From bread rack to bar cart

Apparently if I see an old, rusty metal shelf on casters in an antique mall, I will pay all the money for it.

Ok, that’s not totally true. But I will rack my brain trying to figure out how to use it in our house, remove the tag (so no one can claim it while I walk) and visit the front desk to inquire about a discount (Hello easy 10% off!), and then somehow convince my husband that said rack can be a belated birthday gift for me (my birthday was in January and we bought this in March.) Long story long, we bought a bread rack.

When we found it, it looked like this:


But in my head, it looked more like this:002industrial_bar_cart

After a year of collecting, our decanter collection outgrew our petite bar. We’ve been casually looking for a different bar set-up. This cart totally clicked for me. The only problem (and the reason it was stored in the captain’s bedroom for many months – you can see it hiding in the corner in this post) is that the grated metal shelves offered an unstable surface. Great for bread, not for bottles.

House Hunters 2.0 gave us the boost to get this bar built. First that required a trip to a hardwood lumber place Aaron has been stalking on Craigslist. It’s a small shop filled with lots of wood, including some exotic options. While we have a serious soft spot for zebra wood, we thought it would be too loud and too pricey for this application. We mulled over the selection and almost settled on some basic poplar before noticing a pile of ambrosia maple. We learned that the discoloration and holes are caused by ambrosia beetles that burrow in and bring fungus. Those splotches definitely stole our heart. We dug through the pile looking for the perfect pieces and chose some of the “buggiest” (according to the wood shop employee.) We left with 4 boards (30.5 board feet) for a total of $91.50.

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The boards weren’t wide enough to span a shelf, so we needed to join them. The boards were rough cut and only square on 3 sides so Aaron started by trimming the rough edge off 2 pieces.005industrial_bar_cart

Then he used the biscuit cutter to create some grooves.006industrial_bar_cart 007industrial_bar_cart 008industrial_bar_cart

Biscuits + glue + clamps 009industrial_bar_cart 010industrial_bar_cart 011industrial_bar_cart 012industrial_bar_cart 013industrial_bar_cart 014industrial_bar_cart 015industrial_bar_cart

Once the glue dried, he made the final cuts to make each shelf the right length and width. 017industrial_bar_cart 018industrial_bar_cart 019industrial_bar_cart

He also removed the excess glue drops and gave everything a light sanding.020industrial_bar_cart 021industrial_bar_cart

While the boards dried, Aaron tested some oil options on a scrap piece of wood. 022industrial_bar_cart

Black walnut023industrial_bar_cart

Tung oil024industrial_bar_cart

Light walnut025industrial_bar_cart


Originally we thought we would want a darker tone, like the dark walnut. But after we chose such a pretty, defined wood, we were torn. We popped the test piece of wood onto the cart with a few bar accessories to help make the decision. But we were still torn. We worried that the light walnut would make the wood stand out too much. And we worried that the dark walnut would hide it too much.


In the end, we decided that we loved the wood too much to tone it down. Both sides got a coat of light walnut danish oil.  027industrial_bar_cart

This involves 2 coats of flooding the board with oil and spreading it around with a brush. The second coat is applied within 30 minutes of the first so that it is still wet.

030industrial_bar_cart 028industrial_bar_cart 029industrial_bar_cartOnce the boards were prepped, we turned our attention to the cart. I gave it a good wipe down with soapy water to remove any loose dirt while keeping the rusty patina.

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Then Aaron made some vital repairs to the shelves, tightening the bolts and replacing a few lost ones.034industrial_bar_cart 035industrial_bar_cart 036industrial_bar_cart

We laid the wood in place and it really started to come together.037industrial_bar_cart

The wood adds so much warmth to this piece. 038industrial_bar_cart

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We pulled out all of our full decanters, all of our empty decanters and all of our bottles of booze. Then I uttered words I never thought I’d say: “We need more alcohol.”


The overall effect is nice, but it’s a touch barren. I guess that’s what happens when you install 24 square feet of bar…041industrial_bar_cart

We opted to keep the styling really simple, focusing on the decanters and mixing in some bottles for interest. 043industrial_bar_cart 044industrial_bar_cart

We pulled out a wine infograph poster to add even more height to this corner of the room.045industrial_bar_cart

And we kept a little space for actually mixing a drink.047industrial_bar_cart

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So, I guess we’re just down to the super hard task of collecting more bottles of alcohol. Woe is us.

