Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How to create custom built ins with kitchen cabinets

Hey there! I'm back with some slight progress (but still progress) in the loft/craft room that is my project for the summer. I told you about it here and it hasn't moved as quickly as I'd like just beceuase we've been out of town so much this summer. Since I shared this room last I've had extra outlets installed and wiring for sconces run. The lights just came this morning so I'll put those up today to see how they look -- I will show you soon!

I'm building a wall of storage/desk in this room and I'm going back to my standard when creating built ins in our home -- unfinished upper kitchen cabinets. I've used these a few times in various ways throughout our house and I keep going back to it because they work every time! They always turn out looking fantastic so I'm sharing how I get them to that point today. 

I played around with the measurements and finally came up with a plan for cabinets that would fit without any reconfiguring on my part. I want this to be easy. :) This wall is about 11 feet and I am leaving room at both ends -- one end for a long window seat that will go along a wall and the other end I'm planning to leave an open spot: 
Making built ins from kitchen cabinets

I still have two more cabinets to buy but this gives you an idea. I'm leaving about six inches at the end where the wall stops because when we move someday this room could be turned into a fourth bedroom. I think it would help our value quite a bit to do that so I want to leave plenty of room for a wall to be put in there. My design for this room will work great even if this room is ever closed off. 

These are 18 inch wide by 30 inches tall -- since I add a little height the desk area will be a little higher than standard height. I've already found adjustable desk chairs that will work perfectly. :) I plan to pull these away from the wall just a bit (I'll build brackets that will attach into studs and then connect the cabinets) so that the counter area is bigger than the 12 inch depth. I'm thinking at least 18 inches. 

The first step to making kitchen uppers look like built ins is raising them up a bit. If you just put them on the ground they look out of place. I use 1x4s and nail them into the sides around the bottom of the cabinets: 
How to make cabinets into build ins

The center piece is for added support. To make these look custom I wrap the bottom with baseboards and this pulls them up off the ground so that's possible. I add scrap wood around the bottom to make it flush with the cabinet before I install the base -- otherwise your base would tilt back into the open space against the 1x4. 

When you add the base and and then some simple trim on the ends to dress it up, it gives it all a much more sophisticated look:
Using kitchen cabinets to build a bookcase

Of course the butcher block counter offers some nice contrast and makes it feel even more custom: 
Kitchen cabinets as base to bookcases

Right now I'm planning a butcher block top in the loft too, but that may change. 

This built in is in our dining room turned library and I've shared it a million times, I know. But we easily saved a couple grand by doing this project ourselves. The inexpensive cabinets make it a really affordable project!: 
DIY built ins with kitchen cabinets

It is truly the best combo of form and function -- those cabinets are only 12 inches deep but they hold a ton! (Think of how much they hold in your kitchen.)

I used the upper cabinets that go over the fridge for our mud room bench:
Mud room bench from kitchen cabinets

And my first project with these was another project I did with my Dad for my son's bedroom
Blue and red airplane room

I have Dad to thank for this idea -- he's the one who thought of it for this room and I've kind of taken off with it. :) I think the loft will be the last place I do this though -- I don't foresee anymore built ins in the house! 

Have you tried this trick to build custom built ins or bookcases? I'm thrilled with how they look in our home and I hope to share you a lot more progress in the loft very soon! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

How to hang outdoor string lights

Hey there! How was your weekend? We worked hard outside and it's looking so beautiful! A few of you have asked about the backyard tour this summer and I'll have it up as soon as I can. We're so behind this year because we've been working on getting bigger projects done that only happen every few years (like deck and playset staining). We still have to have the house trim painted and then we will mulch, then I'll be sure to share it with you! We've been working so hard but there's so much to be done. Having outdoors spaces is WONDERFUL but a lot of work!

We've used the backyard more that ever this summer because it's turned out so beautiful. We absolutely love it. I shared our new outdoor dining room with you a couple weeks ago:
Outdoor lights under pergola

I LOVE having the table up under the pergola. We already use it so much more now and I love that we don't have to worry about soggy cushions to enjoy it. 

One of the smaller projects we got help with out here was one I've planned for a year now, since we added those pretty lights you see up there under the pergola. I shared more about those lights here and they are still holding up incredibly well, even through the winter. They are the best we've found and I highly recommend them. They are industrial quality -- I see the same ones at restaurants all the time. 

I bought three strands last year and planned to use the third one for this project. I really wanted to string another set out between the trees around our patio, but the river birch aren't strong enough for these heavy lights. Like I said, they're industrial quality so the cords are thick and would weigh down the trees and break them, especially in stormy weather. 

So we asked our guys who help us out with projects what they recommended and it was just what I had in mind -- using wires. When I see these strung over patios at restaurants they are usually hung on wires. I believe it's because they are so heavy -- just stringing them alone would pull on the cord too much and they would sag quite a bit. 

They ended up getting wire from the hardware store and large eye hooks like this one: 
Tips to string outdoor lights

They used some kind of bracket to close down on the wire to keep it taught. These
look like an even better option:

These come with the eye hook and I believe you tighten the wire by twisting. 

One end went into the pergola and then they strung it way out to our bigger trees in the back. It was quite a span -- I'd say a good 15-20 yards of wire at the longest section? We have more mature trees back there and they won't bend with the tension. They took another wire over to some bigger trees on the side of the yard as well. 

Then they were able to hang the lights buy using zip ties -- as long as you get them tight the the lights won't move anywhere. Here's a closer look at a corner: 
Using wire to string outdoor lights

See the wire going over through the trees? 

And here's a wider shot of the wires and lights:
How to string outdoor lights

I actually wanted a more "droopy" look then what we ended up with, and was almost going to take a few of them off the wire to give that look, but decided against it. I think the more support the better, and the straight look has grown on me. I think it looks clean and keeps them out of the way. 

If they couldn't get the wire out to the bigger trees I was going to have them place some poles in the ground, but that would have been a lot more work. (You'd have to dig and use cement -- but it's an option if you don't have strong trees.)

Sometimes you can see the wires a lot and sometimes barely at all. They don't bother me though because they made it possible to have a truly dreamy space underneath. The first night we sat under the lights and giggled like little kids because it was just SO pretty. It's just silly how gorgeous it is lit up. 

I was going to take a photo from under the lights for you but we had storms last night. I may update this if I can grab one tonight. For now this is the finished result from further back:
How to string lights over patio

We have quite a grade to our yard so getting high enough in the trees was going to be difficult -- that's why we hired this one out. If you have a flat backyard and something to attach the wires to it would be a pretty easy DIY project. 

Just when I think it can't get any better out here, it does! :) They add so much ambiance out here, we just love the look. 


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