Office Chair Makeover

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The Before…

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…and the After!

I think it’s from the 50s or 60s. The shape of the chair was around for many decades, I think, but the back rest and seat are a sandwich construction of a wood frame and plywood covers, and somehow that and the metal bits just suggest that era to me. Honestly though, I have no idea. Do share if you have some knowledge of this type of chairs! 🙂

At first I thought to use either a green or grey fabric, but the green fabric is a bit thin and the grey seemed dull when I’d looked at it for a while. I had some durable white canvas left over from the sofa project and figured I’ll just use that for now. I think I’ll sew a slipcover from the green – that way it’s easier to replace if it’s too thin to handle the use.

Here’s a tutorial on how I upholstered this chair! 🙂 Hope you like it!

Peacock Pillows

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The peacock tapestry I thrifted a couple weeks ago turned into pillows! It was super easy, too. The tapestry already had a separate fabric backing, which I cut in half along the middle line. Then I zigzagged 2 seams next to each other on the tapestry side and cut it between them, so that the edges wouldn’t fray. Then I sewed zippers to the cut edges. All done! 🙂

Renovation: Assembling the Kitchen!

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Right. So, after we had the old kitchen taken down and finished the new walls we could start assembling the new kitchen! I bought the cabinets and doors from Ikea – I’ve been happy with my previous Ikea-kitchens, they look nice and are very good value for money.

That nook that extends from the wall outwards was a challenge: it’s only 172 cm high. It had the fridge-freezer combi and that fit nicely, so I decided to stick with that. Another challenging point was that the lower cabinets needed to be extended from the wall about 8 cm in order to fit the plumbing there: my counter needed to be at least 70 cm deep. The normal depth is 62 cm, but a lot of places sell 80 cm deep counters for islands and such. The only problem was length – my counter is 3,20 m long. Apparently you can buy countertop materials in 62 cm for up to 400 cm long sheets, but the 80 cm deep sheets tend to extend to maximum 300 cm.

Since there was going to be a seam anyway (there was no way I was gonna shell out the cash for a MTM Corian counter!), I figured I could try something out. Plywood is relatively cheap and looks awesome, and it has held up nice with the Osmo wax in the table I made a couple of years ago. So I got a couple of sheets of the thickest birch plywood and we cut them to form on site.

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Plywood can be tricky to saw, mmkay. Any sawblade needs to be very sharp, and at least for circular saws there’s special plywood blades with a lot of small teeth. If you use an electrical jigsaw, like we did on the cutouts for the sink and the stove top, don’t use any forward motion in the blade. That will splinter the plywood. Some people recommend putting tape to the intended saw line and sawing through that, which might have helped. I only saw this tip after we had already finished the counter… 🙂 Anyway, no forward motion on the blade with very slow and careful forward motion with the saw did the trick for us.

Here you can also see the scaffolding we attached to the wall behind the cabinets. It extends the cabinets so that they can be attached to the wall as intended, but the plumbing has space underneath. Also the top cabinets are attached to the wall via scaffolding. That allows room for electrical wirings and whatnot, and it was easier to attach just 2 long scaffoldings to the concrete wall. The cabinets were much easier to attach to the scaffolding, in turn…

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Starting to take shape… the empty spot in the middle is for the dishwasher.

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Sanding the countertop would have been easier on top of another table, but we had already attached this in order to measure and cut out holes for the sink and stove top. The sides of the holes, especially for the stove top, were thin and we were scared to break the counter top if we moved it.

The cut outs are lined with a marine silicone/glue to keep any water out of the plywood. After attaching the sink (more silicone/glue and the snippets that are screwed in), I waxed the counter with Osmo products just like I did with the table. I’ve been using the kitchen for about 7 months now, and it seems I need to put another coat of the wax on… but this was to be expected. My friend has waxed their counter with the same products and she told me they needed to rewax a couple of times the first year and yearly after that.

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And here it is in all it’s glory! 🙂 The top cabinets are lined with plywood, I think that gives the outside a nice finish. I was a bit worried about placing the oven next to the fridge, but I’ve been cooking a lot and following how it behaves, and there seems to be very little escape heat on the sides of the oven. There’s plenty air space behind the oven and some between it and the fridge too.

I finished the back edge of the countertop with some more silicone/glue and a U-shaped aluminium profile. My first idea was to put glass next to the wall to protect the wallpaper, but I didn’t like the look of it. So I painted the wallpaper with a couple of coats of clear laqcuer. I figured I’ll see how long it lasts… So far it’s held up nice! I just wipe any spills with a damp cloth and they haven’t left stains.

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The oven, stove top , fridge, microwave (in the left cupboard) and faucet are from the old kitchen, so I only had to buy the dishwasher, extractor hood and sink. I dreamt of a new faucet, but the nice ones tend to cost a pretty penny. My plumber warned me against Ikea faucets, he had heard of a lot of leaks with them. In the end I figured I could update the faucet later.

The washing machine I had bought for my old place, so that didn’t add to the costs either. It needs so much extra space behind it that I can’t get a door to cover it, because the plumbing eats away what extra I had behind there. I’ve been thinking of a curtain to cover it up, but it doesn’t really bother me as it is, either, so that hasn’t been a high priority.

