Home Improvements

I can't believe it has been 10 months since I moved into my very own house. I feel like it's always been mine and yet at the same time I feel like I was handed the keys just yesterday. Weird how that works.

I have not been able to do as much personalizing and upgrading to it as I envisioned (my goals are often a bit lofty and unrealistic sometimes). I thought I'd still share the progress I've made anyway.

Around the time I was about to and in the process of moving in I became a Craigslist junkie.

I was searching for a plethora of items to fill my new home, and one of those happened to be a bench.

When this real wood one came up close-by for $20, with no damage to it, I didn't hesitate to check it out and bring it home in my truck.

Thus began my infatuation with this dark walnut stain. A little bit definitely goes a long way!

I do love the natural, light wood look, normally.

Since my couches have dark brown legs, though, I thought it would only be right to keep things as uniform as possible.

The bench really only needed one coat, but because this was in the beginning of July it took a few days longer to completely dry out on the back patio before I felt comfortable enough to carry it in.

Shortly after that project, I found another Craigslist ad for a $15 coffee table that I just couldn't pass up. I figured for that price it was worth buying and experimenting with.

I forgot to take a "before" picture unfortunately so you'll just have to take my word for it--it was definitely screaming for redemption.

The entire top was covered in crayon and pen scribbles. Nothing that a few (several) sheets of sandpaper wouldn't take care of.

Once I had the whole thing sanded down and clean, and my fingers were numb from the process, I went to work staining.

I love this color stain, as you can tell by now, and I actually enjoy applying it, minus the dizzying, brain-cell damaging fumes. Then again I like painting (interiors and walls, not the artistic kind), so I'm weird like that.

The natural wood for the table was a shade or two darker than the bench so the stain made it a bit deeper walnut color than I intended. No one has noticed or commented on it though, so I'm not worried.


About a month later I saw a picture for a rustic breakfast bar, I instantly knew I needed one for the bare wall on the entrance to the kitchen by the laundry room.

The idea came from Pinterest, as most inspiration seems to, however there were no instructions.

At this point I was feeling a little more brave and sure of myself, though.

So, I decided to wing it.

I'm not ashamed to say this was my first time using an actual power drill. I'd just had no use for it up until this time in my life, unlike other tools.

But now I love it, as you'll see. Yay, adulthood.

Anyway, I devoted one Saturday, took the measurements and headed to Home Depot to pick out all the needed supplies: wood, screws, chain, and eye-screws.

I found out that if you smile real nice and pretty the sales associates will cut the wood for you, whether you bought it from them or bring it in yourself.

Of course, the first step was to apply my favorite walnut stain to the wood planks.

Then I had to pre-drill the wood so it didn't split when I screwed every piece together, which probably took the most time.

I also had my handy-dandy daddy nearby via phone for emotional support. He cheered me on like he knew he was supposed to.

For those actually interested in the construction: I connected all three boards that consist of the shelf to 3 "elbows" or smaller pieces of wood and then I drilled that entire piece to the bottom length of the one bottom backboard. After using the stud-finder, I screwed the top board in on its own, then placed the entire shelf piece right underneath it and screwed that second board into the wall as well. Lastly, for decor more than anything, I used pliers to twist and loop the chain ends (1 foot each, if I remember right) to the eye-screws used to anchor in the top board. I then twisted and pushed in the eye-screws about halfway into the last board on the shelf to attach the other end of the chain.

Whew. Details.

Finally, after a full day of staining, pre-drilling and driving in screws, I stepped back and smiled at my very own creation. Ta-da!

Not bad for a first try.

To my elated surprise, just a few days later I received a giant box from Target containing two metal yellow stools I had hoped to get eventually for the shelf.

Needless to say...my dad is a gem.

Anyway, as I already said, I got a bit trigger happy with the power drill and started finding all kinds of uses for it.

The previous owner left a bunch of scrap wood and other neat stuff in the shed out back.

I found the perfect length and width of a board I could use for a shelf in the front room for my ever-growing collection of colorful vases.

As expected, I stained the board first. While it was drying I picked up some brackets and tiny screws, used the stud-finder, pencil and measuring tape to mark the placement, then hung it up in a snap.

OK, I admit it was difficult holding the fixture straight and in place all by myself, and there may have been some growling groans accompanied with the process, but it got up there nonetheless!

Since then (I think this was back in August...) I've added quite a bit more color up there. I just can't help myself #coloraddict.

Slowly but surely I began putting up some frames and favorite artworks as a collage under it.

All of the frames I've painted, the button tree in the center I made a couple years ago with a friend, but the elephant drawing in the yellow frame was made by another dear friend because Lord knows I could never do it.

The arrows to the far left were recycled--I found them at the bottom of the box that my bar stools came in, as a sort of support.

I stained them, duh, and glued some fun, colorful feathers to the bottoms and hung them on the wall. Recycling can be fun, y'all.

Speaking of, I'd had this smooth walking stick for quite some time and it was just too cool and rustic looking to not do something with.

One day I was feeling creative and decided to pound some nails into my bedroom wall for this stick to be a sort of mobile. I then tied some string around it in a few places and used clothes-pins or tape to secure some of my favorite bucket list memories in pictures onto these strings.

They blow around a bit when the fan is on but I've gotten used to it now. I'm also running out of room for adding more pictures (first-world white girl problems?).

Fall then came and with it all the craziness of the holidays and I took a few months hiatus from house projects.

But just after Christmas there was a glorious furniture sale at World Market, and the peacock blue formal living chairs I'd been drooling over for months were marked down at least $100 less!

Because I am a rewards member with the store I also had a 10% off coupon that basically covered sales tax, so all in all I got an amazing deal on a pair of brand new chairs.

World Market for the Win!
Happy New Year's gift to me! My friends don't call me the Coupon Queen for nothing.

I forgot to mention that my brother, Joel, and his little dog Lucy moved in with me at the beginning of October.

Sometime in January he and I picked up a bunch of pallets with the idea of making a patio table out back.

Pinterest was almost over-stimulating in this case--so many cool pictures, so little instructions.

Thankfully my brother is practically an architect. His brain just thinks in parts and pieces; he gets how things work.

At first we were going to make some elaborate couch out of the pallets, until we stacked them up to the side and realized they were the perfect fit for the queen-sized futon mattress I use for the bed of my truck when camping.


The picture shown was truly taken right after we threw it on there, but now it is covered with a sheet and a colorful crochet 70's blanket I rescued from Goodwill. I'll try to find a picture to do it justice...

Anyway, little by little we tore apart and salvaged what we could from the pallets, whatever wasn't terribly water-logged or rotten. Joel even brought a few more home from his workplace.

Those were some backbreaking, knuckle-splitting days, and I loved them. You just don't get that kind of exhausting satisfaction from sitting behind a desk.

TP & tape = band-aid
This was all over a matter of about 3 weeks, I'd say, but most of the work was done on Saturdays, so it's hard to say how many actual hours went into the project.
I love alliteration!

Like I said, we went through several different envisions until we finally settled on what we could do that would be convenient and stable.

One of the large pallets Joel brought home was actually long and sturdy enough that we ended up using it for the table-top--no adjustments needed!

Since I'm such an ace with the drill and hammer (JK,what I lack in skill I make up for in gusto), I pulled out nails while he worked the saw to cut out table and bench legs for the two long benches we decided we'd make for each side.

Once he had everything cut out to size and all how they needed to be, I revved up the drill and went to town.


As much as I love coffee, I'm one of those people that will make one cup last all day, and I have no problem drinking lukewarm, even cool, coffee that once was hot.

I did that a lot during this project.

I kept throwing around the idea of maybe staining the table my most favorite dark walnut shade, or possibly even painting then chipping it to give it that shabby chic look.

But for now I think I'll keep it the way it is. The goal was to make this as much of a hodge-podge rustic looking table as possible.

I wouldn't consider myself a trendy person, but it's funny that we spend money and try to make things look rundown these days, eh?

Except for a few rough spots that needed sanding, most of the wood was nice and weathered and smooth and didn't give me any issues when putting it all together.


At the end of a long evening of drilling that I am sure the neighbor's could hear, I finally gave the benches the stress test.

Nothing broke or even creaked. Fist pump.


With a sigh of contentment, I hung up the drill and proceeded promptly to my bed.

In case anyone is wondering about timeline at this point, we made the last finishing touches a few days before the Galentine's Party I hosted and also blogged about a couple posts back.

So, about mid-February.

I still have a lot more projects to check off on my list--but that's often the downside of being a list-maker: There is always more to do and more to add to the list.

Eventually I want to put up faux brick on the entire wall behind my blue chairs, I still have a few walls I want to re-paint, but on my mind more lately is landscaping.

I'd like to train some vines, like pretty wisteria or something like it, around the front entryway, and then plant a row of some sort of hedges along the far western fence line in the front yard to cut down on noise and create some privacy.

But, all in good time. I love my little home and I love giving it my own style even more--I just need to remind myself it doesn't all need to get done in the first year...

Have a blessed week everyone!

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