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To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II)

Hi again errybody! I’m back today to share part II of our DIY backdrop. A couple weeks ago, I told y’all about how Evan and I decided to create a backdrop for our wedding. It was going to be used for the ceremony AND our DIY photobooth, but the ceremony area ended up having the prettiest flowers on the big day so we decided to keep it for the photobooth only- and we’re so glad we did! The photobooth was a HUGE hit!!

In the last post I shared how we (and by “we” I mean Evan. I was just the assistant) made the wooden frame for our backdrop. Today I’m going to take you through my contribution to this project- the actual fabric itself.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

I’d seen TONS of pretty fabric and ribbon backdrops on Pinterest- but ribbon would get real expensive real fast, so that option was nixed pretty early on. I liked the idea of fabric strips, but I wanted to do a really soft, subtle gradient and I wasn’t sure I would find all the colors I needed to do that. So I decided to make the colors myself aka become a fabric dye mixologist aka end up with really weird looking perma-stained hands.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

So I bought some white muslin fabric since it was super cheap and easy to dye. We guessed what length we would want it to be and just bought just enough for that. When we got home, we laid it out and got to tearing! If you have a cat, they can really help with this part.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Unfortunately, because we were Mochi-wrangling, we didn’t get a pic of the tearing process. But it’s super simple: just make little snips with scissors along the edge and start ripping. We made our snips 2-3 inches apart so that our strips would be 2-3 inches wide. With other fabrics you might need to cut down the whole length of the strip, but with muslin it’s way easier to rip away. Plus I liked the natural looking ripped edges more than I would have liked a sharp cut edge anyway. We left a few pieces in bigger sections so I could test out if it was easier to rip and then dye, or dye and then rip.

Speaking of dye, I bought a few different colors of Rit dye (Petal, Violet, and Aquamarine) and got everything ready to go!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To use the dye, just follow the instructions on the bottle. You get warm water and put a weeeee little bit of dye in and mix it about. The water doesn’t have to be boiling or anything, just warm. Though it even works with cold water if you leave it in there long enough.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Please excuse the nail polish haha. Anyway, I left the fabric in the dye for a little while and impatiently checked and checked until I decided to pull it out to prevent it from getting over-saturated. Since I was going for pastels, I wanted the color to be very faint. Unfortunately, even at it’s faintest it was still… too much.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

See that light pink in the middle of the pile that looks like a washed out highlighter? That’s how it turned out, and it was a little too glowy for me. So I decided I’d try mixing my colors to (hopefully) tone it down. Spoiler: when I used the mixed dye to color the fabric, it turned out like the darker pink part of the pile in the photo above. Which had better, warmer undertones, but was too dark to be pastel. Dang.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Then I discovered that Rit actually has a color mixing guide on their website! Totally should have checked that out beforehand! Turned out I needed to get some tan dye to warm up and subdue the brightness of my colors.

I started out following the rules, measuring teaspoons of dyes and cups of water, but by the end I was winging it. The dye was really forgiving, and because I wanted all my strips to vary, it was ok if the color was a little different each time. Also, if you dye the fabric one color and don’t quite like it, you can dye it again in another color to get sort of a wash of that second color onto the first. For example, many times my pink mixes were still too pink or my blues were still too blue, so I’d make a batch of tan dye and leave the pinks and blues in there for a while to soak up the tan. Hope all this makes sense and isn’t too confusing. It’s not that hard once you start getting your hands dirty, I promise :)

I found that I liked tearing the fabric into strips first and then dying it, but you may like doing it the other way around. After I pulled out each strip from the dye and rung it out, I let it air dry hanging in the shower. You can see that it dries pretty wrinkly, but I thought that actually gave it a nice shabby chic effect.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Once it was dry, I set up a couple curtain rods so I could see how it would look once it was more put together. As I mentioned in the last post, we decided to use two curtain rods for the backdrop: one in front for the fabric, and one behind to hang sheer white curtains from (to act as sort of a backdrop for my backdrop, if you will).

Here’s how it looked when I hung it all up!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com And here’s how it looked about 30 seconds later.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To attach the fabric to the curtain rod, I just folded it over and pinned it to itself with a safety pin. I kept going, adding more and more neutral pinkish-tan pieces to pull everything together. Once we finished the wooden backdrop frame, I was super excited to actually put it all together!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And then… womp womp. Somehow in my excitement about dying, I totally got the wrong length for my fabric. It was like our backdrop was wearing high waters. Luckily, I had bought the last of a bolt of fabric and was cutting it as I went, so I still had a little bit that was uncut.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

But it definitely wasn’t enough to match the amount of too-short strands. It ended up looking like just a handful of full length pieces peeking out from underneath the short ones. But I didn’t want to toss all my beautifully dyed, vertically challenged fabric and I didn’t want to buy a buttload more fabric either. So I got sneaky.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Yep, I took a few of the short strips and cut them up into even smaller bits that were just long enough to bridge the gap from the short strips to the floor. I tried to match up colors and widths on some so it would look like a continuous strand. On others, I’d purposefully pin (for example) a skinny blue piece behind a wide pink piece and just look at it and pretend that a full length blue piece was hiding behind the big pink one. Which is totally what it looked like!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

After pinning everything in place, I just hand stitched it together. Unless you were looking at it as closely as this photo was, the seams were pretty much invisible!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

Excited about my fabric ninja skills, I made my way across the bottom and filled in the gap to the floor.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And finally… ta-da!!!!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To transport the fabric to the wedding, I split the curtain rod in half and rolled up each side. Then I put them both in a trashbag together to keep the rolls of fabric in place.

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

And there you have it! It was super easy to transport, reassemble, and disassemble at the end of the night. Plus… it looked gorgeous!!!

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

To-Dye-For DIY Backdrop (Part II) - evanandkatelyn.com

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16

DIY Photobooth

OMG Evan’s back too?! Yes my dear readers. Search now works again (oops) and I’ve tuned up the website’s inner workings. Oh and I have an awesome project to share!

One of my big wedding responsibilities was to make a photobooth. We did a lot of research into DIY vs rent. Rentals were quite expensive (around $600-$1200) and DIY range from $0 on up depending on how much you already have. On the easy side there was: setup your computer with its web cam and use some photobooth like app. On the hard side there were custom circuitry with fancy triggers and printers etc. I knew I could not live with myself (being an engineer and IT nerd) if I went with a computer that you pressed the spacebar on. But I also knew time would be limited and I could not delve too far into coding and wiring.

So I came up with my own in between. Most digital cameras now have some sort of digital output (usually micro HDMI). When hooked up to a monitor the camera can display pictures that have been taken, or (and more interestingly for this project) it can show whatever the camera is seeing! On my camera the HDMI out was hidden on the bottom near the batter (that top port in the picture below).

