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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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    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! We don't need another knife set, but how gorgeous is this rose gold set from @fab ?! Paired with that acrylic knife block, it'd look beautiful on a countertop. We prefer minimal counter clutter, but this would be a pretty and functional accessory. Working on new science poster art for a quick sort of master bedroom update. Under $5 for this 22 by 30 inch art means DIY for the win.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Dresser to Impress Her

Remember that 80’s Drexel dresser I recently snagged for a friend?  The stain wasn’t my favorite and it had several chipped areas in the veneer, but that hardware.  Oh the hardware!  Brass flip handles that recessed completely into the fronts, with corner brackets.


The coloring is a little off in both the above and below photos, but the worst part was the speckled, wavy finish.


Usually I prefer to completely refinish wooden furniture, but the missing parts of veneer just wouldn’t allow a new stain finish.  Instead, I sanded everything down with 120 grit to prepare for paint.  Sadly, the unstained wood grain was really pretty and made me wish there was a way to keep it natural.


Instead, I filled the missing areas, knowing the dresser would also look amazing with a simple white finish.  To prevent any stains from seeping through, I applied two coats of Kilz primer.


For a durable, satin sheen, I rolled on three coats of Sherwin Williams Pro Classic paint in Snowbound.


Overall, transforming this dresser took about 8 hours, but it shines like the gem it is now.  Look at that hardware; it’s not all wall flower blending in, rather standing out, demanding the attention it deserves.



Those corners add just enough detail to keep the frame interesting.


Fortunately, my friend also loves the new look and will pick it up soon.  In the mean time, I photoshopped it into our bedroom, just to see what it would look like.

White-Painted-Dresser-OverallI’m kicking around some ideas to put the area at the foot of the bed to use.  Stay tuned for more on that soon.


Thrifted Thursday

Thrift shopping is like the famous Forrest Gump quote, “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  More items than not are simply someone’s unwanted junk, but among the trash are some real gems.  As a frequent shopper and bargain addict, I’ve been helping a friend find some good deals for her new house.  Here are the things that caught my attention, but we passed up.  A large brass lamp for six bucks, which I pointed out would be impossible for her toddler to break, but she’s just not a brass lover.


She wasn’t in love with the plaid, and instead of hoarding yet another chair, I thought of the look I’d get from Ben if I brought it home with me.


Now, this fabric is really busy, but I loved the lines on this 100 dollar sofa.  Not sure what it’d cost to reupholster, but it was super comfy.


Honestly, I didn’t consider this gigantic coffee table, but the sheer size was interesting.  Couch for scale, of course.


More and more lately, I’m drawn to ugly lamps, like this squatty brown one.  With the right shade, in the right space, I think he’d be darling.


While browsing the books, I spotted a set of Life Nature Library, complete with the most adorable designs on the back covers.  That alone was almost enough to make me walk out with these, but I passed.


However, I have found several items for myself recently, including an oversized ugly lamp.  For only $4, it was totally worth it to buy a clean white shade to pair with it.


Of course the ugly lamp obsession couldn’t stop there, I had to get this handsome man for six bucks-pun alert!


Clearly this one can benefit from a new shade, but I’ll have to track down the perfect one.


To house my ever-growing plant collection, I picked up a few planters, too.  This blue crackle beauty set me back six dollars, and looks perfect paired with a blackeye Susan on our back step.


The big leaf Philodendron in our living room needed a bigger pot to continue to grow, so this brass lion head is keeping it safe.


With my friend’s approval, I’ve snagged her a few pieces of furniture, including this marble-topped coffee table.  The X base is real wood, but the edge detailing is wood looking plastic, so I gave it a fresh black finish before sending it off to live with her.


Just last week, she approved this Drexel dresser, but the wood veneer has seen better days.  Because I’m the best friend ever (ha!) and love a project, I’m going to spruce it up with paint, too.


You know, shopping for someone else is equally satisfying, but very nice to my wallet.  It’s a win-win because she gets furniture, I get to shop and tackle a project.  Not too shabby.  Any amazing finds you’ve snagged recently?

Freeze Frame!

Near the beginning of the year, I ordered a lovely 18 by 24 inch leaf print from Minted, with intentions of immediately hanging it in our living room.  After coming up short on the perfect frame, I planned to make a 24 by 30 inch frame to protect and display the print.  At that time, we were just beginning our kitchen remodel (which is still nearly finished, with one more cabinet to build and hang-hence the lack of reveal) and time was limited to pertinent projects only.  Until recently, the frames were on the back burner, but after seeing the art sitting in my closet, begging to be seen by others, I jumped in and got it done.

