Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chair Rail, Yes It's DIY!

Before I get started telling you guys all about our latest DIY project, I want to share a quick "before" picture with you. That way, at the end of the post, you can really appreciate what a difference a little bit of DIY-TLC can make in a single room.

This is one of the two back bedrooms in our house. Please ignore all of the crap that the seller never bothered cleaning up, and try to concentrate on how boring and ugly the room is.

The right-side "purple" bedroom

When we first saw the house, we had to look past how cluttered and boring everything was to see the true potential of the spaces. We knew right away that we wanted the house, but we also knew that it was going to take some work to really make the spaces look unique and beautiful. Paint and blinds helped, but there was more to be done.

Before we had the house painted, we decided that we wanted to have the two back bedrooms multi-colored, and that we would use a chair-rail to split up the walls. So we picked out colors we thought would look nice together, marked a level pencil-line in each room (with the help of a laser-level gifted to us by my husband's best friend), and told the painter to have at it.
Then, we crossed our fingers and hopped to hell it wouldn't look too weird and messed up. But when we finally saw the results, we couldn't have been happier. It looked amazing!

The left-side "Blue" bedroom

But wait, you say. You had the house painted professionally? That's not DIY! Well, you're right, we didn't DIO. But there's a reason for that. The house needed to get painted before we could move in, and we were on a fairly strict time-line. We needed to be out of our apartment by July 31st, and neither of us really had the time to dedicate to painting. Besides, the professional that we hired not only did the painting, but all of the prep-work too. You know, patching and sanding and mudding and all of that not-so-fun stuff. I was very happy that we hired this particular job out (even though I originally wanted to DIO), and he did an amazing job. As you can see.

I know this blog is about DIY though, and I promise, we're getting to that point. Okay, now that the paint was on the walls, it was time to put up the chair-rail, and at this point, we were committed to the project. Unless we wanted to have that lovely white gap showing between the paint-colors... Uh no. So we picked up some chair-rail, and got started. Te chair-rail was actually a gift from my uncle, a contractor, who had some left-over from a job he had done recently. He was even nice enough to drive it over to our house, since the 16ft lengths wouldn't exactly fit into either of our cars.

Our first priority was getting that stuff cut down to size, so we took some careful measurements, and got started cutting. It was a little tricky, because we had some odd angles to account for, and ended up having to cut some really tiny pieces to fit our unique space. My advise? If you've never done chair-rail before, try to start in a room that's pretty much square, since you're already going to have to cut mitered corners, and compound angles are just going to be confusing at first. We started in the purple bedroom, which was more or less sqaure.

Once we had all of those pieces cut and dry-fitted (we held them up on the walls together to make sure that they would pretty much fit), we moved onto the blue bedroom. It was trickier, but eventually we got everything cut and ready to paint.

See all those tiny pieces?

We then laid everything out in the garage, where it could be painted and dry undisturbed. It's really nice to have spaces (like the garage) to work in. It's a nice change from painting things out on our 3rd floor balcony, and hoping that we didn't drip on the neighbors!

We had a lot of left-over paint from doing the house, and the chair-rail got one coat (it was pre-primed) of the same color that all of our trim was painted. This way everything will be matchey-matchey. Now all that was left to do was to attach it to the wall. In exactly the right spot. And have it all be level, and pretty... No big deal, right? Right...

Out comes the laser-level again, this time to line up exactly where we want the top of the chair-rail to go. We didn't need to mark the wall, since the laser line was plainly visible, and we could just line the top of the rail up with that. Then I held things in place while my husband came along with the nail-gun and did his thing. A few times, I was even brave enough to try my hand at using the nail-gun!

The trickiest bits were those tiny weird corner-pieces, and when it came time to figure them out I was very glad that we got a chance to practice on the big squared corners in the purple room. Don't know that we would have been able to get everything sorted otherwise. But we did, and everything ended up on the wall more or less where it was supposed to go.

We did end up having to fill a couple of gaps, where small pieces didn't quite meet-up. But that's what caulking is for. And to be honest, we had to caulk anyway, to cover-up the nail holes.

And really, that was it! Chair-rail, easy DIY. Okay, maybe not easy, but totally DIY. I promise you, if we could do this, you can do this. It just takes a little bit of patience, and the willingness to end up with something that doesn't necessarily look 100% professional. Because guess what? It's not. You did it yourself! And it'll look beautiful: