DIY Rustic Barstools

One of my favorite places to go is Fredericksburg. If you aren’t familiar, it’s a small German town in Texas that has amazing scenery, fun things to do, and great shopping. Most of the shops are pretty similar to our style- rustic, western, and classic. I like to think of our style as Texas Hill Country, with a touch of glam.
Each time I’m in a shop with furniture there, I’m soaking it all in. The pieces are beautifully made, usually with a wood stain and a lot of times with animal hide. The only thing not exciting is the prices!

We have a small bar in our house that we love to sit at. Jake and I wanted rustic barstools, but the ones we have seen usually run about $650 bare minimum a piece.  That’s $1,300 for two. One day, I was walking through a little antique shop on my lunch break, and I found these:
They had great lines and a rustic shape (I loved the Texas star) but they needed a lot of TLC. I called Jake because I knew I’d need help on this one, and he agreed, so I snapped them up, negotiated the price down and brought them home.
The chairs had multiple layers of paint (black, red, and blue) very thickly glopped on. We (mostly Jake) worked with a paint stripper and tons of sandpaper and finally got that bare wood. (I should note, this project was taken on pre-pregnancy, but I'm just now posting on the blog!) After a stain job, they were starting to have that classic rustic look.

They had nearly neon red vinyl seats, so I reupholstered the seats with an axis hide I sourced from Craigslist for a steal. The hide was just barely large enough to cover both seats, as they are pretty large, but I scrimped and made it work. It was my first go with upholstery with hide, and it went well! I must say, though, it’s much harder to upholster with hide than with fabric. All in all, after some hard work, we got our dream barstools for much less.
In the above photo the hide upholstery looks wrinkled, but I believe it's the angle of the photo showing the individual hairs. It's smooth in person.
And here's a side by side:
They're very comfortable, and we love the look. I also love having something special we made together for our home.


Full Bathroom Reno: Mirrors, Vanity, and Moving More Pipes

We left off with all new electrical in the bathroom, and a vent pipe moved. The vent pipe had to be moved for the electrical, so the new vanity light could go where it needed to go to be centered. You can see the newly moved black vent pipe and the new light locations below. The light on the left has a new fixture already installed, and the one on the right doesn't. It simply has the bracket and mounting hardware, since we knew we would have to remove the light again as soon as we put up sheetrock. The one on the left is installed temporarily so we had some sort of light while we worked.

Although we were thankful to have all of these problems solved, a new problem was discovered. Unless we seriously rerouted some pipes, we could not have the mirrored medicine cabinets I picked out. After much discussion, we opted to leave the pipes as they were, and purchase a new vanity that would be configured to double sinks for better storage, and use flat mirrors without medicine cabinets.

I was honestly not pleased at all about that at first. I thought our vanity was fine, and it was a shame to buy a new one. But, we forged on and shopped around and purchased a shiny new vanity online, and had it shipped to our local store. The vanity has drawers in the middle and cabinets on the outside, so it is better suited for double sinks.

When we got the vanity in, we placed it in the bathroom just to see, and it was stunning. I withdraw any negative thoughts or comments I had on purchasing a new vanity because it is a million times nicer than what was in there. The craftsmanship is stunning, it's professionally finished, the layout is better, and it even has soft close drawers. My favorite feature might be all of the trim and molding- it looks more like a furniture piece. I'll show that soon.

Unfortunately, it presented a new problem. I'm learning that in (major) DIY, things almost never go as you planned. The new problem was that now there were different pipes that needed to be moved. The drain pipe and water pipe both intersected with the drawers in the new vanity.

In the photos you can see that the two pipes on the left interfere with the drawer area. When we purchased the piece, we thought there would be enough room behind the drawers, but there just isn't.

Due to being in a rush to complete the bathroom, mostly due to our baby on the way, Jake suggested just hiring a plumber to move the pipes. I called over 14 plumbers and contractors, and no one could get it done. That is a story for another day, but I can simply say, I am incredibly disappointed so far with my personal experience with contractors/plumbers.

