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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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    Added this Rose Vervain to my cart on a whim a few months ago. Not that's it's bloomed, I am so glad I did-look at those pretty flowers! Knowing it grows well here, I just might have to get a few more. #ohagardengrows Working on some master bedroom updates and sharing the progress on the blog today. I can't wait to build a new bed frame and put that green velvety goodness to use!! After living in a smoky haze for over a week, last nights rain cleared our view again. Hoping all those fires in California, Washington, and Idaho are put out soon!

Painting a Wood Wall White

Last I shared our master bedroom, it looked like this:

Master-Bedroom-3-Years

We had made some progress, especially compared to our starting point, but the to do list still had plenty of unchecked boxes including a new bed, seating arrangement, and possibly painting the wood wall white.

Master-Bedroom-from-Door-One-Year-Later

That last item, painting, was something I’d been considering for a while, to better flow with the white tongue and groove planks in the adjacent bath, entry, and kitchen.  Having painted new wood before, I suspected this reclaimed wood would toss me a curveball thanks to all the tar paper residue.

Reclaimed Cedar Planked Wall

Fortunately, after painting our deck ceiling, I had the perfect product in my possession: Sherwin Williams Exterior Oil-Based Wood Primer.

The reason I had to wait so long to tackle this step was the uncooperative weather.  Stupid summer with temps constantly in the 90’s.  Oil-based primers and paint are always stinky, so I waited for a few days of cool weather that would allow open windows and proper ventilation of the room.  My first coat of primer covered the wood beautifully, but the tar areas bled through lightly.

Accent-Wall-First-Primer-Coat

Per the instructions, I waited 24 hours before reapplying a follow-up coat for thorough, opaque coverage.  This primer is thick, and filled in some of the spaces between the boards, making it look sloppy.

Accent-Wall-Primed-Two-Coats

Knowing I’d still have to paint, I held off cleaning out the grooves.  After two coats of white paint, I used a utility knife to scrape the paint out, leaving clean gaps and a full textured ship lap looking wall.

Accent-Wall-Painted-Seams-Cleaned

Though I liked the warmth of the wood wall, it didn’t flow with the rest of the room or house.  Painting the accent wall white gives me a blank slate to work against.  Moving forward, I still have projects to tackle, like a new bed, complete with a lovely green velvet upholstered headboard hence the taped up text fabric.

Master-Bedroom-Painted-Accent-Wall-with-Green-Fabric

While I was making changes, I switched out the lamps and art.  The triangular lamps I made took up a lot of space on our floating nightstand, so while in Minnesota I picked up two Ranarp sconces from Ikea.

Smaller light fixtures left more space above the nightstand than before, so I painted feathers on watercolor paper to create science poster art.

Master-Bedroom-Accent-Wall-Painted-Left-Side

Each piece cost less than five dollars and didn’t require frames thanks to the style.  I cut quarter-inch thick by 1 1/2 inch wide hemlock strips one inch longer than the paper, applied a coat of special walnut stain, and stapled through the paper into the back of the wood.  A string of twine is a simple hook, also stapled into the wood.

Master-Bedroom-Accent-Wall-Painted

Thanks to the lightweight design, a thumb tack with a small wood slice glued to the front keeps the art in place.

Science-Poster-Hanging-Detail

Then, as usual, one thing leads to another and I didn’t like the mismatched look of the dark art wood and the light nightstand.  Not to worry, a coat of matching stain on each was a quick fix and really finished off the look.

Stained-Nightstand-Detail

Ahh yes, much better.

Master-Bedroom-Accent-Wall-Painted-Left-Nightstand

Master-Bedroom-Accent-Wall-Painted-Right-Nightstand

Master-Bedroom-Accent-Wall-Painted-Detail

Up next, sewing a matching set of curtains for the window above our bed.  After many attempts to get my hands on another six yards of white linen, I finally broke down and had the fabric store order some for me.

Leather-Tab-Top-Curtains-Detail

With the deck project in full swing, I’m not sure when the bed will be a priority, but it’ll make all the difference in finishing off the room.  Now to decide how I want to handle the other side of the room.

New Baby, New Flooring

Back in April Ben, the boys, and I made a trip to Minnesota to visit family and meet our new baby niece.  While there, we decided to surprise them by installing new flooring at my sister’s house.  The same house he built this fantastic under the stairs bookshelf in.

