DIY, House & Home, Tutorials

Our Deck Transformation (For Less Than $70): Part I

<a href=”http://www.tomoson.com/?code=TOPc5692aabc961cb97b12cc4b98d4ff4c5&#8243; rel=”nofollow”><img style=”display: none” src=”http://www.tomoson.com/images/front/pixel.png&#8221; /></a>

As we approach the 5th anniversary of homeownership, my husband and I decided to celebrate by sealing the deck. It’s a project that we’ve been intending to do for the last couple of years but finally got around to actually completing it last week. Sealing your deck is an easy (albeit time consuming) task that really helps to improve the look and prolong the life of your deck. I will warn you that it is somewhat of a labor of love but it’s totally worth it in the end.

How To Stain Your Deck 

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Deck Stain (We purchased Thompson’s Water Seal Waterproofing Stain from Home Depot for just under $30)

Deck Seal

  • Wood Cleaner (We purchased two of the Behr Wood Cleaners for about $20 for the pair)
  • Protective gloves
  • A broom and scrub brush
  • A bucket or tub
  • A Power Washer
  • Roller and paint brushes (We also purchased this set from Shur-Line at Home Depot for just under $5 to help with the hard to reach places)

 Deck Seal

Since I apparently fail at remembering to take “before” pictures of major household projects, this (below) is the best photo I’ve got of our five year old deck pre-treatment. As you can see, it needed a little (okay, a lot) of help.

Deck

As novice deck sealers, we weren’t entirely sure where to begin so we set out on the internet (much like I assume you’re doing if you stumbled across my post by chance) to see what the best course of action would be to prepare for the seal. Many of the resources we came across advocated power washing a pre-treatment for staining or sealing a deck. Thankfully, one of our neighbors has a power washer that we were able to borrow. Power washing was a relatively simple task and did make a difference in the look of the wood.

Deck Stain

After power washing the deck, we ventured out to our local Home Depot to purchase supplies and while we were there, We began to question whether or not the power wash was sufficient enough in preparing our deck for this project. We took a few minutes to look at the various products in the stain/seal aisle (near the paint) and came across this:

Behr All In One Wood Cleaner

Behr Premium All-In-One Wood Cleaner. At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure that the seal on our deck is going to last and we want to make sure that we’ve done all that to protect our home. With the promise of cleaning off mold and mildew stains from the deck, we decided that the Behr Wood Cleaner was worth the small investment we would be paying to make sure that the deck was clean before sealing it. I should mention that it’s really important to make sure your deck is as clean as it can be before you seal it otherwise you risk trapping in bacteria, mold, and dirt into your wood and you increase the chance of having problems later on down the road.

Deck Protection

The wood cleaner requires a 1:1 ratio (which is what we did) of product to water. Knowing that we would be using the entire bottle, we just dumped the bottle out into an old container, filled it up with water, and mixed it all together. We soaked our deck before treating it (per the suggestions) and then applied it using a stiff thistle broom and a small scrubbing brush (for the spindles and railing). The deck has to remain wet the entire time you’re doing this project so I would suggest having a partner help you while you clean.

Deck Cleaning

The transformation after using the wood cleaner was pretty amazing. I had absolutely no idea how much nasty dirt we had accumulated over the years.

Deck Clean

We wanted to make sure that we washed off as much of the cleaner as we could so we spent a good half hour spraying it down after we were done (I’m fairly certain my neighbors think I’m a crazy person for watering my deck for so long).

Sealing A Patio

It worked so well that we decided to go over the deck with one more cleaning before applying the stain. This part of the process (power washing, cleaning the deck, and going over it a second time) took about two and a half hours but was well worth the time to make sure our deck was properly prepped for staining. Had we not opted to purchase the wood cleaner, we would never have known how completely disgusting our deck really was. Power washing it alone would never have been sufficient and I’m really glad we made the choice to buy it.

Sealing A Deck

Next time, I’ll share the rest of this process with you including the incredible transformation that makes all of this time and effort so worthwhile. Stay tuned…

<a href=”http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOMc5692aabc961cb97b12cc4b98d4ff4c5&#8243; rel=”nofollow”></a>

Daily Life, House & Home, Pictures, Reviews

Welcome Home: The Entryway (Part One)

Since my husband and I purchased our first home four years ago this summer, we’ve been thinking of ways we can give our space a little more personality. My husband has been tasked with finishing the basement (which is taking significantly longer than either of us could ever have anticipated) and I’m working on several small projects upstairs. So far, I’ve completed a mini kitchen transformation and a living room re-do. Most recently, I decided to tackle the entryway to our house. It’s the first area people see when they step inside and it’s the first impression people get when they come over to visit. I don’t know why I put it off for this long but I’m so happy that I decided to do something with the space.

