Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rome Wasn't Built In a Day

Rome wasn't built in a day...It wasn't updated or maintained in a day either. As a first time home owner I have to remember this as my wheels constantly spin trying to decide on what project to work on next. Most of the time there is a already one in the works before I have finished the one I'm currently working on!

My favorite projects are the ones I can start and finish in a day... well, at least a weekend. So what did I do this weekend? I turned a mantel into a headboard with the help of my better half.  I purchased the mantel at the Habitat ReStore in Mooresville for roughly $25. It looked very similar to this mantel, but without the slate insert: 

I think part of the reason I had been putting it off for so long is because I knew it needed a good sanding, so that was the first thing we did. I began by using a putty knife or a scraper to scrape off all the original paint flakes. Next, Ben took an electric sander, and using a 60 grit paper, sanded it down again. 

And after that he sanded it down with a 100 grit sandpaper. Since it was pretty smooth after the two rounds of sanding we left it like that, however there are some knicks that have left it looking gently used. We decided we liked the way it was going to look once painted, and that really no one would notice the knicks after we finished the interior space of the mantel, the part that would create the cushioned headboard. So... we put two coats of primer on the mantel and finished it off with one coat of a Interior Latex Semi-Gloss in ultra white. 

The next step was to cut a piece of plywood (which I bought at Lowe's Home Improvement for about $10) to fit the size of the middle space of the mantel. Just to be sure I had enough space to staple the plywood to the mantel I measured it with a 2 inch overlap on each side. Then I covered the plywood with one bag of Poly-Fil 100% premium Polyester Fiberfill. Now, I had never done anything like this before, and this was the first time I had ever even been in Hancock Fabrics, so I took a wild guess on how much I was going to need and ended up purchasing the bag labeled "Full Size." 

Slowly massaging through the fiberfill, I smoothed it out the best I could on the plywood so that it was evenly distributed. Then I added a layer of batting on top of the fiberfill for extra cushion, which I stapled to the bottom of the plywood using a heavy duty staple gun.

On an important note, be sure that your staples are not too long that they penetrate the other side of your board. They are slightly difficult to get out and you run the risk of poking yourself on their sharp edges. 

The next step was to cover the "fluff" with the fabric that I had chosen, and staple that to the back of the plywood as well. When this was complete and the mantel was completely dry, it was then time to put the two together. We carefully moved the mantel to our saw horses that we had been working on all day and flipped it over so that the decorative side was face down. Then we did the same thing with the plywood that had just been stuffed and covered. 

Using a brad nailer, Ben carefully nailed the plywood to the back of the mantel. Here again you want to make sure that your nails aren't too long. It is also crucial that you are lined up correctly because you don't want to damage the fabric by missing the mantel you are supposed to be nailing into. 

When that was all complete the real work began. We had decided that we wanted our headboard to have the feel of elegance, but on a budget. So I found some decorative nail heads where I purchased my fabric. I chose the bronze-y/gold-ish colored nail heads that come in a strip. Below you can see Ben installing them.

Basically they come all connected in a strip with a hole in every 5 nail heads. The package I purchased also comes with individual nail head buttons that are used to secure the strip to whatever material you are working with. These are where you put your individual nail heads. Since the strip comes rolled up it was slightly difficult for us to be sure it was straight. If you are looking to complete this project, I would suggest cutting your strips the length you need, then leaving them to sit overnight in a straight line (perhaps with something heavy on top), to help straighten them out. 

We chose to outline our mantel's interior with a square, which we thought would be the most simple design. All in all it wasn't too terrible. It was certainly time consuming and we'll probably go back to change it a little bit since the square isn't completely square. 

But alas, the project is complete! Here is the finished product: 

 So we started and finished the mantel turned headboard in one day!  And while I know that my house still needs a lot of work and that it won't get done all at once (after all, Rome wasn't built in a day), it does feel good to complete a project!

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