Category Archives: House

The Un-Built-In Desk: Or How to Put a Desktop on End Tables and Make It Look Awesome

So, remember when I talked about making Charlie’s Chalkboard Closet Doors, and I mentioned I had a lot of scrap material left from the PureBond sheets? After cutting down the door pieces, I had two sections that were about 15″ wide and eight feet long. When we were brainstorming ideas for the guest/playroom, Jacob said he wanted a double desk area for office space for us, and homework space down the road when our munchkin(s) are older. Well, obviously those scraps would make the perfect desk top! But what to use for the base? I could always build something, but sometimes I get nervous about filling our house with too much of the same look since my hand built furniture definitely has a specific style. So I had a harebrained idea. What if I found some old end tables for the base? They are usually made from solid wood, have exquisite details, and would give me the storage I’m looking for. So I hit up my favorite new resale shop and hit the jackpot. Two matching magazine-style end tables and a bookcase type one that had a matching finish and only $80 for all three. Huzzah! That’s equal to or less than what I’d spend on lumber to build something, AND I didn’t have to put in any work! Then it was on to the crazy part. The mockup.


I unloaded my tables and set them into the space. The first problem was the the bookcase style table was taller than the other set. When Jacob came home from work and saw this, he gave me a pretty strong side-eye. I’ll admit, even I was a bit nervous at this point. But I plowed ahead anyway, and made him help me cut the scraps to length. Hubs may have a good side-eye, but I’ve got my strong-arm techniques down pat.


Once the top was cut down, it looked much better, more like a real desk. I added a scrap piece of lumber to the front of the center portion where the bookcase table sat, as it was not only taller but deeper than the other two. I really like this arrangement, it gives definition to both spaces. Once the measurements were finished, we attached the three pieces together with scrap wood braces then trimmed it out with 1×3’s. Since I didn’t want to lock myself in to this desk forever, I decided not to drill into the tables. We just made some “supports” with scraps to level out the top, and the trim keeps the top snugly in place.


Where the two tops meet, and the jut-out portion got attached together into one piece. Oh, that shiny stuff? Just ignore it. My first attempt was to cover the top in metallic wrapping paper and I was going to use a bar coat epoxy over it, but the paper looked like flaming dog poo so I ripped it off in a fury. True story.

For each end, we stacked 1.5″ thick pieces of scrap lumber and topped it with plywood scrap to make up the difference in height. It works perfectly! Everything is level.


After my shiny wrapping paper debacle I sanded the top down as best as I could and picked up some Rustoleum Hammered paint in silver. It’s really cool stuff! The top would have looked even better if I had spent more time sanding and used putty to fill the seams, but I was tired and cranky at that point and just wanted to finish. Even so, I think it looks great (at least, it looks better when there aren’t drywall and sawdust particles all over it – need to get to cleaning!) I used two coats and followed it up with three coats of poly to give it a wipeable finish. I may top it off with a few more just so I’ll be able to scrub it should crayon or marker decorations happen down the road!


While the desk itself was looking good, the space still needed a little something. I had planned on some shelves, but then it hit me. Why not pegboard? I’d never worked with it before, but it was surprisingly easy to install. I purchased two 4×4′ sheets for each desk side, a wall mount for our tv, and a 2×4′ section of pegboard for the center beneath the tv. It was a great fit. I had never worked with pegboard before, but after a quick google search I learned that you needed to install a framework first with 3/4″ thick boards to give space for the pegs. I raided our trim scrap stash and got to work, then gave the pegboard two coats of the same hammered paint. I also hung the tv! It was a pretty productive day. Once Jacob came home from work I asked him to help me hang the boards, and voila! Beauty on a wall. It was an added bonus that the tv wires fit along the framework behind the pegboard, so I didn’t have to do anything fancy to hide them.


Don’t you just love my turtle placemat?! Ha! I threw it there to hide my ugly seams that I didn’t fill. I’m on the search for a good re-usable monthly calendar, one that’s laminated that I can dry-erase marker on. We had planned on using that IKEA rail and bucket in our kitchen beneath the sink before I goofed up on our measurements there and we didn’t need it. Now it’s got a handy spot wrangling all our pens! No more scrambling around searching for a writing tool. I snagged the baskets from my 6 cube shelf in the kitchen (they never fit well anyway) and they house my chargers, to-do paperwork, art supplies for Charlie and a wire basket holds wii-motes.


This is my favorite section! Those hanging bottles with the twine were actually old IV dispensers from a hospital that my dad found for 50 cents and gave to me. The ornament is from our cruise last summer, the map hearts are from Charlie’s old nursery (they have both of our birth places on them), and my mom gave me the chalkboard Anthropologie jars for Christmas this past year. I found the N at a boutique, and I’m either going to paint the inside a fun color or make it a succulent planter. But the best part? Finally having a place to stash all the dvd’s so they actually look decent! We’ve had them crammed in a tiny bookshelf that was awful for the job. You couldn’t ever find what you were looking for. Now it’s a breeze.


I also used a basket on some 6″ shelf hooks to store my camera and lenses so Charlie can’t get to them and throw them around like she enjoys doing. I also hung my weekly planner on a hook, and added an engagement picture.

I can’t tell you just how happy I am to have this desk area finished. It’s one of the last big projects for the house, and I’ve been getting very overwhelmed lately over finishing things up before Caroline comes in October. Now I have about four months to take my time on her nursery and finish up the last few small projects on my list. That’s a very good feeling! Plus its just nice to have all the toys and baby things stashed in the closet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we find another really cool door at this Saturday’s market day!

Vintage Screen Pantry Door

One of the best perks about being a flea market vendor is that you get to hang around all day and shop. Plus I have a little extra cash burning a hole in my pocket every time I make a sale. For May’s market, I stumbled on this amazingly beautiful old screen door. Oh, and the best part? It was only $65! I’d been waiting and searching for a good pantry door since we started building, and just hadn’t found the right one. I thought I’d have to build one myself, which would have been in the 60-75 dollar range. So when I saw this, I immediately high-tailed it back to my booth to grab the cash and sent Jacob back to pick it up.

