...because home doesn't happen overnight.

tub cradle base 1

A few things before I get into the nitty gritty details of the tub cradle base: 1) Our family vacation was wonderful! I’ll share more soon. 2) No pretty pictures in this post. These images were taken on the fly with our phones. Sometimes (a lot of times) convenience wins. 3) This is not a DIY tutorial. This is just us sharing what we did. We aren’t woodworkers. Feel free to improve upon our methods or forgo them all together. Good? M’kay.

When we started this tub escapade over two years ago (!), we were inspired by a similar cradle base created by none other than Jessica Helgerson and her handy husband. At the time, I shot Jessica an email asking about their tub base. I didn’t anticipate an answer but figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. I was so surprised when she replied! Turns out, Jessica’s husband scribed two wooden cradles out of Douglas fir to fit the contour of the tub’s bottom. The weight of the tub was enough to hold the setup in place. Adhesive wasn’t necessary.

Sounds easy enough, right? Sorta.

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First, we had to find some wood. But before that, we had to figure out how big of a piece of wood we needed. Using the height of the original claw feet as a guide and browsing images of other cradle bases online, we decided on two scribed bases measuring 25″L x 4¾”W x 10″H. That meant we needed a sizable chunk of wood measuring at least 10″ thick. We searched all over and even considered driving a few hours north to scope out salvaged beams. But in the end, we found an inexpensive 10″ x 10″ x 8′ beam right under our noses at Dayton Reclamation and Restoration LLC. It set us back $40. Done.

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We had hoped to take the beam to a sawmill or woodworker to have it cut to size (into two smaller blocks). But after some difficulty locating a place / person to do the job (at one point, we were advised to call “a woodcutting man in the woods” – lumberjack? – but he never answered his phone) at a location and / or time that was convenient for us, Steve decided to go for it himself.

He discovered that the wood nearest the core of beam had less splits, and we wanted the sides of the bases to be finished (as opposed to rough hewn) so he focused on cutting out the innermost wood from the beam. (He didn’t cut the two blocks out side-by-side but, rather, end-to-end from the beam.) Using a circular saw set on the deepest setting, he cut a block of wood to length from the beam. He ran the circular saw around the perimeter of the beam then used a sawzall to cut it free. He repeated this for a second block.

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Once the two blocks were cut, we set the tub upside down on 2×4’s in the garage. We put the original claw feet in place (but didn’t attach them…seen above in the background) then shimmed and leveled the tub so that it was as if the tub was sitting upright and level on the floor, only upside down. Have I lost you yet? Basically, we were taking into account the fact that the tub slopes toward the drain – a good thing.

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With the tub still upside down and the original claw feet in position (but not affixed to the tub), Steve carefully set a level across the two front feet. The level was lined with a strip of masking tape marked at the center point between the two feet and marked at 1″ increments out from the center. Using a tape measure, he measured the distance from the level to the contoured bottom of the tub at each 1″ mark and noted the measurements on the masking tape. Then he was able to transfer the curve onto a piece of foam board. He repeated the same process for the back legs. (The contour of the tub changes from the drain end to the non-drain end so we had to make two different templates.)

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Knowing the overall desired height (10″) and length (25″) of the cradles, Steve cut out templates from the foam board. We guesstimated a roughly 2″ depth for the highest part of the base that would hug the tub. If you haven’t noticed by now, there was a lot of guessing and eyeballing involved in this project.

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Using the custom foam board templates, Steve traced the curve onto the two wood blocks. (If you look closely you can see a pencil line on the wood in the image shown above.) He traced the curve onto both sides of the respective blocks to guide him during the cutting process. He made straight cuts down to the pencil line with a reciprocating saw, leaving an inch or so between cuts and keeping an eye on both sides of the block to make sure he wasn’t cutting one side deeper than the other.

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Working in sections, he tapped out the cut slivers with a hammer.