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

The best part of a photobooth is people seeing themselves before the photo and being silly! Since my camera has that output all I needed to do was point the camera one way, have a monitor facing the same way, then throw in a remote and watch the chaos. And there was literally chaos. You’ll see in the end (though that was mainly the props’ fault, not my photobooth). In order to make everything pretty though I had to build a box to hide the technology. Went to Home Depot and bought 2 pieces of plywood and found some spare 2×4’s in the attic. Found a flush mount monitor kit on amazon and a spare computer monitor in a closet. I started with the main front face (where the monitor would be attached facing the photo-takers).

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Added 2x4s to the back of the front face for structural support (you can see where I screwed them in along each side in the photo below). Then started to attach my monitor mount.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

I had to add some 2x4s on the back for the mount to attach to.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Dropped the monitor in for a fit test. So far so good!

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

I wanted the camera to be above the monitor because pictures from above are more attractive (or so my wife tells me). I bought a little swivel that I could mount into the wood, so I put another 2×4 at the right height for that. Here is where my previously unmentioned planning came into play. I actually did measure my monitor and camera to make sure everything would fit on the front panel. From there it was a bit of improv as the project went on though :P For this build I had the overall shape in my head but determining all the lengths, angles, heights etc ahead of time didn’t seem necessary for something that would most likely be used a few tines. I would add each element off of the previous and measure everything to fit together as I went.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

I wanted the whole back panel to open on hinges so that the camera would be easily accessible and the whole thing would be easy to assemble and break down. A quick trip to Home Depot and we found these cabinet hinges that worked out well.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Also note in the picture below, my handheld cordless screwdriver. It is amazing and I totally recommend it to any DIYers out there that work with wood/ hang curtains/ assemble things/ etc/ basically every DIY project lol.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

For the sides I just pressed a sheet of plywood against it’s current shape. Traced the lines. Measured in by the width of the sheet, then cut!

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

To cut the hole I needed for my camera lens, I used my Milwaukee hole cutting set. A bit on the pricey side but they are AMAZING! Plus I love the case as I’m a have-a-place-for-it-or-loose-it guy. Except Katelyn helps a ton with that :)

IMG_5290

Peek a boo! Eye see you.

Basic setup from the inside:

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

For a more finished look we used our favorite Minwax dark walnut wood stain. Super easy way to unite all the wood in a piece and make it look a lot more finished. Of course we didn’t get pictures of this though :P But I use an old rag or t-shirt and wipe the stain on and off and it is super fast. I also usually wear rubber gloves too bc that stain works on skin too.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

We tested out the height that it assembled at and with the table we were going to use we thought it was better to be a little higher up (tested the increased height with an improvised booster), so I whipped up a quick stand to raise it up (then we stained that too!).

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Almost all finished, but moving it around was a little troublesome. No grips on the sides.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Another Home Depot trip fixed that though:

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Dropped a power strip in the back and ended up tying everything down and organizing it but this will get the idea across:

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

In this picture you can also see the hole I cut in the middle to feed out the power and video cables to the monitor.

Of course during this we had to take a whole bunch of pictures. Thankfully google plus stitched some together into a gif for us.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

The little black thing you can kinda see in my hand was the bluetooth remote. Below Katelyn is holding it after we secured it to the booth with some baker’s twine.

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

We ended up getting over 500 pictures from the booth at our wedding!

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

Remember that aforementioned chaos? Something about photo booths. And when you throw in props and the ability to fit in so many people? Extra chaos. But the good kind :)

DIY Photobooth- evanandkatelyn.com

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31

Makin’ Loooooove… COMPLETE! {DIY Marquee Letters}

***UPDATE***

We finally got to use these at our wedding!! We ADORE how they turned out! It was 100% worth the time and effort.

DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com DIY Marquee Letters - evanandkatelyn.com

***END UPDATE***

Oh. My. Gosh. We FINALLY finished this project!! Read through to see how we did it, and scroll to the bottom to see the updated budget breakdown and materials list.

If you need to get caught up on the DIY Marquee Letter saga, check out part 1 and part 2. Here’s how it started: before we even bought our house, we went to a wedding expo and spotted these marquee letters. We instantly fell in L.O.V.E. with them and had to figure out how to make our own!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So we made a template (psst- download it here), cut it out of plywood and stained it, and then we derped around for a few months doing all sorts of house things instead of completing this project.

Finally, we decided it was time give the people what they wanted finish ‘er up. And that meant doing the hardest part: adding the metal flashing to the sides. We bought four rolls of 6-inch aluminum flashing because we wanted our letters to have metal siding (there are some tutorials online using poster board for the sides but we wanted something a little more sturdy). We couldn’t find any tutorials for making wood and metal letters so we decided to wing it.

(Before we get into all the pictures, a quick side note: we worked on this project on and off over several months so don’t be surprised if our outfits, location, time of day, and Evan’s haircut-necessity-level change from picture to picture.)

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We started with the L because it was the easiest and because we are just OCD enough that the thought of doing the letters out of order bothered us. The first step when adding the flashing is to unroll your metal and sit the letter on it.

Choose where you want the start and the end of your metal to meet (for the L, we chose the bottom of it), then make your first bend in the metal. We used the help of a putty knife and a hammer to make our bends.

Draw a line on the metal where you want your bend to be, place the sharp end of a putty knife (or similar object) on that line, and hammer the handle of the putty knife so that the sharp end is pounded into the metal. This works best if you’re working on carpet or a rug instead of a hard table top or hard flooring. You need some give underneath the metal to allow the putty knife to push into it.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

You’ll notice in the photo above we have a few bends in the metal already. Once you make your first bend, you’ll need to measure along your letter to find out where on the metal roll to make the next bend. So for the L, we did it like this:

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We started the edge of the metal where it says “Start” above and measured how far that point was to the lower right hand corner of the L (where “A” meets “B”). On the metal, we measured that same length from the edge and made a 90 degree bend using the putty knife and hammer technique. We did that all around the L. The angle marks above our rainbow-esque metal flashing in the guide above indicate what direction the angle is bent at.

It’s pretty easy to do this for each letter as you go, but if you chose a complex looking font it could get tricky. Therefore, we highly recommend a sans-serif font!

For some letters, like the L, it was pretty easy for just one person to do the measurements and bends.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

But other letters were two-person jobs, like the E. I never thought about how many angles a capital E has until we had to bend sharp metal around every one of them! For the E, I needed to hold the flashing up while Evan measured and bent so that it didn’t fall onto itself. And sorry about the PJ’s. Although it took us months to finish this project, extra time could not be spared to get properly dressed.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Once you have all your angles made, you’ll see the shape of the letter start to form and you can wrap the metal around your letter! Ahhhh!! Exciting!! Just don’t forget to cut off the extra metal (see it to the left of the L in the image below) with some sturdy clippers. We liked to leave a couple inches of overlap when we cut it.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We did not take a picture of the O at this stage of completion because it required a slightly different method. Since the metal did not have any bends or corners to hang onto, it wouldn’t stay put. So I had to pretty much wrap myself around the letter while Evan hammered nails in to anchor it. This is actually the only picture we have of this stage of the O because it was all hands on deck for this one.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Which brings us to our next step: attaching the metal.

First we made guide lines on the metal so that we could center it against the edge of our plywood. Since our plywood was 1/2-inch thick and our metal flashing was 6-inches wide, we marked dots that were 2-3/4 inches from each side (so that there was a 1/2-inch space between them going down the center of the metal).

Then we connected our dots and used those as our guide. These marks were made on the side of the metal that would be attached to the wood.

In hindsight, it would have been easier to do this before bending the metal. Oh hindsight!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

On the other side of the metal (the side facing outside), we marked dots along the center of the metal (3 inches from the edge) so that we knew where to nail. We made a dot every inch or so, but you could do more or less if you wanted.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Since we had our plywood and nail guides, we wrapped the metal around the letters, aligning the plywood with our 1/2 inch space on the inside of the metal. Evan hammered in a nail or two while I held it in place to keep it from shifting.

We used short 1/2-inch finishing nails to do the job. We started out originally using longer nails, but a few times we didn’t hammer them in straight enough and their ends poked through the wood (ooops!). When that happens it’s kind of a pain to carefully pull them out without causing more damage.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

But the 1/2-inch nails were harder to hammer because holding such a tiny nail was difficult. So we used our longer nails to hammer little pilot holes through the metal and just barely into the wood, and then hammered our shorter nails into the pilot holes. It was WAY easier. Also, we still (carefully) used the longer nails at the corners because we felt like that they might be a better anchor.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So after Evan hammered in a couple nails to keep the metal from shifting, together we’d go down each side of the letter and create pilot holes, and then add our 1/2-inch nails. Lots and lots of nails.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

IMG_3896 copy2

The V and the E needed a little extra help because there were areas in each that we couldn’t nail due to lack of space for the hammer. On the V, we couldn’t get the hammer passed a certain point in the “dip” of the V. So we decided to nail as far as we could and then use epoxy.

That didn’t work too well because it was hard to hold the metal against the wood long enough for it to set. We didn’t have a big clamp, so we tried to wedge enough random tools in there to hold the metal down in place. I’ll pause while you laugh.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Yeah. That didn’t work. So we went to Home Depot, got some Gorilla Glue, and picked up a big clamp. And then taped the crap out of the whole thing because we really really didn’t want another glue fail.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

The Gorilla Glue worked! But it squished out the sides (womp womp) and we had to cut the excess off with a razor blade, which was annoying. When we did the other side of the V, we made sure to apply as little glue as possible so that we didn’t have the same problem again.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Even though the Gorilla Glue worked, there were a lot of places on the E that we couldn’t use nails and we didn’t want to deal with all the gluing and clamping again.

So for the parts of the metal that went in between the “legs” of the E, we bent them so that the sides were curving toward the wood of the E (like the colored pieces in the image below) and then hammered a few nails in between each bent piece of metal to hold things in place (along with nails around the perimeter of the letter too of course). Since the curved metal naturally wanted to press against the wood, we didn’t need any glue there.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

After the metal was firmly attached to all our letters, it was time to screw in our lights! We used two packs of these outdoor lights. Depending on the size of your letters and the closeness of the holes you drilled, you may need more or less.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We had to screw in the lights in a way that made sense with the flow of the letters. Meaning for the L, we started at the bottom (so that we didn’t have to have a cord running from the floor to the top of a letter) and we added lights going toward the top. But we skipped every other light so that when we reached the top of the L we could make our way back to the bottom, filling in the lights we had skipped on the way up.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

On the O, we went straight across from the L to the base of the O and looped around clockwise until we got to the part of the O that was closest to the top of the V, filling in every light up to that point. Then as we continued the O (past the point closest to the top of the V) we just filled in every other light again until we reached out O starting point, where we then backtracked and filled in the holes we missed. Similar to the method on the L.

Basically, any time you know you’re going to have to backtrack, start skipping every other hole so that when you make your way back you have holes to fill in.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We wired the lights this way because we didn’t want to have long stretches (like from the outlet to the top of the L or the base of the O to the top of the V) where there were lights that weren’t being used. Because that meant wasted lights, and we really didn’t want to buy a third pack. Hope the graphic above helps make sense of it! If not, it will make more sense when you get to this point and start playing with it.

I am happy to say, after much measuring, hammering, cutting, hammering, gluing, and hammering… we are FINALLY done!

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

So of course we had to take a million pictures…

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We love the look of the metal and wood. On this zoomed in picture of the O you can really see how snugly everything fits together.

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

We L.O.V.E. them sooooooooo much! Can’t wait to have these at our wedding, and we are super excited that they’ll have a spot in our home for us to enjoy forever :)

{DIY Marquee Letters} - evanandkatelyn.com

Finally, here’s the budget breakdown. This is all rounded, but it’s pretty accurate:

(2) 2ft x 4ft pieces of pre-sanded plywood – $30
(4) rolls of 6 inch metal (similar to this but longer and therefore pricier) – $24
(1) 8-oz can of Minwax stain in Dark Walnut – $5
(2) packs of clear globe lights – $38
Nails, hammers, clamps, saw, brushes, etc – already owned/needed to have anyway

TOTAL = $97

Not bad for four very sturdy 2-ft tall letters that we love!

PS- Check out part 1: making the template and part 2: cutting out and staining the letters for the full tutorial of this project! :D

Note: This post contains affiliated links. Thank you for supporting our blog!
152

DIY Cat Box Cabinet

In our last laundry room post, I mentioned a DIY project Evan and I tackled back when we were still in the apartment. This project was all about hiding poop. Cat poop. And litter and stuff. The scourge of the clean freak cat owner.

Being in an apartment meant we had no good place to hide Mochi’s litter box. Our laundry room/pantry only had a couple square feet of floor space, and shoving it into the corner of our only bathroom where guests would see it was not ideal either. Especially because Mochi, bless her little crazy heart, spazzes out after each time she goes potty and bursts out her litter box in a mad dash trailing a flurry of litter-bits behind her like pebbly cat star dust. This meant litter was EVERYWHERE. All. The. Time.

