how i spent my summer vacation

Yes, I realize that summer is not yet a week old, but we’ve been busy! Figured if I waited until the end to update it would be the longest post in the history of ever. So here it is, summer on the farm part one. Just as we got a lot of work done over the holiday break, with my husband off for the summer (teacher) we plan to take full advantage of this break and get as much done as possible before the fall. And really, let’s be honest.. high school football season starts at the end of July, so my time with him is fading fast.

On to the projects. A few random things I’ve had on my list for a while, yes, pretty much Pinterest inspired, though with our own twists. Basically I found a picture I liked and we went from there.. not following any one how-to, rather using the concept as the basis and making it work for us. It’s been a busy four days, but so excited at what we’ve managed to come up with!

First, this wall gallery has been on my wish list for.EVER. I’ve always wanted a way to display all the random candid family shots, nothing I would enlarge but still funny, special, or otherwise memorable moments. Yes, I take a lot of pictures, and no, they are not all canvas worthy! Some of these are even Iphone snaps.. but at 4×6 size, it’s not a huge commitment. I chose these clip-style frames because they are light, inexpensive, easy to hang, easy to switch the images out as I want to update, and especially because they are almost invisible, so all you see are the fun pictures! That was especially important because I chose to do so many of them. Yes, everyone thought I was crazy.. a total of 60 frames, 12 rows of 5.. but it was hard enough to narrow down to that many, and I felt like it needed to really fill the wall to make the right kind of statement. Go big or go home, right?

Frames are from quadroframes.com, and less than $1 each. Printed the pictures at my local Walmart, so even counting nails the entire project was barely $75. For the joy I get each time I come down this hallway, TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I should point out, this hallway is, in its entirety, about 3ft wide and 8ft long. It connects the girls’ rooms and our bathroom, and is right off the living room. It’s not a main area but it does get a lot of traffic, again since the (only) bathroom is right there. But it was also a good location because of that, I didn’t want anything so busy right in the front entry, and I wanted it somewhere people would stand close enough to really see the pictures up close. So far, so good, and even after spending all that time choosing pictures (yes, I went all the way back into boxes of old film prints to find baby pictures of my oldest!) I still catch myself standing and admiring the view.

Next up… the piano! A piano has been on my house bucket list for years. The older girls played and the youngest is just starting, but always practiced on a keyboard. Which was FINE. But not ideal. And I just love the classic look of a piano in the living room. So since our living room has sat more or less empty since we moved in, I knew I wanted a piano to be one of the things we filled it up with. Spent months watching craigslist and FINALLY was able to snag this one, for free! (Yay! My favorite price!) It took some serious begging to get my husband to drive the 45 min to pick it up.. and some serious thank yous for he and his BFF moving the monster out of the previous owner’s house and into ours.. but hooray! One piece, just perfect.

So you know, I had to paint it yellow. I’d seen painted pianos all over Pinterest and it definitely fit better with the fun colors and cheery feel the rest of the house has been accruing, so why not? The girls voted on a color and yellow won.. though I must say, when I opened the gallon of paint they’d chosen it was a little bright.. I mixed it with A HALF GALLON of grey and ended up with this color.. if that gives you any idea what we started with… think neon traffic signs! Eek!  The whole process was not super hard, just time consuming.. spent a day on and off sanding it.. it had a LOT of grease and gunk built up… and looking back I probably should have used a primer too. But I just painted the whole thing with a little brush.. took three coats to get it totally even, a sprayer would have been easier but I was nervous about getting it on the keys or other mechanics, so brush I did. And brush. And brush. Once the paint was dry I did a light coat of polyurethane to seal it in, and she was good to go! Bright and cheery, the perfect addition to the big empty room!

Side note, my oldest said the color and smooth texture looked like it was carved out of butter, so it has been dubbed the Butter Piano. Lest you hear that later and think we were trying a new recipe. I am so pleased with how it turned out, we just need to find a cool bench now and we’ll be all ready for the Van Cliburn!

So the piano was free, paid $25 for a gallon of paint, another $8 for a can of spray sealer. Maybe used half of a $5 package of sanding sheets.. again, super cheap and totally got a lot of bang for that buck!

Other side note.. the print on the piano is another Pinterest project, though it didn’t turn out exactly as planned it was pretty fun for a Friday night family activity.

And finally, our last project of the week.. yes, we are still in the same four day time span… there was a little peek at this one in the first piano picture. We made the ever popular coffee table from shipping pallets! And WOW did it turn out a billion times better than I expected! My sweet husband (who I should clarify, is the one who actually made it.. I supervised and offered a lot of unsolicited advice) even declared, upon completion, that it was “totally Pinterest worthy!” and I agree!

Again, we took the concept.. pallets into coffee table, and went with it. He found the pallets behind a restaurant and chose two specifically for their slats.. one totally solid and one with more openings. We actually had a third pallet that was unusable by itself, but we did have to replace a few boards on one of the others so it was helpful to have extras to dismantle and harvest from. This one took a LOT of sanding, partly because of the roughness of the wood and partly to get off the random dirt and gunk. That was tricky, because we wanted to keep the weathered look but also wanted it to be clean and safe. Finally got the wood prepared and then I stained it a very cool sandalwood grey color, to get the appearance of old wood that was more even, but still let the existing imperfections shine through.

>At that point I handed the project off to my husband, who scoured the aisles of Home Depot (AND Lowes) and found the right components to combine the pallets. In this case, it was plumbing pipes and flanges, and heavy-duty metal casters on the bottom. Lining them up, getting it even, all of that took a lot of tweaking, but in no time it was done, and ready to use! I planned on coating it with lots of polyurethane as well, to keep it smooth, but I love the rough texture in the otherwise soft room. Still debating that. Either way, it looks AMAZING.. has room for blankets, books, whatever.. and totally finishes the room off!

That said, living room is NOWHERE near what I would consider done, so full before/after post to come on that one. In the meantime, it is getting very close.. and these projects went a LONG way to getting there!

Breakdown of this one.. pallets were free.. a few more sheets of sanding paper.. $8 pint of stain. Spent about $50 on the pipes, screws, bolts, and casters.. but still, great bargain!

I always love the before/after shots but I never remember to take them as we go, except for random Iphone snaps I’m doing for Instagram. (Find me there and follow along! @annbeck) So here’s a random assortment of the progress.. starting in the top left.. the piano on it’s harrowing journey home.. the nails.. OH the nails.. did I hear about having to line 60 nails up perfectly in a grid.. yes.. but my OCD side loved it! Then a peek of the piano mid-sanding.. pallets mid sanding.. first pictures going up on the wall.. and first half of the pallet table being assembled.

PHEW! Not bad for a week’s time… now to think of what’s next!:)What’s on your list this summer?