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Eventually, the cradle started to take shape. With the contour roughly cut, he used a Lancelot blade on an angle grinder to further carve out the cradle. Then he went back in with a flap disc to smooth out the curve. He repeated the same process on the second block.

After that there was a lot of setting the cradles on the upside down tub in the garage and making adjustments. We used a wood bit to cut notches in the cradles for the claw foot mounts to rest in, recessed. (We decided early on to place the cradles in the same positions as the claw feet for proper support and balance.) This step of the project involved a lot of trial and error and was extremely tedious. But it was necessary for a snug fit.

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The cradles were sanded with an orbital sander a total of SIX TIMES! We worked our way from 80 to 320 grit sandpaper for a smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt finish. We conditioned the cradles with Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner then applied two coats of Minwax special walnut stain and two coats of Waterlox to protect the wood from future splashes.

FYI – The state of our garage is an embarrassment so don’t look too closely! The walls are *mostly* organized but the floor is cluttered with all the components of the main bath renovation and the entire space is dirty. We’ve had an entire bathroom (tub, toilet, vanity, lighting, etc.) sitting in our garage for over two years! Maybe after the bathroom is finished, we’ll actually park a car in here. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.

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As for the tub exterior, I used Sherwin Williams products. (I had tested the tub for lead a few months prior and the results were negative.) We had good luck with their enamel latex when we painted the builder kitchen cabinets in our previous house so I decided to use it for the tub, too. The tub’s exterior had been stripped and sanded before we bought it via craigslist. Yay for someone else doing the prep work for me! I wiped it down then applied one coat of Sherwin Williams all surface enamel oil base primer tinted to a medium gray. I had anticipated needing two coats but the coverage was superb. I finished up with two coats of Sherwin Williams all surface enamel acrylic latex in satin, color-matched to Benjamin Moore black jack. The sleek, contrasting exterior was exactly what we had envisioned!

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We were anxious to bring the new old tub into the house but completely forgot how long it takes for enamel paint to cure. We left the cradles and tub out in the garage for another 1-2 weeks to cure and off-gas. After a test run of placing the tub on the cradles in the garage, Steve had one of his *strong* buddies help him carry the tub in through the front door to the bathroom. The tub weighs 250-300lbs! We were leery of rolling that much weight on a furniture dolly across our wood floors. It would have been easier with a third pair of ripped arms but there wasn’t any room in the hallway / bathroom for another person.

We had built up “the moving of the tub” so much but, in reality, it was relatively anticlimactic. It fit through the bathroom doorway with the door off the hinges (whew!) and in minutes the tub was in place resting on the cradles. It was level, too! Because of the hex floor tiling fiasco, we were sure we’d need to shim or readjust things but we didn’t. Rarely are things easier than we expect so it was a nice surprise. The exterior suffered one small scratch but it only penetrated the top layers of paint – not the primer.

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It probably wasn’t necessary but we did add a bead of silicone to secure the cradles. Due to the weight of the tub and a snug fit, the tub doesn’t wobble or tip at all. We’ve jumped up and down in the tub and tried to rock it. It’s solid! We’re also really happy with the tub interior. It’s in great shape for a vintage tub. We’re guessing it was reglazed at some point.

All in all, we spent $270 on Project Declawed Tub (excluding fixtures and plumbing): $200 for the tub, $40 for the beam, $30 for the Lancelot disc. The staining and sealing materials were leftover from previous projects. For the primer and paint, I used a Sherwin Williams gift card I had won two years ago in Apartment Therapy’s Room for Color contest.

In a perfect world, the cradles would be spaced more evenly. I think the one on the left would look better if it was moved further to the left. But that’s where the drain is so it’s not an option. It’s worth noting that if you desire a completely symmetrical setup, a freestanding tub with a center drain is a must. But we weren’t willing to move plumbing lines in the bathroom. In fact, the goal was to work with the original layout. I also think the cradles would look better if they were ~2″ shorter. However, I’m not sure they would function as well. We kept the distance between the floor and the bottom of the tub the same as it was with the original claw feet. At 2″ shorter, the tub might have felt too low? Maybe not. We needed the clearance for the drain line. Not to mention, a lower tub would have put more strain on the already strained water supply lines. Ah! So many little things to think about.

