A Bed with a Bear Hug

Barnwood Style BedsI am thoroughly enjoying the weather we are having this fall. Maybe it’s because I’m older, or perhaps I’m just recognizing it more, but this year the colors, smells, temperatures of the autumn season are particularly delicious to my senses. The cozy warmth of the bright days and the crisp chill of the evenings are especially delightful.

It is in enjoying those cool fall evenings that I decided to try sleeping with the windows cracked open to allow chill air to envelop the bedroom. It makes for sound sleeping weather, inviting a host of satisfying and entertaining dreams and awakening with a rested soul. The problem arrives when morning rolls around.

You see, that delicious fall air is so crisp and cool that stepping out from under the warm covers is quite a shock to the system. My rustic barnwood bear bed quite literally displays a forest bear scene in the headboard, and it feels like that friendly bear has reached out from his forest home to wrap me in a big, warm bear hug. I don’t want to leave his embrace and step into the morning. I’d much rather pull the covers up further, take a big deep breath of that crisp fall morning air, and settle back down for a few more winks until the sun takes the edge off the chill.

It is then, after the sun comes up, that I’m reminded of all the fun fall activities awaiting me. It’s a gentle nudge to get up and enjoy my day.

Here’s to you enjoying yours!

Cozy Quarters for Your Little Cowboy

Bunk Beds for ChildrenWhen I was a child, I thought cowboys were some of the most interesting characters I ever read about or watched on television. Growing up in the Midwest, livestock wranglers were not as commonplace as they were in the open grazing areas of the West. “Real” cowboys seemed to be mythical creatures that rode horses and herded cattle all day, singing songs and playing guitars and bedding down under the stars with their faithful canine companions at night.

As I’ve grown, I have come to the conclusion that cowboys are still very intriguing even though I know they can live a lonely and desolate existence. Their characteristic broad-brimmed hats and high-heeled boots are found in nearly every metropolitan area and every small town, and the definition of what makes a “real” cowboy is very loose. Many of them do ride horses and are constantly accompanied by a dog or two. Contrary to the old cowboy tune, most spend their sleeping hours tucked away in a nice cozy bed, surrounded by a roof and four enclosed walls.

It is still fun to pretend that we are living the life of our favorite Western characters. We can do this by decorating our homes with rustic accessories and outfitting our bedroom with simple yet sturdy furniture. Children are especially adept at playing make-believe and have an uncanny ability to bring the details of cowboy stories to life. When it’s time to put the ten-gallon hat in the closet, ditch the boots beside the bed, and hang the six shooters on the door, your little cowboy can drift away to sweet dreams in a sweet Rocky Creek Barnwood Bunk Bed that will bring a smile to the face of even the staunchest cowboy.

Get along, little doggy, and sweet dreams.

Sweatshirt & Snuggle Season

Warm Beds for the Fall and Winter SeasonI love fall. I know I’m belaboring my point, but the older I get the more I enjoy the changing of seasons. Autumn in particular is exciting…bright and cheerful colors, crisp air, delicious flavors & aromas, sweatshirts, and …snuggling!

Maybe it’s just a Midwestern term, but around Iowa we call cool temperatures of the morning and evening “sweatshirt weather”. The best defense against the chill of the season is with a fleecy, comfy, hoodie sweatshirt. Snuggling into its warm softness counts as one of those “little things most thankful for”.

Around this time of year, it’s also time to drag out the flannel sheets. I ask you, what is more awesome at the end of a long day than to snuggle in between soft, wooly, warm flannel sheets? And especially so when said sheets are crowning the majesty of this Autumn Comfort Rustic Barnwood Bed? Prop yourself up with pillows, turn on the bedside lamp, and settle in with a good book. Feel the stress of the day just melt away! Mmmm hmmmm…

Is it too early in the day for bedtime?

Happy fall!

Happy Harvest Time

Enjoy the Season's Harvest with Dining TablesAs the days grow shorter and the weather turns cooler, we are reminded that harvest is on its way. As a girl that grew up in the Heartland and had many farmers in my family tree, I have a special affinity for harvest time. Nostalgia takes over and I can almost smell the corn drying in the bins, the chaff flying through the air, the evening sun turning ripe fields of soybeans into a glowing spectacle.

Harvest also signifies a prosperous time of year for those who have been tending to and caring for their crops all summer long. The monetary reward for all that hard work allows a farmer a time to celebrate another successful year and the dawn of a new one. Festivities are in order!

And what better way to celebrate than to host a dinner party with all the autumn flavors and smells we love over a Cottage Barnwood Harvest Dining Table with Trestle Base? It’s a season of abundance and a time to share with friends and family. Wine flows and the casserole dishes are bottomless. Everyone is in good spirits with full pockets. Life is good.

As much as I love the fun that summertime brings, I’m always more than excited to welcome fall to my doorstep. A good harvest party is the best celebration of the year.

Happy Harvest!

Reclaiming Barn Wood is a Labor of Love

No Two of these Coffee Tables are Exactly AlikeIf you’re reading this blog, it’s a safe assumption to make that you admire and cherish reclaimed furniture. But are you aware of the process that finished coffee table has gone through before it arrived in your living room?

As is to be expected, the wood in a reclaimed piece was originally part of a barn somewhere in rural America. It’s not hard to spot them; they dot the landscape and some are in a sad state of affairs, listing heavily and just waiting for the next stiff breeze to blow them over. As disheartening as it is to see them in such bad condition, reclaiming the wood is a way to continue its usefulness (as opposed to seeing it fall in a heap of flames and smoking ash, as in the case of a controlled burn).

Our farmer forefathers knew how to build a structure to last. The nails in barns are long, sometimes hand-forged, and not in any mood to be disengaged from their lumbered homes. Harvesting the best boards for furniture can be a tedious and laborious process – but in the end, so very worth it.

Cleaning the wood is necessary. Remember that animals have inhabited these barns for many years, along with the feed and equipment that accompanied the livestock and farm use. Centuries of grime must be washed off the surface of the beams, usually with a power washer.

Almost never is a board the size it needs to be for a furniture project. It may need to be sawed vertically, and even horizontally, to be brought to the proper measurements. This is accomplished with a variety of power tools, blades, and planers.

Before the barn boards can be assembled into a finished piece, any excess moisture in the wood must be eliminated. Even though these boards have been exposed to the air for many years, the grain is so tight and strong that it may have retained moisture. The process of reclaiming, washing, and resizing the lumber may have released long-encapsulated water that can lead to bowing and kinking boards. A drying treatment is necessary.

Only then, after all these steps, is your coffee table ready to be assembled. Many complain about the cost of reclaimed furniture, but a lot of time, care and love has been invested in each piece. And, it’s 100% solid wood…none of the cheap and weak pressboard and veneers you’ll find in the cheaper furniture.

So, go on and enjoy that beautiful Country Roads Reclaimed Wood Square Coffee Table. But be sure to put down a coaster before you set your coffee cup down. Reclaiming is a labor of love, and you want to cherish & protect your heart’s investment. Cheers!

A Bathroom with a Barnwood Look

There's a Rustic Touch in these Bathroom VanitiesI’ll admit, I have a weakness for old, splintery, beat-up boards. The touches of color, the rusted nail holes, the grizzled grain – it all makes for such a character piece. The wood is warm, homey, welcoming.

When it came time to remodel the half bath in our home, I knew I wanted to outfit it with barnwood pieces. So many options existed: half-wall board siding, rustic trim, wood ceiling, or reclaimed lumber vanity. Given that two little boys inhabit our home, we settled on options that would offer the least number of splinters. The vanity was lightly sanded and finished for a smoother touch…so it made the list. And, for another touch of rustic character that could be as splintery as it wanted…we decided to finish the ceiling in rustic barn boards.

I just love the end result. It took some work to get all the boards cut to fit correctly, and finding other finishes to complement, but it was so worth it. The Reclaimed Barnwood Bathroom Vanity looks like it came straight out of an Old West photo shoot. Some people joke that they spend too much time in the bathroom; in our house that is true. We even have a sign opposite the toilet: “Sit. Stay. Admire.”.

Needless to say, we love our bathroom with the barnwood look.

Preserving the Past

Pool tables with a rustic designIn a local suburban area where new homes and businesses spring up nearly every day sits a grand old barn. It is situated next to the off ramp of a major traffic route. Its looming structure seems to be very out of place amongst all the modern hubbub going on all around it. It is, in fact, a reminder of the history of the area, a time of slower pace and more physical labor, of the industry that used to provide the majority of income for local residents.

The barn is an exquisite structure. Instead of boards, it is constructed of brick and concrete. A large silo sits next to it, undoubtedly a storage area for the feed that used to sustain the livestock that called the barn home. Despite years of neglect, the barn is in great structural shape. The sight of it standing there always saddens me, as I’m sure I know of its ultimate fate. Historic relics like this grand old barn usually fall in the face of progress.

I used to work with a guy who loved this barn as much as I do. He had grand ideas for reclaiming and repurposing it. One such scenario involved transforming the barn into an entertainment venue. A couple of bars would replace the stall walls, and tables and chairs would be placed amongst the wooden beams. Game boards and pool tables like the Cottage Barnwood Pool Table would populate one end of the barn, a dance floor towards the middle, and a lounging area on the far side. Comfortable couches and chairs would be strategically placed in the lounging area. The barn would be a meeting place for all who wanted to spend a special night out, whether that was conversing with friends, dancing, partaking in some adult beverages, or just socializing with others who had found their way there.

