Finishing things.

The last few weeks have been a complicated mix of protest, resisting and arguing against fascism; but also of finishing things up at home and in life that need to be tied up. That said, between a lot of busy-ness at work and the Women’s March last weekend, Justin and I stained and top coated the 8-foot “Ikea Hack” desk we built in the project room. (you can see the inspiration photos and unfinished table in my post, Starting Things)

I have liked for a long time, the idea of a “partner’s desk” where both Justin and I could work alongside one another. After living in the small (one bedroom) condo, we were so cramped for space, often vying for a place at the small round dining table, that I attempted one afternoon when Justin was drawing, to sew standing up moving between the kitchen cart and ironing board, knocking the iron and tools all over. Lets just say that it did not work so well. Not having a space where we both could work was really frustrating and discouraging at times, so when we were looking for our new home, we knew that a second bedroom would be crucial.

We had a really clear vision of what we wanted to do in the extra bedroom upstairs, and decided to locate the project room in the nicely sized east facing bedroom upstairs.  The room faces the street, and we thought that the larger window with a view of the neighborhood’s rows of workers cottages and old oak trees outside would be an inspiring and outward-facing place to work and create. I was pleased during our trip to Ikea just after New Years, that we were able to find this beech wood slab on sale at Ikea, along with the legs and cabinet. It came together very seamlessly and just in line with what we envisioned, which was amazing considering we were putting the room together on a very tight budget. I was not sure if the 8-foot long countertop would fit in my small VW Golf, but amazingly it did!

We built the table easily, and looked forward to getting it stained and poly-coated so that we could really use and appreciate the desk. We wanted the wood to be dark walnut color, similar to the dark wood floors in our home so we planned to use the Dark Walnut shade of Minwax. However, the color felt drab and needed more warmth and richness to hold up next to the over-100-year-old hardwoods, so we  added  a layer of English Chestnut stain we had leftover from refinishing our living room tables, and were thrilled with the warmth the extra layer of stain imparted. It took about a week to build up the four layers of Minwax polyurethane, but patience is a virtue in wood finishing, and I am glad we took the time to do it right and really layer the top coat. It should stand up to projects nicely.

Having this table and the project room set up, in a room full of our friends art, where we can create and make has in many ways a dream for me. I am realizing in writing this blog, and reflecting on the design  and DIY projects we have done in the past, and the ones ahead of us, that a big part of this for me is about making a home to where we can feel comfortable to make and create and give voice during this complicated time.

I’m looking forward to weeding and raking in the coming months, to planting seeds of native plants to attract bees and butterflies in the summer, and am looking forward to making a home here, to  improving; and also to becoming more deeply entrenched in this neighborhood, and resisting in small ways, and in big ways.


Starting things.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a long time. I’ve been writing posts in my head, and taking pictures, and making things. Coming from a more formal writing background (I earned an MFA in nonfiction in 2014), I look forward to having an outlet aside from Facebook and Instagram to document my thoughts; not just on design and home projects, but also on the world around me.

We live in such a meta world. With a reality TV star about to be sworn in as president, and “the news” suddenly becoming news, I am looking forward to returning to basics–to thinking, to writing, to documenting, and to creating. I am not totally sure where this blog will go, but I look forward to having a repository for images and words again, and hope that it can serve as an inspiration or even just a wall to bounce ideas against.

So with that, here we go! I’ll share more about myself as this evolves, but for now its off to the project room…

Today is Sunday, January 15th, 2017. My husband and I are about to eat toast and English muffins, and get started on a quick project–staining an 8 ft tabletop desk in our project room. We found the countertop (a solid beechwood slab) at Ikea on sale a couple of weeks ago, and eagerly affixed it to a small drawer set and legs. We are hoping to stain the top and finish it with a Minwax polycoat to deepen the hue of the wood and bring it closer to the color of the floors. Here are a few photos of the room as it is now, and I will share process photos of the staining process as we progress!