Reupholstered Wood Frame Side Chair – Part 1

For anyone new to Flawed yet Functional, DIY and home projects are my happy place. It is therapeutic for me to paint a room. I get great satisfaction sewing a Roman shade for a window. Making wood beautiful with my own two hands is downright fun for me. It gives me great joy to make my home beautiful with my own elbow grease.

Doing and sharing these projects though are two very different things. It takes a lot of bravery to share home projects when I’m not a professional, an interior designer, or anything like that. I’m a reader and a life-long learner who likes to work with her hands. This post is me being brave. I’m not a trained in upholstery, but I like to learn and create beautiful things with my hands. I love Myquillyn’s tagline: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s be brave together and re-upholster a chair!

Side Chair Before

Quite a few years ago, I purchased this wood side chair off Craigslist for the desk in my home office. The seat of the chair was ripped when I purchased it so the plan all along was to reupholster it at some point. Although I loved (and still do!) the mid-century modern lines of the chair, I wasn’t fond of the blond wood. After I removed all of the old upholstery, I gave it a couple coats of Minwax Special Walnut and a couple coats of polyurethane for durability.


Since I put this project off for years, I mean YEARS, and I’ve worked on this project in stages, I don’t have good photos of dismantling the chair and staining the frame.

The removal of the old upholstery and re-staining took place in early 2017, and then I let the cost of new foam for the seat allow me to procrastinate with finishing the chair. I’m really good at procrastination when I’m not feeling confident in a project. So there my chair sat for months and months while I “saved” to buy the foam and other materials for the seat of the chair.

I finally purchased the rest of the materials for the seat of the chair a couple weeks ago. The purchase only occurred because I happened to check the Jo-Ann’s coupons to find I had a 50% off one cut of fabric which included foam. Score! Guess how much it cost me? I should tell you I didn’t just buy foam. I bought the dust cover, burlap, burlap webbing, nail heads, AND the foam for $55. This chair has been sitting unfinished for over a year for just $55 (or over 7 years if you go back to the original purchase!).

I finished the chair back insert in the summer of 2017, and I failed to take any pictures to document it. So this is the starting point for finishing the chair seat. The seat of the chair only has the wooden frame, nothing else.

Reupholstered Side Chair StartI took pictures of how the chair was put together as I stripped off all the old upholstery. I followed the same pattern, method, and materials to build the new seat. I’m not an upholstery expert, so I don’t know if I’m doing this right, but I think it will turn out sturdy and comfortable. That is a good enough result for me for my first upholstery project!

Let’s jump into the project!

Trace the Shape of Chair onto the Foam

Before beginning to staple anything to the frame of the chair, get a pattern of the seat shape traced onto the foam. Lay the foam piece on the seat of the chair as snugly as possible without buckling the foam piece. Then trace around the inner side of the underside of the frame to mark the shape  to cut the foam.

Does that make sense? Kneel down and trace from the bottom of the chair. It is a little awkward, but it is a quick thing to do.

Reupholstered Side Chair Foam Fit

Cut the foam

Cut the outline you just traced using an electric knife or a serrated bread knife. Don’t try scissors or a flat knife, it will tear up the foam. If you have access to an electric knife, it will cut through the foam like butter. Please be careful not to cut yourself or your floor in the process!

Reupholstered Side Chair Cut Foam

Dry fit the foam

Before moving on to assembling the chair, put the foam into the frame of the chair to make sure it fits. Make additional adjustments as needed.

I kept my foam insert tight, but I did have a gap at the back of the chair. To fix this, I ended up cutting a thin piece of foam to fill in this gap before putting on the batting (see the Cut the Batting step below).

When I removed the original upholstery, there were large gaps between the foam and the seat frame, and these gaps were not filled with anything but air! So I don’t necessarily think every square inch of the frame needs to be filled with foam, but it seemed like the right thing to do, so I went for it.

Reupholstered Side Chair Dry Fit

Staple burlap to bottom of the chair

Now it’s time to start putting the chair back together. Start from the bottom up, except leaving the dust cover until the end just in case something needs to get removed.

Turn the chair “on its knees.” With the back facing you, tip it forward so the bottom is exposed. This makes the stapling of the burlap much easier. I used 9/16″ long staples (long!) because this layer is structural. It will partially hold the weight of the person sitting on the chair. I laid my roughly cut piece of burlap on the bottom of the chair then stapled in a north/south/east/west pattern to keep the burlap centered and taught. Continuing working around the chair bottom in this pattern (N/S/E/W) pulling the burlap taught as you go.

Chair Frame BeginReupholstered Side Chair Bottom BurlapI trimmed all the excess burlap, but an inch or so, around the chair bottom. Then I folded the burlap back over the staples (toward the middle of the chair) and stapled it again.

Reupholstered Side Chair Burlap FinishCut batting

To make a pattern for the batting, I simply laid my foam insert on top of the batting and used a permanent marker to trace around the foam leaving several inches clearance from the edge of the foam. I wanted to maintain the rough shape of the foam, but the extra inches were needed to tuck around the foam, between the foam and the frame of the seat of the chair.

