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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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    Some women are crazy cat ladies. I'm well on my way to becoming a crazy fern lady. But this tiny asparagus fern called to me while scouting landscaping plants. How could I say no? It's miniature for crying out loud! As much as I adore the deep greens of summer, fresh, bright spring greens are my favorite. New growth and a fresh start after a dreary winter is the best. How 'bout a super simple way to maximize storage in a pantry. Or any other storage room for that matter. Quick idea on the blog now.

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.

Marble Back Splash

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the backsplash tile is installed.  Just last night we finished it up with grout.  But, here’s the uneven, ugly step before.


To get started setting tile, I opened and sorted the packages by color.  All tiles are 4 inch by 12 inch Carrara marble from Home Depot.  Indeed I am the crazy person sorting white tile by color. I’ll explain more in a minute.


Install went smoothly, but took a lot of cutting.  Ben rocked it out in six hours though.


For detailed tile jobs, Ben prefers to use pre-mixed mastic to avoid making several batches.



Unfortunately, it also took forever to dry completely.  Obviously that is an exaggeration, but waiting four days was a test of my patience.  Pulling out the spacers took only a few minutes and then I cleaned the mastic off the surface.


Yesterday, Ben took a couple of hours to grout everything.



When sorting the tiles, I created 4 different groups.  Group one was bright white with little veining, the second white with veining.  The third group was pale gray, the fourth gray with heavy coloring.


With such color variation, we made a point to pull from each group to avoid blocks of similar colors.



Also, we chose to keep the trim on the windows, cutting tiles to fit around.



Same goes for the baseboard.


The only difference is for the crown, because the profile is thinner.  We’ll add a thin spacer behind, then secure the crown, slightly overlapping the tile.


Weekend plans include replacing switches and outlets, building cabinet doors, painting window trim, and working on the office cabinetry.  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Grown Up Living Room Plans

Over the weekend, Ben installed the kitchen backsplash!  Unfortunately, the pre-mixed mastic is still not completely dry.  Until then, we wait to pull out spacers and grout the gaps.


As we’ve progressed with the kitchen remodel, it’s made me think about the changes I’d like to make in the adjoining rooms.  Our living and family rooms are okay, but a hodge podge of thrifted furniture and DIY projects.  Some pieces I really like, others I’m itching to replace.

I just ordered an 8 by 10 Jute Chenille Herringbone rug from West Elm for the family room.  On sale for $279, I couldn’t pass it up.  I’m going to unroll it as soon as it arrives.

My mind tends to have a snowball effect.  Once I see how great one room can look, the surrounding unfinished spaces look worse.  Which prompted me to come up with a mood board full of the furniture I’m yearning to have.  Grown up furniture.


Seriously, how gorgeous is the Hamilton leather sofa?  Clean lines, no overstuffing, and it doesn’t sit too close to the floor.  Not too modern or traditional and the perfect camel hue.  If only there was a West Elm close enough to allow real life touching and lounging.  I’ve made a vow to myself to get a real sofa within the next year.  Commencing saving now.

Our living room is a rug challenge as we need at least a 9 by 12 foot to allow all furniture to sit on.  Ideally, we’d layer a larger plain rug under a softer, patterned rug.  The Maui Chunky Loop rug gets great reviews, but I’m worried it isn’t soft enough.  Or may shed a lot.  Any experience with this rug you can share?  Currently at $313, with free shipping after a 70% discount, I’m more likely to take the chance on it.  Now to convince Ben…  Muhahaha.

If I didn’t already have green curtains, this bold rug from Chairish (or something similar) would liven the space.  Chairish is one of my favorite sites to browse because it’s like a high end virtual thrift store.  Vintage furniture heaven!


As I read in a recent Better Homes and Gardens, green is nature’s neutral.  I couldn’t agree more.  I adore the way green makes any room feel.

I already have a few of the smaller items to get me started.  The faux cowhide pillow and art prints – that I still need to frame and hang.  A similar home-made stump side table, that I’m planning to sand smooth and just clear coat.  A few years ago I bought similar green pillows, also from World Market, but the color is slightly more green.  A yellow stripe throw blanket, close to this style.  My fiddle leaf fig is smaller, but if I can keep it alive, it can become a big, beautiful tree.

