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Back to the Outdoors

Two months is a LONG time not to post. 2018 has not started out as planned.  My furnace was condemned (literally!) and had to be replaced New Year's Eve as we were expecting a hard freeze and temperatures in the 20's - which literally never happens in Houston.  Ever!  Except for the year my furnace dies, of course.

Then I needed emergency dental work that didn't work that has led to more dental work.  I could have bought a new car for what I've paid in dental and orthodontia bills over the past three years...

And February is almost over.  Sigh. My living room was SO cute for Christmas. And I was happy with my fireplace for Valentine's Day (I am much much smaller scale for other holiday decorating). But I'm not quite ready to put up what I have for St. Patrick's Day or Easter.

What I am ready for is to look into my backyard and not see a mud pit.

Our backyard has been pitiful from the begining.
This is the only picture I took of it when we were house shopping because there was literally nothing there.  A few trees that completely shaded the backyard and left nothing but a pile of dirt. Four years ago, a big storm came through and knocked down the largest tree (barely missing the house!) which was great for letting light back into the yard...and not so great for the weeds that started growing.

I wish I could tell you we've done something in the last four years with that backyard.  But aside from picking up the dog poop...we have not.

Last year we finally decided to make this sun room a livable space for us. The Builder built a brand new table for the space and we re-screen and tried to dog proof it (ahem, we're re-screening again for this summer, but just two this time instead of every frame!).

Late Summer

And this...is what I never show anyone.  This is my sad, sad backyard.  This is mid summer, so there's actually some weeds greenery and the tree is full. But this turns into muddy mess come spring and any summer rain storm. This winter it was a baren waistland. We didn't even want to use the fire pit (thus the logs you see from a tree we removed).

Which is now the goal! My oldest son is graduating in June and has already enlisted in the Navy (proud future Navy mom here!!) My brother and his family will be out and I'd like a nice backyard where the kids can play and we can relax in the evening. My sun room is so relaxing now, but the view out the windows is just terrible.

The whole back fence has to be replaced. Our neighbor to the left replaced her side last spring and we went in with our neighbor on the right to replace that side. But the two behind us are renters and so I don't really have any hope that they'd be interested in sharing the cost of rebuilding that fence. Once the fence is done, we're going to gravel around the fire pit, put in a brick path with reclaimed bricks back to the dog run, and put down sod in about half the yard. I don't have small kids anymore so there's no need to grass in the entire yard. Believe it or not there are actually already sprinklers here, we just need to make a few repairs to some broken lines and replace the sprinkler heads to get it running.

So here is The Plan:

  1. Replace the entire back fence - I wish I could say this is the most time consuming part...but it may not be. The goal is tear the fence down in sections, replace the rotted fence posts with new posts (we'll be digging new holes, which is labor intensive, but not chipping out concrete to use the old fence holes like we had to do on the side fences - bonus!). I have three teenage boys and I've promised them cold hard cash for their cooperation with this project. Ideally, we'd like to have this done in a weekend....but it may take two, depending on the weater and what we can actually get done.
  2. Lay the brick path from the sun room back to the dog run in - The Builder started with a lovely chevron brick pattern, but this may be hard to continue all the way down since we only have so much reclaimed brick. Either way, we need to dig a new trench for the path, lay down sand, and then complete the pathway. It will basically run the lengthe of the house. We'll be able to walk out to the dog run in any weather and not have to wonder where or what we're stepping in...
  3. Fill in gravel -  some of the muddiest places in this yard are around the fire pit (just to the right of the logs in the snow photo!) and in the dog run. Which means if I need to bring the dogs into the sun room, the are a mudy disgusting mess! We'll put a layer of weed paper down, then sand, and then the gravel which should definitely reduce, if not eliminate, the mud issue. We'd like to use crushed granite for it's durability. I am pricing out a few places to see what the final estimate will be. We're willing to spend more to get a more durable product for this one. 
  4. Install the sod - once the gravel is in, we're going to rototill the remaining yard, level it out, fertilize it, and lay down sod. This sounds simple, but my dogs have tore up this yard.  They've dug holes, created running tracks, and just made a wreck of it. We've marked out where the grass will go so we can figure out how much sod we'll need.  We're leaving a dirt area at the end of the house so the dogs will have a place to do their thing, as well as a 'path' around the edge of the yard for them to do their laps. My dogs live here and I can't have a space that isn't suitable for them, but we will be training them to stay off the grass.
Which all leads to the fun and pretty stuff!!!  If you follow me on Pinterest Pinterest - MrsMike you may have already seen this pin on my Backyard Red-do board:

I told The Builder that while I don't want lights over/around my fire pit (we plan to have tiki torches - more on that DIY project in another post!) I would love to have them strung across the grass area.  Four simple posts and some cable wire should do the trick. It's not listed on The Plan because this is not something that has to be done this summer...but it's something I definitely WANT to do! It would be lovely for backyard entertaining!

Of course there are many more things on my Pinterest board that I'd like to get done eventually, but I'm trying to schedule things that can reasonably be done in the next four months. 

We also want to build some cozy seating around the fire pit and some small side tables to set food and drinks down. I love these chairs from Ana White

We figure four chairs and two benches should comfortably seat our guests. This is another project on the want list due to time constraints.