Draw Batting Pattern

Put the foam into the chair and tuck the batting around it.

It is at this step I decided to fill in the small gap left between the back edge of the chair frame and the foam I originally cut. Based on how the chair was originally put together, I’m sure this gap was ok from a functional perspective, but I like everything to be as perfect as possible, so I filled this small gap with a scrap of foam.

Reupholstered Side Chair Foam + BattingAttach Jute Webbing

Next comes a tight weave of jute webbing. I attached this by securing the back side of the chair with four strips of webbing. Then I attached three strips of jute webbing to the left side of the chair. Then wove them together before fastening the opposite sides.

Jute Webbing WeaveThese next steps required both my husband and I. I did not buy the proper tool for this step nor enough jute webbing to be able to use the tool. My solution is as follows:

  1. Attach the back and left side of the chair webbing and weave the ends together. First staple 5 staggered staples into each strip ( _ – _ – _ ) then fold the end back over the staggered staples and secure it with three more staples ( _ _ _ ).
  2. Have your super strong husband pull each piece taught while you staple 5 staples into the finishing end of the strip.
  3. Staple again in a staggered pattern ( _ – _ – _ ).
  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until all jute webbing strips are taut and stapled to the chair.
  5. Fold over the ends of each strip and staple three more times ( _ _ _ ).
  6. Trim excess jute webbing.

Jute Webbing Trim

The finished webbing should look like this:

Jute Webbing FinishedThose jute strips are TIGHT. Both my husband and I sat on it, and it barely gives. Looking back at the old webbing when I stripped the chair, the webbing was loose and buckled. This should make the chair much more sturdy and comfortable!

Since I’m not an upholstery expert, more of a learn-as-I-go kind of girl, why is the foam in the middle of the seat frame? Does the jute webbing defeat its purpose entirely? I couldn’t find a tutorial of my exact type of chair so I really don’t know the proper way to approach this upholstery project. Thoughts?

I must confess that I cannot believe how quickly this portion of the chair came together. Why did I procrastinate this long? We’ve had this sturdy piece of furniture, that I really love, sitting useless, half-finished in our basement for so long! I’m so glad I took the plunge to finish it now! I can be brave, and you can too!

This completes the weight-bearing portions of the seat of the chair: burlap, foam, batting, and lastly the jute webbing. With a pneumatic stapler, this comes together very quickly! If I can do scary things you can too! Stop procrastinating and start doing!

Up next: the soft and comfy part of the chair!

What are you procrastinating on lately? What scares you about starting a project? Do you find those scary items are actually no big deal once you start to tackle the project?

Wood Frame Chair Upholstery

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Entryway

Are you a perpetual home-shopper? I used to be. I am exercising my gratitude muscles this year by writing about aspects of my home that I appreciate. Can you guess what is happening? My attitude toward my home is changing! I didn’t hate my home before, but I love it deeper now. I have more pride in it and joy maintaining it since starting these posts.

If you’d like to read more like this, click here.

GratefulnessToday our entryway is on my mind. By entryway, I just mean the area right inside our front door. I explain this because my house actually does not have a defined entryway. The front door opens right into the living room.

Entryway Shoe Shelf

I love home design and studying function/flow of a home. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to define the entryway space and maximize it’s function. It’s a quirky space, but here’s 3 things I’ve found to love about it.

  1. It’s large! Since there is no wall defining this space, it can be as large as I need it to be. Working on a project in the winter? Set up a folding table; there’s plenty of space to paint! Have friends coming over for dinner? Set up the kid’s table in the entryway; there’s room for 6+ kiddos to eat there!

Open Entryway

  1. It’s multi-functional! Currently, it’s workshop, office, AND mudroom. What more could you ask for?

Uses of an Entryway

  1. It’s flexible! Need more room for sitting in the living room? Scoot that couch back, encroaching on the entryway, to make room for more chairs. Need to dry all the winter gear after skiing? Push the couch into the living area to make room for drying racks.

Do I wish sometimes I had an elegant entryway complete with round table topped with a gorgeous floral arrangement and beautiful chandelier? Yes, but then perhaps I’d be so worried about keeping the table decorated and chandelier clean that I wouldn’t let my kids drop their snow gear at the door to run inside for the hot cocoa. Maybe I’d be so caught up in the lovely of the space, I wouldn’t use it for painting a picture for fear of making a mess. Maybe I’d find myself making a museum of all the pretty things instead of a home that my family is free to make mistakes in (note smudges on mirror and barbell on floor!).

Entryway Stairwell

I’d rather my house be used then on display. I’d rather have a desk in the middle of the mess because my family can see all that I do on the computer. No hiding. I like having my projects right there in the open. What better prompt to finish a project?! I’d rather there not be a place for everything because what would prompt me to keep only what I need?

