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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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    Thinking of adding this small sign I made to the kitchen. Problem is, I don't want to drill into the marble because I'll probably change my mind later on and don't want to leave holes. This measures 12 by 25 inches and isn't too heavy. Think command strips could hold this in place? "Mom always said, don't play ball in the house." said in my best whiny Bobby Brady voice. Hope your start to this Friday is better than cleaning up broken, spilled plants. Only up from here! Our weather has finally caught up with the season change. Fall weather calls for homemade roasted tomato basil soup with a Parmesan crisp and toasty garlic bread. Yum! Ben thought I was crazy baking cheese on a cookie sheet, but I stand by that decision 100 percent. What are you having for dinner?

King Bed Build Plan

When you’re on a budget and have something specific in mind, DIY is such a good option, allowing customization and a lower price point than most store options.  That’s how our king sized bed came to be, and cost less than $200 for every last supply.


Fortunately, this wasn’t our first bed building experience-we made a captains bed for our smaller bedroom at our last house and a bed for each of the boys about two years ago.


In fact, the process for creating our bed was very similar to the steps we used to make a set of twin beds.  First, we cut a 4 by 4 post into 16 inch lengths, then running the sides through the table saw to create a 3 1/4 inch square, just to take the rounded edges off, looking less like dimensional lumber.  With a sander, I angled the tops of each post an eighth of an inch, just to ease the seam.  Here’s a normal post next to a finished one for comparison.


To securely fasten the side rails into the posts, we measured 1 1/2 inches and 6 1/2 inches down from the top of the post.  For the head and foot rails, we measured 2 inches and 6 inches down.  Staggering the screws is a very important step because the screws are going in perpendicular and you don’t want them to hit.  It’s easiest to place the post in the corner and mark 3/4 of an inch in from the edge where the rail will go in.  Pre drill holes through the post, keeping the drill as plumb as possible to avoid the screws going in wonky.


For a beefier, well proportioned bed we used 2 by 10 boards for the rails, with a half strip of 2 by 4 nailed along the base.  Again, we ran each through the table saw to cut away the rounded corner.


Large beds are difficult to maneuver, getting around corners and through doors, so we built each side to come apart easily.  For even easier disassembly/moving, Ben attached spacers to the side rails, leaving enough room for a vertical 2 by 4 between each.  These keep the mattress cross supports in place without nails, meaning the supports are removable without tools!


Along the head and foot rails, we secured a 2 by 4, to give the OSB a ledge to rest on, keeping it flush with rest of the cross supports.


Below, the rails are ready for the corner posts.



On a level surface, lay all the pieces out upside down, which keeps the tops of the rails and posts flush.  Then drive a 6 inch long screw through the post and into each rail.


While still in the garage, we assembled the bed to make sure everything fit, then took the side rails apart, leaving the legs attached to the head and foot sections before staining.


Our finishing cap that covers the posts and rails is also a 2 by 4, but planed down to a 1 inch thickness and cut to match the post width of 3 1/4 inches.


Mitered corners on the foot end, but a square-cut at the head end to tuck under the headboard.


Once stained, oiled, and dry, we hauled the pieces up and put it back together, just like Humpty Dumpty.  In go the cross supports, spaced 16 inches on center.  Ben builds everything to allow a large pachyderm to be able to use it, so no creaking, squeaking, or wobble going on here.


Then the OSB sheeting.


The headboard is a sheet of OSB cut two inches narrower than the frame, then the edges are thickened up with a half strip of 2 by 4.  I wrapped batting, then the velvet over, stapling to the underside of the 2 by 4 edge.  Once the upholstery was done, we nailed a 1 inch wide wood strip around the sides to finish it off.


Two by six sections run vertically, screwing into the back side of the head rail to attach the headboard.  Overall, the bed took us about 6 or 8 hours to build and finish from scratch.  And in those hours, we saved roughly 1600 dollars, which is far more than my hourly pay rate of nothing.

A Bed Frame Fit for a King

Well, it took three years, but our room now boasts a legitimate, 100% finished bed frame and headboard.  I veered away from the original plan for a white painted bed, opting for a stain with a linseed oil finish.  If perhaps down the road we prefer a painted bed, it’s much easier to go from stained to painted than the other way around.


We followed a similar style to the Sierra bed from Crate and Barrel, replacing the angled wood headboard for a colorful upholstered head.

Because the bed sits directly beneath the window, I worried about the green velvet fading with sun exposure.  To prevent uneven coloring, I pitched the idea to Ben of wrapping the headboard with a wood band.



The headboard frame is the same width and thickness as the border around the bed base.



With the wider frame edge, we extended the headboard to the edges, leaving three inches exposed on either side.



Adding that dose of color to our otherwise neutral room is exactly what I was looking for.



Colorful, but not obnoxiously so and looks great against the white wall.


I’m working on the building plans and step by step process to share soon.  Meanwhile, I’m brainstorming bench options for the base of our bed.  With all the wood in here now, I’m leaning toward a metal base with an upholstered top.

Bread Board

It’s no secret I love to use scraps that might otherwise go to waste to create something beautiful and useful.  I’ve made trays, a small shadowbox, an in drawer knife block, state shaped art, pedestals to elevate orinary objects to name a few projects.  Clearly I love the free and usually easy concept.  With small sections of walnut left over from the island, I decided to make a long, narrow bread board.  Of course a rectangle of wood would work, but I decided to create a handle for detail that is more display worthy.  To start, I cut my board to length, then taped the end to easily draw my handle design on the dark wood.


