Catching Up – DIY Fails

I didn’t realize until this Thanksgiving weekend, that I haven’t updated in a while. Here are a couple items that had to be redone.

Last time I updated on this chair, it wasn’t complete. For months, I started at the incomplete chair, at all the wrinkles, and finally decided that I had to get it professionally done.

It cost a pretty penny but it was well worth it and Floyd definitely approved.


Another lesson learned, was using the wrong moulding. I thought using MDF type pieces would be best because they had nice, rounded corners. What I didn’t realize was on exterior doors, and how it can affect the integrity of the moulding. In my case, the door to the backyard had to be redone.

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I bought wood (real wood) a few months ago and just found the time to finally install them. Eventually all exterior doors will have this trim and then I’ll be slowly replacing the interior doors I had previously replaced.

Still needs caulk and then touchup paint but it should not expand like the previous pieces.

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A Do-Over on the Fireplace

A couple years ago, I redid my fireplace and everything seemed okay. Fast forward to most recently when I realized the faux beam was actually coming off the wall.

I had to do something before it caused an accident so I started to research on an entire surround piece and over the weekend, finally put it up.

First I had to take down the old piece. I did save the reclaimed wood to be used in future projects.

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Once it was up, I was going to leave it until the morning but the two toned thing was driving me crazy so I primed it. (Only, I didn’t use real primer, I used some ceiling paint since it was super-duper flat.)

The next morning I painted it a smoky navy color (Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore).

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Paint was still drying when I took this picture but it is done and looks pretty cool. I wanted the unexpected pop of color to make it less traditional.

Techie House – Take Two

So last week I blogged about how I installed the Wink Hub to the house and how it was a pretty easy system to set up. I must have jinxed myself because that very night, my system went offline for a few hours (even though my internet connection was working fine). Once it was working again, it just wasn’t the same—the lights I had set up on a schedule no longer came on and when I tried to fix it, it wouldn’t work.

I ended up getting the Samsung Smartthings Hub. Originally, this was my top choice but it wasn’t available when I was ordering (and I was under a time constraint). IMG_5982

This seems to be a much better product, but it isn’t necessarily a plug and play item which was how the Wink had appeared to be. Unlike the other product where I was able to pick the hub close to the switch to have it connect, this new product required a thought process (more on that below).

All my smart products I’ve bought used Z Wave technology (language? protocol?) and were both Wink and Smartthings compatible. They were all available at the two big box stores so that was how I ended up with this small network of things.

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This hub itself had to be tethered to my router so I couldn’t move it around like the other one. This led to me initially only connecting two items but my other ones weren’t working. It was also probably due to the fact that they had been connected to the Wink hub prior and needed to be reset.

I tried to connect more items by using a 25′ Cat 5 cable to get the hub closer to the switches but it was to no avail and actually packed it up with the intent to return it back to Amazon. (I also tried to get the Wink going back again but absolutely NOTHING worked this time around so it got returned today.)

I decided to do some research because I knew not everybody had Cat-5 wired throughout their homes so there had to be some solution out there. As it turned out, there was. The technology I chose (Z Wave) can be visualized as a “mesh” type of coverage. If I pictured where I had my connections (one on one side of the house and the other was across the way), there were obvious bare spots here I didn’t have coverage. The further I moved away from the hub without some sort of switch or outlet (to repeat or extend the signal), the less effective it was.

It was also recommended that I start connecting the closest items to the hub first and then the farther ones later, which made sense. It wasn’t just for this controller; it was for Z Wave items. (even with another product like a new Wink or Vera Edge–which I had also considered), it was best to do the same thing. I bought a switch for a ceiling fan and then one plug in switch for my laptop which helped to expand the coverage. I’m still down to 2 light switches but I’m hopeful that I can get them to connect.

 

The Beginning of a Techie House

The idea started back in 2014 when I attempted to install a programmable outlet switch for my front lights. I was unsuccessful with a couple different products.

Fast forward to just this past holiday season. I was in San Diego and was coming home. I sent a message to my cat sitter to leave the light on throughout the day but she had already left the house by the time I she noticed the message.

I began to look into the idea of automating the house. I figured that if I couldn’t control my outside lights, I could do the next best thing and control the indoor ones without a stand alone timer.

