Sep 6, 2014

Upgrade Your Bedroom With Board and Batten-Style Wainscoting

Way back when, before the tilers came in to do the bathroom, I painted the lower half of our bedroom wall in anticipation of installing board and batten-style wainscoting. Once the workers had cleared out, I took a week off from work and finished it.

I don't think I've ever been so proud of a project. I did the whole thing myself. The whole thing. I will give Tom credit for planing all of the boards for me, but other than that, this was my baby, start to finish.

board and batten wainscoting

board and batten wainscoting

This isn't really a step-by-step tutorial - unfortunately I didn't take enough pictures for that. I'll describe what I did as much as I can as well as directing you to the experts here.

The first thing I did was remove the existing chair rail and baseboards. The battens were going to be planed down to the thickness of the door trim, but the baseboards were too thin from the start. If we'd left it as is, the bottom edges of the battens would have ended up hanging over the trim.

board and batten wainscoting

After smoothing down any rough edges on the wall, I installed the top rail. We used 4" furring strips planed down to about 3" for the top rail and battens. After sanding and puttying the holes, I gave all of the top boards 2 coats of white primer. I was going to paint them all as well, but decided it would be easier to paint them once they were on the wall without them moving around on me.

The new top rail went on the wall just slightly higher than the old chair rail. Since these boards were wider I wanted to make sure they cleared the bathroom light switch without having to do a cutout. This also covered up any marks I made in the wall when removing the old rail. If you don't have a previous line to follow, you'll want to use a level to keep your boards, well, level.

board and batten wainscoting

Since all of the old chair rail came off the wall without breaking, I had ready-made templates for the new boards. I just cut each board to approximately the same length and then made any necessary adjustments once I'd held them up in place. The new boards are thin so they had some give; to put them in place I was able to set each end in, and then press the middle flat to the wall, nailing them in place with the air nailer. The boards aren't glued to the wall just in case someone wants to remove them in the future.

Only one wall was longer than the 8 foot boards - all of the rest were interrupted by doors or windows - so on that one I did a simple scarf joint between two boards to get a stronger hold and less-visible join line. For a scarf joint you cut your two boards at an angle so that the ends will overlap each other when put in position.

The baseboards were the same furring strips planed down, but we kept them as wide as possible, just trimming off a little bit to get a sharper edge. They were installed in the same manner as the chair rail.

Once the top and bottom rails were in, I had to decide how far apart I wanted each batten. Normally you would use the wall studs to help you determine the spacing, but as we found out when we demo'ed the bathroom, half the time the studs weren't even touching the drywall. The other consideration was the wall outlets and light switches. I didn't want to have to do any cutouts in the battens - not because it's difficult, I just don't like that look.

I took some 4-foot pieces of board and moved them around until I got a spacing that I liked. They ended up being about 20" apart, depending on the width of that section of wall. I would measure the width, divide by 23 (space + board width), and then make small adjustments so that the space between each board in a section was the same. So there might be slight variations between sections, but it's so small that it isn't noticeable.

I wanted the walls to look completely balanced, so for any section that ended at a corner I added a batten there. That way each section is bookended with either two doorways or door trim on one side and a batten on the other.

board and batten wainscoting

It's best to measure the length of each batten individually as the space between the baseboard and the chair rail isn't necessarily the same all around. Even though the boards were planed, there is always the chance of a bit of warp. Make sure you have your level handy so that you can keep the battens perpendicular to the rail.

board and batten wainscoting

At this point I thought I was finished with the installation, but looking at it I realized, with just a plain top rail, it didn't look "finished".  I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but it still needed a little something. I headed back to the lumber store and picked out some outside corner moulding. It happened to be the exact same depth as the planed boards, so it slid right into place over the chair rail.

Once it was all installed, I puttied the nail holes and the seams between boards. Then I caulked the seams between each of the boards and the wall. My usual method is to apply a bead of caulk along the seam and then wipe a wet finger along the line to press it into the corner and remove the excess. I then wipe a damp cloth along the seam to remove more caulk, then one final swipe with my finger to smooth the line. That way you have a nice, even line without too much caulk being visible and detracting from the finished look.

board and batten wainscoting

I waited for that to dry and then gave all of the boards two coats of primer (except the top and bottom rails that were already done) and two coats of white paint. Whew! I was exhausted! I spent so many hours crawling on the floor, crouching down, sitting cross-legged - my knees were killing me. But it was worth it.

I cleaned everything up and moved the furniture back in on the Thursday. We had family staying over and I had to get the guest room back in order. We'd been sleeping on our own bed in the guest room, letting the tilers use our room to lay out all of their supplies. I'm glad no one was around to see me shoving a king-sized mattress up and out of the guest room, around a corner, and then into our room. Then I had to move the guest bed from where it had been against the wall in the office into its room. I think the dogs were hiding by then.

board and batten wainscoting

Instead of re-hanging the floating bedside shelves that we'd used before, we bought some swing-arm lights from Lowe's (Allen & Roth). They mount directly to the wall, but still plug into an outlet. These lights are a better fit with the style of the wainscoting then the old grey shelves were. The lights are brushed nickel with a white double shade that mimics the ceiling light above them.

board and batten wainscoting

We hung a large mirror on the wall across from the bed - after spending a year trying to figure out what art we wanted there and coming up with nothing. The mirror reflects the light from the window and brightens up the (north-facing) room a lot. We've had that mirror stuck in a closet for years. I never realized how well the frame coordinated with the dresser and the bed frame.

board and batten wainscoting

And there you have it - board and batten wainscoting. It gives the room a more upscale look, yet only cost about $200 in materials. My body is complaining, but my heart is singing!

board and batten wainscoting

board and batten wainscoting

board and batten wainscoting

board and batten wainscoting

board and batten wainscoting

Aug 10, 2014

Making a Functional Laundry Room in a Tiny Space (with a Sliding Wall!)

