VIDEO: Super Simple Removal Of Carpet From Stairs

I wanted to share how simple it is the remove the carpet from stairs.

If you have carpeted stairs that bother you, don't put off beautifying those bad boys!

I am a firm believer in the beauty of "between spaces". Those spaces that you look at or walk through to get to your destination. It's those areas where we glance at for a few moments while we're heading to our task, and although we don't hang out in them, they should be beautiful to us.

There shouldn't be any ugly areas in our homes! (Except the junk drawer. That area is just a lost cause. Oh, and the garage.)

Stairwells, hallways, entryways, mudrooms, empty corners by windows, even long sets of stairs that lead to unfinished basements all deserve the chance to make us smile. And it usually doesn't take a huge financial investment to accomplish it.

Just a little bit of muscle and willingness to get dirty. But you won't regret it.

Planning the garden

I love a good Pennsylvania snowfall, and over the weekend, it didn't disappoint.

We got nearly 3 feet in just two days, and it was that light, fluffy, beautiful stuff that dreams are made of.

I got out all my yarn and crochet hooks because that's what this kind of scenery calls for. 

Right next to my yarn, are our seed books and garden plot plans, because as much as I love winter, underneath this blanket of goodness are 12 raised garden beds that are waiting to be filled.

Pennsylvania snowfall

Over the summer, we cleared some land and built these beds, that we've just been filling with branches, leaves, clippings, compost and ashes from the wood furnace. And letting the chickens poop in them. Next spring, we're going to fill them with a local mushroom soil mixture.

And pasture in those wild and free chickens.

raised garden beds

And while the beautiful view out of the front of the house is currently this:

Pennsylvania snowfall

Soon, it'll be this again.

growing sunflowers

I can't wait!

Family Room Renovation: Plywood Plank Floors

"So many people decorate to impress, but my favorite houses have life in their rooms. There are animals. You can tell the owners throw parties. When people come to visit, they just want to be comfortable. They want to feel like they can sit on the sofa. For me, that's always been the goal—making guests feel at home."
homeowner Prentiss Douthit, Country Living

I loved that quote the moment I read it. What a wonderful way to approach your home. I loved coming across such wisdom while we were right in the middle of our family room renovation.

While sending my parents texts of our renovation progress, I joked that inhaling the fumes after staining our plywood floors made me forgot my name, put the milk away in the pantry and I'm pretty sure at one point I could audibly hear the dog's thoughts.

Jason calls me a Canary In A Coal Mine.

Thankfully, we all woke up the next morning after The Great Stain, and the smell has dissipated, but dang.

Every V.O.C. breath and hallucination was worth it for these floors.

Behold:

diy plywood plank floors

Plywood. Ply. Wood.

It's such a humble little gem.

The project started with me removing all the carpet, until my dad and Jason got home and then my dad and I spent the next two days nailing down 8" planks of plywood.

Cue: the finish work.

That's where Jason shines.

diy plywood plank floors
diy plywood plank floors
diy plywood plank floors

And a pictorial summary as to why carpet just does not work for our household and a rustic wood floor does:

In just a few minutes, one of the dogs had carried out and flung her dish, tossed a marrow bone around and gouged a few spots of floor, snatched a piece of kindling from the basement, chewed it into mulch, and rounded out playtime with a trip to the bathroom trashcan for some paper towel.

All of these shenanigans just look better on wood floors.

And I'd rather dry mop and dust pan than lug out a vacuum ANY DAY.

We move our furniture back in this week after living in the kitchen for two weeks. We've been walking around sideways like crabs all in the name of reno. And the dogs have dominated the sofa while it's been shoved into the kitchen. My goal is to undo the bad habit that I started, and present them with their own dog beds, on the floor, so that we humans can sit on our own sofa.

I cannot wait to wash and bleach the slipcovers and enjoy this lovely space. 

Sources:

Plywood - Lowes, sanded pine, ripped to 8".

Nailer - We have this one, but I don't love LOVE it. It got the job done though, and that's what counts.

Sander - We own this one, but this is the kind you'd want to rent.

Nails - 1 1/4" finish nails

Stain - Minwax Special Walnut

Finish - Minwax Polycrylic. (Our True Value sells it in gallons.)
*I just want to note that this product says it isn't recommended for floors. Feel free to use another poly, but I've never come across a better poly. I use this stuff on everything. Every piece of furniture I build or refinish gets polycrylic, followed by paste wax. The stuff is gold. 

Pretty and Practical Kitchen Storage

If you like to cook, this is for you.

If you don't like to cook and you just like a pretty kitchen for your husband to cook in, this is for you.

Spice storage:

diy open shelving spices

Spices and flours are so beautiful. It's a shame to keep them all cooped up in their plastic containers and papery, poorly sealed bags.

We're faithful mason jar fanatics. We drink from them, store leftovers in them, give away soups in them, brew in them, store bathroom toiletries in them, and I-can't-think-of-anything-more-right-now with them.

Oh wait. We store pens and markers in them. And tons of other office-y, craft-y things.

