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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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    I keep seeing (and loving) all the gorgeous peony pics. This past week has been cooler than average, thus slowing progress, but my peonies are almost ready to bloom. And that makes me happy. Thankful for some late blooming lilacs and a neighbor willing to let me take a few. Oh, and my cute little @fab vase that arrived today. Montana is indeed Big Sky Country. Beautiful, bright blue with fluffy clouds today.

Lush and Plush

I swear, our house is constantly changing.  Looking at our three-year progress shows that, but not all changes are as big, dramatic, or noticeable.  Some are difficult and drawn out, so it’s refreshing when something quick makes an impact.  Take a look at this photo of the boys bedroom, taken last week:


Do you catch the change right away?


That cheap, scratchy, too small Ikea rug got kicked to the curb for a perfect replacement.


Last fall, our bathroom won the dark division in Apartment Therapy’s Room for Color contest.  Each division winner received a $1000 credit at Fab.com.  Over the last few months, I’ve added things to my cart, deliberated, swapped a few items, and finally settled on some really great pieces.  The Zest Tufted rug in slate is 100% wool, super plush, and an 8 by 10.

With a little graphic pattern, and the perfect color, I knew I wanted it.  At the original price of $499, I was happy to create a cozy play space for the little dudes.  As luck would have it, Fab had a sale last week, with a 50% discount on this handsome guy.  I hopped on and placed my order before that deal ran out.


I will say, I’m always so apprehensive with online ordering for large items.  But, I didn’t have much to lose, did I?  This rug absolutely exceeded my expectations.  Right after receiving the delivery, I hauled it upstairs, unrolled it, and placed it in the room.  Shortly after, both boys came in, said how much they loved it and proceeded to roll around.


There’s a catch, literally.  Not so much a complaint, just something I didn’t think of-the door swing.  Because this rug is so thick, the bedroom door wouldn’t close over it.  Not the end of the world, because Ben and I pulled it closer to the window, under the dresser to clear the door swing.  I’ll definitely take that problem anytime.


During the same sale, I scored a Fetch lamp.  The room has been lamp less since I stole and made over the previous base.  What sold me on this is the simple shape and dish designed base.


Everyone has collections or junk in pockets.  Why not store those little trinkets in a two for one combo?


I know what you’re thinking, with my rave review on the rug.  This post is not sponsored.  Affordable, quality rugs are hard to come by, so I had to share.  Ben even gave his seal of approval.  When it comes to rugs, that’s not an easy task either.  If only Fab had a 10 by 14 neutral version for our living room.

Gimme A Giveaway: Janery

Jane over at Janery makes the most adorable pet supplies.

All items are hand sewn with the highest quality materials and fun patterned fabric.  Look at this gray sticks dog bed:

And the Merlin mat travel dog bed:

See, super cute!  Cats aren’t left out.  Get your fuzzy friend a catnip kicker for hours of entertainment.

If you don’t have a pet, Janery also has a selection of poppy pillows like this three pillow set:


The Goods:  A $60 shop credit good for or toward anything in the Janery shop.

To Enter:  Check out Janery and leave a comment with your favorite item.

For additional entries:

1.  Like Our Humble Abode on Facebook.  Come back to leave a second comment.

Contest Closes: Thursday, April 30.

Number of Winners: One!

Ships: Anywhere in the US or Canada.

Other Info: We will select the winner using random.org and announce on Friday, May 1st.

Three Years

Sometimes it’s hard to believe we have lived in this house for three years.  I hoped to get this post done last week, but going to Minnesota and being sick knocked me off my game.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane to see how this house looked when we started and where we’re at now.  We’re not completely finished, but most rooms are getting there.  At least the structure, furniture is a different story.  One that I might never be done with.  The entry isn’t large, but the dark door, red curtains, and dingy wall color didn’t do the space any favors.  Or scream “Welcome!”