Even though these particular plumbing issues were things Jake had never dealt with before, he decided to attempt it after our negative experience with contractors/plumbers. As I mentioned in my 29 Thoughts on Thankfulness post, this is one of the things I love most about him. He can literally do anything that he puts his mind to. Anything. He will work hard and figure it out. And, the proof is in the pudding! It took him a couple of nights but he got the pipes moved. The time he spent was only an hour or so, but the pipes were so old that it took several soaking sessions with WD40.

You can see in the photos the pipe to the far left was routed to go straight out, and the middle pipe was rotated to also go straight out. With these changes, our vanity now works in place! Next up, drywall.


Full Bathroom Reno: Electrical, Vanity, and Moving a Vent Pipe

As I mentioned in the last bathroom post, I didn't get detailed photos of all of the steps due to baby on the way. A lot of these steps were taken when I still was not feeling well, so my thought process was not on taking photos and documenting!

Once we decided to remove the mirrors, Jake asked his brother-in-law to help. His brother in law works in glass and mirrors, so he would be able to remove it much safer than we could. He came over and removed them pretty quickly, and we were left with a very ugly wall. I wish I had pictures of the wall at this point, but imagine it with huge 5 inch diameter glue spots and chunks of drywall missing. We also discovered that there used to be two medicine cabinets, one in the middle and one on the left side wall, as there were holes for them in the drywall.

At this point, the only option was to completely remove the existing drywall and replace it. It was just too damaged. On the bright side, this meant it would be a lot easier to install new electrical. I asked my dad to help with the electrical, since Jake nor I had done it before, and he was very experienced.

He came over and installed two new outlet boxes, quadrupling our number of outlets in the bathroom. We had just one single outlet with two plugs, and he had the brilliant idea of making each outlet four plugs, in addition to adding the new outlet box. I was so excited I was jumping around with glee! He also replaced our vent fan, which has never worked since we moved in. It worked, I suppose, but it made this horrendous noise when you turned it on, so we just never used it. He also updated the light switch and vent fan switch to more modern rocker switches. I have a difficult time saying what I was most excited about- probably all of it. I switched the vent fan on and off for days just to listen to the quiet hum. Also, now all of our outlets were a new, crisp, clean white, as opposed to the older almond color.

The next step was to convert the single vanity light into a double vanity light, which had it's own set of problems. As with all DIY projects, you never know what's lurking behind the walls. In this case, we had a vent pipe in the way.

In the photo above, the black vent pipe had already been moved. The issue was the vent pipe came straight down where the arrow points, instead of curving to the left. Jake and my dad managed to move the pipe over one stud, to allow for the vanity light to be centered.
The processed described in this post took a few different days to complete, but boy is it all worth it!


Full Bathroom Reno: Starting on the Opposite Side- Vanity Mirrors

Once the shower was complete, we shifted our focus to the other side of the bathroom. A lot of steps were taken, so this post will start to cover those briefly. Again, due to the baby on the way, I didn't document the process step by step, but I do have some photos to share.

This is what we started with:

Our original plan was to replace the mirrors, sink, and faucet (and make them into double sinks, faucets, and mirrors), but keep the vanity and pulls and repaint them. We had success in the past with painting built in cabinets and hardware, and were content to do that again. I debated keeping the large back mirror and framing it, and only removing the side mirror, but I decided I would prefer to add recessed medicine cabinets for more storage. I picked a beautiful simple arched version and mapped it on the mirrors to be sure before we removed them.

I first drew on the existing mirror with a window marker (a chalk pen would work as well, or dry erase marker) but I was having a hard time visualizing it. So, I measured and cut out the mirror shapes only from wrapping paper, so it would block the rest of the mirror. It was an interesting exercise, too, because Jake and I have nearly a foot in height difference, so where I would put the mirrors and where he would place the mirrors is totally different. Something to think about!

Ultimately, I decided I liked it and wanted to move forward. Besides them being more modern and updated, the main bonus was the storage. The medicine cabinets I chose were 5 inches deep, 24 inches wide, and 30 inches tall. Since we were moving to double sinks from a single sink, we would be losing our drawer storage space, and that could be replaced by the medicine cabinets.