We own a split level home (meaning when you walk in the door you have the option to go to either the lower or the upper level of the house) and so we have a very large (multi-story) wall right when you walk in. Up until a few days ago, we hadn’t done much with the space. To be entirely honest, I was a little intimidated by it but I had a clear vision of what I wanted the space to look like whenever I got around to working on it. I have always loved canvas prints but I’ve never ordered a custom one because they tend to be a little expensive. I happened across an Amazon Local deal that offered them for half the regular cost and so I figured I would take the opportunity to try it out.

Before I show you what it looks like, I want to take a minute to talk about my experience using Canvas Focus. I’ve purchased things through Amazon Local before and had always had good experiences with their vendors…until I ordered these prints. To make a very long story short, I ordered five canvas prints back in November with guaranteed delivery by Christmas.

Three of the five prints that I ordered arrived on December 14th and I was so happy with how they turned out. When I went online to check on the status of the remaining two, I couldn’t get any information. Their online system is appalling. You can’t see information about your order and they don’t provide tracking/shipping information for their customers. You would think, given the price of their products, they could do a better job at allowing their customers to track their orders. When I called to check, Canvas Focus told me that one of my two prints had been delivered (it hadn’t). They couldn’t provide me with any information about where my product had been shipped. I was told by the associate who “helped” me that they would re-print my order. I exchanged several emails back and forth trying to get information about my order with limited (at best) and un-helpful responses from Canvas Focus.

After Christmas (read: after the date of guaranteed delivery) I finally got an email from their production department about the other print. Apparently, they needed approval from me for the picture before they could send my order out. We got that squared away but I was still waiting on the missing order. I called Canvas Focus again and was told that the agent who had helped me a couple of weeks before hand never bothered to submit the paperwork for my reprint but I was assured that it would be taken care of and that I would receive my order at some point in the near future. At that point, I also inquired (again) regarding the whereabouts of the missing package. The associate told me it had been delivered to someone in Florida.

Not once did anyone offer me anything other than lip service. I was never contacted by anyone other than the production department and there was never any follow-up from Canvas Focus. It’s not that I expected them to do anything special for me but I was shocked that a supervisor never reached out to me and nobody ever apologized or tried to make it right. Having said all of that, if you’re reading this Amazon…I would think twice before contracting with this company again. I know I won’t be ordering from them in the future. Now for the good part…the pictures!

Welcome to my home!

Canvas Print Art

Canvas Art

Canvas Photo Art

Canvas Photo Prints

Canvas Prints

Canvas Wall Art

Wall Decor

I got the two white shelves from Target for just under $30. Despite my negative experience with Canvas Focus, I am so happy with how this project turned out. It’s nice to finally have an entryway I can be proud of.

Daily Life, House & Home, Pictures, Reviews, Uncategorized

Our New Living Room (with pictures)

If you’ve been following my blog for the last couple of months you already know that we’re working on finishing our basement. It’s a (slow) work in progress that we’ll hopefully finish at some point soon. In the meantime, I’ve been working on some projects upstairs and finding new furniture for the living room was part of that. We purchased our first couch together in 2006 when we were living back East. Since then, it’s gone through three moves, countless parties, animals, and a toddler. Needless to say, it’s gotten a lot of use (and it shows) so when we decided that we were going to go ahead with the basement project, we knew we wanted to move the old couch down into the new space once it was finished.

Here’s what our living room looked like before (I don’t have a picture of the entire living room for some reason so these two will have to do):

Shrunk

This monstrosity is called a shrunk and this particular one has been in my family since the 1980s when my parents bought it while we were living in Germany. It’s hand crafted and made of solid wood and so I’m very lucky to be able to keep it in the family. Whether C likes it or not, she will have this one day and I hope she’ll enjoy it as much as I do. One of the downsides to having such a massive piece of furniture is having to figure out where to put furniture in the room. Our living room looks significantly larger now that the Shrunk is downstairs. I think it will look great against the long wall in the basement when it’s done.

couch

You’ll have to forgive me for this photo. The only picture I could find of our other sofa (the ottoman is in the corner) was from C’s first birthday party in February. The couch looks better in the photo than it does in real life but you get the idea of how the room was set up. Since we had selected such large furniture we were pretty limited when it came to placing it so it was pretty obvious when we had our carpets cleaned (more on that in a couple days) where furniture had been and where the high traffic was in our space.