What’s funny to me is that my booth up until then was having a bit of a slow day (we all were, surprisingly) but when Jacob came back and propped that door in the back until it was time to load I was literally blocking people from coming after it! I kept having to tell them, “No, this is MY door I

Rolling Modern Porch Gate

Well after four thousand, five hundred and sixty-five arguments on execution (as in, how to implement rather than offing each other – though I’m sure it crossed both our minds at some point!) we *finally* have a rolling gate for our back porch! It’s so amazing to be able to shut this sucker off and keep the dogs’ muddy paws off the furniture and give Charlie a safe space to color with chalk.

Building the gate was actually very basic. I measured the opening and added a few inches, cut the top and bottom pieces at 72″, chose 2″ fixed-wheel castors then figured out my necessary height (31″) for the two side pieces. They needed to fit just below the top brace of the railing.

Attaching the panel was different on the gate than on the railing. For the railing, it’s sandwiched between two 1×2’s. On the gate, I couldn’t fit the panel on the slim inch and a half of the wood. So we used some 3/8″ two-hole brackets for the corners for stability, then regular old fencing staples for the interior. You can see my pajama munchkin there, chalk in hand. And pop-tart on face 😉

As far as the latch, I kept it simple. It’s just a hook and eye catch like the kind you see in public restrooms. It’s high enough for little fingers not to reach and not quite easy enough for her to figure out yet.

For the catch side of the gate, we used metal deck (I think?) brackets my dad had on hand. Let me preface this section by saying I am exactly like my father in this respect. We’ll look at a random stash of supplies and brainstorm until we come up with some MacGuiver’d way of solving our problem. This drives my husband absolutely insane. But luckily, this worked so well! The top is a U-shaped bracket fed between the 2×4’s and screwed into place to stop the gate at just the right spot. The bottom is an L bracket with holes that we used to anchor bolts into the concrete and serves as a guide as well as a stopper to keep the gate from slipping out sideways. It’s not a conventional method by any means, but when you’re working with concrete your options are limited. Jacob was wanting to use sliding gate hardware that’s used for barn doors and just run it across the bottom. This would be great on a wooden deck that you can carve out space. Here, I just see myself carrying my toddler while massively pregnant and tripping over the slide, plunging head first down the stairs and breaking all our necks. No bueno. So brackets it is!

For the sliding side of the gate, we used two more L shaped brackets for the top, and one on the bottom at the closed portion of the gate. This keeps it all in line, and again prevents the gate from being pushed sideways. The fixed-wheel castors are great, but you can still make them slip sideways with a good hard shove. For the back side of the lower half, we just anchored in two concrete bolts to keep the gate in line and in place when opened. So far, so good! Everything lines up well, and it’s an easy way to roll the gate open and closed.

Plus it’s pretty minimal when its open, though it does stay shut most of the time. It’s so convenient to just open the doors from the house and let Charlie run in and out, looking for the cows and drawing with her chalk.

Plus its very effective at toddler wrangling. Now I can feed the chickens in the morning without the nagging worry that she’ll try to go up and down the stairs fifteen times and crash down them. I’m really pleased with how minimal the brackets are aesthetically. You hardly notice them when viewing the whole porch area.

Please excuse the mess. We’re in the process of leveling out the dirt for our brick patio, and will eventually mount that lattice for my grapes and blackberries. My dream is to have them grow up the panel as well.

So there you have it! I hope this helps someone out there looking for a rolling/sliding gate option on a concrete porch. I searched for ages and ages looking for an online tutorial and found nothing suitable. Now we have a simple (even if it wasn’t easy coming up with the idea!) solution with an easily operating gate. Just in time for summer too!



How to Recycle Old Boots into Planters

So my husband goes through a lot of boots. His job requires steel toed work boots, and they get run down pretty quickly. So, what to do with them? You could try getting them repaired, but sometimes they get so worn that its hardly worth it. So I turned this pair into fun, rustic planters! It was really quick and easy to do. All you need is a drill, some dirt, and a couple of plants!

I started by drilling tons of holes in the soles. It’s a lot easier to drill through the grooves. There are at least 10 holes per boot. With this small amount of drainage, you’ll probably want to use potting soil to fill them.

Once you fill ’em up, just pop in your plants and that’s it!

I planted a bee balm and an aromatic herb (for the life of me I can’t remember what it is, whoops!) They’re hanging out in front of the old cauldron that holds my tiny strawberry sprouts. Oh, and did you notice we got a rain barrel? And gutters?! So exciting! I also added a few shrubs and made them a bed with some siding rocks and crushed red granite.

The two on the ends are gardenias, surrounding a couple of Pink Indigos (which is a hilarious name, in my opinion). I love how fragrant they are! I also picked up a pair of apple trees that thrive in this area to complement my satsuma and lime trees. Hopefully by next summer we’ll be appreciating the fruits of our mini orchard!

Now that we have a path, gutters, and some greenery, all we have left to do is seed the yard for grass and our initial landscaping is done. Eventually I’d like to add a pretty arch over the gate and grow some vining bushes (maybe honeysuckle?) but I’m going to see how our cows act before I do too much. I accidentally left my grape plants out there too long and they had a feast!

Anybody up to some yard work this weekend? Working outside in good weather is the best!



Rustic Rock Path with Reclaimed Materials

One of the fun things about building a house is that you have a lot of random materials left over when its done. Some people just like to get rid of it, but I’m the type that likes to use it! We had a very large pile of rocks left over from the exterior siding. We didn’t want to do anything too permanent with them, should we need to replace a few someday, so we decided to make our front walkway out of them. The stones are pretty uneven, and are vaguely the same thickness. So instead of striving for a picture perfect stone walkway, we went for a smooth-enough rustic look.

We started by outlining the general shape we wanted, then used our trailer to gather them up and move them to the house. I let Jacob handle all the big ones, since my ob would be pretty pissed at me for lifting too much. So I set the edges and small filler rocks. We didn’t dig any down into place as the dirt was still very level from the build, and was packed down. That saved us quite a few steps! Once we were satisfied with the shape and evenness, it was time for sand.

Somehow my dad has a very large pile of crushed red granite, so we were able to use two Bobcat-bucket-full of sand to fill the gaps and edges. We simply used a shovel and placed the sand in the cracks, then used a push broom to settle it down into place. After the first coat we wet it all down, let it dry, then repeated with another layer of granite. Another wetting, then lots and lots of pushing the gravel out of the low spots in the rocks when it dried. I “swept” that path for at least two hours! But I’m happy with the way it turned out.

The gravel dried nice and hard and is doing a great job keeping the rocks in place. You can see that a lot of the low spots of rock got covered up, but I prefer a more even walkway to a prettier, trippier path! Like I said, we’re keeping it rustic. I’m going to add some sort of edging to keep things in place over time so the entire thing doesn’t crumble into a scrabbly pile of rubble. But for now, it’s a great little path!

Now that we have our path in, we can focus on the actual lawn portion. To the right of the path by the garage I’d like to plant some sort of ground cover. This area stays relatively shady and damp, and frankly I’m not big on grass anyway. I’m researching some good native ground covers and bushes. I’d really love to do some hydrangeas, but I’m not sure how they’d fare. For the left side, we’ll probably go with sod. Hubby is really wanting something to mow, for strange reasons. Oh, and if you sneak a peek into the right corner of the house you’ll see that we have another (almost complete) update, gutters! And rain barrels! And to the left you can see my zucchini just starting to peek out in the galvanized planter. I still need to even those up so they don’t look so sloppy. Once we have greenery and more plants, I think this yard will really be something nice.

Oh, and did I mention the path was 100% free? Yup, that’s the beauty of re-use! And having a family full of hoarders. Who also have large machinery and trailers for stashing loads of crushed granite gravel 😉 Do you have any favorite ground covers and shrubs? Any suggestions for this newbie gardener?



Stuffed Animal Hammock from Stroller Mosquito Nets

As I slowly (very, very slowly it seems!) cross off items from my house to-do list, sometimes I get surprised. I really wanted to build Charlie a stuffed animal storage solution, like those zoos I saw on Pinterest where it’s a little 1×2 cage with dowels to wrangle them all. I had the lumber in the garage, made all my cuts, and got started. After 15 minutes of finagling with all the finicky dowels I was covered in glue and massively frustrated. I may have *kinda* thrown it across the garage. Hey, I’m hormonal, that’s okay, right?! So, that didn’t work out. After my husband graciously ignored my hissy fit, I decided to search for more options. I saw stuffed animal hammocks online, and while many are affordable ($20 and below) I wanted to honor my goal to not buy new unless it’s completely unavoidable. So, what to use? Scrap fabric? Meh. An actual hammock? That might work, but its been used outside and has been doused in smoke and mosquito spray so I didn’t want chemicals all over her stuffed toys. That’s when it hit me. Mosquito nets!

Back when we lived in Lake Jackson, I had picked up a set of mosquito nets to cover the stroller and baby carrier. Mosquitos are no joke by the coast! I mean, they are so intense the county has an annual Mosquito Festival that’s a huge draw. Anyway, back on topic. They were mesh, stretchy, and perfect for a stuffed animal storage solution! I simply stapled them straight into the drywall and have been very insistent with Charlie that you don’t hang on the nets. She’s still too little to reach the top one, so that’s mainly for the animals she doesn’t play with but were gifts so I feel bad about getting rid of them.

I love that I was able to re-use something that otherwise would have just sat in storage. Plus, it’s just the perfect fit for the room! I know I’m not going to win a decorating prize anytime soon, but it works for us. This was one of the last projects before we start moving Charlie out of the crib and into her Big Girl Room. We put up her bed rail, and I switched out the big comforter for a lighter quilt that’s better for the summer and is actually twin sized and easier for her to manage.

I also snagged this vintage nightstand from a local antiques store, and it just so happened to have the perfect opening for her owl toy box. Score! Now we have a spot for her lamp and her sound machine when we move it into this room.

The quilt was one I made for her first birthday, her family tree quilt. I actually like that the colors fit in well enough with the room. I’m not 100% thrilled with the blue in here, but I’m glad its getting good use. Oh, and there’s my little Platinum-head photo bomber in the corner.

Her art wall is also finished and ready for some pictures! She’s just now getting into coloring, so soon enough I’ll be able to fill up that rail with original Charlies. I also am thrilled to point out that I didn’t have to buy any “brand new” furniture at all for this room. I built her Pioneer Bed, re-purposed Jacob’s grandmother’s rocker and console television, and found the nightstand at an antiques store. I’m really proud of that!

Now before we start the transition into her room, my last project to tackle is building closet doors. I decided on French-style doors. I plan to frame them out and have an “interactive” center. I’m thinking one side to be a chalkboard, and the other to be magnetic metal flashing like I used on her play kitchen. That way as she gets older I can leave her fun pictures and notes to wake up to in the morning, and she can use magnets for photos of her friends or pictures or ticket stubs and stuff like that. I’m really excited to build it! I think it’s going to be a really cute addition to the space. Hopefully I’ll get it done before summer rolls around 😉


Chasing Darkness

Every parent will say that the first few years of raising a child are pretty rough. For example, how did I not know there was an 18 month “wakeful period”, and things called “wonder weeks” which basically mean that any time Charlie has a burst of new accomplishments her sleep is non-existent? Well, little miss started making word combos (baby cow, dis mama mine, hungee eat?) and for the past three nights she’s been waking up and yelling at us. Awesome. So in an attempt to get more sleep myself, I’ve been doing some housework! For starters, a bedroom door!

Oh, I am sooo excited. Now I can shut the door and take a nap on Sunday! We saved this one for the end because it’s an 8 footer, which is pretty uncommon for standard doors. It’s normally a special order thing. And since I’m on a reclaimed kick, I visited a local specialty door shop that had a stash of reclaimed doors outside. So I bought this solid wood beauty for less than $500, when special order doors start out at $1000+. Saving cash and resources all at the same time! Oh, and the kicker? I installed this sucker myself! I built the frame, found three old door hinges in my dad’s shop, chiseled out the spaces and screwed everything in place. Then my mom stopped by to help place it in the hinges and voila! Privacy!