And the time constraints are the biggest issue we face. We figure six weeks to get The Plan completed, providing the weather cooperates (highly unlikely) and The Builder doesn't have any required overtime at his job. In a perfect world, that puts into the second week of April, and just four weekends until my family arrives. This is why the pretty lights and the chairs and benches may need to wait until summer or even next year (when my second son is graduating from high school!). We also have some indoor projects that have to be done, like kitchen cabinets to refresh (our update in 2016 for the counters and backsplash still look amazing, but the cheap cabinets are showing wear again) and some touch up paint to complete. 

My daughter (the 2016 graduate!) also wants to put in a container garden. I don't see that being completed that in time for June, but it could be a fun summer project since she grows most of her plants from seeds and can easily transplant them. I'd really love to have a nice herb garden and salsa garden! We've actually discussed where the perect spot in the backyard to build a raised container garden will be. So that's on the one day list. 

Let the Backyard Redo commence!

Living Room Updated

Merry Christmas! This post is a little late, but I wanted to get it in before the new year. 

Our new sofa actually arrived the first week of November, far ahead of the December arrival date they originally estimated. But once we got the sofa in, we realized how empty the living room really looked. The old sofa didn't allow for end tables, a coffee table, or any type of media console. So the room looked big and empty. 

We decided to do the media console first since we needed to move the furniture around and the TV was no longer going up on the wall. We found plans on Rogue Engineer for a corner media center. Only I don't have any corners that it would work on. Thankfully The Builder was able to modify the plans to meet our needs, including extending the length. 

I originally wanted to build it all in walnut. We've got a fabulous local lumber yard where I can get just about anything I can dream of, including exotic woods. But solid walnut would have run us well over $600, which wasn't in the budget. Ultimately we did the frame out of pine, but the top from walnut veneer and used a 2x10 piece of walnut for the trim.  The veneer and one walnut board still cost around $100. The remaining pine was about $135. I still feel that for a solid piece of furniture, the price is excellent.  I need to get a better picture of the cross braces, which turned out beautiful. The Builder mitered the cross section together and it turned out perfect.

One thing we learned after I did the desk for my sons' room is that wood conditioner is really a necessity when you plan to stain. It comes out much more smooth and even, with no weird blotchy patches (even when you're being super careful!). The grain on this walnut is absolutely stunning and the photo doesn't do it justice.

So the media center being completed at least allowed us to the furniture around and set up the room. But it still left a dance floor in the middle of the room (my kids made sure to prove this point, lol). Also, with the linen colored sofa, I didn't want anyone eating or drinking on the sofa. We really needed a place to set food down and eat at while we're watching football TV.  It was a given that this would be another build for The Builder. We had recently priced coffee tables made from MDF and not only were we disappointed in the materials, but the MDF didn't seem to have any cost saving purposes. And again, we plan to load our coffee table with snacks to watch football TV and MDF is not family friendly.  We'd just finished the media console when Shanty 2 Chic  came out with a YouTube video for a new coffee table. Ironically, they scaled it down to be a smaller coffee table, but we needed something longer. So again, The Builder took the plans from their website and customized them to our needs. They call this the DIY 8 Board Farmhouse Coffee Table but we ended up using about 10 since we made it longer and ultimately a little wider. But again, I LOVE this coffee table.  It's solid and really compliments the media console. 
This is also made from pine as the budget didn't allow for more walnut, but surprisingly, they coordinate together beautifully. For now, I don't have any plans to add baskets or storage on the shelf. I don't like a lot of clutter and my kids will pile baskets sky high with junk. I love the clean lines, so this is how I plan to keep it. Altogether, we spent about $70 on the lumber. Another great investment for a solid piece of furniture. 

So let's talk about the elephant in the room. The wonky end tables on either side of the sofa. The one on the right was built to match the high arms on the old sofa. This is after The Builder cut it down. The table on the left is a LACK table from Ikea that we were sort of using as a coffee table over the summer. I say kind of because it was a pain to walk around, didn't match the room, and held next to nothing. I bought the lamps last year when Home Goods opened near me. They match our new living room PERFECTLY as if I had bought them to go with this furniture. So we've tucked the LACK table between the armchair and sofa temporarily so the lamps can be used for task lighting. 

Ultimately, we have one more build for this room, and that's the end tables. We plan to go with the Lybrook Side Tables from Rogue Engineer to coordinate with the media console and coffee table.  These side tables have the same X braces that I like for the rustic charm. We've got enough of the walnut veneer left to do both tops from so they'll really coordinate with the other pieces. I don't want large side tables because I know my kids will pile stuff on them. I like that each table should cost about $20.

If you've been adding up the numbers along the way, we're roughly at $345 for ALL four pieces. My favorite inspiration store, Pottery Barn, has some similarly styled pieces (although this time, the inspiration started with the plans for the media console and I only took a peek at Pottery Barn's website to see what overpriced items they might compare to!). 
So this is not a duplicate. There are no cross braces. There isn't a bottom shelf. But it's reclaimed pine and solid wood.  On sale, it can be yours - for $824. Seriously.  And this isn't something I would actually buy. It's almost too plain and I don't like that it's missing the shelf. I'm not sure if they make coordinating end tables to go with this but the price of this alone is outside of my budget. They actually have some others that I like better, but the cost is even higher. 

So I feel very fortunate that The Builder was able to build something I that I really love.

