How To Hang a Straight Row of Hooks (or Anything)

When planning the pool house, I didn’t picture art on the walls.  Instead, I wanted the accessories to serve as art.  Which means every item has to be extra special to serve the functional purpose and add a design element.  Obviously with a pool, towels are necessary.  I found beautiful 100% cotton striped Turkish towels from The Longest Thread and I bought ten.


Our pool will have only one ladder, in the shallow end, close to the window in the photo above.  For convenience, I wanted to hang seven of the towels on hooks below the window, placing the remaining three near the future hot tub area.  To hang the seven hooks in a straight row, I held the towel on the hook up to determine my height, marking it with a piece of blue tape.  Next, I eyeballed down the line, placing tape on each batten strip.  With the tape up, I held a level, marking the line on each strip.


Next, I held up a hook, making sure the level line ran through each screw hole and marked each.



With the tape still in place, start driving the hook and screw in.  Before tightening too far, pull the tape off and continue attaching.


Voila, easy, perfectly straight row without a bunch of measuring.  If you have to measure the spacing between each hook, stretch a full piece of tape or paper across.  It’s easier to mark it up and change than the wall.


Over by the future hot tub, three more hooks and towels are hung higher below that window.


I love the pattern and softness the towels add, just like functional art.


I realize I’m jumping the gun adding towels before we even have the pool liner, but I’m excited to unpack the accessory hoard I’ve had for over half a year.  Speaking of my accessory stash, I pulled out all of the bathroom goodies and got it all in place.  Stay tuned for that next week!

Railroad Spike Coat Rack

Our entry isn’t huge, roughly eight by four and a half feet, but it is very nice to have a separate designated space.  With the door slightly off-center, there’s a sliver of wall with a box shelf to keep keys, sunglasses, and other necessities close by with a stool tucked below.  Across, there’s a half wall, where the living room floor starts.  It’s an awkward little wall, with the stairs going up that turns into a strange polygon.


Though we have an entry closet at the top of the stairs, and our newly added mud nook right inside the garage door at the base of the stairs, those are areas mainly used by our family.

Build in a mini mudroom:

I wanted a quick and easy drop spot for our guests to hang coats, purses, and backpacks close to the front door.  After a day visiting Ben’s dad at the ranch, I found some great items to turn into a unique coat rack.  I also came home with an old horseshoe and another turtle shell to hang above the art in the dining room.  Such a treasure trove of goodies!


Anyway, back to the coat rack.  To start, I snagged a board of live edge wood along with a bunch of railroad spikes.


After discussing my idea with Ben, he helped me make my idea a reality.  While I thoroughly looked at the board, I settled on the most character filled three feet and cut it to size.  At three feet wide, I wanted to space 5 spikes six inches apart, leaving six inches on either end.  Following the shape of the wood, I marked five dots while Ben used a steel cutting chop saw to cut the spikes to three inches.


I didn’t want any visible attachment, so Ben drilled 3/4 inch holes, then used a rubber mallet to pound the spikes in.


Who says you can’t jam a square peg in a round hole?


The result is seamless, simple, and rustic-just the way I like it.


Hanging was as easy as two screws through the wood, into the floor joist.


Turning that little sliver into usable space should come in very handy this winter season, especially.


Style wise, the simplicity blends seamlessly with the adjacent living room.


The best part is that it took about 30 minutes, start to finish to make and hang.  I’m wondering if it’d be too much to make another to use as a towel rack.

A Simple Headboard

Sometimes it feels like we’re treading water on big projects-you know, doing a lot of work but easily goes unnoticed.  Wow, what an encouraging, uplifting way to start, huh?  You know what is uplifting?  Small, quick, straight forward projects to break up the longer, meatier ones we have going on.  With most of the basement wrapping up, we’re getting to the fun, really obvious changes stage of the game.  One of those changes was getting the Sleep Number mattress up and off the floor with a custom bed frame.


Basic dimensional lumber, stain, and poly can come together to create a sleek, modern frame.  To create the base, we followed almost the exact same steps as our bed frame.