Honestly, there are more hesitations in my mind when I think of the perfect house than thoughts on how idealic and wonderful it would be. I think I’d be more stressed trying to (unsuccessfully) keep it clean and less joyful watching my kids be kids (playing hockey in the house anyone???).

If I did have said perfect house, you know what would happen? I’d discover it wasn’t actually perfect. It would have its flaws, just like any other house: the off-centered windows, ill placed outlets, less than ideal HVAC system, etc. There’s always something.

So instead, I chose to love the home I’m in. I will be grateful for all aspects of my house, no matter how quirky and off-centered. If I do get another house someday, I will practice gratefulness of that one too.

At the end of the day, my entryway isn’t the ideal layout. It isn’t the height of design genius. That doesn’t need to stop me from maximizing it’s function and appreciating every square foot of my house.


So there you have it. Way too many words about the awkwardly large space inside my front door. Where are you at in your gratefulness for your house? Any overlooked areas that actually turn out to be quite flexible and usable? Do share!

Grateful for Space


Guest Bedroom | A $0 Transformation (maybe…)

These blustery, frigid winter days make me think forward to spring, warmer days, fresh air, and new life! I do love winter, and this was not always true of me. Embracing winter sports was key to me finding joy in winter. I can now say I own skis, and I can snowplow down the hill with the best of them (The best of the 3-year-olds, I mean. No, just kidding, they are better than I am!) In all seriousness, I do enjoy downhill skiing, and it makes winter so much more enjoyable.

On to my topic today, I think our guest bedroom needs a little freshening up! If you’ve looked through my home tour, you will see several rooms that have never had new pictures shared since we purchased the house. Since I’ve neglected to share the guest room, I’ll show you today what we did when we first moved in, and my plans to give it a freshening up now.

Here is the room when we moved in:

Wow, it’s so much blue-er than I remember!

We painted the walls, painted the trim, painted the ceiling, added a shelf to the closet, and laid new carpet. We set down furniture we already had and knick-knacks/books we didn’t know what to do with and…voila!

Guest Room king bed

Forgive the less wide angle shots, I don’t have the lens I took the original photos with anymore.

The walls are a sage green, white trim, and beige-speckled carpet. Even with editing, these photos are reading dark. The walls are lighter than the picture shows and definitely green. These almost look dark beige on my computer.

guest room windowThere is one, off-centered, window in the room (why are windows ALWAYS off-center??). It has a cellular shade, but nothing else pretty to dress up the window.

The wall adjacent to the door is blank, and it is here that I plan to do the most changing: DIY art, a dresser, and functional decor (blankets, wifi password, etc.)

guest room blank wallOne more shot of the whole room (almost)…

guest room

It’s a pretty blank slate. The wall color is fairly neutral. I wouldn’t mind painting the walls, but I’m trying to make this a $0 refresh, so new paint is not in the plans!

Here is my wish list that I hope to accomplish for this room:

  1. DIY Art – I’m thinking a “Be Our Guest” painting like this. I’ll be painting over the Ikea dot canvas that is resting on the ledge above the bed currently.
  2. Wifi Password Display – I’ll make my own, but something similar to this.
  3. Dresser – I’m going to move the dresser from the old nursery/current playroom down to this room. It is sitting empty up in the playroom, and I still really like that old dresser!
  4. Window Covering – I’m really up in the air on this one.
    1. The first thought I had was a cornice box. The drawbacks I see of this are (1) I’d have to buy wood to make it and (2) it wouldn’t flow with any other room in the house. Does it need to? Thoughts?
    2. The other thought is curtains, which I would sew myself. I love long curtains. However, this is a daylight basement room. It has that half-wall/ledge thing. I think long curtains would look weird, and I think short ones look odd too. I love curtains, but I’m not sure this is the right room for them.
    3. Fabric covered cornice box? I do like this one and this one. I really like the nailhead trim on the second one, but I don’t have those on hand.
    4. Barn door shutters? I’ve heard the hardware is expensive, and I think it’s a bit rustic for my tastes.
    5. I find this idea GENIUS. The long curtains plus precisely hung art perfectly trick the eye. Not the right solution for this room, but I love how that designer thought outside the box!
    6. Any other ideas I haven’t thought of? What have you use or seen in a daylight basement window?
  5. Headboard – I’d like to build a headboard for the guest bed using only scrap we have. Dan’s not 100% sure we can, so we may have to spend money on wood for this one, but I think a headboard will go a long way to making this room look welcoming and finished.
  6. Bedside Tables – The goal is to get one on either side of the bed. I’m planning to shop the house on this one and be creative! They will be small ones though because the bed in this room is king-size, and the room is not really king-sized. You do what you can with what you have, right??

If you’d like to see all my collected ideas, check out my Home | Guest Room board on Pinterest. While you’re there, follow me for more house and health inspiration!

Guest Room Mood BoardSources: 1 Paint | 2 Carpet | 3 Nailhead Cornice | 4 Book Display | 5 Be Our Guest Art | 6 Headboard | 7 Basket | 8 Dresser

I’m so excited to tackle a home project again! It feels like it’s been ages! I’ll be updating you as I go. Feel free to give your input! I could really use suggestions on the window covering, bedside tables, and even how to use or not use that half wall!

