Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Outdoor sectional

After about seven months, the outdoor sectional is finally complete! Take a look:

Way back in the fall, I decided that I was going to ditch the setup I had going in the backyard for a few years. It looked a little something like this, or at least when I first set it up it did:

That's a daybed I setup under the gazebo and then I had my patio table and chairs set up beside it on top of some paver blocks I installed myself. I knew I had to change up the backyard when I had destroyed my second gazebo in two years and the daybed became a nuisance to keep clean and dry. 

So I devised a plan to create an outdoor sectional. I scoured Pinterest for ideas, but ultimately ended up with my own concept and design.

Here's the breakdown of how I built this:

1) After prepping the space by removing paver blocks and some bushes, I had to level the area so that the sectional would sit evenly.

2) I purchased 72 cinder blocks, and ended up with some extras, oh well. I also purchased pressure-treated, 3/4" plywood for the seating portion, which I stained white to match the fencing. I had them cut in half at Lowe's so that each piece was 2 feet x 8 feet, with 2 feet being the width of what the "box" I created with the cinder blocks would be. I then also painted the cinder blocks black because I know from experience the mulch kicks up and makes them look dirty. Now you won't notice that as much.

2) I then measured out the sectional to figure out where the end supports needed to be. I decided to use five main anchor points for the sectional. These are the four corners and one in the middle of long sectional piece where two pieces of the seating come together. I used four cinder blocks on each level. The two end boxes are just the two levels. The three back pieces I built up an additional level on each to cover and support where the seating pieces came together. See:

The nice thing about that is it allows me to have a flower box, arm or drink rest on the upper level of cinder blocks, which I think adds a nice touch, and it also ensures that the plywood doesn't go anywhere since it's not really attached to anything. I plan to add more plants. Perhaps some lemon grass to deter the mosquitoes.

3) Once the boxes of cinder blocks were built, it was time to put on the seating. All I did was lay out the now stained plywood boards on top of the boxes, which I had already measured out so the pieces would fit. In the corners, we (my fiance) had to cut the plywood so that the pieces would fit together without overlapping.

4) Once all the plywood was in place and we tested out the seating, we realized that the benches needed more support. So I added in two more cinder blocks, stacked on top of each other, halfway between each of the support boxes. Like this:

5) I then went out and purchased some cushions from Garden Ridge. I decided on two lounge chair cushions for the sides, which measured exactly six feet, and then six single seat cushions for the back side.

I still need to sew some additional pillows. I have my old outdoor pillows, but they don't match. I was going to get some matching fabric and just use the forms from the old pillows to save some money. I also need to re-mulch and add some more plants.

Here's the shot from above again. You'll have to excuse the little netting over the shot. I took it through the screen in an upstairs bedroom. You'll notice that I reused my old table and chairs to make a little eating area on one of the ends. We also threw the fire pit in the middle and added an old rocker with some fresh paint for even more seating. I am so excited to get to use this all spring, summer and fall!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My first shot at dark wax

Well I finally took the plunge and did my first piece using Annie Sloan's dark wax when I finished the new dresser for our bedroom. Another first was making my own chalk paint. Just to refresh your memory, the dresser started out like this:

I started out by chiseling, and then sanding down whatever that gunk was on the top of the dresser. Gross. I then stained the top and sealed it up for protection. Then it came time to paint. I had already decided that I was going to do an ombre-like effect to the dresser to play off of the stripes in our bedspread, shown here, but not our actual room:

Like I mentioned before, I had Valspar paint samples matched at Lowe's to the stripes in the comforter. I then mixed in a bit of calcium carbonate in power form to make it have the same consistency and qualities of chalk paint. I followed Diane Henkler from In My Own Style blog's recipe.

The only hiccup with that process was a flaking off of one of the layers on just one of the drawers. Perhaps I put too much, or maybe too little calcium carbonate in that particular color jar.

I fixed the issue by sanding it back down to the wood and then repainting in the spot that was flaking. You can't even tell now. I think I didn't let it dry enough. Who knows, but I'd definitely do the homemade chalk paint again.

After it was all dried, I ended up with this:

I actually think I should have stopped here. I really liked the way it turned out. But, I then decided to try the dark wax technique from Chi-Chi Studio.

Here's what the dresser looks like now, all aged out using dark wax, alongside the pinspirational pieces, via here and here.

Some more up close:

I still like the way it came out, just a little dingy looking compared to before the dark wax, but I guess that's the look you go for when you want it more aged. I also spray painted the knobs with oil-rubbed bronze to match the top that I stained.

Anyway, all done. It has been a long process from start to finish, and the piece definitely came a long way from what it was. I'll be happy to free up some space in my closet now filling this bad boy up.