It has held up well, costs about $100 in materials, and can be assembled in less than a day.  One noticeable difference is the headboard.  I love the splash of green in our bedroom, but wanted something warmer to contrast against the blue-gray in the basement.



After debating a variety of wood designs, I went with the KISS method and kept it simple, stupid.


Ben used 2 by 4 boards for a completely solid design.  I’m usually 100 percent opposed to the rounded edges of dimensional lumber, so we ran each board through the table saw before assembling.


With boards prepped, we cut to length, lined each up on the garage floor, and screwed boards to the back, connecting the pieces together.  For a finished edge, we used more 2 by 4 material to create a frame to wrap the edges.


These boards hide the edges as well as the vertical connecting pieces, leaving a 3/4 inch reveal.


We now have a neutral base to layer anything and everything on and around.


Pinstripe sheets, small plus sign pillow cases and a kilim throw pillow add a boost of pattern and playfulness to the room.


Next step, new night stands to replace the single petite dresser that is standing in.

Games to Get Kids Outside

Summer means kids are home from school, likely telling you they’re boooored for the umpteenth time that day.  Of course the old stand bys work, and usually my kids are willing to shoot each other with water for hours.  Still, I wanted to switch things up by building a new game, corn hole.  Basically, it’s a much safer version of horseshoes, but with moveable boards.  A few friends came over and we built four sets in a few hours.  To make your own boards, you’ll need:

Three eight foot long 2 by 4 boards, cut four lengths each at 48, 21, and 11 inches long

Two sheets of 1/2 inch plywood cut to 24 by 48 inches

Four 1/2 inch diameter, 4 inch long bolts with washers and nuts

A drill with 3 1/2 inch long screws, as well as a 5/8 inch paddle bit

A jigsaw or 6 inch diameter hole saw

Outdoor fabric, a sewing machine, and dry corn or beans

Create the frame by laying the 48 and 21 inch boards in a rectangle, with the 21 inch sections between the long boards.  Drive two screws through the end of the long board, into the short section to attach together.


Lay the plywood on top, lining it up with the edges, and secure either with screws or a pneumatic nailer.


Mark 9 inches from the top and centered on the width to cut the hole.  If you happen to have a 6 inch diameter hole saw, line the center up with that mark and drill through.  Since we didn’t have a hole saw, I found a coffee can lid, poked a screw through the center, and drilled that slightly in at my center mark.  Then I traced around the lid, removed it, and drilled a hole near the edge to get the jigsaw in.  Ben has a steadier hand with the jigsaw, so he cut the holes out.

Next, it’s time to make the folding legs.  On each side, at the top of the board, measure 3 1/4 inches down from the frame top and centered on the 2 by 4 frame.  Do not include the 1/2 inch of plywood in your measurement.  Use the 5/8 inch paddle bit to punch a hole through the frame.  At the top of the 11 inch pieces, mark 1 3/4 inches down and centered on the width and drill through tat as well.


To allow the leg to turn, you’ll have to cut the corners off, leaving about a half-inch to 3/4 of flat at the top.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look pretty, just allow the leg to easily fold in and out of the frame.  Once you’re happy with the movement, slide your washer on and tighten the nut.  For smoothness and longevity, we applied two coats of water based polyurethane to the top and sides.

The last step is creating eight tossing bags.  Use two different colors or fabrics, creating four of each kind.  If you want to sew with a half-inch margin, cut 7 1/2 inch squares, lay right sides together, and sew along three sides.  Fill each bag with just about 2 cups of corn (somewhere between 14 and 16 ounces is ideal) then sew the tops together.


Lay the boards out on a flat(ish) surface 27 feet apart, from front edges.  I scoot the boards closer when kids play, so that’s dependant on their throwing distance.



The legs allow easy removal of bags, but also allow the boards to store flat.


It’s been a big hit with the boys and their friends.  Set up and take down is quick, so it can be pulled out whenever they want to play, but provides hours of competitive fun.  Which gives me plenty of time to vacuum and clean the house in peace and quiet.