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Continuous Grates on Range

I show to you another small, but wonderful, part of my home: the stove top on the range. A very small area, and yet, I am so grateful for the continuous grate feature over and over again. Are you ready for me to wax poetic about my stove top? I am! Ha! I could sing the praises of all my appliances in one way or another (and I just may one day!). They are such workhorses that get a great work-out each and every day.

Let’s talk about the grates on my stove!

GratefulnessWhen we decided to purchase a foreclosure, we knew all of the appliances would need to be purchased new. I had never purchased appliances on my own. In our first house, I had the help of parents for the washer and dryer and the rest came with the house.

When researching for a range for our current house, we were so thankful the house was already equipped for a gas stove. Both my husband and I love to cook, and we much prefer a gas range.

I was fortunate enough to be carpooling with a lady who had purchased a foreclosure a year or so prior to the purchase of ours. She informed me that our mutual place of work had a discount program with Whirlpool. She was very happy with her appliances, so we decided to purchase ours through this program too.

Now since we limited our search to what was available from Whirlpool through my work program, we had far fewer ranges to search through. A blessing looking back, there are SO many companies out there to choose from! We decided on the Whirlpool Gold line, and I found a range with 2 power burners.

The burners on our very inexpensive apartment stove did not satisfy our cooking abilities, so it was basically this feature alone that sold the stove to me. That and price. We weren’t looking to break the bank on the stove. I believe paid around $550 for the stove. This one is a little fancier (we don’t have 5 burners) but similar. The best part, price-wise, the deliverers dented the side of the stove in transit so they gave us a discount. We ended up paying under $500 for the stove. It has been worth every penny in my opinion!

gas range with continuous grates

I can’t remember thinking too much about the grates on the stove, but I am so thankful for continuous grates. Continuous grates run, wait for it…continuously, from the left to the right side of the stove and from front to back.

gas rangeThe beauty of this feature? My very normal, 30 inch range can hold massive pans. The grates don’t wobble or wiggle if the pan is really too large for the burner. I have a massive cast iron dutch oven that can cover two burners. The stove handles this with easy with no extra finagling from me to get the pot on or off the stove.

Another great aspect? You can slide a pan from one part of the stove to the other without jarring the other grates. Think of delicate sauces that you must remove from heat at the right moment. No problem. A quick slide with one hand while the other turns off the heat. Need to fill up every burner for Thanksgiving dinner? Just slide those pans around like a slide puzzle!

Side note: Anyone really dislike those games as a kid? We always had several kinds lying around, and I would try but get frustrated and give up easily. Puzzles are not my thing!

The grates are cast iron so they don’t move easily. I’ve never had trouble with them shifting, and I give my stove a work-out regularly!

gas range gratesThey are a bit heavy to move for cleaning, but they don’t hold a candle to the weight of my other cast iron pans, so I think nothing of their weight! For daily cleaning, I just wipe the grates down with a Norwex cloth. For a deeper clean a couple times a year, I put them in the sink for a good scrub.

Notice the discoloration around the burners above, I wonder now if I’m caring for the grates properly? I oil my cast iron pans after each us, but I’ve never oiled these! I might need to start that. Anyone know the proper way to care for these?

If you’re in the market for a a new gas range and don’t want to spend a fortune, I’d look for continuous grates first! And if you’re interested I’d also look for high power burners and a simmer burner.

Do you have an appliances that have really shined for you, and you didn’t even plan it that way? Do you absolutely love one that you didn’t even spend that much time picking out?

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Sunlight

I am practicing gratefulness of my home. To see more posts in the Fostering a Grateful Heart series, click here.


One aspect of my home that is easy for me to see in real life but hard to photograph is sunlight. We have good sized windows that let in a lot of light. I haven’t quite learned the trick to photographing windows, but this is my area of gratefulness today: large windows that let in a lot of sunlight.

I notice it in our hallway the most. I love the light streaming into the hallway from all the rooms.

Bright Hallway

All of our bedrooms have good sized windows so the rooms never feel tight or small.

They do require large curtains though!

I don’t think these windows are anything uncommon. Our house was built as a spec house, so there isn’t anything fancy about it. I think our house is just new enough to have larger bedroom windows (our house is about 20 years old).

I mostly think of the light in sharp contrast to the house I grew up in. The windows were about half the size of these. I remember doing fire drills with my siblings, and we had to boost each other up to get out the window! The windows were quite high up on the wall! My 2 and 4 year old could climb out these if they wanted to. They are so much lower to the ground than older windows.

Our living room is south facing so very bright and warm when it’s sunny. We spend most of our time on this floor of our house. I love that it is so bright.

Bright Living RoomHaving more light in a home is a mood booster for me too. The apartment we rented before purchasing this house had one large window on the south side of the apartment and one sliding glass door on the north side. The sliding door led to a covered deck so there was extremely limited light coming in that way. There were no other windows in the apartment!