And yes, the house is kind of chaotic right now. Rainy days mean muddy paws and stir-crazy toddlers.

I still have a bit of trim work to finish, and the door needs some repair from the water damage of sitting outside for so long. But its getting there. I also snagged some blackout shades and curtains to help curb the light in this room. Even so, there’s a large panoramic window above the bed that’s been plaguing me. It’s in the perfect path for the moon to shine in my face nearly every night, and the sun hits me each morning. I wanted something a bit more original than curtains, also because I didn’t want the window to be hidden all the time. Just at sleeping times. So, what to do?

Add shutters! I had some shutters for a lantern project that didn’t work out, and they were nearly perfect for this space. I had to build them up a bit, but once they’re all painted white I don’t think the added wood will be nearly as obvious as it is now.

Once they’re painted and pretty I’ll post my tutorial for how I got them in place. It was even easier than I thought it would be, and works like a charm. I may even add some dark fabric behind them down the line to block even more light.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately! I’m hoping to get even more done this weekend, with the warm weather finally here to stay. This last cold snap nearly did me in. I’m much more energetic when it’s hot outside. Anybody else been busy this week?


Homestead Ambitions

So after my whole Going Green post, you’re probably thinking I’m starting to go off the deep end. Well, I am, and I’m loving it! We recently filed for our Homestead paperwork, which in theory means our home can’t be seized as its our primary residence, but I’m taking it one step farther. I want a legitimate homestead. Where we produce our own food and raise animals. I need to finally learn the mysterious arts of not only keeping plants and animals alive, but knowing how to help them thrive.

Do you remember the Saltbox Coop, Run, and Planter I shared last week? Well, we have some updates! First up…

We have chickens! We picked up three pullets. There’s a Rhode Island Red, a Leghorn, and an Americauna. We also bought a full grown hen that just started laying this week. She even gave us our very first egg today! I’m so excited. It’s a mystery brown breed, and she’s pretty friendly. Our dogs are really interested in them, my Boxer Rory sits and watches them all day. We’re taking it slow and keeping them penned in the coop and run for now until we can be sure there won’t be any problems. Even so, we plan to partition the yard so our dogs can’t access them when I want to let them run free in the afternoons.

As this is a portable coop we intend to move often, we didn’t bury the wire or add a bottom. So to keep the predators from digging under, we are surrounding the base with heavy native rocks. We also added a hinged door at the coop, which still needs a sturdy latch to keep any critters from getting in. I’m also making a canvas cover today for the wire gate that can roll up when it’s hot out and roll down securely when its windy or rainy weather.

I need to pick up some shavings today to replace the hay we spread as a temporary bedding cover. Jacob also whipped up a quick ladder, which is attached with hinges to the base of the coop.

The feeder also needs to be hung. But we’re getting there. So far they all seem happy enough, I’m surprised our brown started laying so soon! I expected her to take a few days to get acclimated with her new surroundings and not be stressed by over-eager canines. So far, so good! In other springtime good news…

The coop cukes are sprouting! Before I know it we’ll be stapling up wire for the trellis and thinning out the plants. I am so excited to watch them grow! Charlie is having a ball seeing it all in action. She loves checking on the chickens several times a day, and likes to poke through the dirt to find new sprouts. I’m so grateful we’re getting the chance to raise her around so much nature. I really hope to instill a love of gardening and food harvesting in her while nourishing my own burgeoning passion as well.

Oh, and did I mention we built raised beds along the south west side of the house? They get loads of light, and the seeds are already sprouting up, just over a week after planting. We’re growing some herbs, beans, okra, onions, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, zucchini, cowpeas, and cucumbers. Talk about an ambitious start, right?! I also picked up a Mexican lime tree, a Satsuma, and some white grapes. We’re hoping to add even more as we go. A great guide so far has been the Backyard Homestead book, which shows you how to start living sustainably on a half acre, which is about the size of our yard. Which is also starting to make some progress.

My dad helped install the reclaimed iron gate, and we’re going to sub out that bar at the top for an arched trellis to grow our grapes. I think we’ll train other berries along the front section of that fence as well to hide the metal post braces. And those rocks? You would think we spent a pretty penny on landscape rocks. But that’s only about half of what was dug up when our septic tank was installed! Gotta love Central Texas for our rock supply 😉 I asked my neighbor to move them with the Bobcat (a small riding construction mover thing – my brain is blipping out on this one) and he piled them in place. We spent last weekend moving them into the shape we wanted and flattening out the slope. The plan is to move some gravel leftover from the house construction and build up the slope so it runs down away from the foundation and creates a smoother appearance. Because right now, our trough planters are having a rough time on the uneven surface! Oh, and we also got started on our rock path. We’re using leftover rock from the exterior and packing in some red granite gravel my dad has a random pile of on the property. Savings and repurposing! Gotta love it.

To the right of the front porch we have an old cauldron from my husband’s grandmother’s house. Her husband used to work at DOW and this was an old smelting pot. This is where I hope the strawberries will sprout. I may have to move them into a shallow wagon once they sprout, I’m not sure if this was the best container choice.

To the left we have our first trough, and my set of succulents. I’m not sure what happened to my once-thriving aloe vera. I moved it here because I thought it wasn’t getting enough sun, now maybe its getting too much rain? We’re having a very rainy spring, but the summers are typically very dry. If this is any indication of my green/black thumb, this year may not be as productive as I’d hoped!


And despite Rory finding the trough to be a toasty resting place (see all the dirt she pushed out?!), I’ve kicked her out and the zucchini and squash have started sprouting.

Anyway, that’s it for my homesteading rambling! I’m sure we’ll make more progress as the summer progresses, and I’ll be sure to share any good tips or tricks we learn along the way. And please feel free to share your knowledge! We’re total newbies to gardening and husbandry, so we will take what we can get!


Modern Porch Railing: A How-To (kinda)

With the weather warming up (at least in some parts of the globe!) we were getting antsy to move away from all the indoor stuff and start working outside. I’ve seen these amazing modern style railings in magazines and online, and knew it would be perfect for us! It had the right style, rustic yet simple. The problem? We had no clue how to execute it.