Let me be the first to tell you (in case you don’t already know): Don’t order new furniture until you’re CERTAIN that you’ll have a place for your old pieces. When we placed an order for our new set (purchased from Nebraska Furniture Mart) we had already given ourselves a deadline to complete the basement. That deadline came and went and we had to move our existing furniture into the garage until it’s finished. I’m less than thrilled about it but, at the end of the day, it is what it is and there’s nothing I can do but suck it up and learn from the mistake.

All that said, this was the first time I’ve ever owned an actual living room set and we were so lucky to get such a great deal at NFM. Not only do they provide interest free financing (for two years) for their customers but they also have great discounts year round. We were able to purchase the couch, love seat, coffee table, two end tables, and two lamps for under a thousand dollars including delivery fees. Take a look:

Living Room

This is the Ashley Buttonless Tufted Loveseat in “Lagoon”:

It's An Ordinary Blog

Here is the sofa:

It's An Ordinary Blog

Here’s the Ashley White Coffee Table with Storage Drawer:

*”Storage drawer” is not really an accurate description since it has doors that open on each side (which is fine, I love it).

It's An Ordinary Blog

Here’s the Ashley Square End Table in White:

It's An Ordinary Blog

And the lamps:

It's An Ordinary Blog

Here’s a closer look at the pillows. This fabric is my absolute favorite:

It's An Ordinary Blog

Once the holidays are over, we’re planning to move the tree and get a small bookshelf and toy storage bench that will go where the tree is. Then we’ll probably buy this blanket in either cream or this orange-red color I saw in the store (which is STUNNING in person) once it goes on sale at Target. I’m also planning to work on an inexpensive large print inspired by something I saw on Pinterest. That will complete the living room project (look out for a tutorial post once I get it done).

I’m so thrilled with our new living room. It’s a comfortable space we can be proud of and I love it.

Updated Living Room

Daily Life, Mad About It Mondays, Rants, Reviews

Mad About It Mondays: Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips

As you know I’ve been working on some small and inexpensive home improvement projects around the house. I’ve been doing a lot of work on our kitchen (which I will be blogging about later this week) and I don’t want to leave damage on my walls. In order to avoid potential wall damage I’ve been purchasing wall mounting strips. You may remember that I used the Command product when I did my mini bathroom makeover and they’ve worked like a champ. As it turns out, the Walmart in my area doesn’t carry Command products and so I bought the Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips instead. They were signficantly cheaper than either the Command or the Scott brands and so I thought that might be a nice way to save money while doing projects around the house. If you haven’t already figured it out, let me be the first to tell you that sometimes you get what you pay for.

When will I be purchasing the Bulldog Mounting strips? Never again. Ever. I had a few different things to hang but I’ll start with the “heaviest” (not that heavy) which was two small strips of painted wood with four magnets attached to each. The idea was to hang C’s artwork for display on these pieces. At most, each piece weighs about two pounds which shouldn’t be an issue for quality mounting tape. Just to be on the safe side, I went ahead and used much more than I ever thought I’d even need and hung it up. The next items that I hung weighed in at maybe a half pound each, so very light. Even then, I went ahead and used the product on all four sides and in the middle and hung the three pieces of that particular item up. The kitchen looked great and I was really proud…until all the pieces I used that crappy product on started falling to the ground.

I imagine that this is what the makers over at Bulldog Hardware do all day as they try to come up with products that do nothing but fall to the ground:

I thought maybe it was user error and so I tried again and let the wall mounting tape attach for a few hours before using the pieces. Same thing happened. At that point I realized it was most definitely not an error on my part, unless you consider it an error that I purchased that brand in the first place. There are some things in life that the name brand is worth the extra price for: Oreos, Peanut Butter, Pop Tarts, Mac n’ Cheese, and wall mounting strips. If you’re considering an improvement project in your home, take my advice and do not purchase the Bulldog Hardware Mounting Strips. You will regret it.