That apartment was so dark, all the time. Walking into this house was a breath of fresh air. Each room felt so light and airy, in sharp contrast to the dungeon we were living in!

I am so grateful we were able to purchase a house that has large windows and is south facing. The amount of light we get each day is significant and wonderful!

This post was a challenge for my photography skills. I see some definite needs for improvement. Sunlight is hard to capture!

Do you have a bright, airy house? Are you in a dark dungeon like we were? If you crave more light, here are some easy ways to get more in:

  • Strategically placed mirrors
  • Hang curtains high and wide so they don’t block an inch of the window
  • Move furniture so no windows are blocked

Grateful For Light


Dovetailed Wood Trays

Or should the title read “Wood Trays with Dovetails?” Can “dovetail” be a verb? If you know, enlighten me!

Our Christmas gift to ourselves was a dovetail jig! The primary purpose was to finish our buffet which has three drawers in the middle of it. We roughly followed these plans by Ana White, but ours will look much different. We changed just about every aspect of it except that it is a long buffet with three drawers in the middle with doors/shelves on either side.

I can’t wait to show you that project! It’s been a long time in the making! In fact, we started it last January…January 2017. We’re one year in! Yikes!

We’ve learned so much about woodworking in that year though and have acquired many tools and such to complete the buffet. I’ll be showing it soon, hopefully!

The wood project today is three wood trays to hold various odds and ends in one of our kitchen cabinets. The bottom shelf of this cabinet gets crammed with this and that, things that have no real home (like the toilet paper! Ha, actually we use this for wiping noses, too cheap to buy Kleenex in this house!). It holds our vitamins, my diabetes testing supplies, the boy’s candy, and tea.

disorganized cabinetTruthfully, Dan was just looking for an area in our home that could use wood boxes. He needed to practice with the dovetail jig before tackling the buffet drawers. It is quite the machine and takes a lot of skill and practice. Even though the jig’s purpose is to make dovetailing easier, it still takes quite a bit of knowledge, planning, and careful cutting!

So Dan built three beautiful boxes to fit side-by-side in this cabinet. They are just deep enough to fit inside the face frame and wide enough to fill the shelf width with a little wiggle room in between the boxes.

raw wood trayThis is a dovetail joint, for those of you who don’t know! It is the cutouts that fit a corner of a wood box together. It is an extremely strong joint that fits together snugly. There are no nails or screws used, only a bit of wood glue. If you are looking for quality wood furniture, dovetail joints for any drawers is something to look for.

raw wood dovetailSolid wood must be used to make dovetails because plywood will splinter. How do we know this??? Of course we had to try to dovetail plywood. We have a lot on hand, and we are ones who tend to need to learn for ourselves. Our conclusion: maybe it could be done, but so much care needs to go into it, it is easier to just use solid wood, just like all the experts say. Now you know.

Dan used poplar to build these boxes, and I thought it might be fun to stain them then use the varnish oil I’ve used in other projects.

This was not the greatest decision. I thought the wood grain would pop through the stain, but it didn’t. Instead, the stain amplified every little hair of grain, resulting in a very rustic looking box.

After doing some research, we discovered that stain is only used to make “bad” wood look good (like pine) while clear coats are used to make “good” wood look all the better. Again, that’s what we’re here for, to help you not make our mistakes! Don’t stain good wood!

Here are the products I used to finish the boxes. Again, don’t stain the wood like I did! Unless this rustic look is what you’re going for, then by all means, stain away!

wood tray finishing products

Because I like to see my work progress, I took pictures each step of the way from raw wood through three coats of varnish.

tray finish progressionNotice how every little hair of grain is showing? I would have preferred just the major lines show through, but overall, I still like how the boxes look. They are just more rustic than I intended.

After sorting though all the stuff in the cabinet (and throwing some really old stuff away!), here she is with the new boxes!

organized cabinetHaha, not that much of a change, huh?

It’s hard to tell, but I did pair down the things that we weren’t using or were expired and grouped like items together.


organized vitaminsDiabetes Supplies (and hand cream and Dixie cups, apparently! One can only be so organized! Oh and that isn’t bubbles! It’s my sharps container to dispose of my lancets properly.):

diabetes testing suppliesCandy and Tea:

tea and treatsHere’s another little before and after with all three boxes together:

Wood traysThey’re such pretty little boxes! Aren’t they?

They may find a home elsewhere in the house eventually because they are too pretty to hide in a cabinet all their life!

This was a fun little practice project for us! When you tackle a DIY project do you do a smaller, test run one first? Do you go full speed ahead into the big one? We’ve done it both ways! I’d love to hear your tales below!

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Space to Cook

I’m purposefully practicing gratefulness this year. Check out other installments of Fostering a Grateful Heart here!


The kitchen is the most used room in our house which I think makes it the easiest place for me to let discontentment creep in. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty good home cook, and I can let the inadequacies of my kitchen become causes of my grumblings: not enough space on the stove, no real range hood, not enough counter space, etc.

