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Monday, December 31, 2012

DIY Tray Ceiling

Now that the holidays are over we decided to get moving on a few winter projects since its too cold to be outside, the first is adding a tray ceiling to our dining room. This is a $1000 add-on with RH which believe it or not, we're completing for about $75--that is not a typo.

Of course you do need to already have a few things to keep the cost low:

Drywall Screws
Air Brad Nailer speeds the job up immensly
Drywall Compound
Stud Finder
Miter Saw/Box

After much debating we decided to go with a 6"h x 15" deep tray in the dining room. The casing on the DR entryways left us with 1' above the door, so we stopped the tray halfway, leaving room for the 3" crown that will be added later.

For the framing, we went with 2x2s instead of 2x4s as well as 3/8" sheetrock to keep the weight down and this also directly lowered the cost. Our DR is about 12x14 so this meant a length of (2) 2x2x8 for each course of framing. In total we used (24) 2x2s with a total cost of $40.

Once you determine how tall you want your tray, run a first course around the perimeter of the room at that height. It is the single piece of wood on the wall shown in the picture below. Some people use chalk lines around the room but we just marked the height every few feet. There is no need to miter since all joints will be hidden by drywall.

Always screw into studs and joists when creating any structural additions!
We accept no liability as to the validity or completeness of these instructions!

Next you will need to build some mini-ladder-ish structures to hold what will be the wall of your tray. Make sure you have determined where your ceiling joists are, as this also affects how deep your tray is to become.

If you are missing joists at prime locations, one option is to cut a hole in the ceiling (the part that will be hidden by the tray) and nail in your own cross members. Another option is to buy toggle bolts which have small arms that grab onto the top-side of the drywall to hang things.

These sections are small and will weigh about 10-15lbs each with the sheetrock attached and can easily be supported by either method

Since we decided on 6" height, each long 2x2 is 1.5" high, so 1.5 + 1.5 = 3 and in order to reach 6" we created 3" mini studs to end up with 6". Brad nail them together and also use wood glue or liquid nails.

We went with a 15" deep tray as we think much deeper than that makes the room feel smaller. Mark or chalk that width on your ceiling and attach the mini-ladders at those marks.

Continue adding the "ladders" around the room. We did the shorter walls first so that would cut down on the amount of wood needed for the long walls since they will be butting up against each other.

The last step is to add some 45deg mitered angle pieces to create the octagonal effect, these can be sized to taste but aesthetically the same length as the depth of the tray seemed to work best for us.

Updated 1/1
Happy New Year!!

The drywall went up and dried yesterday and since we typically stay home on 12/31, we brought in the new year doing our favorite things...drinking and painting (not a recommended blend but it was so much fun!) It turned out great and we LOVE our new tray ceiling, which again ran us exactly $76.24, talk about a score! Adding the crown will really make it pop. We also ran some electrical in the tray just in case we decide on some small recessed at a later date.

Next up: Crown Molding, Custom Built-in Shelving and some basement re-vamping with a wet bar & media room, and more...stay tuned :)

-- Ericka

even though the right side looks skewed in the photo, it is perfectly straight! just a weird perspective

Thursday, November 1, 2012

DIY Decorative Wall Boxes

We've gotten a few private messages about the wall boxes showing in our last project update about the Custom Window Valances and decided to throw a quickie tutorial together.

The ones we have are 20" square, to make 3 of them you will need 3 pieces of 1x2x8' pine that run a few dollars each. Being that we wanted 2 alternating colors, we bought 1 yard of the blue and 1 yd of the brown. If the fabric roll is at least 48" long, you can get 2 of them out of one yard at the size we wanted.

You will need:
(3) 1x2x8' pine pieces
Box of 2" brad/finishing nails
Quilt Batting (optional, but will create a smoother surface)
Staple Gun

Total cost per box depending on source/quality of fabric: $5-10

Cut your wood pieces to size, needing 4 pieces per box at 20" each.

Being that we're doing this tutorial after the fact, we are missing a couple of photos of the steps but inserted graphic examples or related pictures to help you along. Check out the Valances post for more insight.

Assemble them with your nails in a roundabout joint with one piece overlapping the other and continue overlapping as you go around. This will help you get a perfect square without mitering the corners.

Lay the frame on your uncut fabric or batting and position it at least 2" from the corner of the fabric to make sure that you have enough to wrap around to the inside edges of the frame and staple. Cut the fabric only after you have the two corner edges secured.

If you did use batting, repeat the last step with your fabric.

We spaced them with 4" between each piece so to center on whichever wall youre using compute xx to be the remainder of inches divided by 2:

|  xx...20 - 4 - 20 - 4 - 20...xx   |

Sunday, October 28, 2012

DIY Custom Window Valances

The model here has some nice cornices and we took advantage of that idea for our master. We've been breezing through projects and always forget to take pictures and document, but did remember with this one.

All you really need is a a sheet of 1/2" plywood (or assorted pieces of pine but it may cost more), some brackets, staple gun, hammer, screws, screwdriver, quilt batting, fabric and a saw of some type.

