10.07.2013

Before & After: Camper Kitchen

Hi Friends.  I've been so crazy busy working my day job, fixing up our camper and, most recently, moving my Grandpa closer to our family.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm working on another new project of getting his new home set up.  More on that to come.
Right now, I wanted to step back and share with you some Before and After details from the camper renovation.  It's been tons a fun, a whole lot of work, but so worth it.  I'm a little sad that we didn't get to use the camper this season, but it's gonna be so great to "getaway" with it in the Spring!

I'll be sharing the Kitchen with you today.  Move a couple of steps in either direction and you are in another room, but check out how much some paint and elbow grease can transform this little camper.

This photo was taken minutes after getting the camper home and pulling into our driveway.  I couldn't wait to bust out the cleaning supplies and start tearing stuff out.  One thing I learned, even if you take stuff out and think it's garbage, like curtains, hardware, whatever...well, keep it.  For now.  I was able to transform some things that I thought would end in the garbage.  You can always junk the stuff out later.
We have pretty decent cabinets in the Kitchen.  The appliance were pretty clean but needed a good scrub down.  I removed the grease guard since we don't do all that much cooking inside on the stove and ended up spray painting the grungy cutting board over the sink.  We won't use it as a cutting board, but it's good for a counter surface. 

I primed the cabinet surfaces and the walls with Zinnser 123 Plus.  Worked great. I let it dry a day, then started my top coats.  For the cabinets, I used Behr Paint with Primer in white, which is color matched to Benjamin Moore's White Dove.  Satin Finish.  For the lower cabinets, I used Valspar Paint and Primer in Satin, Color in Ebony Fields.  I did not tint the primer for the grey cabinets, but it would have been nice if I did.  I was using what I had.  When I started out, I thought all of them would be white.

Notice that the rubber trim around the counter top edge is missing.  I took this off and spray painted in Satin White.  The trim was gently hammered back into place and looks million times better.  It was fake oak with fake brass accents.

When I painted the doors, I ended up painting some a little different.  A couple of them I lightly sanded, used a deglosser, then painted right on them.  The others I used shellac spray primer, sanded, then painted the top coat.  Both came out the same and I don't know if I would have wasted the spray primer.  Time will tell if one holds up more than the other. 
The doors were pretty beat up, but I didn't spend too much time sanding and filling in cracks and dings.  It's a camper!
 Here's how the Kitchen is starting to come together.  The ceiling was not painted, but was wiped down with soap and water and then with a lot of Magic Erasures. The walls are painted here in White Dove - Regal Matte in Benjamin Moore.  You'll see that I didn't paint the inside of the cabinets.  Yet.  Well maybe not ever.  We'll see if it really bothers me.
I love the contrast of the dark cabinets with the new floor.  The floor is from Home Depot and is their stock Allure peel and stick vinyl in oak finish.  It was super easy to work with.  Some of the tight quarters were a pain, but much easier than regular laminate.
 I installed new ORB hinges.  I found in the past that spray painting hinges doesn't work out so well for me.  I found these at Lowes and they fit the same holes in the cabinets and doors.
 How great are those glass knobs?  I bought a stash of them a while ago and was happy to use some here.  The curtains are the second pair I stitched up for this window.  The first ones were super cute pattern but ended up being a little to kitschy for the space.   The curtains are made from 8 oz. drop cloths from Lowes and I sewed on pom pom ball fringe from JoAnn's Fabric.
 Thanks for stopping by!  Below are some close ups of the cabinets. 












8.23.2013

Camper: Painting Fake Oak Panels and Plastic Stuff


Hi Everyone.  I've been so busy working on the camper redo.  Basically every night I work inside for about 4-5 hours and so far it has consumed my weekends.  I am having tons of fun, but I really am itching for it to be finished.  
If you are thinking about buying your own camper and giving it a little face lift, know that it takes a lot longer than you think it will.  Because it's small and and a tight workspace, getting in all the little spaces can be a little bit of challenge.
I wouldn't change a thing but thought you should know that it's most likely not just a quick weekend fix up.
Here's a little bit about what I've been doing along the way.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can see my progress and laugh at some of my misses!


