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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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Another Goes to the Dark Side

Our master bath is still one of my most favorite full room makeovers we’ve ever tackled.  Maybe it’s because I still have nightmares about the starting point and appreciate how far it’s come.  Or perhaps I simply love the contrast of dark and light, warm and sleek, natural and industrial.


I think for most people, the nearly black walls are a big part of the equation, as it’s not a color ordinarily found in bathrooms.  But, when paired with white lower sections and a large window letting in plenty of natural light, the dark color doesn’t feel cold or cave like.  Rather, it’s a warm, but bold neutral that packs a punch.

When the lovely lady that bought our old house asked me if I thought the same color (Wrought Iron in flat finish from Benjamin Moore) would work in that master bathroom, I said yes.  Like our current master bath, this room also has a window and plenty of white wall trim to balance out the dark, pulling color from the tile up to the walls.  In a moment of insanity, I offered to paint it for her, as a fun reveal of sorts.  Fortunately, she didn’t find it crazy and agreed, to painting as well as a post about the changes.  Here’s the bathroom, in all its pink glory while we still lived there.



Master Bathroom Painted Pink After Sink Side

Eek, that last photo looks really bubblegum, though in person it looked softer and deeper.  I figured the only room I’d ever paint pink was a bathroom and went for it.  Three plus years later, the current owner was ready for a change.

After only a few hours of painting, and a handful of new accessories, here’s it is after:


While the pink was light, airy, and borderline cottage-y, the dark is masculine, enveloping, and modern.  Along with ample natural light, wood tones keep the dark walls from feeling sterile and lifeless.  In the case of our bathroom, the walnut vanity adds that natural warmth.  With a white vanity here, a couple of dark wooden accessories and art peppered around the room do the trick.  I sanded and stained a bamboo tissue cover and created a custom wooden sign.


For a dash of fun and humor, we agreed on the ‘get naked’ design, as it hangs across from the shower.


Over by the sink, we added a circular trio to fill out the wall space.  Using a kit and 10 inch wooden disk, I painted and hung a distressed clock, small wood slice art, and the owner’s antique hand mirror passed down from her grandmother.


The other side is simple with a hand towel and wooden bowl for hair ties.  Going so dark on the walls really emphasizes the white trim, too.


It was fun to be back in a familiar space, working on a project and the happy couple love the changes as well.  So, it goes to show that an unconventional, unexpected color can work in different spaces.  Worst case scenario, if the changes aren’t great, it’s only paint.

Mini Halloween Haunted Houses

I’m assuming most kids love decorating for holidays, Halloween included.  My boys certainly do and hounded me to start decorating as soon as the calendar turned to October.  The bats from last year were a favorite so they’re back.


To change it up a bit, we varied the pattern, the boys standing back telling me to go higher, lower, left, or right.  Setting the fake crows around was a big hit with them, too.


On the lamp, even one on the door handle.


I surprised them after school with a new decoration, a street of mini haunted houses on the entry shelf.


Using scrap 2 x 4 and 2 x 6, I cut small house shapes, then attached tiny chimneys of scrap strips.


Once spray painted black, white, and gray, I used Sharpies to add details like windows, doors, and shingles.


Ev’s mini food/critter obsession came in handy and he placed pumpkins outside each door and birds perched on rooftops and around trees.


Small twigs are hot glued to a thin MDF strip to look like dead trees, bight green moss around the bases to hide the glue.



In years past, we’ve gotten two trick-or-treaters so I don’t care to go all out decorating.  Instead, just enough to make the boys happy.  Since the houses are a hit, maybe I’ll make another set for Christmas.  How do you decorate for seasons?  All out or just a splash in high traffic areas?

King Bed Build Plan

When you’re on a budget and have something specific in mind, DIY is such a good option, allowing customization and a lower price point than most store options.  That’s how our king sized bed came to be, and cost less than $200 for every last supply.


Fortunately, this wasn’t our first bed building experience-we made a captains bed for our smaller bedroom at our last house and a bed for each of the boys about two years ago.


In fact, the process for creating our bed was very similar to the steps we used to make a set of twin beds.  First, we cut a 4 by 4 post into 16 inch lengths, then running the sides through the table saw to create a 3 1/4 inch square, just to take the rounded edges off, looking less like dimensional lumber.  With a sander, I angled the tops of each post an eighth of an inch, just to ease the seam.  Here’s a normal post next to a finished one for comparison.


To securely fasten the side rails into the posts, we measured 1 1/2 inches and 6 1/2 inches down from the top of the post.  For the head and foot rails, we measured 2 inches and 6 inches down.  Staggering the screws is a very important step because the screws are going in perpendicular and you don’t want them to hit.  It’s easiest to place the post in the corner and mark 3/4 of an inch in from the edge where the rail will go in.  Pre drill holes through the post, keeping the drill as plumb as possible to avoid the screws going in wonky.


For a beefier, well proportioned bed we used 2 by 10 boards for the rails, with a half strip of 2 by 4 nailed along the base.  Again, we ran each through the table saw to cut away the rounded corner.