Ashley's Stairs and Bookcases Finished Front

Fortunately, despite having a two-week old baby, they were okay with the idea.  You know what they say, “Nothing says congrats on your new baby like hardwood floors” or something like that.  Plus, they had the wood planks sitting in the house for a while and were excited to gain that space back while improving their home.  Here’s the before, a large room with mid-century bones including a large rock wall, plank and beam ceiling, large windows, and stained beige carpet.  Warning, the rest of these photos are crappy phone pics, but you get the idea.  

Sitting-and-Dining-Room-Before

After pulling out the carpet, Ben patched areas while I scraped the floors to remove the staples.  Trust me, this is light years easier than pulling individual staples with pliers.

Scraping-Staples-from-Subfloors-in-Sitting-Dining-Room

The original plan included only hardwood floors in place of the carpet, but the old tile just wasn’t their style.

Subfloors-and-Entry-Tile

While demo was happening, we broke out all the tile and mesh underlayment.

Entry-Tile-Under-Layer

After a day, both areas were nearly ready for flooring.

Floors-Removed-at-Ashleys-House

In the entry, a few old boards were badly cracked, so Ben cut out the trouble areas to patch in new wood.  These are things he gets oddly excited about.

Excited-Ben-with-Floor-Holes

With help from my dad, they knocked out the Brazilian Walnut hardwood install pretty quickly.

Start-of-Brazilian-Walnut-Floors-at-Ashleys

Then, tile time!  Ashley considered extending the hardwood into the entry, but Minnesota weather might take a toll on the floors after a while.  Instead, she chose the same slate tile we’ve used in our master bathroom and kitchen.

Slate-Tile-in-Entry-with-Wood-Floors

The tile sits flush with the freshly installed walnut, but also the same flooring that was installed in the kitchen a few years ago.

Slate-Tile-in-Entry-at-Ashleys-Into-Kitchen

After finishing up the floors, our time had come to an end and we returned home.  Just a few weeks back, the boys and I made another visit and helped tie up some of the loose ends, like baseboard.  Install was pretty quick and straightforward, but there were seams to patch.  For quick results, I like to use an orbital sander to get everything perfectly smooth.  Not wanting to damage the hardwood floors, I used my go to trick: tape.  Put down two rows of painter’s tape, then several layers of duct tape stacked together.  This makes a stationary buffer between the sander edge and the floor, but is easily removed, leaving the floors unscathed.

Sanding-Baseboard-Trick

Before installing this room’s flooring, the kitchen wood stopped in the door.  The seamless flow looks so nice!

Floors-from-Dining-into-Kitchen

After baseboard install, I was asked to do a little decorating.  Ash saw this rug at Costco and loved it, so it was the base layer for the room.

Rug-Detail-in-Ashleys-House

Luckily, they already had the awesome furniture, so it was only a matter of arranging what they already had.

Sitting-and-Dining-Room

 

Over in the corner, we set up a little bar area in an Ikea cabinet.

Bar-Cabinet-in-Sitting-Room-Ashleys-House

Of course, a week isn’t much time to tackle a big to do list, especially when Mall of America rides are calling two little boys.  I hoped to reupholster the dining chairs and help install a bay of cabinets on the back wall, but Arik can handle that.

Sitting-and-Dining-Room-Ashleys-House

If not, there’s always the next visit to tackle some more projects.  Ash, get your thinking cap on.

Mini Bug Shadowbox

I mentioned in the guest room update that I’ve been drawn to natural elements for decorating.  The bookshelves are filled with things found in nature including driftwood, feathers, skulls, and a framed butterfly.

Guest-Room-Bookshelf-Right-Detail

Just a few weeks ago, after watering plants, I shut off the water and was startled by a large (2 inches long) beetle on the ground.  It didn’t move, and I went back inside.  Three days later, it was still there and obviously dead.  Ben brought it inside to show, ah hem, scare the boys.  Surprisingly, only one was afraid of it, while the other thought it was cool.  Half jokingly, I said we should frame it for over his bed, and he agreed.  All that to say, I’ve hit what may be a new crazy, even for me.  I made a tiny bug coffin shadowbox.  But, most of the supplies I already had, so that saves me some crazy points, yes?  Anyway, if you want to make a small shadow box, here’s what I used: one 2 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide by 1/4 inch thick poplar, one 1/4 inch square wooden dowel, both originally from Home Depot and a small piece of glass from a frame at Goodwill.  To get started, I applied a bead of wood glue to the top of the poplar board and set the square dowel on top to clamp, like so:

Tiny-Shadow-Box-Frame-Pieces-Glued

This beefs up the face and gives a lip for the glass to rest on, but keeps the frame from getting too thick.  It’s also easier than getting out the router.

Tiny-Shadow-Box-Edges-Glued

Once the glue dried, I assembled the frame the same way I made this larger set.

Tiny-Shadow-Box-Assembled

To keep the beetle away from the glass, I cut pieces of a paint stick to fit snugly inside the frame and gave everything a coat of white paint.  After the paint dries, place the clean glass in first, then the paint stick spacers, then the backing with the mounted bug, or whatever normal thing you’re framing.  A dab of glue holds the bug onto a scrap of white cardstock.  For now, it’s living in the guest room, but I think it’ll get moved to the boys’ room.
Beetle-in-Shadow-Box-on-Shelf

Beetle-in-Shadow-Box

Poor guy lost a few parts sitting outside, but he’s still pretty cool.  By cool I mean semi creepy, but not to all little boys.  Have I totally lost it?  Wait, don’t answer that.

Mirror Makeover

When I found this dresser for a friend, it also came with a matching mirror.  The kind that attach to the back of the piece on stilts.  You can kind of see it sticking out the top, reflecting another chest of drawers.

Drexel-Dresser

Luckily for me, she didn’t want it as a set, and I loved the look and size, but not the speckled finish or the color.

Campaign-Mirror-Finish-Before

A few areas of the veneer started to bubble, so my first step was fixing those by applying glue under and clamping it until dried.

Campaign-Mirror-Bubbled-Veneer

Then, to remove the stain, I generously spread Citristrip over everything, letting it work its magic.

Campaign-Mirror-Citristrip-Applied

Just like scraping off popcorn ceilings, the process is satisfying and oddly similar.  Instead of using a wide metal spatula, I used a narrow plastic tool to gently remove the old finish.

Campaign-Mirror-Stripping-Finishl

One thing I really dislike about using a paint stripper is the clean up.  But, with such a small area, I didn’t have the option to sand instead.  To clean the residue, I brushed on a little paint thinner, then scrubbed the grooves with an old toothbrush.  Flat areas are easier to clean with an old rag.  After all that, I had my clean slate.

Campaign-Mirror-Ready-for-Oil

For a little color and protection, I rubbed on two coats of Dark Walnut tinted Danish Oil.  The coloring isn’t as strong as a stain, and can be applied as needed.  I wasn’t looking for a new mirror, but I swapped the one in the main bathroom for this handsome fella because I like him so much.  The mirror already had hooks on the back, so we strung 100 pound picture wire to hang it. To accommodate the slightly taller size, we did raised the two wall screws a few inches.

Campaign-Mirror-Hung-in-Bathroom

Adding that small dose of natural wood brought in so much warmth and texture, making the once white space feel layered and earthy.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity This frame is two inches narrower and three taller than the old frame, so it makes the ceilings feel a bit higher.

Campaign-Mirror-in-Bathroom-Overall

A serendipitous change for the main bathroom, that just proves changes are always taking place, even when unplanned.  That white mirror will be saved for the basement or pool house half bath, so it won’t go to waste either.

New Favorite Plants

Never in my life have I considered myself a garden person, until this year, that is.  I was bitten by the radioactive spider that makes me want all.the.plants.  Seriously, it’s becoming an addiction, stopping at various garden centers, wandering through rows of plants, reading tags, taking notes, and almost always returning home with at least one plant.  I made a plan, that I fully intended to stick to, but with so many amazing plants, I’ve come to the decision to buy what I like and will work in our conditions, because I will find a place to plant it.

Landscape-Plan-Current

Take this small area along the front of the house.  My initial idea was to plant a low evergreen, but with the addition of the walkway, every juniper grows too wide.  A change in plans was necessary, and I like the idea of a wider variety of plants, colors, and textures.

