No, I didn’t drop off the face of the earth! I am still here – just have been very busy the past few months. I’ve been keeping an eye on this blog, but haven’t had time to keep up with posting. I’ve been working on a lot of projects and hope to post about some of them soon.
This week I worked on a project I had been contemplating since we moved into the house. The back porch is tiled, but the patio was just plain concrete. Since it is surrounded by brick, it always stays dirty. Leaves, mulch, dirt and everything else collects in there and it’s always dirty.
We had acid stained the concrete slab in our first house kitchen and I had been wanting to do that to the patio here. I had found a local supplier for the acid stain so we wouldn’t have to pay the high shipping costs like we did with our first house. I picked up 4 gallons of Kodiak (a dark gray-brown) stain, 2 gallons of Copper (a golden brown) stain and two 5 gallon buckets of sealer.
Tuesday afternoon, I began pressure washing the patio to get it clean down to the bare concrete. The acid reacts with the minerals in the concrete which causes it to change color. It’s not just a topical stain that can wear off – it actually physically changes the color of the concrete. So, anything left on the concrete can interfere with the ability of the acid to react.
It took me about 3.5 hours to finish.
Since the concrete was now nice and clean, I decided I better apply the stain the next day instead of waiting for the weekend when David was off. I used two, all plastic, garden sprayers – one for each stain color. I contemplated diluting the stain to keep it lighter, but decided just to leave it on the minimum amount of time instead. (Turns out, I probably should have diluted it too.) I sprayed the copper stain sparingly in random areas, then filled the rest in with the Kodiak color. My dad helped by holding cardboard against the brick, but the cardboard got saturated and some still got on the brick. In hindsight, I probably should have bought a piece of plexiglass to use instead. Both colors went on yellow and this is how it looked when I was done . . .
It was RED!!!! Not at all complimentary to our brick. I would have freaked out except there wasn’t anything I could do about it at that point.
For some reason, the area in front of the garage door took the stain differently from the rest of the concrete. I let the acid react for 4 hours, then I began neutralizing it with baking soda and water. That made it start fizzing, “smoking” and turn this beautiful yellow color.
I rinsed the patio 4 more times to make sure the concrete was clean. At least it doesn’t look as red now . . .
This area still looks different, but once the furniture is back out it shouldn’t be as noticeable.
The next evening, I began applying the sealer. The hard part was keeping debris off the sections I was working on. I used the leaf blower and compressor to blow each section off, but dirt still blew back on it. It turned out to not be as tacky as I expected, so it wasn’t a big deal. Most leaves and stuff could be brushed off once the sealer was dry.
We applied the second coat of sealer the following night. Since it is high gloss, there was concern about it being slippery, but our concrete is rough enough that it’s not really an issue. I wouldn’t recommend running across it when it’s wet, but it’s fine otherwise.
It rained sooner than we expected, but the sealer seems to be working well.
It is much darker than I would have liked, but the color turned out ok. I was worried about it being hot, but it’s not really any worse than it was gray. It looks a lot better than the plain gray and it will hide the dirt much better.
We waited about 48 hours before we put the furniture back. The sealer should last about 3 years before it needs reapplied.
Here they are, the final images of the home theater.
All work was completed by us – nothing was hired out. Like every room, there are still little projects that could be done, but the majority are finished. Here’s a quick look back at where we started.
And here it is now . . .
The stair landing gives you a glimpse of what’s to come.
Looking back at the staircase. The bathroom still needs to be painted a coordinating color. All the light switches and outlets were changed to black and dimmers added to the lights.
The ceiling fans were replaced with lower profile models in coordinating pewter and black. The recessed lighting trim was painted to blend in. Speaker and electrical wires were ran. A seating platform was designed and built with LED lighting along the edges.
The blinds were replaced with blackout curtains. The window where the screen is was covered with blackout fabric so that it looks like it just has a blind from the outside.
The platform was finished with peel and stick vinyl that mimics wood. The wire hanging down in the picture below controls the platform lights which can change colors and/or do different effects.
Here’s the view from the back row . . .
. . . and the front row.
As mentioned above, the platform lights can change colors – Roll Tide!
The cover is easily removable as it just hangs on 2 screws.
The extra space at the back of the room has our exercise equipment. I have plans to refinish the bar table on the right. It can be pulled out from the dormer for eating while watching the big screen.
135″ screen with 3D high definition projector. We have had the speakers for several years.
Finally, a parting message at the bottom of the stairs.
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year! As usual, the end of the year was busy for us. I procrastinated on putting up our Christmas decorations, but scheduling a long overdue surgery got me moving. I wanted to get it done for The Kid since I wasn’t sure how soon I’d be up to it after the surgery. (Turns out, it went really well and I probably could have done most of it a week later).
Anyway, I had came across this Christmas tree and really wanted to replicate it.
I went back and forth on whether I could pull it off and finally decided to go for it. I also wanted to replace our fiber optic tree with a white or flocked one. I found one I loved at Home Depot, but the 9′ one was more than I wanted to spend. I got the idea from my parents to build a stand for a 7.5′ tree. This had the added bonus of keeping it high enough that the dogs can’t walk under it and rub the flocking and glitter off. I bought a 24″ butcher block round when I went to buy the tree. I used some waste 2x4s to build a cube, then screwed the table top onto it. The tree stand fit perfectly. It was discussed whether to anchor the tree stand to the base I made, but I decided just to try just sitting it on top. So far, we haven’t had a problem with it moving.
I found the polar bears from the original inspiration tree on Amazon, but, unfortunately, they weren’t cheap. So, I only ordered a set of the 12″ ones. If I ever find the larger ones marked down, I’d love to get them.
I ran several places, but ended up buying all the decorations at Hobby Lobby and our local Design World. It turned out better than I imagined!
