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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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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?

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?

More Cushion

Just a few months ago, I ordered an 8 by 10 foot Jute Herringbone rug from West Elm to soften our family room.  I absolutely adore the neutral tones, subtle pattern, and how soft it is underfoot.  No scratchy material or nubby texture that hurts to walk on here, just a pretty rug to round out the seating area.


What I don’t love is that it lacks a backing, allowing it to stretch and bunch easily, especially around the coffee table and the sofa.  With such a heavy table on casters, it’s still easy to move, but the rug usually moves with it.  And the couch gets jumped on and pushed around by two little boys I know, which stretched one of the corners.  Ben wanted it to go, but I wasn’t about to let that happen.


I’ve seen plenty of cheap rug pads at box stores, but they’re thin and always smell awful, so I didn’t want to waste money on those.  Knowing rug pads aren’t the most glamorous or exciting detail, I put off my search.  Ironically, just after straightening out the rug, again, I received the perfect offer from RugPadUSA.

I could pick which of their rug pads suited my floors, rug, slip factor, cush level, and size to use in our home.  After looking at the many options, I landed on the 3/8 inch thick Premium-Lock Felt + Rubber rug pad, cut just a few inches smaller than my rug dimensions.  It arrived within a week and I wasted no time clearing the room, thoroughly vacuuming the floors, and unrolling it.  The pad had just the slightest odor, presumably from the rubber backing, but it quickly dissipated.


The under side is covered in a natural rubber backing, preventing slipping and sliding against smooth surfaces, while the top is cushy felt with a slightly sticky texture.  That sticky texture keeps the rug securely in place, but offers a nice cush underfoot.


After getting the rug pad and rug back in place, I called Ben over to give it a test walk.  I joke that he’s a rug snob because he loves thick, dense, wool rugs.  He thinks the boys’ rug is so comfy that I should get another one for the living room, despite it being too small and well, too blue for any other rooms in our house.  For the first time since ordering the rug, he approved of the pad + rug combo.  With the official seal of approval, we brought the table, sofa, and chairs back in place.


Over the last few weeks, I haven’t had to adjust the rug at all, nor have I noticed any stretching.  Count that a serious win in my book, but even better, the nearly 1/2 inch thick pad makes it plush, keeping Ben happy.  Who knew rug pads could save rugs, but also marriages?!  Ha, that’s incredibly dramatic, but, it did keep me from having to find and buy yet another rug for this space.  In summary, if you’re considering the West Elm jute rug, I’d highly recommend getting even a thin rug pad, just to keep it from bunching and stretching.

Jute Herringbone

Right around this time last year, I switched rugs around.  Originally, this grid rug was in the family room, but we moved it to the dining room.


A large-scale floral rug took its place, but felt off.  Especially after I added a large stump coffee table to our family room.


At some point, I’d had enough of it and pulled it out, exposing the bare wood floors.  I searched for a replacement, spending more time than necessary internally debating before settling on a replacement.


Preferable something neutral, but with a pattern for interest.  West Elm’s Jute Herringbone rug has long been a favorite and their current rug sale pushed me off the fence.

After a short delay in Texas, the new rug safely arrived on Monday.  As soon as the UPS guy left, I moved the furniture out-of-the-way, vacuumed the wood, and unrolled the carpet.


Mark this as the first step toward real, grown up furniture.


Pairing the jute with chenille feels soft underfoot, and reduces shedding.


After deciding on this rug, I deliberated colors.  Natural and ivory or natural and platinum.


Getting the rug flat under the heavy coffee table took two people.  While Ben lifted, I tugged the rug straight.


With spring right around the corner, I plan to add more green to the room.  One can never have too much green.


If I were brave enough, and didn’t have more house to remodel, I’d love to have a colorful velvet sofa.  The Paidge has clean lines and their Moss velvet is beautiful.


That’s a grown up purchase for another time, leaving me plenty of time to debate and change my mind.


Outlet covers always seem like an afterthought.  I know they’re not something I put effort into making look good.  They’re utilitarian and not usually something we want to draw attention toward.  For that reason, we’ve always used standard white covers and switch plates.  Until now.  I know this looks like a standard cover.


But, take a closer look.  That little dot is actually a light sensor.


Which automatically turns into a night light when dark.


The company behind this genius, SnapPower, have made a safe, convenient, unobtrusive version of a nightlight: the SnapRays Guidelight.


No ugly plug-in and it frees up another outlet.  Three small LED lights at the bottom of each plate are energy efficient.  Prongs on the back rest against the outlet, drawing power without using batteries or wires.


It’s literally as simple as removing the old cover and popping on the new one.  Currently, we have one by the back door, another in the hall, and a third near the top of the stairs.  Our hall outlet is always in a shadowed area, so during the day it has a dim light on.  It gets brighter at night when completely dark.


I should add another to the main bathroom to help the boys at night.  I’m surprised by how bright these are.  The night photo is an accurate display of the light given off.

Disclaimer:  I was given a few SnapRays Guidelight outlet covers to use in our home and review.  All opinions are my own.  We choose products that we use or would like to try and are relevent to our DIY/home improvement content.  Thank you SnapPower for the lovely night lights!


In other fun news, our master bathroom was chosen as the dark division finalist in Apartment Therapy’s Room for Color contest.  We’re so excited and honored!

Last note, the Minted giveaway is now closed and an email has been sent to the winner.  Have a great weekend, everyone!  We’re hoping to install a few more windows and get ready for the steel siding.  Almost done with the exterior.  Can’t wait to wrap it up to show you!


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