I know there are some movements and financial initiatives that work to preserve old barns. It is my hope that someone with a strong financial backing takes an interest in this barn and saves it for future generations. The ideas my former coworker had for the barn are not too far-fetched. Barns are a symbol of how far we have come and of the storied history of U.S. commerce. You may have a barn in your area similar to this one. All we can hope is that these grand old barns of yesteryear survive for future generations to enjoy.

DIY Rustic Chalkboard

Mirrors with Nice Rustic FramesOver the course of the past month, I have been witness to numerous back-to-school photos passing through my Facebook newsfeed. I never tire of seeing the first day smiles and marveling over how much my friends’ kids have grown and changed during the summer.

Particularly with the little ones, a sign is usually part of the photo. It’s usually a chalkboard, sometimes with a colorful frame, always with information about what grade and to which school and capturing the date of the snapshot. Sometimes the children hold the sign; other times it’s mounted on a wall or fence behind them. I love the simplistic, rustic, yet informative look of those back-to-school chalkboards.

It’s a look I’ve decided that I want to incorporate into my home as well. After all, what busy family can’t benefit from a cheerful and fun message board? I dug around in the “storage pile” and uncovered an old mirror that had been cast aside. The mirror itself was scratched and marred, but the reclaimed barnwood frame still had plenty of rustic character.

I excitedly hurried out to the local hardware store for some painter’s tape and a can of spray chalkboard paint. Soon every stitch of wood was covered, protected by blue tape and “spray booth ready”.

Evenly, back and forth, first one coat of black chalkboard paint and then another. It was difficult to let it rest and dry for 24 hours, but I’ve made the mistake before of tearing into painted tape before it was dry.

The wait was worth it. Once I removed all the painter’s tape, I was left with a beautiful, smooth, matte black surface on which to write all my family messages. We have hung the Cottage Barnwood Mirror in a place of prominence and it looks photo perfect. Sometimes I even consider taking a picture and posting it in to my Facebook as a “sign after the school year starts” kind of joke.

Have a happy and safe school year!

From Sitting to Snoozing in a Snap

Rustic Style FutonsWe have a very unassuming piece of furniture in our home. It has traveled with us on the numerous PCS (that’s military-speak for Permanent Change of Station) moves we’ve made. In fact, it has become such an integral part of our home that now we couldn’t bear to part with it.

It’s a futon couch. Simple, not very pretty, but oh-so-practical.

Our youngest son has marked up the cushion with his markers. The silver frame no longer fits our rustic style. The glaring natural wood armrests clash with our other wood pieces.

But still, it’s an anchor in our furniture collection.

The reason we are so attached to this rather ugly, seemingly oddball piece of non-essential furniture? Simple: because it serves so many purposes for us. It’s a couch, a trampoline for two busy boys, conference room seating for family and business meetings, a bed for overnight guests, and when we are between addresses – we remove the futon mattress, stash it into the (covered) bed of our pickup truck, and we have a soft place to sleep when we arrive at our new home (because our household goods almost never arrive at the same time we do). It’s such a part of our story, our military life.

So, one of these days it will fall in a heap. I’m pretty sure we’ll replace it. And I’ve found the most suitable candidate. It’s built from beautiful reclaimed barnwood. It’s stunning. It matches our style of décor. And we don’t have to wrestle the futon frame away from the wall when we want to collapse it into a bed. This beauty transforms in a snap.

Folks, if you don’t own a futon, you might be doing yourself a huge disservice. It could be the most hard-working piece of furniture in your home, and it’s a multitasker too. If you need something that can go from seating solution to sleeping station in a snap, this is the perfect piece for you.

Back to Backpack Season

Peg Racks for Coats and other thingsIt’s hard to believe that summer break is coming to an end, isn’t it? The lazy days of summer are coming to a close and the kids will be heading back to school, if they haven’t already. This fall, our oldest son will be heading to kindergarten, thus beginning our family’s school career.

As much as I’m feeling the pain of watching my baby boy grow up, I’m excited about this new chapter of our life. I enjoyed school as a child, and I am hoping that my sons find the same inner joy about learning. However, I know that with the ringing of the school bell comes an onslaught of items that come home from the classroom.

I’ve already been studying the entry into our home and working on a strategic plan for storing backpacks, coats, shoes, papers…anything that comes in with the boys. They, as I suspect most, have a tendency to walk in the door and drop everything on the floor and then make their merry way into the house. I am formulating a plan to stop the clutter before it hits the door.

The most attractive…and effective…solution entails a rack right inside the door on which the boys can hang their bags, sweatshirts, etc. As I have established a theme of rustic décor, I searched high and low (Googled) for a suitable wall rack. I found a beautiful and affordable Rustic Natural Cedar Wall Peg Rack that will work perfectly for our use. The four-peg size allows each boy two pegs; one for a coat and one for a backpack.

Now, the only difficult task left is to get them to actually hang their stuff…

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