New-House-Entry April 13 2012

After adding a white tongue and groove accent wall, a new glass door, and light gray paint, we’re almost done.  To call it finished, we’ll replace the railings for something less, um, orange and ornate.


From the stairs, the living room is just off to the side.  Orange-y tan and maroon walls were much too dark for our liking.


Brightening the room was as simple as a coat of paint and bold grass-green curtains.  Of course it helps that I’ve learned a little more about my camera since then.  Though that has a long, long way to go, too.


Oye, that red accent wall drove me insane.

New-House-Dining-into-Living-Room April 13 2012

As much as this room has changed, there’s still some work to finish up.  Crown, doors and perhaps a new coat of paint on the entertainment center.


The search for the perfect rug hasn’t been easy.


Most of the windows were original to the house, except the gridded two in the main space.  Despite being newer, the bay window sagged and the door was too tall for these ceilings.


While replacing windows, we also swapped the door for a window and vice versa.


The kitchen is the biggest change to date.  Starting with broken and dated oak cabinets, small beige floor tile, and blue wall paper wasn’t our favorite look.


Going away from the darkness, we added white perimeter cabinets, a white planked ceiling, and a wall of marble tile.


Before, the pantry cabinets on the other side of the island were poorly placed and ate up a lot of real estate.

Because we love open floor plans, especially when entertaining, we opened the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room.


Next to the kitchen is my little office nook.


Turning the seating area to face the window makes the office feel so much larger.  Working facing a wall isn’t nearly as nice as looking out a window.


An open fireplace in the family room was a danger, with a dirty moss rock surround that swallowed the room.


Eventually I’d love to get a more cushy pair of chairs and a slightly smaller sofa.



The main bathroom wasn’t functional for our family with young kids to splash around in the clawfoot tub.

New-House-Main-Bathroom April 13 2012

Replacing the tub with a tub/shower combo works far better for our family.

A large wooden vanity didn’t offer much storage, but took up a lot of floor space.

Adding a shelf stack and open vanity uses the same footprint, but boasts a load of storage.

Our Humble Abode Blog Main Bathroom Vanity

As with many 70’s homes, there was plenty of dark oak, including a floor to ceiling bookcase in the guest room.

To accommodate a bed and dresser, we cut out the center of the shelves to create a surrounded bed nook.

The boys’ room was a blank canvas with beige walls, popcorn ceiling, and two windows.

A little ceiling scraping and paint really upped the fun factor for our two young kiddos.


Our bedroom had electric blue walls, two of which were wall papered and painted over.


After more popcorn removal and scraping layers of wall paper off, we painted the room nearly black.  Adding a door lets in even more light, and once the deck is built, we’ll have our own little getaway.  Ignore the unfinished bed frame.  I’m still figuring out what I want.


More blood-red walls in the master bath.  Paired with the oak cabinets and yellow tile it felt very fast food restaurant-y.

After a full gut remodel we have a modernized space perfect for relaxing.


Though many people questioned our decision to remove a sink to gain a full bath with clawfoot tub, we moved ahead.

I have to say, best decision ever.  Especially because I’ve always wanted a clawfoot tub.  After a long day of projects and kids, it’s the best place to unwind in the evening.

As always, our house is a revolving door of projects and construction.  Looking back at the beginning makes me even more excited with the progress and all the time we spend updating this house.

Want to see more change?  Check out past tours: last year and two years ago.  Crazy how things change.

Nuts for Walnut

In the master bath, the room looked cold before adding the dark walnut vanity.  After, the room came to life, and contrasted against the darker elements.

Seeing the result, and the combo with the slate tile, we knew we wanted a similar look in the kitchen.  Essentially, several elements from the bathroom were a trial run for the kitchen remodel; slate floors, tongue and groove planks, and walnut cabinetry.  The slate has held up beautifully, and we love the subtle texture the tongue and groove adds.  Just recently, we added the walnut to the kitchen scene.  It’s so amazing how different wood looks unfinished versus unfinished.