I later picked up some sparkly “snow” to fill in under the tree skirt.
The red and white ribbon came from Sam’s Club last year. The black chalkboard ribbon I picked up there this year.
The white snowball deco mesh, large white “bottle brush” ornaments and the red glitter/white fuzzy striped ornaments came from Design World. Everything else, including the picks, came from Hobby Lobby.
One of the reminders of The Reason for the season.
I also decorated the staircase to match. The small ornaments were extra from my backyard decorations. I dug out my collection of stuffed polar bears and placed them around.
For the past 9 years, I’ve taken pictures of The Kid and custom designed our Christmas Card. It didn’t get done this year, but I made a handful of paper cards using my Silhouette Cameo machine. They took almost 4 days to make, but they turned out pretty cute! They can stand up and rock side to side.
And one more picture of a warm rainy night around Christmas. . .
I’m not sure what 2016 has in store, but I guess we’ll see! In the meantime, I want to get some painting done around the house – the bonus (theater) bathroom, the second floor doors and some other random areas. I’m also looking into building a headboard like The Kid’s to sell. If it goes quickly, I may make others to sell as well. I also plan to finally post the final pictures of the theater.
Progress continued once the trim and lights were installed on the platform. We used 3/4″ plywood to create the floor, starting with the lower section and steps.
I added more trim to the edges to give it a finished look. This trim is a smaller version of the window and door trim throughout our house. We needed something at least a couple inches wide to hide the LED strips underneath.
I had to wait until the flooring was installed before I could attach the corner trim above the steps.
Then, more painting . . .
I had been contemplating for a while about what to use for flooring on the platform – carpet, laminate, vinyl? It needed to be fairly light so as to not add unnecessary weight to the already heavy platform. I had collected several samples of each and kept going back to vinyl planks. I was just worried if it would be the right look. I started revisiting all the stores to look at options and to see what they had in stock vs what would need to be ordered. We were getting close to being ready to install something (and the recliners were already on order), so I wasn’t crazy about a 2 week wait for flooring to come in.
A trip to Lowe’s turned up a great find though – peel and stick vinyl planks on clearance for 95 cents a square foot! The style is Antique Woodland Oak which has a lot of variation including some gray and black which I thought would go along with the room. I went back later and bought 120 square feet of it in fear of it selling out if I waited.
A concern I had about using vinyl was having a bunch of cut edges along the sides of the platform. I decided that adding a “frame” would eliminate that problem and give it a more custom look.
I started with the step on the far side. If I had any initial installation issues, it would be less likely to be noticed over here. I started by laying the “frame”, then filled in with additional planks. It was super easy to cut by just scoring it with a knife, then snapping it along the line. The hard part was getting the line scored straight. (David and I both worked on the top riser so one of us could hold the plank and straight edge while the other cut, making it much easier.)
That step went quickly and easily, so I moved on to the other step. I made one mistake on this step, but it wasn’t a big deal to do over. Then, I began on the lower platform, laying the frame along the edges first, then filling in.
I probably used a few more planks than needed because I made a point of staggering the joints and using different lengths so that it would look like a real wood floor. I used just under half of the planks I had bought and was sure the upper riser would need more. I ran back to Lowe’s and picked up another 40 square feet so make sure we had enough. I also wanted to have extras since it has probably been discontinued and in case we need to repair some planks down the road.
I was really excited with how it turned out. It looks really nice. The planks have a wood grain texture and it looks pretty convincing for being peel and stick vinyl. I will get better pictures with my camera once it is all finished.
Once we were sure all the wiring was secure under the top riser, we laid the plywood down, added trim and painted it.
The top riser went about the same as the bottom, although a bit easier and quicker with 2 people this time. We used some weights to hold down a few seams where the plywood is uneven.
All that’s missing now is the chairs (which still aren’t here – fingers crossed for this week).
I am thrilled with how the platform turned out. This is one of those rare cases where it turned out better than I expected. Perfect? – No, but it looks awesome. The trim adds detail to make it look more “professional”, the lights increase safety in the dark and add some Wow factor and the “wood” flooring adds interest to the space.
While we wait on the chairs, we’ve also been working on getting the junk out of the room. We will have a truck load to donate this week before the chairs get here. I’m also working on some of the design details I’ve had planned – lighted movie posters, vinyl decals for the walls and a sign over the door.
To Be Continued . . .
Since my last post, we’ve been hard at work on the platform almost every day. David added a 2×6 to the inside of the platform to mount the Buttkicker on. This played a big role in the design of the platform as we want as much of the vibration to transfer to the seats as possible.
It is plugged into a speaker wire that runs to an amplifier, connected to the subwoofer output on the a/v receiver. We also added furniture feet to the bottom of the platform to lift it off the floor and minimize the amount of vibration lost that way – no pics of that 🙁
Next, I began adding trim to give the platform a more finished look. I debated on whether to put anything along the bottom since I figured the carpet would cover the plywood edge. I finally decided to go for it and I’m glad I did. I used a small board that looks like a “mini” baseboard.
I covered the corners with trim pieces to cover the gaps in the plywood.
Then, I got fancy. I added some chair rail molding to the sides and back. I decided to make it a little more difficult for myself and went with octagons instead of plain squares.
One on each side and three across the back. It wasn’t necessary, but it adds a lot!
The whole thing was then painted with Behr Marquee Magnet to match the walls.
Once the paint was dry, David was able to run the LED strip lights we had ordered.
It took four 16.5′ strands to cover all the edges.
We did not connect them all to each other, so we had some issues getting them to all stay in sync. We ended up using an IR repeater which is connected to each strand of lights. The IR receiver will be mounted near the left side step, almost out of sight. Once the plywood floor was attached, all this wiring would be inaccessible, so we needed to make sure everything was going to work.