The windows here in VA are 35" x 60", and we've found that an extra 2" on the width and a 12" height (mounted 6" above the window) gives us the look were into. One of the walls has a cluster of two so we will create a valance doubled in size to cover both.

Things you'll need for each single window...
  • (1) 37" x 12" piece for front or 1'x12"x8' pine (good for 2 windows)
  • (2) 3" x 12" for the sides or 1'x4"x8' pine (good for sides and top)
  • (1) 3" x 36" for the top
  • (3) 1" L-brackets
  • (2) 2" L-brackets
  • (2) corner brackets
  • 1/2" wood screws
Depending on the quality/source of the fabric it should run about $25/window

Place the brackets as shown and assemble, make sure youre holding whichever seam you are working on and watch for shifting closely before you attach the screws.

Quilt Batting 36X45 - you can get enough for 2 windows from this pack, it does stretch a little so its easy to force a fit

Place 4" from a corner to be sure you have enough to wrap around the sides and to the back edges

On the long sides, keep your staples around 2" apart or you will see buckles and lumps and stretch as you go.

Same goes for the fabric. We bought a 21-piece bedding set that came with curtains & bed skirt. We will be using neither and have re-purposed the skirt for the valances.

Use the 2" L-brackets to mount the valance to the wall, resting the top side against the brackets.

Voila! Were still working on the master so better pics to follow

Friday, June 22, 2012


Its great to be back on the scene, its been a whirlwind of activity--graduations, unpacking, cleaning, shopping, we even had two furniture deliveries where the items were damaged in shipping and so we had to re-order. We wont be driving to DC/Ikea for a few weeks and cant get fully into decorating until the house is fully furnished so...
We just had our 30-day inspection and it turned out to be pretty minor. We had already touched up the walls from moving, the list is basically:

- Move one irrigation head. We cut a rounded plot around the lamp post for bushes and had the head that was at that location moved over.
- install 3 ceiling fans
- one door isnt closing without real effort
- one burner on the gas range is low
- some seams in the garage are coming loose
- a few cabinet doors were misaligned
- repaint front door
- weather stripping @ front door is damaged

which is all being done this coming Monday.

Some bonuses...
- had the concrete company cut the joints of one of the slabs in the walkway to the front door so that we could bury the gutter drain pipe under the walkway and into the grass so it would stop pooling water in the mulch
- had the sump pump drain pipe connected to the sewer drain which is luckily right in front of our lot since the water was pooling at the sidewalk.
- concrete company is pouring the side door walkway for $600, we want a curved path so to be sure its how we want it, we will create the shape in the sod ourselves and they will make the forms and pour.
- deck is being extended another 8 feet to the end of the house for $500
- irrigation company is installing 10 heads and adding 2 zones in the backyard for $1000 (from what we understand is a great value) and we will put down sod next spring.
- crown  molding being done on the entire first floor for $500

For everyone who gets a fireplace...for some reason this info never made it to us until after the fact. the chemical that they coat the logs with needs time to burn off (about 4-6 hours) and will smell kind of foul and will smoke the house. I spoke directly to the fireplace guy and he said to open the windows, leave the house and let it run. He said it will automatically turn itself off after a set amount of hours for safety. Definitely do this before the winter or tell your PM to make sure it happens before you move in if youre closing in the fall.

Still a long way to go (and were in no hurry) but here are some assorted pics...while we wait on loads of furniture.

This is the 19" TV between the morning room and the kitchen on an articulating mount and this turned out to be a great choice for placement, its out of the way, convenient, and can be used by both rooms very easily

Built a dirty clothes pull out basket area in the laundry room nook, its turned out to be very helpful, Details here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A cold reception & shady situation

The cold reception was the delivery of our new refrigerator and our 2" plantation shades were installed...yay!

Weve been tweaking each room with some old stuff and some new stuff and will be revealing as we get further along. Still waiting for a bunch of furniture that is on order so we will be slumming it for a short while.

Found an amazing deal for $50 per window installed with a lifetime warranty, that is unbeatable! My mom is going to help me make some custom valances, cant wait! --Ericka

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Honey-do and do and do...

Well its been 5 days since we've closed and we have been running non-stop moving and arranging and installing, and SHOPPING! Were nearly completely unpacked, but school is still in session for another 2 weeks so were running back and forth and still left some minimal vitals in the old house to keep things running. Refrigerator is coming today and here are this weekend's goodies. --Ericka

Converted one of the recessed to a hanging fixture and added a pendant for the island, love it!

Started jazzing up the "mudroom/hall". This wall is only 28" so there wasnt enough room for a full traditional shelf/bench entryway setup, but this will suit our needs fine.

Found this cool new digital peephole with a lcd screen!

Push the button and you get this!

Had loads of fun getting this La-Z-Boy present from my MIL up to the master bedroom...I was a good supervisor on that one :)

Wall mounted surround speakers in the basement, this is some of the wiring we had hidden before the drywall went up :)

Hall bathroom motion switch that auto turns on/off the light AND fan upon entry/exit, because its always one or the other that never gets turned off.