Thursday, July 26, 2012

Spy Silhouette and White Board Project


Hey there, Homies!  Welcome back!!  I want to share with you a couple of projects that I completed over the last couple of weeks, the first of which I’m actually concerned about sharing.  In the wake of the recent senseless movie theatre massacre, I’m hesitant to promote this silhouette of my son holding a gun.  This project has been in the works for several weeks and my son is very proud of it.  He has also been very excited about the idea of me sharing it with you because it is oh-so-spy-like.  It is also a perfect addition to his spy room seen here: Tween Spy Room - my first ever blog posting.   I decided that, rather than explain to him about the tragedy and fill his mind with such disturbing news, we would go ahead with this post as planned.  I hope no one finds it offensive or insensitive.  It is certainly not meant as such.

The idea of a spy silhouette came to me when I was creating this spy-themed room.   But with the deadline of the spy themed birthday party quickly approaching, which was when he would reveal his new room to his friends, a few of the remaining projects got put on hold (and then forgotten about) until after the party. The spy room was already really cool without the last little projects completed, so I guess they ended up at the bottom of the priority list.  I like to do things in stages anyway so I can ponder different ideas before making a final decision.  At least that’s what I tell my husband when he kids me about not completing the last 5% of projects. 

Of course, the silhouette idea is not a new idea.  I remember my mom and grandmother having silhouettes of my brothers and sister hanging on their walls.  My siblings are all close in age, and their silhouettes were done at the same time, before I was born.  Don’t worry, I was not intentionally left out of the silhouette thing.  It’s all good!  I think silhouettes are just lovely, classic, traditional, and a great family heirloom.  And it’s AMAZING how much the profiles look like their subjects!  Over the years, I have also seen a lot of black wooden lawn silhouettes of animals, people, etc. - you know the ones - and they always make me smile.  So, I decided to try my hand at a silhouette cut-out of my little spy using 1/8 inch plywood (because I had a nice scrap of that in my scrap pile) - sort of like a lawn silhouette for inside the house!  I guess when my son grows out of the spy theme, I can always stand that guy out in the yard to ward off intruders! LOL
To make this guy, I started by taping a large piece of craft paper to the wall where I wanted the silhouette to hang. In this case, I wanted the silhouette to be facing the doorway and/or hallway, as if he were guarding the door.  What a messy magnet board hiding behind the door!!!


Next, I had my little spy-in-training stand in front of the paper.


After the shades were closed and the lights turned off, I positioned a flashlight to make the shadow fit onto the craft paper. I ended up having my son stand on a stool because, with the angle of the flashlight, only half of his legs were showing in the shadow and we wanted him to appear taller. My son wore one of his fedoras (Yes, he has more than one.  He’s so cool!) and held his cap gun for this spy silhouette. Although he’s wearing shorts, when I traced the silhouette, I made him appear to be wearing a trench coat.


After the shadow was centered on the craft paper, I took a pencil and outlined the shadow. Getting this boy to stand still was definitely the hardest part!  I finally had to put my hand on his shoulders to hold him still while I traced.


It wasn’t a perfect trace, so I just sketched in the parts that didn’t quite line up. If you don’t know this little guy, I can tell you that it is a perfect profile of his face. I was amazed at how much it looked like him!  So cool!

Next, I cut out the silhouette and placed it on the plywood, being careful to avoid knots and splits on the front and back of the plywood that might interfere with the jigsaw cuts.


When I got the silhouette placed where I wanted it, I used a few pieces of tape to keep it from moving around, and simply traced it onto the plywood with a pencil.


It just so happens that there was an outlet located in the spot we chose for the spy to stand (of course).  I traced over the outlet at the same time that I traced the silhouette just to get an idea of where it was, but my tracing lines weren’t perfect.  So I measured the distance of the outlet from the top of the baseboard, and measured the height and width of the outlet.  It’s nice to take photos so I don’t have to write down the measurements.  If I don’t do one of the two, I forget EVERYTHING by the time I make it back out to the garage.


Using a square tool against the side of the plywood to make sure the spy was standing straight and level, I drew the bottom of the silhouette which will sit atop the baseboard.


Then I slid the square tool up the plywood just a bit to mark the bottom of the outlet, and then marked the top of the outlet.  As you can see below, my original line from tracing was not straight. 


The next part stumped me for a minute.  I wanted to make sure the vertical lines of the outlet were straight and square.  Initially, I just held the square in place, but since one side of the square tool has a lip to hang over the side of a board, it didn’t sit flat onto the plywood and I was concerned the outlet hole would look like it was leaning.  Then I remembered we had another flat square tool (without the lip) and came up with this idea!