The parts aside from the plywood counter and finishings are Ikea, but the design and the magic to put them together is all my talented friends and me! I can’t even begin to say how happy I am with the new kitchen! It’s much more functional and pretty now!! 🙂

Renovation: the beginning

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Having my own place is still a fresh, new thing for me. I’ve lived in many places after I moved out of my parents, but always rented. Come last summer, I found myself signing a lot of documents to state that I, for realsies, owned my own castle! Granted, it is an apartment, but it sure felt like a castle to me! Finally, an opportunity to renovate! I could paint at whim! I could pick out the materials and colors and whatever I felt like!

Well, reality soon presented itself in the form of  financial constraints. Then I was obsessing over different solutions, planning and budgeting… In the end, I think I found a pretty good balance. My friends and I did a lot ourselves, but I hired a professional where that was safer (and required: mainly plumbing and electricity).

I ended up with a big reno, including:

– Taking down walls

– Changing the layout of the kitchen (thus moving the pipes and plumbing)

– Rewiring most of the electricity and adding a lot of sockets

– Changing the floor (and lists)

– Painting the window frames, walls and ceilings

About the only places I haven’t changed are the bathroom and the closet. And the closet is on the to do -list… 🙂

I love reading about other renovations in the Internet. Numerous blogs have been a great resource of knowledge for both planning and execution and an endless well of inspiration. I hope my (soon to begin 🙂 renovation story might help someone as well!

Greenery

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My window garden is looking a bit threadbare after a big harvest.  Right now it’s just lettuce and thyme along some non-edible greenery. Lately there’s been enough sunlight, but during the Finnish fall, winter and early spring some extra light is necessary to keep plants growing… I got a Kekkilä Vihervalo -grow light a while ago to be able to grow fresh greens all year round!

I like to freeze my overstock of herbs with oil in ice cube forms. They’re easy to add to food as needed and the flavors stay nice and fresh!

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Tutorial: plywood table with HAY trestles

 

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I fell in love with the HAY Loop Stand Table, but my wallet wasn’t too happy about the price. The table was simply too much, but the trestles were more affordable… 2 years ago this table seemed like a big project, but a bit of DIY attitude and curiosity goes a long way: it was rewarding and I definitely learned a lot!

The local timber center (Puukeskus for my finnish readers) sells birch plywood in 2 sheet sizes: 122×244 cm or 150×300 cm. You’ll have to buy the whole sheet, and they will cut it to size (straight cuts) for a minimal fee. I got the 21 mm, and the thickest they have is 24 mm.

After calculating, pondering and taping outlines to the floor I figured I wanted the dimensions to be about 100×180 cm. I recommend you get the shop to cut it for you with professional equipment. Plywood can be tricky to saw – and we’re talking a table here, it’s pretty important to get the edges just so!

I wanted the trestles to sit about 20 cm from the ends, and that left me with a span of 140 cm in between. Now that’s so much that the table will sag and sway unless you rigidify it.

This is where the project got tricky. I didn’t come to think the plywood sheet would sag and I wasn’t prepared for it. Now I know better – one thing I like about crafting is you get to solve puzzles like this. It can be a brain jog, but that feeling when the pieces click is ah-mazing! 😀

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This project clicked when I was hanging out at a hardware store. I didn’t want to add a ton of lumber under the table. I mean, it’s supposed to look very light and airy! And then I saw the solution: the Elfa wall mount rail was perfect for the job! It’s rigid enough without much bulk, sold in various lengths (anything between about 120 and 140 cm was good for me), has holes for the screws and comes in white! Hurrah!

The support and legs screwed in for stability (remember to select your screws carefully, so you don’t puncture the top of the plywood!), it was time to sand and coat the surface. I started with some 80- or 100-grit on an orbital sander and worked my way up to 240. Brush the dust from the surface between sandings.

Before the last sand I wiped the surface with a damp, almost wet cloth. This makes any remaining small fibers stand up from the plywood and once the surface is dry again, you can sand those away. I find this gives a smoother finish.

I used Osmo Color Wood Wax in White and Clear. I wanted an “untreated” plywood look but also a usable finish to protect the wood. That’s where the white tint comes in handy: if you just use a clear wood wax or oil, you’ll end up with a yellow tint in the birch – the kind of “oiled wood” look.

Working with the wax is easy, if you’ve sanded the surface smooth (also the sides and underneath!). I like to use a non-woven cloth, but an old t-shirt can work just as well. The trick is to add very little at a time, and to rub it in along the direction of the grain. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the grain direction in plywood, which makes it harder to get the color even. I watched the How to -videos in finnish, but I found some in english, too.

Just remember: with the tinted version any and all stripes or dots visible on the surface will stay like that, if you let them dry. I like to take a fresh piece of cloth to buff the surface a few minutes after I’ve spread the coat. Thin coats are OK, you don’t need much for a good seal with this stuff!

In the top photo you can see I only did about 15-20 cm under the table – I don’t think there’ll be too many spills that get under there, so I got lazy. I venture to guess things might be different if I had kids around… If in doubt, finish the underside as well! 🙂

A thin coat dries enough to re-apply in about 4 hours or more, if it’s very humid or cold. After 2 or 3 coats of the tinted wax I’ve let it dry for a day or two before adding the clear top coat(s). Aftercare is very important: I don’t put anything on the surface for at least 24 hours after it’s finished. I also protect the surface for about a week before using it heavily, since the wax will need time to harden. The wax will protect against liquids beautifully, but the wax (or the plywood) can’t handle direct heat, so use coasters for hot things!

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Here you can see the difference between finished and untreated plywood. On this table I did 2 white coats and 1 top coat.

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it! 🙂