I searched online, but couldn’t find a tutorial explaining how this concept of cedar (or treated wood) and cattle panel came together in a sturdy railing. So though this isn’t an exact step-by-step tutorial I usually put together (I spent a lot of time resting inside with the kiddo while Jacob did all the hard work, hence the missing photos), but it does show how we made it happen. Here we go!

The first problem to overcome was how to add the posts. On a deck, you sink them into the ground. But on a concrete porch, you can either sink them into the ground next to the concrete and risk shifting or use one of these post brackets to secure it. Jacob started by marking the holes and pre-drilling the concrete. The brackets were actually slightly too small for the cedar posts, so he used a hand planer my neighbor had to shave off the edges until it slid into the bracket. Then he bolted everything down.


Next he measured a 2×4 to the height of the top of the post to the top of the bracket and screwed it into the post.


Next it was time for the top railing! With a 2×4 brace on all the posts (including the two large ones included in the original porch design), he measured the distance and cut the 2×4 railings. Then they were screwed directly into the posts and supports.


Once the tops were on, he measured for the bottom rail, also for a 2×4. Once those were screwed in, he measured the interior space for a 1×2 frame. The cattle panel is cut to size, fit into the front frame, then secured by stapling it to the first frame and adding in the back frame behind it.

Above you can see one frame on the left, and to the right the finished panel.

Ta da! We didn’t need much panel, and were able to use what was left over around the property. I love the sleek look it has. It totally fits in with the rest of the house.

And can I just say how incredibly nice it is now to have stairs? We had been hopping up and down the slab for ages, and Charlie loves that she can get around herself (with assistance, of course). There’s still some work to do. Jacob plans to face out the back of the steps so you don’t see through the gap, and we’re currently brainstorming ideas for the gate. I’d love one that slides. We also need a railing. We both like the idea of galvanized pipe for that. But we’ll see! For now we’re taking a breather and enjoying it in its current state. Like this fabulous seating area:

And our last minute addition, a bar area!

I do a lot of crawling around in my dad’s barn salvaging supplies, and found this amazing live-edge chunk of wood. I have no clue what type it is. I don’t think it started out as a live-edge cut either, it looks like it just weathered over time. So we cut off a straight edge on the end and notched out a spot on the left to fit around the post. And voila! Outdoor dining!

We added two braces to support it, and will also be bolting it down into the top railing below. I tossed in two of my Vintage Barstools for kicks, but they’ll be in my booth this April. We plan to add a rock patio later for our main dining area, with a larger table for family and friends. So this is mostly for casual dinners or just hanging out on a nice summer evening. I’m so excited for the weather to finally warm up so we can do that!

San Bernard House Tour!

Okay, okay, it’s time. I’ve posted enough teasers and projects. I’ve had enough requests to see more rooms in the house, so I’m going to share them with you in all their unfinished glory. Feel free to judge and offer advice! I’m still planning and dreaming and working, so it’s evolving. And that means I need outside opinions! For any new readers, this is the San Bernard plan from Tilson Homes, with a few tweaks. I LOVE this plan. Like big puffy heart pulsing kind of love. There are a few nitpicky quirks that I’ll cover in another post, but here’s a sample of the layout:

We reversed it, nixed the half garage and moved the doors to the front instead of the side. Other than that, it’s the same. I want to preface this by saying the house is infinitely more awesome in person. I’m planning on getting better with my camera this year and buying a wide angle lens. But right now my husband has been overseas for 10 days and has 10 more to go, so mama is tired! Lets start from the laundry room, as that’s the first place you enter from the garage (and who walks in their own front door??)

Laundry Room:
Completed –

Double Medicine Cabinet: A How-To

Woah, lots of how-to posts all in a row! I hope you’re not getting spoiled 😉 I’m finally getting around to finishing up some of these bathroom projects. Let me start by saying, this vanity is NOT finished. It’s maybe 60% done. So please don’t judge my medicine cabinet by my vanity 😉

Step 1: remove the tall faucets! Other than totally blocking the cabinets from opening, they also seem to think they are fountains, not faucets. Water is gushing out of the top handle instead of the spout! And as they were freebies from my plumber FIL, I chose to just buy new short ones. I’m also planning on staining it a gray-ish color so the wood tones don’t match so much. I’d like the focus to pull on the mirrors rather than the vanity boards.

See what I mean? Womp womp. I’ll be replacing those faucets this weekend so I can fully appreciate the wonder of these massive mirror cabinets.

This was relatively simple to build and pretty darn affordable! Considering you’d pay a hundred bucks for a much smaller wall unit at the store, you can build this double beauty for around $80. Including the mirrors. I used cedar (again! I know) because that’s what we have lying around and it matches the trim. You could use furring strips or pine boards to stain or paint and get a really nice look. Ready for the tutorial?


Custom Closet Shelving: A How-To

The amazing thing about choosing a semi-finished build is that you can get exactly what you want in your home without paying out the ears. But the downfall? Having to find the time to do it all yourself, and deal with the chaos in the meantime! For too long this bath closet had a giant pile just dumped on the floor. It wasn’t the best spot for a door, since they’d just bump into each other all the time and cause problems. So we finished out the jamb with cedar 1×6 trim, and I got to work planning some built in shelves. Here’s how we did it:


Cedar Built-In Closet System: A How-To

I’m going to pre-apologize for the epic awful-ness of the photos in this post. My closet is on one hand massive (height and length wise) and tiny (width-wise) so it’s pretty much impossible to get any decent angles. I also have the dimmest lights on the planet in there (IKEA’s LOCK – don’t get these!) so I had to use my flash. Yuck. Anyway, this was the current state of our master closet. I’d gotten two rods hung on each side, and everything else just piled up while I figured out how I wanted to do my built-ins. And yes, that’s a ballet-performing zombie eating a bleeding heart. I heart zombies. She makes me feel purdy when I get dressed.