I kept the first square in place, aligned against the edge of the plywood, which I used to give me horizontal straight lines.  To get the vertical straight lines, I used the other flat square to lay flat against the first square.  I could have just used the flat square and eyeballed it, but this way was sure to give perfect 90 degree corners. 

After I had everything traced in pencil, I outlined it again with a Sharpie.  When cutting things out of wood, sometimes pencil marks become hard to see, especially when covered in saw dust.  Since this piece was going to be painted, the Sharpie marks were not an issue and made cutting much easier. 

Isn’t he cute?


I used a jigsaw to cut out the silhouette.  I learned the basics of using a jigsaw in a woodworking class I took once.  The main thing you need to know is that it cuts pretty much just in a straight line.  But you can cut slight curves if the curve is gradual.


Otherwise, you have to cut in sections.  In the photo below, when I got to the curve of the hand, I had to stop and come in from another angle. 


Some of the smaller areas that are hard to reach with the saw blade can be cut by simply making several small cuts perpendicular to the line you are trying to cut, instead of ON the line, until the piece is gone.  (Below).  I hope that makes sense.  Any rough areas can be sanded down.


At the end, some areas were impossible to cut because the jigsaw was bouncing the board so much that the jigsaw wouldn’t catch the wood and cut.  And the only place to hold the board steady enough for the blade to catch and start cutting was just too close to the jigsaw for me and I didn’t want to lose any fingers.  Drilling holes in the plywood allowed me a better, steadier place to start my cuts. 


That’s also how you start cutting out in the middle of a board, as opposed to starting at the edge, like when cutting out for the outlet hole below.


O.M.G.!  It looks just like him!


My little spy LOVES his spy shadow!  Let's not even talk about the hair, please.


Using various sanding tools, I sanded out the rough edges.


After a couple of coats of black paint, it was ready to hang. 

I drilled pilot holes in the silhouette so that the plywood wouldn’t split when I screwed it into the wall.  Also, I used my stud finder to determine where the studs were, which determined where the screws holes needed to be.


So now this spy shadow guards the door to the spy room.  I love how it turned out!  Now I'm thinking of some other cool things to cut out of plywood.  Just think of all the possibilities!!


The thing I like best about this spy shadow is that it reminded me of something that I hadn’t thought about in 10 years, and probably would have never thought about again if I had not worked on this project.  It was the day my son first saw his shadow when he was a toddler.  We were playing in the driveway and he looked up and saw his own shadow on the garage door.  He tried to walk away from it but it followed him and he got so scared and started crying.  Of course, I thought it was so funny, and thought he was so cute, and I tried to explain to him about shadows.  I made my shadow appear on the garage door too, and we jumped up and down and made our shadows do silly things.  After that, he liked shadows.  At bedtime, we learned to make shadows on the wall using our fingers and a flashlight.  I forgot all about that until now.  Sweet memories. 

Before I go, I’d like to highlight one other project in this room that was put on hold and that I can now mark off the list…..…….the white board. 


The white board idea was intended to camouflage the secret door to the weapon cache, making it look like “just a white board". 


I bought the white board kit when we modified the bed, at the beginning of the remodel, but it just didn’t get done.  I simply removed the door from the hinges so that I could lay it flat, taped off the area that I wanted to be a white board, mixed the product, and rolled it on.  This product has a pretty long dry time so I did give it about a month to dry, just to make sure it was cured.   We had some rainy weather which increases the cure time, and since that paint is quite smelly, I left it out in the damp garage to cure.  Then I simply used Velcro to attach the white board markers to the left side of the door – SO  NO ONE WOULD GET CONFUSED AND USE THE WRONG MARKER!


For some reason, the little notes I keep leaving on this board keep getting erased. Smile  I guess they're not very spy-like notes.