We weren’t sure what to do about our little Pooper. But then we saw this

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

Ikea + jigsaw + kitty door = a cat box cabinet! We immediately scoured the internet and found all sorts of tutorials. In addition to the one above, we got inspiration from here, here, and here. We sort of took what we liked from each and created our own kitty litter containment center. Here it is in all it’s glory! (hanging out in it’s old home in the apartment)

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

We chose a two-compartment Besta unit at IKEA as our base since it’s our cabinet of choice (we used it for our media center and wanted everything to be cohesive). We discarded the extra shelves that came with it and bought a full-height cabinet door for the left side, and a drawer and shorter cabinet door for the right side. We also ordered this kitty door to add to one side so Mochi could get in and out.

Before putting the unit together, we grabbed the side piece we wanted to put the door into and traced an outline to give us a where-to-cut guide.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we took it out onto our balcony (in the middle of the night it seems!) and cut out the shape with our jigsaw.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

Next we spray painted the door black so that it blended in better with the Besta.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

Please forgive us, at the time we didn’t know we’d be sharing this tutorial on a blog so we didn’t take pictures of the next steps. After the door dried, we popped it into the hole we cut like the instructions say to do. We took off the magnet that makes the door snap shut because Momo couldnt figure out that she had to push a little harder to get through and she kept accidentally “locking” herself inside the box. Oh Momo.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

The next step, which we also did not take a picture of at the time, is to use the jigsaw to cut a doorway through the middle panel of the Besta. I’ll show you what I mean in the picture below.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

See the part marked “doorway”? I outlined it in white so you could see it better, but basically before assembling the Besta we traced a Mochi-sized opening in the middle panel to connect the two compartments of the cabinet and cut it with our jigsaw. The edges were raw, so we were super classy and finished them off with duct tape (see that gray inside part of the “door frame”?).

Once our doorway and kitty door were made, we assembled the Besta and added some weather stripping along the bottom of the inside of the cabinets to keep litter from coming out the cabinet doors.

After that, we just popped in her box on the left, a litter mat on the right, and filled the drawer with all her stuff (minus her toys, which she hides in secret places around the house).

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

Close the cabinets and drawer and you have an inconspicuous cat box cabinet/good place to set your keys.

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

This cabinet is AWESOME. No ugly litter boxes. MUCH less litter out on your floors (there’s still a little but not bucketfulls like before). No stinky-ness. Good place to store cat stuff. Win win win win! Plus it was easy- just make sure you find a box that fits, that was the only challenge! The best part is Mochi likes it, and a happy cat means happy hoomans!

DIY Cat Box Cabinet- evanandkatelyn.com

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58

House Buying for Noobs

Buying a house is crazy. Especially for us first timers. We saved all our notes, charts, and tips so that we could share the process from our real-life-first-time-home-buyer’s perspective, and a request we got the other day to write a post on the subject was the motivation we needed to finally do so. Here it goes!

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Step 1: CASH MONIES

The first thing we did was get a good idea of our budget. There are two numbers you really need to think about: your down payment (a percentage of the cost of the home you pay upfront), and your month to month payment (we broke this down below).

The down payment part is easy. How much cash can you part with right now (and still maintain a comfortable enough cushion in your pocket)? And what percentage are you comfortable putting down (10%, 20%, etc)? If you put down less than 20%, you have to pay mortgage insurance each month on top of all your other monthly payments, so we personally tried to find a house that we could afford to put 20% down on. But if you have less cash you can part with immediately and you don’t mind paying a little extra each month, you can put down less.

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

For month to month payments there are a few more factors to consider (try not to let your eyes glaze over…)

  • Principal and interest- most real estate websites will calculate this for you for each house listed.
  • Property tax- sometimes it’s on real estate websites, other times you can google the tax rate in the area you’re looking at.
  • Homeowners insurance- this one we didn’t know til we actually put in an offer on our house and got a quote. Might be google-able. You could possibly get quotes from insurance companies if you want something more accurate.
  • Utilities- these are harder to estimate. We talked to family that lived in the area and found out their costs, then figured the proportional cost for the size of house we were looking at. I hear you can also call utility companies directly to get their rates.
  • HOA fees- not all areas will have these, but if they do they’re usually listed on real estate websites.
  • Mortgage insurance- if you put down less than 20%, the bank requires you to pay this.

The taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities, HOA, and mortgage insurance all depend on the house you get, so just get a ballpark idea of what they cost for the area you’re looking at and size of house you want. We got our ballpark and subtracted that from max amount we wanted to pay per month (we were aiming for no more than we paid for rent at our apartment). That left us with the limit on how much we wanted to spend on our mortgage.

Beware of budget creep!!!! As you look at houses, you’ll start thinking “we can look a little higher than our max budget because we can always argue down the price.” So your “max budget” creeps a bit. Then it creeps a bit more and a bit more. Then before you know it you’ve put in an offer on a house $100,000 OVER what you originally aimed for (true story- a few weeks before finding our current house we put in an offer on one $100,000 more expensive. Thank goodness it fell through!)

Step 2: GET A PRO

Find. A good. Realtor. Ours was a friend of Evan’s family and she was AWESOME. Having somebody who had our best interest in mind made things a lot less scary. If you don’t have personal connections to a realtor, go to open houses to meet them. You’ll know pretty quickly whether you get “good person” vibes or “salesman” vibes. You can also look up reviews online.

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Step 3: LEGIT PREAPPROVAL

Even though you don’t have to do this as soon as you start making house appointments, you should. Why? Because if you find a house you want to put an offer on, a preapproval letter will make your offer stronger. Considering two of the three offers we put down on houses were against competing offers, anything we could do to make our offer stronger was a plus. Who is a seller going to choose, the grown ups who the bank has already said they’ll lend money to, or the hoodlums who may or may not actually get approved? Get yourself legit!

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

We were initially a little confused about getting preapproved. Did it mean we had to get our loan from the bank that preapproved us? No! Getting preapproved by Bank A does NOT mean you have to get your loan from them. You can go with Bank B or C if you want (more info on getting your actual loan later). To get preapproved, just contact a bank/mortgage company and they’ll tell you all the material you need to gather before they can preapprove you (pay stubs, tax returns, etc). You send them the info, they send you a preapproval letter. Don’t put it off, it’s easy.

Step 4: HOUSES

This is the super fun part! Look at houses!! We were very involved and specifically picked every house we wanted to see, but if you have less time your realtor can find houses for you. If you’re not sure what you want, just start looking and you’ll get there. We went back and forth about the area (downtown vs the burbs), age of the house (post-2000 vs pre-2000), and how much work we wanted to put into it (move-in-ready vs fixer-upper). Just getting in and seeing a LOT of houses really helped us figure these things out.

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Seeing house after house after house, it’s easy for them to get mixed up in your head. Was the one with nice open floor plan the one that had the crooked deck? Was the really big one the one that had a huge power line behind it? Was the one with the awesome kitchen island the one with unfortunate purple wallpaper???? Ahhhh!!!