Large beds are difficult to maneuver, getting around corners and through doors, so we built each side to come apart easily.  For even easier disassembly/moving, Ben attached spacers to the side rails, leaving enough room for a vertical 2 by 4 between each.  These keep the mattress cross supports in place without nails, meaning the supports are removable without tools!


Along the head and foot rails, we secured a 2 by 4, to give the OSB a ledge to rest on, keeping it flush with rest of the cross supports.


Below, the rails are ready for the corner posts.



On a level surface, lay all the pieces out upside down, which keeps the tops of the rails and posts flush.  Then drive a 6 inch long screw through the post and into each rail.


While still in the garage, we assembled the bed to make sure everything fit, then took the side rails apart, leaving the legs attached to the head and foot sections before staining.


Our finishing cap that covers the posts and rails is also a 2 by 4, but planed down to a 1 inch thickness and cut to match the post width of 3 1/4 inches.


Mitered corners on the foot end, but a square-cut at the head end to tuck under the headboard.


Once stained, oiled, and dry, we hauled the pieces up and put it back together, just like Humpty Dumpty.  In go the cross supports, spaced 16 inches on center.  Ben builds everything to allow a large pachyderm to be able to use it, so no creaking, squeaking, or wobble going on here.


Then the OSB sheeting.


The headboard is a sheet of OSB cut two inches narrower than the frame, then the edges are thickened up with a half strip of 2 by 4.  I wrapped batting, then the velvet over, stapling to the underside of the 2 by 4 edge.  Once the upholstery was done, we nailed a 1 inch wide wood strip around the sides to finish it off.


Two by six sections run vertically, screwing into the back side of the head rail to attach the headboard.  Overall, the bed took us about 6 or 8 hours to build and finish from scratch.  And in those hours, we saved roughly 1600 dollars, which is far more than my hourly pay rate of nothing.

A Bed Frame Fit for a King

Well, it took three years, but our room now boasts a legitimate, 100% finished bed frame and headboard.  I veered away from the original plan for a white painted bed, opting for a stain with a linseed oil finish.  If perhaps down the road we prefer a painted bed, it’s much easier to go from stained to painted than the other way around.


We followed a similar style to the Sierra bed from Crate and Barrel, replacing the angled wood headboard for a colorful upholstered head.

Because the bed sits directly beneath the window, I worried about the green velvet fading with sun exposure.  To prevent uneven coloring, I pitched the idea to Ben of wrapping the headboard with a wood band.



The headboard frame is the same width and thickness as the border around the bed base.



With the wider frame edge, we extended the headboard to the edges, leaving three inches exposed on either side.



Adding that dose of color to our otherwise neutral room is exactly what I was looking for.



Colorful, but not obnoxiously so and looks great against the white wall.


I’m working on the building plans and step by step process to share soon.  Meanwhile, I’m brainstorming bench options for the base of our bed.  With all the wood in here now, I’m leaning toward a metal base with an upholstered top.

Bread Board

It’s no secret I love to use scraps that might otherwise go to waste to create something beautiful and useful.  I’ve made trays, a small shadowbox, an in drawer knife block, state shaped art, pedestals to elevate orinary objects to name a few projects.  Clearly I love the free and usually easy concept.  With small sections of walnut left over from the island, I decided to make a long, narrow bread board.  Of course a rectangle of wood would work, but I decided to create a handle for detail that is more display worthy.  To start, I cut my board to length, then taped the end to easily draw my handle design on the dark wood.


Using a hand saw-a jig saw would be great, but I didn’t want to waste time searching for ours amongst the chaos-I cut straight lines, notching out the handle.


To make the board look older and smooth the rough edges, I rounded everything using 120 grit paper on an orbital sander.  Just evenly run along with the sander to ease the edge, also rounding the outside corners.  Flip and reapeat.


Add a few coats of oil enhance the grain and protect the board from water and stains.


With the white of the kitchen, I like having a warm wood tone on the counter and it carries the walnut over from the island.


Bonus points if your scrap wood has a pretty knot or grain detail to add even more character.


The best part is, I spent zero dollars and about 30 minutes creating this functional kitchen display.  Of course, now I want to make more, or perhaps a larger serving tray.


The eternal ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ syndrome going on.  Target isn’t helping the situation with their beautiful, useful kitchen accessories like this dutch oven.

Soup is a favorite this time of year and a big cast iron pot would be nice for large batches.  How cute are the copper measuring spoons (and the stainless measuring cups)?!  We could use a set to replace the plastic ones we have because the lettering has worn off, so the stamped design would remain after use and washings.

Though we have small ceramic containers near the stove for salt and pepper, I’d love a set of the wood salt cellars with the swivel lids, perhaps on this marble lazy Susan.

I’ve been so great limiting my Target purchases to needs, but this season’s selection is making that very difficult.  I can justify the three listed above though, so we’ll see if I can resist the urge.


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