Overall, we’re extremely happy with how the tub turned out. Especially since it was a unique concept. We’ve blamed this bathroom’s non-existence on time, kids, blah, blah, blah, but honestly there was some fear involved, too. How’s this all going to work?! We like straying from the norm and sometimes it’s scary but it’s always worth it. We either love what we end up with or learn something new or, if we’re lucky, both.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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I recently partnered with Wayfair to create a Thanksgiving tablescape. The idea was to show how you can pair splurge-worthy reusable items (fine china, flatware, cloth napkins, candelabras, etc.) with easy, inexpensive DIYs to create a festive but not too literal look. I’ve always loved natural garland lining the center of a table so that was my jumping off point. I removed the wishbone chairs from the ends of the table and brought in two chairs from our outdoor dining patio to sit between the tulip chairs. This provided seating for six and allowed the table runner and greenery to spill over the ends of the table.

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I sewed a custom table runner out of vintage batik fabric and pom trim.

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I’ve found that most ready-made runners look too narrow on our chunky table so I created a wider one. It measures ~20″ wide.

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I bought a few $3 bunches of eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s and placed them on the runner along the center of the table for a natural, organic vibe. Not only do I love the look, but the greenery is more conducive to conversation versus traditional centerpieces. It makes for a casual but intimate dining experience. (And it smells divine!) I sprinkled in mini pumpkins and candles. A few of the orange pumpkins weren’t meshing with the color scheme so I spray painted them gold.

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The geometric candelabras were originally black. I spray painted them gold, too. Spray all the things gold! I melted purple and indigo crayons then rolled the bases of taper candles in the wax.

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I love how the candelabras turned out. They’re so, so pretty.

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I kept the place settings simple. Silver banded china (a wedding gift twelve years ago!), sleek gold flatware and linen napkins are quality staples with longevity that can be used year-round for special occasions. Instead of using napkin rings, I tied leather laces around the napkins and tucked in eucalyptus sprigs.

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I carried the eucalyptus and pumpkins over on to the floating credenza and threw in roses from a local grocer.

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I used wood letters, wood stain, hot glue and jute string to create a “give thanks” banner. (The craft store was out of stock on T’s so I had to improvise with an L and I.)

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I strung the two banners across the window and secured them with clear 3M cord clips. I like the way the wood letters tie in with the bench and woven shade.

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I think my favorite aspect of the decor is that it doesn’t scream Thanksgiving (aside from the “give thanks” banner) and it doesn’t stray too far from our home’s everyday vibe. The gold, white, green and indigo color scheme works well in our dining room but still feels autumnal.

You can read more about my Thanksgiving tablescape over on Wayfair. Find the source list below. If you have any questions, just ask!

Sources:

china – wedding gift, JCPenney
gold flatware – West Elm
wine glasses – family heirloom
linen napkins with midnight border – Coyuchi, Wayfair
leather cord – Realeather lace
batik fabric – etsy
pom trim – JoAnn’s
geometric candelabra – Wayfair
eucalyptus, pumpkins – Trader Joe’s
gold spray paint – Design Master 24 karat pure gold (It’s a wonderful warm gold with copper undertones – perfect for fall!)
wood craft letters – JoAnn’s
wood stain – Minwax special walnut

Psssst – We’re having THE BEST time on our family vacation! We’re already dreading leaving what feels like paradise. I wish everyone could experience this place.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

11.06.14 / M.I.A.

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I had every intention of writing up a post on how we created the tub’s base and finished the tub’s exterior but, alas, life got in the way. I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to whine about the specifics so I won’t. Just know that my focus is elsewhere at the moment, as it should be.

