Sunday, July 16, 2017

New House, New Coffee Table

Hi Friends,
Lots of exciting stuff happening in the home decor life of yours truly!
First, I moved into a new house. It is actually quite an old house; it is the cottage in the backyard of my parents' 1900's house. And before it was a home, it was actually a barn for the main house. After the 1906 earthquake, when housing was desperately needed, it was converted to a dwelling. It has gone through many changes since then, but I'm pretty sure there is still some hay under the floorboards. There will be more info on the renovations we did, as well as before and afters of the rooms. Come back to the blog for those updates.
Secondly, I started taking an online course in Interior Design at the New York Institute of Art and Design. So far so good, but I'm really only at the beginning. Hopefully it will give me some good practical information about designing spaces, but also about the business side of things(the side I naturally shy away from). Some of the projects in the course will have me working with a client, so if you're interested in being my client "guinea pig" let me know.
And lastly, we've been getting into making our own furniture. I say "we" because James is primarily doing the constructing, but I still want some credit. Since we've been doing a lot of work ourselves on the new house, it was a great excuse to boost our toolbox. We purchased a mitre saw, a circular saw and a nail gun, all of which have been upping our handiness enormously.
My sister has been looking for a new coffee table for a long time, and she's always admired my coffee table, the same one we used growing up(you can read about it here). So we decided to build her one, based on the original. She wanted something at the same height(14 1/2"), but smaller in length. So we purchased 7 feet of a 2x8" poplar board. We cut that in half to make the tabletop, so the dimensions of the top are 3 1/2' long, by 16" wide.
We also purchased about 6' of 2x2 poplar, to use as the legs. Poplar is a versatile hardwood, affordable and a beautiful light color. Some of the wood can look almost green, so we really checked out the coloring of our pieces before buying. Now I'm not going to go into extreme detail about the building process, but I will explain the basics, so you can learn the process in case you want to try something similar.
First we got all our tools together: wood dowel pins, dowel centers, measuring tape, level, pencil, furniture glue, drill, hammer and sandpaper.
Our first task was to attach the two boards to make the tabletop. So we measured three equally spaced spots along one board for where the dowels would go. We drilled into the wood at those points, the depth of half a dowel. We used tape to mark that halfway point on the drill.
Then we put the dowel centers into the drilled hole and lined it up to the opposite board. We tapped the boards together with a hammer and the dowel centers left a tiny hole where the holes should be drilled in the opposite board, so that the dowels will line up. Ingenious!
Then we drilled the holes in the opposite board, put the dowels in, added glue and attached the two boards. Then we clamped the tabletop together and allowed it to dry for 24 hours.
The next step was to add the legs. First, we cut four 13" lengths from our 2x2's. Then we cut two 8" lengths for the crossbars.
We used the same method(drilling, marking the opposite hole with a dowel center, drilling again, and connecting the dowel) to attach the legs to the crossbar. Then we repeated to create the second leg structure.
It is important here to make sure the legs are level and at a 90 degree angle from the crossbar. We added glue and clamped them together and left them to dry overnight.
The next day we could attach the legs to the tabletop. Yay! We used the legs to trace their placement on the underside of the table, and then used the same method as described above to attach the table and legs with 3 dowels per side and glue. Then, once again, we clamped it together.
The final step was to sand the table and apply a matte polycrylic sealant. We sanded the corners to round them, as well as the edges of the table. My sister has a two year old daughter, so no pointy corners.
The softened edges give the wood a little aged quality and also make it much more comfortable to rest bare feet on.
We managed to line up some of the wood grain on the tabletop so it gives the illusion that it is one slab of wood. I also love the movement of the darker grained area.
So there you have it. And homemade coffee table that cost about $70 in materials. I styled out the table in my new place, so you get a little sneak peak into our first floor. Seeing it in my home also made me secretly want to keep it for myself. We delivered the table to my sister's place yesterday, and as Fletcher(my niece) reminded me, "It's my table!"