First up.  I wanted to plank part of this wall where the dinette benches are.  I had left over planks from my TV Room.  I stained them with Water based Miniwax in Grey and was so happy how it looked.
Here's where the install got real tricky and then failed.  I had to use Liquid Nails.  All was going along just fine until I neared the end.  Then, bam, the stuff started pulling off the wall and falling off.
I stomped my feet and got real annoyed.  I then realized it was all for the best, even though I was super mad, because even this little thickness of the planking would have messed up how the cushions fit on the dinette.  So failure, but it was a blessing in disguise.
 I quickly wiped off the Liquid Nails.  Luckily it was still super goopy.  Later I went back and primed the wall and topped it off with a medium colored grey from Valspar paints.  Beautiful.
I decided to refuse the planks for the banquette benches instead!
 Up next was starting to cover up the ugly oak cabinets.  My test piece was the refrigerator panel.
I deglossed it and used Valspar paint and primer in one.  It went on like butter and ended up drying real nice.

 This is how it looked after I started to prime all the other oak paneling and cabinets in the camper.

 I really am pleased with how much a little paint and lots of blue tape can transform the walls and cabinets in this camper.  I am using Zinsser 123 Plus primer and have really liked how it goes on and sticks to anything.  
I found that another way to really make things look new again is to use spray paint.  The AC unit, speaker covers and ceiling vents were all dingy and in an almond color.  I gave them all a good cleaning and then sprayed on basic satin white spray paint.  I didn't even prime and the stuff went on wonderfully.

 I tried to reused the filters in the AC but I think they had never been cleaned and even though I washed them, they were still pretty bad off.  I ordered replacement filters from Camping World.  BUT....when they arrived, they were the wrong size.  Bah.  I ended up just cutting them to fit and you'd never know the difference.  
Ahhh, fresh filters=fresher air.
Look how nice and clean the spray painted AC cover looks!
I've been busy installing new flooring and painting every nook and cranny in the camper.  More to follow and wish me luck along the way.  Follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

8.07.2013

Camper Redo: We bought a camper!

We bought a camper!  I've been spying campers for a couple of months now and really didn't think we'd end up getting one until next year.  On a whim, I was able to get Hubs to jump on the bandwagon and we went to go view a 1979 Airstream.  It was in great condition and if the owners came down in price, we would have bought it.  It needed cosmetic work on the inside but the real reason why we didn't buy it was because it needed axle work and that is a much bigger project than we wanted to take on.

Here is what we bought!
1995 Jayco Eagle 24 Feet

Later that day, feeling a little deflated, I went on Craigslist and saw a much smaller travel trailer for sale and it was nearby.  The pictures made it look extremely clean and well kept.  I emailed the seller and she quickly got back to me.  I was leery though because she said they were the third owners.  Hmmm, I really wanted to buy something that was from one owner.  However, I was giddy to hear that the location of the camper was only 15 minutes away.  I almost jumped in the car and went to spy it at night, but knew that wasn't the best thing to do...even though I really wanted to.

Hubs and I went the next afternoon and had a price in our head of what we were willing to pay.  The camper is from 1995 so it's rather old. We were actually very surprised how clean and well maintained the camper was.  The couple that were selling it had upgraded to a slightly newer and bigger camper.  They were very nice and showed us all the mechanics of the camper.  They let us inspect it all over, under the sinks, on the roof, under the belly, everything.  They were very open to our questions and answered everything we asked.

Now Hubs is the negotiator.  I run the other way.

He asked the owner if there was room for negotiation and she was willing to come down $800 dollars but it was still far from what we had in our minds.  I could tell that Hubs was willing to go up on our agreed budget and he politely gave an offer.  She didn't bite.  We thanked her for their time and let them know if they changed their mind to give us a call.

We had a few things going for us.
They already had another camper in their driveway.
We were so nice and polite how could they not like us. :)
We made a lot of small talk as we had a camper before and gave them some tips on places to stay where they haven't been before.
The husband wanted to sell it to us.  You could tell.  The wifey was the money negotiator.  She didn't budge at first.

On the way home, Hubs and I discussed how much we liked the camper and how clean it was.
Do you know what made us make a counter offer?  The little camper has two entry doors.
Yes, that was it! Hubs could get up in the AM and go get coffee without having to disturb me.