They're everywhere around here. And they're so very useful. Including: spice storage.

diy open shelving spices mason jars

Jason's the chef of the house. That man can cook. And I can eat. And I like great design. So we're perfect for each other.

One of his hobbies is buying spices, and lots of them. BJ's Wholesale Club and TJ Maxx are two of his favorite places to buy his spices from, so our lazy susan was getting mighty full with bulk spices and gourmet blends.

Instead of staring down at the tops of the plastic lids of the spices, I wanted him to have a place where he could be inspired by them.

I don't like to do a lot of decorating and clutter in the kitchen. If something is going to be out on the counter, or on display, then I think it should be 1) useful, 2) beautiful, and 3) practical.

diy open shelving spices

The mason jars that we always have on hand are wide mouth pints, wide mouth quarts, half gallon jars and gallon sized jars. All of those sizes are perfect for drinking and storing.

I used my dymo label maker to make labels for the tops of the jars. I made sure to include all of the ingredients for some of the blends like, "garden seasoning."

diy open shelving spices
diy open shelving spices

He's happy, I'm happy, the dog's happy. We're all happy.

Sources:

Shelf brackets - Lowes.

Shelf anchors (Don't use the ones that come with the brackets. They're poop.) - Lowes.

Reclaimed wood for shelves - Local antique store.

Mason jars - Ace Hardware, True Value, Amazon.

Label maker - Amazon.

Details Of A French Country Family Room

I took a utility knife to the wall-to-wall carpet the moment he was out the door. He probably wasn't even out of the driveway yet before I was wielding the tiny blade and carpet fuzz was a-flyin'.

He knew it was coming, but I don't think he actually expected to come back home in a couple hours to several neatly rolled and perfectly packaged carpet bundles in a mountainous heap at the end of our driveway. I enlisted the help of the kids and within moments, we had the room completely cleared out, and 500 square feet of carpet was but a dream. I sliced, rolled and taped up that polyester fiber like nobody's business.

We had already had Lowe's cut 16 sheets of sanded pine plywood into 8" wide planks for us. 90+ beautiful wide planks of wood had been sitting in our garage for what felt like an eternity.

It was more like 2 weeks, but whatever. I'm just not a patient girl when it comes to creating.

After bagging up all the carpet padding and removing staples and tack strips, we started nailing down our planks.

Even raw, bare and unstained, they feel so clean.

plywood plank floors

When we moved in, the walls were dark gray in a matte sheen. It shouldn't even be called sheen when it's a flat or matte paint. It should be called, "I will steal your soul" finish. I don't know what it is about dark spaces, but I just can't feel settled in them. Ever.

Movie theaters.
Basements.
Caves.
Those Italian restaurants with the freakishly low, black, drop ceiling tiles.

And doesn't the texture of matte paint feel so weird? Nary a beam of light reflects off a matte wall.

While I love and appreciate everyone's individual style and how they best function in their spaces, dark gray walls with no sheen and carpeted flooring made me feel like I couldn't relax, think, work or breathe.

We planked the walls about 2/3rds up, topped it with 1x3 furring strips and painted every inch of surface Benjamin Moore's Super White, matched to True Value's Easy Care Platinum. And in a sweet, heavenly, satin finish. 

Let there be light.

shiplap walls

The focal point of the room is the wood burning fireplace. The stone itself is absolutely beautiful, but with all the white in the room, the browns and grays of the stone needed toned down a bit.

I knew I wanted to mimic a technique I had read about called mortar smearing, with a little limewashed look to tie into the new french country feel of the room, so I whitewashed all the stone and grout in a few layers with a combination of Benjamin Moore's Simply White and Revere Pewter, both color matched with True Value paint.

I just watered down latex paint in a small bucket and wiped down the stones and grout with a terry cloth rag dipped in the mixture.

It was messy and tedious and glorious. I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Who has a stone hearth they'd like me to whitewash?

diy french country mantel shelf

And the mantel! Previously, it was a heavy, raw, single piece of rough-hewn wood, but in my mind, I pictured a worn and distressed over-sized shelf, one that you might find in an old farmhouse in rural France or something.

I was determined to make one, so I channeled my inner Norm, culled all my scrap wood, and I can now cross "Make French Country Mantel Shelf" off my bucket list. I cannot wait to style it.

I'll write and share details on the mantel. You need to make one. You don't even need a fireplace. If you have a wall, you need one.

Next up, is sanding the plywood plank floors, and staining them Minwax Special Walnut. The rest of the floors on the first floor throughout the kitchen and dining area are american walnut hardwood, so we're anxious to see how the real original hardwood floors and our new plywood floors flow together. American walnut hardwood flooring for our family room will cost us $5,000 if we do the work ourselves. The plywood planks were $380, including having them cut. I really wanted that lived-in, imperfect, wide plank feel, and we like to hoard children and dogs, so we're anxious to see if the decision to go for the $4,000+ savings is justifiable.

I am finishing off the room with a faux llama's wool rug that I was inspired to make after finding fur fabric at Joann's. Jason is a person who likes to lay on the floor, so making him his very own rug is the least I can do after robbing him of his wall-to-wall carpet existence.

I love you honey. Enjoy your llama rug.