The stairwell is (finally) painted

Is there some sort of bad DIY-er award for the longest time something has been prepped for paint but ignored? If so, we should submit our stairwell. I think we would win. Remember when we painted the living room way back in March? Well, the stairwell was part of that major project too. Here’s the best before shot I have. (I didn’t know the stairwell was on our to do list. So it was not properly photographed before.)


Just like living room, it had a lot of areas that needed patched and an awesome (sarcasm) paint job that combined fire engine red (irony?) bits of tan and primed walls. 002stairwell 003stairwell

Oh and it was sporting an awesome (sarcasm) commercial-grade exit light system.004stairwell 005stairwell 006stairwell

Aaron turned to Hyde Wet & Set Wall Repair Patch to make the necessary patches on our plaster-with-metal-lathe walls.


Once the walls were white the treads started to look quite unfortunate. We had already decided to to paint them glossy black to offer some contrast to the walls. We thought it would add a huge amount of polish to the space, kind of like putting on eye liner (my reference, not Aaron’s.)



Because this is an industrial staircase, and one that gets lots of use, we opted to not spend any time trying to make the treads perfect. There are paint drips and rough spots and that’s fine. We just wiped everything down and accepted the imperfections.


Then, Aaron carefully taped all four sides of each tread and along the wall. The warm weather rolled in shortly thereafter and the carport turned garage took over our spring… and our summer… and our lives…

Sometime in July, I decided to be helpful and start working on the stairs. Wielding a paint brush is not in my skill set as I’m the paint roller in the family. So I  carefully, painstakingly outlined each step and filled in each riser. I spent four hours on the lower treads and another four on the upper – just for the first coat. By my estimation, I was going to spend a total of 40 hours OF MY LIFE painting the stairwell.

Then House Hunters: Where Are They Now decided to pay us a visit and the stairwell painting shifted back to Aaron who knocked out ALL of the remaining coats in under 4 hours total. He’s a whiz!

That included some necessary touch ups due to the oil paint seeping under the tape.

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And so, finally, here are way too many pictures of our FINISHED stairwell!

At the top of the staircase:015stairwell 016stairwell

P.S. Don’t those plants make such a difference? I forgot how cold and sterile that corner felt.

Looking down (before anything, after wall paint/before tread paint and donezo):

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On the second landing looking up:019stairwell 020stairwell

That bright blue blob? That’s our awesome, shiny treads reflecting my blue dress. This is also as close to a “selfie” as I get…

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Note the light fixture, which we re-purposed from Aaron’s office at our last studio. It lived in the living room for a while and is now providing a lot of light in the stairwell (after we changed the bulbs.) We have plan for a more permanent fixture in this space, but this works perfectly for now.

On the second landing, looking down:023stairwell 024stairwell 025stairwell 026stairwell

So fresh! So clean!

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On the first landing, looking up:029stairwell 030stairwell 031stairwell 032stairwell

I LOVE the contrast of the black against the white. The whole space feels so modern.

From the bottom, looking up the side:


From the downstairs living room:034stairwell 035stairwell

The stairwell also got the first piece of art that didn’t come from our camera. This etching stole our heart at the St Louis Art Fair. It’s perfect in this space – simple and complex, black and white, sweet and creepy. Plus I love that it signals that you are entering into a finished space (and leaving the perpetual chaos in the downstairs living room.)


We’re both SO glad to cross this project off our list! What home improvement projects have been hanging over your head?

I could stare at you all day…

Is choosing art hard for anyone else? It took a full bottle of wine for us to settle on favorites, take some measurements, design a template and make some final choices. Here’s what we landed on.
Staircase landing
We started in this area because I’ve been dreaming of a HUGE print in this space. I fell head over heels in love with this black and white image:
But our printer limitations (as if 44” is really a limitation) forced us into a strong vertical.The picture looked horrible cropped into a vertical, so we dropped in two other black and white images as contenders.
living room art4
After deciding on trees for some of the other spaces, we settled on the moody sea stacks.
Long wall between the plant shelf and the TV
Thanks to the forgotten about redscale images, this wall came together pretty quickly. Aaron dropped a series of four onto our template and the arrangement just felt right.
living room art
We did tinker with the placement and image selection before we landed on this grouping. We love the pop of color and how the horizontal-ness leads you into the space as you approach from the stairwell.
Behind the couch
We were both really drawn to this image. The fog! The trees!
But we differed on whether the image should be in black and white or color. I love, love how the color version goes from almost a monochromatic black and white to a deep green. It looks exactly how the space felt. Aaron worried that the green image plus the blue couch plus the redscale images would be a bit clashy. He added a (not really close, because wine) swatch of blue (the couch) to help me see the light.
living room art2
As with most things related to color he was right. But I wasn’t quite ready to give up yet. We paused our discussion to see what would work well in the hallway.
These two beachy images started as the top contenders for the hallway.
The top image is one of Aaron’s favorites from the trip. We had all but decided that it would live in the hallway when we realized that because of the space, you wouldn’t be get the full impact of the print. You would be way too close to take it all in.
So we tried his favorite image as a black and white print over the couch…
fallen log
and moved the color (yay!) version of the trees to the hallway…
And all was well in the world.
A few favorite images got left in the dust. We rescued this one from obscurity and printed it for our bedroom. (It looks awesome.)
Eventually hope to find a spot for this moody beauty, which Aaron likens to dinosaur bones.
We also plan to integrate art from other people into the rest of the house, but for House Hunters we would have to take that down anyways (copyright issues). So we’re still contemplating and buying pieces we both enjoy. How do you discover artists? We found some great work at the St Louis Art Fair that Aaron pinned for future reference.