Fret not though! Pictures and diligent note-taking make all the difference in the world. I’d take pictures of things in each house that weren’t shown on the listing, and I had a bunch of questions on my phone that I’d fill out while we were walking through the house. It REALLY helped keep them straight in my head, and it also helped me to remember to look for things in the house that I may have forgotten without my list handy. Some questions I had were:

  • Price and sqft?
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • Are the ceilings high enough?
  • Open floor plan?
  • Do all the faucets, showers, toilets, etc work?
  • Walk in pantry?
  • Walk in laundry?
  • Double paned windows? Do the windows have blinds already?
  • Any water damage?
  • Type of flooring?
  • Evidence of foundation movement?
  • How maintain-able is the yard?
  • etc etc…

The list of questions goes on and on. Seriously, I could do an entire post on this step- there are so many things to look for when you’re buying a house. Some other things to consider:

  • Size- bigger isn’t always better. We tried to avoid anything over 2300 sqft because we didn’t need that much space and didn’t want to clean it!
  • School district- even if you don’t have kids, being in a good school district will add tons to your resell value.
  • The bones- pay more attention to the bones of the house, not what it’s wearing. If a house has dirty carpet, hideous wallpaper, and dated appliances, don’t sweat it because you can easily change those things. But if it has low ceilings and your engaged to a guy that’s 6’5″… that’s a problem with the bones of the house. Or if it’s all really closed off into separate rooms and you want open concept, it might be a deal breaker. Sure you CAN raise the roof, and you CAN knock down walls, but that stuff is a lot more expensive and involved than tearing off some old wallpaper.
  • Location- this might sound like a no-brainer, but make sure that commute is doable. Also pay attention to things like- how close is the nearest grocery store? Do you back up to a busy street? How far away are you from major highways?
  • Price per square foot compared to other houses in the neighborhood. You do NOT want the most expensive house in the neighborhood, because the lower value of the other houses will pull down the value of yours when it comes time to sell.

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

When you find the house for you, you’ll know. Don’t settle. Be patient. We had our eyes set on this one specific neighborhood because it was walking distance from this cool area with shopping, bars, restaurants, etc. We put offers on TWO houses in that neighborhood. The first fell through because there was a cash offer higher than ours. I was pretty upset. So when another house in that neighborhood went for sale, we put an offer on it even though it was $100,000 more than we were aiming for (and about twice the size we wanted). After losing the first house, we were afraid if we didn’t jump on this new one we’d regret it. This one also fell through because the seller wouldn’t come down in price to meet our offer, and at the time I was pretty upset about losing that one too. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise- I’m SO glad we didn’t end up with something way out of our size and price comfort zone. When the house we DID end up buying went on the market, in another neighborhood just a few minutes farther from the cool area, we walked in and KNEW it was the one. We put in an offer before we even left the house.

One last note about house hunting- if you can, bring an experienced home owner with you! Evan and I did most of the shopping ourselves, but his parents came to a couple houses with us and pointed out some really good questions to ask about each house and noticed things we may not have noticed on our own.

Step 5: AN OFFER THEY CAN’T REFUSE

After screwing up a couple offers, we didn’t want to mess this one up. We had our preapproval letter ready, and we also wrote a letter about us directly to the seller. We talked about how we were newly engaged, how this was going to be our first house, how excited we were to be homeowners, how we wanted to put a lot of love into this house and take good care of it. We offered above asking price because there were several offers on it already. We agreed to a shorter than usual three-week closing period. And we got the house!!!

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Every situation is different though, it all depends on supply and demand of the houses in your area. Our house already had several offers the first weekend it went on the market so we knew we had to act quickly and pull out the big guns. But if the market is slower in your area, lucky you! You’ve got a bit more buying power and you can argue down the price.

Step 6: APPLY FOR A LOAN

The buyer accepts your offer, woot! Now you actually have to get funded. Good thing you already got that preapproval! Shop around for a loan to get the best rate (we went to two different places). The bank/mortgage company will tell you what they need to give you a rate (it’s similar to the stuff you had to gather to get preapproved). We ended up going with Bank B even though we got preapproved by Bank A.

Don’t let loan companies pressure you! If they call you at 4:50 and say they can offer you this “great rate” but you have to choose by 5:00, that’s a red flag. And yes, this happened to us. And yes, that’s why we went with Bank B (who ended up having a lower rate than Bank A’s “great rate” anyway).

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

One of our readers had a great tip to add too- and that is to keep an eye on your credit score! In order to get the lowest rate possible you need your score to be as high as possible. So if you know you’ll be buying a house, don’t go close any credit cards, open up new lines of credit, or make big purchases (like a new car). All that stuff will negatively affect your credit. Also, keep an eye on how many times you let your credit be pulled by the banks you’re checking out. It’s ok to do it a few times during a 30-day period while you’re loan shopping because it’s understood that you want to shop around for a mortgage, but don’t go crazy cray. Getting your credit score pulled will lower your score as well.

Step 7: CONTRACT, INSPECTION, AMENDMENTS

Once your loan is all in order your can sign the official contract for your house! This part is easy! And super exciting! Your realtor and the selling agent will whip up the contract and all you have to do is give them your John Hancock.

Once you’ve signed, you have a certain period of time called the “option period” where you have the option of walking away from the contract for any reason OR proposing amendments to it. You use this time to get inspections and estimates for any repairs that need to be made. Our realtor got us connected with an inspector and professionals that could give us estimates on all the stuff the inspector found that we needed to fix. We had a 7-day option period and getting all this done during just a week was a little hectic, but I think most option periods are 7-10 days so maybe you’ll get lucky and be on the 10 end of that. Just make sure to tell the professionals you’re contacting that their estimates are time sensitive because of your option period- they’ll understand!

Because there were a decent amount of repairs that needed to be made, we asked the seller for an additional amount taken off the price we offered. She agreed, our realtors amended the contract, and we signed! Note: you have to let your lender know if you amend the contract price because they’ll need to adjust the amount they’re lending you.

We found that it REALLY helped to be there during our inspection and estimates. We learned a lot about the house and how to fix the problems that were found. It’s also a good idea to bring an experienced homeowner (friend, family, etc) with you who knows how to ask the right questions.

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Step 9: CLOSING

Once our contract was finalized we just had to wait on the loan company to get all its ducks in a row (appraisal, writing the HUD, etc) and then we were good to go for closing! Everyone makes it sound like signing all those papers is a horrible ordeal. It’s not. True it is a lot of stuff to go over, but we got free lunch and free coffee so I was happy happy. Beforehand we had to go to the bank and get the biggest check ever (our closing cash- ahhh!!!) But again, this part is easy peasy!

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Step 10: GET EXCITED!

You did it! You got a house!!! YOU ARE A COMPLETE BADASS!! Put on a crazy hat, grab a jug of crunk juice and CELEBRATE!!!