Also, since we were ripping out the mirrors, that meant that we could easily install new electrical. I wanted to convert our single vanity light to a double vanity light, one over each sink, for more light and aesthetics. I also wanted to add an additional outlet to the right side of the vanity, as we only have one on the far left currently. The additional plug would help a lot for convenience and safety, since whoever (Jake usually) was using the far side sink would have to stretch a cord across two sinks for appliances.

We did go ahead and rip out the mirrors, and move forward with the electrical. I will post about that soon!


A Progression from 16 to 24 Weeks

I had some fun playing around with my 16, 20, and 24 week bump photos. It's really neat to me to see the changes side by side!

Although you can see a progression in the photos, I think it's much more of an obvious difference in person. It'll be fun to continue to document the changes each month. For now, it's pretty sweet seeing that baby boy in bump form.


Life at 24 Weeks

Well, it's somewhat hard to believe but I'm officially 24 weeks.

How far along? 24 weeks, or 6 months if you're dividing by 4 weeks to a month.
Maternity clothes? Yes. I can still fit into my jeans, but by mid-day or so the waist really starts to pinch. Sadly, maternity jeans are not my favorite but that's what I am needing to wear. Sometimes I do the rubber band trick to extend the waist some and that works well. Work-wise, I'm in maternity clothes 100%.
Stretch marks? No, thank goodness.

Sleep? Questionable at best. I have much more stamina than I was having, and can stay up later (like 8:30-10pm on a great night, but I have enough energy to go out every once in a while). However, I am waking up in the middle of the night (2am-4am usually) and will be wide awake anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours. I'm also more uncomfortable sleeping since my belly is pretty big.
Best moment this month? I would have to say the best moment pregnancy-wise this month was starting to feel him move. I was so excited the first time that I thought I felt kicks (October 23rd) that I ran around telling everyone and I wrote it in my planner. Now, it's amazing, a month later, he is moving nonstop! He is also getting much stronger because in this short time frame, some of the movements are already beginning to hurt a bit. It's a pretty wondrous thing, feeling him move, though.

Miss anything? I still miss all of my vices occasionally- caffeine, the occasional adult beverage, etc.
Movement? Yes! Like I mentioned above, he is moving quite a bit now. At first I was amazed to feel even a kick or two, and then I wouldn't feel anything for days. Then, he started moving on a schedule. He would start moving around late afternoon (3-4pm or so) and then move around on my drive home (around 6pm) and then again that evening around 7-8pm, and at bedtime. Now, he is moving very frequently and whenever he feels like it!
Food cravings? I still am loving salty carbs, like potatoes and French fries, and I have gotten my LOVE for Mexican food back. Mexican food every day! (I wish.)
Anything making you queasy or sick? Yes, things occasionally do. Pre-pregnancy I had a very tough stomach and hardly anything could make me nauseated. Now, sometimes if a show or movie is too graphic it makes me sick, or smelling certain foods will make me feel sick. I can't think of a solid example for food right now, except for seafood.
Have you started to show yet? Absolutely! I love my bump. The fun thing about it is that now pretty much everyone, strangers included, can tell that I am pregnant and will comment on it. One of the benefits to that is that strangers seem to be a lot nicer!
Gender? Boy!
Labor Signs? Definitely not, thank goodness.
Belly Button in or out? In still, which was one of the only things I really wanted to stay as is. Unfortunately, I think it will be an outie by the end, because I can tell it is changing.
Wedding rings on or off? On, and loving that!
Happy or moody most of the time
? Hmm. I would like to say happy and I think that is true. However, since the beginning of pregnancy my temper-fuse has been much shorter, so I can snap quite a bit easier. Thankfully, I have that mostly under control, but I am very emotional otherwise. It seems like I cry at the drop of a hat right now, even though I really am happy. It's the hormones, they say!
Looking forward to? Right now I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving, which is in just a few days. I'm looking forward to the time off of work, and spending it with family. Of course, I always look forward to Black Friday too!
Milestones: I think this month the main milestone is the movement, which is a pretty great one.

All in all it's been a great month. I'm looking forward to the future!