Here’s the truth: This is the largest kitchen in floor space and counter space I’ve ever had.

When we moved in, we extended the peninsula to hold one more cabinet which made space for our new and improved cutting board. Pictures can be deceiving in size. This puppy is 3 feet long! I regularly prepare dinner with my kids or hubby chopping alongside me. There is plenty of space!

Long Cutting Board

Not only can the peninsula hold this massive cutting board, there is ample space on the counter next to the sink. This space is where I’ll put our blender to make smoothies, do a rough chop of vegetables, or puree soups. Oh, and of course, it holds plenty of dirty dishes after a meal!

To the right of the sink, I put the drying mat for letting hand-washed dishes air dry. Again, there is plenty of space for the drying dishes without crowding the corner and prep space next to the stove.

Speaking of the space to the left of the stove, I usually line up my prep bowls for what I’m cooking from the corner over to the stove. I line them up in the order that I need to add them to the pan. I will frequently have 3-6 bowls lined up here (I use the cereal bowls from our everyday dinnerware to hold the prepped veggies/meat/fruit).

To the right of the stove, there is room for either (1) the prep dishes for the dish being cooked on that side of the stove or (2) plenty of space to make a pot of coffee. Our coffee process requires a kettle, kitchen scale, Chemex pot, and coffee grinder. It’s a little more involved than most people do! Either way, lots of space!

Bonus space: the counter to the right of our fridge. I don’t use this space for regular cooking or prep-work, but I use it for entertaining. I set up our airpot with coffee mugs, cream, and sugar for morning gatherings, or I put glass pitches of water or lemonade plus cups and straws. The counter is large enough to hold all these items, freeing up counter space for food and allowing everyone’s thirst to be satisfied. 😉

This kitchen is larger than our first apartment, our first house, or our second apartment. However, have you noticed that you can easily fill out the space you have, no matter how large or small? Contentedness and gratefulness for my kitchen takes purpose and intentional thought for me. I can always think of a feature, space, appliance that would make my kitchen so much better, but the truth is this: great food can be made in any kitchen, friends can gather and laugh in any kitchen, and family memories can be made with any amount of counter space.

You don’t need a lot to be happy. You don’t need more to be a good host. The thing you need is for you to have a grateful, joyful attitude about what you do have.

How have your spaces changed size over the years? Did your contentedness change too? What aspect of your kitchen are you the most grateful for? Is there something in your kitchen you used to want and now have (and have perhaps forgotten that you once longed for this feature!)?


Chemical-Free Cleaning | Glass

As I’m sure all people do, my cleaning skills and theories have evolved over time. When I graduated from college, I was the last one to move out of our rental house. You know what that means, right? Yep, I had lots of odds and ends to move out – all the things that my roommates forgot! With that came a large number of cleaning solutions: 409, Windex, Fantastik, etc.

I used to know how long those lasted me. I’ve forgotten now, but it’s in the years range, not months.

When Dan and I moved into our first house, I began looking for ways to be more frugal and discovered homemade cleaning solutions. I found that vinegar and baking soda can clean just about anything, and they’re cheap!

The other perk is that they were chemical free. If my friend’s kids ate it, they would be just fine. No calls to poison control. No emergency room visits. I cook with these ingredients! I was still using these ingredients to clean when my kids were born. The fact that they were edible was as huge relief for me as a new mom.

Fast-forward two years, I have a 2 year old and a newborn, and I just can’t keep my house clean. I was drowning in motherhood alone, forget the housework. I can’t even tell you how long I went between cleanings for the bathroom. The whole house felt so dirty, and I was overwhelmed thinking about cleaning it. It felt like it all needed to be cleaned, all the time. I knew I could never clean all of it at once so I would procrastinate, which never solved the problem.

I had a friend in college who sold Norwex, and I was never interested. I don’t typically like network marketing products (Is that the PC term? I can never remember it!). Well, I was drowning enough summer of 2015, that I decided to give it a try. I bought my first Enviro cloth and window cloth, and I was changed.

Folks, as a skeptical, not-invested-financially, actual-user of Norwex products, I can attest that they truly do work.

The day I got my cloth I cleaned all the interior windows in my house, the face of ALL my kitchen cabinets, the stainless steel appliances, and the exterior windows on the front of my house all in one nap time. I was a crazy, cleaning machine. It was so easy, and it cleaned so well.

The best part of these cloths: they only use water. In fact, the cloths cannot be used with soap. It will ruin the cloth.

Wait, I didn’t tell you the best part yet. The other best part? They keep appliances, toilets, sinks, floors, etc. clean longer! How, you may ask? There’s no soap scum to attract more dirt. The surface is clean. Free of anything. Amazing.

These cloths revolutionized my ability to clean my house. Now I’m not a clean fanatic. Our floors are dirty, and I don’t always get to the bathrooms each week. I’m a real person too. I swear. Here’s the deal, I don’t have to try as hard to get my house clean or to keep it clean.

