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Let me tell you, I am finally feeling a bit of relief. The main component of our nursery is complete and I can’t wait to share it with you! Hopefully this post won’t bore you to tears; it will primarily focus on how awesome and amazing my husband is.

Wes and I knew from the beginning that we wanted to build our own crib. As most of you know, Wes is a custom woodworker and I definitely consider him quite the craftsman. We knew that we would sleep better at night knowing that the crib our daughter would sleep in was built by our own hands. That way we knew how sturdy it was and exactly the materials that were being used. You know, for those moments when she starts chewing on the rails and you start thinking “hmmm…I wonder whats in that paint she’s licking?”.

I started the design process for her crib a bit early. I actually designed the crib before we even knew we were pregnant. I put together full set of design drawings as a way to surprise Wes once we knew we were pregnant. The morning I got the positive symbol on that little test, I wrapped up those drawings and handed them to Wes over a cup of coffee. It was perfect. Now, at that time, the crib design was just my idea and certainly needed some woodworker/fatherly input. So Wes and I sat down together and hashed out all the details. Me from a design standpoint and him from an actual construction standpoint. The main focus was safety though. Our first step was to research all the U.S. safety requirements for cribs. We met all the strictest requirements which, again, helps us sleep a little easier at night.

Obviously after the design process was complete, I stepped out of the picture. Wes definitely ran this show.  He was able to purchase all the materials through work and do a good deal of the cutting there as well. It is always more efficient for him to work on projects at work since all the right tools are there and set up. It takes forever at home since he doesn’t have a workshop where his tools can stay set up. One day, honey. I promise!

Over a course of several weekends and weeknights, Wes built the most beautiful piece of furniture I’ve ever seen. It can only be made more perfect by putting our little girl in it to sleep for the first time.

This was certainly not a quick project since we wanted it to be perfect and didn’t want to cut any corners. Wes slaved over this crib and we couldn’t be prouder. He constructed it, finished it, and put it all together. Built with love is the only way to describe this entire process.


You will never believe what happened!! We…wait for it…finished a project! Thats right ladies and gentlemen, the Out of Square household finally completed the built-in bookcase in our hallway. HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! Here is a friendly reminder of what we started with…

Isn’t that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever seen?! I’m not sure how we managed to live with it for so long. And now that I have completely devastated you, here is the uplifting after!

Look at that stunning piece of work! The rich walnut veneer, the brushed stainless door hardware…it just makes my mouth water! Now styling the bookcase will be the ongoing project. I’m sure it will change regularly as we collect things. I have collected a few new items at our local antique store, The Sleepy Poet, the happiest place on Earth in my opinion. I walked through last weekend which ended up taking about 4 hours because it is humongous and I don’t feel satified unless I walk every square inch of it. I did come home with some prize pieces I must say though. I hate to buy anything that doesn’t mean something so when I scour the antique or thrift stores around town, I look for something that relates to us as individuals, as a family, etc. This past shopping trip must have been dedicated to Wes because everything I came home with related to him.

I found this vintage block plane for my woodworking husband. I love it. Its heavy and old and great!

My next challenge was to find some sort of box. I know, pretty vague right?! Well, my ultimate goal was to find something that Wes could use to throw his miscellaneous items in when he gets home like his wallet, keys, phone, ipod, etc. They were being thrown into a huge pile on our beautiful floating shelves in the living room. Not exactly the accessorizing I was looking for. I wanted something that was large enough to hold everything and had a lid so no one had to see it. There is nothing that makes a house look messier than STUFF just laying around. Putting those things away instantly makes your house look cleaner. So after many visits to The Sleeping Poet, I found this guy.

Its an old artillery case that received a wonderful coat of yellow paint once upon time. The perfect addition to our house and I didn’t even have to paint it! It already tied in to our new accent color.

Last but not least I wanted some bookends and I would’ve been nuts to leave these guys behind especially with the $5.00 price tag they had!

I know what you’re thinking…ducks? Well Wes used to duck hunt and a few members of his family still do. Of course all good things seem to come in brass so they definitely have a can of spray paint in their future. I’m thinking white but I haven’t quite committed yet.