I'm not sure when we'll get the side tables started, but they're on the top of the list for our spring projects. Our spring list of things to do is quickly getting long. Our oldest son is graduating in June and we have family coming out again. This go around we don't have any major projects, like master bathroom's or kitchens, but we do have some cosmetic things to get done.  And these end tables!

Living Room Inspiration

Last weekend I took some photo's of my living room with my fall decor up.  And I like my fall decor.  I really like my fall decor.

I don't like my living room.

In my mind I see something like this

Well.  Sort of.  I don't actually want navy blue walls or a neutral colored sofa (I have 5 cats, 4 kids, and 3 dogs😆). My windows flank my fireplace. In real life, my living room looks like...hmm. Have I not taken a photo since we painted the mantle?!
So.  This is a photo of the living room in all its naked glory. Because apparently, I don't know how to keep an accurate photo log of changes I've made to my house. But this shows you the bones of the room that I have to work with. The fireplace flanked by windows, the window that is not centered on the wall (The Builder's pet peeve!) and our vaulted ceiling. 

So...this is the correct layout but not the right paint color.  But no white mantle. We painted it prior to my daughter's graduation party in 2016. Also, the aqua accents are long gone (The Builder's idea - we've agreed he doesn't get to pick out colors anymore!! 
So. At least this is the current paint! Let's move past the no windows in this photo (WHY?!) so you can get a better idea of the mantle now. Yes, this is exactly how it looks. Complete with the missing decor in the middle. Because I have yet to find what I want to go in that spot. Super annoying. (Ignore the peddle box covering the fireplace, it's how we're keeping kittens out of it while we train them)

The other thing that is a problem, and maybe the main problem, is the sofa. It's huge (again, 5 cat's, 4 kids, 3 dogs...) which was a bonus when we bought it. And it was dark colored, so it hid stains very well for years. It looked amazing in our house in CA. The scale was perfect. However, it hasn't worked in any house we've lived in since. Now it just looks tired and sad. We're on the hunt for a new sofa and chair to better suit the layout of the room.  So I like this:
Just not that color!!  Ok.  Well actually I DO like that color. Just not in my house. So I'm thinking something more like this
Can you tell it's a lovely, rich navy blue? I really like this.  We ordered a fabric sample and it looks great in the room with the existing drapes, the wall color, etc.  But I keep waffling on the blue. Will I get tired of it?  I don't want to feel bad in two years if I get tired of the color! There's a grey that's lovely too
The photo doesn't do it justice, the fabric swatch is much better in person. I highly recommend anyone who is considering ordering furniture online to get fabric swatches if you can. This color feels...safe. Again, it coordinates well with the existing paint and the drapes and just about any color I can think of if we get tired of blue. I think my hang up on the navy is Christmas. Blue with red and white accents is great for Memorial Day and 4th of July. Christmas though...I'm not sure how I would work it into my Christmas decor. 

We like this chair to go with it:
But I don't think it works with the grey sofa at all. They have it in a linen color, and that would look fabulous. But my family and light colors scare me!!

The Builder also pointed out that new furniture will allow us to better use the space in this room, which is actually quite large but is eaten up by our giant sofa. We've been looking at a coffee table build and a new entertainment center build. I've been drooling over some Pottery Barn catalogs for inspiration, which is always fun.

I am going to try to take some better new photo's this week of my complete living room as it is now. That's the plan at least!

After Harvey

This summer I was basically MIA. I've been going to school full time in addition to my daily job. This is my last semester and I had some major papers to write and submit. Decorating, DIY, and crafting were the last things on my mind, but ones I was anxious to get back to.

And then Hurricane Harvey happened.

For those who don't know, I'm in the Houston area. If I cross the street, literally, I'm back in Houston city limits. I am incredibly blessed that we did not flood because just one cross street over, everything flooded and is a total loss. My kids all have friends who flooded out. I have co-workers who lost everything. And now that the water has receded and we're in clean up mode, it looks like a tornado blew through with the massive amounts of debris on every street. 

As you can imagine, it's hard to get back to 'normal'. I see posts on social media. The whole world keeps on moving, even though we had this devastating flooding. That's reality. But it's so surreal. I see critical posts on certain relief agencies, opinions on churches who couldn't open their doors during the flooding, opinions on how politicians are handling things, and the list goes on. Opinions that mean literally nothing to the families who have lost their homes, their loved ones, the life that they knew. What I see in my community is neighbor helping neighbor. Total strangers delivering supplies to anyone who says they're in need. I see everyone helping with mud outs, gathering cleaning supplies. Even creditors. Wayfair was AMAZING when I reached out to them about a missed payment. 

Saturday, despite 90-degree weather, despite my kids being horrified that I would drag out fall this early, I did exactly that. I took down all my summer decor and refreshed my home with fall decor. I needed something fresh after Harvey. My kids are still home from school today, but they'll return on Wednesday, and I'll take photo's of my fall decor and post what projects I want to get done for this season.


Sunroom Table

When we started talking about re-doing our screened in sun room, I had a couple of ideas. I really liked the look of some of the modular furniture you find at the Orange and Blue box stores. Again though, the cost. So I looked at some DIY options and liked this one from Shanty 2 Chic:
Size wise, I think it would fit well in the space and would make for a very cozy spot to drink coffee in the morning or even curl up with a book. But, I really want a dining room table to eat at. And I didn't think that this would work well.