I’ve run through the ways I can make a tripod lamp, similar to this one.  Maybe I can get that done soon.  The table lamp is from Schoolhouse Electric, but I used a thrifted base to create a knock off version.


A pair of modern wingback chairs with navy stripe pillows could balance out the petite linen sofa I refinished.  Acrylic coffee tables are always pretty, but I’m not sure it’d work with our little guys.  Doesn’t stop me from dreaming.

So really, all I need is a gorgeous sofa, modern wingback chairs, beautiful rugs, and several thousand dollars to buy it all.  Only the expensive things.  Furniture that sets the real adults apart from the imposters.  Someday, I’ll become a real adult with nice furniture.  It may happen once my kids are grown and moved out, but hey, it’ll happen.  Getting all of my ideas into a group really helps me with my plan.  A course I can stay on and use to judge anything I may consider in the future.

If you have any experience with the items listed above (or similar pieces), feel free to share your thoughts.  Reviews really help me make decisions on bigger purchases.

Simple Drawer Fronts

Although the kitchen is slowing down, we haven’t stopped working.  In fact, I’ve been painting and sanding.  Sanding and painting the last several days.  Even though this is mostly decorative, we’ve taken another small step toward the finish line.  Notice anything new here?


I’ll give you a hint:


Drawer fronts!  And handles!  Toe kick covers are curing, hopefully to be installed this afternoon.


This section of the kitchen was part of the pool house addition a few years after the house was built.  I’m assuming it was level with the house, but the house already had some time to settle.  So the last five or six feet are roughly 3/4 of an inch off level.  We’ll cut the toe kick covers to follow the floor and cabinet gap for a seamless edge.

Speaking of seamless, even the sides of the drawers look sleek.



Using 1 1/4 inch long screws, Ben screwed through the drawer, into the front to secure it.


In other shocking and exciting news (sarcasm) the upper cabinet is almost ready to get loaded up with dishes.


Once loaded up with dishes, the shelves will hold a lot of weight.  Ben, over-builder of everything, worried a peg and shallow hole system wouldn’t be strong enough.  Instead, we chose to recess adjustable tracks by adding 1/4 inch material to the insides of the cabinet leaving a tight gap.


Then I screwed in the strip.  Once the shelves are painted and dry, in the dishes go.


Building cabinet doors is next on the list.  Glass fronts for pretty dish display, solid panels for the other two uppers.  To further jazz up the glass cabinet, I painted the inside the same light gray as the living room.  It’ll contrast against our white dishes.  As the last kitchen step, I’m going to paint the room to match the adjoining living area.  A way to unify the spaces.  Time to get cracking on the cabinet doors, walnut fronts, and the drawer below the sink.

Slow Going

Kitchen progress is steadily, but slowly chugging along.  Much like the Little Engine That Could, I’m just chanting I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  Ben pieced the maple desk top is pieced together, but 1/3 of the way through sanding, our belt sander broke.  As we wait for the part to arrive, we’ve switched gears and made some progress on the cabinets.  Most of the perimeter drawer fronts are cut, painted, and curing before install.

As much as I love shaker cabinets, I wanted something different.  A less detailed design to keep the island the attention grabber.  Flat panels with a 45 degree edge, painted white should do the trick.


The island now has 2.2 sides of this solid 3/4 inch thick walnut gorgeousness:


Going through our planning, the island was the warmth the room was lacking.  I’ve already filled small cracks, sanded smooth with 220 grit paper, and applied one coat of teak oil.  We followed the same process on the bathroom vanity and love the results.


Teak oil hardens in the wood, protecting and enhancing the beautiful grain.  Just as the bathroom looked flat and boring before sealing, (see above) the island did, too.  Another benefit is that if the wood looks dry, or we have to sand out a scratch, a coat of oil refreshes the wood like new.  No full sanding or refinishing required.


Attaching the wood to the sides was simple.  Walnut is attached from inside the cabinet to hide all fasteners.


From certain, limited angles, if you squint, the island looks almost finished.


Until walking around the front to see the drawers lack fronts.  The toe kick is still exposed and we need at least one more light sanding and a coat of teak oil.  Hence the blotches at the top near the counter.


If we decide oil isn’t the best finish, we can always go over it with polyurethane.  Next up we’ll build the island drawer fronts and install the perimeter faces.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even get started on the tile backsplash.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.


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