House Buying for Noobs- evanandkatelyn.com

Now all there is to do is move in! And repair things! And make it your own! And mow lawns! And fix leaks! And all that good home stuff that keeps you busy 24/7. Hope this post has helped make the whole process a little less intimidating for everyone else out there wanting to buy their first house. Good luck!

 

50

Couch Buying Trick

Evan and I have been doing a lot of couch shopping. Anyone who’s been to our place knows how incredibly comfy our current couches are. And anyone who’s been to our place has also heard me comment about how manly they are. They are THE ultimate man couches. As much as I tried to soften them up with pillows and fluffy blankets, there was no hiding the manliness.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

As comfy as they are, they’re a little beat up and somehow feel bulkier here in the house than they did in the apartment. Maybe it’s because they’re floating now instead of being against walls. Maybe it’s because I’ve been staring at them for too long. But either way, we decided to buy a new couch!

The issue Evan and I have with couch shopping is that he’s big and I’m little. Couches that suit me don’t fit him, and couches he likes swallow me up. Also, he was more willing to sacrifice looks for comfort, and I was more willing to sacrifice comfort for looks. Like buying those heels that are super cute but destroy your ankles. But the good news is we both knew we wanted a modern grey sectional. And finally, while browsing Crate & Barrel, we found it.

lounge-2-piece-sectional-sofa

Isn’t he a good looking couch?? It’s the Lounge 2-piece sectional in “Cement.” The thing we liked most is that we could both sit on the chaise with elbow room to spare! To get an idea of the scale, here’s a picture I snapped when we first tried it out in the store.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

Evan was instantly sold. I was a little nervous though. It was so big! The cushions are 46″ deep!! It’s a beast of a couch. A wonderful, comfy, giant, modern beast. Visually, it looked like the overall footprint when paired with an ottoman (which we plan to do) was too square for our rectangular rug.

Since I was worried about how it would fit, when we got home we devised this little trick to help visualize a couch (or really any type of furniture!) in your home.

We got the measurements of the sectional and ottoman, moved our current couches our of the way, and grabbed our masking tape and measuring tape.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

First, use the measuring tape to mark corners of your couch with a piece of masking tape, using measurements listed on the item specs (you can usually find these online). We lined up the back of the couch with the back of the rug and centered it. Our rug is 12 feet (144″) wide and the sectional is 124″ wide, so we had 10″ of rug space on either side.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

Cat’s are really good at helping with this part.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

Once all your corners are marked, connect the dots with masking tape.

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

Couch Buying Trick- evanandkatelyn.com

If you have matching outfits and temporary tattoos that step works even better.

Then marvel at your imaginary couch! To my surprise, the measurements fit PERFECTLY on our rug and we still had room for our coffee table. I was sold!

Couch buying trick evanandkatelyn.com

So there’s our little trick! Even if you think you can picture a piece of furniture in your house, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a couple minutes with some masking tape to double check how it will actually fit. Anyone else have any tips or tricks for furniture buying? We are still kinda winging it so if you’ve got any tricks up your sleeve, spill!

26

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required

How do we spend our Saturday nights these days? Why, hanging out in our attic for six and a half hours of course!

Six and a half hours Katelyn?! Bloody hell! Why on earth would you hang out in a blazing attic for six and half bloody hours?

Oh imaginary British person, because we were working on the PEX piping project I mentioned in our last post of course! You’re so silly.

But I thought you so confidently said, and I quote: “it didn’t look all that hard or expensive to DIY your own PEX.”

…Yeah. Well. The PEX part WAS easy. It’s just that everything else took freaking forever. GOSH.

Don’t get testy with me you cheeky prat!

Don’t be such a turd!

Bollucks! Fish and Chips! Cheerio!

This is what happens when you work from home and hang out with your cat all day.

ANYWAYS, we successfully replaced our leaky old galvanized pipe with a fresh new piece of PEX piping! Remember this pipe with 2 leaks on it?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Well, that pipe is no more!! But let me back up a bit. Like I said in the last post, when our plumber mentioned replacing this pipe with PEX piping, we started doing research on PEX. Cross-linked polyethylene, commonly known as PEX, is made of plastic, flexible tubing. It’s an alternative to PVC or copper pipes that is being more and more widely used due to its low cost and ease of installation. The “low cost” and “ease of installation” parts of that sentence made our ears perk up, so we looked into how to install it ourselves.

PEX piping

We found several tutorials and sorta spliced together bits and pieces from each. We mainly used this one, this one, and this one. At the end of the post I’ll list the steps you SHOULD follow in case anyone reading wants to attempt this in their own home. We may have accidentally not followed some/followed them in the wrong order. Oops. So consider this kind of a “do as we say, not as we do” deal.

First off, we did what you’re supposed to do before ANY big plumbing project: we turned off the water supply to our house. There are two spots you can do this- at your main water valve where the supply line goes into your house (usually around one of your hose faucets outside) or near the street where your meter is. Since we didn’t have a water meter key to turn it off at the meter, we decided we’d just turn it off at the main water valve.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Next you’re supposed to run all your faucets, showers, etc until no more water is coming out. This is to drain any water that was hanging out up in your pipes. It took a few minutes and then no more water was coming out so we assumed we were good to go.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We gathered our materials and went up to the attic. Make sure to wear gloves and breathings masks! Here’s the supplies you’ll need (plus I’ve listed a few more that we didn’t know yet at the time of this picture… yes there were a couple trips to Home Depot that night)

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

1- PEX piping. We needed 25 ft of 3/4″ piping, so we got a 50 ft roll just in case. Just measure the diameter of your current pipes and the length of the pipe to find out what type of PEX you need. You can get white, blue, or red (the only difference is that red is used to identify hot water, blue is used to identify cold, and white can be either. We chose white).

2- Plastic sheeting. This was great to have under the pipes to protect your insulation and wood. Be generous and spread that stuff around.

3*- Pipe wrenches. We started with one (pictured). Then we had to get another. You 100% need TWO for this project!

4- PVC/plastic tubing cutter. This is to cut your PEX.

5- Flashlight. Or two. Or ten. Gather as many as you have, attics are dark.

6- Sharkbite PEX adapters. We got two 3/4″ male adapters because we were removing the two male ends of our 3/4″ galvanized pipe.

7- Teflon tape. You have to wrap the threading on the adapters, the same way you wrap a shower head when you replace it.

8- A saw that can cut metal. We used Evan’s jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade, but you could also use a hacksaw, a reciprocating saw, etc. Just talk to people at Home Depot or look online to make sure it can cut metal.

9*- Trays to catch water drips. We bought one painters tray, but luckily I had some disposable 9×9 baking trays because we ended up needing those too. You definitely need at least two trays that can catch water if you’re working on a project like this. And maybe some plastic cups too just to be safe.