Ultimately, I went with something else that they built, but the found the plans on Ana-White's web site:

Of course, we made a few modifications.  The original table was 88" in length after cutting your boards. Having a family of 6, we decided to make it longer at 96" for more seating. Ultimately, by the time we trimmed the boards evenly, we ended up with 94", and I'm very pleased with that. 

The plan also have you make the table out of pine. Can I just say, we're not fans of pine. It is our least favorite wood to work with. Because we live in Houston where it gets very humid, and this is an outdoor table, we decided to make our table top out of cedar. Surprisingly, we had to get the lumber at the Blue box store because they didn't carry cedar in 2x4's at the Orange box store. 

Originally we planned to have the table built and stained by Memorial Day, since we had a BBQ planned, but this cedar took a LOT more effort to sand down smoothly. For cost purposes, we did build the base out of pine.  We love how the table turned out:

This, of course, is not the finished product. We're going to stain the table with a color called Kona from Varathane/Rustoleum to match the chairs. I didn't like the skirt on the original table, which was optional, so we didn't include it in our build. This size is really perfect for this space and it fits right between the two fans (essential for comfort!)

You may also have noticed the lattice. I mentioned in another post that my dogs blew out the screening. Well, no sooner did we put this up, and next to the door that leads out to the backyard, my 80 lb labrador blew it out again. Twice. Re-screening this room is no small task and this lattice helps keep him off the screens. 

The rug is an outdoor rug from World Market
I bought two of them, since they're only 4x6. I love the colors with the accessories I've already bought. This is a super practical rug since it's polypropylene (aka, plastic) and can be hosed down in the event it gets dirty. 

We actually spent this past weekend staining the table, so I'll get those posted soon. 

We have a few more things to do as well. I want a bar cart to be able to store my outdoor dishes, so that's still on the building list. I need to purchase the drapes from the inspiration board (3 sets for the entire room). That means we need to run galvanized pipe for our curtain rod as well. 

Stay tuned!

"That" Room

We all have THAT room. That room in our house that we close the door on and pretend it doesn't exist. I think for many people, it's the garage. And my garage is pretty bad too. But the room that was the worst in our house is our screened in sun room. 

Here it is when we first moved in:
Literally, this is a photo of the first time I ever viewed the house and was taking photo's to show The Builder, who couldn't go with me that day.

We've never really made good use of this space though. Over the years, we've used it to keep the dogs out of rain, work on projects out of the elements, and we did briefly clean it out last year when we had our daughters' graduation party. Otherwise, this space has been completely wasted.

Until this year. 

This winter, my dogs completely trashed this space. The ledge around the windows got chewed off, all the screens got ripped out, and it was dirty! And I've had enough. I love to sit outside and enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the early morning hours, have dinner on the patio. and eat dinner mosquito free. As an added bonus, my oldest son will be a senior this fall, and if we re-do this space now, it's one less thing we need to prep for next spring (when all our family will come out to celebrate with us). 

So the past couple of weeks, we've been pushing to get it ready for summer before The Builder has his shoulder repaired and is out for the rest of the summer. 

I know I say this a lot on my blog, but seriously, have you priced patio furniture lately?! Even sets at the Orange and Blue box stores are stupid expensive. Maybe if I won the lottery, I'd consider it... Who am I kidding?  I'm way too cheap to spend that type of money on patio furniture. And that's not a bad thing.

So my inspiration started with some dishes I found at Pottery Barn. My work does these wellness incentives, where you can earn gift cards for good health habits. At Christmas time, I used my credits to get a Lowe's gift card to get The Builder a new table saw. This time, I got a gift card to Pottery Barn.  Because I would never, in a million years, spend that much on outdoor dining plates.  But my final cost was $8 out of pocket.  And that is doable!  So here's my inspiration board:

I started with the plates, which I really loved. I got the plates with coral and with the crabs, coral and sea horses. No fish for me! I looked at the tables for inspiration, and I found several that were OK, but none that I really loved. Thankfully, I was able to go back to my Pinterest board and find some great DIY options on my building board. 

I'm super excited to get this all executed and in place!

Canopy Bed

So I did find a photo I took of an update to our master bedroom after we changed paint colors:
I suspect I didn't post this photo because...it's terrible!  I must have had water spots on the lens of my camera. The photo is an odd angle. The purple pillow looks VERY bright and shiny. The paint is washed out by the flash on the camera. So I see why I didn't post it.  The others in the folder this is stored in aren't much better. 

So let's take a step back for a moment.  Once upon a time, I was a little girl in the 70's. And what I wanted more than anything else was a Holly Hobby canopy bed. My mom bought me a bedspread and decorated my room, but alas, no canopy bed.  

And in the days of internet wonderfullness, I even managed to find the actual print that was on my bed as a child.

I think this clearly explains my complete aversion to pink in my adult life. This is the fabric that my bed set was made from. I had red-orange shag carpet that matched her hair. My walls were pink and my furniture was painted green. And of course, there were matching drapes. 

I can't even contemplate how this fabric would have looked on a canopy bed...

Ok, let's fast forward to TODAY after my trip to Ikea to swap out my drapes:
<sigh> I love it. Although the quilt is washed out in this photo. The colors are soft. But in real life, they're not quite this muted.

And we have discovered that our old bed frame, which started it's life as a queen size bed frame, and was expanded to accommodate our king size mattress, didn't actually fit our king mattress. There was always a slight hump in the middle of the bed. It wasn't bad and really, after four years, we really didn't notice it. Until we put the mattress in this bed. And oh my goodness, we are in bed heaven!

You can also see in this photo the infamous 'wall that was purple'. It's the only wall in the bedroom that has the standard ceiling height. It was a deep, beautiful purple. And as I mentioned, we loved it. But we love the feel of this even better.

New drapes. Pardon the fact that I haven't hemmed them yet!

So eventually, I'll need new lamps. I found some at Hobby Lobby I really like, but I need to wait for them to go on sale. Until then, these work fine.

We moved my desk into the living room. The new bed is just big enough that it seemed like we suddenly had too much furniture in our bedroom. So here's a parting shot of Hazel, who's has claimed my desk as her new sleeping spot:

Quick Updates

I was working fast and furious last month on finish three term papers for school. Working full-time and going to school full-time can be a challenge, but I know it will be worth it when I finish (which will be no later than this August but could be sooner!!)

So there are several projects that have been on my list, but due to lack of time, I hadn't even started. One of them is our master bedroom. I know. We just re-did it three years ago when we bought the house. And for the most part, I still really like it. But you know how when you live in a room long enough, you come to realize things need to change? That's how I've been feeling for about the past six months. 

The last time I posted, our bedroom looked like this
Ahem. So it mostly looks nothing like this now. Apparently, when I did things like paint the closet wall to be a deep purple, change the paint color, and move the bedroom around, I didn't take any photo's of it. I'm not sure how that's possible...but apparently, it's true!

So let's talk about what is still the same - the rugs, curtains, bed, and furniture. Everything else has changed over the last few years.  

Let's start with the duvet on my bed. I bought a nice duvet from Ikea, that I still love.  It is SO warm and toasty in the winter and has a nice weight to it when you sleep. However. We almost never have a winter here in TX. And when we do, if it lasts a week, it's a really long winter. And it's not that we don't get cold weather (uh, ok, barely) but this is a really warm duvet. The photo above shows the cover I bought for it and I still love it. But the duvet has been packed away and is only brought out for when the temperatures are truly cold. In its place, I bought a lovely white quilt. It felt crisp and bright, wasn't overly hot, and I genuinely love it. Except for one thing. Why on earth did I buy white?!  I have a husband, kids, and DOGS. Keeping it clean and white requires washing it almost every day. What was I thinking?!!!  I was lulled by all the lovely and tranquil pictures in blog land. 

Moving on. The wall color.  I'm laughing. I hated this color when we moved in the house. In fact, we painted the entire house after we moved in. EXCEPT our bedroom. Yeah, I don't know why. Maybe we ran out of time? So after we bought the house (we rented it first) we finally painted it a beautiful color called French Silver by Behr.
I realized looking at this swatch that it almost has a lavender undertone to it, but it's still a gray. And I love it!! The paint color is definitely not being changed. In fact, we painted back the deep purple accent wall over the weekend. The great thing about paint is that when you're tired of it, you can just paint over it (after two coats of primer and then two coats of paint...) and so now our room is all one color.

Which, of course, has led me to want to change out the white quilt. I love it. I do. But the constant need to wash it is driving me crazy. So I was web surfing the other night and came across this:

OK, ignore the ugly way they staged it. Seriously, that room is not inspiring. However, in the catalog, it was much prettier. So I ordered it. It arrived today, and it's softer, with a few more neutral tones than you can see in this photo. But I think it's going to be perfect. It definitely goes with the wall color (and the area rugs next to our bed) and since I have now bought a total of four different bed covers since the initial cover for the duvet, and really, I just want to be done at this point

The other update we're making is the bed. A few years ago, we bought an iComfort bed from Seely and now I'm spoiled for life. No other bed is as comfortable. However, we have the same bed frame that we bought when we first got married 20 years ago. I did buy the wrought iron headboard from Ikea about 10 years ago, but it's actually for a queen size bed, which we had at the time, and it doesn't actually fit our now king size bed. It's not obvious that it's the wrong size because it's nice and tall. But late last year, our bedframe broke. It's now propped up on wooden blocks to keep it from crashing to the floor. And I could go out and buy another plain bed frame and keep using what we have...but we decided to go a different route.

The Builder's birthday was a week ago, and we stayed in an amazing room in a historical mansion in Galveston. The mansion was built in 1860 and survived the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the worst natural disaster in US history. It was amazing, and the owners have been restoring it since they bought it four years ago.  One thing we really fell in love with was the huge, four poster bed. Now it may have been a reproduction (although they had amazing antiques in the house) but we loved the size of the bed. The room was cozy and intimate. And we both agreed it was a feeling that was lacking in our bedroom. I had every intention of having The Builder make us a new bed, but it would be many months before that could happen because of a medical issue he's dealing with.

I know I say this every time I start a new project, but seriously, have you priced beds lately?! I don't know why I continue to be horrified.  I started with this beautiful bed from pottery barn, which had a similar feel to what we slept in:
I like it. But I don't love it. I particularly do not like the $1755 sale price (normally it's $2700. For real). And the spindle posters aren't quite what I'm looking for, they're too fussy. So that one wasn't even a consideration.

