• About Us

    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

  • Follow Our Humble Abode on WordPress.com
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Favorite Posts

  • Bathroom Remodel

  • Painting Planked Walls

  • Ladder Blanket Rack

  • DIY Sunburst Mirror

  • Gray & Copper Table Setting

Green and Plaid Thanksgiving

Each Thanksgiving, I combine plates, glasses, and silverware we already have with a few new pieces to create a table setting.  In 2011, we had a navy and gold theme, complete with DIY’d bread boats.

Thanksgiving 2011 Place Setting

2012 was the year of neutrals including gray, gold, copper, and wood.

Thanksgiving 2012 Table Setting Candles

In 2013, seemingly to make up for the lack of color the previous year, I went color crazy with cacti, pink, orange, yellow, and red.


This year, fresh and simple won me over.  Plain white plates and bowls, clear glasses and silver flatware are always my base layer.  To shake things up and create a different look, I add color through the centerpiece, napkins, and accents.


After spotting a black and white flannel in the fabric store, I knew it’d make the perfect runner.  Along with mustard yellow printed fabric to create napkins.



In place of flowers, I went for practicality in the form of living herbs.  Not only does the potted greenery brighten the table, we can use the fragrant leaves to season the meal.


Green stemmed goblets continue the color around, and are my most recent dish addition.


In place of standard candle holders, I popped tea lights into black and gold plaid tumblers from Target.  Perfect way to use the decor after the holiday.  Shallow leaf-shaped bowls are used as butter dishes and scattered around the table along with hand carved wooden knives.


For a little warmth, wooden coasters, made by my brother-in-law as wedding favors, are mostly decorative.


All that’s left to do is get everyone over, make the food, and enjoy the company.  This is the first big holiday meal we’ll get to create in our remodeled kitchen-those double ovens and extra burners should come in super handy.

Window Seat Planning: Step 2

In every plan we create for a new project or built-in, there are many options, with changes, tweaks, and revisions along the way.  It’s fun to think and/or draw up different ideas and other possibilities, even if they aren’t used in the end.  Planning the living room window seat is no different; I’ve drawn up several designs of seat and shelf combos, all with variations on measurements.  I’ll share more about the evolution later, including my drawings to show the process.

Depending on the window seat plan and dimensions, the furniture arrangement needs change, too.  Initially, I was torn between a 24 inch and 30 inch seat depth.  Twenty four inches isn’t a tiny seat, but it also isn’t the wide, curl up and relax oversized area a 30 inch deep seat would be.  Adding another 6 inches would cramp a furniture plan with the couch directly in front of the tv, fortunately, we have other options.


Sometimes, a simple furniture reconfiguring can open a world of possibilities.  To leave adequate walking room between the furniture and soon to be built-in, I placed the leather sofa and the smaller linen couch parallel to each other, but perpendicular to the window and tv.


This allows for the deeper built-in, while adding emphasis to the window wall and the views beyond.  The chair is our stand in for a window seat, but at 36 inches, we know a built-in that deep won’t work.  A thirty inch depth seems to be the Goldilocks of the seat, not too narrow or too wide.


Way back when we first looked at this house and considered buying it, the views were one of the top selling points.  Creating a beautiful, but still comfortable, livable, room to play up the views is priority for this built-in.  Up until now, with the sofa squarely in front of the tv, the views haven’t been the focus, rather the tv.


We’ve lived with this arrangement since Monday, and sure, the old sofa placement was more comfortable for tv/movie watching.  With basement plans in the works and a remodel nearing, we’ll have room to create a designated theater space in the darker basement.  At that point, I think this living area would be a secondary tv space, in which case, the tv doesn’t have to be the main functional focal point.


Now, the layout pulls double duty, with focal points on either end of the room, with furniture allowing viewing in either direction.



As plans are discussed and elements change, the window seat evolves, getting more functional and beautiful with each revision.

Window Seat Planning: Step 1

Most recently, our living room received an update in the form of a camel leather sofa.  Total game changer for the space, per usual, that doesn’t make the room complete.  Nope, it seems there’s always something.  Since we’ve moved in, I’ve imagined a beautiful window seat with shelving on either side of the large front window.


With more pressing projects and complete rooms to finish, it has never been on the priority list, but now it’s nearing the top.  To get a better idea of the space it would require and how the furniture arrangement would change, I did a little switcheroo.  Pulling the sofa a foot away from the window left ample space behind for a two foot deep seat, plus two and a half feet of walking space.


Masking tape currently marks where the built ins would go.


But, pulling the couch forward left no room for the longer linen sofa.  Instead, the club chair with a stump side table fill that side, while still defining the living from dining room.


Opposite the club chair, I pulled the metal and leather chairs (that were temporarily in our bedroom) to round out the seating group without adding bulk.



