Monday, October 20, 2014

Murphy Bed/Pull-Out Wall Bed

We have this funky box in the small bedroom.  Part of the room's floor space is taken up by a cut-out for the head height for the main stairs, which was boxed in.

Originally we painted and sanded back some of the wood.

For a while it was a hodgepodge of storage for clothes.  But that got sorted with the wardrobes.

The small room used to be where both kids slept, but now that the loft is done and they have their own bigger room, the small room is now the office.  Complete with a fold-down desk.

The stair-box was just there.  And I 'need' the office (I'm working from home.)  But we wanted an extra guest bed.  I've had this dream of having a Murphy bed since I was about ten.  So we finally just went for it.  Because of the box and the room dimensions, we had to go for a unique and bespoke design.  The joiner patiently built it, and it only just fits.  The shelf flips down as the bed base legs when the bed is pulled down.  The frame is hardwood (mahogany) because the mechanisms inside are super strong.  (We got the Urmstrom Mechanism from Ibedz.  That's after calling six different suppliers to find out their technical specifications.)  The pull is so strong that MDF and pine (or other soft woods) would warp.  The joiner had to sit on the frame to get the mechanism to stay down before the facing and mattress were added.

You would not believe the amount of research, time and thought that went into this bed.  It's almost pathetic how much discussion and investigation went into this thing.  And the geometry!

Due to the overall weight, we had wooden panelling put on the face instead of MDF or solid wood.  Which led to Niall (ever the interior decorator) suggesting black and white stripes.  Sure, why not?  I love spending eight hours painting minute details.

And, well, here it is.  A ten-year-old-me...dream come true!  A whole bed hidden behind a door.

Once down, it's a pretty comfortable bed.  It is a bit high (again, due to the stair-box dimensions) but we have steps to help climb up.

Most of the time it just looks like a weird, random piece of furniture.  At some time I plan to put something in the 'frames' of the shelves/fold down bed supports (in red.)

Until then, the ridiculousness of it makes me smile every time I turn around from working at the desk.  (As an aside, the light was just a bit too low.  The bed would hit it when folded down, so an electrician friend came and moved it up a few inches.)  And, honestly, sleeping on the Murphy bed really beats sleeping on the air mattress.

It turns out my ten-year-old dream wasn't cheap.  For years I have looked for an inexpensive (i.e. cheap) way to get a decent wall bed.  But I haven't never found one (the mechanisms alone are a fortune, and I didn't want to risk pinched fingers) so we bit the bullet.

Murphy Bed Project Cost

Labor and materials:  £485
Mechanism:  £160
Paint:  £30
Total:  £675

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wardrobes-Part Three

Finally!  The wardrobes are done!

As a reminder, we played the great furniture switcheroo to get the wardrobes and then I painted and painted.  The wardrobes were at this point...and that's where they've stayed.  They are a bit tilted, but have been so great!  Lots of great storage, pull-out drawers, easy access for two little girls.

We waited until Kenny the Joiner had a space in his schedule.  This week it was our turn!  In one day, he built a base to raise the wardrobes, placed and leveled the storage, and boxed everything in.

We had every inch of skirting and facing in the house painted 16 months ago and every bit of it has yellowed.  Perhaps you can tell in the photo below where the skirting/base board is yellow and the doors are white.  Maybe not?  But in person, very apparent!

Kenny put in some fancy crown molding, and reattached the doors.

I painted some more and voila!  The girls' wardrobe is all done.  I told the girls Kenny came to make their wardrobes fancy, and I think he did a pretty excellent job!

Project Breakdown

Furniture £65
Paint and Supplies £60
Labor £150
Total £275

It has taken all summer, but it's so much easier to go from this

To this!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bird Chandelier

The bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling is kind of okay by me.  We've had the 'look' is almost every room in the house for a year.  Our babysitter finally told me that it looked kind of pathetic, but she said it in a nicer way.

For the girls' room, I decided to make a 'bird chandelier'.  Something like this.  I tried and tried to find a reasonably priced wire pendant lamp shade.  I'd heard Ikea had some (like a lamp covered in paper that had wire underneath), but after several visits I came home empty handed.