The last thing I have planned for this room is a storage/file cabinet for under the desk.  I’m on the lookout, I just haven’t found the perfect thing yet, in the perfect size, at the perfect price.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you like the way these little projects turned out as much as this Home Girl does.   Mission Accomplished!
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Kids Bathroom Remodel

We knew when we moved into our current house that the children’s bathroom would have to go bye-bye.  It was pretty bad.  Unfortunately, I did not take very good pictures of how bad it was, but it was bad.   The only pictures I do have are from our first visit to the house. The bathroom was in desperate need of updating, and the grime in here was just disgusting.

upstairs (3)

The shower doors kept falling off  (twice ON the kids WHILE they were bathing).   And there was so much black gunk on the shower door and I could not find a product capable of removing it. 

upstairs bath

The bathroom was outfitted with a lovely (not) shell sink and the walls had a coordinating shell stencil. The vanity was stained oak along with the t.p. holder, cup and toothbrush holders and towel bar. Then, there was a nice non-matching white storage shelf attached to the wall above the toilet.  I actually kept that white storage shelf and I’m planning on modifying it and using it in another way.  But that’s a whole other project.  Maybe this bathroom was cool at one time, but then again, maybe not.

So here’s where it gets good.  I still snicker just thinking about it.  My husband had to go out of town on business and was going to be gone for a couple of days. Sooooooooo.........can you tell where I’m going with this?  One early morning I was sipping my delicious coffee, staring at the ugly bathroom, and started wondering how long it might take for me to demo this nasty, little room. Hmmmm? I checked the time and thought how nice it would be if I could rip out the bathroom before the trash pick-up that day, which only gave me a couple of hours.   Then there would be no turning back if it all got taken to the dump before my husband got home.  Sneaky, huh?  Should I dare?  Of course!!!!  To make matters even more interesting, we were having house guests visiting within a couple of weeks, who would be using this bathroom.  I wanted them to have a nice, new, updated bathroom to use.  The race was on!

I quickly turned off the water under the sink and disconnected the pipes from the wall.  I scored the wall around the cabinet (where someone had painted the side - only the side - of the cabinet to match the walls (why do this?) with several coats of paint) an around the vanity top with a razor blade, and with a little muscle, I was able to pull the cabinet away from the wall.  I quickly carried it down to the end of the driveway, giddy at the fact that there would be no possible way to turn back if the trash collector took it all away.  Next came those shower doors.  After lifting the doors off the track (pretty easy since they kept falling off anyway), I removed the screws used to attach the frame to the wall, scored the caulk around the metal frame with my blade, and was able to pry it off pretty easily without damaging the tile.  Once the shower doors were removed, the shower tiles did have a few open screw holes in them but I filled them with white bathroom caulk.  The holes are now barely noticeable. They are way more visible in the photograph above than when actually standing in the bathroom. And as my grandmother would say, “Nobody would notice on a galloping horse.”

There was also a medicine cabinet on the side wall beside the sink that had seen better days.  Yucky stuff!  I wanted the new medicine cabinet to be over the sink, not beside it, so the old one had to go.  After unscrewing a few screws, it came right out!  It used to be where the print below (with the starfish) is hanging above the hand towel.  The new medicine cabinet that matched the new vanity ended up not working out because it stuck out too far from the wall, blocking the light from the new  light fixture.  In retrospect, maybe I should have just found a different light fixture, but the quality of the new medicine cabinet was not that great, and I couldn't find anything to replace it that was in stock, so I just went with Plan B - kept the light and ended up using a plain, beveled mirror instead of a medicine cabinet.


I do plan on adding a little glass shelf above the sink one of these days, after I install the tile backsplash that I’m planning to put behind the sink, or maybe even a mirror with a built-in shelf.  But for now, the cabinet under the sink holds the few toiletries that the kids use - toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, and a brush.   I also painted some hanging storage cubes black and hung them over the toilet (shown in first photograph) for additional storage.

The old bathroom also had a lovely (not) beat up vinyl floor. After removing all of the old baseboards, the floor came up easily. It was not glued so it was just a matter of lifting it up.  I did have to cut the vinyl floor around the toilet because the toilet was sitting on it and I decided to wait for my husband for the lifting of the toilet part.


Mission accomplished! I got all of the old bathroom stacked up at the end of the driveway just in time for the pick-up. And they took it all! No turning back now!!!! The look on my husband’s face when he came home to an empty shell (no pun intended) of a bathroom was PRICELESS!

The next part became a little more difficult.  Behind the door to the bathroom was this tiny, skinny door to the linen closet (not pictured but I’m sure you’ve seen them).  It was very hard to access, having to close the bathroom door first, then squeeze into this skinny door to reach a towel.  The door knobs would bang each other and it was really awkward in such a tiny space, not to mention that you couldn’t see anything in the closet because it was so dark.   When standing in the doorway of the closet, the light from over the sink would be blocked by my body.  I removed the door and door frame, and those wire shelves that I’ve grown to despise over the years, but the walls around the closet door had been built out with 2x4’s to hold the door frame, and they weren’t as easy to remove as everything else. I decided that I needed my husband’s help with that part as well.   I cannot believe I forgot to take photos of the demoed bathroom!  It looked like a bomb went off in there! 