Building a Concrete Step

Since we found out I was pregnant, one of the first projects that jumped to the top of the list was building a concrete back step into the house. There was previously a concrete step into the house, but soon after we purchased the house and moved in, it broke completely and Jake removed the majority of it. It was one of those things that needed to be done, but it fell to the bottom of the list. We have been in this house about 5 years, and it had been broken almost from the get go, so we got used to it and it didn't even bother us. Now that I am pregnant, I have been pretty dizzy and even more clumsy than before, so the safety and security of that step seemed very important. Also, when we bring the baby home, it would be nice to have a place to set the carrier when we unlocked the door, and same with groceries, etc. On top of all of that, it would be easier for our guests and much safer for our boy when he starts moving around.

My dad came over to help with the project, and instruct Jake on what steps needed to be done. Dad had built similar things before, and Jake hadn't, so having that expertise was wonderful! Jake purchased the materials (quikcrete) and busted out the remainder of the step that was there. Jake worked too fast for me, so I didn't take a photo of the remnants of the old step, but I did get one of the blank slate.

We mapped out the basic size of the step, making it larger than the previous step. The idea was to have an extra space on the right side to set things down when we were unlocking the door. Also, it was two steps before, a full step and a tiny step, and we decided to make it one large step for ease.

Jake and Dad built a box out of wood scrap to use as the mold. They extended it as far out as they could without interfering with that water pipe, above. They also created it to have a slight slope, so any rainwater would all drain off, instead of pooling on the step. Then they mixed up the quikcrete one bag at a time, I believe. Being pregnant, I was inside most of the time, just coming out when they asked a question or to bring water or to see progress. This was back in August, and it is boiling hot where we live in August!

The process was mix the concrete, shovel it in, smooth it out, and repeat. They moved pretty quickly, but I could tell it was very physically demanding work, especially in the heat. The main thing I was surprised by was how many bags of concrete it took! I believe they used 10 or 12, and that's for a single back step. The bags of quikcrete are very affordable, it's just a decent amount of work.

We allowed it to dry overnight, without us our the dogs stepping on it. We used the front door for the remainder of the day to be safe. I was really surprised the next morning when I went to let Tex and Charlie out to go potty. Poor Tex didn't know what to think! He jumped over it in and out for a couple of weeks, until he finally got used to stepping on it. I, on the other hand, loved it! It felt like such a luxury to have a step into the house, especially such a large, roomy one. It definitely helped with my pregnancy-induced clumsiness as well!

You can see the slope in the photo above, but it is much less obvious in person. The positive thing is, it's been just a little over 3 months since it was built, and no rainwater has stood on it, despite some pretty massive rain storms. It still looks as great as it did they day it was built, and I still feel like a queen using the step. It's really nice to unlock the door, bring in groceries, call in the dogs, etc. And one of my favorite parts? Is this:

Jake carved that into the bottom right corner of the step. I can't say how much I love that sweet token of love. I still melt when I look at it.

Overall, I think this is a great project and could be customized in so many ways! The shape of the mold is up to you, as is any adornments. I originally thought it might be fun to press decorative tiles or objects into the side walls of the step while the concrete dried, but I ultimately was happy just to have a step into the house.


Looking Back on 20 Weeks

As I shared in my looking back on 16 weeks post, I didn't really do this questionnaire at 20 weeks. Now, I'm at 24 weeks and I want to look back and document that time to the best of my memory.

How far along? 20 weeks, or 5 months if you're dividing by 4 weeks to a month.
Maternity clothes? Yes. I purchased two pairs of black slacks for work, because my work slacks starting getting tight pretty quickly. My jeans all still fit, but they are low rise and sit more on my waist, and not much has changed there. My slacks all sit more on the waist, so they got tight a lot sooner. I also bought some maternity tops. I could still fit into some of my baggier clothes possibly, but most don't fit or are too short now, etc. The maternity clothes feel and look a lot better.