We made a counter off that was very close to meeting the owners offer in the "middle."
The owner and I had communicated via email over the last few days, so I emailed her and then held my breathe.  Actually, I went to go clean out my husband's truck.  I had the vacuum blaring and glanced over at my phone.  SHE ACCEPTED OUR OFFER and said Bring Cash and Come and Get it.
I screamed and did an odd jump in the air.  
Hubs thought I found some freaky bug while cleaning out the truck.  
Within 15 minutes we were on the road to go pick up our brand new camper.

Here are some things we learned and some things that may help you if looking to buy a camper.
1) Go to dealers and look around.  Try to figure out the size you want and what some of the amenities you need.
2) Look on Craigslist, Ebay, newspaper, peer in people's driveways.  Basically get the word out you are looking and go on the hunt.  I never thought I would buy ours 15 minutes from home.
3) Look for any sign of water damage. Look under the sinks, each of the corners of the camper, check windows, poke around the floors, etc.  If owners look at you weird, who cares. If they won't show you around the camper, think hard about why not.
4) Know that you can fix the cosmetics of the camper.  If you are like me, you want the camper to be pretty, to be fun, to be your home away from home.  Know that you can paint, clean and make the place look fabulous.

How do you like that lovely floral fabric, pastel wall covering and oak plastic trim and cabinets?


Here is what we wanted when we were looking for a camper.
1) Small camper between 20-24 feet that had bathroom and two places to sleep.
2) Lighter weight camper so we could possibly tow it with our Ford Explorer or our Ford F250.
3) Awning
4) Clean spaces that had a little more room that our previous truck camper.
5) A bathtub/shower that was bigger than what was in our truck camper.

We came away with all of that and the two entry doors. :)

I'm working on ripping out carpet, plastic trim and other things I no longer want in the camper.
Next steps are painting and adding lots of fabric by Premier Prints.  I love their patterns!

The carpet was very discolored, somewhat clean.  It didn't smell like dog or cat or pee and just looked old.  I found out there was a lot of sand ground into it when I ripped it up.  It was a real pain to tear up because it is attached under the walls and under the bed, not right up to it.

Also, see all the dirt in those floor vents.  ICK.  I bought new ones that open and close at Lowes yesterday.  Hopefully that will help from crap falling into them.  I don't think they were ever cleaned.

I ripped all the fake plastic trim off the walls and ceiling.  I will caulk and fill in most of the gaps and holes.  Some spots will require new trim, but I'd rather have real wood trim then plastic stuff.

Follow me along on Instagram or follow my Camping Pinterest board.  I can't get enough inspiration and love to hear your suggestions and comments.

5.06.2013

Outdoor Farm Table: Finishing the Table Top


Hubs and I had four, fun-filled, jam packed, work days around the house.  We tackled working on the yard and building a farm table for our patio. 
 After the construction of it, I set up to get it finished with paint and stain/sealer.
I decided to use Valspar Duramax in white semigloss on the base from Lowes.  We used this paint on our shed last year and I was super pleased with the quality of it.  I painted one coat, let it dry a day and then followed up with a pretty thick coat on the next day.  Note that the quality of the post legs and stud frame is pretty rustic so there are definitely imperfections, but that is the look I was after.  If you want a super smooth surface, you may want to use something other than the studs for the frame.
For the table top, I decided to use Cabot Australian Timber Oil in brown.  It soaks into the wood just like stain and only requires one coat.  I tested leaving the stain on longer and following with a second coat, but it became way too dark.  Fine by me!  One coat was easier.  I brushed it on the wood in sections and rubbed it off with a rag.  This product can be cleaned up with soap and water and I decided to use it because we had success with it on our cedar fence last year.  Time will tell how it holds up on the table.
There were a total of 6 boards and I stained the back sides first.  I let them dry a couple of hours and then flipped them staining the sides, ends and top of the boards.  I let them dry overnight and then soak in the sun the next morning.
Next step was attaching the boards together to form a table top.  This is where I deviated from the plans and am still figuring some of it out.
These boards are heavy and attaching them all together and then heaving the table top onto the base seemed a little much.
For now, I created the tabletop in two sections for ease of transport.  Once we settle on where the table is staying on the patio, I might secure the table top a little different.
(You can see on the left is the boards with stain left on longer.  
Boards on the right are with one quick coat)
Once the top was flipped over and put on the base, I couldn't believe how fabulous it looked.
Amazing.  Beautiful.  Exactly the look I was going after.
I still have to build two benches to match and fit on the longer sides.  I decided on chairs for the ends of the table.  I bought a set from BJ's Wholesale and a set from Lowes.  For the look we are going after, the set from BJ's is what we decided to keep.  Both were comparable in price and made of similar quality, but the one's from BJ's had a tighter pattern and the color went nicer with the tabletop.
Note that both fit the table height the same.
Remember, I built this table for less than $100 bucks!  The chairs were $70 each and I'm still searching for cushions and have to build the benches.  My goal is to be under $350 for the set.  What do you think? Doable? And where can you find a set that you love, that you built, that you smile at when you see it for under $350???!!!
Hope you all have a great week.  Back to my day job this week, but I'm giddy to clean up the patio and work some more on the yard next weekend.

