Deuce Cities Henhouse

Bench Cushion – Crushed It.

Scandinavian Inspired Basement
Okay pals! I’m getting so close to finishing up the basement, like almost, nearly, kinda there! I just got to cross a big sucker off the list, which only leaves me with a few easy tasks. I upholstered a piece of peach foam with some of my favorite fabric, and it turned into this very cool bench seat. Not only does this seat offer extra seating when we be hanging in the basement (which is always), but it also subs in as a bed, a stage for kids, and the best new addition to the basement.

Can you even believe that when I designed the basement I hadn’t envisioned a cushion going here? Probably because I’ve had an extreme aversion to sewing ever since I finished the porch sofa two winters ago. I had planned on the bench being a solid piece of paint-grade-wood done up in white. Because that was the plan, that’s what I did, I just painted the bench white. Done, or that’s what I thought. The bench was so cold, plain, boring, and constantly covered in foot prints and dust. Basement guests didn’t know if they should sit there, or if it was a sacred tv worship zone. There was nothing that indicated to them to come, sit, chill, relax. It didn’t take long for me to acknowledge that my original plan was not living up to the potential of the space.

A few reasons I decided to upholster my own cushion instead of having it done professionally; box cushions are one of the easiest/beginner upholstery projects you can take on, having a cushion professionally upholstered costs a chunk of change – I’m sure this would’ve been nearly a thousand bucks because of the custom angles and size, and you can price compare and choose your own fabric. Upholstering large foam objects is a bear of a job no matter what, however when I saw how much I could save doing it myself, it was the obvious choice. Jeff Allen, you can thank me later for being such a bawse and saving you all the money. I am so selfless and brave and very heroic, and I obviously get no satisfaction out of doing these challenging projects.

I would love to share with you guys how to actually sew a box cushion with a zipper, and you in return would probably think I was super cool, but alas, I am not an expert in this field. There are so many other folks on the internet that are professional sewer people that know how to do this sort of stuff! I think you should listen to them.

My Resources

I can provide a few tips, like no one ever told me that I should use a heavy duty needles, heavy duty thread, and a decent machine (mine is over ten years old and less than $100 dollars). Maybe if you are well versed in the ways of sewing, having the right tool for the job seems like a no-brainer, but for me figuring that out took me a lot of trial, error and headaches. After upholstering our porch sofa two winters ago, I felt more prepared for this project, I knew what to avoid. I asked nicely, and my mom let me use her way-better-than-my-hunk-of-junk sewing machine. The project was much easier than last time, but still not my favorite thing in the world to do. Just cutting expensive fabric is enough to send me into a full blown panic attack. Minus my frenzied mental state, the whole thing went pretty smoothly when I used the proper tools.

Built in TV Area with Bench Seat

Fine Little Day Gran Upholstery Fabric
Originally I wanted a taut finish to the surface of the fabric. Upholstery projects can be kind of forgiving in that way, for example: if the fit isn’t perfectly snug, it’s easy to fill the cushion with layers of batting. I surprised myself and was actually into the look of the slightly loose linen fabric on the sides of the cushion, so for now I’m going to leave it, but if I ever needed to, I could just stuff that bad boy with a little more batting.

Also, if you’re working with a tight budget, may I suggest only upholstering the top or sides of your piece in the expensive fabric? That’s what I did here, I purchased two yards of the Gran fabric for $150 and found a few more yards of inexpensive linen that matched perfectly for around $15 bucks a yard.

Minneapolis Basement Renovation with lots of Built-Ins
I was pretty pleased with the basement space before I upholstered the cushion, so I was thrilled that adding the cushion actually helped to make the space feel wider and not so long and narrow. I don’t know how to properly describe this in English words so I’m just going to say this: the shape of the space that the tv and bench reside in, is influenced by the main floor bay window in our dining room, the bay window is directly atop this space. Having to navigate the odd shape made it tricky when designing the basement, I spent many nights awake and thinking about it. Even having it be a space just for the tv wasn’t enough. Adding the cushion opens up the room, and makes it feel like a part of the social space in the basement. Basically, the oddly shaped space is now functional.

Also, about that TV and the kids. I’m pretty confident that it is secure on the wall because it’s nearly impossible for Jeff and I to get it off when we are actually trying to! Also, Finn follows rules and makes sure that other kids don’t break them, so we’re good.

Also, about the white cushion and the kids. Rules. No food except at the table. Wash your hands every once in awhile. Lastly, I have fabric cleaner that works really well on stains and stuff!

Sew a Box Cushion for Bench Seating
The bench is about 36″ deep and has already made a cozy bed to a few imbibed friends over the holiday season. An added bonus!

A Comfy Bench Seat in a Midwestern Basement

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Things that I did Last Year.

Friends! Can I just start by saying that I am feeling stoked to get back in the swing of things! I already love 2016, it just feels right. It was nice to have a bit of a break from house stuff the last few weeks, and now that the basement is almost done. Done. DONE!, I will be able to move on to other projects. I am so ready for other projects, and so over working on the basement!

For fun, last night I spent an hour or so going through my posts from the last year to refresh my memory and take a look at what has gone on around the house throughout the last 12 months. Looking back made me really excited to get back at it and make new goals for this year. Sometime my brain likes to make me think I’m stuck in one place, or that I’m only ever busy and nothing ever gets done, never advancing. This brain, I tell you what, it needs to shut up. Thankfully, I have this blog and am able to sit back and look at a years worth of home repairs and updates, and by the light of this screen I can sit here and see that all the work actually adds up to something.

There was a definite lapse in momentum this year when in May, my right hand was broken due to a highly not cool dog bite. I wasn’t able to do big projects for about eight weeks while I let my arm heal. By the time I was able to use my wrecked appendage, I found that I had become way too good at enjoying the summer. Although mad chilling is a good activity to partake in from time-to-time, it’s just not my style. When it was time to hunker down for the fall and get back at finishing up some big projects, I encountered some intense moments of uneasiness and anxiety due to situations way out of my control. That made it especially hard to stay motivated. I took the blog at a slower pace the last few months, trying to prioritize, focusing on spending my time most efficiently. The truth is, I spend a bulk of my day carting kids around to school. I find slices of time where I try and get things done, but more often than then not, when those time come I just want to chill the eff out. The thing is I need to be working on creative handy projects to feel fulfilled, so it’s just a matter of balance. This coming year will be challenging because the kids’ schedules will become even more insane and I’ll just have to figure out how to carve out that time, while also making sure there is plenty of time to hang with my old man, and oh yeah, kidz. Anyways, I’m sure it’s something we all struggle with, I’m just hoping to be more successful with how I handle it all in 2016.

Anyhow, I put together a quick recap of some of my favorite posts from 2015. I seriously hope you are all having a good start to the year!

+++ master bedroom +++
It feels like I finished the facelift on our master bedroom so long ago, I can’t believe I was just finishing up at the beginning of 2015. Making our master bedroom pretty and inviting has been so great for me and Jeff. There is nothing better than going to bed every night in a clean(ish) tidy space. So happy with how this turned out.
+++ refinishing dining room table +++
I refinished the dining room table towards the end of winter. It’s one of those things that was on my to-do list for some time, I just was a bit of tackling the project. So glad I gave it a go, the table turned out great and I didn’t have to pay someone else all of the monies to do it.
+++ five year before & after +++
I just love the 5 year before & after post because it’s a record of how much has been accomplished in five years! It takes time to make a house cool, I’m still working at it, but it’s good to see how far we’ve come.
+++ backyard / gardening +++
This was the summer that my five summers of gardening finally paid off. Everything is finally full grown and looking lush and beautiful. I already can’t wait for next summer. I made a few edits this fall, and I am truly looking forward to see how it grows in this coming spring of 2016.
+++ macrame beaded planter +++
I was so lucky to be able to work with Ace Hardware this year. Ace is one of my favorite places in the world, so it was a dream when they reached out to see if I would partner with them. I took each and every project to heart, trying to make the most of the goals of the project while (hopefully) creating cool content to share with you guys. This beaded macrame planter was one of my favs.
+++ alley appeal +++
Making over the garage door is one of those projects that didn’t take too much, and had such a huge impact. It still doesn’t look like the most amazing fancy new garage, but adding a few faux windows, sconces and planter boxes to our alley garage gave this baby a major face lift.

+++ basement renovation +++
Obviously, the basement was the biggest project of the year if not the decade at Casa La Allen. It was insane, crazy, overwhelming, and unbelievably satisfying. There are still a few finishing touches that need to be done, but we are close, and we love the space and what it does for our family and how we live in our home.
+++ cleaning up – music room +++
After the dust had settled from the basement renovation it was time to get our lives back in order. I did a major purge, digging into everything, creating organizing strategies and decluttering our home. One of the first rooms I tackled was the music room. PS, I’m serious business with a label maker.
+++ kitchen table +++
Okay, so a kitchen table isn’t the most interesting element of a home, but I had to mention this project because I am so happy with how I transformed a $65 Ikea table into this gem. I spend so much time in the kitchen, and having this on fleek, cool, functional, awesome looking table makes everything so much more palatable to me.
+++ updating the bathroom +++
Our bathroom was ugly and is now less ugly. I gave it a quick paint job (including vanity, walls and hardware) before we started hosting our holiday parties. So glad I spiffed it up, it’s obvious that we value this space more now because there isn’t crusty tooth paste in the sink and thousands of pairs of dirty underwear on the floor.

So there it is, a quick recap of the last year. I’ve got a list of projects for the coming year too, and I’m excited to share all of them with you. I need to start by finishing up a few small projects in the basement so I can finally cross the basement(!) off the list and call it done, which I’ll follow it up with a basement bathroom remodel! See you guyses on the flippity flip.

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in Around the House, Cool Things

Shark! Shark! Shark! Shark!

Guys! New Year’s Day is officially my favorite holiday. This January 1st was especially awesome because Jeff hopped in frozen Lake Minnetonka for the 10th year, being the first of our group to achieve the enviable SHARK status! As he exited the frigid waters, he was draped in the coveted SHARK ROBE.

In honor of Jeff’s big jumped I finally gave in to his requests and jumped in for my first time with my good pal Crystal (who was in need of a partner), lezjustsay it was INSANE and my body felt crazy. I did not disgrace the robe, and swam the full 36′ without assistance from guys with sticks. It’s official I have moved from Guppy status to Minnow.

9 Years of Ice Jumps
These jumps have made the best New Year’s Day tradition ever. We follow the jump up with meat and cheese boards, crockpots full of chili, lots of Bloody Mary’s and tons of champagne. We hang out all day and night, and it’s literally the best! I even made the kids an ice rink in the backyard, it was dreamy bros.

Happy New Year!

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Holiday Vibes, a Giveaway, and a “How To”

Simple Holiday Decor
Friends! Hope the holiday season is treating all of you well. I’m finally starting to get in the spirit, I think the lack of cold weather and snow has really making it hard for it to truly feel like winter is here.

With the help of Ace Hardware, I’ve been really enjoying decorating our new basement for the holidays, it’s making it start to feel like it’s officially christmastime, especially in the evenings. I’ve added lots of sparkly lights all over the place. After realizing the power of LED bulbs in my living room, I was intrigued and curious to start a collection of LED string lights for the holidays (and beyond). Ace offers an impressive supply of many types of both incandescent and LED string lights as well as wired vs. battery powered sets. I went all in this year, buying up a ton of the battery powered lights. I was able to tuck string lights into all sorts of nooks and crannies of the basement to create a magical feel. Micro LED wire lights look pretty awesome wrapped around a bundle of birch logs, twisted around a set of ornaments, or even tucked into a house plant – and not having to find and outlet to run them on has been a sweet bonus! The battery powered lights also include a 6 hour timer, once you power on the lights they stay on for 6 hours and then off for 18 – kind of amazing.

I also created what I’m calling “holiday marquee trees”. Using just a few simple supplies I picked up at my local Ace I was really able to pack a lot of holiday punch for not a lot of bucks. I’m including the marquee tree DIY with photos and instructions below. First though, you gotta check out my wintery basement space!

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor


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Hello, I suck at selfies, thus my weird pissed off looking floating head.

Just wanted to drop in and say “hey”. Life has been crazy lately, as it is this time of year. Last week was my 34th birthday and I spent all weekend celebrating, because I like birthdays. My brother and I have birthdays that are three days apart, so when our birthdays fall on a weekend there is lots of very important things to do. Between dinners out and cribbage tournaments, I got the privilege to watch my Finn slay his piano recital. I am beyond proud of hard work, determination and fearlessness. I am so thankful that I got to spend my entire weekend with family and friends, having lots of laughs and eating and drinking lots of delicious things.

We got a treadmill! The struggle to lose and maintain weight is real, my friends. I’ve been walking nearly every day for the two and a half years. I’ve made it through two Minnesota winters thus far, the first in the gym (which I hated) the second outside (which I hated) and this year we got a treadmill (which I love). I can walk when my kids are home, I don’t have to strategically plan around when they will be at school or get up super early before they wake up, I can just go! It’s been a game changer, and I love it.

I’ve been spending lots of time with my G-man. Jeff and I have a lot to think about going into this next year regarding Gus and his education, so we are making sure to do all of our homework (school puns!) so that we can make the right decision for him. I don’t need to get into all the details, but keeping him as my main focus during his hours home from school is number one. He is a pretty great dude and I love hanging with him.

I’ve got a few projects in the works (fingers crossed I’ll be posting both of them next week) but they haven’t gotten to the point where I feel like they are worthy of being shared with you guys just yet. I am very much looking forward to having a week or two off of the usual day-to-day stuff over the winter break. I can’t wait to have all of my boys home for a few weeks, and I intend to soak up every minute that I can with them.

Hope all you guys are doing well and enjoying the season!

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