Bland, gray-ish sanded wood transforms to bold and beautiful.  Not to be confused with The Bold and the Beautiful soap opera.  The change isn’t nearly as dramatic.  Nothing dead coming back to life twenty years later.

One drawer stack oiled, the other waiting to get attention:


The left side below the cooktop is actually two fronts attached to the single trash drawer.  Super sneaky ninja move right there.


Getting all the drawer fronts attached and oiled made a world of difference, but the lack of toe kick needed attention.  I pestered Ben a few times, trying to get out of the 90-95% finished rut.


Voila, the magic of the internet.  Toe kicks instantly appear.


To skip the awkward leaning on the floor, applying oil while avoiding getting it on the floor, shoulder cramps that’ll surely follow routine, I applied water based poly before install.   That way it’s a one and done deal.  The rest is sealed with teak oil.

So far, I’ve got three coats on everything.  Lightly sanding between coats makes the finish ultra smooth, leaving a subtle sheen.


We chose teak oil because it’s easy to reapply as necessary.  Either as a rejuvenating/refresher coat or if there’s a damaged area in need of sanding.  On this side of the kitchen, we have to finish the last 5% by closing off the sink cabinet.


And grout the tile behind the cooktop.


Sometimes, as we work on things, plans change.  In our original plan, the walnut also covered the back of the bar area.  For a few reasons, we had to change gears and go in a different direction.  Nine foot, clear (no knot holes completely through) boards are seemingly impossible to get right now.  We also couldn’t secure the boards without visible nails or screws marring the faces.  Which kind of defeated the purpose of attaching a pretty wood to the back.  A line of nails would bug the crap out of me.  Plywood only comes in 8 foot lengths, leaving a seam somewhere along the back.  Again, it would drive me nuts.


Ben suggested tiling the back to match the backsplash, but I thought it’d look too busy.  Instead, we attached 1/2 inch MDF, with casement covering the seam and divided the back into four areas.  Once we get four stools, each will have a designated area.  Not our first plan, but the white looks fresh against the maple.

Now I have to finish the wall smoothing and we’ll be able to build the cabinet across from the breakfast nook.  I’m really pushing to become a 100% finisher.  Any lingering projects you’re finishing up?

Produce Cart

In addition to the new knife block, I’ve been working on organizing the rest of the kitchen.  It’s a great way to keep busy, while indulging my crazy.  Initially, I planned to have an under shelf mounted basket in the pantry, to store potatoes and extra fruit.  Because, well, Costco quantities.  Something similar to the baskets in the pantry below.

The problem with that is two-fold.  Finding the right mounting system is tricky.  Secondly, a secured basket would block the inside corner, making it useless.  Due to stubbornness, I didn’t let the issue go and searched for a better solution.  One night, as I couldn’t fall asleep, the perfect idea came to me.  Lightbulb-a wooden crate on casters!  I dug around our scrap bin, but didn’t see enough of any one thing.  Michael’s carries wooden crates, and the measurements were perfect.  Even easier than building a custom box.  For easier moving, I bought four fixed casters at Home Depot to attach to the base.

The base material is about 3/8 inch thick, so I used a combo of screws.  On the outer edge, along the 3/4 inch front piece, I used 1 inch screws.  Along the inside, shorter 1/2 inch screws to avoid going through the base.  Adding a quarter-inch thick block would also fix the problem, but I didn’t want to add height.


Swivel casters could work just as well, but fixed wheels made it easier to pull out and push in without hitting the sides.  Instead, the box smoothly slides straight in and out.


Inside, we store potatoes, oranges, and other room temperature produce.  Having gaps between strips allows adequate ventilation, keeping the contents fresh longer.


This system would work well for other heavy items, keeping contained, but easily accessible.  Not only in a pantry, but think of closets for shoes, toys, or sports gear.  Endless options, but super easy to get done.


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