Groundcover-in-front-of-Basement-Window

Still wanting year-round greenery, a Yew between the windows will fill the area, but can be trimmed to maintain size and shape.

Yew-Between-Windows

Working as a groundcover, dark green and purple Ajuga will spread up to three feet wide, covering a decent amount with a small plant.

Bugleweed

In front of the windows, Rockfoil is supposed to be an evergreen, even in our cold winter climate.  This low growing, mounding,  hen and chick looking plant should max out at 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide, which won’t obstruct the view out the window or need much maintenance.  The bright, spring green is almost the complete opposite from the adjacent dark Ajuga.

Rockfoil-Touran-Deep-Red

In addition to wanting/needing and evergreen base to cover rock expanses, adding colorful shrubs and flowering perennials adds character.  If this Smoke Tree makes it through the winter, I’m ready to declare it my favorite for the dark, matte red/purple leaves, and lace like ‘smoke’ plumes.

Smoke-Tree

Salvia is another favorite because it thrives in full sun without needing excessive watering.  The bold purple flowers really stand out among the other plants.

Salvia

A few Golden Barberry offer bright yellow and lime green leaves.  I love the contrast against the dark junipers, but the color reminds Ben of over watered, dying plants; to each his own.

Golden-Dwarf-Barberry

Planted near early summer blooming peonies, late summer bloomer, Coneflower, is super drought tolerant as well as a hard-working pollinator.

Purple-ConeflowerAs with the front, starting with creeping junipers will give a good base, but adding a variety of other perennials has benefits.  First, the various root systems, as well as the rock layer, help stabilize the hill.  Secondly, more pockets of plants will absorb rain water, prevention excess runoff.  Third, give visual interest and textures to the hill throughout the seasons.  When selecting plants, I’ve been careful to choose plants with pretty or interesting foliage.  That way, even when not in bloom, it still looks nice.  Here, a small Lavender and Angeline Stonecrop have very different looks.

Russian-Sage-Lavender-Reed-Grass

By planting lower growing plants to the front, and taller shrubs near the back, each plant is still visible.  At the front edge, Artemisia, a silvery green dry loving plant softens the hard rocks.  Once mature, it should spill over the base a little and become dotted with tiny flowers.

Wormwood-Silver-Mound

In the back, the Viburnum planted this May has already grown by leaps and bounds.  Next year, it just might be covered in snowball sized flowers!

Snowball-Viburnum

Right next to that Viburnum is a Catmint that has gone wild, in the best way.

Catmint-Hosta-Coral-Bells

Here’s that it looked like just over one month ago:

Back-Garden-and-Deck-from-Side-Stairs

For the majority of the plantings, I’ve selected full sun, drought tolerant varieties because we want a pretty, but still resource friendly landscape.  In the small, only truly shaded area we have, evaporation isn’t as much of a concern, so I’ve added a few slightly less water wise plants.  Hostas and Coral Bells still don’t need much water to live, but flourish with deeper watering.

Coral-Bells

By far the most water drinking plant I have is this Hydrangea.  For the nearly head size blooms, I think it’s a fair trade-off.

Hydrangea-Detail

At the end of the back walkway, I’ve started a full sun-loving flower garden.  It includes a reed grass, red day lilies, Catmint, poppy, Delphinium, and a Petite Snow Butterfly Bush, bottom left.

Full-Sun-Flower-Garden

Watching this (and the other plants) grow and bloom is exciting, which is why I’m hooked on gardening.

Petite-Snow-Butterfly-Bush

Near the butterfly bush is an American Dream Coreopsis, with thread like stems and leaves and dainty pink flowers.

American-Dream-Coreopsis

Another Coreopsis, this time creamy white Big Bang round out the full sun area, at least for now.  I’m giving it a year to grow and fill in before adding anything else to the mix.

Big-Bang-Coreopsis

Needing more color to the left of the waterfall, I’ve added another Coreopsis, this time hot pink Show Stopper.

Show-Stopper-Coreopsis

As I continue researching, my plant want list grows.  My next step is to include native grasses, perhaps Switchgrass and Little Bluestem, dotted over the hillsides.  For native plants and guides, Prairie Nursery has been extremely helpful to this novice gardener, giving plant conditions and a map of native areas.  If you have any plant suggestions, feel free to shoot them to me.

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