• 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

  • The Power of Paint

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?

Bed Plans

When I left off with the bedroom changes-painting the accent wall white, updating the art and lighting situation-I mentioned needing a new bed.  Since moving in this house, we’ve severely lacked a real bed.  Immediately after moving in, we used a metal frame with the headboard from our old guest room, which was a slight step above a poor college student mattress on the floor look.  For crying out loud, we didn’t even have a bed skirt to hide the box spring.


After getting sick of the wobbly headboard, we quickly built a platform frame with a built-in bench at the end.  Neither of us really loved it, so we never finished it off with an upholstered seat and headboard.


It stayed this way until this spring when we hacked off the bench in an attempt to salvage the frame.


So that’s where we are today, with a half-finished frame neither Ben or I like.  Instead, I have plans for a new frame.  Something simple, with an upholstered headboard.  I really like the clean, simple look of this West Elm bed frame:

I’m just not sure I want that much space between the floor and the bottom of the rails, because I think our king bed would look like it’s floating.  On the other hand, I think this beautiful Restoration Hardware bed is a touch too close to the floor, which would make it nearly impossible to vacuüm/clean under.  Yet again, those simple lines are what I’m after.

Then there’s this Crate and Barrel beauty:

The proportions are great, and I love the thicker cap surrounding the mattress, but I wouldn’t get the soft fabric headboard I’m dreaming about.  Oh yeah, and I’m entirely too cheap to spend $1,800 on a bed frame.  To save oodles of money and get exactly what we want, we’re planning a DIY build, a modified version of the beds we built for the boys’ room.


The legs and frame will look similar, but we’ll add a cap over the legs to beef up the frame.  Also, the head and foot of the frame will look the same, but we’ll attach an upholstered headboard to differentiate between the two.


Instead of sealed wood, I’m leaning toward white paint, to help blend in with the wall and allow the headboard to be the star.  Though a dark stained wood to match the nightstand could look nice, too.


Regardless, it’ll be nice to finally have a finished bed to complete the room.  What’s that lingering thing looming over your head?  Not that there’s only one, in fact, I’d safely say there’s one thing in each room of our house.

Painting a Wood Wall White

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


Ahh yes, much better.




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.


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.  


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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



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


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.


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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,245 other followers

%d bloggers like this: