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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Trunk-ated Table


I’ve had this gnarly trunk for years. It was about $40 at Marshall’s in 2002, and it’s been through the wringer. It held my books and boardgames when I was in high school and was used as my “floor table” when we took the unnecessary last shots of the night in college. It’s held old photos, shoes and blankets. I finally decided it was time to show it a little attention as a thank you for all of it’s years of service.


Right from the start I knew I wanted it to become a table. I unscrewed all of the screws on the trunk and basically left everything that was tacked on.

There was a pretty thick layer of glue coating the whole thing because I decided two years ago to do a half-hearted job of covering it in fabric. I knew it was temporary because the fabric didn’t really thrill me, but I guess no one told the glue that it was only temporary because even though I removed the fabric 10 months ago, the glue was still super tacky and gathered every stray fuzz in a 40 foot radius.

Sanded a HoleI thought sanding the trunk would help remove the glue. And yes, it did clump-up the glue and swirl it around in a mass on the trunk, but it also ate a hole through the cheap vinyl covering. No worries though, “maybe removing EVERYTHING and leaving just a wooden box would be beneficial,” said the optimistic voice in my head, which I always come to hate at the end of a project.

But honestly though, optimistic schizophrenic voices aside, what was I going to do? Call off the whole project because “I done messed up?” (that was the hillbilly voice in my head, she’s a bit more realistic.)

So I soldiered on, leaving ripped pieces of vinyl, tacks and faux leather in my wake, until I was left with a simple, naked wood box. And what does Kristen Van Loon do with a plan, ordinary piece of furniture?

SimpleShe paints it, of course!!!

PaintI chose a soft celery green that I didn’t realize would be SO soft once I put the hardware back on. But you know me, I like to ride it out until I’m crazed with exhaustion and wave the white flag. I decided to keep it going and add some legs… this is where the REAL exhaustion comes in.

LegsI turned it on it’s side because I thought it’d be a pretty sweet TV stand and I could let the trunk open and close to hide the cable box and cords. It’s a stellar concept, but contains several flaws.

1) The legs are too short for the broadness of the front. It’s uneven and stout; it looks like something Humpty Dumpty would use for travel.

2) It’s literally top-heavy. With so little room, the legs must be placed so close together that it barely balances with the trunk when it’s closed, let alone open. Angled top plates would hold the legs at an angle and distribute the weight evenly, but I only had straight ones.

3) The TV that I wanted to put on here has too wide of a base to fit. I figured that could be the case, but if everything else worked out OK then I’d use it for something else… but nothing else went as planned.

On top of those three very logical reasons for scrapping this design, there is one glaringly obvious reason to reconsider the idea– I HATED the huge contrast between the green and the hardware.

So dismantle and reconsider was the name of the next game. I took off the legs and all of the hardware and took a cue from the Kristen of two years ago; I covered it in fabric.

Spray GlueI used the same permanently dangerous glue, but this time around I didn’t have fake leather trim to maneuver around, this was a totally blank box.

MeasuringThis photo to the right is what I like to call “measuring.” I don’t need a fancy measuring tape, I just need to eyeball the basic size and start cutting. I overestimate all the time, but I’d rather waste extra fabric than get too caught up in details that will only slow me down… probably not fantastic advice to follow.

TacksI wrapped the box like a present and cut the corners to avoid the “gift box corner” that you get when ACTUALLY wrapping a present. When the glue wasn’t enough, I used tacks of various sizes to secure the material on the inside.

I broke down and bought new top plates because I decided that an angled leg is much more sturdy for a heavy piece like this AND I thought it gave it a friendlier appearance…. why is it friendlier? I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t look as stiff and rigid. Less Victorian, more Mid-Century.

I screwed on all of the hardware, the top plates and the legs. I made another new decision; I chose to put the trunk upright because it isn’t as shocking as when it’s on it’s side. Plus I wasn’t going to be able to use it for the reason I initially intended so there was no sense in keeping it sideways.

AfterThe sunny fabric REALLY lightened up the whole piece, and the whole room for that matter.

Back endI was so happy with the outcome that I completely replaced my second-hand side table. You can tell by my “flattering” description of the old table, that I wasn’t exactly heartbroken when I moved it out to the garage.

This is an absolute upgrade!.. Now to replace that couch…


Island in the Sun

When I first moved into my house I liked my kitchen quite a bit. Notice how I didn’t use the word Love nor the present tense? That wasn’t a mistake. It’s not to say I loathe it now, but it just doesn’t have the same appeal, which could be caused by many things. Maybe it’s because:

1) Owning it (as opposed to WANTING it) makes it less alluring.

2) Living in it daily allows me to see all of the flaws that the brief overview missed.

3) Now it’s mine to clean, and that sucks.

Either way, I eventually plan to put down new tile, revamp or replace the cabinets, remove the wallpaper (ugh), get a new stove, replace the counter top and sink. …and those were the items just off the top of my head.