After the demo, we had to patch the drywall where the doorframe had been, and lining that drywall patch up to the existing linen closet wall wasn’t as easy as I initially thought.  But it eventually worked out with a couple of filler boards and a little lot of drywall mud.  We also had to patch the wall where the medicine cabinet was, which was a piece of cake after the linen closet ordeal.

After the walls were patched, I tiled the floor with this beautiful 18x18 travertine tile below.

It’s kind of a funny story……well, it’s funny now.  We didn’t find it AT ALL amusing at the time.  After laying out all of the tiles to get a good look at them  and their color variations (travertine is a natural stone so each tile is different), I decided to make this checker board pattern.  I measured and drew a grid of the floor and tile pattern, positioned each tile for my pattern, numbered them on my drawing, then labeled each tile with it’s corresponding number with a piece of painter’s tape.  Then, we rented a big tile cutting wet saw, removed all the tiles that needed cutting (there were only about 4 tiles that didn’t need a cut), made the first cut and then a storm came and knocked out our electricity for 8 days!!!! Eight WHOLE days!!!!!   Our house guests ended up coming the next weekend anyway for their scheduled visit, and even though we had no power, we still had a nice time together…..with candles, flashlights, coolers and the grill.  Luckily the temperature outside was perfect for an 8 day power outage!

When renting tools, it can be pretty costly for the bigger ones.  So, we were trying to be smart and thrifty about it and have everything ready for the saw so that we could return it quickly to keep the cost down.  Even though the tool rental store regained their electricity way before we did, they let us keep the saw until our power was restored.  In an effort to return the saw as quickly as possible, we decided to cut all the tiles first and dry fit them into the bathroom.  This is not the typical or recommended way to do it because you can run into the problem of laying the tiles back down with thin set, and then being a tad bit off and the outer tiles not fitting.  Keeping this in mind, I was very careful to start the center tile on the lines that I had drawn onto the cement backer board and was very careful to use spacers between the tiles.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot, before tiling, we screwed 1/8 inch cement board down to the plywood subfloor.  Some people say you don’t really have to do this, but this IS a bathroom, and my kids DO get water on the floor, and I’m pretty sure water would have eventually seeped through the stone and grout and rotted the subfloor.  Plus, it helps the stability of the floor, minimizing movement of the tile and grout, therefore minimizing the chance of cracks in the tile or grout.  It’s an easy inexpensive step than can save you time and money in the long run.

It took me an entire day just to lay that tile, and let me tell you, that’s some heavy stuff to lay!  My arms and shoulders (and the rest of my body for that matter) were definitely feeling it for a couple of days.  My husband came home from work looking all handsome and clean in his dress clothes, just as I was laying the last tile.  I was worn out, filthy, sweaty and my hair was a mess, and the first words out of his mouth were “Those tiles aren’t lining up right!”  GRRRRRR!  Let me just say, it’s a good thing I couldn’t lift my arms anymore that day!  As you can see in the photo above, there is one measly place that didn’t line up perfectly.  But I have seen much worse jobs from professionals.  And did I mention that the quote just to LAY this particular tile (I already had all of the materials) in this teeny, tiny bathroom was $800!!!!!    Just to lay it!!!!  The place that didn’t line up perfectly is in front of the toilet, which is under the fishy rug, and  I bet you didn’t even notice in the first floor picture.  Did you?  Anyway, nobody will notice on a galloping horse…….. and I saved $800.  


After the floor was down, we installed the upgraded baseboard below.  Before installing it, I painted it glossy ultra white, along with the bathroom door.  The ceiling got bright white ceiling paint.

And I picked up this Euro-style vanity/sink below at Home Depot for a very reasonable price.

And the kids just LOVED this faucet!


I also found the light fixture on the clearance table at Lowe’s for just a few bucks, and installed it myself.  It's nothing special, but it's better than the Broadway make-up lights that were there before.


The hubby installed lighting over the linen closet………………………………….

…………………………and lighting over the tub.

The lighting over the tub was really important because, after hanging the home-made shower curtain below, there was not much light in the shower.   I fell in love with this outdoor fabric when I saw it a few years ago in a fabric store in Louisville, KY, so I decided to make a shower curtain out of it.  

