Category Archives: Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

DIY: Trunk Update

April 14, 2014

As expected, once I got the idea to update the trunk in our new downstairs laundry/family room, I knew I was going to have to follow through on my mint green and gold dreams.

Here’s where things started:

laundry 1On old, dinged-up trunk that I got for free (and I think was maybe originally from Cost Plus?  Who knows.)

I removed the hardware from the trunk (2 back hinges, 2 side handles, front closure, and unscrewed the internal hinge) so I could paint those separately.  Removing the hardware also made painting the trunk a lot easier, because I didn’t have to tape and paint around anything.

Here’s the trunk with the hardware removed:

Trunk 1First I primed and painted the hardware, using Kilz spray primer and Rustoleum metallic gold spray paint.

Original hardware:

Hinges 1Primed:

Hinges primedPainted:

Hinges paintedIf you’re thinking that metallic gold spray paint is awesome — well, you’re right.  It totally is.

Next I got to work on the trunk.  First I sanded down the surfaces I wanted to paint using an electric sander.  Like I’ve said before, I hate sanding, so I just did a quick once-over with the sander to rough up the surface to make sure the primer would adhere.

I then did one solid coat with the primer (Glidden Gripper, you are amazing), and let that dry:

Trunk primed 2I didn’t bother to paint the inside of the trunk because I a. didn’t want paint to potentially get on any of the 47 blankets I like to store in there and b. I didn’t think it was necessary since no one was really going to see that anyway.

After the primer dried, I started in with the paint.  I used a small roller and brush to apply 2 solid coats of Behr Kiwi Squeeze (allowing time to dry in between), and did an extra coat on the top of the trunk, since that would likely get the most wear and tear.

All painted:

Trunk painted 2After that dried, I screwed the (newly gold) hardware back on, and left the trunk in the basement to cure:

Hardware back onTrunk finished 1Trunk finished backOnce the paint had cured for 7 days, I sprayed the top with a couple coats of indoor water-based polyurethane to seal it (since it will likely have drinks sitting on it, food/water/whatever).

And now, the how-to:

How to Paint a Wood Trunk

 Materials I used:

How I did it:

  1. Remove hardware with a screwdriver and place on a drop cloth.  Spray with 1-2 coats Kilz Original Primer Sealer Spray and let dry.  Spray with Rustoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint — as many coats as you need to get the coverage you want, allowing time to dry between each coat.
  2. Sand the surface of the trunk where paint will be applied with medium-grit sandpaper.  A quick once-over with an electric sander should do the trick — you’re just looking to rough up the surface a little so the primer will adhere.
  3. Wipe down the trunk with a clean, dry cloth to remove any dust and then transfer it onto your drop cloth.
  4. Paint 1-2 light coats with Glidden Gripper Primer, making sure that all surfaces that will be painted are well covered and let dry.  Don’t worry if the coverage isn’t opaque yet, the paint will take care of this.  You want to just make sure that the primer is covering all surfaces so the paint has something to adhere to.
  5. Paint trunk with at least 2 solid coats of your paint of choice (I like to use semi-gloss for furniture), allowing time to dry between each coat.  I do more coats on surfaces that will get a lot of use — like tabletops, the top of the trunk, etc.  Using a roller for this step is helpful because you don’t end up with brush stroke marks on your piece of furniture.
  6. Once the paint has dried, reattach the hardware and let the paint cure for at least a week.
  7. Once the paint is set and cured (it no longer feels at all sticky or tacky), spray the top of the trunk with at least 2 coats of the Polyurethane Spray to seal it, allowing time to dry between each coat.

And voila!  Brand new trunk.

Finalized pictures of the piece in our laundry/family room will be up tomorrow!

Trunk finished front

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY

Laundry Room DIY: The Big Reveal

March 24, 2014

Alright, I won’t keep you waiting any longer.  I’ve got the after shots of the laundry room coming up in this post! Exciting!

This room is crazy hard to photograph (it’s only got one window, it’s almost perfectly square and the entrance is stairs — I mean, it’s a basement), but I did my best.

laundryPenny is the number-one photo bomber in our house.

You can see that we left a non-carpeted space by the back door.  Since we go in and out to the backyard here, we opted not to carpet that area to cut down on the dirt we’d be tracking in, and opted instead for an industrial welcome-mat to wipe muddy feet on.

laundry 1

The carpet squares we chose are seamless and a bit multi-colored.  Since there’s a bit of foot-traffic in this area, we thought that having something that wasn’t all one color would help hide dirt a bit better.  We originally were considering installing plank flooring down here, but determined that because the floor was so warped that it would be too much hassle or look crappy.  The carpet tiles ended up being a perfect solution because they were super easy to install, cover the flaws of the floor, make the space much cozier and act as a bit of soundproofing as well (always important when you’re renting and have neighbors!)laundry 2KC has been using the space quite a bit to get work done lately.

