Return from paradise

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We just returned from a cabin on the shores of lake Superior. The husband and I woke each morning at 5 am to a cup of jo and this view. (Confession: we were usually back in bed by 5:45 am). It was a splendid time spent completely unplugged enjoying our time as a a family of 4. If you want to see the instagram version of our life…feel free to follow me at littledtales.

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Not JUST a coffee table

When I met my husband, he was in transition from the other side of the state to where we live now.  He was in the process of creating this amazing piece that currently resides in our basement.

She is made out of  Walnut, with tile inlay for the top.

Isn’t she amazingly gorgeous?!  It is one of my favorite of my handy husbands many projects.

Again, my husband is not a blogger so of course there are no pictures of the process, but if you are interested in making one of these for yourself, shoot me an email and I’ll have him pull the plans out of his brain and share them with you.

This concludes the “handy” husband series honoring my husbands work.  He truly is an awesome ma who supports my creative juices or helps out around the house or by taking the kids so I can work on one of my many projects!

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Hope Chest

I think was one of my first furniture requests to my husband after we were married.  We have a TON of blankets and quilts for the various different sized beds in our home, without a good place to store them that don’t take up precious closet space.

We had some spare space at the end of our bed to house this beauty.

To my surprise she is lined with cedar to make everything smell fresh, which brings back so many memories of my grandparents and their cedar closet.

(Please stop judging our master bedroom.  It’s slated for a makeover, just trying to finish one of the other 3 rooms in limbo right now).

The husband truly has an eye for putting my vision into a reality.  Thanks to my “handy” husband for yet another project.  Stay tuned tomorrow you’ll see one of my FAVORITE pieces yet!

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Secure and recharge

Our beloved first child (our dog) happens to LOVE bread.  When we leave, he finds a way to get all the bread an eat it.

(How can you get mad at this face)?!?! He’s a pure bred Weimaraner if you’re curious, whose can rest his head on a “normal” sized dining room table.

My husband came up with a solution, that not only secures the bread from the dog…it also helps to store the toaster and also serves as a recharge station for all of our cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc. every night.  This is one of my husband’s favorite projects. You may have already seen this here.

To appreciate this here’s what our little kitchen corner looked like before.  A useless spice rack (since I store all of my spices in the cupboard), weird empty space, and a smorgasboard of cords.  One of my BIGGEST pet peaves is having cords showing! Have I also mentioned that I like the spaces in my home to be not only pretty but functional whenever possible.

Here’s the inside- deep enough for house the toaster freeing up some space on one of my two pantry shelves.  It’s also wide enough for several different bread products.

You can kind of see how he made it above.  The door is made by “a bunch” (real technical, I know?!?) of thin wood slats glued to a piece of canvas.  There is a curved groove on the sides that the door travels up and down in.  There is a small open space in the back to allow the board from the toaster to pass through.

The top shelf has little slits in the back to fit our cell phone and iPod charging cords, with felt glued to the back to hold them in place.  I love that our phone and iPod have a place to rest peacefully each night to recharge without 17 cords spread out throughout the house!

This is just one more example of how I can tell the handy husband an idea of something I want, and he brings that idea to life!

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Multipurpose Arbor

The next of my handy husbands project started 4 years ago, when we were planning our wedding.  We were married outside at my parents front yard, and I wanted some to serve as the focal point for the ceremony.  So he made a simple design that I could attach our rustic swag to and everything was perfect.
 

Of course I have a problem making something for a one time event and I wanted to reuse as much of our wedding decor as we could.  Just so happens we completely landscaped our yard the following year and the arbor was a perfect addition to our garden under the big pine tree.  Unfortunately for the arbor, an insane wind storm took the arbor to a state of disarray to the point that it was completely twisted.  RIP wedding arbor.

Last summer I talked my husband into creating a garden path into our garden under the big pine tree, by using the left over stone from our basement fireplace. (Yes my 1 year old little man supervised this project). He also laid all the landscaping stone you see to make this a raised bed.

Ooo, that wooden wagon you see in the picture above was made by my husband for our wedding too.