Linked up to: Tatertots and JelloDIY SHOW OFF

5.03.2013

Building My Own Outdoor Wood Farm Table

Anyone else have sticker shock when they went looking for a decent size patio dining table?
I've been looking since last summer and while there are tons of options out there, nothing was 100% what I wanted.  
I'm a big fan of Ana White. She has the most amazing plans for building just about anything you want and her plans are FREE.
I did a lot of research online and adapted her Farmhouse and Rustic tables to meet our needs. You can find many bloggers who have built tables and it was helpful to check out what they did.
I purchased all of the lumber and supplies at Lowes.  Two nice gents helped me pick out straight, clean boards and they loaded it into our truck.
 I first decided I wanted to build the table a huge 4x8 size.  I quickly built the frame in about an hour as it was nearing dark.  However, when I went back a few days later to start building the rest of the table, I decided it was too wide and I really should have used longer screws.
 I went back and cut everything down to these measurements.
4- 4x4 posts @ 28 inches 
2- 2x4 studs @ 35 inches
2- 2x4 studs @ 36 1/2 inches
2- 2x4 studs @ 84 inches

This is all you need for the base.
I purchased the Kreg Jig system last year from Lowes and used 2 1/2 inch course blue screws from Kreg to build this table.

Once I cut everything using my Dewalt chop/miter saw, I gave everything a real quick sanding with my  Dewalt orbital sander.  Just enough to get any rough bits off.
At this point, use your Kreg to place your pocket holes.  I just followed the video instructions on their website and after the first one, it was easy.  I love this tool!

Now it was time to assemble everything.
I found the easiest was to do the shorter sides first.
Here is a tip I learned along the way.  Use a 2x4 scrap as a spacer to help hold the wood up off the ground.
This also allowed me to have the cross braces evenly spaces between the posts/legs.
I smeared some Gorilla Wood glue then drove the 2 1/2 inch Kreg screws through the pocket holes.
This is what it will look like once attached.
 
 I then flipped the side pieces on their backs and started to assembled the long 7 foot braces.  Same technique using the 2x4 scrap spacer. 

 Once that is done, flip it all upright and check for anything that is loose.  For the most part everything was super solid except one post had a slight crack in it and when I drilled into it, it became a little wobbly.  I just flipped the post around and rescrewed the side piece.  So check for holes and cracks and don't drill into them.
I was surprised how sturdy it all was even before I attached the middle braces.
This is where the 36 1/2 inch studs go.  I spaced them about 21 inches in from the sides.
I used the Kreg and pocket holes to attach them too.  When attaching, make sure they are centered on the 2x4 you are attaching them too.  You don't want them raised or it will cause your table top to be uneven when you attach it.
 The table top is constructed of 6- 2x8x8's.
I trimmed them slightly to get the rough edges off them and make sure they are all flush with each other.
 