Okay, now that you’ve beheld my disorganized glory, let’s get to the good stuff. The organizer! I spent about $250 and 2.5 hours on my plan, and it’s huge. Like 10 feet long by 8 feet tall huge. I couldn’t snap a pic of it in its entirety, so I stitched together a botched up view of it in Photoshop.

Please pretend you’re looking at it straight on and it’s a lovely rectangle. Here’s what one unit looks like alone:

LOTS of storage space! I planned, built and installed it all myself, so don’t feel too intimidated. If a toddler-whipped, sleep-deprived munchkin-person can do it, YOU can too! Want to know how? Here’s how easy it is!

Continue reading

Wood Look Tub Surround for $50

I’m slowly working through sections of the house, getting everything put together. I’m saving the big house tour until all things are finished, which will probably be summer sometime. Instead I’ll show you teasers with all the places I’ve gussied up enough to take pictures! Let’s start with the tub. The glorious, glorious haven of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

I wanted something different from all the tile that’s in every builder-grade bathroom. I’ve seen pvc beadboard, but I wanted to get away from “cottage” and get to “country”. I wanted wood planks, but wood + water = mold, so what to do? Well, duh! Use house siding! We chose Hardi Plank, a cement board that comes in 5 1/2 inch widths about 12 feet long. You can get it at any big hardware store. The tub area was already prepped with tile backer board and waterproofed, so all we needed was to cut the planks to the right size.

While I was the mastermind behind the bathroom (as I am with pretty much all of our projects!) Jacob was the executer with it. I don’t know if you’ve worked with Hardi board before, but its tough stuff. I tried to put in one screw and drilled it through my thumb. It’s still healing. 🙁 Plus it was still frigid outside and the cold saps all my energy and kindness. He was pretty much shoving me back inside whenever I reluctantly offered help. I’m solar-powered and like quality electronics do not operate well below 50 degrees.

We measured each section that needed a board, and luckily our tub insert was square so we didn’t need any fancy cuts. We started out with a table saw, but it was already on its last legs and completely burnt out halfway through our first rip. We moved on to using the jigsaw with a metal blade and that worked well enough, we just had to swap out blades often. Then we just popped a board in place and screwed them down with special Hardi screws (well, I held them at least) and then caulked the ever-living-daylights out of them! I love that they have nice grooves to mimic wood, but will never rot or warp. It’s the exact same stuff that’s on the back of our house.

Once the boards were in, I topped them with three coats of Olympic premium interior latex and will coat that with exterior grade spar varnish like the vanity in Charlie’s bathroom. I had a lot of fun decorating my space. I added the more “private” of our maternity photos here (draped pose, the classic “booby grab”) as well as a painting by a good friend. It may seem weird to have nice art in the bathroom, but when it’s 400 square feet I think it qualifies as a genuine room!

As far as the screw holes, I elected not to fill them. Not only is it virtually impossible for me to sand cement boards, I wanted that rustic look. Or I’m just lazy and am saying that to make myself feel better about skipping steps. Either way, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I still need to touch up the paint, but I’ll get to it later. Right now I need a vanity and a closet more than pretty paint!

We already had a light above the tub area, and my discount West Elm Chandelier (for $25! Score!) didn’t have the electrical, just the “shade” portion. So all we did was use some wall anchors, screws, and fishing line to secure it to the ceiling and voila! Fancy fixture. Nearly all the boxes for a luxury bathroom are checked. All except…

My future tv! Hubs was so kind as to gift me a small television to add to my area in the *somewhat near-ish* future. I’m going to build a shallow hutch like built in to house it. I may even hook up the Wii so I can have basic channels as well as Netflix. Now wouldn’t that be fancy? I think I’ll even add in a magazine rack. I’m serious about bath time guys. It’s my wine-down nightly ritual!

Oh, and the best part of this project is that it cost a mere $50. Yes, fifty dollars! All we needed were a few planks of cement board and special screws, caulk and paint. Tiling that area would be at least three times that amount, if not more. Plus, it’s pretty unique. I couldn’t find anything like it online and my tile guy (who was working on the shower) kept giving me the side-eye when I tried to explain my idea. But once we installed it he admitted it was a great idea. So if you’re getting bored with your current bathtub situation and are looking for a change, consider this!




San Bernard Dining Room

Well it only took six weeks, but we finally have one room in the house completely finished! I know I hemmed and hawed over what dining table I should build, but when it came down to it I decided to thrift one instead. I had two reasons for this: 1) with all the angles in the kitchen, I wanted something a bit softer and round for the dining room & 2) My building style is a pretty similar rustic style and I wanted to fancy things up a little. Basically I wanted to get a little eclectic and not matchy match my entire house. So I started with this table from a local consignment shop that we scored for $225 including the chairs.

I loved the shape and size, but not so much the color. Maybe if it were white, but it was a kind of yellowish cream that just seemed dated to me. So I unscrewed the old hardware and popped off the seats and went to work. I got some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence for my birthday and thought this would be the perfect project to try it out. If you haven’t heard of ASCP before, it’s pretty much the magic paint. You don’t have to sand or prime or do any prep work. Just mix up the can and go!

I needed two coats, but mostly because I didn’t stir the can enough when I started so it was all streaky. But once I figured out the proper thickness, it covered like a dream. I used two coats the Annie Sloan Dark Wax over the paint to add dimension, and I love the look. It’s a lot more subtle in person than in photographs. Kind of like a soft patina. Plus I used a white buffer pad (found in the paint section) to apply it and HOLY COW it made the wood soft like buttah.

My mom found this red graphic floral outdoor rug at Sams for $75. Can you believe it? Such a steal! I love it because it’s soft yet still really stain resistant. My dogs are the sort that need to squish the carpet between their toes when they get sick. Because you can bet it will *always* be on a carpet and never on the easily-cleaned concrete!

While I really love the table (and the rug, and the light) my favorite part of this room are the chairs! While brainstorming what to cover them with, I was inspired by the Mexican blankets my mom used as table runners for

$5000 Handbuilt Vintage Kitchen – The Budget Breakdown

A kitchen can be one of the priciest rooms to renovate or build. People regularly spend tens of thousands of dollars on their “heart of the home”. I knew from the start that I wanted to save money without compromising on quality. So how does one do that? With a lot of DIY, time to wait for the best deals, and working around the system. Anyway, you’ve all seen the pictures. Let’s get down to business!