All of the above items require money. Some things require less than others, but it’s money nonetheless. Plus, I know right now I love color! I love color to such an excessive point that I know it can’t be healthy, and even more– it can’t be permanent. WHAT!?! Yes! I said it. I will probably change my mind on how indulgent I choose to be with color as I grow older, AND I guarantee that I won’t even like the same colors. Why would I do anything pricey and permanent when I am introspective enough to know that I will furrow my brow in disapproval 3 years from now? Well, I wouldn’t. So, I opted for a cheaper update….

But enough with the foreplay, let’s get to it!

Kitchen IslandThis is the island in my kitchen. There’s nothing overtly offensive about it, but it’s plain and heavy as heck! Plus, I plan to re-tile the counters and floors, so I may as well get rid of the green tile on this surface as well.

Because the island isn’t connected, you’d think it’d be very convenient to move as needed. Oh no no no, the concept of mobility is just an illusion. I’ve been fearful of ripping up tiles by scooting this weighty block across the floor. So my first order of business was CASTERS! These specific ones hold 90lbs. All four are swivels, two of which have breaks. I put the ones with breaks kitty corner from each other to maximize stability….because I was too cheap to pop for all four swivels with breaks.

CastersI know it’s a little surprising that I have a lot of work in front of me and the first task I choose is something typically left for a finishing detail. But this island is so so heavy that it just had to happen first for the sake of ease.

Next I removed the drawers because some serious demo was about to go down. At first I tried to not make a mess or make much noise because I had a toddler napping. Also, I was trying to be careful because in the back of my head I was praying there would be a beautiful butcher black that someone had tiled over; which is the equivalent to wishing it will rain meatballs because I don’t want to cook dinner. But one can dream right?

Just take it from me, if you want to remove one tile every 40 minutes then go on ahead and be dainty. Once I started making noise and really messing up my kitchen, the tiles flew off (literally) very quickly. Here is the progression.



Betting there

I see the light!


SadnessWell there you have it. I was able to determine it wasn’t a butcher block, just three pieces of plywood covered in vinyl. But I wasn’t going to let that spoil my party, I had stuff to do.sidesI peeled off the vinyl on the top, sanded the sides of the stack of plywood and wiped down the base with soapy water. Then I grabbed a roller and blithely painted the stand and the sides of the plywood. I used a brush to really get into the nooks and crannies.

WoodI set the pieces of sanded, unfinished oak (which I get on sale at Menard’s for $3 a piece) on top of the painted stand. Something just irked me though… now that the plywood was painted all one color, those darn crannies looked like deep, treacherous ravines, so I had to do a healthy coat of wood fuller and sand the sides AGAIN, and repaint AGAIN. But I can say with honestly that it was worth it because those blue ravines would have gotten under my skin every. single. day.


MUCH BETTERNext it was time to make some permanent decisions on my clearance oak. I decided that I didn’t want to bust out my miter saw, and since all of the pieces were the same length, I technically didn’t need to. By using wood that was about eight inches longer than the island base, it extended the work area, which was good. However it gave the island much more presence (which isn’t necessarily a good thing in a tiny kitchen) but I do plan to remove my kitchen table in the near future, so I will suffer with a cluttered cook area (haha, like I REALLY cook.)

I placed my boards exactly how I wanted them and just started gluing. I used flooring glue, so I know these boards will be stuck together until time itself ends…or even longer.


GlugingOnce I had the wood all attached (and the glue dried) I did a thin coat of lacquer on the wood and the blue painted area. I let it dry and did a second coat. Finally I sanded just the wood top (because I am too lazy to sand all the blue, especially when I didn’t think it would make any sort of difference) and applied the last coat of lacquer. That woo is so  smooth now, I could slip-n-slide on it.

Then it was on to the drawers. There really isn’t much to tell. What can I say? Sometimes my processes are so humdrum that I don’t have the heart to lie to you and tell you that it was the best drawer make-freakin’-over of my life!!!! But I’ll always show pictures.

All of the drawersOnce the paint dried,  I sprayed on spray finish because the drawer faces won’t get as much action as the top workspace, so I didn’t think lacquer was necessary. But talk to me in 5 months to see if I regret that decision. I also spray painted and sealed a paper towel rack to screw to the side, but again, that was uneventful.

Then came the handle adventure. Yeah, that’s right, the drawer makeover is dull, but the HANDLES were a spectacular debacle. It’s an odd life I lead, really.

Handle DebacleMy smarty pants self went handle shopping spontaneously without measuring the holes. I knew I didn’t want to fill and drill so I just recalled (incorrectly) that they looked like they may need the 96mm handles. When those didn’t fit I didn’t get into a huff because I knew I should have measured. So I returned them to the store and again, without measuring, exchanged them for new ones. It may seem straight-up stupid that I didn’t measure the second time around because REALLY you should have a 50/50 chance, if it’s not 96mm then it’s 3in. Well, I was dead wrong again, but I didn’t even care anymore. Seriously, I said screw it and used the old handles because I wasn’t about to return them AGAIN. And honestly, I wasn’t horribly unhappy with the old ones, new ones were just a bonus. But now I resent the new ones so much that I think they need to rot slowly in hell.

But aside from condemning inanimate hardware, the makeover went pretty fantastically. I was left with only minor cuts and bruises, and the internal emotional scars will heal with time.


Towel thing too

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