We chose to paint the walls white because the room only has one window (which gets zero direct sunlight), it’s not the brightest space. The green walls, in addition to being ugly, sucked a lot of the light out of the space and made it feel very basement-y and unwelcome.  I wanted to brighten up the space and make it a bit warmer, so we chose a creamy white with just a hint of a yellow/peach undertone.  It offsets the bright white trim nicely, and makes the space seem larger and lighter as well.  (Note: I did take home at least 3 dozen paint cards from Home Depot and Ace trying to find the “perfect” white for the space.  It was really helpful to hold the swatches up against the trim during daylight hours to see how each would look on the walls.  It’s amazing how different whites are — some were “too white” and looked like paint primer, others were obviously pink when held up against the bright white trim, others were way too yellow or a tad green.  In the end, I narrowed the choices down to three, and eventually went with Behr’s Almond Cream.)

We opted to hang a (cheap) mirror over the couch to help the space look a little larger and to reflect the overhead light in the room — another trick to help lighten up the space on the cheap.

laundry 3KC loves to be photographed.

Not bad for a budget redo, I think.  We’ve got some plans to spruce things up a little more with some pictures/artwork for the blank wall above KC’s head, and possibly the relocation of a TV (for extreme lounging), but that’s all down the line for now.

Here’s what we did to the space and the materials we used:

  1. KC patched the giant hole in the wall using some kind of purple board patch and patch kit from Home Depot.
  2. He filled in all the random holes with spackle and let it dry overnight.
  3. We painted the walls Almond Cream by Behr (flat finish, paint + primer in one) — hooray, no more pukey-green paint!
  4. Installed 2 packs of seamless carpet tiles in Toffee Tranquility (which I hated when I saw it in store, but like it now that it’s installed — also from Home Depot)

Notes — we bought a gallon of paint for this job, and opted for the paint and primer in one.  The paint and primer in one is clearly the way to go, especially if you’re trying to cover a dark color with a light one (or vice versa).  We did two solid coats of paint on the walls + some touch ups, and were left with barely any paint.  If you’re planning on painting a room that’s any larger than 10′ x 12′, you’ll probably need more paint than we bought.

If you have any questions about the materials we used or how we did the update, feel free to email me or leave me a comment 🙂

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

Our Laundry Room DIY: The Before and During

March 19, 2014

So, like I said yesterday, we have this large laundry room/basement type area downstairs in our house, which was quickly just becoming a place to house all the things we didn’t want to spend time figuring out how or where to store.

In my mind, 120 square feet is a lot a space.  I mean, this may be because I live in one of the most expensive rental markets in the world.  It may also be because I lived in less than 500 square feet with a giant man (KC) and a very snobby cat (Seuss) for 4 1/2 years.

Either way, KC and I had been tossing around ideas for the laundry space for awhile — workout space?  Guest room?  Indoor hockey rink?  (Yeah, that idea didn’t last long.)

I, being disinclined to do anything that involves manual labor on my part, kept pushing it off — “No, I don’t want to turn it into [insert room type here].”  “That will be too expensive.”  “It’s not a big enough room for that.”

Basically, I’m super fun to live with.

However, with the old couch sitting (what felt like) squarely in the middle of our living room, I finally conceded — “Ok, let’s turn it into a family room.”  Move the old couch down there, and we’d be in business.

A few minor issues — the room has concrete floors.  And not like “nice” concrete floors — like, industrial warped and wonky concrete floors.  Also, there was a giant hole in the wall, the remnant of an old water heater or something.  Either way, there was a 5-6″ circular hole, smack in the middle of the longest wall in the room.  And the lesser issue — all the walls were painted that pukey green color (like the color of rotten algae).

So what did we do?

  1. We cleared out all the crap (this included KC moving a giant IKEA storage cabinet up a flight of stairs and into our hallway.  By himself).
  2. KC patched the hole (he’s magic) and spackled all the weird dents and divots.
  3. We painted.
  4. Moved a wall shelf.
  5. We laid down carpet.
  6. And I styled that business up (y’know, after KC and a friend moved the couch down there).

And because I like to leave you wanting just a little more (and because that room is insanely hard to photograph and I’d like the “after” shots to actually look decent), here’s some before photos and some during shots (post-paint and post-carpet):

basement 1(keep in mind that this is after we’d cleared out most of stuff from the room already…)

basement 2Don’t be fooled by the way the camera makes the green paint look — it’s awful in real life.

basement 3All painted.

basement 4You can sort of see how wonky the concrete floor is here…

basement 7Carpet!  (And yes, the hallway is still green because it was going to be too hard to paint/we ran out of paint.)

basement 5basement 6

Full reveal of the finished room and what we used for our DIY re-do will be up later!  Get excited.

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

DIY: Table and Chairs Update

March 18, 2014

After we got our new couch, our old one was moved in front of the large window in our living room, since we didn’t really know what we wanted to do with it.

Couch in windowIt’s a nice couch, and having the extra seating was a nice perk; but I couldn’t get over the fact that it was blocking one of the major features of our living room — the big window — and blocking a lot of light from coming into the space.

Couch in window (a mess)(Please ignore all the crap in that room, we were in the middle of our DIY when I took this.  But you can see how the couch takes up quite a bit of space in there, and why I kept telling KC that I felt like our living room looked like a waiting room with all the couches.)

KC was hesitant to get rid of the old couch, and so it sat in our living room for a few months.