 I'll share with you later on the exact spacing and over hang measurements.  I am still tweaking that while I finish the top.  One thing to keep in mind is that you want fairly straight boards with almost no bow to them so that the top is as flush as it can be.  I recommend buying 1 or 2 extra.  I had to swap out one board that had a slight warp, but I was glad I had extra because the next one fit perfect.
 I made sure the end grain was all going in the same direction when I dry fitted the table top.
I'm deciding if I want to leave a slight gap between the boards or not since this table will be used outside.
Check back for more details as I finish this table up.

Here's a run down of what I've spent so far.

I rounded up to keep things simple.
2x8x8 (6) = $48
2x4x8 (4) = $13
4x4x10 (1) = $13
Glue = $4
Kreg Screws = $6

Total =$83 bucks.  How cheap is that for an outdoor table!  I just had to do a double take and recheck my math.

Note that the Kreg system price varies depending on which one you buy.  I think I bought the deluxe version for about $100 last year, but I know I'll be using it for lots of projects.

Happy Building!

3.19.2013

Donating for a Better Life


I’m going to get a little personal and share something that’s been on my mind and tugging at my heartstrings.  

We live in a world that has seen much advancement in technology.  The Internet is our “go to” every day. For most of us, it’s the first thing we do in the morning, check our email, surf the Web, and see what others have said on Facebook.

We share snippets of our lives on our blogs, via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media avenues.  Finding out information is quick and relatively easy.  Sharing can be highly personal and puts you out there for the world to see.  At times, it’s a little overwhelming, but for the most part, highly entertaining and amazing that so many friends can be made along the way.

I find it easy to share my DIY adventures, but find it difficult to talk about me… on a personal level.  I recently read that most of us are extroverts while online, but in real life we are really introverts.  The web allows us to put things out there and not be so afraid of what people will think.

So you’re wondering what’s been tugging at my heartstrings. 
Organ Donation.
I know.  It’s a heavy topic.  Giving of oneself.
Why is it so important to me?

My family is affected by a genetic disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).  More people than you think have it.  It’s a disease that causes cysts to grown on the kidney degrading its function.  We need our kidneys to filter out all the nasty stuff that makes its way through our bodies.  Good-bye toxins!

I was born with it and didn’t know I had it until I entered college. A routine physical identified something was amiss.  I am very lucky for a very detailed doctor.

For the most part, my life has been normal, except that now I see how this genetic disease takes its toll on my family.

I have the form that was inherited and it was passed down from my father.  He didn’t know that he had it until he was in his 50’s.  He too for the most part, led a normal healthy life.

It wasn’t until he was in his 60’s that he had to go on dialysis.  It’s no walk in the park and he’s on multiple organ transplant lists at university hospitals in NY, NJ and PA waiting to receive a kidney from someone who has died, passed on, who was willing to give once their life was complete.

It’s amazing.  It’s a blessing to think that someone would be willing to give of him or herself in that way.

What is tugging at my heart even more is this.  With all the advancements in medicine, we now live in a time where live organ donation is a reality.  Want to hear something more amazing?  Matches are found via Facebook, blogs, forums, and all the places that we share and open up ourselves to.

I’m giddy with excitement every time I see that someone has found their match and undergoes a successful live organ donation.  What a great time in our lives to witness this.  True Love.

I’m not going to share all the statistics around kidney disease, organ donation, etc., but I ask that you be aware.  Think about it.  Relish in the reality that we can help one another in ways that were not possible before.   

I think of this analogy all the time.  My grandfather had cancer when I was young and my family would have done anything to help him, to give him something so he could live longer. 

In the case of kidney disease, we have that chance; we have the ability to give, to help our family, friends and fellow human beings live a more normal life.

Thanks for letting me share.

Update 3/19/13: The day I posted this I received wonderful news that a friend of mine, who recently went on dialysis for PKD, had found her match via a paired living donor.  She is scheduled for a kidney transplant in April.  She religiously spread the word about the need for donors and created a Facebook page sharing her story.  This proves that there is HOPE, that there is LOVE and that we do live in an amazing time where this can happen with the help of social networking.  Please share our story so that others can be educated about all forms of organ donation.

Below are some links if you would like more information on our particular kidney disease and kidney transplants.