Finally, one night I just bought a cheap lamp shade, tore it apart, and used wire to 'weave' a very homespun looking cage.  With a baby wipe box as a support.

I spray painted it, and then looked high and low for imitation birds.  Holy Hannah, they're hard to find.  I miss Michael's and the abidance of fake birds for pennies the US has on offer.  I finally broke down and purchased six birds on clips from pippi.  With a discount code and shipping I think they were around £20.

Hello birds!

And finally, the naked pendant light is covered, kind of.  The girls love the light and consider it a treat if I unclip the birds and let them hold them for a few minutes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Garden Swing (Buyer Beware!)

Last week Niall sat on a garden swing at B&Q and his mind was made.  We needed a swing, and he was on a hunt to find it.  Wednesday morning Niall came through to the kitchen.  He was, dare I say it, giddy!  Niall had found a swing on Gumtree that looked pretty amazing.  It retails for £400 new.  And the ad said it was 'never used', so at £65 it seemed like a great deal.  We called, emailed and texted the seller to say we would take it.  I was afraid someone would get it before Niall!

Niall talked to the seller, who told us the swing was unassembled and had fit in his Mondeo (it's a four seater car, smaller than our MPV.)   I thought I was picking up a brand new, unused gazebo swing that would fit in the car no problem.  I drove the 40 minutes to pick it up without any tools or bungee cords.  Doesn't the ad make the swing seem great?


Never used but needs assembled

When I actually saw the swing, I was surprised.  Not in a good way.  I almost said, "No Thanks."  But then I remembered how giddy Niall had been at the prospect of a gazebo swing.  The 'swing' may not have been used, but it had been left in the damp to rot.  The gazebo part had obviously been in use and left to the elements.  And then taken apart, with all of the nuts and bolts misplaced.  The whole thing was big, moldy and barely fit in the car.  The seller let me have some wire to tie the parts down and I took the drive home slowly.  When she said, "Putting it together if obviously self explanatory" I got the hint that she didn't have the instructions.

When I got home Niall was still pretty excited despite the obviously used condition.  I power washed it to clean off some of the mold then sanded the parts that had rotted, and left the swing out to dry.  I called the manufacturer (because the assembly wasn't that straight forward, at least to me.)

The manufacturer (we figured out it's an Anchor Fast Avon Swing Arbour) kindly sent me the instructions.  Armed with that paperwork, I was able to hobble together the hardware that was needed from B&Q.  I went to the lumber yard to get some replacement wood for a piece that wasn't fit for purpose.  Then roped a friend who was visiting and the girls (Margaret had wield a rubber mallet now!) into helping me assemble. Oh, and then Niall helped finishing putting it together.  We dug in two surplus pavers so the swing has something solid on which to rest.

I sanded a few more parts and then we painted the whole thing in a coat of Cuprinol.  (Brown.  Niall had wanted green to match the fence, but a test patch did not fair well.)

Niall has his garden swing! Now if we can get the grass to grow.

Swing £65 (Gumtree)
Hardware £9 (B&Q)
Timber £5 (Jewsons)
Curprinol £0 (Free!  We used what was in the garage)
Total:  £79

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Instead of the Gym

Once upon a time at our house last week-

What Niall said:  "It might be nice to get some sunlouners for the garden."
What I heard:  "Let's take on a garden project."

We're making progress on the yard.  Enough so that we have really enjoyed being outside during these fantastic days of sun!

We have a side of the back yard that remains fairly pathetic.  We have plans to put in planter boxes and landscaping, but didn't want to do anything until we decide what we're doing with the (potential) side extension.  

Niall and I sat down and worked out an intermediate plan and a budget (£500).  We wanted to stop waiting until 'someday' and do a bit to make the garden more usable now.  For the £500 we wanted to:

1.  Plant seed for most of the lawn
2.  Put in a pad for the trampoline
3.  Lay pebbles and planters for the side of the house
4.  Get an outdoor table and BBQ

I decided instead of going to the gym I would work on the yard a little bit every morning.  It was hard work and actually had a bit of a result!   It doesn't look like much, but all the soil on the left is the result of the alternate gym activity.  It was had work removing all the overgrowth and grating through the dirt.