What to put on the walls?

It’s been unintentionally quiet around here because we dove head first into a dozen projects that have a hard deadline. Turns out HGTV can’t get enough of us and we’re scheduled to shoot a “House Hunters: Where are They Now?” episode next week tomorrow(!!!!) We’re so excited to share the updates to our space! (We hadn’t even moved in when they wrapped the original episode.) I don’t have any details on when it will air, but I’ll pass them along when I do.
We think we cobbled together a pretty manageable list of smaller projects to tackle before the cameras start rolling. High on the list: get some art up on the living room walls. We’ve been pondering art ever since we pulled this room together earlier this year. We’ve been browsing, pinning and even buying (we snagged a piece at the St Louis Art Fair earlier this month), but  we decided nothing was getting a home until we got our film scans back from our Pacific Northwest trip.
Those arrived last Monday and we sat down with a bottle of wine to make some tough choices about what we wanted to stare at on a daily basis. We started by pulling our favorites from the trip, a few fine art images we snapped while at weddings and a collection of redscale shots from a spring trip to Chicago, which we forgot about until we got the scans back. Discovering forgotten images is almost as good as finding money in your pocket (almost.)
There were 4 areas we hoped to fill
  • Second landing on the staircase
  • Long wall between the plant shelf and the TV
  • Behind the couch
  • Hallway
So here are the contenders:

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Any guesses on what we chose and what went where? I’ll be back tomorrow with a breakdown of our choices.

Olympic National Park and Seattle

(We’re trying to get back into reno mode, but after two weeks of vacation it’s tough. I’m trying to prolong the trip by drooling over all the pictures and memories: Willamette Valley and Portland/Mt. Rainier)


Olympic National Park
A friend at work went on (and on and on) about the glories of Vancouver Island. Try as I might, I couldn’t fit it into our schedule when we knew we wanted to go as far south as the Willamette Valley. A little investigation led me to believe that we could get the same stunning sights stateside (wow… tongue twister much?) on the Olympic peninsula.

The plan: Hike beaches and the rainforest, take lots of pictures.

The lodging: It was hard to know where to launch our ONP adventure from, but Forks won out when we found this awesome, modern VRBO. Plus it put us the closest to the beach (!!) and in easy distance of the rainforest. 2 Things: 1. No, I’m not a Twilight fan. 2. I had no idea the novel was set there when we booked this. I figured I had to get that out of the way because we’ve been asked A LOT. The Twilight craze seems to have calmed down in this one stoplight town save for some random stores like “Indian to Twilight” and “Twilight Firewood.”



Rialto Beach: On our transition day from Mt. Rainier to the Olympic peninsula we grabbed lunch in Port Angeles and decided to check out Rialto Beach before check in at the VRBO. I didn’t realize at the time, but this foggy, rocky beach would totally steal my heart. From the parking lot, you weave through a pile of white washed logs, tossed ashore like Lincoln logs onto the rocky beach. It was foggy when we went and that seemed perfect. We walked two miles north to Hole in the Wall and arrived at low tide, allowing us to climb out and explore the tide pools. This place was pure serenity.

Shi Shi Beach: One hike stood out among the rest when I was planning this trip: Shi Shi Beach. Revered in the guidebook and online as THE BEST BEACH IN WASHINGTON, it instantly jumped to the top of my list. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Getting to the holy land involved a 2-mile trek through a rain forest that created boggy trails and descending something that’s a cross between a hill and cliff (if takes the assistance of a rope to get back up if that helps you understand the incline) before you hit the beach. Then it’s another 2 miles down the sand to some gorgeous sea stacks. So said the book. So said everything.

