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How We Painted Our IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

When we moved into our house in 2010, we installed an IKEA kitchen (see post here on the kitchen installation).  We had always intended to paint the kitchen cabinets to a light greenish/blue color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt), as evidenced in that 2010 blog post.

“Our plan is to paint them at some point in the future.”

In 2013, Shirley eventually issued an ultimatum to Chris to paint the cabinets soon or else it would be “outsourced”, i.e. hire someone to do it for us.  Chris isn’t much of an outsourcer so he sprung into action to paint the cabinets the summer of 2014  (it’s been a little bit of a delay in getting the photos together and finalizing this blog post).  Anyway, here is the final result showing the painted kitchen cabinets.   The rest of the post will talk about the process that went into painting the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

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Finished DIY Redwood Craftsman Fence Gate

After the gate was built, the next steps are to hang it, install hardware and then stain/seal it.   Here is the finished gate after all of these steps.  We are very excited with how it turned out!  Please check out the previous post to see how the gate was made.

Redwood Craftsman gate

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Designing and Building A Redwood Craftsman Fence Gate (for under $200)

After our fence and driveway project (which was completed 4 years ago), we had planned to build a nice fence gate.  In that previous post, the following line appears:

Chris has plans to build a nice gate, but that project probably won’t get done for a little while.

So here we are “a little while” later and after some gentle nudging from Shirley, I (Chris) am finally going to make the gate.  I had been planning for the gate for quite awhile, including figuring out the design and buying tools, so when it came time to actually build the gate, it didn’t take too much time at all.  Overall, it took about 1 week or so (maybe ~20 hours of actual work) to build the gate.

Here are the finished two gates that will span the narrow driveway, sitting on our back deck.

building redwood craftsman gate

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DIY Card Catalog from IKEA Rast

As a bibliophile, Shirley is very nostalgic for the library card catalog and had been looking on ebay and etsy for card catalogs.  Chris tried to talk some sense into her pointing out that card catalogs are not very useful pieces of furniture.  “What can you put in a card catalog?”

Then she came across some examples of DIY card catalogs (and similar projects for apothecary cabinets), which were made from dressers.  She was inspired to “try and build one”, which is code for seeing if Chris could do it.

Of course he can. . . 

Here’s the finished product, built using an IKEA Rast dresser.

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Ruler Growth Chart

We wanted to make a growth chart to keep track of the heights of the kids over time.  Shirley’s internet/pinterest browsing eventually came up with a brilliant, but well used idea: a growth chart that looks like a ruler.

We bought a 6 foot tall cedar fence board for $5, and then sanded, and stained using the vinegar/iron treatment described in our farmhouse table post. We thought about how to create the gradation lines and the numbers.  At first we thought about using stencils but figured it would be easier to just use a framing square to draw the various lines to the right length with a black Sharpie marker.

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IKEA Hack 2: Besta Built-In Family Room TV Bookshelf

We love our latest IKEA built-in hack in the great room! (See the built-in IKEA Besta/Pax hack in the living room we finished a year before.) In the great room, we’d had a dark IKEA shelving unit on the TV wall. We decided to replace that shelving unit with a full wall of built-in shelves with lower cabinets, using IKEA Besta shelves, with a few creative touches thrown in. “We” (loosely used; here, meaning 95% Chris, 5% Shirley) probably spent a few hours a day for the better part of a week on this project.

Here’s the result:

 

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Powering Our Home With Solar Panels

We recently had solar panels installed on our home by Real Goods Solar in March of this year. This post describes some of the process and analysis that went into the decision, the installation and tracking the results.

Background 

We are a pretty green family and try to minimize our impact on the environment.  Chris has been very interested in energy use and the environment for a long time (including majoring in this subject in college and grad school and is currently working in the field).

Solar electricity produces no air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions during operation (there is some energy and pollution generated when the panels are made, but that is typically offset in a year or two).  It also produces electricity during times when demand is highest which helps to alleviate stress on the electric grid.  Peak electricity use in California occurs in summer afternoons, when air conditioning use is highest.  Since we don’t have air conditioning, the excess electricity that we generate during these hours helps to reduce demand during peak hours (which offsets electricity use from inefficient and polluting peaking power plants) and reduces strain on the transmission and distribution system.

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Home Improvement – Driveway and Fence

One of the big areas of our yard that needed some improvement was the driveway side of our house. The side of the house (you could maybe call it a driveway, though it’s not really wide enough to drive a car on, at least if you want to open the doors) was never really finished but was more of a overgrown weed patch that needed to be cut back every once in awhile. Plus if you look at the pictures of our neighbor’s fence, you’ll understand why we wanted to tackle this project. We hesitate to put too many “before” pictures . . .

This project was too big to tackle ourselves, so we had our contractor Mohsen come and pour a new concrete side driveway, build a new fence and lay a paver front driveway for our car.

The view on the side of the house looking towards the street.

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Backyard improvements (Sod)

For the longest time the area in the very back of the yard was left untouched (about 1 yr). Chris covered it with plastic and weed barrier to keep the weeds and blackberries from taking over the area again. We decided that we would put some grass there as a place for the kids to play. This describes the 3 week project of putting grass in the back are (about 400 sq ft).

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