I digress.  Sorry, back to the arbor.  Turns out I really wanted out garden under the big pine tree to have a little welcome place, especially now since we had a cute little path.  And I love planting Morning Glories and they like to climb! So one day I came home and this is what I saw.

Apparently my little man liked it too!

Unfortunately my husband doesn’t capture the process of his creations for my blog.  All of the projects you will see this week he creates in his head.  if you are looking for plans for something email me and he can maybe help you  out!

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Scary Basement overhaul

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this week I am dedicating each post to a DIY project that my husband played a key role in completing.  The first is by far the largest project we have taken on yet…and are still married to tell about it.  When we bought this house in 2008, we had some ideas on how to make it ours.  Some of the ideas were simple (paint), some a bit more complex (landscaping). While our main level is very open and awesome, the living room is pretty small, add some oversized furniture and a few children’s toys and it’s less than ideal.  So last fall we set out to expand our living space by finishing our scary basement.

A bit of background on our house.  We know our house was built over 60 years ago, but likely closer to 100 years ago.  The character of our home is was sold me and made it a “must have” for me .  By “character” I’m referring to leaded glass windows, original wood work, built-in cabinets, vintage doors and hardware, and some amazing walk-in closets. (Maybe I’ll have to share a home tour one of these days).  However, there are some interesting features too.  For example the walls of the foundation  were made by hand using concrete and 2 x 10’s (can you see the ridges?!) and the cistern in the basement.

As we talked about the basement as a living space, a few RULES were established.
1.  This space would allow my husband to have a say in the decor.  Until now,  much of the decor that he brought to the relationship is in hiding.  I have a rule that no dead animals will be displayed on the main living area of the house. So he made the rule that no flowers were allowed in the basement.  The inspiration for the basement decor would be the object of his affection, The Mistress (also known as his Harley Davidson soft tail Heritage motorcycle that I picked out and made him buy…which might be the reason he married me, but that’s a completely different post).

2. The space needed to be cozy enough for a family room, but practical enough for a play room.

3.  This was a DIY project.  We He would do all the work ourselves himself.  Our goal was to keep this around a $5,000 budget- and we were pretty close.

I didn’t do a stellar job getting pictures through out but you’ll get the idea. Here we go…
BEFORE (2 weeks into the project):

Because the stair case was located against this exterior wall we needed to come up with some creative solutions for the wall.  We wouldn’t be able to frame up the wall for drywall, because it would make out stair case too narrow and the wall going up the staircase wouldn’t match.  Thankfully that handy husband looked into my suggestion of glueing (Liquid Nails) wainscoting to the cement wall.  It worked, but remember this is not a flat wall, so after glueing each piece he had to tape it in about 30 different places to hold it in place until the glue dried.

(South wall)


(East wall)

A Useless fake interior wall and 3 annoying poles.  We think the previous owner was planning to finish this space into a living area, but really didn’t know what he was doing.  He used roofing nails to put some uneven drywall up and mounted a crooked door into the furnace room.  In order to make the room open, we needed to get rid of the goofy 3 poles that were supporting the ceiling (they were already taken down by the time I thought to get a picture).  This was a project, it meant completely reinforcing the ceiling (upstairs floor) with double headers and reinforcements. Turns out by reinforcing the basement ceiling, we took quite a few squeaks out of the wood floors on the main level.

(Interior North wall)


(west wall)

During:
This was about a 6 month project start to finish, only working part-time in the evenings.   Here’s a few pictures of the  DURING stages like putting up drywall, creating the fireplace, adding interior doors to the storage and furnace room, plaster- skip trowel, updating electrical, drop ceiling, replacing windows, staining wood work, painting, carpet, and a few finishing touches.


(east wall)

(South Wall)  Installed new window, and gas fireplace.  As you can see I was in the process of determining paint colors.

(West Wall) Most of the electrical went to this wall, the future home of the media center (hole on right) and plasma tv.   Also notice the make shift ledge along the south wall leading up to the fireplace.  Can you see those fun lines and angles we created to draw your eye to the fireplace…no?!? just wait.