10*- WD40. It’s not in the picture, but you 100% will need it if you’re trying to remove galvanized pipe.

11*- Water meter key. This also is not in the picture, but you need it to turn off the water at your meter.

Notice all the asterisks. Those are all the things we didn’t buy/didn’t have enough of when starting this project. Learn from our mistakes.

Before we could add the PEX piping, we first had to remove our old galvanized pipe. We started by prepping the area- we picked an easy to reach section of the pipe we were removing, laid out lots of plastic underneath, and set a tray under where we were going to cut.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Before you can actually remove your pipe, you have to cut it somewhere in the middle so that you’re actually able to unscrew each end. So after the area was prepped, we took a deep breath, decided we had the balls to move forward, and Evan took his saw to it! Look you can see the blade going through the pipe!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

It wasn’t necessarily a speedy cut, but eventually the saw made it all the way through.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

…And already we were having a water problem. See the pool collecting in the tray?? Yeah, this is when we started to silently freak out inside. There was a steady stream of water trickling from our pipes filling up our tray surprisingly fast. Luckily, I remembered I had some throw away 9×9 baking pans so I ran down to the kitchen and got those, because our single tray was not going to hold out much longer.

We were able to scoot over the full tray and put one of the 9×9’s under the leak, but the first tray was so full that trying to remove it so that we could empty it would have made us spill water everywhere. So to try to contain the leak, we did what any resourceful 20-somethings would do- we duct taped the crap out of it.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

This slowed the leak slightly, and it was enough to allow us to figure out why the water wasn’t stopping. Evan double checked our main water valve to make sure it was off all the way. It was, but he turned on our outside hoses to release more of the water in the pipes. Then we turned on the faucets again just in case… and there was water coming out of them! Somehow, even when our main water valve was off, water still got in.

So we decided to just keep all the faucets on the on position and Evan ran to Home Depot to get a water meter key so we could turn off the water at our meter too. Meanwhile, I hung out in the attic scooping water out from the original tray, having flashbacks to a previous plumbing experience that involved scooping lots of water with a plastic cup… I finally got enough out to move it, then Evan came back and shut off the water at the meter. From then on we were fine water-wise, yay!! No more almost-flooding our attic!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Now that we had stopped the leaking, it was time to be done with this pipe and remove each of the two ends from their old fittings. We busted out our new pipe wrench, clamped it on, gave it a tug and… nothing. The thing didn’t budge. At all.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We did some online research and found out that you need TWO pipe wrenches… one to turn the pipe you’re removing, and one to turn the threading it’s screwed into in the opposite direction. This keeps you from breaking anything and gives you a little more turning power. Whoops. It also said WD40 helps loosen things if you spray it into the threading and wait a few minutes. But it said the BEST thing to unscrew it is to heat up the metal by blowtorching it.

Yes. Blowtorching it.

Apparently warming the metal makes it malleable enough to unscrew. I mean, I’d take a culinary blowtorch to a crème brûlée given the opportunity, and my fiance will not deny that he’s a bit of a pyro, but NEITHER of us was about to bring a blow torch into our wood-filled attic.

So Evan ran to Home Depot again while I stayed here to keep an eye on leaks, and he picked up another wrench and some WD40. No blowtorch.

He came back, we tried the WD40 and the additional wrench… and still no dice. That pipe would NOT budge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We started this project at 3:30pm. By this point it was about 9:00pm. We had no running water, no way to turn it back on since our pipe was cut in the middle, and no way to replace the pipe because we couldn’t get the dang thing off. So we decided to go have a snack (it seemed logical at the time).

As Evan laid on the floor in defeat and I perched on the counter eating wheat thins, we talked about how we could always stay the night at his parents if we had to. For a minute I thought we were going to give up. But then we decided to try unscrewing the other end of the pipe, just to see if it was easier to get than the first end we tried.

We sprayed it with WD40, waited a few minutes, then with just one wrench (because it was at a T-joint) Evan was able to unscrew it!! Oh happy day!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We didn’t lay out plastic beforehand, shame on us! At least we remembered the tray. Luckily there was pretty much no water to deal with this time.

Then we got to actually attach our new PEX! First off, we prepped the adapter by wrapping it with Teflon tape the same way you’d wrap a shower head before installing it. You have to wrap it in the same direction that you screw it in, so clockwise if you’re facing the threads (see in the picture below).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then you screw the adapter into the joint that you unscrewed your pipe from.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Now that the adapter was in, it was time for us to bust out our new piping! You know I love a man with nice PEX…

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

We cut the PEX with our PVC cutter to make sure we had a nice clean edge.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we marked 1″ from the fresh cut (this marks how far you need to push the PEX into your adapter).

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

But before we pushed it into the adapter, we needed to straighten it the best we could. Luckily it’s pretty flexible.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

As we straightened it we fed it under the boards on the floor along the length of the original pipe.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we just pushed the end of the PEX into the adapter and it was done! No clamping, no adhesives. Just pop it in and stop at your inch mark.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

With new confidence and one end of our piping complete, we decided to tackle unscrewing that first part of the pipe again. But we used a slightly different technique this time (after spraying again with copious amounts of WD40). Instead of Evan holding onto both of the wrenches, I pushed the one on the joint counter-clockwise as hard as I could while Evan used his body weight to push the one on the pipe clockwise with his foot.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

And that did it!!! We loosened it enough for Evan to do the rest by hand! It only took two pipe wrenches, a buttload of WD40, and two adult humans using all their force to unscrew this pipe, but we did it! PS doesn’t Evan look like a giant trapped in a doll house in the below pic?

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

Sweet success!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

From here you pretty much do the same thing as you do on the other end. Teflon the adapter, screw it in, cut the PEX, mark an inch from the cut, and pop the PEX into the adapter. Easy easy.

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

And then of course, rip out the old pipe with your bare hands and growl at it. Grrrrrrr!!!!!!!

DIY Galvanized to PEX, No Blowtorch Required- evanandkatelyn.com

So there it is, we did it! By the time we finished it was 10pm and we had officially spent 6-1/2 hours replacing one pipe in our attic. But it was worth it! All together, we spent about $100 on these supplies, which may seem like a lot. But to get it fixed by a professional it was going to cost $800, so in comparison $100 was small change. Plus we will be able to use most of the items again for future projects.

As promised, here is a quick guide to all the steps you SHOULD follow:

STEP 1: Turn off your water. To be safe, do it at your main water valve AND at the meter using a water meter key.

STEP 2: Run all your faucets and showers to empty them of water. Don’t forget your hose faucets outside too! Leave them open til you’re done with the project, just to be safe.

STEP 3: Prep your area. Lay down plastic wrap and a shallow tray under the spot you’re going to cut. Make sure you have at least two trays on hand to catch water.

STEP 4: Using a saw that can cut metal, cut your galvanized pipe. Some water will come out, don’t panic.

STEP 5: Bust out the WD40. Spray it onto the joints where your pipe is connected, and try to get some of it to go into the threading. This helps break up any rust in there. Please don’t bring a blowtorch into your attic.

STEP 6: Unscrew the pipe ends. Use two pipe wrenches pulled in opposite directions, one gripping the pipe you are unscrewing and one gripping the joint you’re unscrewing it from. Don’t break the pipe, but use your body weight to unscrew it. Having two people helps.

STEP 7: Prep the PEX adapter. Wrap it with Teflon tape clockwise (the same direction you turn it).

STEP 8: Screw adapter into the joint you unscrewed your pipe from.

STEP 9: Cut a nice clean edge on the PEX with your PVC cutter and mark one inch from the end.

STEP 10: Straighten your PEX and run it along the length of the pipe you’re replacing.

STEP 11: Push the end of your PEX into the adapter until you reach your one inch mark.

STEP 12: Do the same thing on the other joint and you’re done! Celebrate with late night cheeseburgers!

Hope this helped and made DIY plumbing a little less scary!

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How to swap a galvanized pipe for PEX piping evanandkatelyn.com
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Makin’ Loooooove… part 2 {DIY Marquee Letters}

(Continued from part 1) There are a ton of great toys you can use for this next step… I mean… power tools… I used my jig saw. It’s a great wood/everything cutting power tool when you’re living in an apartment and don’t have a garage to store big toys. Soon to be fixed ^_^ (I’m sure there will be a post with a handyman garage setup).

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Since we traced the letters in the previous post cutting them out was pretty easy. Remember, don’t push too hard or the edges will be rough and require more sanding. If you are unfamiliar with using a jig saw I would practice on some spare lumber. Also, since we bought our lumber before hand we planned the height of the letters so they would not require any cutting on the top and bottom. Before you know it you’ll have a masterly crafted letter in your hands:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Letters like the L are pretty easy to cut. No hard to reach corners. But when tight corners do arise don’t loose hope. Again, get some extra lumber and test to see how tight corners you can cut with whatever power tools you are using. With my jig saw I ended up doing a gradual turn and then backtracking to get that straight edge I wanted:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Before you know it you’ll have all your letters cut out! Good thing we remembered to take a picture when we were all done and not just partially so!!… not.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Whatever could we be spelling?! Live?!… umm can’t think of anything else but the other live… and love :)

Next we roll out the template again and gently hammer a nail in (somewhat of an oxymoron). Just nail it partially in to mark where you’ll be drilling later:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

For the lights that we mentioned earlier a 13/16″ spade drill bit worked PERFECTLY! Just barely lets the light socket through. Make sure to measure a properly sized hole if you aren’t using our same lights. Run to your fav hardware store and pick up a your fav type of hole drill and have at it!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Follow the pattern you laid out earlier with your gentle nailing and you’ll do swell! Lay out your letters and admire your handiwork:

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

After you’ve made all the holes for your light bulbs, you’re gonna want to sand things down a bit. Because the plywood we got was pre-sanded, this part was pretty easy. We just did a few gentle swipes along the face of the letters and focused mainly on the edges using 220 grit sand paper.

Next came my favorite part… staining!! This was the first time we stained anything and it was awesome. Now we want to stain ALL THE THINGS! Before you go all stain crazy on your letters though, I’d recommend testing the stain on some scrap wood first. Again, we used Minwax stain in “Dark Walnut” (because we loved how it look on some projects over at Young House Love!)

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We tested how the stain looked after sitting for 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and 10 minutes. When each section was done, we wiped things down with a clean old T-shirt. The visual difference between the stain times was pretty subtle so we decided to go with 1 minute. Hey, we are impatient!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Now it’s time to go to town on the letters! Make sure to wipe them down to get rid of dust and stuff first. Also, work somewhere well-ventilated. For us that meant our wittle teeny apartment balcony. Gotta work with what you’ve got! Also, remember to lay down a dropcloth or something to catch any drips. I read online that you’re supposed to apply the stain with the grain, so that’s what we did. The internet said so, so it must be true!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We didn’t worry too much about our edges because they won’t show once we add our metal sides. Also, by the time our minute of staining time was up almost all the stain was absorbed by the wood, but we still wiped off the little bit of excess with a clean old T-shirt.

Literally like 5 minutes later, we were done! Of course, you know we also had to pop some light bulbs in and test how they looked with the stained wood. One step closer to marquee-style letters for our wedding!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

PS- Check out part 1: making the template, and part 3: attaching the metal siding for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
11

Makin’ Loooooove… {DIY Marquee Letters}

Makin’ loooove…letters! As in L.O.V.E, sheesh! Just look below and see what I mean…

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

We saw these marquee letters at a wedding expo and immediately thought they’d be awesome to have at our wedding. But renting them from a wedding decor company would be hella expensive, so my engineer fiance got to work! First we took some super precise measurements by taking a picture of my arm against the letters so we could eyeball the size later. You can tell by my expression that I totally did not feel awkward at all posing in the middle of the display.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Then we got home and got to work! We figured out from the above picture that we wanted them to be about 2 feet tall, and we went from there. We sorted through my library of 1,300+ fonts (I have a font problem… and I’m not ashamed) and picked one that suited us. Then we made a to-scale image in Photoshop. You can download it here if you’d like to use the font we used as a template.

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

The little circles are guides for where the light bulbs would need to go. Then we just printed it and boom- instant template!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

When it came to supplies, we had to decide if we wanted to use wood, metal, foam core (that’s what most the online tutorials use), or something else. We ended up deciding on wood for the letters and metal for the siding. We found pre-sanded 2-foot-tall birch plywood that said “ready-to-stain” at Home Depot for $14 a pop. Sold! We picked up two of those, a roll of 6″ galvanized steel, some Minwax stain in “Dark Walnut” (because we loved how it look on Young House Love!) and a couple packs of outdoor lights.

We were just sort of wingin’ it and picking up what looked like it should work. We’ll do a full supplies list and cost breakdown at the end of things since I’m sure there will be more stuff we need to get along the way.

Next we cut out our letters, taped them together into something traceable, then laid them out on our plywood and traced away!

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com

Once our letters were traced, it was time for the fun part- sawing! But this post has gotten pretty long, and Evan’s definitely the power-tool-wielding one in the relationship, so he’ll probably write about the sawing stuff. So for now we’ll end things here and pick back up later with part-2! On a side note, I should try to remember NOT to wear my super flattering XXL comfy pants when we’re taking pics for the blog… oh well!

PS- Check out part 2: cutting out and staining the letters, and part 3: attaching the metal siding for the full tutorial of this project! :D

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DIY Marquee Letters- evanandkatelyn.com
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