Plus the girls liked to come out and help me.

But there was more than the 'instead of the gym' work that needed to be done.  A few days later, our drive looked like this:

We were lucky enough to get four missionaries (from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) volunteer their time and move all the soil, pebbles and pavers from the front drive to the back yard.

Our garage is fairly pathetic (no door or window) so it made for an excellent through-fare for the wheelbarrow.

Here's the summary

Side of the garden:  January 2013 (first viewing of the house)

Side of the garden:  June 2014


Side of the garden:  Now (Sorry, no great visual update as the grass still needs to grow and that garage needs to be painted.)

The trampoline is on a pad and the apple tree has some pebbles (with weed blocker underneath.)

Back/Side of the House (May 2013) (Note the guttering and fairly pathetic side yard backdrop in our impromptu partial family portrait.)


Side of house:  Now  Planters with pebbles.  Maybe we'll put some flowers?  Someday.  (The bottles of water were for the missionaries!  And the blown blockwork was cemented over.)

Back of house:  Now
Finally!  A table and chairs (I've been looking for almost a year for a decent used one.  When we found this new six-seater reasonably priced we finally bit the bullet) and a BBQ.

In case you were wondering, we were using a hodgepodge of side tables, folding chairs and anything else we could find for outdoor dining.

Rear view of side garden (March 2013)

Rear view of side garden (Summer 2013):  Note the big tree!

Rear view of side garden (March 2014):  Big tree was removed, but the side garden is in headed for a weedy, unused future.  Until now!

Rear view of side garden (June 2014)

Rear view of side garden:  Now  Don't look like much, but it's a good foundation if we can get the grass to grow!  It's planted and we're watering it everyday.  For the first time since I've lived in Scotland we are having sun without rain.  (I'm not complaining!)

And the trampoline with its own little pad.  Finally level and in a designated place.  Down the road when the kids grow out of the trampoline we'll put something else on the pad; Small shed?  Hammock?  Actually, Niall is already trying to kick the trampoline off the pad to make way for a garden swing.  So who knows?  

Our budget was £500.   I price compared for everything to try to keep in our budget. We went £38 over, which was pretty much the best £38 spent ever!  It was treats for the missionaries and I do not begrudge one penny.  If they wouldn't have come to help I'd still be wheeling soil!

Paving stones, sand and delivery:  £82  (J.W. Grant )
3 tons of topsoil, 1/2 ton of pebbles, grass seed, weed blocker and delivery:  £207  (Total Turfing)
Outdoor dining set:  £152 (Argos)
Barbecue:  £50 (Argos)
Food/Drinks for free labor:  £37
Lawn Fertilizer:  £10 (B&Q)

Total:  £538

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big World Map

Our family is scattered around the globe.  We're in Scotland, my family is in the US, Niall's sister's family is in Australia.  My dad and step-mom are globetrotters and the girls just want to know where everyone is.

We wanted to get a big map for their room.  Ikea has a World Map, but it's £100.  I found one in Bargain Corner, but it was £70.  (In case you're wondering, that means too expensive for us.)  I tried lots of other sources, but they were all at least £50.  I thought about painting a map directly on the wall or on a big piece of ply and hanging it.

Instead, when my mom was here, we found a fun world map print fabric when getting material for Anna (from Frozen) costumes.  Maybe I'll post on those later.

The fabric is from Remnant Kings and it was £11 a meter.  A single map is about a meter long.  The width made it funky for an off-the-shelf frame.  To keep costs down I decided to DIY a canvas base.  I bought a length of pine from Jewsons, It was pretty shoddy workmanship, if I do say so myself.  The frame warped a little because I split the wood when I was drilling.   I stretched the fabric and stapled it to the frame. 

I used wire an two eyelet picture loops on the back to hang it.  But it looked kind of pathetic.

Solution?  Brackets that we already had.  The brackets squared up the frame.  A little over the top, but when you've got me as the carpenter you've got to make do.

And now?  The world, above the girls' heads!  

(Like their beds are really ever this tidy, except for when I want to take a photo.)

Fabric:  £11
Frame:  £7
Total:  £18