Today, I want to show you how it cleans glass and, for my sake, I threw in a comparison with my microfiber cloths I purchased from Costco years ago.

Norwex cloths are expensive and require some maintenance. They have to be rinsed and dried thoroughly after use to be free of bacteria, and they have to be washed a certain way to maintain their ability to clean.

The other microfiber cloths have not been cared for with such care (maybe I should have??). So I was curious if they would perform as well on clear glass using only water.

The item I chose was the clear glass pendants in my kitchen. To get a good comparison, I made sure to not clean them for 6 months (a year?). Ha, just kidding. I just don’t clean these very often, and my kitchen is well used. They were very dusty and greasy and have been so for a long time.

Dusty Glass PendantsYou may not think they look too dirty but just keep reading. You will see the difference. They were caked with greasy dust all over but especially where the globe bulges out.

My Norwex cleaning cloths: an Enviro cloth to pick up all the dust, dirt, and grime and a window cloth to dry, polish, and shine.

Norwex Enviro and Window

I decided to clean the right pendant with the Norwex cloths. First, I got the Enviro cloth wet with hot water and wiped all the dust off the pendant, inside and out. I should have taken the bulb out as it was tricky to clean the globe around it. I honestly didn’t think of this until right now as I’m typing this. Doh!

Cleaning with NorwexThen I wiped the globe dry with the window cloth. Look at that shine! Now can you see the dust??

For the other pendant, I used two cloths I bought in a microfiber multi-pack from Costco several years ago. The green one is a looser weave that I used like the Enviro cloth to pick up the dirt and grease, and the tan one is a smooth weave that I used to polish and shine like the Window cloth.

Microfiber ClothsI used the same method with these microfiber cloths. I got the green one wet with hot water and carefully wiped the globe clean inside and out, then I dried and polished with the tan cloth. Again, why didn’t I think to take the bulb out???

Clean Kitchen PendantsVoila!

The right pendant is cleaned with Norwex microfiber cloths, and the left pendant is cleaned with generic microfiber cloths. Can you tell a difference?

You might not be able to in these pictures (and truly the difference is small!), so I’ll share!

  1. The Norwex Enviro picked up dirt much easier than the generic microfiber. It was fast to clean the right pendant because the Norwex Enviro actually picked up the dirt. On the left pendant, I spent a longer time “chasing” dirt around. I did eventually get the dirt off, but it did take longer.
  2. Although both are WAY cleaner, in person the globe on the left has a slight haze to it. I think this is because the microfiber I used didn’t pick up the dirt well enough.

For me the Norwex is still the winner, but I shared this comparison to suggest something to you, my dear readers:

You don’t have to use chemicals to clean. Try using just water.

This is not a sales pitch for Norwex, though I do love it, but rather to get you thinking about how you clean your house. I’ve found using just water to be more effective, less work, and require less frequent cleaning.

We are trained to think that chemicals must be used to clean our homes. We think we need to disinfect everything, but we don’t. Killing all the germs around us actually makes us more susceptible to getting sick. Your immune system needs a challenge every now and then!

Cleaning my home is one of many areas I am more thoughtful and intentional in how I do it. I want to minimize my family’s exposure to chemicals, and yet, I want an effective cleaning regime that minimized my time and effort. Norwex cloths have done just that. Cleaning the glass in my house is just the beginning.

So even if you don’t have or don’t want to buy Norwex, pick up a microfiber cloth and try cleaning with one wet cloth and wipe it dry with another. Just use water. Leave the chemicals and soap for another day. Try it on your windows! Give it a whirl on your stainless steel appliances! You will be amazed!

Just for kicks and giggles, take a look at this picture. The two pendants are clean and the one above the sink has not been done yet. Yikes! (I did clean that one right after I took this picture. The contrast was so great, I just had to share!)

Clean Kitchen Pendants

What have you learned about cleaning over the years? Did you change your strategy or methods once kids arrived? Did they rock your cleaning schedule like they did mine??

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Fireplace

If this is your first time seeing Fostering a Grateful Heart, check out this post for a little explanation.


For this week’s edition, the freezing subzero temps and mountains of snow influenced me. Today, I am so grateful my house has a fireplace.

Growing up, we had a wood burning stove that we used to heat our house in the winter. That began my love of fireplaces. I loved (and still do!) the smell of the wood burning and the super intense heat sitting right next to it. I used to curl up in one of my parent’s barrel chairs to do my schoolwork and get super toasty.

Until the bees that were frozen in the logs, that we had brought in to dry out on the hearth, woke up. They moved slowly, but that didn’t matter – still terrified! Run! There’s a bee!!!

Moving on…

When Dan and I began to look for houses to purchase, I quickly realized that a fireplace, any variety, was not standard. I kind of thought most houses had a fireplace. However, most of the houses we looked at did not, and if they did, the other less-than-desirable characteristics would cross it off our list. (We we buying our first house at the beginning of the housing market crisis. We looked at a lot of foreclosures with serious damage.)