Before building, I bought two pieces of plexiglass from Ace Hardware because these frames are in the living room and could get bumped or hit with a ball.  Shattered glass is always a concern with two boys in the house, so this seemed like a safer choice.  You certainly don’t need to buy glass first, but if you’re making a big frame, make sure your size is available before building.

For my project, I wanted a square edge thin frame, so I bought four 1 by 2 sticks and had the store cut each one into 3 and 5 foot lengths.  To create the channel for the glass, mat, and backing to rest in, I had to router out a groove.  Pine is a soft wood, so I found it easiest to clamp a few boards down to create a guide to run the router against.


I set the router depth to 7/8 inches deep and slowly let it cut the channel, slowing at knots or weak points to prevent splitting.  Then I smoothed everything out with a thorough sanding.  Below, the top board shows the wide side, and the bottom the narrow face after cutting.


After grooved, I cut my pieces to length, mitering the corners but leaving an extra 1/8 for a little wiggle room.  Cutting after left perfectly square inside corners that a router can’t create after assembly, and with such a small face, I didn’t have much space to lose.


With tight corners, I pulled the glass out and held the pieces tight before nailing.


I found it easiest to set the two sides on a flat surface, letting just the corner over hang the counter while nailing.  This way, I didn’t angle the nailer funny to shoot it out somewhere and with narrow margins, it was important.  Two little nails are visible on each side, but not noticeable after staining.


To darken the pine, I applied a quick coat of Special Walnut stain.  I love the richness it adds to the cheap wood, and it brings out the character of each board.  Normally, I’d staple the glass, mat, and backing in place, but I didn’t want to weaken the thin sides.  Instead, I tapped small nails in.


And there’s the King now, matted in grass-green to bring a little splash of the curtain color across the room.



To balance out that print, I dried a maple leaf, photographed it, edited it, and printed a black and white engineer print.


Finally, we have art flanking the entertainment center, even more importantly, out of my closet!  Another to do list project is just staring at me in that last photo-move or create a cover for the ugly subwoofer.  With a cover, I could make it look kind of like a plant stand, right?  Let’s be honest though, who knows when that’ll happen; we’ve waited on entertainment center doors for years.  Perhaps that should happen next.  It wouldn’t be much different from making picture frames, but these would hide the ugly junk.

Butt of the Square

As our outside comes together, I’ve been furiously planting.  Almost 60 assorted plants over our property in the last few weeks.  Which spurred me to add a dose of life next to the front door.


With an 8 foot tall door, I wanted something taller, to not look dwarfed by the oversized door.  A small tree would have been gorgeous, but I didn’t want to block the doorbell.  After thinking about it, I might try a dwarf fruit tree.  We’ll see.  Before building this planter box, I looked at local nurseries, hardware, and home improvement stores but didn’t see any taller planters I liked.  DIY to the rescue.  Using four 8 foot long 2 by 4s and scrap 2 by 2 strips, I built a modern square planter box.


Before building, I decided I wanted a 17 inch square box six boards (21 inches) tall.  To start, I cut twelve boards into 17 inch lengths.  With the butt end design, opposite sides are the same length, but the adjacent pieces are shorter to fit between.  For the design to be square, I cut twelve more sections at 14 inches long (the overall size minus two 2 by 4 widths).


Based on my finished height of 21 inches, I cut four 20 inch tall 2 by 2 pieces to secure the corners to.  I didn’t want see the nails or the corners once filled.  Working on a flat surface with a square, I set my pieces together and nailed 16 gauge 2 inch long finish nails from the inside, through the 2 by 2, into the 2 by 4.  Much like hardwood flooring, getting the first row straight or in this case, square, makes subsequent rows go smoothly.

From there, adding boards, rotating the exposed ends is the name of the game.


I love the simple interest the staggered exposed ends add.


Once finished, the corner posts are tucked an in below the rim and are easily covered.


Before staining, I smoothed out the rough lumber with 80 grit sandpaper, slightly rounding the corners at the same time.


Wanting to accent the exposed end detail, I stained the box light gray.  It darken the end grain just enough to really make it pop.  To create the base support, I nailed scrap wood flush with the top of the third board down.  Then used another scrap of 3/4 inch material for the base, notching around the corner posts.  Sadly, I couldn’t find a square plastic hole-less liner to fit inside.  I improvised with four layers of thick plastic.  I really don’t want this leaking out and rotting the wood.



With the hard parts done, I got to fill it up with pretty plants my little helpers picked out.


Aromatic lavender, fuzzy lamb’s ear, a purple sweet potato vine, and a small basil plant.


With such a versatile design, I’d like to build a longer box to create a mini herb garden for our back deck.  The basil may get swapped to that one later on.  And at the end of the season, I can plant both the lavender and lamb’s ear in the ground.


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