|Before picture with wallpaper removed|
Even with it's wallpaper and dated color scheme, we could see it's true potential.
|Walls and trim painted|
Karen removed all the wallpaper from the room - thank you! I had enough practice in the old house and was glad to not have to do this room. With that said, we have become experts at removing wallpaper. I will detail our process at a later date. In the meantime - if you have wallpaper that you are itching to take down and want some pointers - just ask!
After changing the light fixture, painting the walls and trim, renovating the butler's pantry and restoring the original wide plank pine wood floors - I set my mind on the project I was most excited about - building a breakfast bench!
I spent some time looking at pictures online of various breakfast benches to get inspiration. I looked for some breakfast bench plans, too. However, I never quite saw a 3 sided bench like we wanted, but I saw enough to give me some ideas. With that, I took some measurements and drew a very simplistic sketch of what I had in mind. Which brings me to the first step.
Step 1 - Sketch your Project
My Blueprint & Bill of Materials
Step 2 - Buy your Materials
I would like to say that I only had to go to the store once because my bill of materials was dead on, but of course we all know that was not the case :-)
Step 3 - Build your Framework
I used 2x3's instead of 2x4's. They are less expensive, easier to carry (lighter) and plenty strong enough for a project of this size.
I measured 17.25" up from the floor. I wanted an overall 18" seat height. I planned to make the top of the bench out of 3/4" hardwood plywood. So the two added together gave me the 18" I wanted. Using my level - I marked this 17.25" height all around the room starting from this initial spot. Note - if you want the top of your bench to be level, you cannot just measure 17.25" in all the different spots around the room and connect the dots because who's to say the floor in a 76 year old house is still perfectly level!!!
|Final framework for the bench|
Step 4 - Plywood Sides
|I used clamps to hold the pieces in place until I nailed them in for good|
|One of my circular saw guides|
Sidenote: How to make a circular saw guide for your saw - The pictures can probably show you how to make them. Basically you need two pieces of 1/2" plywood or particle board. You need at least one of the edges to be perfectly square. That squared edge is used as the edge that your saw guide will touch as you make your cuts. Attach this top board to your second piece of plywood with screws (and wood glue if you like). Make sure this bottom board sticks out longer than the width from your blade to the edge of your saw guide. Now cut this bottom board to width by just cutting the bottom board using the squared edge on the top board as your guide. What is left is the perfect guide for your specific saw. You line up the edge of the bottom board on any two points, clamp it down and you will make a perfectly straight and smooth cut every time.
|Here I stopped mid-cut to show you how my circular saw guide works|
...and now back to our regularly scheduled blog post...
Step 5 - HVAC Vents
However the supply side is a totally different story. The air coming out of your supply register has been treated (heated or cooled) and it costs money to treat this air! You do not want to waste it inside the cabinet. Therefore I needed to extend the wall register to the air vent I placed on the bench itself. Luckily for me I work for RJ Murray (the local Carrier HVAC Distributor) and one of our fabulous customers made me exactly what I needed:
|Custom fabricated duct work extension|
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
|The duct work extension installed|
In the above picture, if you look carefully you can see another important part of any home project...having the whole family (including the dog) sign your work before you cover it up with more wood or paint...fun!
|Duct work complete|
Step 6 - Floor Boards and Trim
I added 6" tall floor molding and some quarter round to trim the bottom of the bench. I finally got to use my sliding compound miter saw on this project. Best.Investment.Ever. The sliding option is sooooo important when doing floor molding. It allows the long (wider) boards to be cut in one smooth step.
Step 7 - The Top
Using my circular saw guides discussed above I was able to cover the whole top with only 4 separate pieces of hardwood plywood.
Step 8 - Making the Top Stronger & Thicker
I tested the overhang and it was plenty strong and really did not need additional support, but I planned all along to add the extra strength and wanted the front edge of the top to have a meatier look. Therefore I attached 1/2"x4" poplar boards to the bottom of the edge with wood glue and nails, making sure my seams did not line up with the seams on the plywood - adding strength to the seams. You can see in the picture to the right.
Here is a look at the poplar boards from underneath:
Step 9 - Trim the Front Edge of the Top
As you can see from the above picture in Step 8 the front face of the top would not look nice when painted as is. Multiple materials and plywood layers...so I added a bull nosed edging to the front with glue and small nails. I metered them for a finished look.
|Front edge trim work|
I added crowning molding to the underside. It really gave the underside a nice finished look. You will need to wait until the After Photos below to see the crown molding.
Step 11 - Sand and Filler
Since I was painting the bench I used paintable caulk to fill any imperfections (yes there may have been one or two!!!) or small gaps. Big Hint - when doing a wood working project it is important to know if you are going to paint or stain the finished product. Paint hides A LOT! You have to be much more careful when staining. You need to know what species of wood your are using. They all absorb stain differently. You could end up with an uneven finish if you are not careful. Also all your cuts and mitered corners have to be that much better when staining. Any filler could be be noticeable.
Then I sanded the whole bench with my orbital sander to smooth out any seams.
|Filled and sanded - ready for paint.|
I painted the bench the same way I painted the Butler's Pantry. Once again here are the steps I used:
- 1 coat of Benjamin Moore primer
- Two coats of Benjamin Moore White Dove (satin finish) on all the shelving, dividers, cabinet doors and face of the Butler's Pantry. I used their ADVANCE Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint. It self levels much better to a smooth finish. Brush strokes are barely noticeable.
- To protect all the bench tops - I used 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic.
The After Pictures
You can see the crown molding in the above and below pictures
|Luke horsing around...|
Sometimes I still cannot believe I made this. It was definitely one of my most ambitious projects...that is until I made the slate patio a month later!!!
We love the bench...and the whole room now. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the breakfast bench. It is much more cozy and intimate than eating at the dining room table. Each night the family just slides into our own personal diner booth and talk about the day....except when we have baseball or softball or swimming or school concert or ice cream social...then all bets are off!