Fast-forward several years, and we are looking for our second home. When our friend sent us the listing, this photo was one of the main reasons we went to look at it (The primary reason being we were pregnant and living in a one bedroom apartment!). Be still my heart, a fireplace!!! Does it work???

Fireplace Listing PhotoIt did, much to our surprise! We let that puppy heat up the house while we took our tour. We were sold and put in an offer that night. The rest is history, they say. 🙂

Today, she doesn’t look much different, less dusty, but not too different visually. It’s on my ever growing list of projects!

Fireplace ChristmasIt is still a favorite feature for me. Well, me and the dog. This is by far his favorite sleeping spot now that the sun is not shining.

There’s just something about watching the flames flicker. It is mesmerizing and comforting. It reminds me of camp fires on vacations years ago and deep talks with friends and family. Even now, a fire in our backyard is a favorite activity of mine.

Fireplace HeatSitting by the fire with a book and something hot to drink is by far my favorite winter activity.

Here’s the ole dog again, he loves him some heat!

A Dog and His Fire

There’s the piece of my home I am grateful for today (and every day it’s cold!). Not only a nice feature to keep warm but offers more decorating opportunities, a place to hang the stockings (a necessity, you know!), and a nice visual center for the room. I love having a fireplace. Do you have one?

Do you have any features you always look for in a house? Do you categorize them: must-haves vs. like-to-have? Is a fireplace in your top 10?


Poplar Schoolroom Table

She’s finished! The new, larger table for our schoolroom that I mentioned in the schoolroom reveal post.

In her beautiful, raw, unfinished glory:

Unfinished Birch Table

And now after 5 coats of Varnish Oil:

Finished Preschool Table

Can you believe how the oil made the colors and grain pop?!

Dan built and designed the table himself. I am so proud of him! It turned out SO beautiful! I cannot take any credit for the craftsmanship, it was all him. I only applied the finishing oil.

He made the tabletop out of poplar 1×6 planks, and the legs and apron are made out of pine 2×4’s. He would have used poplar for the whole thing, but he thinks he’ll need to make new legs as they boys grow, so he opted for the cheaper pine.

The pine legs are definitely not as beautiful as the poplar top. I may paint the legs further down the line. I’m going to keep it as is for now and let it grow on me.

I used Tried & True Varnish Oil to finish the table. It was originally purchased to finish our wood cutting boards, and I love how it brings out the grain and beauty of the wood without the plastic-y layer that polyurethane leaves. I am slightly concerned about not having that protective barrier on a child’s table. If it doesn’t hold up very well, I can just sand it and stain or paint it. I’ll update if it doesn’t hold up to 2 and 4 year old abuse. 🙂

Wood Oil

The coats are applied VERY thin so this itty bitty can goes a long way. The first coat goes on pretty splotchy, but that evens out with each progressive coat. I applied a very thin layer using a piece of cheesecloth, then after letting it sit for 5 minutes, I went back over the wood with a dry, clean cheesecloth to pick up any excess oil. After that dried, I buffed it with a #0000 steel wool pad and then with another clean, dry cheese cloth to bring out the shine.

Varnish Oil Coats

I’m not 100% sure I applied my coats thin enough. There is a slight tackiness to the tabletop. I’m going to buff it again and hope that takes any residue off.

The reason why we built this new table is our Ikea LACK table was too short for the chairs I purchased. I had researched how high a table should be based on chair height (This pdf  is very helpful.), and I knew the LACK was an inch or so shorter than recommended. I just didn’t realize how much difference an inch can make! The boys struggled to get their legs under the table, and when they did, they were stuck, usually falling over to try to get out from under the table.

Knowing that, we tried to be careful when planning the dimensions of this table. The school chairs are 13″ tall, so the height of the table should be about 21″. Ours is 22 1/2″ tall. We had some confusion about how incorporate the height of the apron. We ended up adding 1″ so that their legs wouldn’t be pinched by the apron. Their legs definitely aren’t pinched, but the overall height is a touch tall.

The tabletop dimensions are 21″ deep by 46″ long. We wanted enough space for the boys to sit on opposite sides of the table but offset so they don’t bump each other with their books/paper/whatnot. Bumping into each other’s work is problem #1 with the LACK table. The tightness of the depth of the table causes arguments on a daily basis.

Here it is in our new and improved schoolroom:

School room birch table

There is now plenty of room for the boys and their work. They both gave it a test coloring run as soon as they saw it set up. She’s beautiful and functional!

Finished Birch Table

We chose poplar for the tabletop because we love the color variation in the wood grain. The Varnish Oil really helps to draw out the color change too. So pretty!

Birch TabletopAlthough I wasn’t planning to do school the afternoon I set it up, Jackson was so excited that we threw in a quick lesson during naptime. We’ve also had many more impromptu coloring sessions just to use this new table!

Any furniture builders out there? Thoughts on varnish oil vs. polyurethane? Do you like the look of wood or would you prefer a painted table top?