Carpet Sampling

Choosing carpet isn’t something we’ve done often.  In our first house, the only rooms with the cushy stuff were the basement bedrooms.  At this house, hardwood and tile are the only flooring types currently installed, but that will change soon.  Before we can get to install, we had shopping and serious deliberations to go through.  Ironically (or luckily?) carpet is the element Ben and I disagree on most.

At the beginning of our search, I said I preferred patterns created by texture, something like this.  A shorter, dense pile that holds up better to foot traffic, with subtle interest from the pattern.  All great selling points in my book.


Ben, however, prefers for his carpet to feel, well, like a wall to wall mattress.  Thicker + cushier = better.  I tease that he’s a princess about area rugs and carpet, and he doesn’t argue against that.


He also wanted nylon fibers, which greatly whittle down the available options.  After hitting up several stores, we dragged any and all interesting sample boards home to evaluate.

I nearly had him ready to pull the trigger on the waffle-esque  pattern, but then he talked to installers.  Always researching, that guy.  Turns out, installers don’t really like the pattern, because it takes considerably more time and effort to keep the lines straight.  Essentially, the pattern is like tile and grout lines, but can easily be stretched out of alignment.  Crooked walls are even more of an obstacle.  Unlike tile, as carpet wears the fibers loosen and look saggy, needing restretching down the road.  Often times, the wear is not even throughout the room, and certain areas can be stretched up to several inches while others go untouched.  For these reasons, a patterned carpet was officially out of the running.  Womp, womp, wooooomp.

Back on the hunt for a plush carpet we could agree on.  Here were our basic considerations to get to our final choice:

1.  Fiber type:  In our search we found that the majority of carpets carried are polyester, polypropylene, or a polyester blend.  Yes, there are some nylon, wool, cotton and other fibers, but polyester seems to greatly outnumber the other options.  Generally speaking, nylon costs more, but is the strongest fiber, thus can handle heavier foot traffic.  Nylon carpets hold their twist better, preventing the worn look of frayed ends.  For this reason alone, Ben wanted a nylon carpet.

2.  Pile length:  From my wish list, I wanted a shorter, dense pile to minimize the look of traffic patterns.  Just like grass, the longer it is, the more obvious the wear.

3.  Face weight:  The face weight of a carpet is how many ounces of one yard of actual fiber (not including the backing).  To generalize, the higher the weight equals a more dense and better quality carpet.  That is, assuming the pile length is the same.  If it’s really easy to feel (or even see) the backing, the lower the face weight will be.

4.  Coloring: With the carpets we considered, we had the choice between solid or flecked.  I immediately eliminated the obviously speckled look, since it’s just not my thing.  On the other hand, in some cases, Ben likes the interest it adds.

5.  Price:  Like all products, there’s a wide variety, covering all ends of the price spectrum.  We didn’t set a budget for carpet, instead, we wanted the quality and durability to take priority.

After checking all of those boxes, we had our winner: a nylon, 70 ounce face weight, subtly speckled plush carpet that feels like walking on a cloud.


Of course, there was one last debate-colors.  I loved the lighter slightly oatmeal gray, Sharkskin, to keep the rooms feeling bright.  Ben, being the more practical of the two of us, liked the darker, more forgiving if spilled on Grey Flannel.


Basement-Carpet-Samples-in-Bedroom Both are good neutrals and will work, but I really pushed for the lighter, arguing these aren’t high traffic areas.  Ben still insisted on the dark, and I gave up the fight.  When making so many house design/decor decisions, we’re in 100% agreement.  Sometimes, Ben just doesn’t have an opinion (typically when paint colors are involved).  Since he so rarely insists on something, I couldn’t argue.


In both doorways, the carpet will butt up to the slate tile, so the darker will allow the color to flow a bit more seamlessly.


The basement has been measured, carpet is ordered, and we’re waiting for it to arrive and be installed.  One last step to moving furniture back into these rooms and finishing the laundry and bathroom.