Stretch marks? No.
Sleep? I'm still pretty tired, but thank goodness I am not as fatigued. I'm still going to bed early, but it's not as big of a struggle as it was.
Best moment this month? I think the best moment was probably that my tummy really popped out. From 16 weeks to 20 weeks, you can tell a huge difference. I love actually looking pregnant. It has been hard up until this point because I feel very pregnant (tired, not feeling well, etc.) but it was not obvious from the outside. I enjoy my baby bump.

Miss anything? I still miss all of my vices occasionally- caffeine, the occasional adult beverage, etc.
Movement? No.
Food cravings? French fries still, and Snyder's Buttermilk Ranch Pretzel Pieces. I got a massive craving for them, and Jake took me to at least 4 or 5 stores to look for them. I finally ordered a case from Amazon, because they didn't sell individual packs online. It's hilarious now to look back on this and laugh, but at the time I was really upset that I couldn't find those pretzels! It's a favorite story of Jake's to tell.
Anything making you queasy or sick? Yes, things occasionally do. I still haven't gotten my appetite back 100%, and it is very difficult for me to eat vegetables. I force them down when I can, but the majority of the time even smelling them makes me feel sick.

Have you started to show yet? Yes! I love the beginnings of my baby bump.
Gender? Boy!
Labor Signs? Definitely not, thank goodness.
Belly Button in or out? In.
Wedding rings on or off? On and comfortable.
Happy or moody most of the time
? I can say that I definitely am happy most of the time.

Looking forward to? I'm looking forward to watching my growing bump, and I'm looking forward to feeling him move.
Milestones: I think this month the main milestone is the baby bump, which is a really fun one.


Full Bathroom Reno: Sealing Tile and Installing Shower Hardware

This post is very delayed as this part of the project was finished months ago, but thanks to baby on the way, you are getting it now! Better late than never, right?

We left off with a freshly tiled and grouted shower that needed to be sealed and finished. I personally sealed the tile (pre-pregnancy!) myself, so I did not get any photos. There is nothing to show really, since the sealer is clear. You simply brush it on with a paintbrush, being sure to cover all pieces of every single tile. I followed the package instructions, which said to brush it on and wipe it off after a certain amount of time. It's a fairly easy process, except our incredibly uneven natural stone offered a lot more angles and edges than typical tile. I still say it's worth it!

Next, Jake caulked around the ceiling and tub, which I don't have pictures of either. He is a much better caulk-er than me, so I asked him to do this step since this caulk would show at the end result. I chose white caulk for the ceiling and tub surround, since both were white.

Then, Jake installed the shower/tub hardware, which included the showerhead, handle, and tub faucet. The pipes were already in place, so this step was simply assembling it all. Again, our tile selection presented a challenge of being uneven, which made the hardware not sit flush against the wall. Long term, that could cause a big problem with water leakage, mold, etc. Thankfully, we asked my dad and he suggested filing it down. He actually came over and helped Jake with this, and they were able to get all of the pieces to sit flush. Then, Jake finished them with clear caulk. He was the one who thought clear would be better, and I am so glad I listened to him. The clear looks amazing! The white would have been very obvious around that natural stone and dark hardware.

Finally, we have the finished product.

You can see in some of the photos of the shower wall with the hardware that the wall is not finished next to it. Both walls next to the tile still need to be finished, but we will do that step last, when we do all of the finishing, painting, etc.

I love the hardware I chose. It's a dark oil-rubbed bronze, which really pops off the natural stone shower. It has these gorgeous sparkly flecks in it, too. I really love the gooseneck shower head and the handle- it reminds me of an oil pump- which is a fond thought for this Texas girl.

Right now, I have up a simple oil-rubbed bronze rod with just a white shower curtain liner. We have been using the shower since late July when it was finished, and it has been heavenly. It is so much lighter and brighter in there with the new tub and tile, and it such a pleasure to use. For the first month, easily, I would just stare at the beautiful tile as I showered. I am so pleased with all of our choices and so proud of the fact that we did it 100% ourselves.

I don't have any good pulled back photos, because of the size of the bathroom and my lacking photography skills. I need to have someone over to take good photos of the shower for me. Still, you can see the difference, right?



We just love it!!

Check out all of the shower renovation steps by clicking on the orange "Full Bathroom" link under this post.