Ceiling: check out that reinforced ceiling and updated electrical running across the ceiling.   I think the greatest learning opportunity came with the husband learning about how to run all the electrical work.  Thankfully my dad has a background as an electrician so he was a good troubleshooting resource.  As you can see in the before pictures we just had what I like to call “garage” fluorescent lighting, we added new canned lighting added electrical outlets all over the place, and ran the cables through the walls for tv and other media options.

Painted the walls grey & yellow (remember the room was inspired by his Harley), added a drop tile ceiling.  We  He also stained all the trim and doors a dark walnut color and installed.

Nearly complete.  Here is the door on the interior wall that goes into the storage room.  You can see the “in progress” media center on the left side.

My contribution to the basement was laying out the stonework design on the fireplace, which was like one giant puzzle  with no 2 pieces being alike. Although my husband gets the credit for prepping for install and actually making my design work on the wall!

Ready…wait for it….After

(East Wall)

As you may notice, the staircase was completely replaced.  The original (which I didn’t take a picture) was completely open on the side and  under each step. The railing was an old pipe that did little in terms of allowing small kids from falling off the side (safety concern).   At the top of the steps is the landing, where we were storing all of our shoes, hats, etc.  That was removed and that reveal can be seen here. We added a half wall to the side of the steps to be a bit safer.  Also to make creative use of space- little man has a play area under the steps that also houses many of the toys that were previously laying/stacked/completely covering in the living room. The door is painted with chalkboard paint to encourage a little creativity!


(West wall ) with carpet…

I’m a huge fan of angles.  We wanted the focus of the room to be drawn to the fireplace, while also having the TV visible throughout the room.  I also wanted the ledge along the south exterior wall (Left wall in pictures above) to tie into the mantle.  The challenge I mentioned above really came in with this south wall.  Somehow we needed to do something to that wall in order to give it a finished look.  We decided on gluing (liquid nails) wainscoting to it, then painting it.  Good in theory, but uneven walls makes that a little more interesting.  We got it to work well enough to fit our needs.   We also replaced the windows (originally just storm windows).

The built in entertainment center and wall mounted TV was a way to open up floor space. It’s functional enough for the husband to go down and watch tv while little man is entertaining himself with the door to his play room.  We filled the room with furniture (for now) with what we had and slowly are adding some life to the room. (turns out it’s a great space for hosting birthday parties too)!

Remember the rules about decor…well here are some of the efforts I’ve made so far, and of course the husband has helped with almost all of them!
The Pottery Barn inspired Clock (Can also be seen above in the media wall picture)

A gallery wall filled with hardware art and some word art (so far) on the interior wall.

Last but not least was some subway art for on the mantel filled with  memories on the motorcycle.

A huge thank you goes out to my husband for listening to all of my particular ideas and making it happen.  The only tasks we hired someone to do was to install the fireplace, and to lay the carpet…everything else was a showcase of my husband’s AMAZING skills.  See told you he’s pretty handy to have.

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The “handy” Husband

Once upon a time there was a creative crafty kind of girl who had big ideas.  She married a very handy man who helped her ideas come to life.  Together they’d find a way to make projects work regardless how impossible they might seem.  They’d also raise 2 children (for now) and a dog, and genuinely enjoy life together.

While our life is not exactly a fairy tale every day, I’m pretty fortunate to have an amazing husband who does all the handyman work around the house.   With Father’s day coming next week I thought I’d dedicate some posts to showcase his work and highlight how fortunate we are to have such handy man in the house.

Believe it or not, you’ve seen him around, but often only from the elbow to the fingers, and sometimes the top of his head.  Such as when he poses for me to get a picture of him cutting MDF for the chalkboards

or placing Disc hangers on plates to hang on the wall for the nursery

You’ve also likely seen the top of his (shiny 🙂 ) head while I was catching some action shots to redo our son’s dresser

or his back as he installed barn board on our son’s wall.

These are just a few on the ways you’ve seen him helping me out.  Turns out he’s an amazing wood worker and DIY kind of guy too.  Stay tuned tomorrow to see how he completely transformed our basement, and throughout the week to see his amazing skills.

While I love the fact that my husband is a handy DIY kind of guy, it’d be shallow of me not to mention one my favorite things about my husband….the time he spends with our children!  He’s certainly an amazing dad and wonderful husband, and “handy” to have around (Ha, lame right?!)

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