
So there you have it….4 bathrooms for the price of one 2 bag cement mixer. FYI, I have since bought my very own Kobalt cement mixer. Love it!

Master Bath

Guest Bath

Hannah’s Bath

Powder Bath

Concrete Planters

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As I mentioned in my “Window Shelves” post, we decided to scrap the idea of hanging the concrete planters as window boxes and instead set them on the front porch. In keeping with the colonial/Tuscan/French country/shabby chic theme of our home, (Didn’t know those all went together? We think they do) we decided to add a personalized touch in the form of a family crest. My Grandfather’s family comes from a small town in Italy called Arienzo. I figured that we must have a large coat of arms that could be proudly displayed in our Missouri home…Nope. imageTurns out our family cleaned the chamber pots of those families with crests. So I was left to my own devices to develop one. Very simply, I used puff paint on a cardboard cut out. It was then glued to the inside of the planter mold. It has to mirror the image of what you want it to look like; a lesson learned the hard way. The images in the crest stand for the mountains of Arienzo, the year my grandparents were married (1943), a crescent moon representative of my grandmother’s hometown of Crescent, OK, and a tree with branches corresponding to all the daughters and grandchildren.

It all sounds great in theory, but in reality we wish it would have come out better. The concrete we used was too rocky and therefor couldn’t take the shape of the small indention. You win some, you lose some. However, it takes on a bit of an ancient castle ruin look and we prefer to just pretend like we planned that all along.

Bottom line, we’re pleased with the outcome. Read on for more in depth instructions. Happy Wednesday!

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The basic construction of the molds in which to pour the concrete was the same as we’ve used in our concrete counter projects. See https://leavingourtrail.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/how-to-pour-and-install-concrete-countertops-in-your-kitchen/ for the steps to building the mold. The differences in the planter versus the counter are as follows:

1. It’s poured into the mold right side up. It cures as it will look when the sides are taken off.

2. Two boxes are made per planter. The larger outer box forms the outside walls of the planter while the inside box acts as a barrier, filling the rectangular void in the center where the soil and flowers will eventually sit. We built both boxes out of melamine, but looking back it would be a much easier task to use foam rectangles (easily cut with a jigsaw) to create the inner void. Each rectangle could be hot glued on top of each other to the height of the outer box. The bottom and sides could be taped with packaging tape to prevent sticking. The 2 inch thick foam is readily available at home improvement stores and would be easier to remove at the and of the project too.The 2 boxes should be level to each other on top to allow for easy screeding of the excess concrete.

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3. Make drainage holes in the bottom. When pouring the concrete, prior to setting the inside box into the outer mold, you will pour the concrete into the bottom of the outer box to your desired thickness. We made ours the same thickness as our sides. To form the drainage holes and give the inside box something to rest on as it cures, we cut small rectangles of melamine to the desired bottom thickness by about 2inches and siliconed (new verb?) them to the very bottom of the planter. Fill the bottom with concrete to their exact height then set in your inside box on top. The concrete will then form around these leaving small slots for water drainage.image

4. Pack the sides. You’ve inserted your inner box on top of the bottom layer of cement, now time to begin filling what will be the walls of your planter with concrete. imageCareful not to let the inner box shift to the side as you fill it causing one side to become thinner than the others. I recommend making the concrete mix a slightly thinner consistency so that it is able to fill in all gaps easily. I’d say pudding would be a good consistency comparison, as opposed to the countertops peanut butter thickness. One mistake we made was using regular bags of Quickrete concrete instead of the Quickrete 5000 or the countertop mix. The regular mix had more rocks than some of the nicer counterparts and the aggregate didn’t allow for easy filling and caused more air bubbles in the finished product than we would have liked. Air bubbles = cracks down the road. Don’t forget to used the handheld sander or even taps with a mallet on the outside of your molds after pouring to bring air bubbles to the surface. As with the counters, we used a deep brown grout stain mixed into the concrete.

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Don’t be afraid to use your pry bar (within reason) when it’s time to remove the molds. They won’t come off without some strength and manhandling. We struggled to get the bottom piece of melamine from the inner box to come out so, rather than risk damage to our precious planters, we decided to just leave it and let it deteriorate over time. Hence, our newly recommended idea of using foam. Do as I say, not as I do.

We can’t say they’re perfect by any means, but they get the job done and look pretty in the process. What more can you ask for? Except maybe a family crest…