I did quite a bit of research and ended up installing a Wink Hub in the week between Christmas and New Years. One of the qualities I looked for was whether or not it would be compatible with my Nest thermostat and smoke detectors. This one was and the bonus was it wasn’t all that expensive.

 

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I started with a light control and an outlet before adding a light switch. On a whim, I decided to add the switch to control the front lights and figured if it didn’t work, I would use it for another part of the house, like the kitchen lights. To be honest, my expectations were pretty low that it would work but I just had to try.

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I was surprised when I flipped the circuit breaker on that I saw the blue light. Even more pleased when it actually connected to the Wink and I was able to control the lighting from my phone!

Since then, I added one more to the backyard. It wasn’t by choice. I replaced the existing light because I thought it had gone bad. Once the light was up, I still couldn’t switch it so it was back to getting a light switch that could accomodate LEDs. (I figured that was probably the reason for it not working.)

The only thing I saw that was not a dimmer type switch was a smart switch so I installed it and now it too, could be controlled remotely.

I don’t know what else I’ll end up doing… maybe adding some security features or something. For now, it is enough.

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Goals for 2016

I can’t believe the year is almost over. I had wanted to finish the wood flooring in my master closet and then the guest room but that won’t happen this year.

My goals for the upcoming year are as follows:

  • Repaint guest room
  • Finish flooring
  • Convert pull chain light in master closet to an actual switch light (need an electrician)
  • Repaint/revamp foyer area
  • Replace rest of windows (not DIY but $$ and therefore needs to be planned)
  • Temporary or permanent solution for flooring in corridors

If time/budget permits:

  • Design master closet for optimum space
  • Plan outdoor space (front and back), xeriscape as much as possible—maybe leaving a small patch of grass under tree.

I think those are pretty reasonable goals for the upcoming new year. 🙂

Office Desk

Office Desk

After getting rid of the tanker desk a few months ago, I thought of different ideas for a new desk. One idea was to get a vintage (mid-century modern) desk but they were not always readily available. I really liked the idea of having desk drawers but it wasn’t a necessity since my current desk was just a table.

I went to a local shop that specialized in reclaimed lumber and talked to the owner. He said he could glue planks together so I could have a table. So I went there and picked out some 2×9 longleaf pine boards to be used. From what I was told, the boards came from a cotton mill that was torn down.

A week later, I was able to bring it home.

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The boards were rough and needed some sanding, which unfortunately, meant some of the old white paint was removed during the process as well as a bit of that aged/weathered look. I fixed that by using a vinegar/steel wool solution and then taking a heat gun (and later a propane torch) to bring out the grain patterns.

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I actually had to sand this down a little because after putting oil as a sealer, it became TOO dark. So after sanding down again, and losing all the original white paint that was on there, I torched the wood again before using diluted paint to “lighten” the wood.

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I left the table top sitting in the garage for a few weeks as I decided on the leg style.

I knew I wanted metal legs and at first, I thought hairpins would be cool but then I had to consider the weight of the table and the fact that it was merely 3 glued pieces (there weren’t any biscuits used to join them), and the sucker was HEAVY!

I ended up ordering these legs from the same company that I ordered the hairpin legs for my coffee table.

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I cleaned them and added a clearcoat to protect it from rusting.

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I liked that this design supported the planks.

The result with Puck as inspector.

I added a think acrylic sheet on top since I didn’t want to get splinters on me or on cat paws. Also, it would make writing easier. Plus, as an added bonus, I could put pictures under the sheet. 🙂

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Whether or not I keep this, remains to be seen. I might end up switching to a nonglare piece so it looks more subtle. (And then cut the pieces of this one for my bookshelves)

One last look showing some of the detail from one of the old boards:

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Litter Box Enclosure

Over a week ago, I adopted another kitten, Mousse. With the new addition, it meant that I needed a new litter box set up in addition to the existing one. 

For over a week, I just had a tray in the living room. Not a great visual, but I wanted to make sure the little one would be able to integrate into the household first. As Floyd and Puck began to warm up to Mousse, I began to do some research.

Years ago, I found an idea online where a toy box was used to enclose the litter tray. It seemed pretty simple so I ordered one online and then assembled it.

 

Since I didn’t have a jigsaw, I ended up just cutting the side piece to give a walkway for the cats. I lined it with a rug I had in the house and added the tray. I moved it from the original spot I took the photo. So now they have an extra spot to do their thing and it won’t be too much of an eyesore.