Steve returns from an extended business trip tomorrow and we’re on vacation next week. We’re really looking forward to regrouping and spending some quality time together as a family. Over the years we’ve taken a few trips to see extended family and we took a couple’s vacation to celebrate our (belated) tenth wedding anniversary, but we’ve never done a legit family vacation. It’s kind of sad! This vacation has been in the works for over a year. We’ve been saving and planning for it since last winter when the weather was so brutal and so relentless that it motivated us to plan something fun. We’ll be in the Rosemary Beach area of the Florida panhandle. We’ve never been. If you have any recommendations for what to do, eat or see, I’m all ears!

I have one pre-scheduled post slotted for next week, but I promised my family that I would cut myself off from the laptop while we’re away. So that tub post? Look for it the week after next. Until then, I’ll be posting some pictures of our adventure on instagram if you want to follow along.

See you soon!

image: Boston Herald

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I don’t know about you but after a sugar-filled weekend I’m ready for some homemade food. I recently made a butternut squash & caramelized fennel pizza that was a delicious, seasonal meal.

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Steve is away on an extended business trip so I signed up for another Blue Apron delivery. I tried Blue Apron for the first time earlier this year after Steve’s appendectomy and it was a lifesaver during that busy, stressful time. I knew it would come in equally handy during a week of single-parenting. Skipping a grocery trip with kids in favor of farm-fresh ingredients delivered right to my doorstep? I’ll take it! It’s a little ridiculous how excited I am to open the refrigerated box and read over the three yummy, chef-designed recipes for the week.

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The ingredients are pre-measured to avoid waste. Even the smallest amounts of herbs and spices are included. (You only need olive oil, salt and pepper on hand.) It’s pretty foolproof.

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I’ve said it before… cooking isn’t in my wheelhouse. I’m not like my mom. I can’t scan ingredients in my pantry and fridge then whip up a meal in minutes with little mental effort and lots of cheery humming. Cooking doesn’t come naturally to me that way. (I wish it did.) I need a plan of action. Thankfully, Blue Apron includes a detailed recipe card for each meal.

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My kids are little foodies and they enjoy helping me prepare meals. It’s fun to see them discover new foods. Confession: I had never cooked a fennel bulb before trying this recipe. Eek!

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I also learned a little more about goat cheese. Did you know goat cheese has only become a popular food in American cuisine within the last 30 years? Did you know that when a recipe calls for crumbled goat cheese, it’s best to buy it in log form and crumble it yourself? The log is creamier and less dry than the pre-crumbled bits. (A reader recently brought this to my attention.) Choosing a high quality goat cheese is a good idea, too.

Vermont Creamery supplied the goat cheese for this recipe. The dairy is located in Websterville, Vermont. Allison Hooper and Bob Reese invested $1,200 each to start the company in 1984. They hired Adeline Druart, a native French woman and cheese expert (naturally), as an intern originally then later promoted her to general manager. Allison’s son oversees Ayers Brook, a nearby farm that supplies the dairy with goat milk. I love hearing the stories behind businesses like this. And I like knowing where my food comes from. I’m so happy to know Blue Apron supports local businesses and farmers. You can learn more about Vermont Creamery and see how they make great goat cheese by watching the video above.

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Anyhow, the pizza was so good… and beautiful. Not being anything close to a chef, I would have never thought of combining these ingredients to make a rustic, autumnal dish. Two out of my three kids loved it. (One has aversions to onions and parmesan cheese so it was a no-go for him.) And, of course, I devoured it. The fennel-parsley salad and spiced honey drizzle were the perfect final toppings. The recipe claims the pizza serves three but we have half of it left over. I know what I’m eating for lunch this week! I am a total leftover dinner for lunch eater.

Are you interested in giving Blue Apron a try? The first 50 readers to sign up here will receive two free meals on their first order! Shipping is available to most of the country and it’s free. There’s no commitment and you can always skip or cancel your service at any time.

Happy eating!

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking