Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Nook with a Purpose

I'm done with the "nook" at the base of my boys' bunk bed, which means I'm pretty much done with the room. I have about 3 last minute finishing touches to sort out, and I should be sharing the finished room soon - before the week is over.  It feels really good to be putting this behind me... this room makeover went a bit too slowly for my tastes!

Before the big reveal though, I wanted to share the nook since I had asked everyone for their ideas about the space a while ago:

I decided to built a 'floating' desk at counter height for them. I do love it when they draw or work at the kitchen table and a part of me hopes they never give that up, but I wanted to give them another place. You know, options. Sometimes you just want a little quiet!

I was going to screw 2x4s and 2x6s together with pocket holes and then plane the whole thing to create a flat surface, but I was lucky enough to see a scrap of butcher block that my brother-in-law was going to throw out, so I snagged it. It worked perfectly!

As for the finish, originally I was going for a silvery gray, weathered finish like this photo from the blog blue roof cabin of a technique people use to weather wood quickly:

(via blue roof cabin - if you're going to pin this, please pin from the original source!)

The method involves tea, vinegar, and a piece of steel wool. And of course I messed it up. Goooo, me!

The directions call for soaking a piece of steel wool in vinegar for a good long time -- it suggests 24 hours, even. When you're ready to proceed, you first brew a strong cup of tea and brush it on your raw wood. Let it dry and then follow it up with a coat of the steel wool-infused vinegar. Over the next hour, you should see the transformation above happen. Magical.


It all started like it should, except that I couldn't wait 24 hours. I waited... oh, let me see... one hour. In my defense, I used very fine steel wool so maybe it had time to infuse (??) faster... but it did work beautifully. An hour after application, the wood was a pale silvery color and I was happy. Except I wanted it a tad greyer (more grey?), because I'm stupid. So, without even taking photographs to document my success, I tried another coat of the vinegar, and it turned the wood BLUE. Dark black/blue like Veronica's hair in Archie comics (like that analogy?). Not cute at all. Curse you and your direction ignoring ways, Anna!

I called my brother-in-law and begged him to plane it down for me so I could try again. He was nice enough to oblige, and so the next day I tried again. And it was another womp-womp-womp moment. I don't know if it was the fact that the vinegar mixture had soaked in deep and we couldn't sand it all off, or if the fact that my steel wool/vinegar mixture was over 24 hours old at that point... but after I brushed the vinegar on, the wood turned dark before my eyes. Not blue/black, but still dark. Not grey, though.

Not exactly what I was going for, but better than blue. So I stopped fighting it, brushed on 3 coats of water-based poly, mounted it to the wall with heavy duty "L" shelf brackets, and called it a day.

And you know, I like it. I still want to try the weathering process on something so I can declare success (I don't like fails) but I'm not losing sleep over a desk! It looks nice, the boys like it, and this previously-awkward nook is now functional.

I'll call that a success, any day!

Stay tuned for the room reveal... it's coming soon!


  1. Anna,
    It looks really nice!! I love the desk, the chair, the art on the walls, the S...!!! Can't wait to see the whole room!!

  2. Love the floating desk. I love making tiny unused spaces functional! Love that chair too!

  3. I love that you did a desk in that space. The room looks great!! While the wood did not turn out in the way you wanted, it still looks great.

  4. I love this nook! I think that it is my favorite part of the room, actually. And, I like how the wood turned out.


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