Our laundry room is more of a laundry "nook" - it's a space in the basement squeezed in beside the hot water heater and the furnace. The basement is fully finished, so if we wanted to rearrange things it would be a major undertaking. There are always things you think you'd have done differently, but really, there was nothing wrong with the basement, so we were happy to leave the walls where they were.

The first thing we did do when we moved in was to remove the laundry sink and replace the old side-by-sides with stackable machines. We also had the local utility company move the water heater closer to the back wall instead of it being in the middle of the room. That freed up a lot of floor space. By "a lot" I mean that we went from 4 square feet of cleared space to 9. Break out the noisemakers, it's a party down here.

Always keep in mind that a renovation isn't about making a space magazine-worthy, it's about making it functional for you. We didn't need counter tops or cupboards, cute sayings or jars of clothespins. We needed an open area. We like to hang most of our shirts to dry, and hanging clothes takes up a lot of space. All we had was a 3-foot rod with a shelf above it for detergent, fabric softener, etc. We would end up hanging the clothes from any available place - water pipes usually. Most of the time it looked like we were running a t-shirt business on the side.

laundry room makeover before
laundry room makeover before

So, while renovations were going on upstairs in the bathroom (p.s. I am sooooo close to showing you the finished room!), we did this quick weekend project - that stretched into a week because I decided to paint everything.

First I removed the old shelf and hanging rod and patched all of the holes in the wall. The area around the door had never been finished, so Tom put up the few pieces of missing drywall, I mudded it and gave everything a fresh coat of white paint. There is an open space above the door that can be used for storage, so instead of drywalling over it Tom installed a small door to cover it. The door latches closed and is nearly invisible if you aren't looking for it. Trim around the door finished it all off. I forgot to take a before picture, but the doorway on the other side of the furnace looks the same. Some day we may get that end finished as well.

drywall and trim door before

drywall and trim door after

We determined that we really needed two clothing rods, one above the other, to give us double the hanging space. But that would mean we couldn't have a shelf for cleaning products. I didn't really like having the bottles up so high anyway - some of them are heavy and lifting them above my head wasn't fun.

The narrow wall along the side isn't used, so we bought three wire shelves to mount there and hold the bottles. That was all well and good until we realized that when clothes were hanging they would block access to the supplies.

After a brainstorming session or two, we came up with the idea of a sliding wall. Tom cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood to the width of the wall and about 4 feet high, I painted it white so it would blend in, and we mounted it to the wall with heavy-duty drawer slides.

drawer slides sliding wall laundry room
sliding wall laundry room

Tom installed a home-made wooden track to the floor to keep the "wall" in alignment. The wire shelves mount to the sliding wall, and we added a simple handle to make it easier to pull in and out. I'm so excited about the wall, I could probably write an entire post just about this part.

sliding wall laundry room

For the rods, we wanted the top one to extend out farther than the bottom one, so that longer clothing would still hang freely instead of draping on top of the bottom rod. Tom built two sets of brackets from 2x2 lumber and mounted them to the back wall. The bottom rod sits about 12 inches from the wall, and the top rod is at 20 inches. Since the sliding wall on the side is only 4 feet high, we were able to extend the top rod all the way over to the side wall, giving us another 10 inches or so of hanging space. The top rod is attached to the side wall with a rod flange to add extra support.

hanging rods laundry room
hanging rod laundry room

The raw wood looked a little unfinished so I painted the brackets white and stained the rods Jacobean brown (Minwax). We now have plenty of space to hang everything, and clean clothes are no longer rubbing up against the water heater and furnace. We put a 4x6 rug down so you aren't standing on the cold cement floor, and the laundry baskets slide under the hanging rods like they were meant to be there.

hanging rods laundry room after
hanging rods sliding wall laundry room after
hanging rods laundry room after

This has completely changed how we feel about doing laundry. I'm not saying we're fighting each other for the chance to do it, but it sure helps that it no longer looks and feels like you're entering a dungeon.

Have you made any small changes around the house lately that have had a big impact?

Jul 19, 2014

This Caught My Eye...

Since Tom won't let me start any projects until the bathroom is finished (I did sneak in a bit of work on the wainscoting before he stopped me), I'm just going to have to appease my need to DIY by looking at what other people are doing around the 'net.

Denise at Frazzled Joy made over some drawer pulls for her master bathroom rather than buying new ones from Hobby Lobby. I like hers much better. They're chunky and rustic, and I love the crisscross detail. I'm a twine addict so I might have to steal this idea myself.

Laura over at A Nurse and a Nerd refinished her Adirondack chairs - with deck stain! So smart! Last summer I sanded, stained, and sealed our deck furniture and it's peeling already. So frustrating. I'm going to have to get myself a bucket of stain. And the chocolate shade she chose is gorgeous.

I've been trying really hard to eat healthier this year, but this cookie dough fudge recipe from Bekki at Domestic Mommyhood could make me cave. Tom eats ice cream all of the time, but I never want any - unless it's cookie dough flavour. I will never say no to that. Maybe if I cut the fudge up into tiny, little pieces it wouldn't be so bad. I have willpower...don't I?

About a month ago I hung a shelf in the front foyer to give us a place to toss our keys, coins, sunglasses, etc. as we came in the door. I'm not really happy with it - it's a little too pre-fabricated for me. I think I'd like to try something more rustic, like these shelves that Colleen from Lemon Thistle installed in her (new!) kitchen. She used Ikea brackets, but subbed in real wood boards for the pre-made shelves. Real wood for the win, every time!

Do you think dreaming about these four projects are enough to keep me happy for a while? Or maybe they're just increasing my itch to get back out to the garage and get dirty.


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