Welcome to Little Houses California…

california marquee diy wood metal lights

…Such a lovely place…(Oh no we’ll all have the Eagles song stuck in our heads this Sunday)

I had already been inspired by a few other fantastic blogs and this pile of lights at the Sacramento Antique Fair

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I knew I wanted a marquee for a blank wall in our living room. However I didn’t want letters or a simple shape. Until one innocent Sunday afternoon…

Margarita + Sunset Magazine = Random DIY project

california marquee 013 I fell head over heels in love with the California Marquee Sunset magazine featured. Unfortunately based on the size and quality of it, I surmised it would probably not work with our budget or even the size of our house. Therefore with a little liquid courage, and a whole lot of project scraps…Could this be done?

(Don’t worry I did not try to use a hand saw and tools with a margarita on board) I only traced a large California picture onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

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Then I traced the picture onto wood scraps we had left over from our previous fences and roof flashing backsplash. Making sure to number each piece on the back so I could put all of them back together after cutting.

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The next evening I hunkered down, and using a clamp and coping saw started the painstakingly long process of cutting out the shape of California by hand. (By the second shape I was asking hubby for a scroll saw or dremel for Christmas)

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Once all the pieces were cut out I put them back together again, flipped them over and lined them up. Then attached two more pieces of scrap wood to the back and drilled them together with hubby. Mistake#1: We should have used metal brackets instead of wood so the pieces would’ve laid flush and tighter together.

california marquee 009 (However we didn’t know how the project would turn out so maybe using scraps was the most economical at the time)

Next came the roof flashing, we cut the rectangles in half creating a 2 1/2 inch border surrounding the marquee. Be sure to wear thin leather gloves for hand protection when working with roof flashing. Then we hammered the roof flashing pieces into the wood with little nails. We also hammered the flashing gently to mold to the contours of the California coast.

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Mistake#2 -As you can see we should have taken off the barcode stickers with goo-be-gone, before adding the roof flashing.

We next found there were uneven joints between the flashing, so we added a second layer of flashing to certain areas, (bending it slightly to create tension, then clamped pieces together with a horse shoe nail)

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Mistake#3-Also we should have drilled the holes for the lights and picture hanging hardware at this point, before adding the metal but again we had no clue if this project was going to work.

With a string of cafe lights leftover from our wedding, we used 7th House on the Left’s fabulous tutorial for drilling out the holes, and installing them. Except we took out the bulbs not in use and stapled them to the back of the wood. (Careful to not staple the cord) We’re saving the extra bulbs just in case a light or two burns out.  Then we tucked the cord behind the wood.

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Adding picture hanging hardware, both at the bottom of California and top, we hung it in the living room and plugged her in. If you noticed, we strategically placed lights to represent our favorite California landmarks and cities.

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Of course its very unfinished and even a bit industrial looking, so we added a shelf  behind the couch and some items around the house to make it work. (Pssst…But it was also to hide the light cord)

diy california marquee living room decor california marqueeAll in all a very interesting, at times frustrating, and full of mistakes, but nice to have our own custom art piece made by hand. (And for nearly free…priceless!) Hopefully this inspires others to make their own custom art pieces.california marquee diy wood metal lights

Flash Backsplash!

Breaking down a few garage projects, one in particular was hiding left over grout on the wood paneling. (I promise there will be cute dog cameos at the end)

The previous owner must have installed a tile backsplash for his workbench. Unfortunately that tile was long gone by the time we moved in and instead we had this: workbench backsplash before

I had two options:

1. Scrape away, sand, then attempt to stain which would probably take hours

2. Hide it

I opted for choice #2. Only problem was I’m a tiling “kindergartener” and I didn’t want to attempt to match up tile/workbench or spend a bunch of money.

This is when I stumbled into Home depot and found squares of roof flashing at $0.78 cents a pop! I decided to try and “tile” the backsplash with metal roof flashing and screws. At least if it failed I could just unscrew it and remove the flashing and no one would know my “flashing tile” craziness. Here are some initial  “in progress” picture where I tested one layer:


workbench backsplash progress before

I realized the idea not only worked but it looked halfway decent and man cave-ish! I needed to finish off the rest and add another layer to hide old paint stains, holes in the wood etc. Here’s the step by step guide:

1. Gather the essential toolsworkbench backsplash tools*Ooops, lingo self-correction… The screws are not flat head, but standard phillips head, but “flat” in reference to how they need to be flat and flush with the flashing/wall, not sticking out where they can poke someone.

2. Temporarily remove any outlet covers. Then start measuring the amount of tiles you will need for the area, taking into account, wall outlets and staggering the flashing for a tile effect. Trace the cuts you will need with the sharpie and ruler. If you’re worried about a level line, you can also trace guidelines/points along the wall using the level yardstick and sharpie. (Because I was working over old grout I had to check the levels as I went)

workbench backsplash tracing on metal workbench backsplash fitting metal

3. Once you are satisfied with a flashing placement, hold it firm to prevent bubbling(helps to have a second hand) and drill 1 screw into each corner. If you’re worried about symmetry you can mark each corner with the sharpie where you want to drill a screw.

workbench backsplash drilling

4. Keep going, checking your progress with the level, until you’ve reached your intended end. Place your outlet covers back on, and step back to view your  finished product…Total cost about $12

workbench backsplash final

Pups did not want to be left out, and crashed a few pics as usual…

workbench backsplash Sierra

workbench backsplash Sutter