2.21.2013

TV Room Reveal: Plank Wall

The last time I shared my TV room was almost 2 full years ago.  I was all excited because I had big plans and they were fantastic.  That was until I lost the will to continue on. The room was a boring beige space and even though I bought new furniture and accessories, there was still something missing.

That all changed!  Say HELLO to my new Plank Wall.  Isn't it just be a-u-ti-ful?!


If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know I love any kind of wood trim and a fun night out is trolling the molding aisle in Lowes.

Well, I really got the bug to fix up our "TV room." Do you have one? Some call the room a "den", "rec room" or maybe even a "living room."  We still use the term "TV room" around here.


This room is a rectangle, with two large pass through and very tall vaulted ceilings.  Hubs and I have toyed with the idea of expanding the room, or closing off one of pass through and many other ideas.  We even rearranged our old furniture more times than I can count.

I had wanted to do a plank wall in this space since last summer, but chickened out and decided to try it in the guest room first.  Well, few months later, I decided I was ready.

Off to Lowes for the planks cut from plywood underlayment.

I took my time with priming, sanding, placing the planks just so, more painting and sanding and then Bam!  I loved it.

Ready for some Before & After?

HoHum space.  No trim around the windows.


I primed the entire wall with white primer so when the planks were installed you would only see white between the planks.  I used Valspar wallboard primer in white from Lowes.


I purchased the wood from Lowes.  I used plywood underlayment and it was almost $20 a sheet.  This was near the back of the store near the power saw they use and the nice man Chris helped me load 3 sheets into my cart.  He cut 6 inch wide strips into each sheet.  I ended having almost a whole sheet left over once everything was installed, but I needed it because I had a little waste fitting in some of the pieces.

Because of how my window is placed on the wall, I don't have that many seams vertically.  I decided I liked it that way, but you could always cut your boards and stagger them so you have seams for a more rustic look.
 I did trim out the window like I had done with those throughout the house.  

 

Installing the planks was fairly easy.  I had marked where all my studs were and just nailed into those.  There are a couple of spots around the vents and electrical outlets where I had to use a little Liquid nails.
I used the same primer on the boards and it was fine.  I was a little nervous because I normally use Zinser, but it coated the planks well and didn't peel off.

I applied the primer with a medium size roller and there was no seepage into the cracks.  My planks are spaced apart a "nickel" width.  I coated the wood with 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint.
I used Ben Moore Eggshell in "White Dove".  I applied the paint same way with a roller.

I purchased the rod and finals from Lowes in walnut and cut it down a few inches to fit where I wanted to install it.  
I admit I was sweating bullets when I had to drill into the plank wall to install the brackets.  I measured like 15 times and in the end it all worked out.  They are installed almost 15 inches outside the window and about 90 inches from the floor.  
Tip: if you cut down your own wood rod, tape where you are going to cut with blue tape.  This prevents the wood from splintering and ruining the finish.  I learned this!

 The drapes are from JC Penney and I ordered the longer length online.  It is a new brand they are now carrying called Color Drift and this is the Diamondback pattern.
I decided to hang 4 panels, two on each side because I liked the fullness.  I am impressed with the quality of the panels, but they are not lined.  This didn't bother me because they are stationary.


The bamboo blind is from Home Depot and ordered it online to be shipped to the store.  It is a stock item though and was called Providence for the finish.

The rest of the furniture had been in the room waiting for some new accessories.  I had bought the TV console from Crate and Barrel few years back when we bought the TV.  Last weekend I wire tied all the component wires and tucked everything in the cabinet nice.  No more lurking dust bunnies behind there!


 The Windsor chair is overflow from the dining table, but I'm thinking of putting a comfy chair in this corner to round out the seating in the room.  Our seating consists of a leather side chair and couch.  They are super comfy and I like the color.  And SHHHHH, don't tell, but they recline.  I know sounds a little cheesy, but I'm not giving them up.

I'm on the hunt for accessories and pillows in some fun colors like maybe green or navy to add a little ZAZ to the room.

I can tell you after 15 years of living in this home, I now walk into this room and smile.  It's now my home.

Let me know if you have any questions and follow me on Facebook or Instagram to see what I'm up to next.  Search Pine Tree Home.

Enjoy your weekend!

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