Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

October 19, 2017

The Fish Room: "Before" Photos, Plans + Progress

Turquoise Laundry Room
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Do you remember the "Fish Room" from my lakehouse tour?

It's a weird little room that's narrow and super small, with two exterior doors (why?), one window (lake view though, lol) and a sink.  The whole set up leads me to believe it was designed for gutting fish.  That sounds weird, but everyone on this bay of Lake Superior fishes, so I think it makes sense to have a special fish gutting room?  I cannot think of any other purpose for this odd little room THAT CANNOT BE ACCESSED FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.  Yep, you read that correctly.  This room is attached to my house but only accessible from the outside world.  Because of the shabbiness and the inconvenient access, this room has sat pretty much unused since we moved to the Lakehouse.  I cleaned it, but I didn't even paint the walls - I just shoved in some paint supplies to keep them from freezing in the garage and then I managed to make this room look worse by spray painting on the floors and splashing resin around.  It was kind of handy to have a heated space I could use for messy DIY projects, but my need for that kind of room has really abated.  

To help you get your bearings, this room is located behind the fireplace in our living room; it's where we load the firewood into the firewood cubby (that part of the floor plan is genius).

The little bump out in the picture above is behind our TV, to the left of the fireplace (see more photos of our living room here):

I recently came up with the CRAZIEST idea for this room, which will help maximize the modest 1300-ish square feet of space we have.  It's a long term plan (which we won't have the money for until after we do the roof and siding next spring), so I have some time to figure out the specifics. 

This is my rough plan:

1. Tear down the fireplace wall and re-build a more modern, efficiently designed fireplace with room to mount the TV above it and - are you ready for this? - a SECRET door to access the fish room.

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I'd like to keep our handy wood cubby system, so a hidden door would likely be incorporated to the left of our fireplace.  I haven't seen anything exactly like what I want to do so I've just been pinning asymmetrical fireplace designs and working on my own sketches and ideas.  I'm thinking that large panels of walnut could hide a door nicely - but with some kind of sleek stone/tile near the wood burning fireplace.  The following fireplaces all look so different, but they're inspiring some ideas as I noodle on this...(if you spot an idea that could work, put a link in the comments, tag me on Instagram or send me a pic on Pinterest).

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2. Seal off the weird second door (on the side of the house) in the fish room and re-do the drywall for a seamless wall.  Let's get rid of the popcorn ceiling too!  One fewer door means way more space for cabinets and storage...

3. Move the washer and dryer out there and build a DIY dog washing station too.  I am so excited about planning a pretty laundry room!  I'm dreaming of pale turquoise cabinetry - or maybe classic white/walnut, with a statement-making tile in my favorite color.

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4. Add sliding doors and shelves where the laundry room curtains (hiding the washer and dryer) are right now, to create a massive, epic storage pantry stretching the length of the wall, floor to ceiling.  I'd really like to get the same glass front doors we have in the bedroom

We don't have a full height basement, so step four would be amazing! 

We would then use the fish room as a mud room of sorts too, letting the dogs in and out there and further confining the mess, even better than my current solution.  This plan would add so much function to our home: providing another entrance, carving out a proper mudroom, adding a massive walk in pantry/storage closet, making the laundry room less visible and also larger, and creating a place to wash the pups.

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Plus - SECRET DOOR.  I can't stop using caps, I'm really excited.  I've been pinning laundry rooms, mud rooms, fireplaces, and crazy good tile ideas.

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But you won't need to wait to see me give this room some love!  We're actually working on it right now, giving it the patented Dans le Lakehouse spit and polish, aka the Phase One Makeover.  The kind of makeover where we use phrases like, "load bearing paint," and "don't we have something in the garage we can use?"  Until my laundry/mud room dreams come to fruition, I'll be using this room as shared craft/sewing storage with my Mom.  Our sewing supplies were spread out over multiple spaces in both of our homes, so we sold some supplies at a yard sale and streamlined a little, and now the plan is to house it all in one convenient space (and that space is, conveniently for me, my fish room).

I'll be sharing the progress we've made soon, but I wanted to give you a better look at the "before" first and share my long term plans because I'm bursting at the seams with excitement over them.

Okay, tour time... 

This overhead fluorescent light?  Already gone!

The janky cabinets that refused to close and the even jankier sink?  Gone!  I actually contemplated keeping and painting just that one cabinet with the sink but, in the end, everything in here was just too old and damaged to salvage.  


Old stained vinyl floor? Gone! Well, sort of. We're just covering it up for now (I've been sharing sneak peeks on my Instagram stories!), but we'll rip everything out when we renovate for real.

Here's a sneak peek of the new DIY plywood floor:

There's the one door (the one whose days are numbered):

And then, three feet away, there's the other door (the one we're keeping):

It's a short tour because it's a tiny room, but I can't wait to share the transformation of this room with you - follow me on Instagram to catch my progress updates.