Here’s what really happened: We had to drive 90 minutes, which I spent blissfully dreaming of the beauty of Shi Shi Beach. The last bit of that drive is through an Indian reservation, which creeped me out with its desolate look and “Get off drug” signs at every post. We were diverted around the downtown area due to a parade and couldn’t get our “required” pass. Thankfully, a local at the trailhead said we didn’t need it for a day hike and our car was still there when we returned. Admittedly, not the best start. We tackled the rainforest hike with a spring in our step. Being the somewhat dry season, we were able to easily navigate the huge bogs in the trail and going down the cliff/hill wasn’t too bad. We sprung out from the treeline to find a beach… a sand beach – no perfectly smooth stones from Rialto, no line of white driftwood protecting the shore… just a beach. So we started south… and walked… and walked… and walked down this sandy, unimpressive, cloudy (but in a sad way) beach for two more miles.

In case you’re not keeping track, by the time we reached the sea stacks we were 4 miles – ONLY HALF WAY – in. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. We had some lunch and took some pictures. Aaron is still optimistic that we’ll love the images, but he agrees that the 8 mile slog was not worth it. It was the biggest (really the only) disappointment of the whole trip. Is it pretty? Sure. Is the MOST GORGEOUS BEACH ever and worth an 8 mile hike? No.




We approached the last day of hiking with very weary legs. We knew the Shi Shi slog would be our last long hike. So we scaled back our rainforest tromp to some easy 1 mi loops near the visitor center. It was pretty, but we’ve seen the redwoods in California and they totally win in the “big tree” category.

Ruby beach: We decided to end this leg of the trip with lunch and a covert bottle of wine on Ruby beach. I doubt there is a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than drinking red wine on the beach. We had some sandwiches, picked up too many rocks/souvenirs (can we blame the midday wine buzz?) and watched the tide roll out and the fog roll in. It was one of those moments you just want to soak in and save away to remember on a day that’s gone to hell.





Our direct flights (seriously, I never want to have a connecting flight ever again) brought us in and out of Seattle so it seemed like a natural way to end our trip.

The plan: Bring on the seafood! Bring on the sights! Bring on clothes that aren’t meant for hiking!

The lodging: We scored a sweet VRBO with the view below and direct access to Pike Place Market. It included free parking and owners that sent the most helpful guide to the condo and the area. They even let us check in early!


The food: We took full advantage of the Market and our proximity to Belltown in order to enjoy some delicious food. On our first day we popped into Beecher’s for cheese and Piroshky Piroshky just because the smell was enchanting (we walked out with breakfast rolls.) We also grabbed lunch at Three Girls Bakery. (Get the reuben.) For our last night, we grabbed fresh seafood to grill and enjoyed a lovely dinner at the condo.



List: We also enjoyed a few restaurants outside the Market. Aaron found List and we took full advantage of their happy hour menu – ordering 5 plates of food and a bottle of wine for just $50. (Dear St. Louis – Please take a note from Seattle, because your happy hours blow.) Everything was outstanding. The spicy meatballs were actually really spicy! The grilled romaine salad was perfect and the lemon arugula salad is going into permanent rotation at our house.

Bathtub Gin: We met a college friend for drinks at Bathtub Gin (his suggestion) and loved the ambiance!


The sights:
Chihuly Garden and Glass: We’ve been lovers of Chihuly since his exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Gardens so we strolled around his gorgeous museum for a few hours.

The Original Starbucks: We couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market and buy mugs that you can ONLY GET at the original Starbucks. Clearly, we are huge nerds.


Boeing tour: Aaron is a fan of all things air and space travel so our original plan was to visit the Museum of Flight in Seattle. But when we discovered that Boeing offered tours at their plant north of Seattle, I gave him the choice and he opted for the Boeing tour. I have zero pictures of this place because they literally make you lock your purse and cell phones in a locker before taking the tour. I’m not huge into science, but this was pretty cool! You get to go in the biggest building in the world (by volume) and see lots of planes being assembled. It was totally worth the admission price and short drive from downtown.

After that we headed back to the Lou, picked up a very excited Dane from my parents house and spent the weekend recouping and starting to think about work/renovations. (Note to self: Always come home on a Thursday and take the Friday off.)

So that was our summer vacation. Did you head anywhere exciting or new this summer? I will admit that while hiking in Rainier we were already discussing our next trip. (Is that like cheating on your current vacation?) Our 10 year anniversary is next year and we’re totally up in the air on where to celebrate. Thoughts? Suggestions?