Beat the Blinking Lights

No, that's not blinking as in "I was going to say a bad word," that's blinking as in "the lights on my cable box are blinkey and ugly. Must. Hide!!"

I shared a little living room tease the other day, and while you can't really see them in this photo, those of you with super eyes might have noticed some annoying little black cable boxes still disgracing our media storage. Yeah, riiight there...

So I thought I would modify the cutest laptop case idea I've ever seen and cover that crap with an old book! Here's how to do it if you want to try:

1. Find a book that's big enough to cover your cable box.

Why yes, that is in fact A Treasury of Yiddish Stories with beautiful gold and navy spine art. Score.

2. Cut the binding that attaches the book's pages to its cover. No, you do not have to use such a dramatically huge knife. All of my more reasonable knives were in the dishwasher.

3. You'll be left with just the hard cover! I accidentally left in the glossary of Yiddish terms. It's a mistake I'm 100% thrilled with.

4. Slip the cover in front of the cable box!

Quite the difference right? It's like I've transformed from a TV watching boob into a smarty pants who enjoys Yiddish. I'm still looking for a second beautiful book that will be tall enough to cover our other cable box (two cable boxes?!? what can I say, I live with a techie), but for now, I'm happy with whatever little progress I make.

And here is the subtle but oh so satisfying result from further out in the room!

To recap our journey of hiding the blinky wiry mess that technology pooped out in our living room:

1. We covered our TV wires with pretty yarn!
2. We hid the remaining nest of wires in an entertainment center made from vintage crates!
3. We covered ugly cable boxes with pretty books!

Yay for living in the future but not having to look at it in all of its wiry blinky glory!!


A Living Room Tease

How in the universe has it been four months since I moved into my new place without showing any real hint of a reveal? HOW!? Well partially I've been being patient with the progress of my space... partially I've been wedding obsessed.. and partially I've been lazy...

While the living room isn't completely done, I just couldn't help but show where I am now. Let's see a before shall we?

Yup. Things have moved into the room! Here's a little rundown of the pretties with links for those of you with curious hearts:

Not pictured are our pipe shelves, the unfinished bay window area, and the disaster that is our catchall zone. Mr. Strongman has been overrun with mail and shoes... Next big step? I'm thinking the curtains that I made for the One Room Challenge but couldn't hang because our old apartment hated our guts. Onward ho!


A Homemade Mini Media Center

Finally the pieces have come together!! And by pieces, I mean a series of small steps that took me a bafflingly long time to finish...

I've been attempting to control a mess of wires in my life... the mess of wires pictured below. Ugh.

Tim and I decided the best solution would be to build a small media cabinet out of vintage crates! SO, we found the crates, cleaned the old wood, made some of our own old wood (necessary for the crate assembly process), and got down to building the thing. That's the part you get to see today.

1. We carefully lined up our crates and clamped them together. Usually this wouldn't count as its own step, but since the size of the crates was sliiiightly different, clamping them before we drilled holes was crucial. FYI, the crates are upside down right now. We didn't want to see any screw heads, so we did all of the dirty work on the bottom facing surfaces of our crates.

2. We pre-drilled holes for our screws. When working with old wood that can be a little brittle, pre-drilling is another crucial step. Skip it and the wood might crack!

3. We drilled super shallow .75" holes so the screw heads would be recessed. This is not a crucial step, but an easy trick to make your construction look nice and polished.

Here you can see the small pre-drill hole and the large recessing hole.

4. We drilled in the screws (finally)!

5. We screwed on our faux vintage wood planks. (It doesn't matter that the closest board in that image wasn't as "old" looking as the rest of the wood - no one will see the bottom once the unit is upright.)

6. We added castors to the bottom. This is why we needed our extra faux antique wood. The extra thickness allowed us to recess the castors slightly. Why castors? The little bit of height makes a massive difference. Think boxes stacked in a dorm room versus awesome vintage furniture.

Once the castors were done, we flipped her over...

Yay! See how the faux vintage wood blended perfectly? But of course, the wires still had to be tamed. Tim handled that :)

And I handled the bits and bobs...

Pretty different huh? From this...

To this!

Combined with our yarn covered TV wires, we've almost completely conquered the technology beast! How do you contain your wires??


Make Your Own Reclaimed Wood

The old, reclaimed, barn wood look is decidedly awesome. There's something very special about incorporating a piece of old wood with its own history into your modern design! Unfortunately, reclaimed wood can be expensive or a little hard to come by. What can you do in a pinch?

I first saw this technique for making your own faux reclaimed wood on Our Adventures in Home Improvement - an incredibly sweet blog! I couldn't wait for the chance to try it, so when I needed some extra old wood for a project with these vintage crates, I jumped on the chance!

Since my results were a little bit different, I thought I would share my own version of the tutorial. For a more complete idea of the possibilities of this technique, you should also check her tutorial out.

You will need: wood,* apple cider vinegar, and steel wool

*The kind of wood you choose will make a huge difference in the look of your faux reclaimed wood! I tried douglas fir and got a worn grey look. The same was true for the fence wood used on Our Adventures in Home Improvement. The pine in this tutorial ended up looking more red. Avoid wood with any kind of pre-treatment because it will not absorb the apple cider vinegar!!

1. Soak your steel wool in the apple cider vinegar. I gave mine about a half hour to soak.

2. Using gloves (because the vinegar stinks and the steel wool can give you splinters!) use the steel wool to scrub your wood with liberal amounts of apple cider vinegar. Apply more coats until you get the look you want.

The top board in the photo above was the result of just one coat of the apple cider vinegar on my pine plank. The bottom board shows the result of three coats each about 8 hrs apart while the steel wool continually soaked in apple cider vinegar.

Pretty nice results eh? Instead of desperately hunting for free/cheap old wood or paying out the nose for reclaimed wood from a lumber yard, make your own!