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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    A new window for the living room. Bling for the dining room. @westelm #mywestelm Olive browsing @schoolhouse and drooling over all the amazing items. Stopped when I saw the nearly identical green wool blanket I bought at a consignment shop for $30. Totally patting myself on the back for saving $165. A new plant for the DIY stand. I guess my aloe didn't like this spot. Oh well, bigger and better snake plant!

Dream vs. Reality

Have you ever had an idea, and in your head, you can picture exactly how you want it?  And then you start working and it looks like crap compared to your dream version?  If you said yes, you’re not alone.  That’s precisely the story with the bed frame we built for our king size bed.


We thought a cantilever design would look cool and simple.  Something along the lines of this frame:

Though the extra wide sides seemed like a great way to bruise our calves and shins.  Everything else, we loved.  Great, let’s build!  With so much open space opposite the bed, we lengthened the foot to accommodate an upholstered bench.  After finishing most of the frame, we brought it in to use.


It’s completely functional, but clearly looks only vaguely like our inspiration.  Hashtag projectfail.  Perhaps if the platform were thicker or the base shorter (maybe both), it would look better?


Not that it matters because neither Ben or I are happy with the results.  To make it worse, we haven’t finished it and probably never will.  Hence the lack of headboard and blank bench.


What it lacks in looks it makes up for in functionality.  Without a doubt, it’s better than the too tall, floppy headboard and rolling metal frame combo we had before.


With other irons in the fire, ahem, siding, we can’t justify the project right now.  That can’t stop me from dreaming and figuring out what I do want.


Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.

Door Another Day

Another day gone by, another door installed.  Shaking up the dining room.


Before, we had a sagging, unable to open, bay window.  It was big at 8 feet wide and 5 1/5 feet tall, but the grids broke up the view.


Almost immediately after moving in, we knew we wanted to swap the window for a sliding door.  Once we rebuild the rotting deck, we’ll extend a walkway to the edge.


Nearly the same size (only 15 inches closer to the floor), it feels so open now.


Having two four-foot wide sections of glass versus 45 small panes makes a world of difference.


As with our new bedroom door, we’ve hung curtains on either side of the door; essentially treating it like a window.


I think my plants will love this brighter, sunny spot.


Seeing as we just installed the door this weekend, we have finishing work left to do.  Like a stained wood threshold, door casings, trim, and paint.


To install the remaining lap siding on the front of the house, we moved the window installing operation to the dining room.


Now the house is ‘bookended’ by doors.  Our bedroom on the right and dining on the left end.  Lovely little pattern of doors and windows.


Unlike the back and garage ends of the house, the front will have more steel than lap siding.  To add more interest and break up the length of the house, we have decided to wrap the bumped out areas in steel.  We’ll also carry the steel around the bottom, matching the garage end.


Basically, it’ll look something like this obviously rough Photoshopped version:


And with decks with privacy style railings, maybe something like this:

Also, how hot are dark bands around the decks?  Might have to steal that idea, too.

Green = Green: Free Stump Coffee Table

You may be right!  I may be crazy.  But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for.  To quote my longtime BFF (not really) Billy Joel.

Often times, I’m not actively searching for specific items.  However, if I see something that I can’t stop thinking about, I feel compelled to get it.  Such is the case of this giant slice of starting to rot cottonwood.


At 43 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall, this thing is massive, not to mention heavy.  Ben thought I was crazy, but loaded the beast up for me.

The affair started innocently, as I drove past the chopped up remains of a 25 foot tall dead trunk.  After a few days, I decided to ask by leaving a note with my name and number.  Instead of being the crazy woman knocking on the door, demanding a piece of wood.  A few hours later, a sweet gal called me back saying I could definitely take what I wanted.  Sa-weet.  I dropped by to pick out the piece and chatted for another one and a half hours.  I guess she didn’t think I was crazy.

Back to the wood.  This old cottonwood had died years ago.  The stump finally fell over.  Which means this thing has real character.  After a thorough sanding to get the surface splinter free and as flat as possible, I dug sawdust out of the bug trails.


To get all dust and debris off and out of cracks, I lugged out the air compressor and a spray gun.  Worked like a charm to get the gunk out.  Then I gave the sides one coat of polycrylic.  For added smoothness, I applied three coats to the top, sanding between layers.  Sanding between coats is always important, but even more so on an unfinished piece of wood.

At 12 inches tall and somewhat uneven (notice a raised chunk toward the front in the photo below), I attached three steel casters.  Not only do the casters add a few inches in height, it makes this two hundred pound slab mobile.


I bought four, but after talking it over with Ben and looking at the base, three worked better.  Despite an uneven base, after flipping it over, the top was almost perfectly level.  As the old saying goes, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and casters.”  Under $6.00 each at Home Depot, these 300 pound rated wheels are heavy-duty.


Four 2 1/2 inch long screws and washers keep the wheels in place.


With the piece sanded, clean, sealed, and wheeled, all we had left was to bring it inside.  Basically I made a heaftier version of this stump and put it inside my house.  Feast your eyes on our new, rustic meets industrial coffee table.