IMG_5800 - Copy

The reason I wanted the shower curtain really high was to make the room appear taller and larger, but you just can’t find shower curtains that long.   It’s also hard to find shower liners that long, so when I see them, I usually buy two or three so I can change them out when they start getting yucky.

So, to make the shower curtain, I measured out the length that I wanted, pinned the fabric in place, and hand stitched it using red thread while watching t.v. one night.  I then added grommets for hanging it by using a simple grommet kit.  I love how it turned out!!!  I took the shade of lime green paint on the walls from the shower curtain. It’s hard to photograph this color with my camera.  In some of the photos, the color shows up much brighter than it really is. 

My husband also built these floating shelves that I designed for linen closet.  The way I photographed it, the shelves look crooked, but they ARE level.  Yep, he’s a handy man to have around, when he has the time.   I try not to keep him too busy on the weekends, because he works so hard during the week at his hectic job.   And the paint is not THAT green!  Holy Cow, I can hardly look at that photo!  It literally makes my eyes water!


I found this European-style towel holder below at IKEA, which I think goes well with the Euro-style sink.  The toilet paper holder and hand towel hook are from the same line as the towel holder.


The last little detail in this room is the art work. (OMG, I just noticed my reflection in the pic below!  Maybe I need a photography class!!) 

These framed fishy prints are actually photographs of the walls in our children’s previous bathroom. 

I e-mailed them to my brother and he printed them for me with his fancy, schmancy printer. 

These art pieces are very sentimental to our children because they didn’t really want to move to our current house when we were relocated here for my husband’s job.  We had only been in our previous house for exactly two years, and moving to THAT house had been a difficult move for the kids as well.  Prior to our previous house, we had been living in Sweden in our previous, previous house, and we uprooted our little family to move back to the USA just in time for our son to start kindergarten.  He had to get used to everyone speaking English, because all of his other friends spoke Swedish, and it was just a big transition for him all together.  Our daughter was 1 1/2 when we moved back to The States, and was REALLY confused with the whole language thing, hearing me speak English, my son and his friends speaking Swedish, and my husband speaking Danish to our Danish friends who were living in Sweden at the time, and I was afraid she was never going to talk!  No worries.  She eventually did. 

In an effort to make our new home in the US a place that the kids would love, I concentrated first on giving them really cool bedrooms.  So, after painting my son’s room one day to look like a castle, I went to put my paint cans and brushes back in the unfinished bathroom that was located between the kids’ bedrooms.  I was using the unfinished bathroom to store supplies at the time.  For some reason, I took my paint brush and wiped the excess paint onto the unfinished wall of the bathroom before rinsing my paintbrush.  The place where I wiped my paint brush sort of looked like a fish, and an idea was born.  The kids and I spent the next few months painting the walls of this unfinished bathroom, little by little, and we eventually added the flooring, baseboard, sink and toilet.  All of the fish that I painted were imaginary, and my son painted a few that he just thought up too.  We didn’t look at any photographs of fish, we just painted.  And then I ended up buying a sea-themed stencil for the kids use to paint some smaller schools of fish, to fill in some of the bare areas.  This bathroom ended up being the kids’ pride and joy!   So when we relocated AGAIN, they wanted their fishy bathroom in the new house too!  ARG!  As fun as it was the first time, I wasn’t ready for it again.  There can be only ONE fishy bathroom!  This is what their old bathroom looked like!


Luckily, I took lots of photographs of the previous house before we left so we could look back at them one day….....…and laugh!


Crazy, I know! 


But they LOVED it! 


They weren't yet tall enough to see themselves in the mirror above the sink, so we had to improvise with a port hole mirror that I spray painted silver to match the fixtures.  Also, the two hand towel hooks (each child had their own towel) were held by the eight-clawed crab in the top left corner above.  That room was hilarious!  You couldn’t help but smile when you were in there!!

I’m sure the new owners had a few choice words for me when they were trying to paint over it.  No smiles there, I’m sure! 

So, that’s why the fishy prints in their current bathroom are so sentimental to them.  I didn't tell them my plan of printing and framing the photographs and just surprised them one day.  Luckily, the prints of the old bathroom were enough to make them love the new bathroom too.

I haven’t been as adventurous with our master bath yet, because what I really want to do in there will cost a fortune.  It’s amazing though at what just a gallon of paint did for that room.  And I do have a little something-something exciting going on in the master bath that I can't wait to show you soon.  But that’s another story.   

Well homies, as always, thanks for reading. Maybe you’ll be inspired to rip out your old, outdated bathroom one day too! Just do it!!!! 

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