Using a hand saw-a jig saw would be great, but I didn’t want to waste time searching for ours amongst the chaos-I cut straight lines, notching out the handle.


To make the board look older and smooth the rough edges, I rounded everything using 120 grit paper on an orbital sander.  Just evenly run along with the sander to ease the edge, also rounding the outside corners.  Flip and reapeat.


Add a few coats of oil enhance the grain and protect the board from water and stains.


With the white of the kitchen, I like having a warm wood tone on the counter and it carries the walnut over from the island.


Bonus points if your scrap wood has a pretty knot or grain detail to add even more character.


The best part is, I spent zero dollars and about 30 minutes creating this functional kitchen display.  Of course, now I want to make more, or perhaps a larger serving tray.


The eternal ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ syndrome going on.  Target isn’t helping the situation with their beautiful, useful kitchen accessories like this dutch oven.

Soup is a favorite this time of year and a big cast iron pot would be nice for large batches.  How cute are the copper measuring spoons (and the stainless measuring cups)?!  We could use a set to replace the plastic ones we have because the lettering has worn off, so the stamped design would remain after use and washings.

Though we have small ceramic containers near the stove for salt and pepper, I’d love a set of the wood salt cellars with the swivel lids, perhaps on this marble lazy Susan.

I’ve been so great limiting my Target purchases to needs, but this season’s selection is making that very difficult.  I can justify the three listed above though, so we’ll see if I can resist the urge.

Balcony Business

Finishing and checking a project off the to do list is always satisfying, especially when you’re a DIYer.  Even more so when it’s an outdoor task and winter is getting closer.  Our outdoor punch list is getting shorter and the house is looking better with each change.  Just three months ago, I shared progress on our rusted steel siding along with the beginnings of our private master suite balcony.


Compare that area to the siding install from last year and it’s already a significant improvement, what with the lack of death drop and all.


Even still, the bright, unstained balcony wood attracted unnecessary attention.  Rather than being a detail, it screamed unfinished, until recently.  With a decent weather forecast, we had a chance to give it a coat of Canyon Brown stain by Olympic.


The underside still needs to get a coat because it’s visible from nearly every angle, it turned out exactly as we hoped.  Also of note, the steel has continued to rust and is darkening nicely.


At three feet deep, the balcony is mostly a little retreat to enjoy a sunset and the best mountain view in the house.


With this area facing the road, we agreed on a railing of 6 inch boards with 1 1/2 inch spacing between for privacy without a completely solid rail.  For a really sleek, finished end, Ben mitered the corners to avoid leaving ends exposed.


Our big deck rebuilding project is almost finished, too, with a rail to match, once stained.


The plan is to put a few bistro chairs, side table, and planters out here.


The other side of the rail terminates into the bump out side.


With two large decks, this little balcony doesn’t need to be huge to serve our needs; just a little private retreat to relax on.


Now to find the right chair set.  I’d love a folding set, to easily store away when weather isn’t nice.

Camel Leather Dreams

Long ago, I had dreams of a beautiful leather sofa to star in our living room scene.  Living in a relatively small town, seemingly devoid of clean lined, quality furniture without large rolled arms or overstuffed cushions put a serious damper on those dreams.  For months, I’ve considered the Hamilton leather sofa from West Elm, scrolling through images and scheming a way to get it home from a store several hundred miles away.

It’s beautiful, with classic, clean lines and that gorgeous camel leather I adore.  Here it is, with some of my favorite pieces in what I imagine my grown up living room looking like.


I’ve substituted the green rug for grassy colored curtains, added leaf art in wood frames, with a stump side table for a rustic touch.  A pair of arm chairs would be fantastic, but I have yet to find a pair that wows me.  Back on task-this weekend, I scrolled through Craigslist, casually browsing when I hit the mother lode.  A straight armed, camel leather seven-foot long sofa.  Right away I sent a text, asking if it was still available and when I could take a look.  The following morning we loaded into the truck to make sure it fit the bill, paid the nice guy, and hauled the handsome and comfy couch home.  After a little sofa switcheroo, the new addition looks riiiight at home in the living room.



I love the richness and warmth of the leather, but the coffee table will need a new top because it’s too similar and close to the sofa.



Look at those straight arms with piping detail.

Leather-Sofa-Left Side-Arm-Detail



Much like the Hamilton, this leather is unprotected and ages.  The previous owners had dogs, leaving hair and scratches behind, but no punctures through, giving it a patina.



It’s so soft and enveloping, just sink in cozy.  I’m happy that the cushions are removable, allowing easy cleaning (and Lego digging out), but also swapping the seat cushions for even wear.  Want to know the best part?  I only paid $225 for a real leather sofa in near perfect condition.  I almost feel as though I stole it, but that was the listed price, so I’m assuming everyone involved is happy.


To prevent the back from fading in the sun, I’d like to find a cute blanket to drape between the cushions and back.


With the new addition, our previous couch is in the family room.  This is a better fit both in looks and length than the tired old micro suede couch before.  At 6 inches shorter, it leaves more walking room, while the taller back helps divide the kitchen and family room.


Sometimes (always) it’s fun to see how pieces look in a different room, to bring new life in without getting new everything.


Finally, I had enough patience (and a whole lot of luck) to get exactly what I wanted, without giving up an arm, leg, or my first born to get it.  Any great deals or steals you’ve gotten recently?


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