Then KC started talking about our laundry room.  (Weird segue?  Just wait.)  We have this laundry room downstairs, next to our little office, that’s about 10′ x 12′, which is a good chunk of space in the world I live in.  The washer and dryer take up a little bit of the room, obviously, but the rest of the square-footage just kind of became a place to store things (our bikes, stuff from Costco, coolers, etc.).  KC had been talking about turning the laundry room into something more usable for awhile, and then it hit me — we could move the old couch down there and turn it into a family room-type space.  Genius!

However, moving the couch out of the window in the living room meant that there was kind of a big space that would be left empty.

I decided that I could make use of the two dining chairs I hadn’t gotten around to painting during the dining room DIY, and set them up with a crappy old table I bought years ago at Target.  Voila — extra seating, a good filler for the blank space, and it wouldn’t block too much of a light from the window.  Win-win.

Here’s what I started with:

Table 2Table 3A dingy, “wood” (let’s use that term loosely) table and a couple of chairs (that I forgot to photograph in their original state — just picture crappy blonde wood that’s really worn.)

I sanded everything lightly (basically, I just did a once-over with the power sander and touched up the rest by hand), wiped everything down, and then primed the three pieces with one coat of Glidden Gripper Primer in white.

Table PrimedThat primer is the business, you guys.

That got to dry overnight (since we had a dinner to go to), and then I got to painting the next day.  I chose Glidden Oyster Shell for the table and Behr Antique Tin for the chairs (I chose semi-gloss for both).

Table PaintedChairs Painted

These pieces took 2-3 coats of paint (I did 3 coats + a couple touch-ups on the top of the table, since I wanted that part to be really well-covered.)  And even though the process is a little time consuming and kind of messy (or, it is for me anyway):

Paint Hands I think the end result is pretty nice.

Here are the finished pieces in their new spot in the living room:

FinishedFinished 1Finished 2Living roomIf you’re interested in doing your own DIY for finished wood (or “wood”) furniture, here’s what you’ll need and how to do it:

  • The pieces of furniture you want to paint
  • Drop cloth
  • Medium-grit sandpaper (I used 150)
  • Optional: power sander
  • A few clean rags
  • Paint brushes/small roller/paint tray (you can do this just with brushes, but the roller is nice for painting large flat surfaces, like the top of the table)
  • Glidden Gripper Primer (If you’re painting your pieces a dark or vivid color, ask to have your primer dyed grey at the paint counter — it will be easier to cover than the white.)  I used the quart size and had some left over with these
  • Paint (I got a quart of the Oyster Shell and the Antique Tin and had plenty left over)
  1. Lightly sand all your pieces (where you’re going to paint), so the finish is just taken off.  You want to just rough up the surface a bit so the primer has something to adhere to.
  2. Wipe down your furniture to remove any dust, then apply 1-2 thin coats of primer.  Let dry for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight.
  3. Paint 2 (or more, as needed) thin coats of paint, waiting at least an hour between each coat to dry.  (If you’re working on a piece with hinges, be sure to test the moving parts periodically to make sure they don’t get painted shut.)
  4. Let dry for at least 48 hours before using (I’d recommend allowing the paint to cure for about a week before you start using your piece.  You will be able to tell if the paint is dry and set when you touch it — it should no longer feel slightly sticky or tacky.)

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun

It's like owning a condo, except it's in my mind

December 3, 2013

Yes, that’s how I describe my mountain of law school student loan debt to people.  It’s literally like I bought property, except I can’t live in it.  I like to call it a condo, because it would really only be like a condo in some crappy bay area suburb; however, in the midwest, I’m fully confident that I could have bought a 4-5 bedroom McMansion with what I owe the federal government for my education.

This brain of mine, it’s real pricey.

Anyway, if you have student debt, you know how all-encompassingly (not a word, apparently.  Whatever) sh*tty it is.  Mine were constantly being transferred between providers (oh, you thought that online loan interface was bad?  Well just check out this one!), not to mention my absurdly high interest rate of 7.5% (shootmeintheface).

Also fun: first year of law school our first big research/writing assignment was about the process to get your student loans discharged via bankruptcy.  The verdict?  You pretty much can’t get them discharged.  Ever.  For any reason.  Sooo, that was a nice little mind-$%#@.

However, recently I came across a little ray of hope in the stupid world of student loans — SoFi.  They’re a Silicon Valley-based startup that’s alumni-funded.  They’ll take over your loans and lower your interest rate if you qualify.  I mean, it’s not like they’re gonna pay them for you, but they can save you some money in the long-haul.  Like, thousands.  (And I don’t know about you, but I’m not Scrooge McDuck rich over here, so I like to hold onto my thousands when I can, thank you.)

Anyway, if you have student loans that are ruining your life (or just making it mildly uncomfortable — whatever) check out SoFi here.  And, if you apply through that link, you get $100.  What up, Christmas shopping!

PS: I also saw somewhere that if you get approved they’ll send you a pie.  Super random, I know.  And I’ve sent an email to ask about this pie — I’ll report back on what I find out.  I mean, if it’s mincemeat or something, I don’t really know what to tell you; but free’s free.