So this weekend I was cleaning out my email box and there was a sales add for Birch Lane. They're another division of Wayfair, and somehow I got on their mailing list. Usually I just hit delete, but I decided to take a look. They were having a 20% off sale with free shipping and I am always on the lookout for a good bargain.

So I when I came across this I looked a little closer.

Not only was this one on sale for about $500, but with free shipping and 20% off, this was definitely worth considering. The bed I really wanted to build, the posts were about $100 each. Add the rest of the materials, The Builder's time, and the delay in being able to build made buying this a no brainer. Even better, the free shipping actually has it here TODAY!

So of course, this will have to be assembled. Thankfully I have two teenage boys who will be able to help me put this together under The Builder's supervision (he can't lift more than 10 lbs. right now, and the website states this weighs about 210 lbs!) OK, I doubt it will be done today. In fact we probably won't get it put together until the weekend. But I am so excited!! The added bonus is that it appears to match our dresser, which we bought years ago, almost perfectly. Since I'm not replacing any furniture, this is an added bonus.

I see new curtains in my future as well...


School and work have kept me crazy busy since the first of the year, but I have been working diligently as of late to finish up some projects. I posted yesterday about the buffet, but you may recall that I was also re-doing my sons' bedroom prior to Christmas. I'm happy to say I'm about 90% done now, after scoring a major discount on a rug for the room today!

And again, lighting is going to be an issue in this post.  This room only gets good lighting in the morning. The rest of the day it's shadowy horrible for photo's! To make it even more challenging, it's been raining all weekend. The ceiling fan/light just adds a yellow cast to the room, so this is it for now. 

Do you see that rug?!  It's 7x10 and the perfect size for this room. It's a little more patterned than what I was originally looking for, but the colors work well with the room, and I could not beat the price. $79.98 on clearance at Target.  Down from $249.99 when I was looking at it before Christmas! It makes my budget conscious heart VERY happy!!

This desk area really turned out well. He has a large space to work at, plenty of storage, and places to hang his drawings. Both lights are on now for the photo's, but usually, he only uses the lamp for task lighting. He has always preferred his clothes to go in his chest of drawers, so the closet was completely wasted space before (and piled with junk!) 

Here's a close up of his desk space

The desk has a very small lip on the edge so that pencils don't roll off, but not enough that he feels it when he's writing or drawing. To the left of the cork board, I do want to put a floating shelf, but that's part of that 10% not done. 

Speaking of not done, there are still a few things that need to be completed:

  • new blinds and curtains for his window - and if I'm being honest, I haven't even looked into these yet. But as I mentioned previously, his blinds are broken and must be replaced. The curtains have small tears (no idea where those came from!) and I'm not thrilled with tie-dyed curtains, a plaid duvet, and the patterned rug.  It's just too much. So those still need to be done.
  • Artwork - my son is very picky on artwork. This may take some time to find what he really wants and what I find to be acceptable. Artwork adds up quickly as well, so that needs to be a consideration as well. 
  • Conversation area - it's not obvious in the first photo, but he has quite a bit of space to the right of his bed. Ideally, he'd like two bean bag chairs and small table between them. That way when he has friends over, they can 'hang out' away from his brothers. I want navy or dark denim, so it's just a matter of finding something that's cost effective. The builder will probably make him a small table of some sort. I haven't worked out that detail yet.
But for me, the rug is what really pushed this almost to completion. It looks sparse at the moment, but it does look put together. And when he comes home from spring break, I think he'll be happy!

The Vintage Buffet

It's done. And I LOVE it. It is better than what I even imagined. Here are some more photo's

This is a new piece of mahogany veneer that The Builder laminated back to the top. The wood grain is just beautiful, and while it was a little pricey, it was well worth it. 

Yes, for those that know me, that is my Downton Abbey tea set. I wanted the tea set the first year it was out, but it sold out quickly. When the brought it out again before the last season, I was quick to buy it (to the dismay of my friends and family who had thought they might buy me some pieces for Christmas...oops) I think it looks SO pretty out on display.

You may remember the photo where the bottom was all scratched up and just a mess. That was carefully sanded out. The Builder suspects that at some point, someone did a repair, and the bottom was 'painted' to match the original finish. That to some work to get it sanded down, and then to color match it since it took stain differently than the rest of the piece. The Builder spent days applying layers of stain to get it to match the rest of the piece. I think he did a wonder job!

I can't believe I contemplated painting any of this initially! The wood on this is just beautiful. I'm so happy we were able to restore it.

What we spent:
Buffet - $45 + sales tax
mahogany veneer - $55
spray paint for the hardware - $8
pewter rub to tone down the SHINY paint after we painted the hardware: $5

Total: $113

Now to be fair, we already owned the two stains that we mixed, Rustoleum/Varathane Provincial and Cherry. We also already had the clear varnish we used on the body and the wax paste we used on the top, as well as the wood glue.  These things would have run us another $25-$30. We also bought a multi pack of sandpaper. And we used it ALL. 

You may also notice in the last photo, that it matches our existing dining room chairs perfectly. I wish I could say this was intentional. But it was a total fluke! 