So thats our story of the built-in bookcase. We’ve officially completed a project and lived to tell about it. Did you think it would ever happen?! Do you have any projects that seem to drag on forever? This is one of my favorte things in the house now and well worth the sweat and tears. Lets take a look at the difference it makes one more time.

Isn’t it just unreal! Its the best decision we ever made in my opinion. Now if we can just finish the bathroom…

This past weekend we tackled the infamous installation of our brand new custom bookcase. Installation is by far the scariest part of any projct. Specifically because nothing in our home or any home we’ve ever been in is actually built square. Nope, no 90 degree corners for us; therefore, installation gets a little janky creative.

All in all, we were successful but that was not without a little foul language and discouragement. I mean how do we actually get the base cabinet into the nook when the darn door frames are in the way of our perfectly sized face frame?! Yep, that one took us about 20 minutes but we eventually got it in there.

But before you see the stellar after, let’s see a reminder of the depressing before:

Yep…so sad and completely boring. Epic fail! Now time for what I have deemed a complete success. Ladies and Gentlemen Ok, Mom & Dad, here’s the after!

Now we obviously still need to install the hinges and pulls on the cabinet doors and finish the trim work but we are so happy with the result! It really changes the entire feel of the hallway…no, the whole house. I feel so fancy as I walk by our built in bookcase morning, day, and night. I just can’t wait to dress it up with books and art and doo-dads, oh my!

Well as usual, my husband was BUSY this weekend. We were in a race against the rain to make progress on our beautiful built-in book case. See, we have now given ourselves a deadline. Nothing like scheduling a party to really light the fire and mark some items off your to-do list! So with my birthday party quickly approaching, Wes was determined to build as much of the bookcase and finish it if possible this past weekend. Well, we got it all built and step 1 of the finishing complete, primer.

Wes built the doors for the base of the bookcase and used applied molding to give them a little extra oomph. My job is to pick out the perfect hardware. (I’m still working on that…more details to come!)

After confirming that all the pieces fit perfectly or “dry fit” the pieces in my husband’s language, he used a little wood glue and his trusty nail gun to attach each component.

Look at those beautiful curves!

Now for the BIG reveal progress shot…

I’m just in love! Obviously it still has a little ways to go. We have to install the shelves and apply the paint but you can really visualize what this baby is going to look like. I’m just so proud that my husband built it with his own two hands.

Next weekend we tackle the finishing and …dum dum dum… installation. Wish us luck!

This past weekend, we started yet another DIY Project. This one is for my birthday present which means I don’t have to lift a finger! My talented hubbie is building a custom built-in bookcase for our sad hallway.

This is our hallway before…

We originally tried to use this nook of dead space to create a workspace for Wes while he was in school. Well as you can imagine that didn’t quite work out. It turned into the dreaded dumping ground. All the mail, extra papers to be filed, and so on, ended up on this desk. In addition, I was forced to walk by it every day on the way to the bedroom and it just made me sad. Yep, a misused dead space in my home can make me sad. I’m that obsessed with my home. So after a little brainstorming that what our house needed was more storage! Our little 800 SF bungalow leaves much to be desired when it comes to functional storage so anytime we start a new project, we think about storage first and foremost.

We decided that we wanted the bookcase to be built-in instead of just a furniture piece so that it looked more cohesive. We wanted it crisp and white like our trim but with a little something extra. Thats when we decided veneer! We veneered the back of the bookcase with walnut which is my favorite species of wood ever! Yes, I am a nerd.

Moving on…here is a little sneak peak at the progress.

Now that beautiful walnut is going to receive a glossy clear coat and then the rest will be white for a stunning contrast. Also the base of the bookcase will be enclosed cabinets to help us with the “not-so-pretty” storage…linens, towels, etc.

We are going to begin the finishing process this weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. So what do you think?! Love the walnut or would you have left it all the same color. Maybe you would’ve painted it red. Do tell!

As you read recently, the Gillen household is super excited about the purchase of Crotch Mahogany Veneer. We certainly have plenty of projects on our to-do list around here that don’t involve this veneer but I just couldn’t keep myself from doing a little planning.

Our first Crotch Mahogany Veneer project is going to be a headboard for our master bedroom. Currently we have no bedframe and our pillows lean up against the window. Relaxing, right?!

