What I’ve been up to

The last four months I’ve spent more time in my pj’s than any other time in my life. I’m totally okay with that. Having twins isn’t exactly any more difficult than having one baby at a time. It does have a few issues like: how do I feed two babies at one time? How do I hold two crying babies (still haven’t mastered this one)? How do I survive when Mike is at work for a few days in a row (see note above about staying in my pj’s).
We use a Baby Brezza and let me tell you, it’s worth every nickel we spent on it. Game Changer. We also keep them on the same schedule and that works really well for us. At 3 months they were sleeping through the night – and since they were born a month early their adjusted age was 2 months old…winning.

Here’s a few pics from the last few days. I just can’t help myself, they’re so cute!

Mini E likes to sleep with her lamby pacifier on her head. So cute!
Mr. Photogenic. He’s got me wrapped around his little pinky.
E turned 9. I can’t believe she is halfway to adulthood. She is turning into such a responsible and helpful little person. I get all choked up when I start to think about how much she has changed and grown in just the last year.

And Red. Everyday she says the funniest things. For example the other day we were taking the escalator to the Ikea showroom when Red grabs my hand on the escalator and pulls me back to stop me from walking up it, “mom, aren’t these made for those who aren’t walking?” She sees the world through a rainbow filter and makes every moment colorful.

This is our last week of summer vacation and I’m going to miss our impromptu get togethers and unplanned activities. I’m savoring these last few days because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about E turning 9 – it’s that time doesn’t give anyone a break and it just keeps on flying by.  ducklow
E at 5 months old.

DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

DIY Stair runner – Everything you need to know

I am a big fan of houzz for interior design inspiration. If you’ve never heard of houzz – it’s like pinterest for house stuff. If you’ve never heard of pinterest……..hmmm. This link was pretty handy in helping me decide on how wide I wanted my runner to be and whether I wanted a waterfall edge or a Hollywood edge. Solid or patterned. On the landing or not. Basically every decision that you will also have to make if you are planning on installing a stair runner.

First though, why a stair runner? We made our treads out of pine. Pine is a soft wood and scratches very easily. It is also 1/3 the cost of oak. With our addition I made sure to squeeze every penny dry. I was extremely logical about every decision because if I let my emotions take over and not logic we would not have done our addition for $70 per s.f. That’s right. $70 per s.f. I didn’t forget a 1 or a 2 there people. Some might argue that in the long run I will pay more for those stair treads because of wear and tear. I’m going to argue that I won’t. From the very beginning we knew we wanted a runner. The runner keeps the stairs quiet, keeps them a little cleaner (looking), protects the treads from wear and most importantly, helps our littles and oldies avoid slipping down the stairs. Soooo….yes, oak is better, mahogany is better, you name a hardwood it’s better, but pine is just fine…and if I ever need to replace it – it’s $9/tread.

Now, which stair runner? I wanted an inexpensive option that I could replace if I wanted to. I picked an outdoor rug with a fun pattern that came in a long length from Overstock.com. It’s wide enough to cover about 2/3 of the stair width – that’s the number I came up with that was the most aesthetically pleasing. It also gives enough walking space and enough tread exposure on either side of the rug. Our stairs are 42″ wide that = a runner of 27″ leaving 7.5″ on either side of the rug. This isn’t a rule 4-8″ exposure seems to be the general guide. It just so happens that 27″ rugs are easy to come by. Safavieh was the maker of our rug. Here’s a pic of the rug I bought:

Once I knew the width then I had to figure out whether I wanted the Hollywood edge or the waterfall edge in order to calculate how much length I needed to order. The Hollywood edge is a little more difficult to calculate and install and involves wrapping each tread and pinning it into the riser below it. Kind of like a fitted top. The waterfall edge is more like a lose top, you don’t wrap the edge of each tread and attach the runner where the stair tread and riser meet. Check out the pics below, courtesy of houzz.   
Here are some pics – also from houzz of the Hollywood edge:

We ended up choosing the Hollywood edge. To calculate length of runner the easiest method I found was to grab a tape measure (I used my fabric sewing tape measure) and measure from the back of the tread – where it meets the riser, to the edge of the tread, then wrap around the tread and measure down the riser to where it meets the next tread. This gave me a measurement of 17.5″ give or take an 1/8. I have two sets of 8 steps. Take 17.5″ x 8 steps = 140″ + 7″ (this adds the last riser, the one that meets the landing and the one that meets the second floor) = 147″ or roughly 13′ (I rounded up for extra). The rug I bought is 16′ long – just the right amount of wiggle room. I bought two, one for each run of stairs.

We did not want to attach the runner to the treads – only the risers. I also did not want to use carpet tape to help keep the rug in place on the treads, so I bought one of these:
rug gripper
I just bought one really large one for an 8’x10′ rug and cut it into strips of 8″ x 24″ for each tread. This works perfectly under the rug and I didn’t have to worry about wrecking my pine treads 😉

Now for the tutorial!

Staple gun
1/5″ staples
Sharpie marker in a color that is similar to the rug you purchased

Step 1:
Calculate how much length you need to buy and buy it. See above for how to do it (if you got bored with all my nonsense and just skimmed it). Once you get it, unroll it and let it acclimate to the room for a few days. This is really important if you picked a rug with a pattern.

Step 2:
Measure your tread width, subtract the width of the runner from that and divide by 2 (this gives you equal amounts of tread exposed on either side of the runner).
42″ – 27″ / 2 = 7.5″
At this point we cut a scrap piece of wood to 7.5″ to use as a guide. You can also just use your tape measure or a ruler or whatever (a mark on your arm?).