Adding the heavy (both in weight and appearance) table has helped ground the room.


I’m keeping the old table.  Because I love it and it could work well in our bedroom seating area.


This hulking piece was fun to work on and now has a fun story.


And character in spades.


One side has a giant crack along with a woodpecker hole.



Some of the chainsaw marks are still noticeable on the top.


Despite several rounds of sanding with 50 grit paper, the top isn’t completely smooth.  I mean, you won’t get slivers if you run our hand across the top.  Though it is far from your typical glossy mahogany furniture.


You can feel bumps, divots, and a few rough patches.



For a hot second, we considered screwing the crack back together.  Clearly, we decided against that.  It could have worked.  Or it could have made the split even bigger.


Overall, this was a quick, easy, and inexpensive project.  Free stump + a few hours of sanding + 1 quart of polycrylic + three steel casters = my love in coffee table form.


Based on the 17 photos, some very similar, in this post, I think it’s safe to say I’m smitten.  What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of cool furniture?

Lego My Legos

How about a riddle?  What is small, has sharp edges, hurts when stepped on, but kids love to play with?  I suppose many toys fall into this category, but around our house, the answer is Legos.  Always Legos.  In the past year or so, both boys have jumped on the Lego train, much like the Dauntless from Divergent.  Can’t say I blame them.  Legos encourage creativity and keep kids entertained for hours.  Now that we’ve established a storage and organization system, we’re all happy.

A quick internet search will show hundreds of Lego storage systems: sorted by color, size, etc., but this is what works for us.  It’s super involved and highly advanced.  Be warned.

One drawer in the entertainment center holds all things Lego.  Four shoe sized plastic bins hold extra pieces as well as built kits.

Lego-Organization-in-DrawerSeparating smaller pieces and minifigs into clear lidded plastic containers has saved us all much hassle.  I found these in the Target dollar spot last year.  More often than not, the big bin of Legos got dumped and spread all over the floor to find a specific piece.  For the boys, this was annoying to have to dig through the pile.  I was sick of having a mess on my floor, stepping on tiny daggers.


Want Kai, he’s right there, with the rest of the Nijago crew.  Probably battling neighboring Nindroids while we’re asleep.


Need a connector piece?  Check in the connector compartment.  To further organize small pieces, I separated into four groups.  Connectors, single small pieces, single and special double bricks, and minifig accessories.


Instruction booklets are kept in reach in a metal tin.  Close by, but not in with the rest to get lost or pages pulled out.


I think it would be cute to get one larger clear container to display stored guys, standing upright.

They can keep it in their room, but when they’re not playing, they can see their collection.  If (more likely, when) their collection grows, further organizing smaller parts in a hinged divider box could work really well, too.

Along with the large coffee table for building, this simple system has made Lego life more enjoyable.  Most importantly, this sorting makes sense to the boys.

Construction Chic

Bing, bang, boom, we’ve got a door in our bedroom.  Wow, that sounds very Dr. Seuss.  I guess that’s bound to happen when I’m around little people all day.


As long as we’ve got half-finished projects, I’m going to refer to it as ‘construction chic.’  As in, “Oooh la la, look at those fancy exposed shims!  It’s tres construction chic.”  Anyway, I’m almost certain I’ve mentioned our plan to replace the old window with a sliding door.


These old windows were on their last leg.  Barely able to open, fogged up, and peeling.


Wanting to take full advantage of the best views in the house, we settled on a sliding patio door and narrow balcony combo.  In my dream world, French doors, but the space doesn’t allow for a door swing.  From hole in the wall:


Onto a framed in hole in the wall:


Finally to a full door.


Adding 4 inches of insulation to the exterior bumps out every window and door.  Windows get deeper sills, and doors, well, they get transition strips.  Filling the gap isn’t difficult.  I’ll have to stain and seal a strip of oak that we can nail in place.


Totally worth it to be able to see mountains while still laying in bed.  Even if it has been a sort of hazy.


As a trade-off, we obviously have less privacy.  In terms of window coverings, I think I’ll treat the door just as I would a window.  Functional floor length curtains are my favorite.  Blinds are annoying to me; can’t stand the cords.


Outside, things are looking equally ‘construction chic’ despite the sun making the painted gray look primer beige.


The ladder scaffolding standing in for the balcony is stunning.  You know what else looks hot?  Four different materials in this section of the front.  Keepin’ it classy, Montana.


Along the bottom, Ben hung a rim joist, which the rest of the 3 foot deep balcony will extend from.  Above that, a gap for the decking boards and a small space before the siding starts.  Next step, caulking seams and then paint.  Replacing the bathroom window (the one between the two doors) and hanging steel must happen before we can build the balcony.  Until then, we’ve got the door locked and a tension rod up top so little humans can’t fall out.


With the front sections so broken up, it’s easier to focus on and get one chunk done at a time.  Compared to the back and garage sides, this feels quick.  At least to me.  I’m only responsible for fetching tools and holding pieces when necessary.


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