Living with the closer furniture arrangement hasn’t felt confined or tight 99% of the time. Our only sort of problem is the entertainment center to coffee table spacing, but only when drawers are open.  Closed, the walk area is over three feet wide.  Even with the drawer completely extended, there’s still a foot and a half of room to maneuver.  I’m not sure it’s cause for a slimmer coffee table, but I’m not opposed to it.


A fringe benefit is the tighter grouping makes the 8 by 11 rug more appropriately sized for the space.  Turns out, finding a plush enough wool rug, in the right colors and style in sizes over 8 by 10 aren’t easy to come by.


Knowing the rest of the room works well, I need to finalize my bookcase and seat plan before pulling the trigger on building.  I’ve got the main idea, just tweaking elements until I have a plan I love.  Oddly enough, much of the plan is hinging on a suitable curtain/window covering situation.  I love that the green curtains match the dining sets, but a top down system might make better sense.  Stay tuned for more info on that front.

Stock the Shelves

Now that we’ve lived in this house for a few years, we’ve not only made our way through the house room by room, we’ve gotten a better feel for how we use and actually live in the spaces.  Our only tv stays in the living room, but we had considered putting a second in the nook to the left of the family room fireplace.


After discussing the impending basement remodel, we’ve since agreed on creating a designated ‘theater’ room in the darker basement instead.  With that settled, and a new cabinet in the kitchen for a bar area, the single shelf seemed tall and awkward.


In a matter of minutes, Ben installed a second shelf, centered in the area.  The second matching shelf has created a display space for family photos.  Rather than touching up the old paint color around the new shelf, I worked myself up to repaint the room to match the adjacent living room and kitchen.  Painting around 8 doors, two windows, and the fireplace isn’t my favorite pastime, but the heart wants what it wants.


Naturally, I couldn’t just paint the walls gray, I should freshen up the white on everything first, no?  So that’s what I did, creating a nice flow through the open rooms.


With all the extra stuff on the shelves, I kept the mantle simple to balance.


I’m still undecided whether it’s too full or just enough, but I love having a spot to display and rotate old photos.



Having all my favorites out in the open makes my heart happy, remembering how small my babies were.


Everything’s a mixture: old frames, black and white photos mixed with color, open photo holders.



One holder is a tiny wooden easel, a second a vintage floral frog, and a stump on the bottom.


Funny how a shelf that took a few minutes to build sets about so much change.  Any projects like that pop up for you recently?

Kitchen Update

Months ago, when we installed the island bar top, we chose maple for its durable, stand up to abuse nature.


To finish it, I applied a coat of teak oil, but didn’t like the way it yellowed the wood.  So, I sanded it smooth and put on four layers of polyurethane.  After a month or two of use, the poly started flaking off-bummer.  Knowing I didn’t like just oil, I settled on staining the wood dark, then applying an oil finish for easy touch ups.  Of course this sounds so much easier than it was to sand everything a third time, getting into every corner, but it was 100% worth trapping myself inside a Dexter-esque plastic bubble.


It’s still a hard to scratch or dent surface, unlike the softer walnut, but even better, the dark finish makes the island more cohesive.


In other island news, we have new stools!  We brought the old World Market trio with us from the old house, which was better than nothing.  Though the extra two feet of counter space made three stools spaced too far apart.


Not knowing exactly what I wanted, I waited, and waited.  And waited some more, until a stroke of pure luck.  As I wandered around World Market, I spotted a notice about the Twist stools, they had been recalled due to the weld at the seat base breaking.  At home, I checked the code on the bottom of the stools, and sure enough, the numbers matched.  Next time I had a chance, I popped in the store to get more details and ask how to go about the recall.  The nice manager told me to bring the stools in for a store credit or cash refund.  At that same time, I checked out their stool selection, but didn’t see any I loved and fit my needs.  I knew I wanted something durable and wipeable, so fabric was out.  Light weight was also a plus, to make it easier for the boys and their friends to pull out.  Finally, something with plastic feet, to protect the slate floors from scratches.  After getting the cash refund, I turned to the internet to score a set of four stools.


Sleuthing brought up a 29 inch Better Homes and Gardens café stool with excellent reviews.  It ticked all the boxes, durable metal, wipeable, light weight, with black rubber feet, and only $40 each.  After a debate between silver and white, I decided on white to keep the focus on the actual island and all that beautiful walnut.



With all the work we’ve put in over the summer to rebuild the deck, replace windows and siding, it’s nice to make a little more progress in the kitchen.  Though it’s been fully functional for about ten months, we still have minor things to finish up.


Like making a set of glass cabinet doors for the dish cabinet.


Side note, thanks for the help about the Command picture hanging strips.  They’re working great to hang the wood sign on the marble wall, without drilling.




Opposite, the base cabinet is done with the bar set up, but an upper cabinet will still go above, with glass doors.


In our usual fashion, these finishes will probably be finished in a year, since it’s not a pressing issue.  So, that’s the current status of the kitchen-100% functional, mostly finished, with a few details left to get to.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,293 other followers

%d bloggers like this: