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    Hey there! I'm Amanda and I'll be your co-pilot today. Along with my handy husband, Ben, we're remodeling our second house. We're avid DIY-ers, tackling large and small projects while raising two rambunctious boys. Thanks for following along on this wild journey!
    Photo by Jana Graham Photography

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    I keep seeing (and loving) all the gorgeous peony pics. This past week has been cooler than average, thus slowing progress, but my peonies are almost ready to bloom. And that makes me happy. Thankful for some late blooming lilacs and a neighbor willing to let me take a few. Oh, and my cute little @fab vase that arrived today. Montana is indeed Big Sky Country. Beautiful, bright blue with fluffy clouds today.

Shelfie

Take a look at this picture of the guest room headboard and bookshelves:

Now look at the current version:

Guest-Room-Upholstered-Headboard-and-Bookshelves

Despite having even more books, does it feel calmer, more natural?  I hope it does, because that was my goal.  I started by donating the few books I had read and didn’t like/wouldn’t recommend.  Followed up by brutally eliminating every accessory/knick knack/tchotchke I didn’t absolutely love.  I think only five things made the cut.  Then, one shelf at a time, I pulled everything off to dust.

Being OCD, I have always separated my books into fiction and non-fiction groups main groups.  Then sub categories for history, biographies, science, etc. and finally in rainbow order.  Red books marked the beginning of a new group, making quick work of finding different categories.  Even in my old office:

Current_Office_Bookshelves_Small

Through the years, my system hasn’t changed.  But recently while at the school, I saw filled library cart, spines all facing up.  Spines facing up.  Duh, why haven’t I added that element to my system?  Wanting a calmer color palette, it offers all the benefits of the controversial turning the spines to the wall trick, but, on lower shelves, books are still easy to find.  Only snag is our floor to ceiling shelving, leaving the upper two shelves out of view.  To keep these shelves as neutral as possible, I pulled out the white, black, gray, and tan books.  These got a home on the top shelves, spines facing out for easy finding.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Top-Detail

Remaining lower shelves are all nestled in, spines up and easily seen from above.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Left-Side-Overall

Occasionally, I placed a stack of books to break things up and create a pedestal for decorative items.  Like this engraved silver cup turned fake succulent planter.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Left-Detail

In addition to creating less visual clutter, flipping the books had another benefit.  I was able to add three more shelves to the mix due to the shorter height.  I have my fair share of books, so keeping everything together, tidy, and organized is my preference.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Right-Detail

Bed height shelves also serve as built-in night stands, complete with an outlet on each side.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Left-Side-Detail-2

For best function, I tried to keep each of those relatively clear, without having an entirely empty shelf.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Right-Side-Overall

Over the past year, I’ve made a conscious effort to bring in and keep only accessories I love.  More and more, I’m drawn to natural elements and pieces.  A few really cool driftwood pieces are on simple display above the bed.

Guest-Room-Driftwood-Display-as-Art

Maybe having two hunter/gatherer boys has affected me.  Collections of wood, rocks, feathers, antlers, shells, and even a few skulls have made their way inside.  Each one has a memory or a story, unlike trendy store-bought piece I’m almost guaranteed to grow tired of.  Mixing those nature finds in adds a lot of character without costing a dime.

Guest-Room-Driftwood-Display-Shelf

Everything in nature is the perfect color, too.  Nothing insanely bright or neon, simply beautiful.  So I’ve happily been leaning on nature for the answers to my decoration conundrums.  Have you seen any noticeable shifts in your decor preferences?

Guest Green

I’m finished with the quick and cheap guest room update.  I wouldn’t consider it a makeover because all I really did was repaint the walls, upholster the headboard, rearrange the bookshelves, and swap a few furniture pieces.  Add in a few accessories and voilà, new room.  For a full walk down memory lane, here’s the room the day we got the keys to this house:

Good starting point, but it was dark and drab.  I quickly unloaded the books and accessories on the shelf and we pushed the bed against the only wall wide enough for a queen bed.  Not at all better.

To add another foot of usable space opposite the bed, we carved out a little nook in the shelves, adding sconces for a cozy space.  A larger window, white paint, and color cheered up the room tremendously.

Almost three years after finishing that, it didn’t flow with the rest of the house.  It’s not that I didn’t like the room, it now felt chaotic and cluttered.  Not wanting or needing to completely overhaul the room, I devised a plan to shake things up while toning it down.  All for under 100 bucks.  Ready to see it now?

Guest-Room-Makeover-Green-Walls-Upholstered-Headboard

I always say this, but paint offers the most bang for your buck when changing a room.  For only $25 the room is calmer, but still has color.  After comparing swatches, I settled on Thicket by Benjamin Moore, color matched at Home Depot.  It’s a mid tone green with subtle brown undertones, making it soft.

Green-Swatches-for-Guest-Room

Another easy change that cost twenty dollars was the upholstered headboard.  Two yards of natural linen fabric, batting, and a staple gun covered the old painted panel.  Better yet, it took two hours, tops, to knock it out.

Guest-Room-Upholstered-Headboard-Detail

I adore the softness and texture it adds.

Guest-Room-Upholstered-Headboard-with-Right-Side-Bookshelf

Guest-Room-Upholstered-Headboard-with-Left-Side-Bookshelf

Changing the bookshelves might be my favorite update though.  More on that soon.

Guest-Room-Upholstered-Headboard-and-Bookshelves

For another $20, I got a cream and gray stripe cotton throw from TJ Maxx.  Using more of my Fab.com credit, I chose a light rose Pendleton wool pillow.  Yet another fast way to add texture and pattern to the room without committing to anything drastic.

Guest-Room-Wool-Pillow-Detail

Shuffling furniture from different rooms was another free way to change the mood of the room.  Previously, a petite mid-century dresser sat against this wall.  I love it, but it always seemed just a tad small.

Gallery-Wall-in-Guest-Room

Moving my grandpa’s old dresser up from the basement took only a few minutes.

Guest-Room-Makeover-Green-Walls-and-White-Dresser

Just a few inches wider and taller, it fills out this side, but still leaves breathing room.

Guest-Room-Makeover-Green-Walls-White-Dresser-Chair

Perched atop is a small lamp, a few accessories, and what may be my favorite new houseplant.  This Rhipsalis, found as a hanging plant at Home Depot, thrives in low light.  Perfect live greenery for this north facing room.

Guest-Room-Dresser-and-Art-Detail

Oh, here’s another tip.  When artists include art on business cards, don’t throw it away.  Cut a small chunk of trim to size and mount the card to the front.  Tiny little art to settle in.

Guest-Room-Dresser-Accessories-Detail

Years ago, I received an old oak chair from my great-grandmother.  After sanding the peeling finish off and replacing the seat cushion, it’s a piece I love.

Green-Guest-Room-Dresser-Chair-and-Art

It still has plenty of character, but the wood tone against the green wall was too good to pass up.  A stack of stripe towels are guest ready and in sight.

Guest-Room-Chair-with-Towels

The bird, tree, and feather gallery wall is still my favorite collection/grouping.

Guest-Room-Makeover-Green-Walls-Toward-Door

Even better, it covers up the old sconce boxes, so you’d never know they’re behind there.

Guest Room Without Sconces Gallery Wall

So that’s the story on the calm and nature inspired guest room.  Even better, it cost about sixty-five big ones.

Green Squares

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been splitting time between painting various rooms, adding plants to the exterior, and giving the guest room an update.  None of which are completely finished, and all waiting for other elements before I’m done.  Between the bigger guest room tasks, I decided to rearrange the bookshelves for a less cluttered look.  For a bright spot on the shelves, a simple shadow box art was in order.  I started with a piece of white mat board, glue, and a bag of moss.

Moss-Art-Supplies

Before starting, I lightly marked a square 1 1/2 inches from the edges.  Working in sections, I spread glue and started placing moss along the edges.

Moss-Art-Making

After filling in the entire square, I let the glue dry and shook the excess moss off.

Moss-Art-Square

Twenty minutes after starting, I had a finished art piece, ready to frame.  Both the color and texture are lovely.

Moss-Art-Texture

I had an Ikea shadow box that fits perfectly on the shelf.  Boom, instant nature art with depth and character.  Any nature finds you’ve turned into art recently?

Moss-Art-on-Bookshelves

Now time for me to get more plants in the ground.

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

Our guest room was one of the first rooms we tackled after moving in.  Not much has changed since finishing it.

While I like the room on its own, now that we’ve worked on more of the house, it doesn’t exactly flow with the rest of the house.

Guest-Bedroom-Painted-Safari-Headboard

Fortunately, it’s nothing a can of paint, a few yards of fabric, and a little rearranging can’t fix.  For the walls, I’m really feeling an olive-green, to cozy up the room.

Green-Swatches-for-Guest-Room

After painting the main bath vanity Tate Olive, I started thinking about making similar changes to the guest room.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

Using leftover paint, I made a sample board on a scrap of foam core.

Tate-Olive-Sample-Paint-by-Bookshelf-Left

Clearly I like the color, but for an entire north facing room, it might be too dark.  In the much brighter south-facing master bed and bath, I didn’t hesitate to go dark and bold.

Tate-Olive-Sample-Paint-by-Closet

On the other hand, it could be warm and enveloping.  The wall of white bookshelves brightens up the room, too.  When paired with a linen upholstered headboard, the natural tones would be perfectly earthy.

Guest-Room-Headboard-Swatches

If Tate Olive is too dark, I found Thicket, a lighter, still similar color.  After paint, the other side, opposite the bed, will get a little change.  I still love the art and arrangement, but I’d like to repaint the dresser top.

Perhaps new curtain panels, too.  The rolled shade is easy to close, but annoying to roll up to open.  How do you feel about dark colors in small spaces?

Apple Salad (and a Winner!)

First order of business, the winner of the Janery giveaway.

Drumroll drrr…brrr…drrr… Lorie Smith, enjoy your new Janery pet or home product(s)!  Congrats, and thank you so much Jane for a lovely giveaway!

Second, how about a recipe?  I’m certainly no chef, but when a quick and simple few ingredient recipe works, I’m delighted.  Back in February, I posted this photo of a crazy simple salad on Instagram.  Several people asked for the recipe, and I thought the first day of May (and warmer months) was the perfect time.

Apple-Cheese-and-Chive-Salad

In all honesty, this is a salad I had tried at Cafe Lurcat in Minneapolis, so this is my version:

4 of your favorite apples  

3 to 4 ounces Manchego cheese

4 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

optional:

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Creating this salad is as easy as cutting apples and cheese into thin match sticks.  After cutting, toss with oil, vinegar, and lemon juice.  Add in the chives, salt, and pepper.

My notes and preferences: I’ve tried just Granny Smith, but like a slightly sweeter apple (Fuji or Gala) to offset the cheese.  To add just a little tartness to sweet apples, add the vinegar.  It’s just enough to balance.  If your apples are cold, feel free to skip the lemon juice.  For room temperature apples, add the lemon juice to prevent browning while cooling in the fridge for an hour or two.  Add more onion flavor with extra chives or even part of a finely minced shallot.

This salad is so light, bright, and refreshing, perfect for a summer get together.  And with 10 minutes of prep time, it doesn’t get much easier while still looking (and sounding) impressive.

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