I still have some styling to do on this wall.  Currently there is a shelf that is now too small for the scale of this piece, that holds a few of my most used cookbooks. It's now complete wrong for this space, and I'll have to see if there's anywhere else that it would work.  That means I either need a longer shelf for the scale of this piece, artwork, or a cabinet of some sort.  Or even a combination of some sort, to finish this off. But I've already stored my good china and my decorative plates in the lower cabinets, and I'll start putting my tea towels and table clothes in the drawers. 

My heart is happy.

2017 Beginnings

Happy New Year!

I should be starting this post with photos of my son's completed bedroom.  And we're officially 97% there. But his comforter needs to be washed. His new desk needs a thorough cleaning and staging. And he's in the middle of doing laundry (that I told him all last week to do so he wouldn't be stressing the day before he goes back to school...). And since I don't get home until after it's dark all week, photo's will have to wait until next weekend. Maybe I'll have new artwork for him by that point too...

Umh, and so while I should be putting the finishing touches on his room (cornice board isn't started, still looking for the right rug for his room, and I'm working out his hang out area)...I'm not. I got distracted by a new project.

I've mentioned I love to poke around Habitat for Humanities ReStore. If you're willing to visit frequently and dig through a lot of trash, there are some amazing treasures. Remember the granite vanity top with the undermount sink for my kids' bathroom that I got for $75, the 7 ft. soaking tub on clearance for $50, and our $150 front door (still sold a Lowes for just $600). Sometimes we really find some incredible deals. 

The Builder and I tried to stop in after Christmas to poke around. We didn't really need anything, but like I said, it's a store where merchandise moves quickly so it never hurts to poke around. However, they were closed a week for Christmas so that was a bust. This morning, as it was raining dogs and cats (and small tractors and elephants) I remembered that they opened again, so we decided to go and walk around. We were almost done wandering through, considering this trip a bust, when I came found it.  In all it's shabby, needed to be re-worked,  ugliness, a true treasure. A diamond in the rough!!

The Builder...needed some convincing. 

Yes, the top is bad. But after closer inspection, that's a veneer top, and we could strip that off. Yes, the drawers need to be re-worked as they currently have wood slides, but that's an easy fix. I like the cabinet hardware, it just needs to be cleaned and refinished a brushed nickel to coordinate with the rest of the fixtures in the house. The sides and doors need some repairs, but only small repairs. 
The Drawer Front

Look at the curve on the front of that drawer.  It's beautiful. And it's solid wood, no particle board in this piece. The drawers are all dove tailed as well. And you can't tell in the photo's, but 7 of the 8 drawer pulls are installed upside down.  I have no idea if someone took them off to clean them or something, but it's the craziest thing. 

You may have guessed, we're not going to re-stain the entire cabinet. The doors will need some wood putty in spots that have been damaged. The front of the cabinet has some minor scratches and gouges that will need to be filled and sanded. The goal at this point is to remove the existing veneer, replace it with new veneer, and stain the top. The rest of the cabinet will be stripped of the clear coat, painted, and lightly distressed. 

We were slightly excited when we got it home, and may have already removed ALL of the damaged veneer top...and maybe started removing the clear finish on one of the doors...
One heat gun later, and the veneer came off fairly easy (this was more about patience than effort, but it did take a couple of hours). We also discovered that the heat gun will melt the clear coat off, making it easy to scrape off. Since we plan to paint it a cream color and antique it so a little of the dark stain shows through, it's important that we be able to see the existing stain. This is our first time attempting to do a distressed/antique finish, but it's perfect for our dining room. 

I have no idea what the actual age of this piece is. There were no furniture stamps to determine who made this buffet. We believe both the top and the bottom skirting have been redone at least once. Our best guess is that they lightly sanded it and finished it with a tinted top coat. While sanding the skirting today, you could see where someone had fill nail holes in it with a pink tinted wood filler. Given the degree of disgusting found under the dresser, I think this may have been sitting in someone's garage or shed for some time. But all of that is easy to clean. 

We figured the investment for this piece to be fairly minor:
  • buffet - $48
  • heat gun - $20
  • new leveling feet - $4
  • new plywood to repair the weak bottom of the main drawer - $13
  • new drawer slides to replace the wooden ones - $30
  • paint - $23
  • spray paint for the hardware - $5
  • Total Cost: $143
Now let me be clear. I have been wanting a buffet for several years now. I love dishes and I have managed to collect quite a few pieces over the years, in addition to the china my grandmother gave me when I got married (that I dearly love!). We currently have a small china hutch that worked when I first got in on Freecycle 12+ years ago, but now, is way too small for my our needs. But the cost on a solid wood, 6 ft. buffet, is crazy stupid. World Market is probably the lowest in cost, at just $499 + shipping for a 54" buffet, but only the frame is made from real wood. Wayfair has some with free shipping, but they look SO modern and...blah. Of course, Pottery Barn to the rescue, I dearly love this one:
Of course, it's a lot more rustic than I actually want, but it checks off all the boxes for size (62") and being made from solid wood. It does not, however, fit the budget. The buffet is $1800. If I want the matching hutch (yes, you know I do!) that's an additional $1600. Shipping, of course, is additional. 

So $143 vs. $1800. The Builder was still reluctant as the the ReStore guys loaded it into his truck, but after getting it home and into the garage, he quickly got on board!

I really, really want this to be a simple project. My dining room needs this to be a fast and simple project!

Just One More...

Why is it on any project, there is always one more board that's needed to finish it?  OK, in this case, I actually need two more. 