Budget Breakdown:

Vintage Gas Range –

A Handbuilt Vintage Country Kitchen

Cue angels singing, this kitchen is DONE! I started building the cabinets over a month ago, and now everything is installed and working and fabulous. I hope you’re ready to ogle dozens of photos, because I’ve got about 22 to share with you. Which is technically less than 2 dozen, but who’s counting? Let’s get started!

This wall was our toughest spot. The sink was tricky to install since it’s a wall mount and the faucet can only be in one place. After a few days of finagling, it’s now leak-free and gorgeous. If you recall it’s a vintage cast-iron sink I found on Craigslist and had resurfaced and is pretty much my heartsong. It’s amazing and I love it. Plus we were able to find an adorable throwback faucet with 4 pronged handles with the little H and C on them.

It’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever. That “curtain” is actually just a throw folded in half over a tension rod, but I’m in love with all those colors so it’s staying. Anyway, back to the sink. My love. It was actually kind of a bitch to get in there. The faucet plumbing was set to the standard dimensions because like a spaz I didn’t tell Tilson exactly where I wanted it. So when we went to install it we were left with an odd 12″ gap to the left of the fridge. Instead of leaving it open, I used a few 1×12’s to build a six-shelf veggie cabinet so the whole wall looks custom and built in.

Happy accidents, right? I’m actually really glad it worked out like this because it makes the wall look really fancy. Those open shelves are another fave feature in this room. I ordered the minimal shelf brackets from the Container store and they were an absolute breeze to install. My dad had some amazing 1×12 oak in his barn which we cut down to size and sanded. I’m definitely no pro at staging, but it’s a great spot for wine glasses and coffee mugs and all our miscellaneous knick knacks and decor!

These two cabinets are both made from a 21″ carcass, and plans will be found on Ana White’s website shortly. The double drawer cabinet is my favorite of this size. I’m planning to build a removable divider so I can store all my silverware upright instead of in those obnoxious organizers.

The bottom holds all my tupperware and such. Though the cabinet next to it looks standard, it has a little surprise.

I decided to make the drawer face a flip top and use it for concealed paper towel storage! I bought a simple closet rod hanging system (just two circular brackets, nothing fancy) and used a scrap dowel to hang my paper towels. It’s so nice to have them close by and handy without cluttering up the countertops!

The oven wall was also custom built, with 30″ standard bases. I decided to leave out drawers and opt for larger doors and shelf space. It helps with all those tall pots! The uppers were supposed to be 27″ but due to some mathematical errors on my part they’re actually 29″. Whoops! Oh well, extra storage, right?

I decided to use vertical dividers on the left for my baking sheets, and horizontal shelves on the right for dishes and glasses.

Since we had a very basic, boring vent hood, I chose to build it in with plywood and trim to match the cabinets. It came out even better than I expected! It’s interesting without overpowering the true star of this show, my 1950’s Magic Chef gas range.

This was also a CL score, and I honestly could not be happier. I get more compliments on the stove than anything else in the kitchen! Plus it’s cooking great so no complaints there. I need to make some french toast on that griddle soon.

I have to say, I’m really surprised with how well the island turned out. It’s composed of 4 separate cabinets, two 24″ bases sandwiching two 21″ standard bases. We “built them in” by using 1/2″ plywood strips between the carcasses and screwing them together. Once they were attached I added on beadboard backing and 1×4 trim and kickplates. It really does look like one cohesive unit.

For this 24″ base we decided to leave off doors and have two shelves, one that would fit our countertop microwave. Jacob ran the electrical wiring so that we can plug in the microwave and added an outlet to the side for mixers and phone chargers. I totally love that it looks like we have built-in appliances. I guess in a way we do!

This is also a 24″ base, with three shelves for cook books and cutting boards. The two 21″ cabinets are your typical “standard” cabinets. Nothing frilly, just a drawer for cooking utensils and hot pads and a door with a shelf inside.

For the legs, we just bought three 35″ table legs from Lowe’s and cut them down to cabinet height. Then we topped it with a sheet of plywood reinforced with a 2×4 frame for strength. I took that to a local welder and he made a stainless steel sleeve for it. Once we got it home we screwed the plywood directly into the legs and cabinets, covered the top with liquid nails and set the sleeve down on it. Then we topped it with a spare blanket and set large rocks on it so the glue would set. And voila! A gorgeous custom island.

This kitchen was a vast labor of love. A lot of planning, tons of sweat, quite a bit of salty language and an overwhelming amount of love and care went into it. I am so, so proud of it. I literally cannot stop smiling when I’m in the room. I hate to turn the lights off at night. Sometimes I just sit and stare at what we did. Because we did this! Not some pricey contractor or big box store. Two people with a little bit of know-how and a lot of determination. Now I sound like a cheesy DIY ad 😉 But seriously, it’s been the feather in my cap to have a hand-built kitchen. Something I can really be proud of building!

I know you probably have a lot of questions, but since this post is already a mile long I’m going to get into the dirty details tomorrow. Things like prices and sourcing and all that jazz. But for now, do a little ogling for me and tell me what you think!

More Kitchen and Cabinet Links:

Pure Bond Pledge

Cabinets Are Installed!

We’re hot and heavy with our house projects right now, but I just wanted to pop in with a little update just in case you don’t follow me on Instagram. We finished our cabinet installation! Woot woot! We will need to adjust a few of the doors and add some trim and kickplates, but they’re installed and wonderful. It took a good six hours or so and was totally worth all the hard work put into them. Now I’m dying to get our hands on the stainless steel countertop we’re having fabricated at the local welder. I don’t know how we’ll wait until after Christmas, yikes!

Painting the San Bernard

Hey guys! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. We are having a very, very busy one! I wish I’d been able to update more often, but all my “free” (aka non-mom-duty-time) is spent working on cabinets or vanities or lights. I’ve been working my fingers to the bone! But it’s all been worth it, because the build is COMPLETE! Just look at that fantastic exterior. It’s gorgeous. Anyway – time to focus. Now that the 80% build is done (construction taken to drywall and texture) the next step was paint. We flirted with the idea of saving money and DIY-ing it, but after about a week of solid consideration we decided no way in hell would our marriage survive that. So Jacob suggested we use the extra cash from his new job’s signing bonus to hire a painter. And we are SO glad we did! It’s been a crew of 5+ guys working 12 hour days for the past six days. I cannot even begin to fathom how much time and frustration it would have taken us. It would have been a nightmare!

Well, choosing a painter was easy, but he prefers to use Sherwin Williams paint and we had picked out Olympic samples. We hired him at the last minute and had one night to find color matches so he could buy the paint and get started the next day. Since the local SW was closed, I did the next best thing and used their website to choose colors. Needless to say, I didn’t expect half of my color choices to turn out as they did. But let’s start with the good stuff, my favorite color. We chose SW’s Beach House for the living/dining/entry/kitchen/hallways. Pretty much the main living area.

It’s a nice sandy brown, with enough interest to not call it “beige”.

It looks great with the stone and cedar.

Our painter, Martin, talked us into white ceilings to add some brightness and contrast that would highlight all the different angles. I’m really glad he did!

I’m also really glad I don’t have to do any cutting in 20 feet in the air. I have a fear of heights 😉 Oh, and I chose to take night photos because a) that’s when the painters leave (after 9pm every night!) and I don’t want to bug them during the day and b) I still want the final reveal to be a bit of a surprise. So please forgive the grainy yellowish tint to the photos.

Next up we have the master. I really like the color, SW Unique Gray. However one unexpected caveat: it’s totally a grayish lavender! Especially with the CFL can lights at night. It photographs a bit more gray (which I like) and this is more the daylight hue. But you can still pick up on the purple.

Totally purple.

Still purple.

I was really looking forward to a cool grey in the bedroom, so I was a bit disappointed when I saw the color for the first time. But it’s really starting to grow on me. It’s not a bad color, just a “unique” one (har har). I’m eager to see how it looks with a finished bath and furnished.

I had planned on a yellow room for Charlie all along, and I’m pretty pleased with the sunshiny color it turned out to be. It’s a tad bit brighter than I expected, but again I think it will mellow out with the rest of the room’s decor. This is SW Midday

I know, it’s super dim. We plan on hanging the lights this weekend, which will help brighten up these small rooms with brighter fans.

Now for the utility area. I loooooove this color. It’s not at all what I expected but it makes me so happy. One change we are making, however, is to change the hallway color to the Beach House so it’s not such a jarring contrast when you walk through the door. Only the utility room and powder room will have this bright teal color, SW Rivulet.

Bright, right?! It’s going to look amazing with our red washer and dryer! But yeah, it’s just too much in the hallway. It will be nice to be able to hide it behind some doors.

Now, for the slightly scary. I thought I was choosing a nice subtle green for the guest bedroom and Charlie’s bathroom. It kind of turned out to be a retina-burning neon sherbet. It’s worse in these photos since it’s night, but it’s still a bit, uh, energetic in person.

I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to pull this color off. If you remember, the floors are a deep walnut color. I think I’ll be able to make it work. It’s just going to be one of those things I’m chalking up to a computer monitor issue. Take this PSA to heart: NEVER CHOOSE PAINT COLORS ONLINE! I know it’s obvious, but I wish I’d had at least a bit of time to go see some swatches in store. However there’s no real guarantee they would have looked the same on the walls. I’m hopeful that this room won’t be a total eyesore once I’m finished. And since we plan to try for another kiddo soon-ish, it will be a good nursery color. Plus, it’s one small room. If we decide to repaint it later, it’s no big deal.


So, what’s the damage? Well, materials were a cost of $2,000. That’s a LOT of paint!

The labor was $3000, making it a grand total of $5,000 to paint a 2300 sq ft house with a 20 ft cathedral ceiling. It was no small feat! And I’m really glad we sprung for the pros. While painting yourself is certainly simple enough, there’s no great pride in it for me. I’d much rather be building things than painting them. Plus it would be drippy and cover everything! The crew we hired are incredibly neat and precise. They work hard, and are super friendly. If you’re in the Hill Country area, we used Martin Deleon with MD Painting. I very highly recommend him, his work is awesome. Plus, he totally doesn’t hate me for adding in a change at the last minute. At least he didn’t tell me he did 😉

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas for those that celebrate, and I will definitely be back with more updates soon. We should hopefully get our kitchen and lights installed over the long weekend. I cannot wait!!


November Update

Hey guys! I know posting has been pretty light lately, and I hope my regular readers will forgive me for the slow feed. On a personal note, living at my parents’ home with a broken foot is a bit of a challenge when it comes to blogging. The computer + internet live upstairs, and it’s kind of hard to climb them several times a day with this:

My mom has been completely invaluable though! With the hubs still working 4 days a week in Lake Jackson (a 4 hour trip away) she’s been taking the brunt of childcare duties when it comes to diaper changes and nap/bed times. We hope there’s only a couple more weeks of this before Jacob moves and we can finish up the house! On that note…

We have our rock! And stucco! It’s drying right now, and then they’ll be painting it and finishing up the outside. We’ll have lights and doors and a completely finished exterior! It’s so close I can practically taste it. Inside the insulation has gone up, along with the mantel.

Maybe we’ll have drywall going up this week? I hope so! With the builder’s completion looming ever closer, we’re paring down on our to-do list as well. We grabbed the last couple of appliances (a dishwasher on supersale and a vent hood) and picked out our bathroom tiles. The kitchen cabinet plans are also almost ready to go. I can’t wait to go supply shopping! I think I’m looking forward to building these cabinets most of all 🙂 They’ll either be the feather in my cap or go entirely down in flames, and I’m up to that challenge! And I promise I’ll take lots of photos of the process. Now that I have the boot I’m a lot more mobile. Only 6 weeks left until our goal move-in date! Can. Not. WAIT!