October 17, 2017

No Carve Marbled Pumpkins in Shimmery Teal | Minimalist + Modern Halloween Decor

No Carve Marbled Pumpkins in Shimmery Teal | Minimalist Halloween Decor

It must be the lake's influence on me, because since moving to the shores of Superior I have really been gravitating toward designs with an organic vibe.  Ice dyeing, watercolor, dip dyeing - give me anything that calls to mind swirling water and waves. 
I had pinned a couple of marbled fabric ideas and was promptly inundated with DIY marbled pumpkins in my Pinterest feed - like these indigo ones, these pretty pastel ones, these densely marbled ones, these brightly colored ones, these blue/green preppy ones, and these super saturated ones (from way back in 2013)!  I couldn't get marbling off my mind, so I decided to make some marbled pumpkins of my own this year.

No Carve Marbled Pumpkins in Shimmery Teal
DIY Blue Marble Pumpkins

I loved the sparkly turquoise pumpkins I made last year - especially my last minute Pyrex-inspired pumpkin - but I have to admit that I also really loved the look of plain white mini pumpkins.  I actually hesitated before painting them turquoise, because they're just so cute.  This year I wanted to try something that was really subtle and celebrate the natural look of those cuties.  But of I couldn't find nice mini pumpkins of the fresh variety this year, so I took a chance on some faux ones from Amazon.  When they arrived, the green stems looked a little too faux and the beige color was a bit off so I just sprayed them all a crisp white and I love how they look.  It turns out that I don't really discriminate between real or faux pumpkins, I just love the look of a mini white pumpkin.  Plus the white helps my marbling really pop, while still keeping the overall look pretty minimal.  And I don't have to watch these beauties slowly rot!

Modern Halloween Decor
Nail Polish Marbling
Minimalist Halloween Decor


Cute Faux Mini Pumpkins in White
Nail Polish Craft Ideas

How to Marble a Pumpkin: 

The first thing I did was spray paint my pumpkins white and then I let them dry overnight. 

Faux Mini Pumpkins

Before marbling, I attached little twist ties to the stems so I could hang them to dry without touching them.  Actually doing the marbling was so easy, and only took a few minutes!

I grabbed my plastic dish and filled it with lukewarm water.  Then I just added a few drops of nail polish (I found my OPI Emerald Empowered bottle at the buck store!), swirled it with my toothpick and dunked the pumpkin quickly!  In and out, in one swift motion.  Then I hung my pumpkins to dry but the nail polish dried in minutes.  I gently wiped off any excess water with a paper towel.

So easy!  Such a perfect last minute, no carve pumpkin decorating idea because if you skip painting the pumpkin, these can literally be ready in five minutes. 

Cute Faux Mini Pumpkins in White
Blue Marble Pumpkins
Quick No Carve Pumpkins

I liked the look of a half-dipped, marbled pumpkin but I did experiment with dipping from both ends - and also painting the stem the same color as the marbling. 

Easy DIY Halloween Decor

But in the end, simple won out and I favored my five little marbled pumpkins with their minimal vibe.  I love that little pop of swirly blue - they look perfect lined up on my kitchen window sill.

Marble Halloween Pumpkins

Have you tried marbling anything?  Have you decorated any pumpkins yet? 

I always wait until fall, if I can, because it just doesn't feel right until the leaves change color.  As a DIY blogger, I'm supposed to be doing this in the summer, but as someone who lives for summer, I can't bring myself to think about fall (or winter!) until well into October....

No Carve Marbled Pumpkins in Shimmery Teal | Minimalist Halloween Decor
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October 13, 2017

Pumpkin + Blue Majik Smoothie Bowl with a Halloween Vibe

Halloween is the worst time of year for me, for keeping my resolve about limiting my sugar intake.  I am not someone who can enjoy a little treat, here or there.  I'm already ashamed to admit that I bought some candy corn at the bulk store recently and, on the drive home from town (about an hour), ate it all.  Hubby was driving and kept trying to get the bag away from me, but I'm fairly certain I growled and just kept stuffing my face.

Giving up sugar is an ongoing battle for me.  Sometimes my cravings go away, but then sometimes they come back with a vengeance.  

I need to just stay away!  But it doesn't help me get into a festive mood when everyone else is enjoying colorful Halloween treats and I can't.  So I whipped up a garishly colorful smoothie bowl for myself that has SUCH a fun Halloween color palette - plus an season appropriate pumpkin-infused flavor - and this is helping me get into the spirit.

Pumpkin + Blue Majik Smoothie Bowl with a Halloween Vibe

I complain bitterly on Instagram every year that I don't like fall.  I live for summer and loathe winter, so for me, fall signals the end of my favorite season and the beginning of another grueling six months of snow and ice.  Frankly, indulging at Thanksgiving dinner and binging on Halloween candy were the only things I enjoyed about the season!  But since cutting back on sugar - and losing 50 pounds - I am trying not to fall back on old habits.

Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl

Luckily it's been warm enough to keep enjoying a colder treat like this, but I'll need some cozier recipe ideas soon as the temperature drops...

Halloween Smoothie Bowl

I wanted to share, for anyone else who wants a Halloween treat but is trying to kick sugar.  I've shared some smoothie treats before, like my turquoise blue majik smoothie bowls and my layered smoothies, and I'm still a firm believer in the power of pretty food.  I want to eat good-for-me meals when they look enticing. 

Well, no packaged treat can compete with this beauty!

Blue Majik Recipes

A spirulina infused base is a gorgeous blue-grey and a pumpkin top layer satisfies those fall munchies.  A punch of hot pink dragon fruit rind, blackberries and orange slices evoke such a Halloween treat color palette that eating this sweet smoothie bowl definitely takes the edge of those cravings.  Plus I feel better eating it!  I have no idea why I continue to crave foods that literally make me feel sick (like candy corn!).

Fall Smoothie Recipes

Here's what you need to make this Halloween smoothie bowl:

I still struggle with smoothie "recipes" because I'm more of a dump-in-what's-around kinds smoothie gal.  I'll add whatever fresh and frozen fruits I have on hand, plus spinach or other veggies. If I have Greek yogurt, I'll toss that in. For this recipe, I used my hand magic bullet to make two smoothies: the blue layer and the orange layer.  I used the largest cup for my bullet and this yielded four small smoothie bowls.

Blue Layer:

I mixed the banana, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 scoop protein powder together and added two small scoops of blue majik.  You want a really thick base, so if it's too runny add some more frozen banana.

I poured the blue layer into my bowls and popped them into the freezer for about 15 minutes so the layer could firm up - but not freeze - to support the second layer.  You can totally just add the second layer, but it will be a swirled effect, which is just as pretty and equally delicious.

Blue Majik Recipes

Orange Layer:

I mixed the cup of pumpkin puree with a 1/2 cup of frozen peaches to keep the orange hue but add some more sweetness.  The other 1/4 cup of almond milk and 1/2 scoop of protein powder found their way into this half of the smoothie too.  You could also add some carrots for color but less fruit.

I removed the blue layer from the freezer and poured on the top layer.  For photos I popped it back into the freezer because I wanted it firm enough to support the fruity topping while I took photos but in real life you don't need to photograph your smoothie bowl a million ways so you can just top it and enjoy it right away!

Pumpkin + Blue Majik Smoothie Bowl with a Halloween Vibe

I'll be sharing some more ideas for healthier treats that still feel spooky - and I'd love to hear your ideas!
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October 11, 2017

DIY 2x4 Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded H Legs

Easy DIY Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded Legs
DIY Welded Bench
2x4 Bench with DIY Welded Base

This is an unusual DIY furniture project because you'll actually have to come back next year to see the real "after".  I've joked about being the slooooowest amateur decorator and DIYer out there, but this project should fully and officially solidify that title for me. 

Okay, technically this DIY outdoor wood bench - with its awesome welded H legs - is finished.  You can sit on it, place a drink on it, stand up and salsa dance on it (it's sturdy enough, I promise), but I left the wood bare because I want to see how it weathers.  That means that, right now, it's just plain, unfinished cedar, but hopefully next spring it will be a beautiful, driftwood-eqsue grey!

2x4 Projects Ideas

This humble DIY bench - and its long, greying process - is actually serving an important purpose.  One that might save us from making a mistake that costs tens of thousands of dollars.  

Remember how I shared my tentative plans for the lakehouse exterior?  Next spring we plan to replace our mismatched pine and vinyl siding with DIY cedar wood siding, which we hope will grey beautifully for that perfect, coastal vibe.  After spotting a copper-painted metal roof in town, I'm kind of envisioning that paired with the driftwood-grey wood siding but it's such a huge, scary, expensive decision!  I'm so nervous about DIYing our own siding - that feels major - and buying a new metal roof is such a huge expense.  The wood we can always paint, so I'm slightly less nervous about that decision (although doing our own siding still feels intimidating!), but the copper roof we'd be stuck with forever.  I need something to help me make up my mind - a visual aid.

We decided to make this simple bench, with an untreated cedar wood top and welded H legs (painted the same copper hue we painted our DIY welded fire pit) as a trial run.  We're also building a new front step with the same idea, so we'll have two pieces of outdoor furniture I'll see every day, from now until spring, with untreated cedar paired with copper, so I can assess whether I actually like the wood once it's weathered plus I can make sure I'm committed enough to copper to sign up for a 50 year roof!

Easy DIY Outdoor Bench

We needed a new front step anyway and a bench will be such a practical piece.  We're still working on that front step, but here's how we made this modern welded bench! 

Note: if you're not into welding, you can also just buy similar H-legs (or these super chunky X-base legs) and add your own DIY top!  These welded legs, at only $80 or so, are the least expensive ones I've seen.  I also linked some similar benches you can straight up buy, at the bottom of this post.

For the base we used 3" wide steel flat bar, which was something new for us because we almost always work with square metal tubing.  (You know you're an avid DIYer when you have "go-to" metal, haha). 

Welded Projects
Welding DIY

For the top, we actually used home improvement store lumber, which we never use for furniture.  It's intended for building, so it's really not the right quality for furniture and it irks me when I see people use plywood with biscuits or really warped lumber for DIY home decor projects.  Don't expect quality furniture from builder's grade wood!  We always head to a lumber yard with materials designed for woodworkers - that's where I score my fancy walnut plywood too.  But for this project, we wanted to keep costs down and try using the kind of wood we'd actually use for the siding, so we headed to a home improvement store and reluctantly bought some 2x4's.

Before we built the wood top, though, we made the welded metal legs for the base.  We toyed with some different designs, but ultimately we liked this look:

Easy DIY Wood Outdoor Bench with Welded Legs

To make that H leg, we had to make some cuts and cut out two pairs of pieces for each leg.  To do that, we measured out the lengths and cut them using a 4.5" angle grinder with some cutting disks.

DIY Welded Legs
How to Use a Grinder
Grinding Metal

With the four pieces cut out (two shorter and two longer), we used welding magnets to hold together the leg shape.

DIY Welded Bench Base

We use these magnets for every welding project, they are seriously handy!

Using Welding Magnets
Where to buy welding supplies

To hold the rectangular H leg together, Hubby started by tack welding the shape (which is the same principle as basting stitches for sewing - you just want to hold everything together and double check for squareness, etc., before committing to an actual weld). 

Welding a Bench

To remove any slag, Hubby used a wire brush and gave it a brisk brushing. 

Welding DIY

Here's a peek at the tack weld:

Tack Welding

When we were sure it was perfect, he doubled back and welded all of the joints for good.  At this point, we had to call in the Project Inspector, Szuka.  She'll assess the quality and smell of our welds, indicating whether the project is a pass or fail. 

Welded Bench Tutorial

And, voila! Here's a look at one of the finished bench legs.  After using a flapper disk on the grinder to remove any rogue lumps or bumps (welding splatter), it was ready for some tabs.

How to Weld Bench Legs

To attach the welded legs to the wood top, we affixed some tabs because we didn't have a drill bit to drill through the flat bar because it's so thick.  So we welded on some tabs that we could drill through.

One tip: we originally only did tabs on one side of the metal but then added a second set on the other side to keep the legs straighter and add strength.  This bench is heavy!

For the paint, I chose the same copper spray paint we used for the fire pit - which is a great shade of copper.  For this application, we definitely don't need a high heat paint, but we both liked that the two outdoor pieces would match (Rust-Oleum makes a other copper paint but it's a different shade).  Plus it means we can just keep one can of paint on hand to touch up the fire pit, bench, and step as needed.

Rust-Oleum High Heat Copper Paint

To build the top, all we did was cut our 2x4's to the same length and then sanded rough spots and the edges to create a smooth surface.  We edge glued the boards together for a little extra strength and to help hold them in position. 

I could get used to this natural wood thing because skipping the staining and clear coating meant this project was done days faster.  That is my kinda DIY!!!

2x4 Outdood Bench DIY
DIY Wood Bench Tutorial

All we have to do now is let nature takes its course and beautifully weather this wood for us...  This will give me something to look forward to as I wait out the cold winter ahead. 

DIY Outdoor Bench
Outdoor Bench Project

Right now the bench has found a home on the deck of our guest house - and I love the copper legs paired with my Eames chairs and the turquoise front door/window trim.  Such a pretty color palette of autumnal hues and my perennial favorite: turquoise!

Small Cabin Porch
DIY Rustic Modern Bench
DIY Welded Furniture Legs

Love the look but definitely not into the DIY?  No worries!  I know not everyone can whip up some welded furniture in their backyard.  Here are a couple of similar options you can purchase: this very similar bench with reclaimed wood top and welded metal H legs from Etsy and this rustic live edge bench with welded legs.   

P.S. If you loved watching this welded bench come together (I like the show, How it's Made, so I'm fascinated by projects even when they're out of our reach just because the assembly process is so mesmerizing), check out our other welding projects:

Walnut Bed with Welded Legs (and check out the Welded Headboard Refresh too!)

DIY Welded Bed with Walnut Base

Welded Desk with Glossy Pre-Fab Pine Top

DIY Welded Desk

Welded Fire Pit

DIY Welded Fire Pit
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