Putting this floor in took longer because this was done by my boys. They ripped out the old carpet, bundled it up, and hauled it out to the trash. Then, with The Builder supervising, we got the floor put in. This was done primarily during their week off for Thanksgiving. We installed the last two boards today, but I don't have pictures yet. 

I am really loving this floor. Not too light, not too dark, It's a laminate, but a wide plank, so it looks more natural (unlike the orange laminate in the hallway...but that's a project for another year). This is the same flooring we put in the older boy's room. I'm thinking about doing my daughters' in the same flooring when she goes to college in January and my oldest son gets her room. I think having the same flooring in all three bedrooms would be best. Again, something to contemplate. 

A quick shot of the bed and dresser.  They're directly across from the new desk area. Apparently, I'm due to lightly sand and restain his bed because it looks bad in this photo. The duvet cover is new from Ikea. I wasn't sure he'd actually go for this but I bought it because I could see it in the room. My youngest hates plaid. Amazingly, he likes this one. It may be more because it's really soft, but I can live with that! 

The blue drapes are not staying. There's a small tear in one of them and the tie dye effect isn't working for me with the plaid. The plan is a cornice board with a faux roman shade. I already mentioned the blinds need to be replaced. Still on my to buy list. To the right of the bed, I'm on the hunt for a beanbag chair and a side table. This will be his "hang out" area. Now that we have the new flooring, a rug might be in order as well. Of course, we still have new base boards to install as well. I'm ready for this "quick" refresh to be done! But at least my son finally likes it (he didn't think his room needed any refreshing when we started).

Parting shot. He wanted to be silly. He's demonstrating how comfortable he is in this bed. Such a goofball...

Built In Desk

I had to give this built in desk a lot of thought. I would have loved to have made it a true built in, since my son has never used his closet (except for shoving in junk when tell him to clean his room, lol) as he prefers to use his dresser. And while I have no plans for moving ever again, I do recognize the best laid plans can change. If I removed the closet, it would become a 3 bedroom home, and that won't work. That was part of the big draw to my inspiration photo. It could easily convert back to a closet if needed. 

So to do this built in, we decided to do a frame, instead of just a cleat. I know my son, he's hard on things. I wanted the extra stability of a frame. 
So, nothing difficult about this. 

The frame has two supports in it to distribute the weight. We then attached the frame to the studs in the wall. 

This ended up being more difficult only because it doesn't appear that our closet does have studs evenly placed as the walls do. I have no idea why. 

(when did this photo get blurry?!) We used a laser level to shoot a line 30" up the wall (this is the height the desk in my bedroom is and I wanted to make sure he was getting an adult sized height since he keeps getting bigger, not smaller!) and marked if off with painters tape. We then pre-drilled holes so that when the frame was set in, it would be easier to attach it to the studs. 

The blue vertical pieces of tape are where the studs are. Again, we wanted to make it as easy as possible to find them so this could be installed. 

The top piece has been added. There will be a 2x3 across the front to create a lip, as we are going to put a piece of tempered glass on top of the desk. As I have mentioned, my son loves to draw, and I could see him pressing down on the plywood top and leaving indention's. Or setting a glass down and having water marks. I need this to be teen boy resistant!

I still need to lightly sand this, stain, and varnish it before I can add the glass top. But I feel like I've crossed the threshold of the halfway mark on this project. 

While I'm waiting for stain and varnish to dry, I'm focusing on the task lighting that needs to go in here. The first thing I have to loose is the bare bulb at the top of the closet. It's a chain pull and it's ugly!! 

The thing is, there are very few options for chain pull lights. Here's the one I really like. Yes, this is by far my favorite. It's also $99

I'm not paying $99 for a closet light fixture. It's not because I'm cheap (well, I am, but that's a discussion for another day). Right now, $100 for a single light is not in my budget. 

I also found this one on Etsy. It's a little more reasonable in cost and still has a nice industrial feel to it. This one is $59. I really would have liked to have spent no more than $20 on a closet light, but that doesn't seem to be possible. I could look around at some local lighting stores, but I don't think I'll find anything less than this one.

The thing about this closet light? I don't expect him to use this light frequently. I suspect he'll be using the task lighting that I'm going to install as well. But I've been looking for a place in my home to use an Edison bulb, and this is probably the only room that it will work. 

I keep mentioning tasking lighting. I have two more light sources I want to add. The first is a desk light. I have one that I use and I think it's really important, particularly  for studying. These are the two I've narrowed it down to.
Both lamps are from Ikea, and I really, really like Lamp 2. Of course, it's the higher price of the two at $35

Lamp 1 is the cost effective one for $20. And until I put it next to Lamp 2, I like it just fine. 

I'm not sure yet, but there's no rush since I'm not ready to buy it just yet. 

I'm also contemplating a shelf light. I like the idea of a soft light he can turn on that won't light up his room. Ikea has one that specifically mounts behind the TV, which I like the idea of:

This would mount behind his TV, which will be mounted to the wall. I need to take a trip to Ikea and look at this in person. I need to keep in mind that I only have four outlets, and if I fill them all up with lights, I've defeated the purpose of having them for his electronics. I believe they have battery operated ones as well, which may be a better option. But I think I need to look at them in person to make a final decision.

Well, hopefully the next post will be a completed, built in desk!