Posts tagged DIY
Desk Update that Gets a Little Personal

Remember our "family estate sale day" from a few months ago? I've always wanted a little writing desk like this, and they're really expensive in good shape. It was love at first sight with this quirky desk, and (since my hubby loves me), we decided to take it home as a project.

As per usual, we paid for it before we realized it wouldn't fit in my mom & dad's Prius. I have a terrible eye for what will fit in a car! We ended up swapping out cars for the Toyota Camry I drove in college - you can get anything in that car! (I moved to and from college in that beast so many times.)

Before I go further - I am not a DIY expert, but an enthusiastic amateur. This is a "learn from my mistakes" kind of project.

The desk was uneven, painted terrible colors, missing hardware, and terribly scratched up - but I had a very clear idea of how it could look. So we took it home and embarked on the process of refinishing. We started out by removing all the hardware and using a palm sander on the door and drawers. I really liked the way they were turning out, but it was a full afternoon of work just to do the easy parts. (This was the first "oh crap" moment.)


We don't have a garage or yard, so we commandeered the sidewalk for the bulk of the project, and did some of the work in the guest room with the windows open and the fan running.

The desk has so many different surfaces and small nooks, it would have been impossible to get all of it sanded evenly. (At least with my tools and skill level.) At this point, we sought the advice of Jenny Linquist, DIY queen. (We should have put that on her business cards!) Her suggestion was to use a chemical paint stripper. Thank goodness for Jenny - we'd have never thought of that! So, we picked up a can of Klean-Strip paint stripper to use on the desk itself. We did two rounds of "stripping" across two weekends, following up with a paint stripper after wash (not this one, but a similar product that our local Ace Hardware had.) While the paint stripper was 100% easier than palm sanding the whole thing, it was still a ton of work. The stripper is a weird, goopy gelatinous consistency, and has to be scraped off carefully to get all the paint off. (I bet our spam is going to go through the roof after using "stripper" and "stripping" in a post this many times!) Once all of the old paint/stain had finally been removed, we stained the desk (we were shooting for a teak color to coordinate with our coffee & side tables), and gave it a coat of polyurethane. The finishing touch was new hardware that we'd found at two different antique stores on the Olympic Peninsula.

This was not a quick Saturday afternoon project - which was kind of what I was expecting. I started the first round of stripping late in the day, and had my second "oh crap" moment when I realized how long it would take. (Hours.) I wanted to get the desk home, refinish it "real quick" and sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Working on this desk was pretty revealing for me. It showed a lot of things about my character that aren't particularly flattering. I am all about the "take the bull by the horns" moments, but the quiet, diligent, behind the scenes moments are hard for me. There were several moments during this project that I couldn't tell if I was making progress. I was cranky and filled with doubt that all the work would be worth it when we finished. My head ached, my arms hurt, and there wasn't a shortcut.

I am so happy with how the desk turned out. But the truth is, my expectations weren't in line with reality, and I didn't enjoy the process nearly as much as I could have. My heart was ugly along the way. I did the work kicking and screaming. It's funny how humbling projects like this can be. Every time I look at the desk, I am reminded that life is full of hard projects. I can either enjoy them, or be miserable. I was pretty miserable working on this one. But the beautiful thing is, I can choose to do things differently next time. Here's to many more uncharted journeys, and choosing joy along the way!

Everything needs a sweater.

Now that our office and print shop have been united in our new studio, I've been making a pot of french press coffee every morning when I get in. Since I drink coffee super slow, the pot tends to get cold. (There's a microwave down the hall, but one gets tired of going back and forth.) The solution to this age old problem? A french press sweater.

I'm especially excited about this project, because I made my own pattern! I took the basic shape from this tutorial by Design*Sponge and mixed it with this cable knit hat pattern. I've been knitting for a long time (very basic things like scarves), but I've only recently begun tackling projects with purling and patterns. It's been a really fun challenge. It's like I know another language now! K2, P2!


There's something undeniably soothing about knitting. It keeps my hands busy, but allows my mind to rest. We're swamped at work right now, finishing up client projects and getting things ready for our grand opening and the Urban Craft Uprising winter show. But when I'm knitting, I'm cozy - snuggled up with yarn in my hands. It's a nice feeling.

We've got a great studio for knitting. After lunch, the afternoon sun comes around a building and in through our big window. Last weekend, we picked up a chair for the studio - which (as it turns out) is the perfect cozy chair for knitting. I see many afternoon knitting breaks in my future. Because, you know, everything needs a sweater. (Even this dog, Carmelita. Her "mom" is our studio neighbor, and Carmelita likes to come visit.)

For my fellow knitters, here's the pattern I created. I used size 6, 4.0 mm needles, with Lion Brand Jiffy yarn in "Fisherman."

Cast on 66 stitches K2, P2 rib for 6 rows

Start pattern, repeat 4 times: Rows 1-4) P2, K6, P2, K1 (repeat to end of row) Row 5) P2, slip 3 to cable needle, K3 from cable needle, P2, K1 (repeat to end of row) Rows 6-8) same as Rows 1-4

K2, P2 rib for 6 rows Bind off. Use yarn tails to make top & bottom button loops, attach 3rd button loop in the middle with extra yarn. Attach 3 buttons in coordinating spots on the opposite side.

Photos by Jenny Linquist. Visit her internship blog and her photography facebook for more!

Let There Be Shelves!

We've been hard at work these past few weeks, doing projects to make our new studio home. And we've finally got some photos for you!

This is the wall between the office and the print shop in our new space. We decided to take advantage of the divided wall space, and build these two shelving units. We really wanted something that would be a "statement piece," and fit in with all the cast iron and wood that come with the territory of a print shop. We'd previously searched for pre-made shelves or storage solutions, but nothing seemed to fit.


We found a tutorial for a similar shelving piece, and loved the vintage/industrial feel. And so, we launched an epic DIY weekend (that became a week), and forged through blood, sweat, and tears to build these lovelies. We're by no means experts when it comes to carpentry type projects - and this was a big stretch for us. But we're really happy with how they came out.


The initial intention for the shelves was "all storage all the time," but we've been having fun with them instead - lovingly arranging and displaying our favorite things. Their purpose may morph over time (as we have more things to store), but that's the great thing about shelves - they can be whatever you need.


We built our shelving units based on a tutorial by The Brick House. Ours are quite different in size and configuration, so they took some improvisation along the way. The biggest difference is in how the boards are attached. The tutorial suggested drilling holes in the boards for the pipes to go through. The boards that were available to us weren't quite deep enough for that to take place. Instead, we flipped the "spigot" part of the pipes downward, placed the boards on top, and used pipe straps to connect the pipes to the underside of the boards. (You can see this in the photo above.)


All supplies  for the project were purchased from our local Home Depot store (which we visited approx. 100,000 times during this project). Wood: Pine boards stained with Minwax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut (For more info about the staining process, check out Jenny's blog post.) Pipes: Galvanized plumbing pipes spray painted flat black

Photos by our wonderful Fall intern, Jenny Linquist. Visit her internship blog and her photography facebook for more photo magic.