Our first thought was that we didn’t mind covering up the window. We’re going to start by putting up IKEA Vivan panels in front of the window entirely so that the headboard and height of the bed aren’t dependent on that window. We bought a brand new mattress when we purchased this house and it is super thick, I mean thick like a Cookout milkshake thick. Because of this, I’ve always been concerned about a bedframe or headboard since any extra height would immediately cover up the window. Solution…cover up the window. We never use it anyway and we have another window right on the other side of the room so plenty of sunlight will still flow in.

Moving on…with the window covered up, my creative wheels started turning and I churned out this.

The headboard would be painted white and the veneer inset into the (3) middle panels.

So what do you think…beautiful, lame, or you wouldn’t be caught dead with anything named crotch in your house?

Can you guess what this is?

I knew you smart and beautiful people could figure it out! Thats right, its a whole slew of Crotch Mahogany Veneer and it’s ALL mine! Don’t be jealous. Ok, you can be a little jealous because it’s AWESOME!

Look at that pile of wooden beauty. My lovely husband found 100 pieces of Crotch Mahogany Venner on Ebay for $10. Yes, you read that correctly. Certainly when we saw the price tag, we weren’t sure what we would be getting but the most we could lose was $10. The description on Ebay did say that they came in smaller pieces so we were prepared for that. I have to tell you though, I am loving the smaller sizes! It’s really gotten my design wheels turning. What can we create with these squares of veneer (typically about 12″x12″)?!

I’ve already got plans for a custom headboard for our master bedroom and some end tables for the guest room with a painted white frame and veneered drawer fronts! I’m salivating over here, how about you?

If you had a 100 pieces of Crotch Mahogany Veneer, what would you create?

*My husband would like to clarify that the name Crotch Mahogany is not meant to be dirty (hehe) but in fact Crotch defines what part of the tree the veneer hails from. Crotch means the wood came from the tree where the limb connects to the trunk.

“Mommy, Wow! I’m a big kid now!”

Yep, straight out of a huggies pull-ups commercial but thats how I felt as soon as the vanity for our bathroom was complete. Not only is the new vanity more than 18″ deep, it’s also fully equipped with a brand new Kohler sink and faucet. We have enough storage to hold all our toiletries, extra toilet paper, and anything else we darn well please!! I love this vanity so much I could sing a song about it. I won’t but I could.

Here’s a friendly reminder of the vanity we had before. This one came with the house and seemed to be the perfect size…for a 6 year old. Please excuse the old crooked picture.

And here is the new beauty!

My lovely millworker of a husband built this bad boy. (Thats him in the mirror, please excuse his confused sleepy expression. I obviously haven’t perfected my photography skills yet.)

There’s a shot of that stunning Kohler sink and faucet. Isn’t she beautiful?! Wes and I worked together to design the actual vanity and then I let him roll with it. With his trusty (which translates to gigantic) miter saw in tow, he cut every square inch of this vanity and pieced it together to create this masterpiece. OK, I’m gushing but I really love it that much. And to top it all off, my husband built it.

The hardest part of the vanity project…ok, not the hardest because I’m sure the actual building was the hardest but I didn’t help with that…so, the hardest part of the vanity project for ME was selecting the hardware. We decided to mix brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze in the bathroom since we already had a lot of brushed nickel and the oil rubbed bronze would really bring out the chocolatey goodness of the mosaic tile floor.

We finally found these craftsman inspired pulls at a local hardware store. We instantly knew that these were the ones but the pricetag didn’t quite agree with us. We needed a total of (3) ring pulls and (3) drawer pulls which came to a whopping total of almost $100. No ma’am! We decided to leave our dream pulls behind and turn to our trusty friend Google and once again he didn’t let us down. We jotted down the name of  the hardware while we were at the store so we knew exactly what to search for. Thats when we found the same pulls for 1/2 the price!! Needless to say we ordered them immediately and haven’t looked back since. Here are the drawer pulls and ring pulls.

So what do you think? Is my husband awesome or what? Maybe your husband is just as awesome and has built something for your home. Do tell!

P.S. For anyone who’s husband isn’t quite as handy, my husband takes on freelance work. So don’t hesitate to contact us about any future furniture/built-in project you have in mind but don’t quite have the tools to tackle yourself.

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