hello, friday! and hello, friends!

i'm here to share possibly my favorite diy project from last year. okay, i say that a lot, but this one really is a doozy. along with a much better layout, this is the project that truly transformed our living room: bookshelves we built ourselves!

our friend bert is quite the woodworker. he's the one who made our new tabletop for us. five out of five stars. and bert graciously signed on when i asked him if he'd be up for another project. "gracious" because i get these crazy ideas in my head and he helps me translate them into reality.

he and i put our heads together and spent some time on ana white's site. we kicked around a few ideas, but in the end we modified this plan for the favorite bookshelf. we made two units, both of them wider and with taller legs so that the bookshelves wouldn't block some huge air vents we have at the baseboards.

i made quite a few trips to menards and home depot to buy lumber and supplies. on build day, bert brought over his chop saw, nail gun, and kreg jig (such a great tool!). beki and gwen came, too, and we ate dinner together right in the middle. i can't believe we hammered out two bookshelves in one afternoon/evening. it was amazing.

i stole this picture from ben's twitter——i forgot to take any "during" pictures. this is proof that i was involved in the construction!

but after the shelves were built, they sat in the garage for a long, long time while i procrastinated adding the adjustable shelving, filling holes, and sanding. (some of the lumber was less expensive to buy pre-primed, so parts of it are white and parts are unfinished——all pine though.)

once that was done, ben helped me bring them into the basement and paint. painting took a long time. can you guess what color they are? ha! you know me well.

but instead of all white, i decided to paint the plywood backing a color: my favorite aqua. like i said, this room needs color!

i arranged some books, vases, and other goodies, and we just love love love the shelves. (our books are a curious mixture of theology, investing, and literature. and yes, they are arranged by color. dewey decimal, be gone! ben is very patient with my ridiculousness.)

the crown detail was very simple to add, and i think it helps these bad boys look a lot less generic.

the bright colors look nice with the pillows and curtains on the other side.

cost-wise, these units were pretty reasonable. using pine kept the costs down, but you could go crazy with fancier woods and nicer trim up top. the cost was more than the ikea billy, which is what i originally considered for the space, but i think these look a million times better. plus, the billys would have covered the air vent, and we couldn't have that! so custom (and custom cost) is worth it in this case. and with such a sturdy build and solid wood, i'm hoping these bookshelves can stay with us for a long time.

much thanks to bert, without whom i could not have made these (i was thinking of going it alone, and i'm so glad i didn't). and much thanks to ben, who kindly parked outside for a long time while i turned our garage into amy's woodshop, etc.

operation color and home-sewn pillows

happy wednesday! i'm back to share another living room project. this time it is pillows.

we've been "moved in" to the living room for almost two years, but it has been very bare. when we chose carpet, fireplace tile, and wall color, i didn't have a good vision for the room's color scheme so we played it safe with beigey neutrals on the warm side. add the brown couch and chair and it was total dullsville. the room needed color and life!

this was right after we had carpet installed in november 2009. you can call it boring. i won't be mad.

the lovely curtains were the "jumping-off point" (sarah richardson, anyone?) for the color scheme: aqua and yellow in addition to greige, white, and brown. so for pillows, i wanted aqua and yellow for sure, and i also decided to add a little pink to make things interesting. i'm so glad ben likes pink!

first, i happened upon a great aqua lumbar pillow at home goods. then i ponied up some credit card points for a few (free!) yards of these two fabrics. i used two old pillows for pillow forms and bought two more down forms from ikea, so my costs were really minimal.





i used

this tutorial

to sew zippered pillow covers so i can take them off and wash them. (this is also where

i sewed the zippers on inside out

. oops.)

here's what we ended up with.

i am excited to show you the next project. it was very time consuming, but it is definitely one of my all-time favorites.

the state of our [home]

as of tomorrow—february 26, 2010—we will officially celebrate the one-year anniversary of owning our home. i remember the day we closed...there was a huge snowstorm and after the closing, we didn't even go up to the house!

that day, i started this blog. i posted this verse:
"unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain."
Psalm 127:1

what a blessing this home has been! God has sustained us through demolition and construction. there was minimal bloodshed. but on top of the physical structure, God has built our home spiritually. ben and i have settled in and we often think about and pray for the children who, Lord willing, we will raise here. just last weekend we were able to host two gatherings and afterward, i was filled with joy about having a warm, comfortable place to host friends and family. wow. Lord, thank you for all you've done for us!

so what's next for our home? i'm so glad you asked. :) well, we're starting the last project that will complete the entire re-do of the first level of our home: the master bedroom. we'll start the demo this weekend.

but before i get into that, i thought it might be a nice time to post some current photos of the house.

today i'll start with the living room. i'm not sure i've ever posted a picture of the changes we've made! let's recap. when we bought the house, the living room looked like this:

today, it looks like this:

one of the first things we did in the house was rip out that carpet. we eventually framed in the wall to close if off from the previous dining room (now the mudroom—layout here). once the drywall was installed and taped, we tackled that eyesore of a fireplace. it was in such sorry shape and kind of overwhelmed the room. we built out the hearth and paid for tile to be installed. (we're beginners when it comes to tiling and because it is such a focal point, we wanted it to be done right!) we also had our cabinet designers make us a mantle. it is huge, but we love it. we got an estimate to install a gas insert, but it was kind of spendy. so maybe we'll save up for it in the future. for now, we've got a chimney balloon helping to stop cold air from coming down.

we don't have any window coverings up yet, but we'll get there. we are borrowing those comfy chairs from ben's sister and her husband. once we figure out how we really want to use the room (tv? computer? etc.), we'll get some new things and i can really "decorate" it. can't wait!

i'll do another entry on the kitchen soon. thanks for sticking with me! it's been a very good year.