Step 3:
Cut your rug gripper pad down into strips that will fit under your runner and just on the top of the tread. Mine were 2″ shorter in width and length than the runner. Place these strips on the stair treads, centering them on the tread. You don’t need to tape or glue them, just haphazardly drop them on the stair treads.

Step 4:
Using your sharpie, color the backs of your staples. This keeps the staples from shinning right in your eyes.

Step 5:
Here’s the fun part. Grab your rug and starting from the top of the stairs, butt the end of your rug up against where the riser meets the landing and staple it into place. Then staple the runner where the riser meets the tread below it pulling it in tight as you staple. Staple as much as you need to, but we found that every 4″ across on the top of the riser and the bottom was good enough. Let the runner lay on the tread and use your hands to help it “hug” the edge of the tread while you staple it to the riser below the tread. You can staple up into the tread if you need to help it form around the edge. We found that just pressing the stapler up into where the tread meets the riser and tacking it in there was enough. Work your way down the stairs until you get to the end.

Step 6:
Using a very sharp utility blade, cut the runner. I have a cutting mat. Mike placed this on top of the floor and the runner remnant over it. This protected our wood floor while we made the cut. After stapling the runner into the last riser he pinned the utility blade down into where the runner meets the floor and cut. The outdoor rug had a few little threads that unraveled a little bit when cut. Mike used a lighter and melted those ends in. Careful.

Step 7:
Admire your work. This whole project took a couple of hours, but looks like we paid someone to do it.


stairs  stairs3

DIY Alcove Bed

DIY Alcove Bed

Our first 800 revisions of our second story addition did not include an alcove bed, in fact they didn’t even include Red’s room. E was going to get the old master downstairs and Red was going to get the other bedroom upstairs (next to our new master). The area that makes up Red’s room was originally planned as a loft/playroom/office homework space.

When designing our addition we really wanted to make sure the new flow of the house made sense. We didn’t want it to feel like an addition and Mike and I felt that having two rooms upstairs and two downstairs wouldn’t give us the flow we were going for. We decided to change the loft plan into another bedroom – even though the space was super small. This would give us three rooms upstairs and two downstairs…By having most of the bedrooms in one section of the house we would get the flow we were going for.

The hard part in this was planning two bedrooms and a bath in such a small and oddly shaped area. The shapes of the rooms are definitely not conventional – but I think that’s what makes them so fun and what makes our house unique. Plus, I wanted the girls to have a Jack and Jill bath because the thought of that seemed awesome – kids love to have secret spaces and areas that are all their own – we really tried to incorporate this idea into every area of the house.

Alcove bed10

The red rectangle area is where Red’s alcove bed is built. We had to wait until after we finaled with construction in order to build it…some rule about a room’s definition = 7′ clear space in any direction and 100 s.f. of floor space. The alcove bed would cause one dimension to be 5′ across. It didn’t matter that a bed would go there built in or not. I guess they thought after we built the alcove we would try and put a bed somewhere else in the room? Who knows. Anyhow, after we finaled we built a wall from 2×4’s 16″ OC and covered it with 1/2″ mdf instead of drywall. This was easier and cleaner although a little more expensive. I also used the leftover mdf to make the board and batten trim. I just ran it through my table saw set to 2.5″. I attached the trim with 1″ finish nails. The trim covers the screws we used to attach the mdf to the 2×4 wall.
alcove bed8

The base of the bed was made out of a 2×4 ledger and 2×4’s spanning across the ledgers. The height was set around the height of a counter stool – we wanted to incorporate storage under the bed so it is a little high. We also made the alcove 17″ longer than the length of a twin bed and 2″ wider. This gave us room to actually make the bed. We were also able to squeeze in a bookshelf and a hidden toy chest at the foot of the bed. Mike put a sheet of 3/4″ mdf over the base. This added integrity to the bed and also keeps Red’s treasures from falling into the abyss below her bed.
alcove bed7
So enthusiastic.

The drawers were built out of 3/4″ plywood and are the main point of this post. Once the drawers are in place you can just build a face frame and trim around them.

Finish nailer
Kreg Jig
Table saw

3/4″ plywood
Drawer slides I used these2×4 for legs or base of drawers

Using my table saw I made a bunch of strips that were 10″x 24″. I kreg jig’d them together like the picture below. These formed the boxes my drawers sit in. The final width was 22.5″ wide. The slides I used require .5″ on either side of the drawer.
alcove bed6

Next I made my drawers. Just three sided. The drawers are 22″ deep x 21.5″ wide. Make sure when you make the drawers they are 1″ shorter in width than the box you are putting them in – this gives you room for the drawer slide hardware.
alcove bed5

My drawer slides mount onto the bottom and sides of the drawer, so I just used my finish nailer to nail a bottom onto the drawer boxes. You can also see my kreg jig holes for the drawers. I made the base out of 3/4″ mdf because that’s what I had laying around. Plywood would be better.
alcove bed4

Attach the drawer slides according to the package instructions and that’s it.
alcove bed9
alcove bed3 alcove bed2

It’s that simple. If you build everything really square the drawers glide like a dream. I used extra 2×4’s that I cut to 6″ and attached to the boxes with screws to add height to the drawers. I attached the drawer front with the kreg jig. The front is made out of 3/4″ mdf and some of the 1/2″ leftover mdf to make the shaker style front.

Here’s the finished pic of it painted and lived in. I really need to put drawer pulls on. They’ve been sitting in Red’s closet for months now.
alcove bed